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" Ha ! ha! ha!' Jaughed the Abbé de Chaulieu. • How like Fontenelle ! what an anomalous creature 'tis ! He has the most kindness and the least feeling of any man I ever knew. Let Hamilton find a pitbier description for him if he can !'
Whatever reply the friend of the preuz Grammont might have made, was prevented by the entrance of a young man of about twenty-one.
In person he was small, slight, and very thin. There was a certain affectation of polite address in bis manner and mien, which did not quite become him; and though he was received by the old wits with great cordiality, and on a footing of perfect equality ; yet, the inexpressible air which denotes birth, was both pretended to, and wanting. This, perhaps, was however owing to the ordinary inexperience of youth; which, if not awkwardly bashful, is generally awkward in its assurance. Whatever its cause, the impression vanished directly be entered into conversation. I do not think I ever encountered a man so brilliantly, yet so easily witty. He had but little of the studied allusion—the antithetical point-the classic metaphor, which chiefly characterized the wits of my day. On the contrary, it was an exceeding and naive simplicity, which gave such unrivalled charm and piquancy to his conversation. And while I have not scrupled to stamp on my pages some faint imitation of the peculiar dialogue of other eminent characters, I must confess myself utterly unable to convey the smallest idea of his method of making words irresistible. Contenting my efforts, therefore, with describing his personal appearance-interesting, because that of the most striking literary character it has been my loi to meetI shall omit his share in the remainder of the conversation I am rehearsing, and beg the reader to recall that passage in Tacitus, in which the great historian says, that in the funeral of Junia," the images of Brutus and Cassius outshone all the rest, from the very circumstance of their being the sole ones excluded from the rite.”
“ The countenance, then, of Marie Francis Arouet, (since so celebrated under the name of Voltaire) was plain in feature, but singularly striking in effect; its vivacity was the very perfection of what Steele once happily called physiognomical eloquence.' His eyes were dark, fiery rather than bright, and so restless that they never dwelt in the same, place for a moment; bis nouth was at once the worst and the most peculiar feature of his face: it betokened bumour, it is true; but it also betrayed malignancy--nor did it ever smile without sarcasm. Though flattering to those present, bis words against the absent, uttered by that bitter and curling lip, mingled with your pleasure at their wit a little fear at their causticity. I believe no one, be he as bold, as callous, or as faultless as human nature can be, could be one hour with that man and not feel apprehension. Ridicule, so lavish, yet so true to the markso wanton, yet so seemingly just—so bright, that while it wandered round its target, in apparent, though terrible playfulness, it burned into the spot, and engraved there a brand, and a token indelible and perpetual ;—this no man could witness, when darted towards another, and feel safe for himself. The very caprice and levity of the jester seemed more perilous, because less to be calculated upon, than a systematic principle of bitterness or satire. Bolingbroke compared him, not un
aptly, to a child who has possessed himself of Jupiter's bolts; and who makes use of those bolts in sport, which a god would only have used in wrath.
“ Arquet's forehead was not remarkable for height, but it was nobly and grandly formed, and, contradicting that of the mouth, wore a benevolent expression. Though so young, there was already a wrinkle on the surface of the front, and a prominence on the eyebrow wbich showed that the wit and the fancy of his conversation were, if not regulated, at least contrasted, by more thoughtful and lofty characteristics of mind. At the time I write, this man has obtained a bigh throne among the powers of the lettered world What he may yet be, it is in vain to guess : he may be all that is great and good, or-the reverse ; but I cannot but believe that his career is only begun. Such men are born monarchs of the mind; they may be benefactors or tyrants : in either case they are greater than the kings of the physical empire, because they defy armies and laugh at the intrigues of state. From themselves only come the balance of their power, the laws of their government, and the boundaries of their realm. “ We sat down to supper.
• Count Hamilton,' said Boulainvilliers, 6 are we not a merry set for such old fellows? Why, excepting Arouet, Milord Bolingbroke, and Count Devereux, there is scarcely one of us under seventy. Where, but at Paris, would you see bons vivans of our age? Vivent la joie !-la bagatelle !- l'amour !'
" • Et le vin de Champagne,' cried Chaulieu, filling his glass : 'but what is there strange in our merriment ? Philemon, the comic poet, laughed at ninety-seven. May we all do the same !'
“You forget,' cried Bolingbroke, 'that Philemon died of the laughing.'
«« Yes,' said Hamilton; but if I remember right, it was at seeing an ass eat figs. Let us vow, therefore, never to keep company with asses !'
