Part 4 out of 6
deemed by the French little less than a heresy to say so, is even more
damp and disagreeable.
The Seine has her fogs, as dense, raw, and chilling, as those of old
Father Thames himself; and the river approximating closer to "the gay
resorts" of the _beau monde_, they are more felt. The want of draining,
and the vapours that stagnate over the turbid waters of the _ruisseaux_
that intersect the streets at Paris, add to the humidity of the
atmosphere; while the sewers in London convey away unseen and unfelt,
if not always unsmelt, the rain which purifies, while it deluges, our
streets. Heaven defend me, however, from uttering this disadvantageous
comparison to Parisian cars, for the French are too fond of Paris not
to be proud even of its _ruisseaux_, and incredulous of its fogs, and
any censure on either would be ill received.
The gay butterflies when they first expand their varicoloured wings and
float in air, seem not more joyous than the Parisians have been during
the last two days of sunshine. The Jardins des Tuileries are crowded
with well-dressed groups; the budding leaves have burst forth with that
delicate green peculiar to early spring; and the chirping of
innumerable birds, as they flit from tree to tree, announces the
approach of the vernal season.
Paris is at no time so attractive, in my opinion, as in spring; and the
verdure of the foliage during its infancy is so tender, yet bright,
that it looks far more beautiful than with us in our London squares or
parks, where no sooner do the leaves open into life, than they become
stained by the impurity of the atmosphere, which soon deposes its dingy
particles on them, "making the green one"--black.
The Boulevards were well stocked with flowers to-day, the
_bouquetieres_ having resumed their stalls; and many a pedestrian might
be seen bargaining for these fair and frail harbingers of rosy spring.
How exhilarating are the effects of this season on the spirits
depressed by the long and gloomy winter, and the frame rendered languid
by the same cause! The heart begins to beat with more energetic
movement, the blood flows more briskly through the veins, and the
spirit of hope is revivified in the human heart. This sympathy between
awakening nature, on the earth, and on man, renders us more, that at
any other period, fond of the country; for this is the season of
promise; and we know that each coming day, for a certain time, will
bestow some new beauty on all that is now budding forth, until glowing,
laughing summer has replaced the fitful smiles and tears of spring.
And there are persons who tell me they experience nought of this
elasticity of spirits at the approach of spring! How are such mortals
to be pitied! Yet, perhaps, they are less so than we imagine, for the
same insensibility that prevents their being exhilarated, may preclude
them from the depression so peculiar to all who have lively feelings.
"I see nothing so very delightful in spring," said ---- to me,
yesterday. "_Au contraire_, I think it rather disagreeable, for the
sunshine cheats one into the belief of warmth, and we go forth less
warmly clad in consequence, so return home chilled by the sharp cold
air which always prevails at this season, and find, as never fails to
be the case, that our stupid servants have let out the fires, because,
truly, the sun was shining in the cold blue sky." ---- reminds me of
the man mentioned in Sterne's works, who, when his friend looking on a
beautiful prospect, compared a green field with a flock of
snowy-fleeced sheep on it, to a vast emerald studded with pearls,
answered that _he_ could see nothing in it but grass and mutton.
Lord B---- set out for London to-day, to vote on the Catholic question,
which is to come on immediately. His going at this moment, when he is
far from well, is no little sacrifice of personal comfort; but never
did he consider self when a duty was to be performed. I wish the
question was carried, and he safely back again. What would our
political friends say if they knew how strongly I urged him not to go,
but to send his proxy to Lord Rosslyn? I would not have consented to
his departure, were it not that the Duke of Wellington takes such an
interest in the measure.
How times are changed! and how much is due to those statesmen who yield
up their own convictions for the general good! There is no action in
the whole life of the Duke more glorious than his self-abnegation on
this occasion, nor is that of the Tory leader of the House of Commons
less praiseworthy; yet how many attacks will both incur by this
sacrifice of their opinions to expediency! for when were the actions of
public men judged free from the prejudices that discolour and distort
all viewed through their medium? That which originates in the purest
patriotism, will be termed an unworthy tergiversation; but the reward
of these great and good men will be found in their own breasts. I am
_triste_ and unsettled, so will try the effect of a drive in the Bois
I was forcibly reminded yesterday of the truth of an observation of a
clever French writer, who says, that to judge the real merit of a cook,
one should sit down to table without the least feeling of appetite, as
the triumph of the culinary art was not to satisfy hunger but to excite
it. Our new cook achieved this triumph yesterday, for he is so
inimitable an artist, that the flavour of his _plats_ made even me,
albeit unused to the sensation of hunger, feel disposed to render
justice to them. Monsieur Louis--for so he is named--has a great
reputation in his art; and it is evident, even from the proof furnished
of his _savoir-faire_ yesterday, that he merits it.
It is those only who have delicate appetites that can truly appreciate
the talent of a cook; for they who devour soon lose the power of
tasting. No symptom of that terrible malady, well named by the
ingenious Grimod de la Reyniere _remords d'estomac_, but vulgarly
called indigestion, follows my unusual indulgence in _entrees_ and
_entremets_, another delightful proof of the admirable skill of
The English are apt to spoil French cooks by neglecting the _entrees_
for the _piece de resistance_, and, when the cook discovers this, which
he is soon enabled to do by the slight breaches made in the first, and
the large one in the second, his _amour-propre_ becomes wounded, and he
begins to neglect his _entrees_. Be warned, then, by me, all ye who
wish your cooks to retain their skill, and however your native tastes
for that English favourite dish denominated "a plain joint" may
prevail, never fail to taste the _entree_.
_A propos_ of cooks, an amusing instance of the _amour-propre_ of a
Parisian cook was related to me by the gourmand Lord ----, the last
time we dined at his house. Wishing to have a particular sauce made
which he had tasted in London, and for which he got the receipt, he
explained to his cook, an artist of great celebrity, how the component
parts were to be amalgamated.
"How, mylord!" exclaimed _Monsieur le cuisinier_; "an English sauce! Is
it possible your lordsip can taste any thing so barbarous? Why, years
ago, my lord, a profound French philosopher described the English as a
people who had a hundred religions, but only one sauce."
More anxious to get the desired sauce than to defend the taste of his
country, or correct the impertinence of his cook, Lord ---- immediately
said, "On recollection, I find I made a mistake; the sauce I mean is _a
la Hollandaise_, and not _a l'Anglaise_."
_A la bonne heure_, my lord, _c'est autre chose_; and the sauce was
forthwith made, and was served at table the day we dined with Lord
An anecdote is told of this same cook, which Lord ---- relates with
great good humour. The cook of another English nobleman conversing with
him, said, "My master is like yours--a great _gourmand_."
"Pardon me," replied the other; "there is a vast difference between our
masters. Yours is simply a _gourmand_, mine is an epicure as well."
The Duc de Talleyrand, dining with us a few days ago, observed that to
give a perfect dinner, the Amphitryon should have a French cook for
soups, _entrees_ and _entremets_; an English _rotisseur_, and an
Italian _confiseur_, as without these, a dinner could not be faultless.
"But, alas!" said he--and he sighed while he spoke it--"the Revolution
has destroyed our means of keeping these artists; and we eat now to
support nature, instead of, as formerly, when we ate because it was a
pleasure to eat." The good-natured Duc nevertheless seemed to eat his
dinner as if he still continued to take a pleasure in the operation,
and did ample justice to a certain _plat de cailles farcies_ which he
pronounced to be perfect.
Our landlord, le Marquis de L----, has sent to offer us the refusal of
our beautiful abode. The Duc de N---- has proposed to take it for
fourteen on twenty-one years, at the same rent we pay (an extravagant
one, by the bye), and as we only took it for a year, we must eithor
leave or hire it for fourteen or twenty-one years, which is out of the
Nothing can be more fair or honourable than the conduct of the Marquis
de L----, for he laid before us the offer of the Duc de N----; but as
we do not intend to remain more than two or three years more in Paris,
we must leave this charming house, to our infinite regret, when the
year for which we have hired it expires. Gladly would we have engaged
it for two, or even three years more, but this is now impossible; and
we shall have the trouble of again going the round of house-hunting.
When I look on the suite of rooms in which I have passed such pleasant
days, I am filled with regret at the prospect of leaving them, but it
cannot be helped, so it is useless to repine. We have two months to
look about us, and many friends who are occupied in assisting us in the
A letter from Lord B----; better, but still ailing. He presided at the
Covent Garden Theatrical Fund Dinner, at the request of the Duke of
Clarence. He writes me that he met there Lord F. Leveson Gower, who
was introduced to him by Mr. Charles Greville, and of whom he has
conceived a very high opinion. Lord B---- partakes my belief in
physiognomy, but in this instance the impression formed from the
countenance is justified by the reputation of the individual, who is
universally esteemed and respected.
Went again to see the Hotel Monaco, which Lord B---- writes me to close
for; but its gloomy and uncomfortable bed-rooms discourage me, _malgre_
the splendour of the _salons_, which are decidedly the finest I have
seen at Paris, I will decide on nothing until Lord B----'s return.
Went to the College of Ste.-Barbe to-day, with the Duchesse de Guiche,
to see her sons. Great was their delight at the meeting. I thought they
would never have done embracing her; and I, too, was warmly welcomed by
these dear and affectionate boys, who kissed me again and again. They
have already won golden opinions at the college, by their rare aptitude
in acquiring all that is taught them, and by their docility and manly
The masters paid the Duchesse the highest compliments on the progress
her sons had made previously to their entrance at Ste.-Barbe, and
declared that they had never met any children so far advanced for their
age. I shared the triumph of this admirable mother, whose fair cheeks
glowed, and whose beautiful eyes sparkled, on hearing the eulogiums
pronounced on her boys. Her observation to me was, "How pleased their
father will be!"
Ste.-Barbe is a little world in itself, and a very different world to
any I had previously seen. In it every thing smacks of learning, and
every body seems wholly engrossed by study.
The spirit of emulation animates all, and excites the youths into an
application so intense as to be often found injurious to health. The
ambition of surpassing all competitors in their studies operates so
powerfully on the generality of the _eleves_, that the masters
frequently find it more necessary to moderate, than to urge the ardour
of the pupils. A boy's reputation for abilities soon gets known, but he
must possess no ordinary ones to be able to distinguish himself in a
college where every victory in erudition is sure to be achieved by a
We passed through the quarter of Paris known as the Pays Latin, the
aspect of which is singular, and is said to have been little changed
during the last century. The houses, chiefly occupied by literary men,
look quaint and picturesque. Every man one sees passing has the air of
an author, not as authors now are, or at least as popular ones are,
well-clothed and prosperous-looking, but as authors were when genius
could not always command a good wardrobe, and walked forth in
habiliments more derogatory to the age in which it was neglected, than
to the individual whose poverty compelled such attire.
Men in rusty threadbare black, with books under the arm, and some with
spectacles on nose, reading while they walked along, might be
encountered at every step.
The women, too, in the Pays Latin, have a totally different aspect to
those of every other part of Paris. The desire to please, inherent in
the female breast, seems to have expired in them, for their dress
betrays a total neglect, and its fashion is that of some forty years
ago. Even the youthful are equally negligent, which indicates their
conviction that the men they meet seldom notice them, proving the truth
of the old saying, that women dress to please men.
