Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

fortunate genius; for unfortunate he may well be considered, when we reflect upon the troubled course of his life. Misfortunes produced by misconduct seldom meet with commiseration ; though they have always seemed to me as peculiarly requiring it, from the additional pang inflicted on the sufferer by the consciousness of having drawn them on himself. Those of Rousseau were assuredly the fruit of his own wilfulness, and the indulgence of a morbid insensibility, unchecked by fixed principles, and unredeemed by tenderness of heart. His was a susceptibility of the imagination, that too frequently indicates the absence of a more healthy feeling, and preys on itself. He has always excited my pity, often my admiration, but never my esteem; for, notwithstanding the charm of his style, and the fascination of its passionate eloquence,

his works breathe a sickly and enervating sentimentality, that, like the hot breeze of the sirocco, weakens while it warms. All that we learn of Rousseau, from himself or his contemporaries, is little calculated to excite our sympathy.

The Memoirs of Madame d'Epinay give a fearful portrait of him ; and his petulant conduct to those who befriended him, and ingratitude to Hume, prove that he was as incapable of friendship as he was unworthy of exciting it.

20th.—Who has ever passed a few days at Geneva, without visiting the magazine of Monsieur Bautte ? Not a lady, I dare to swear; and few gentlemen, I should think ; for the young go to buy for themselves, and the old to purchase for others. Precious stones,

set in every shape that taste and ingenuity can devise, are here displayed, to tempt the selfish visitor to adorn his own person, or the generous one to decorate that of another. Here, absent friends are remembered, and the recollection marked by some votive gift ; the purchaser anticipating, with pleasure, the gratification it will confer. Few, if any, have ever left the shop of M. Bautte without having considerably lightened their purses. Newly-married pairs, in all the uxoriousness of conjugal felicity, have not unfrequently testified their affection at the expense of their prudence; and affianced lovers have anticipated at once their revenues and their marriage gifts in this tempting boutique. The English flock as anxiously to this emporium of trinkets, as if London was deficient in such attractions: and many an aristocratic dame, whose écrin is filled with jewels of the purest lustre, will here lay in a stock of enamelled ornaments, whose lowness of price, she forgets, is occasioned by its want of intrinsic value. We ladies call every thing cheap in reference to price, rather than quality ; not withstanding that such seeming bargains are not always proved to be so in the end.

LAUSANNE, 22d.The route from Geneva to Lausanne commands some fine prospects. On the left is a richly-wooded country, interspersed with villas and picturesque cottages; and on the right is an uninterrupted view of the lake. Visited to-day the spot so long the residence of Gibbon, when he gave to the world his admirable “ History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire;" a work that for research and

depth of thought, whatever may be its blemishes, has rarely been equalled, and never surpassed. On loitering through the walks, so often paced by him, I was forcibly reminded of the passage in his common-place book, which commemorates the completion of his arduous task; a passage in which all must sympathize, and which brings the author before us.

“ It was on the day, or rather night, of the 27th of June 1787, between the hours of eleven and twelve, that I wrote the last lines of the last page, in a summer-house in my garden. After laying down my pen, I took several turns in a berceau, or covered walk of acacias, which commands a prospect of the country, the lake, and the mountains. The air was temperate, the sky was serene, the silver orb of the moon was reflected from the water, and all nature was silent. I will not dissemble the first emotions of joy on the recovery of my freedom, and, perhaps, the establishment of

my
fame. But

But my pride was soon humbled, and a sober melancholy was spread over my mind, by the idea that I had taken an everlasting leave of an old and agreeable companion ; and that, whatsoever might be the future date of my history, the life of the historian might be short and precarious."

There is something in these reflections that appeals to the hearts of all ; but they are still more touching when one stands on the spot where they were made. The country, the lake, the mountains, all remain as when he saw them, but he has passed away. We are but actors on the busy stage of life. The scenes of the drama remain unchanged; but the actors, after a brief stay, give place to others, to be in turn replaced.

[blocks in formation]

Happy are they who, when the curtain drops, can feel they have well played their parts, and leave behind them a name that dies not ! If any

ambition be excusable, it is that of wishing to leave a name which will endure. All that genius, valour, or wisdom ever achieved, or dreamt of achiev. ing, has had but this object for its incentive; for all know that, constituted as the world is, not the possession of all three, were they ever united, could win the world's suffrage. Yes, it is for posthumous fame that genius wastes the midnight lamp, and in wasting it, consumes too quickly the lamp of life; it is for it, that wisdom governs each quick impulse, and controls every passion; and that Valour braves a thousand times the death that opens to him its portals:

-Che seggenda in fiuma
In fama non si vierso, ne sotto coltre,
Sanzu la qual ché sua vita consuma
Cotal vestigo in terra di se lascia
Qual fummo in aere, ed in acqua la schiuma.”

23d. - We visited the residence of our old and valued friend Mr. Kemble, who is at present at Rome. It is a most comfortable abode, commanding a view of the lake and surrounding scenery, and is admirably calculated for a retirement after a life of exertion. Long may he live to enjoy it! Mr. Kemble is much and deservedly beloved and respected at Lausanne ; where his amiability of manners, cultivation of mind, and unostentatious charities, have been justly estimated, and have already made him many friends. We viewed with interest the study of our old and absent friend, and the writing-table on which more than one cordial proof of remembrance has been addressed to us since his residence here. No one has done more to elevate the character of his profession than Mr. Kemble, whose honourable conduct through life has won the respect of the good and wise, and whose dignified simplicity of manners has rendered him a welcome guest in the highest circles. I hope we shall meet in Rome, where he who has so often and admirably personated Roman characters, will find himself identified with old associations. John Kemble in the Forum, or at the Capitol, could hardly be looked on as a stranger.

24th.—Though prepared by the panorama of Lausanne, which was exhibited in London, for beholding a beautiful spot, the place surpasses my expectations ; and, though willing to avoid descriptions of scenery, which always fall short of the reality of what is really fine, it is difficult to repress the expression of the admiration this spot excites. How flat, stale, and unprofitable are words, to convey a sense of objects that the eye takes in at a glance, and that the imagination delights to dwell on!

Nature, all powerful, beautiful nature, that makes herself felt in a moment, can never be so described as to give to others the impression it has made on the beholder ; and I must be content with hoping to retain in the “mind's eye some faint pictures of the glowing landscapes which have delighted me, to cheer me when condemned to dwell amid less picturesque scenery. How mistaken is the notion, that the eye

« ZurückWeiter »