“. Bravo, Count,' said Boulainvilliers, 'you have put the true moral on the story. Let us swear by the ghost of Philemon, that we will never laugh at an ass's jokes-practical or verbal.'
“Then we must always be serious, except when we are with each other,' cried Chaulieu. Oh, I would sooner take my chance of dying prematurely at ninety-seven, than consent to such a vow !'
“Fontenelle,' cried our host, you are melancholy. What is the matter?'
" " I mourn for the weakness of human nature,' answered Fontenelle, with an air of patriarchal philanthropy. I told your cook three times about the asparagus; and now, taste it. I told him not to put too much sugar,
and he has put none. Thus it is with mankind--ever in extremes, and consequently ever in error! Thus it was that Luther said, só felicitously and so truly, that the human mind was like a drunken peasant on horseback-prop it on one side, and it falls on the other.'
“Ha! ha! ha! cried Chaulieu, le pauvre Secrétaire de l'Académie des Sciences! Who would bave thought one could have found so much morality in a plate of asparagus !! " Vol. ii. pp. 7-14.
The sketch likewise of the "civilized barbarian," (Peter the Great) is scarcely less historically just, and displays a discriminating knowledge of the character of this remarkable man, who, if he was not born to conquer every other country, was, at least, destined to subdue the rugged features of his own :
“I now looked pretty attentively at my gentleman. I have said that he was tall and stout; he was also remarkably well-built, and had a kind of seaman's ease and freedom of gait and manner. His countenance was very peculiar; short, firm, and strongly marked; a small, but thick mustachio, covered his upper lip—the rest of his face was shaved. His mouth was wide but closed, when silent, with that expression of iron resolution which no feature but the mouth can convey. His eyes were large, well opened, and rather stern; and when, which was often, in the course of conversation, he pushed back bis hat from his forehead, the motion developed two strong deep wrinkles between the eyebrows, which might be indicative either of thought or of irascibility-perhaps of both. He spoke quick, and with a little occasional embarrassment of voice, which, however, never communicated itself to his manner. He seemed, indeed, to have a perfect acquaintance with the mazes of the growing city ; and, every now and then, stopped to say when such a house was built-whither such a street was to lead, &c. As each of these details betrayed some great triumph over natural obstacles, and sometimes over national prejudice, I could not help dropping a few enthusiastic expressions in praise of the genius of the Czar. The man's eyes sparkled as he heard them.
"" It is easy to see,' said I, 'that you sympathize with me, and that the admiration of this great man is not confined to Englishmen. How little in comparison seem all other monarchs: they ruin kingdoms—the Czar creates one. The whole history of the world does not afford an instance of triunph so vast—so important--so glorious as bis has been. How his subjects should adore him!'
“No,' said the stranger, with an altered and a thoughtful manner, “it is not his subjects, but their posterity, that will appreciate his motives, and forgive him for wishing Russia to be an empire of men. The present generation may sometimes be laughed, sometimes forced, out of their more barbarous habits and brute-like customs but they cannot be reasoned out of them; and they don't love the man who attempts to do it. Why, sir, I question whether Ivan IV. who used to butcher the doys between prayers for an occupation, and between meals for an appetite, I question whether his memory is not to the full as much loved as the living Czar. I know, at least, that whenever the latter attempts a reform, the good Muscovites shrug up their shoulders, and mutler, We did not do these things in the good old days of Ivan IV.'
"Ah! the people of all nations are wonderfully attached to their ancient customs. I will tell you who seem to me, to have been the greatest enemies we living men ever had-our ancestors !'
“ • Ha! ha!-true-good !—cried the stranger; and then after a short pause, he said, in a tone of deep feeling, which had not hitherto seemed at all a part of his character, "We should do that which is good
to the human race, from some principle within, and should not, therefore, abate our efforts for the opposition, the rancour, or the ingratitude that we experience without. It will be enough reward for Peter I. if here: after, when (in that circulation of knowledge throughout the world which I can compare to nothing better than the circulation of the blood in the human body) the glory of Russia shall rest, not upon the extent of her dominions, but that of civilization--not upon the number of inhabitants, embruted and besotted, but the number of enlightened, of prosperous, and of free men; it will be enough for him, if he be considered to have laid the first stone of that great change--if his labours be fairly weighed against the obstacles which opposed them--if, for his honest and unceasing endeavour to improve millions, he is not too severely judged for offences in a more limited circle--and, if in consideration of having fought the great battle against custom, circumstances, and opposing nature, he be sometimes forgiven for not having invariably conquered himself.'