The old, with locks of snow, who had grown into senility in this
erudite quarter, still paced the same promenade which they had trodden
for many a year, habit having fixed them where hope once led their
steps. The middle-aged, too, might be seen with hair beginning to
blanch from long hours devoted to the midnight lamp, and faces marked
with "the pale cast of thought." Hope, though less sanguine in her
promises, still lures them on, and they pass the venerable old,
unconscious that they themselves are succeeding them in the same life
of study, to be followed by the same results, privation, and solitude,
until death closes the scene. And yet a life of study is, perhaps, the
one in which the privations compelled by poverty are the least felt to
be a hardship.
Study, like virtue, is its own exceeding great reward, for it engrosses
as well as elevates the mind above the sense of the wants so acutely
felt by those who have no intellectual pursuits; and many a student has
forgotten his own privations when reading the history of the great and
good who have been exposed to even still more trying ones. Days pass
uncounted in such occupations. Youth fleets away, if not happily, at
least tranquilly, while thus employed; and maturity glides into age,
and age drops into the grave, scarcely conscious of the gradations of
each, owing to the mind having been filled with a continuous train of
thought, engendered by study.
I have been reading some French poems by Madame Amabel Tastu; and very
beautiful they are. A sweet and healthy tone of mind breathes through
them, and the pensiveness that characterises many of them, marks a
reflecting spirit imbued with tenderness. There is great harmony, too,
in the versification, as well as purity and elegance in the diction.
How much some works make us wish to know their authors, and _vice
versa_! I feel, while reading her poems, that I should like Madame
Amabel Tastu; while other books, whose cleverness I admit, convince me
I should not like the writers.
A book must always resemble, more or less, its author. It is the mind,
or at least a portion of it, of the individual; and, however
circumstances may operate on it, the natural quality must always
prevail and peep forth in spite of every effort to conceal it.
Living much in society seldom fails to deteriorate the force and
originality of superior minds; because, though unconsciously, the
persons who possess them are prone to fall into the habits of thought
of those with whom they pass a considerable portion of their time, and
suffer themselves to degenerate into taking an interest in puerilities
on which, in the privacy of their study, they would not bestow a single
thought. Hence, we are sometimes shocked at observing glaring
inconsistencies in the works of writers, and find it difficult to
imagine that the grave reflection which pervades some of the pages can
emanate from the same mind that dictated the puerilities abounding in
others. The author's profound thoughts were his own, the puerilities
were the result of the friction of his mind with inferior ones: at
least this is my theory, and, as it is a charitable one, I like to
A pleasant party at dinner yesterday. Mr. W. Spencer, the poet, was
among the guests, He was much more like the William Spencer of former
days than when he dined here before, and was occasionally brilliant,
though at intervals he relapsed into moodiness. He told some good
stories of John Kemble, and told them well; but it seemed an effort to
him; and, while the listeners were still smiling at his excellent
imitation of the great tragedian, he sank back in his chair with an air
of utter abstraction.
I looked at him, and almost shuddered at marking the "change that had
come o'er the spirit of his dream;" for whether the story touched a
chord that awakened some painful reflection in his memory, or that the
telling it had exhausted him, I know not, but his countenance for some
minutes assumed a careworn and haggard expression, and he then glanced
around at the guests with an air of surprise, like one awakened from
It is astonishing how little people observe each other in society! This
inattention, originating in a good breeding that proscribes personal
observation, has degenerated into something that approaches very nearly
to total indifference, and I am persuaded that a man might die at table
seated between two others without their being aware of it, until he
dropped from his chair.
Civilization has its disadvantages as well as its advantages, and I
think the consciousness that one might expire between one's neighbours
at table without their noticing it, is hardly atoned for by knowing
that they will not stare one out of countenance. I often think, as I
look around at a large dinner-party, how few present have the slightest
knowledge of what is passing in the minds of the others. The smile worn
on many a face may be assumed to conceal a sadness which those who feel
it are but too well aware would meet with little sympathy, for one of
the effects of modern civilization is the disregard for the cares of
others, which it engenders.
Madame de ---- once said to me, "I never invite Monsieur de ----,
because he looks unhappy, and as if he expected to be questioned as to
the cause." This _naive_ confession of Madame de ---- is what few would
make, but the selfishness that dictated it is what society, _en masse_,
feels and acts up to.
Monsieur de ----, talking of London last evening, told the Count ----
to be on his guard not to be too civil to people when he got there. The
Count ---- looked astonished, and inquired the reason for the advice.
"Merely to prevent your being suspected of having designs on the hearts
of the women, or the purses of the men," replied Monsieur de ----; "for
no one can evince in London society the _empressement_ peculiar to
well-bred Frenchmen without being accused of some unworthy motive for
I defended my countrymen against the sweeping censure of the cynical
Monsieur de ----, who shook his head and declared that he spoke from
observation. He added, that persons more than usually polite are always
supposed to be poor in London, and that as this supposition was the
most injurious to their reception in good society, he always counselled
his friends, when about to visit it, to assume a _brusquerie_ of
manner, and a stinginess with regard to money, by which means they were
sure to escape the suspicion of poverty; as in England a parsimonious
expenditure and bluntness are supposed to imply the possession of
I ventured to say that I could now understand why it was that he passed
for being so rich in England--a _coup de patte_ that turned the laugh
Mr. de ---- is a perfect cynic, and piques himself on saying what he
thinks,--a habit more frequently adopted by those who think
disagreeable, than agreeable things.
Dined yesterday at Madame C----'s, and being Friday, had a _diner
maigre_, than which I know no dinner more luxurious, provided that the
cook is a perfect artist, and that the Amphitryon, as was the case in
this instance, objects not to expense.
The _soupes_ and _entrees_ left no room to regret the absence of flesh
or poultry from their component parts, and the _releves_, in the shape
of a _brochet roti_, and a _turbot a la hollandaise_ supplied the place
of the usual _pieces de resistance_. But not only was the flavour of
the _entrees_ quite as good as if they were composed of meat or
poultry, but the appearance offered the same variety, and the
_cotelettes de poisson_ and _fricandeau d'esturgeon_ might have
deceived all but the profoundly learned in gastronomy,--they looked so
exactly like lamb and veal.
The second course offered equally delicate substitutes for the usual
dainties, and the most fastidious epicure might have been more than
satisfied with the _entremets_.
The bishops in France are said to have had the most luxurious dinners
imaginable on what were erroneously styled fast-days; and their cooks
had such a reputation for their skill, that the having served _a
Monseigneur d'Eglise_ was a passport to the kitchens of all lovers of
good eating. There are people so profane as to insinuate that the
excellence at which the cooks arrived in dressing _les diners maigres_
is one of the causes why Catholicism has continued to flourish; but
this, of course, must be looked on as a malicious hint of the enemies
to that faith which thus proves itself less addicted to indulgence in
the flesh than are its decryers.
The more I observe Lady C---- the more surprised I am at the romantic
feelings she still indulges, and the illusions under which she
labours;--yes _labours_ is the suitable word, for it can be nothing
short of laborious, at her age, to work oneself into the belief that
love is an indispensable requisite for life. Not the affection into
which the love of one's youth subsides, but the wild, the ungovernable
passion peculiar to the heroes and heroines of novels, and young ladies
and gentlemen recently emancipated from boarding-schools and colleges.
Poor Lady C----, with so many estimable qualities, what a pity it is
she should have this weakness! She maintained in our conversation
yesterday that true love could never be extinguished in the heart, and
that even in age it burnt with the same fire as when first kindled. I
quoted to her a passage from Le Brun, who says--"L'amour peut
s'eteindre sans doute dans le coeur d'un galant homme; mais combien de
dedommagements n'a-t-il pas alors a offrir! L'estime, l'amitie, la
confiance, ne suffisent-elles pas aux glaces de la vieillesse?" Lady
C---- thinks not.
Talking last night of ----, some one observed that "it was disagreeable
to have such a neighbour, as he did nothing but watch and interfere in
the concerns of others."
"Give me in preference such a man as le Comte ----," said Monsieur
----, slily, "who never bestows a thought but on self, and is too much
occupied with that interesting subject to have time to meddle with the
affairs of other people."
"You are right," observed Madame ----, gravely, believing him to be
serious; "it is much preferable."
"But surely," said I, determined to continue the mystification, "you
are unjustly severe in your animadversions on poor Monsieur ----. Does
he not prove himself a true philanthropist in devoting the time to the
affairs of others that might be usefully occupied in attending to his
"You are quite right," said Mrs. ----; "I never viewed his conduct in
this light before; and now that I understand it I really begin to like
him,--a thing I thought quite impossible before you convinced me of the
goodness of his motives."
How many Mrs. ----'s there are in the world, with minds ductile as wax,
ready to receive any impression one wishes to give them! Yet I
reproached myself for assisting to hoax her, when I saw the smiles
excited by her credulity.
Mademoiselle Delphine Gay is one of the agreeable proofs that genius
is hereditary. I have been reading some productions of hers that
greatly pleased me. Her poetry is graceful, the thoughts are natural,
and the versification is polished. She is a very youthful authoress,
and a beauty as well as a _bel esprit_. Her mother's novels have
beguiled many an hour of mine that might otherwise have been weary, for
they have the rare advantage of displaying an equal knowledge of the
world with a lively sensibility.
All Frenchwomen write well. They possess the art of giving interest
even to trifles, and have a natural eloquence _de plume_, as well as
_de langue_, that renders the task an easy one. It is the custom in
England to decry French novels, because the English unreasonably expect
that the literature of other countries should be judged by the same
criterion by which they examine their own, without making sufficient
allowance for the different manners and habits of the nations. Without
arrogating to myself the pretension of a critic, I should be unjust if
I did not acknowledge that I have perused many a French novel by modern
authors, from which I have derived interest and pleasure.
The French critics are not loath to display their acumen in reviewing
the works of their compatriots, for they not only analyze the demerits
with pungent causticity, but apply to them the severest of all tests,
that of ridicule; in the use of which dangerous weapon they excel.
House-hunting the greater part of the day. Oh the weariness of such an
occupation, and, above all, after having lived in so delightful a house
as the one we inhabit! Many of our French friends have come and told us
that they had found hotels exactly to suit us: and we have driven next
day to see them, when lo and behold! these eligible mansions were
either situated in some disagreeable _quartier_, or consisted of three
fine _salons de reception_, with some half-dozen miserable dormitories,
and a passage-room by way of _salle a manger_.
Though Paris abounds with fine _hotels entre cour et jardin_, they are
seldom to be let; and those to be disposed of are generally divided
into suites of apartments, appropriated to different persons. One of
the hotels recommended by a friend was on the Boulevards, with the
principal rooms commanding a full view of that populous and noisy
quarter of Paris. I should have gone mad in such a dwelling, for the
possibility of reading, or almost of thinking, amidst such an
ever-moving scene of bustle and din, would be out of the question.
The modern French do not seem to appreciate the comfort of quiet and
seclusion in the position of their abodes, for they talk of the
enlivening influence of a vicinity to these same Boulevards from which
I shrink with alarm. It was not so in former days; witness the
delightful hotels before alluded to, _entre cour et jardin_, in which
the inhabitants, although in the centre of Paris, might enjoy all the
repose peculiar to a house in the country. There is something, I am
inclined to think, in the nature of the Parisians that enables them to
support noise better than we can,--nay, not only to support, but even
to like it.
