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previously questioned our courier if all belonged to the same proprietor ; and he, with “decent dignity," had replied in the affirmative.
« One would suppose, that instead of a single family, a regiment, at least, were about to move,” continued the Frenchman ; “ how many things those people require to satisfy them !”
There was some philosophy, as well as truth, in the reflection; and it forced me to think how many chains luxury forges for its votaries, in the innumerable comforts which it teaches us to regard as necessities; and the enjoyment of which is even more troublesome than the want of them could ever prove, if we were once to inure ourselves to their absence. Use, while it addicts us to superfluities, blunts the gratification their possession might have first occasioned ; at the same time rendering us more dependent on others, and less sufficient to self. If those blessed with competence enjoy not all the pleasures granted to the rich, they, at least, escape many of the annoyances ; for endless is the train of petty evils that attend the wealthy and luxurious, the imaginary ones often inflicting as much pain as the real. How easy it is to philosophize, but how difficult to reduce our philosophy to practice! I am afraid that, with all my tendency to ruminate and to analyze, I could not cheerfully resign a dormeuse à double-ressort, with its library, soft cushions, and eider-down pillows, its nécessaire à déjeuner et à diner, safely stowed in a well, and its innumerable other little comforts, without a sigh of regret.
FONTAINEBLEAU, 12th.- En route—I have passed some hours looking over the palace and grounds. Saw the gallery, where Christine of Sweden had the wretched Monaldeschi murdered, and the chamber where Napoleon signed his abdication. Two spots rendered historical by the enactment on them of two tragical scenes in the drama of life, for it is impossible to believe that Napoleon laid down his crown without almost as bitter emotions as Monaldeschi resigned his life. A cruel woman is an anomaly in nature, and there is a ferocity in this act of Christine, that destroyed for ever all sympathy for her in the hearts of her own sex.
Here it was that Napoleon, the spoiled child of fortune, received the first severe lesson from the fickle goddess who had so long favoured him. Here, impatiently waiting for a resignation, which they knew it must fill his heart with unutterable pangs to make, his ungrateful courtiers counted the moments until they could fly from him ; fearing that, like the fall of some mighty oak in the forest, which crushes all the less lofty trees within its reach, his fall should destroy them. They repressed not the symptoms of their cruel haste from him, before whom, for years, they had bowed down and worshipped ; and his eagle eye, accustomed hitherto to meet only looks of homage and adoration, now fell on recreant countenances, whence ingratitude had chased even habitual hypocrisy.
Caulaincourt, the flower of French chivalry, forsook not him whom fortune had crushed; and in the fearful solitude of a palace, that echoed back but the footsteps of departing courtiers, or the sighs of their
deserted and ruined chief, he staid to console, when he could no longer serve him. The fall of Napoleon furnishes a fine subject for a tragedy; but the event is too recent to admit of its being done justice to. What must have been the mental sufferings of this hero of a hundred fights, during his séjour in this palace! The past, the glorious and brilliant past, must have appeared to him but as a dream; and the present, a reality too fearful in its consequences and disgusting in its details to be contemplated without dismay. The treatment he experienced in his reverses must reflect eternal dishonour on those whom he elevated to a height, of which their base ingratitude towards him subsequently proved they never were worthy. Englishmen would have been ashamed of this open and impudent display of baseness, even could they have been guilty of it, which I am willing to believe impossible.
The finest willow-trees I ever saw are at Fontainebleau ; they were frequently admired by Napoleon, who, when in exile at St. Helena, selected a peculiarly large one for his favourite place of repose during his walks. His thoughts must have been mournful at such moments, when a prisoner on a rock in the ocean, looking only for deliverance by death, and reminded by the willow of those in the far-off land of his glory, he felt that few, if any, ever more strikingly exemplified in their own persons the mutability of fortune. He sleeps the sleep of oblivion, beneath his favourite tree; his narrow bed made by English soldiers, who paid the last honours to him whom those he had so often led to victory had deserted.
GENEVA, 15th.-A chasm in my Journal. The truth is, the journey between Fontainebleau and Mount Jura offered nothing worth noticing. But the descent repays one for all the tedious toil of the ascent. I had made a vow never to attempt a description of scenery, however it might have charmed me; for all descriptions that I ever read, however accurate they may have been, have generally produced only a vague, indistinct mass of images on my brain, rather fatiguing than gratifying. But Mount Jura has left an impression on my memory that I would fain fix on my page; as tourists make a slight sketch of some scene that has delighted them, as a memento for a future picture.
Stupendous mountains, whose summits are lost in the clouds, are contrasted by less ones, covered with fir-trees, whose gigantic branches seemed formed to brave the storm. Rocks, huge and grotesque in their forms, appear ready to topple from their bases, and threaten destruction on all beneath. Blue mountains fading into distance, with occasional views of valleys, whose luxuriant fertility seems to bid defiance to the snow-capped mountains that bound the horizon, break upon the eye, exciting fresh wonder and delight. The steep and abrupt turns of the road appear so dangerous, as to beget a notion that one false step must be attended with fatal results; and the sensations occasioned by this dread add considerably to the sublimity of the scenery. On arriving at the top of the Jura, the effect is almost magical, particularly at evening. Masses of clouds spread around, covering parts of the mountain, and leaving others unveiled ; while at their base seems to float a sea, which is formed of vapour, and which gives to the uncovered mountain the appearance of an immense and isolated rock, surrounded by a world of waters. The vapours pass from mountain to mountain with an inconceivable rapidity, assuming in their flight a thousand wild and fantastic forms, and leaving toweringly conspicuous the huge rocks they desert, like giants guarding their territories. While descending, we were enveloped in clouds, which were so dense, that one of our carriages, which only preceded mine by a short distance, became often invisible. We saw it close to us at one moment, and the next it disappeared, as into a gulf, and all trace of it was lost. The sensations produced by this scene are indescribable. I felt as if entering on an unknown world, and beholding those dear to me hurried away before, snatched from my sight even at the moment I expected to join them; yet, scarcely have I had time to mark their departure ere I am compelled to follow the same route, and enter the clouds that concealed them. Eternity was brought to my mind, in these regions that seemed coeval with it; and a deep, but tender melancholy stole over my soul. Nature, beautiful and sublime nature, yours is the universal language to which every heart responds ! You lift our thoughts to the Divinity that created you and us; you, to endure for ages, and we, but for a brief span, yet gifted with aspirations that mount beyond you, ay, even to the throne of the power that formed both !