“ As the stranger broke off abruptly, I could not but feel a little impressed by his words and the energy with which they were spoken. We were now in sight of my lodging. I asked my guide to enter it; but the change in our conversation seemed to have unfitted him a little for my companionship.
“No,' said he; 'I have business now; we shall meet again; what's your name.'
“. Certainly,' thought I, 'no man ever scrupled so little to ask plain questions;' however, I auswered him truly and freely.
** Devereux!' said he, as if surprised ; Ha!-well-we shall meet again. Good-day.'” Vol. ii. pp. 74–76.
After Devereux is conducted through the most eventful scenes on the Continent, the author brings him to England to consummate a high purpose. On his arrival, he visits his old friend Bolingbroke, for whom the tories had propitiated the clemency of the king, who had permitted his return. At his beautiful retreat at Dawley, he was enjoying a philosophic calm, well-suited to the mild evening of a troubled life, solaced by the affection of his charming lady, (the niece of Madame de Maintenon) the correspondence of Swift, and the society of Pope. To those who are fainiliar with the letters which passed between these remarkable men, we think the following account will be highly interesting :
“ When my carriage stopped at the statesman's door, I was ivformed that Lord Bolingbroke was at his farm. Farm! how oddly did that word sound in my ear, coupled as it was with the name of one so brilliant and so restless. I asked the servant to direct me where I should find him, and following the directions, I proceeded to the search aloue. It was a day towards the close of autumn, bright, soft, clear, and calm as the decline of a vigorous and genial age. I walked slowly through a field robbed of its golden grain, and as I entered another, I saw the object of VOL. IV.NO. 8.
He had, seemingly, just given some orders to a person in a labourer's dress, who was quitting him, and with duwnicast eyes, he was approaching towards me. I noted how slow and even was the pace which once stately, yet rapid and irregular, had betrayed the haughty but wild character of his mind. He paused often, as if in thought, and I observed that once he stopped longer than usual, and seemed to gaze wisttully on the ground. Afterward (when I had joined him) we passed that spot, and I remarked, with a secret smile, that it contained one of those little mounds in which that .busy and herded tribe of the insect race, which have been held out to man's social state at once as a mockery and a model, held their populous home. There seemed a latent moral in the pause and watch of the disappointed statesman by that mound, which afforded a clue to the nature of his reflections.
“ He did not see me till I was close before him, and had called him by his name, nor did he at first recognize me, for my garb was foreign, and my upper lip unshaven; and, as I said before, years had strangely altered me. But when he did, he testified all the cordiality I had anticipated. I linked my arm in his, and we walked to and fro for hours, talking of all that had passed since and before our parting, and feeling our hearts wajm to each other as we talked
"• The last time I saw you,' said he, 'bow widely did our hopes and objects differ : yours from my own-you seemingly had the vantage ground, but it was an artificial eminence, and my level state, though it appeared less tempting, was more secure I had just been disgraced by a misguided and ungrateful prince. I had already gone into a retirement, where my only honours were proportioned to my fortitude in bearing condemnation--and my only flatterer was the hope of finding a companion and a Mentor in myself. You, my friend, parted, with life before you ; and you only relinquished the pursuit of Fortune at one court, to meet her advances at another. Nearly ten years have flown since that time--my situation is but little changed—I am returned, it is true, to my native soil, but not to a soil more indulgent to ambition and exertion than the scene of my exile. My sphere of action is still shut from ine-my mind is still banished. You return young in years, but full of successes. Have they brought you happiness, Devereux? or have you get a temper to envy my content ?'
66 Alas!' said ), 'who can bear too close a search beneath the mask and robe. Talk not of me now. It is ungracious for the fortunate to repine—and I reserve whatever may disquiet me within, for your future consolation and advice. At present speak to me of yourself--you are happy then ?
I am !' said Bolingbroke, emphatically.--Life seems to me to possess two treasures-one glittering and precarious, the other of less rich a show, but of a more solid value. The one is Power, the other Virtue ; and there is this main difference between the two--Power is intrusted to us as a loan ever required again, and with a terrible arrear of interest--Virtue obtained by us as a boon which we can only lose through our own folly, when ouce it is acquired. In my youth I was caught by the former-hence my errors and my misfortunes! In my declining years I have sought the latter; bence my palliatives and my