I received an edition of the works of L.E.L. yesterday from London. She
is a charming poetess, full of imagination and fancy, dazzling one
moment by the brilliancy of her flights, and the next touching the
heart by some stroke of pathos. How Byron would have admired her
genius, for it bears the stamp of being influenced no less by a
graceful and fertile fancy than by a deep sensibility, and the union of
the two gives a peculiar charm to her poems.
Drove to the Bois de Boulogne to-day, with the Comtesse d'O----, I know
no such brilliant talker as she is. No matter what may be the subject
of conversation, her wit flashes brightly on all, and without the
slightest appearance of effort or pretension. She speaks from a mind
overflowing with general information, made available by a retentive
memory, a ready wit, and in exhaustible good spirits.
Letters from dear Italy. Shall I ever see that delightful land again? A
letter, too, from Mrs. Francis Hare, asking me to be civil to some
English friends of hers, who are come to Paris, which I shall certainly
be for her sake.
_A propos_ of the English, it is amusing to witness the avidity with
which many of them not only accept but court civilities abroad, and the
_sang-froid_ with which they seem to forget them when they return home.
I have as yet had no opportunity of judging personally on this point,
but I hear such tales on the subject as would justify caution, if one
was disposed to extend hospitality with any prospective view to
gratitude for it, which we never have done, and never will do.
Mine is the philosophy of ----, who, when his extreme hospitality to
his countrymen was remarked on, answered, "I can't eat all my good
dinners alone, and if I am lucky enough to find now and then a pleasant
guest, it repays me for the many dull ones invited." I expect no
gratitude for our hospitality to our compatriots, and "Blessed are they
who expect not, for they will not be disappointed."
Longchamps has not equalled my expectations. It is a dull affair after
all, resembling the drive in Hyde Park on a Sunday in May, the
promenade in the Cacina at Florence, in the Corso at Rome, or the
Chaija at Naples, in all save the elegance of the dresses of the women,
in which Longchamps has an immeasurable superiority.
It is at Longchamps that the Parisian spring fashions are first
exhibited, and busy are the _modistes_ for many weeks previously in
putting their powers of invention to the test, in order to bring out
novelties, facsimiles of which are, the ensuing week, forwarded to
England, Italy, Germany, Holland, and Russia. The coachmakers,
saddlers, and horse-dealers, are also put in requisition for this
epoch; and, though the exhibition is no longer comparable to what it
was in former times, when a luxurious extravagance not only in dress,
but in equipages, was displayed, some handsome and well-appointed
carriages are still to be seen. Among the most remarkable for good
taste, were those of the Princess Bagration, and Monsieur Schikler,
whose very handsome wife attracted more admiration than the elegant
vehicle in which she was seated, or the fine steeds that drew it.
Those who are disposed to question the beauty of French women, should
have been at Longchamps to-day, when their scepticism would certainly
have been vanquished, for I saw several women there whose beauty could
admit of no doubt even by the most fastidious critic of female charms.
The Duchesse de Guiche, however, bore off the bell from all
competitors, and so the spectators who crowded the Champs-Elysees
seemed to think. Of her may be said what Choissy stated of la Duchesse
de la Valliere, she has "_La grace plus belle encore que la beaute_."
The handsome Duchesse d'Istrie and countless other _beautes a la mode_
were present, and well sustained the reputation for beauty of the
The men _caracoled_ between the carriages on their proud and prancing
steeds, followed by grooms, _a l'Anglaise_, in smart liveries, and the
people crowded the footpaths on each side of the drive, commenting
aloud on the equipages and their owners that passed before them.
The promenade at Longchamps, which takes place in the Holy Week, is
said to owe its origin to a religious procession that went annually to
a church so called, whence it by degrees changed its character, and
became a scene of gaiety, in which the most extravagant exhibitions of
luxury were displayed.
One example, out of many, of this extravagance, is furnished by a
publication of the epoch at which Longchamps was in its most palmy
state, when a certain Mademoiselle Duthe, whose means of indulging in
inordinate expense were not solely derived from her ostensible
profession as one of the performers attached to the Opera, figured in
the promenade in a carriage of the most sumptuous kind, drawn by no
less than six thorough-bred horses, the harness of which was of blue
morocco, studded with polished steel ornaments, which produced the most
That our times are improved in respect, at least, to appearances, may
be fairly concluded from the fact that no example of a similar
ostentatious display of luxury is ever now exhibited by persons in the
same position as Mademoiselle Duthe; and that if the same folly that
enabled her to indulge in such extravagance still prevails, a sense of
decency prevents all public display of wealth so acquired. Modern
morals censure not people so much for their vices as for the display of
them, as Aleibiades was blamed not for loving Nemea, but for allowing
himself to be painted reposing on her lap.
Finished the perusal of _Cinq Mars_, by Count Alfred de Vigny. It is an
admirable production, and deeply interested me. The sentiments noble
and elevated, without ever degenerating into aught approaching to
bombast, and the pathos such as a manly heart might feel, without
incurring the accusation of weakness. The author must be a man of fine
feelings, as well as of genius,--but were they ever distinct? I like to
think they cannot be, for my theory is, that the feelings are to genius
what the chords are to a musical instrument--they must be touched to
The style of Count Alfred de Vigny merits the eulogium passed by Lord
Shaftesbury on that of an author in his time, of which he wrote, "It is
free from that affected obscurity and laboured pomp of language aiming
at a false sublime, with crowded simile and mixed metaphor (the
hobby-horse and rattle of the Muses.")
---- dined with us yesterday, and, clever as I admit him to be, he
often displeases me by his severe strictures on mankind. I told him
that he exposed himself to the suspicion of censuring it only because
he had studied a bad specimen of it (self) more attentively than the
good that fell in his way: a reproof that turned the current of his
conversation into a more agreeable channel, though he did not seem to
like the hint.
It is the fashion for people now-a-days to affect this cynicism, and to
expend their wit at the expense of poor human nature, which is abused
_en masse_ for the sins of those who abuse it from judging of all
others by self. How different is ----, who thinks so well of his
species, that, like our English laws, he disbelieves the existence of
guilt until it is absolutely proved,--a charity originating in a
superior nature, and a judgment formed from an involuntary
consciousness of it!
---- suspects evil on all sides, and passes his time in guarding
against it. He dares not indulge friendship, because he doubts the
possibility of its being disinterested, and feels no little
self-complacency when the conduct of those with whom he comes in
contact justifies his suspicions. ----, on the contrary, if sometimes
deceived, feels no bitterness, because he believes that the instance
may be a solitary one, and finds consolation in those whose truth he
has yet had no room to question. His is the best philosophy, for though
it cannot preclude occasional disappointment, it ensures much
happiness, as the indulgence of good feelings invariably does, and he
often creates the good qualities he gives credit for, as few persons
are so bad as not to wish to justify the favourable opinion entertained
of them, as few are so good as to resist the demoralising influence of
A letter from Lord B----, announcing a majority of 105 on the bill of
the Catholic question. Lord Grey made an admirable speech, with a happy
allusion to the fact of Lord Howard of Effingham, who commanded the
English fleet in the reign of Elizabeth, having, though a Roman
Catholic, destroyed the Armada under the anointed banner of the Pope.
What a triumphant refutation of the notion that Roman Catholics dared
not oppose the Pope! Lord B---- writes, that the brilliant and justly
merited eulogium pronounced by Lord Grey on the Duke of Wellington was
rapturously received by the House. How honourable to both was the
praise! I feel delighted that Lord Grey should have distinguished
himself on this occasion, for he is one of the friends in England whom
I most esteem.
---- dined here to-day. He reminds me of the larva, which is the first
state of animal existence in the caterpillar, for his appetite is
voracious, and, as a French naturalist states in describing that
insect, "Tout est estomac dans un larve." ---- is of the opinion of
Aretaeus, that the stomach is the great source of pleasurable
affections, and that as Nature "abhors a vacuum," the more filled it is
Dining is a serious affair with ----. Soup, fish, flesh, and fowl,
disappear from his plate with a rapidity that is really surprising; and
while they are vanishing, not "into empty air," but into the yawning
abyss of his ravenous jaws, his eyes wander around, seeking what next
those same ravenous jaws may devour.
On beholding a person indulge in such gluttony, I feel a distaste to
eating, as a certain double-refined lady of my acquaintance declared
that witnessing the demonstrations of love between two persons of low
and vulgar habits so disgusted her with the tender passion, that she
was sure she never could experience it herself.
I have been reading _la Chronique du Temps de Charles IX_, by Prosper
Merimee, and a most interesting and admirably written book it is. Full
of stirring scenes and incidents, it contains the most graphic pictures
of the manners of the time in which the story is placed, and the
interest progresses, never flagging from the commencement to the end.
This book will be greatly admired in England, where the romances of our
great Northern Wizard have taught us to appreciate the peculiar merit
in which this abounds. Sir Walter Scott will be one of the first to
admire and render justice to this excellent book, and to welcome into
the field of literature this highly gifted brother of the craft.
The French writers deserve justice from the English, for they
invariably treat the works of the latter with indulgence. Scott is not
more read or esteemed in his own country than here; and even the
productions of our young writers are more kindly treated than those of
their own youthful aspirants for fame.
French critics have much merit for this amenity, because the greater
number of them possess a peculiar talent, for the exercise of their
critical acumen, which renders the indulgence of it, like that of the
power of ridicule, very tempting. Among the most remarkable critics of
the day Jules Janin, who though yet little more than a youth, evinces
such talent as a reviewer as to be the terror of mediocrity. His style
is pungent and vigorous, his satire searching and biting, and his tact
in pointing ridicule unfailing. He bids fair to take a most
distinguished place in his profession.
Spent last evening in the Rue d'Anjou, where I met the usual circle and
----. He bepraised every one that was named during the evening, and so
injudiciously, that it was palpable he knew little of those upon whom
he expended his eulogiums; nay, he lauded some whom he acknowledged he
had never seen, on the same principle that actuated the Romans of old
who, having deified every body they knew, erected at last an altar to
the unknown Gods, lest any should by chance be omitted.
This habit of indiscriminate praise is almost as faulty as that of
general censure, and is, in my opinion, more injurious to the praised
than the censure is to the abused, because people are prone to indulge
a greater degree of sympathy towards those attacked than towards those
who are commended. No one said "Amen" to the praises heaped on some
really deserving people by ----, but several put in a palliating
"_pourtant_" to the ill-natured remarks made by ----, whose habit of
abusing all who chance to be named is quite as remarkable as the
other's habit of praising. I would prefer being attacked by ---- to
being lauded by ----, for the extravagance of the eulogiums of the
latter would excite more ill-will towards me than the censures of the
other, as the self-love of the listeners disposes them to feel more
kindly to the one they can pity, than to the person they are disposed
I never look at dear, good Madame C---, without thinking how soon we
may,--nay, we must lose her. At her very advanced age we cannot hope
that she will be long spared to us; yet her freshness of heart and
wonderful vivacity of mind would almost cheat one into a hope of her
long continuing amongst us.
She drove out with me yesterday to the Bois de Boulogne, and, when
remarking how verdant and beautiful all around was looking, exclaimed,
"Ah! why is no second spring allowed to us? I hear," continued she,
"people say they would not like to renew their youth, but I cannot
believe them. There are times--would you believe it?--that I forget my
age, and feel so young in imagination that I can scarcely bring myself
to think this heart, which is still so youthful, can appertain to the
same frame to which is attached this faded and wrinkled face," and she
raised her hand to her cheek. "Ah! my dear friend, it is a sad, sad
thing to mark this fearful change, and I never look in my mirror
without being shocked. The feelings ought to change with the person,
and the heart should become as insensible as the face becomes
"The change in the face is so gradual, too," continued Madame C----.
"We see ourselves after thirty-five, each day looking a little less
well (we are loath to think it ugly), and we attribute it not to the
true cause, the approach of that enemy to beauty--age,--but to some
temporary indisposition, a bad night's rest, or an unbecoming cap. We
thus go on cheating ourselves, but not cheating others, until some day
when the light falls more clearly on our faces, and the fearful truth
stands revealed. Wrinkles have usurped the place of dimples; horrid
lines, traced by Time, have encircled the eyelids; the eyes, too, no
longer bright and pellucid, become dim; the lips dry and colourless,
the teeth yellow, and the cheeks pale and faded, as a dried rose-leaf
long pressed in a _hortus siccus_."
"Alas, alas! who can help thinking of all this when one sees the trees
opening into their rich foliage, the earth putting forth its bright
verdure, and the flowers budding into bloom, while we resemble the hoar
and dreary winter, and scarcely retain a trace of the genial summer we
This conversation suggested the following lines, which I wish I could
translate into French verse to give to Madame C----:
Snowy blossoms of the grave
That now o'er care-worn temples wave,
Oh! what change hath pass'd since ye
O'er youthful brows fell carelessly!
In silken curls of ebon hue
That with such wild luxuriance grew,
The raven's dark and glossy wing
A richer shadow scarce could fling.
The brow that tells a tale of Care
That Sorrow's pen hath written there,
In characters too deeply traced
Ever on earth to be effaced,
Was then a page of spotless white,
Where Love himself might wish to write.
The jetty arches that did rise,
As if to guard the brilliant eyes,
Have lost their smoothness;--and no more
The eyes can sparkle as of yore:
They look like fountains form'd by tears,
Where perish'd Hope in by-gone years.
The nose that served as bridge between
The brow and mouth--for Love, I ween,
To pass--hath lost its sculptured air.
For Time, the spoiler, hath been there.
The mouth--ah! where's the crimson dye
That youth and health did erst supply?
Are these pale lips that seldom smile,
The same that laugh'd, devoid of guile.
Shewing within their coral cell
The shining pearls that there did dwell,
But dwell no more? The pearls are fled,
And homely teeth are in their stead.
The cheeks have lost the blushing rose
That once their surface could disclose;
A dull, pale tint has spread around,
Where rose and lily erst were found.
The throat, and bust--but, ah! forbear,
Let's draw a veil for ever there;
Too fearful is 't to put in rhyme
The changes wrought by cruel Time,
The faithful mirror well reveals
The truth that flattery conceals;
The charms once boasted, now are flown,
But mind and heart are still thine own;
And thou canst see the wreck of years,
And ghost of beauty, without tears.
No outward change thy soul shouldst wring,
Oh! mourn but for the change within;
Grieve over bright illusions fled,
O'er fondly cherish'd hope, now dead,
O'er errors of the days of youth,
Ere wisdom taught the path of truth.
Then hail, ye blossoms of the grave,
That o'er the care-worn temples wave--
Sent to remind us of "that bourn,
Whence traveller can ne'er return;"
The harbingers of peace and rest,
Where only mortals can be blest.
Read Victor Hugo's _Dernier Jour d'un Condamne!_ It is powerfully
written, and the author identifies his feelings so strongly with the
condemned, that he must, while writing the book, have experienced
similar emotions to those which a person in the same terrible position
would have felt. Wonderful power of genius, that can thus excite
sympathy for the erring and the wretched, and awaken attention to a
subject but too little thought of in our selfish times, namely, the
expediency of the abolition of capital punishment! A perusal of Victor
Hugo's graphic book will do more to lead men's minds to reflect on this
point than all the dull essays; or as dull speeches, that may be
written or made on it.
Talking of ---- to-day with ---- ----, she remarked that he had every
sense but common sense, and made light of this deficiency. How
frequently do we hear people do this, as if the possession of talents
or various fine qualities can atone for its absence! Common sense is
not only positively necessary to render talent available by directing
its proper application, but is indispensable as a monitor to warn men
against error. Without this guide the passions and feelings will be
ever leading men astray, and even those with the best natural
dispositions will fall into error.
Common sense is to the individual what the compass is to the
mariner--it enables him to steer safely through the rocks, shoals, and
whirlpools that intersect his way. Were the lives of criminals
accurately known, I am persuaded that it would be found that from a
want of common sense had proceeded their guilt; for a clear perception
of crime would do more to check its perpetration, than the goodness of
heart which is so frequently urged as a preventive against it.
Conscience is the only substitute for common sense, but even this will
not supply its place in all cases. Conscience will lead a man to repent
or atone for crime, but common sense will preclude his committing it by
enabling him to judge of the result. I frequently hear people say, "So
and so are very clever," or "very cunning, and are well calculated to
make their way in the world." This opinion seems to me to be a severe
satire on the world, for as cunning can only appertain to a mean
intellect, to which it serves as a poor substitute for sense, it argues
ill for the world to suppose it can be taken in by it.
I never knew a sensible, or a good person, who was cunning; and I have
known so many weak and wicked ones who possessed this despicable
quality, that I hold it in abhorrence, except in very young children,
to whom Providence gives it before they arrive at good sense.
Went a round of the curiosity shops on the Quai d'Orsay, and bought an
amber vase of rare beauty, said to have once belonged to the Empress
Josephine. When I see the beautiful objects collected together in these
shops, I often think of their probable histories, and of those to whom
they once belonged. Each seems to identify itself with the former
owner, and conjures up in my mind a little romance.
A vase of rock crystal, set in precious stones, seen today, could never
have belonged to aught but some beauty, for whom it was selected by an
adoring lover or husband, ere yet the honeymoon had passed. A chased
gold _etui_, enriched with oriental agates and brilliants, must have
appertained to some _grande dame_, on whose table it rested in a
richly-decorated _salon_; and could it speak, what piquant disclosures
might it not make!
The fine old watch, around the dial of which sparkle diamonds, and on
the back the motto, executed in the same precious stones, "_Vous me
faites oublier les heures_," once adorned the slender waist of some
dainty dame,--a nuptial gift. The silvery sound of its bell often
reminded her of the flight of Time, and her _caro sposo_ of the effects
of it on his inconstant heart, long before her mirror told her of the
ravages of the tyrant. The _flacon_ so tastefully ornamented, has been
held to delicate nostrils when the megrim--that malady peculiar to
refined organisations and susceptible nerves--has assailed its fair
owner; and the heart-shaped pincushion of crimson velvet, inclosed in
its golden case and stuck with pins, has been likened by the giver to
his own heart, pierced by the darts of Love--a simile that probably
displeased not the fair creature to whom it was addressed.
Here are the expensive and tasteful gifts, the _gages d'amour_, not
often disinterested, as bright and beautiful as when they left the
hands of the jeweller; but the givers and the receivers where are they?
Mouldered in the grave long, long years ago! Through how many hands may
these objects not have passed since Death snatched away the persons for
whom they were originally designed! And here they are in the ignoble
custody of some avaricious vender, who having obtained them at the sale
of some departed amateur for less than half their first cost, now
expects to extort more than double.
He takes them up in his unwashed fingers, turns them--oh,
profanation!--round and round, in order to display their various
merits, descants on the delicacy of the workmanship, the sharpness of
the chiseling, the pure water of the brilliants, and the fine taste
displayed in the form; tells a hundred lies about the sum he gave for
them, the offers he has refused, the persons to whom they once
belonged, and those who wish to purchase them!
The _flacon_ of some defunct prude is placed side by side with the
_vinaigrette_ of some _jolie danseuse_ who was any thing but prudish.
How shocked would the original owner of the _flacon_ feel at the
friction! The fan of some _grande dame de la cour_ touches the
diamond-mounted _etui_ of the wife of some _financier_, who would have
given half her diamonds to enter the circle in which she who once owned
this fan found more _ennui_ than amusement. The cane of a deceased
philosopher is in close contact with the golden-hilted sword of a
_petit maitre de l'ancien regime_, and the sparkling _tabatiere_ of a
_Marquis Musque_, the partaker if not the cause of half his _succes
dans le monde_, is placed by the _chapelet_ of a _religieuse de haute
naissance_, who often perhaps dropped a tear on the beads as she
counted them in saying her Ave Marias, when some unbidden thought of
the world she had resigned usurped the place of her aspirations for a
brighter and more enduring world.
"And so 't will be when I am gone," as Moore's beautiful song says; the
rare and beautiful _bijouterie_ which I have collected with such pains,
and looked on with such pleasure, will probably be scattered abroad,
and find their resting places not in gilded _salons_, but in the dingy
coffers of the wily _brocanteur_, whose exorbitant demands will
preclude their finding purchasers. Even these inanimate and puerile
objects have their moral, if people would but seek it; but what has
not, to a reflecting mind?--complained bitterly to-day, of having been
attacked by an anonymous scribbler. I was surprised to see a man
accounted clever and sensible, so much annoyed by what I consider so
wholly beneath his notice. It requires only a knowledge of the world
and a self-respect to enable one to treat such attacks with the
contempt they merit; and those who allow themselves to be mortified by
them must be deficient in these necessary qualifications for passing
smoothly through life.
It seems to me to indicate great weakness of mind, when a person
permits his peace to be at the mercy of every anonymous scribbler who,
actuated by envy or hatred (the invariable causes of such attacks),
writes a libel on him. If a person so attacked would but reflect that
few, if any, who have acquired celebrity, or have been favoured by
fortune, have ever escaped similar assaults, he would be disposed to
consider them as the certain proofs of a merit, the general
acknowledgment of which has excited the ire of the envious, thus
displayed by the only mean within their reach--anonymous abuse.
Anonymous assailants may be likened to the cuttle-fish, which employs
the inky secretions it forms as a means of tormenting its enemy and
I have been reading the poems of Mrs. Hemans, and exquisite they are.
They affect me like sacred music, and never fail to excite religious
sentiments. England only could have produced this poetess, and peculiar
circumstances were necessary to the developement of her genius. The
music of the versification harmonises well with the elevated character
of the thoughts, which inspire the reader (at least such is their
effect on me) with a pensive sentiment of resignation that is not
without a deep charm to a mind that loves to withdraw itself from the
turmoil and bustle incidental to a life passed in a gay and brilliant
The mind of this charming poetess must be like an AEolian harp, that
every sighing wind awakes to music, but to grave and chastened melody,
the full charm of which can only be truly appreciated by those who have
sorrowed, and who look beyond this earth for repose. Well might Goethe
"Wo du das Genie erblickst
Erblickst du auch zugleich die martkrone"
for where is Genius to be found that has not been tried by suffering?
Moore has beautifully said,
"The hearths that are soonest awake to the flowers,
Are always the first to be pierced by the thorns;"
and so it is with poets: they feel intensely before they can make
others feel even superficially.
And there are those who can talk lightly and irreverently of the
sufferings from which spring such exquisite, such glorious music,
unconscious that the fine organization and delicate susceptibility of
the minds of Genius which give such precious gifts to delight others,
receive deep wounds from weapons that could not make an incision on
impenetrable hearts like their own. Yes, the hearts of people of genius
may be said to resemble the American maple-trees, which must be pierced
ere they yield their honied treasures.
If Mrs. Hemans had been as happy as she deserved to be, it is probable
that she would never have written the exquisite poems I have been
reading; for the fulness of content leaves no room for the sweet and
bitter fancies engendered by an imagination that finds its Hippocrene
in the fountain of Sorrow, whose source is in the heart, and can only
flow when touched by the hand of Care.
Well may England be proud of such poetesses as she can now boast!
Johanna Baillie, the noble-minded and elevated; Miss Bowles, the pure,
the true; Miss Mitford, the gifted and the natural; and Mrs. Hemans and
Miss Landon, though last not least in the galaxy of Genius, with
imaginations as brilliant as their hearts are generous and tender. Who
can read the productions of these gifted women, without feeling a
lively interest in their welfare, and a pride in belonging to the
country that has given them birth?
Lord B---- arrived yesterday, and, Heaven be thanked! is in better
health. He says the spring is three weeks more advanced at Paris than
in London. He is delighted at the Catholic Question having been
carried; and trusts, as I do, that Ireland will derive the greatest
benefit from the measure. How few, with estates in a province where so
strong a prejudice is entertained against Roman Catholics as exists in
the north of Ireland, would have voted as Lord B---- has done; but,
like his father, Lord B---- never allows personal interest to interfere
in the discharge of a duty! If there were many such landlords in
Ireland, prejudices, the bane of that country, would soon subside. Lord
B---- came back laden with presents for me. Some of them are quite
beautiful, and would excite the envy of half my sex.
Received letters from good, dear Sir William Gell, and the no less dear
and good Archbishop of Tarentum, both urging us to return to Italy to
see them, as they say, once more before they die. Receiving letters
from absent friends who are dear to us, has almost as much of sadness
as of pleasure in it; for although it is consolatory to know that they
are in life, and are not unmindful of us, still a closely written sheet
of paper is but a poor substitute for the animated conversation, the
cordial grasp of the hand, and the kind glance of the eye; and we
become more sensible of the distance that divides us when letters
written many days ago arrive, and we remember with dread that, since
these very epistles were indited, the hands that traced them may be
chilled by death. This fear, which recurs so often to the mind in all
cases of absence from those dear to us, becomes still more vivid where
infirmity of health and advanced age render the probability of the loss
of friends the greater.
Italy--dear, beautiful Italy--with all its sunshine and attractions,
would not be the same delightful residence to me if I no longer found
there the friends who made my _sejour_ there so pleasant; and among
these the Archbishop and Sir William Gell stand prominent.
Gell writes me that some new and interesting discoveries have been made
at Pompeii. Would that I could be transported there for a few days to
see them with him, as I have beheld so many before when we were present
at several excavations together, and saw exposed to the light of day
objects that had been for two thousand years buried in darkness! There
was a thrilling feeling of interest awakened in the breast by the first
view of these so-long-interred articles of use or ornament of a bygone
generation, and on the spot where their owners perished. It was as
though the secrets of the grave were revealed; and that, to convince us
of the perishable coil of which mortals are formed, it is given us to
behold how much more durable are the commonest utensils of daily use
than the frames of those who boast themselves lords of the creation.
But here am I moralizing, when I ought to be taking advantage of this
glorious day by a promenade in the Bois de Boulogne, where I promised
to conduct Madame d'O----; so _allons en voiture_.
Read the _Disowned_, and like it exceedingly. It is full of beautiful
thoughts, sparkling with wit, teeming with sentiment, and each and all
of them based on immutable truths. The more I read of the works of this
highly gifted writer, the more am I delighted with them; for his
philosophy passes through the alembic of a mind glowing with noble and
generous sentiments, of which it imbibes the hues.
The generality of readers pause not to reflect on the truth and beauty
of the sentiments to be found in novels. They hurry on to the
_denoument_; and a stirring incident, skilfully managed, which serves
to develope the plot, finds more admirers than the noblest thoughts, or
most witty maxims. Yet as people who read nothing else, will read
novels, authors like Mr. Bulwer, whose minds are overflowing with
genius, are compelled to make fiction the vehicle for giving to the
public thoughts and opinions that are deserving of a higher grade of
The greater portion of novel readers, liking not to be detained from
the interest of the story by any extraneous matter, however admirable
it may be, skip over the passages that most delight those who read to
reflect, and not for mere amusement.
I find myself continually pausing over the admirable and profound
reflections of Mr. Bulwer, and almost regret that his writings do not
meet the public as the papers of the _Spectator_ did, when a single one
of them was deemed as essential to the breakfast-table of all lovers of
literature as a morning journal is now to the lovers of news. The merit
of the thoughts would be then duly appreciated, instead of being
hastily passed over in the excitement of the story which they
A long visit from ----, and, as usual, politics furnished the topic.
How I wish people would never talk politics to me! I have no vocation
for that abstruse science,--a science in which even those who devote
all their time and talents to it, but rarely arrive at a proficiency.
In vain do I profess my ignorance and inability; people will not
believe me, and think it necessary to enter into political discussions
that _ennuient_ me beyond expression.
If ---- is to be credited, Charles the Tenth and his government are so
unpopular that his reign will not pass without some violent commotion.
A fatality appears to attend this family, which, like the house of
Stuart, seems doomed never to conciliate the affections of the people.
And yet, Charles the Tenth is said not to be disposed to tyrannical
measures, neither is he without many good qualities. But the last of
the Stuart sovereigns also was naturally a humane and good man, yet he
was driven from his kingdom and his throne,--a proof that weakness of
mind is, perhaps, of all faults in a monarch, the one most likely to
compromise the security of his dynasty.
The restoration of the Stuarts after Cromwell, was hailed with much
more enthusiasm in England than that of Louis the Eighteenth, after the
abdication of the Emperor Napoleon. Yet that enthusiasm was no pledge
that the people would bear from the descendants of the ill-fated
Charles the First--that most perfect of all gentlemen and meekest of
Christians--what they deprived him of not only his kingdom but his life
The house of Bourbon, like that of Stuart, has had its tragedy,
offering a fearful lesson to sovereigns and a terrific example to
subjects. It has had, also, its restoration; and, if report may be
credited, the parallel will not rest here: for there are those who
assert that as James was supplanted on the throne of England by a
relative while yet the legitimate and unoffending heir lived, so will
also the place of Charles the Tenth be filled by one between whom and
the crown stand two legitimate barriers. Time will tell how far the
predictions of ---- are just; but, _en attendant_, I never can believe
that ambition can so blind _one_ who possesses all that can render life
a scene of happiness to himself and of usefulness to others, to throw
away a positive good for the uncertain and unquiet possession of a
crown, bestowed by hands that to confer the dangerous gift must have
subverted a monarchy.
Pandora's box contained not more evils than the crown of France would
inflict on him on whose brow a revolution would place it. From that
hour let him bid adieu to peaceful slumber, to domestic happiness, to
well-merited confidence and esteem, all of which are now his own.
Popularity, never a stable possession in any country, is infinitely
less so in France, where the vivacity of perception of the people leads
them to discover grave faults where only slight errors exist, and where
a natural inconstancy, love of change, and a reckless impatience under
aught that offends them, prompt them to hurl down from the pedestal the
idol of yesterday to replace it by the idol of to-day.
I hear so much good of the Duc and Duchesse d'O---- that I feel a
lively interest in them, and heartily wish they may never be elevated
(unless by the natural demise of the legitimate heirs) to the dangerous
height to which ---- and others assert they will ultimately ascend.
Even in the contingency of a legitimate inheritance of the crown, the
Tuileries would offer a less peaceful couch to them than they find in
the blissful domestic circle at N----.
A long visit from the Duc de T----. I never meet him without being
reminded of the truth of an observation of a French writer, who
says--"_On a vu des gens se passer d'esprit en sachant meler la
politesse avec des manieres nobles et elegantes_." The Duc de T----
passes off perfectly well without _esprit_, the absence of which his
noble manners perfectly conceal; while ----, who is so very clever,
makes one continually conscious of his want of good breeding and _bon
Finished reading _Sayings and Doings_, by Mr. Theodore Hook. Every page
teems with wit, humour, or pathos, and reveals a knowledge of the world
under all the various phases of the ever-moving scene that gives a
lively interest to all he writes. This profound acquaintance with human
life, which stamps the impress of truth on every character portrayed by
his graphic pen, has not soured his feelings or produced that cynical
disposition so frequently engendered by it.
Mr. Hook is no misanthrope, and while he exposes the ridiculous with a
rare wit and humour he evinces a natural and warm sympathy with the
good. He is a very original thinker and writer, hits off characters
with a facility and felicity that few authors possess, and makes them
invariably act in accordance with the peculiar characteristics with
which he has endowed them. The _vraisemblance_ is never for a moment
violated, which makes the reader imagine he is perusing a true
narration instead of a fiction.
House-hunting to-day. Went again over the Hotel Monaco, but its
dilapidated state somewhat alarms us. The suite of reception rooms are
magnificent, but the garden into which they open pleases me still more,
for it is vast and umbrageous. The line old hotels in the Faubourg
St.-Germain, and this is one of the finest, give one a good idea of the
splendour of the _noblesse de l'ancien regime_. The number and
spaciousness of the apartments, the richness of the decorations, though
no longer retaining their pristine beauty, and above all, the terraces
and gardens, have a grand effect.
House-hunting all the day with Lord B----. Went again over the Hotel
Monaco, and abandoned the project of hiring it. Saw one house newly
built and freshly and beautifully decorated, which I like, but Lord
B---- does not think good enough. It is in the Rue de Matignon. It is
so desirable to get into a mansion where every thing is new and in good
taste, which is the case with the one in question, that I hope Lord
B---- will be satisfied with this.
Sat an hour with General d'O---- who has been unwell. Never was there
such a nurse as his wife, and so he said. Illness almost loses its
irksomeness when the sick chamber is cheered by one who is as kind as
she is clever. Madame d'O---- is glad we have not taken the Hotel
Monaco, for she resided in it a long time when it was occupied by her
mother, and she thinks the sleeping-rooms are confined and gloomy.
"After serious consideration and mature deliberation," we have finally
decided on taking the house in the Rue de Matignon. It will be
beautiful when completed, but nevertheless not to be compared to the
Hotel Ney. The _salons de reception_, are very good, and the
decorations are rich and handsome.
The large _salon_ is separated from the lesser by an immense plate of
unsilvered glass, which admits of the fireplaces in each room (they are
_vis-a-vis_) being seen, and has a very good effect. A door on each
side this large plate of glass opens into the smaller _salon_. The
portion of the house allotted to me will, when completed, be like fairy
land. A _salon_, destined to contain my buhl cabinets, _porcelaine de
Sevres_, and rare _bijouterie_, opens into a library by two
glass-doors, and in the pier which divides them is a large mirror
filling up the entire space.
In the library, that opens on a terrace, which is to be covered with a
_berceau_, and converted into a garden, are two mirrors, _vis-a-vis_ to
the two glass doors that communicate from the _salon_; so that on
entering this last, the effect produced is exceedingly pretty. Another
large mirror is placed at the end of the library, and reflects the
When my books and various treasures are arranged in this suite I shall
be very comfortably lodged. My _chambre a coucher_, dressing-room, and
boudoir, are spacious, and beautifully decorated. All this sounds well
and looks well, too, yet we shall leave the Rue de Bourbon with regret,
and Lord B---- now laments that we did not secure it for a long term.
Drove in the Bois de Boulogne. A lovely day, which produced a very
exhilarating effect on my spirits. I know not whether others experience
the same pleasurable sensations that I do on a fine day in spring, when
all nature is bursting into life, and the air and earth look joyous. My
feelings become more buoyant, my step more elastic, and all that I love
seem dearer than before. I remember that even in childhood I was
peculiarly sensible to atmospheric influence, and I find that as I grow
old this susceptibility does not diminish.
We dined at the Rocher de Cancale yesterday; and Counts Septeuil and
Valeski composed our party. The Rocher de Cancale is the Greenwich of
Paris; the oysters and various other kinds of fish served up _con
gusto_, attracting people to it, as the white bait draw visitors to
Greenwich. Our dinner was excellent, and our party very agreeable.
A _diner de restaurant_ is pleasant from its novelty. The guests seem
less ceremonious and more gay; the absence of the elegance that marks
the dinner-table appointments in a _maison bien montee_, gives a
homeliness and heartiness to the repast; and even the attendance of two
or three ill-dressed _garcons_ hurrying about, instead of half-a-dozen
sedate servants in rich liveries, marshalled by a solemn-looking
_maitre-d'hotel_ and groom of the chambers, gives a zest to the dinner
often wanted in more luxurious feasts.
The Bois de Boulogne yesterday presented one of the gayest sights
imaginable as we drove through it, for, being Sunday, all the
_bourgeoisie_ of Paris were promenading there, and in their holyday
dresses. And very pretty and becoming were the said dresses, from those
of the _femmes de negociants_, composed of rich and tasteful materials,
down to those of the humble _grisettes_, who, with jaunty air and
roguish eyes, walked briskly along, casting glances at every smart
toilette they encountered, more intent on examining the dresses than
A good taste in dress seems innate in Frenchwomen of every class, and a
confidence in their own attractions precludes the air of _mauvaise
honte_ and _gaucherie_ so continually observable in the women of other
countries, while it is so distinct from boldness that it never offends.
It was pretty to see the gay dresses of varied colours fluttering
beneath the delicate green foliage, like rich flowers agitated by a
more than usually brisk summer's wind, while the foliage and the
dresses are still in their pristine purity.
The _beau monde_ occupied the drive in the centre, their vehicles of
every description attracting the admiration of the pedestrians, who
glanced from the well-appointed carriages, whose owners reclined
negligently back as if unwilling to be seen, to the smart young
equestrians on prancing steeds, who caracoled past with the air half
dandy and half _militaire_ that characterises every young Frenchman.
I am always struck in a crowd in Paris with the soldier-like air of its
male population; and this air does not seem to be the result of study,
but sits as naturally on them as does the look, half fierce, half
mocking, that accompanies it. There is something in the nature of a
Frenchman that enables him to become a soldier in less time than is
usually necessary to render the natives of other countries _au fait_ in
the routine of duty, just as he learns to dance well in a quarter of
the time required to teach them to go through a simple measure.
The Emperor Napoleon quickly observed this peculiar predisposition to a
military life in his subjects, and took advantage of it to fool them to
the top of their bent. The victories achieved beneath his banner
reflect scarcely less honour on them than on him, and the memory of
them associates his name in their hearts by the strongest bonds of
sympathy that can bind a Frenchman--the love of glory. A sense of duty,
high discipline, and true courage, influence our soldiers in the
discharge of their calling. They are proud of their country and of
their regiment, for the honour of which they are ready to fight unto
the death; but a Frenchman, though proud of his country and his
regiment, is still more proud of his individual self, and, believing
that all eyes are upon _him_ acts as if his single arm could accomplish
that which only soldiers _en masse_ can achieve.
A pleasant party at dinner at home yesterday. The Marquis de Mornay,
Count Valeski, and General Ornano, were among the number. Laughed
immoderately at the _naivete_ of ----, who is irresistibly ludicrous.
Madame ---- came in the evening and sang "God save the King." Time was
that her singing this national anthem would have electrified the
hearers, but now--. Alas! alas! that voices, like faces, should lose
their delicate flexibility and freshness, and seem but like the faint
echo of their former brilliant tones!
Does the ear of a singer, like the eye of some _has-been_ beauty, lose
its fine perception and become accustomed to the change in the voice,
as does the eye to that in the face, to which it appertains, from being
daily in the habit of seeing the said face! Merciful dispensation of
Providence, which thus saves us from the horror and dismay we must
experience could we but behold ourselves as others see us, after a
lapse of years without having met; while we, unconscious of the sad
change in ourselves, are perfectly sensible of it in them. Oh, the
misery of the _mezzo termine_ in the journey of life, when time robs
the eyes of their lustre, the cheeks of their roses, the mouth of its
pearls, and the heart of its gaiety, and writes harsh sentences on
brows once smooth and polished as marble!
Well a-day! ah, well a-day!
Why fleets youth so fast away,
Taking beauty in its train,
Never to return again?
Well a-day! ah, well a-day!
Why will health no longer stay?
After youth 't will not remain,
Chased away by care and pain.
Well a-day! ah, well a-day!
Youth, health, beauty, gone for aye,
Life itself must quickly wane
With its thoughts and wishes vain.
Well a-day! ah, well a-day!
Frail and perishable clay
That to earth our wishes chain,
Well it is that brief's thy reign.
I have been reading Captain Marryat's _Naval Officer_, and think it
exceedingly clever and amusing. It is like himself, full of talent,
originality, and humour. He is an accurate observer of life; nothing
escapes him; yet there is no bitterness in his satire and no
exaggeration in his comic vein. He is never obliged to explain to his
readers _why_ the characters he introduces act in such or such a
They always bear out the parts he wishes them to enact, and the whole
story goes on so naturally that one feels as if reading a narrative of
facts, instead of a work of fiction.
I have known Captain Marryat many years, and liked him from the first;
but this circumstance, far from rendering me more indulgent to his
novel, makes me more fastidious; for I find myself at all times more
disposed to criticise the writings of persons whom I know and like than
those of strangers: perhaps because I expect more from them, if, as in
the present case, I know them to be very clever.
Dined yesterday at the Cadran Bleu, and went in the evening to see _La
Tour d'Auvergne_, a piece founded on the life, and taking its name from
a soldier of the time of the Republic. A nobler character than that of
La Tour d'Auvergne could not be selected for a dramatic hero, and
ancient times furnish posterity with no brighter example. A letter from
Carnot, then Minister of War, addressed to this distinguished soldier
and admirable man, has pleased me so much that I give its substance:
"On fixing my attention on the men who reflect honour on the
army, I have remarked you, citizen, and I said to the First
Consul--'La Tour d'Auvergne Corret, descendant of the family
of Turenne, has inherited its bravery and its virtues. One of
the oldest officers in the army, he counts the greatest
number of brilliant actions, and all the brave name him to be
the most brave. As modest as he is intrepid, he has shewn
himself anxious for glory alone, and has refused all the
grades offered to him. At the eastern Pyrenees the General
assembled all the companies of the grenadiers, and during the
remainder of the campaign gave them no chief. The oldest
captain was to command them, and he was Latour d'Auvergne. He
obeyed, and the corps was soon named by the enemy the
"'One of his friends had an only son, whose labour was
necessary for the support of his father, and this young man
was included in the conscription. Latour d'Auvergne, broken
down by fatigue, could not labour, but he could still fight.
He hastened to the army of the Rhine; replaced the son of his
friend; and, during two campaigns, with his knapsack on his
hack and always in the foremost rank, he was in every
engagement, animating the grenadiers by his discourse and by
his example. Poor, but proud, he has refused the gift of an
estate offered to him by the head of his family. Simple in
his manners, and temperate in his habits, he lives on the
limited pay of a captain. Highly informed, and speaking
several languages, his erudition equals his courage. We are
indebted to his pen for the interesting work entitled _Les
Origines Gauloises_. Such rare talents and virtues appertain
to the page of history, but to the First Consul belongs the
right to anticipate its award.'
"The First Consul, citizen, heard this recital with the same
emotions that I experienced. He named you instantly first
grenadier of the Republic, and decreed you this sword of
honour. _Salut et fraternite_."
The distinction accorded so readily to Latour d'Auvergne by the First
Consul, himself a hero, who could better than any other contemporary
among his countrymen appreciate the glory he was called on by Carnot to
reward, was refused by the gallant veteran.
"Among us soldiers," said he, "there is neither first nor last." He
demanded, as the sole recompense of his services, to be sent to join
his old brothers-in-arms, to fight once more with them, not as the
_first_, but as the _oldest_, soldier of the Republic.
His death was like his life, glorious; for he fell on the field of
battle at Neubourg, in 1800, mourned by the whole army, who devoted a
day's pay to the purchase of an urn to preserve his heart, for a niche
in the Pantheon.
Another distinction, not less touching, was accorded to his memory by
the regiment in which he served. The sergeant, in calling his names in
the muster of his company, always called Latour d'Auvergne, and the
corporal answered--"_Mort au champ d'honneur_." If the history of this
hero excited the warm admiration of those opposed to him in arms, the
effect of its representation on his compatriots may be more easily
imagined than described. Nothing could exceed the enthusiasm it excited
in their minds. Men, women, and children, seemed electrified by it.
There is a chord in the hearts of the French that responds
instantaneously, and with vivid emotion, to any appeal made to their
national glory; and this susceptibility constitutes the germ so easily
fructified by those who know how to cultivate it.
Enthusiasm, if it sometimes leads to error, or commits its votaries
into the ridiculous, also prompts and accomplishes the most glorious
achievements; and it is impossible not to feel a sympathy with its
unsophisticated demonstrations thus evinced _en masse_. Civilization,
more than aught else, tends to discourage enthusiasm; and where it is
pushed to the utmost degree of perfection, there will this prompter of
great deeds, this darer of impossibilities and instigator of heroic
actions, be most rarely found.
Drove yesterday to see the villa of the Duchesse de Montmorency, which
is to be let. The grounds are very pretty, and a portion of them opens
by iron rails to the Bois de Boulogne, which is a great advantage. But
neither the villa nor the grounds are to be compared to the beautiful
ones in the neighbourhood of London, where, as an old French gentleman
once observed to me, "the trees seem to take a peculiar pride and
pleasure in growing."
I have seen nothing to be compared with the tasteful villas on green
velvet lawns sloping down to the limpid Thames, near Richmond, with
umbrageous trees bending their leafy branches to the earth and water;
or to the colonnaded mansions peeping forth from the well-wooded
grounds of Roehampton and its vicinage.
I can remember as distinctly as if beheld yesterday, the various
tempting residences that meet the eye in a morning drive, or in a row
on the silvery Thames, compelling the violation of the tenth
commandment, by looking so beautiful that one imagines how happily a
life might glide away in such abodes, forgetful that in no earthly
abode can existence be passed free from the cares meant to remind us
that this is not our abiding-place.
Went to see Bagatelle yesterday with the Duchesse de G----. Here the
Duc de Bordeaux and Mademoiselle, his sister, pass much of their time.
It is a very pleasant villa, and contains many proofs of the taste and
industry of these very interesting children, who are greatly beloved by
those who have access to them. Various stories were related to us
illustrative of their goodness of heart and considerate kindness for
those around them; and, making all due allowance for the partiality of
the narrators, they went far to prove that these scions of royalty are
more amiable and unspoilt than are most children of their age, and of
even far less elevated rank. "Born in sorrow, and nursed in tears," the
Duc de Bordeaux's early infancy has not passed under bright auspices;
and those are not wanting who prophesy that he may hereafter look back
to the days passed at Bagatelle as the happiest of his life.
It requires little of the prescience of a soothsayer to make this
prediction, when we reflect that the lives of even the most popular of
those born to the dangerous inheritance of a crown must ever be more
exposed to the cares that weigh so heavily, and the responsibility that
presses so continually on them, than are those who, exempt from the
splendour of sovereignty, escape also its toils. "Oh happy they, the
happiest of their kind," who enjoy, in the peace and repose of a
private station, a competency, good health, a love of, and power of
indulging in, study; an unreproaching conscience, and a cheerful mind!
With such blessings they may contemplate, without a feeling of envy,
the more brilliant but less fortunate lots of those great ones of the
earth, whose elevation but too often serves to render them the target
at which Fortune loves aim her most envenomed darts.
Passed the greater part of the morning in the house in the Rue de
Matignon, superintending the alterations and improvements to be carried
into execution there. It has been found necessary to build an
additional room, which the proprietor pledges himself can be ready for
occupation in six weeks, and already have its walls reached nearly to
their intended height. The builders seem to be as expeditious as the
upholsterers at Paris, and adding a room or two to a mansion appears to
be as easily accomplished as adding some extra furniture.
One is made to pay dearly, however, for this facility and expedition;
for rents are extravagantly high at Paris, as are also the prices of
Already does the terrace begin to assume the appearance of a garden.
Deep beds of earth inclosed in green cases line the sides, and an
abundance of orange-trees, flowering shrubs, plants, and flowers, are
placed in them.
At the end of the terrace, the wall which bounds it has been painted in
fresco, with a view of Italian scenery; and this wall forms the back of
an aviary, with a fountain that plays in the centre. A smaller aviary,
constructed of glass, is erected on the end of the terrace, close to my
library, from the window of which I can feed my favourite birds; and
this aviary, as well as the library, is warmed by means of a stove
beneath the latter. The terrace is covered by a lattice-work, formed
into arched windows at the side next the court: over the sides and roof
there are trailing parasitical plants. Nothing in the new residence
pleases me so much as this suite, and the terrace attached to it.
Already do we begin to feel the unsettled state peculiar to an intended
change of abode, and the prospect of entering a new one disturbs the
sense of enjoyment of the old. Gladly would we remain where we are, for
we prefer this hotel to any other at Paris; but the days we have to
sojourn in it are numbered, and our regret is unavailing.
September, 1829.--A chasm of many months in my journal. When last I
closed it, little could I have foreseen the terrible blow that awaited
me. Well may I exclaim with the French writer whose works I have been
just reading, "_Nous, qui sommes bornes en tout, comment le sommes-nous
si peu quand il s'agit de souffrir_." How slowly has time passed since!
Every hour counted, and each coloured by care, the past turned to with
the vain hope of forgetting the present, and the future no longer
offering the bright prospect it once unfolded!
How is my destiny changed since I last opened this book! My hopes have
faded and vanished like the leaves whose opening into life I hailed
with joy six months ago, little dreaming that before the first cold
breath of autumn had tinted them with brown, _he_ who saw them expand
with me would have passed from the earth!
_October_.--Ill, and confined to my chamber for several days, my
physician prescribes society to relieve low spirits; but in the present
state of mine, the remedy seems worse than the disease.
My old friends Mr. and Mrs. Mathews, and their clever son, have arrived
at Paris and dined here yesterday. Mr. Matthews is as entertaining as
ever, and his wife as amiable and _spirituelle_. They are excellent as
well as clever people, and their society is very agreeable. Charles
Mathews, the son, is full of talent, possesses all his father's powers
of imitation, and sings comic songs of his own composition that James
Smith himself might be proud to have written.
The Duc and Duchesse de Guiche, the Marquise de Poulpry, Lady
Combermere, Madame Craufurd, and Count Valeski, came in the evening,
and were all highly gratified with some recitations and songs given us
by Mr. Mathews and his son. They were not less pleased with Mrs.
Mathews, whose manners and conversation are peculiarly fascinating, and
whose good looks and youthfulness of appearance made them almost
disbelieve that she could be the mother of a grown-up son.
How forcibly did the recitations and songs bring back former times to
my memory, when in St. James's Square, or in his own beautiful cottage
at Highgate, I have so frequently been delighted by the performances of
this clever and worthy man! The recollection of the past occupied me
more last night than did the actual present, and caused me to return
but a faint echo to the reiterated applause which every new effort of
his drew forth from the party. There are moments when the present
appears like a dream, and that we think the past, which is gone for
ever, has more of reality in it!
I took Mr. and Mrs. Mathews to the Jardin des Plantes to-day, and was
much amused by an incident that occurred there. A pretty child, with
her _bonne_, were seated on a bench near to which we placed ourselves.
She was asking questions relative to the animals she had seen, and Mr.
Mathews having turned his head away from her, gave some admirable
imitations of the sounds peculiar to the beasts of which she was
speaking, and also of the voice and speeches of the person who had
Never did he exert himself more to please a crowded and admiring
audience than to amuse this child, who, maintaining an immovable
gravity during the imitations, quietly observed to her nurse, "_Ma
bonne, ce Monsieur est bien drole_."
The mortification of Mr. Mathews on this occasion was very diverting.
"How!" exclaimed he, "is it possible that all my efforts to amuse that
child have so wholly failed? She never moved a muscle! I suppose the
French children are not so easily pleased as our English men and women
He reverted to this disappointment more than once during our drive
back, and seemed dispirited by it. Nevertheless, he gave us some most
humorous imitations of the lower orders of the French talking loudly
together, in which he spoke in so many different voices that one could
have imagined that no less than half-a-dozen people, at least, were
engaged in the conversation.
I think so highly of the intellectual powers of Mr. Mathews, and find
his conversation so interesting that, admirable as are his imitations,
I prefer the former. He has seen so much of the world in all its
phases, that he has a piquant anecdote or a clever story to relate
touching every place and almost every person mentioned. Yet, with all
this intuitive and acquired knowledge of the world, he possesses all
the simplicity of a child, and a good nature that never can resist an
appeal to it.
Spent all yesterday in reading, and writing letters on business. I
begin to experience the _ennui_ of having affairs to attend to, and
groan in spirit, if not aloud, at having to read and write dry details
on the subject. To unbend my mind from its painful thoughts and
tension, I devoted the evening to reading, which affords me the surest
relief, by transporting my thoughts from the cares that oppress me.
Had a long visit from my old acquaintance the Count de Montalembert,
to-day. He is in very low spirits, occasioned by the recent death of an
only and charming daughter, and could not restrain his deep emotion,
when recounting to me the particulars of her latter days. His grief was
contagious, and found a chord in my heart that responded to it. When we
last met, it was in a gay and brilliant party, each of us in high
spirits; and now, though but a few more years have passed over our
heads, how changed are our feelings! We meet, not to amuse and to be
amused, but to talk of those we have lost, and whose loss has darkened
our lives. He spoke of his son, who already gives the promise of
distinguishing himself, and of reflecting credit on his family.
How little do we know people whom we meet only in general society, in
which every one assumes a similar tone and manner, reserving for home
the peculiarities that distinguish each from the other, and suppressing
all demonstration of the feelings indulged only in the privacy of the
I have been many years acquainted with the Count de Montalembert, yet
never really appreciated him until today. Had I been asked to describe
him yesterday, I should have spoken of him as a _spirituel_, lively,
and amusing man, with remarkably good manners, a great knowledge of the
world, and possessing in an eminent degree the tact and talent _de
societe_. Had any one mentioned that he was a man of deep feeling, I
should have been disposed to question the discernment of the person who
asserted it: yet now I am as perfectly convinced of the fact as it is
possible to be, and had he paid this visit before affliction had
assailed me, he would not, I am convinced, have revealed his own grief.
Yes, affliction is like the divinatory wand, whose touch discovers
deep-buried springs the existence of which was previously unknown.
---- called on me to-day, and talked a good deal of ----. I endeavoured
to excite sympathy for the unhappy person, but failed in the attempt.
The unfortunate generally meet with more blame than pity; for as the
latter is a painful emotion, people endeavour to exonerate themselves
from its indulgence, by trying to discover some error which may have
led to the misfortune they are too selfish to commiserate. Alas! there
are but few friends who, like ivy, cling to ruin, and ---- is not one
The Prince and Princesse Soutzo dined with us yesterday. They are as
amiable and agreeable as ever, and I felt great gratification in
meeting them again. We talked over the many pleasant days we passed
together at Pisa. Alas! how changed is my domestic circle since then!
They missed _one_ who would have joined me in welcoming them to Paris,
and whose unvaried kindness they have not forgotten!
The "decent dignity" with which this interesting couple support their
altered fortunes, won my esteem on our first acquaintance. Prince
Soutzo was Hospodar, or reigning Prince of Moldavia, and married the
eldest daughter of Prince Carraga, Hospodar of Walachia. He maintained
the state attendant on his high rank, beloved and respected by those he
governed, until the patriotic sentiments inseparable from a great mind
induced him to sacrifice rank, fortune, and power, to the cause of
Greece, his native land. He only saved his life by flight; for the
angry Sultan with whom he had previously been a great favourite, had
already sent an order for his decapitation! Never was a reverse of
fortune borne with greater equanimity than by this charming family,
whose virtues, endowments, and acquirements, fit them for the most
My old acquaintances, Mr. Rogers the poet, and Mr. Luttrell, called on
me to-day. Of how many pleasant days in St. James's Square did the
sight of both remind me! Such days I shall pass there no more: but I
must not give way to reflections that are, alas! as unavailing as they
are painful. Both of these my old friends are unchanged. Time has dealt
gently by them during the seven years that have elapsed since we last
met: the restless tyrant has been less merciful to me. We may, however,
bear with equanimity the ravages of Time, if we meet the destroyer side
by side with those dear to us, those who have witnessed our youth and
maturity, and who have advanced with us into the autumn of life; but,
when they are lost to us, how dreary becomes the prospect!
How difficult it is to prevent the mind from dwelling on thoughts
fraught with sadness, when once the chord of memory vibrates to the
touch of grief!
Mr. Rogers talked of Byron, and evinced a deep feeling of regard for
his memory, He little knows the manner in which he is treated in a
certain poem, written by him in one of his angry moods, and which I
urged him, but in vain, to commit to the flames. The knowledge of it,
however, would, I am convinced, excite no wrath in the heart of Rogers,
who would feel more sorrow than anger that one he believed his friend
could have written so bitter a diatribe against him. And, truth to say,
the poem in question is more injurious to the memory of Byron than it
could be painful to him who is the subject of it; but I hope that it
may never be published, and I think no one who had delicacy or feeling
would bring it to light.
Byron read this lampoon to us one day at Genoa, and enjoyed our dismay
at it like a froward boy who has achieved what he considers some
mischievous prank. He offered us a copy, but we declined to accept it;
for, being in the habit of seeing Mr. Rogers frequently beneath our
roof, we thought it would be treacherous to him. Byron, however, found
others less scrupulous, and three or four copies of it have been given
The love of mischief was strong in the heart of Byron even to the last,
but, while recklessly indulging it in trifles, he was capable of giving
proofs of exalted friendship to those against whom he practised it;
and, had Rogers stood in need of kindness, he would have found no lack
of it in his brother poet, even in the very hour he had penned the
malicious lampoon in question against him.
Comte d'Orsay, with his frank _naivete_, observed, "I thought you were
one of Mr. Rogers's most intimate friends, and so all the world had
reason to think, after reading your dedication of the _Giaour_ to him."
"Yes," answered Byron, laughing, "and it is our friendship that gives
me the privilege of taking a liberty with him."
"If it is thus you evince your friendship," replied Comte d'Orsay, "I
should be disposed to prefer your enmity."
"You," said Byron, "could never excite this last sentiment in my
breast, for you neither say nor do spiteful things."
Brief as was the period Byron had lived in what is termed fashionable
society in London, it was long enough to have engendered in him a habit
of _persiflage_, and a love of uttering sarcasms, (more from a desire
of displaying wit than from malice,) peculiar to that circle in which,
if every man's hand is not against his associates, every man's tongue
is. He drew no line of demarcation between _uttering_ and _writing_
satirical things; and the first being, if not sanctioned, at least
permitted in the society in which he had lived in London, he considered
himself not more culpable in inditing his satires than the others were
in speaking them. He would have laughed at being censured for putting
on paper the epigrammatic malice that his former associates would
delight in uttering before all except the person at whom it was aimed;
yet the world see the matter in another point of view, and many of
those who _speak_ as much evil of their _soi-disant_ friends, would
declare, if not feel, themselves shocked at Byron's writing it.
I know no more agreeable member of society than Mr. Luttrell. His
conversation, like a limpid stream, flows smoothly and brightly along,
revealing the depths beneath its current, now sparkling over the
objects it discloses or reflecting those by which it glides. He never
talks for talking's sake; but his mind is so well filled that, like a
fountain which when stirred sends up from its bosom sparkling showers,
his mind, when excited, sends forth thoughts no less bright than
profound, revealing the treasures with which it is so richly stored.
The conversation of Mr. Luttrell makes me think, while that of many
others only amuses me.
Lord John Russell has arrived at Paris, and sat with me a considerable
time to-day. How very agreeable he can be when his reserve wears off,
and what a pity it is he should ever allow it to veil the many fine
qualities he possesses! Few men have a finer taste in literature, or a
more highly cultivated mind. It seizes with rapidity whatever is
brought before it; and being wholly free from passion or egotism, the
views he takes on all subjects are just and unprejudiced. He has a
quick perception of the ridiculous, and possesses a fund of dry caustic
humour that might render him a very dangerous opponent in a debate,
were it not governed by a good breeding and a calmness that never
Lord John Russell is precisely the person calculated to fill a high
official situation. Well informed on all subjects, with an ardent love
of his country, and an anxious desire to serve it, he has a sobriety of
judgment and a strictness of principle that will for ever place him
beyond the reach of suspicion, even to the most prejudiced of his
political adversaries. The reserve complained of by those who are only
superficially acquainted with him, would be highly advantageous to a
minister; for it would not only preserve him from the approaches to
familiarity, so injurious to men in power, but would discourage the
hopes founded on the facility of manner of those whose very smiles and
simple acts of politeness are by the many looked on as an encouragement
to form the most unreasonable ones, and as an excuse for the indulgence
of angry feelings when those unreasonable hopes are frustrated.
Lord John Russell, Mr. Rogers, Mr. Luttrell, Monsieur Thiers, Monsieur
Mignet, and Mr. Poulett Thomson, dined here yesterday. The party was an
agreeable one, and the guests seemed mutually pleased with each other.
Monsieur Thiers is a very remarkable person--quick, animated, and
observant: nothing escapes him, and his remarks are indicative of a
mind of great power. I enjoy listening to his conversation, which is at
once full of originality, yet free from the slightest shade of
Monsieur Mignet, who is the inseparable friend of Monsieur Thiers,
reminds me every time I see him of Byron, for there is a striking
likeness in the countenance. With great abilities, Monsieur Mignet
gives me the notion of being more fitted to a life of philosophical
research and contemplation than of action, while Monsieur Thiers
impresses me with the conviction of his being formed to fill a busy and
conspicuous part in the drama of life.
He is a sort of modern Prometheus, capable of creating and of vivifying
with the electric spark of mind; but, whether he would steal the fire
from Heaven, or a less elevated region, I am not prepared to say. He
has called into life a body--and a vast one--by his vigorous writings,
and has infused into it a spirit that will not be soon or easily
quelled. Whether that spirit will tend to the advancement of his
country or not, time will prove; but, _en attendant_, its ebullitions
may occasion as much trouble to the _powers that be_ as did the spirit
engendered by Mirabeau in a former reign.
The countenance of Monsieur Thiers is remarkable. The eyes, even
through his spectacles, flash with intelligence, and the expression of
his face varies with every sentiment he utters. Thiers is a man to
effect a revolution, and Mignet would be the historian to narrate it.
There is something very interesting in the unbroken friendship of these
two men of genius, and its constancy elevates both in my estimation.
They are not more unlike than are their respective works, both of
which, though so dissimilar, are admirable in their way. The mobility
and extreme excitability of the French, render such men as Monsieur
Thiers extremely dangerous to monarchical power. His genius, his
eloquence, and his boldness, furnish him with the means of exciting the
enthusiasm of his countrymen as surely as a torch applied to gunpowder
produces an explosion. In England these qualities, however elevated,
would fail to produce similar results; for enthusiasm is there little
known, and, when it comes forth, satisfies itself with a brief
manifestation, and swiftly resigns itself to the prudent jurisdiction
of reason. Napoleon himself, with all the glory associated with his
name--a glory that intoxicated the French--would have failed to
inebriate the sober-minded English.
Through my acquaintance with the Baron de Cailleux, who is at the head
of the Musee, I obtained permission to take Lord John Russell, Mr.
Rogers, and Mr. Luttrell, to the galleries of the Louvre yesterday, it
being a day on which the public are excluded. The Baron received us,
did the honours of the Musee with all the intelligence and urbanity
that distinguish him, and made as favourable an impression on my
countrymen as they seemed to have produced on him.
Rogers has a pure taste in the fine arts, and has cultivated it _con
amore_; Luttrell brings to the study a practised eye and a matured
judgment; but Lord John, nurtured from infancy in dwellings, the walls
of which glow with the _chefs-d'oeuvre_ of the old masters and the best
works of the modern ones, possesses an exquisite tact in recognizing at
a glance the finest points in a picture, and reasons on them with all
the _savoir_ of a connoisseur and the feeling of an amateur.
It is a pleasant thing to view collections of art with those fully
capable of appreciating them, and I enjoyed this satisfaction
yesterday. The Baron de Cailleux evinced no little pleasure in
conducting my companions from one masterpiece to another, and two or
three hours passed away rapidly in the interesting study.
The Marquis and Marquise de B----, Comte V----, and some others, dined
here yesterday. The Marquise de B---- is very clever, has agreeable
manners, knows the world thoroughly, and neither under nor overvalues
it. A constant friction with society, while it smoothes down asperities
and polishes manners, is apt to impair if not destroy much of the
originality and raciness peculiar to clever people. To suit themselves
to the ordinary level of society, they become either insipid or
satirical; they mix too much water, or apply cayenne pepper to the wine
of their conversation: hence that mind which, apart from the artificial
atmosphere of the busy world, might have grown into strength and
beauty, becomes like some poor child nurtured in the unhealthy
precincts of a dense and crowded city,--diseased, stunted, rickety, and
incapable of distinguishing itself from its fellows.
As clever people cannot elevate the mass with which they herd to their
own level, they are apt to sink to theirs; and persons with talents
that might have served for nobler purposes are suffered to degenerate
into _diseurs de bons mots_ and _raconteurs de societe_, content with
the paltry distinction of being considered amusing. How many such have
I encountered, satisfied with being pigmies, who might have grown to be
giants, but who were consoled by the reflection that in that world in
which their sole aim is to shine, pigmies are more tolerated than
giants, as people prefer looking down to looking up!
Lord Allen and Sir Andrew Barnard dined here yesterday. They appear to
enter into the gaiety of Paris with great zest, go the round of the
theatres, dine at all the celebrated _restaurateurs_, mix enough in the
_beau monde_ to be enabled to observe the difference between the
Parisian and London one, and will, at the expiration of the term
assigned to their _sejour_ here, return to England well satisfied with
their trip and with themselves.
Lord A---- has tasted all the _nouveaux plats a la mode_, for at Paris
new dishes are as frequently invented as new bonnets or caps; and the
proficiency in the culinary art which he has acquired will render him
an oracle at his clubs, until the more recent arrival of some other
epicurean from the French capital deposes his brief sovereignty.
But it is not in the culinary art alone that Lord Allen evinces his
good taste, for no one is a better judge of all that constitutes the
_agremens_ of life, or more _au fait_ of the [* omitted word?] of
contributing to them.
Sir A. B----, as devoted as ever to music, has heard all the new, and
finds that the old, like old friends, loses nothing by comparison. It
is pleasant to see that the advance of years impairs not the taste for
a refined and innocent pleasure.
Mr. Rogers and Mr. Luttrell spent last evening here. The minds of both
teem with reflection, and their conversation is a high intellectual
treat to me. There is a repose in the society of clever and refined
Englishmen to be met with in no other: the absence of all attempts to
shine, or at least of the evidence of such attempts; the mildness of
the manners; the low voices, the freedom from any flattery, except the
most delicate and acceptable of all to a fastidious person, namely,
that implied by the subjects of conversation chosen, and the interest
yielded to them;--yes, these peculiarities have a great charm for me,
and Mr. Rogers and Mr. Luttrell possess them in an eminent degree.
The mercurial temperaments of the French preclude them from this
calmness of manner and mildness of speech. More obsequiously polite and
attentive to women, the exuberance of their animal spirits often
hurries them into a gaiety evinced by brilliant sallies and clever
observations. They shine, but they let the desire to do so be too
evident to admit of that quietude that forms one of the most agreeable,
as well as distinguishing, attributes of the conversation of a refined
and highly-intellectual Englishman.
---- and ---- spent last evening here. Two more opposite characters
could not easily have encountered. One influenced wholly by his
feelings, the other by his reason, each seemed to form a low estimate
of the other; and this, _malgre_ all the restraint imposed by good
breeding, was but too visible. Neither has any cause to be vain, for he
becomes a dupe who judges with his heart instead of his head, and an
egotist who permits not his heart to be touched by the toleration of
his head. ---- is often duped, but sometimes liked for his good nature;
while ----, if never duped, is never liked.
I took Lord John Russell, Mr. Rogers, and Mr. Luttrell yesterday to La
Muette to see M. Erard's fine collection of pictures, with which they
were very much pleased. Our drive to the Bois de Boulogne was a very
agreeable one, and was rendered so by their pleasant conversation.
I have presented Mr. Rogers with some acquisitions for his cabinet of
antique _bijouterie_, with which he appears delighted. I outbid M.
Millingen, who was bargaining at Naples for these little treasures, and
secured a diminutive Cupid, a Bacchus, and a small bunch of grapes of
pure gold, and of exquisite workmanship, which will now be transferred
to the museum of my friend, Mr. Rogers. He will not, I dare say, be
more grateful for the gift of my Cupid than his sex generally are when
ladies no longer young bestow their love on them, and so I hinted when
giving him the little winged god; but, _n'importe_, the gift may
please, though the giver be forgotten.
Lord Pembroke dined here yesterday, he is peculiarly well-bred and
gentlemanlike, and looks a nobleman from top to toe. He has acquired