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truth, very rarely comes to pass. Secondly, because you have induced me to love Mr. Walpole, with whom I get on very well, notwithstanding all the hard things and atrocious affronts with which he fills his letters. One page transports me with fury, and all of a sudden another makes me burst with laughter. No one has ever been more original ; no one resembles him. ...
You are going to Scotland, then? I pity you. I know all the power of ennui, and the impossibility of surmounting it; but you must not think, my dear Sir, that it is better to ruin oneself than to feel wearied with oneself, unless one is resolved to hang oneself instead of dying of hunger. You have a very bad head. What is to be done for it? I know nothing about it. I wish you could fall desperately in love with a reasonable woman. I see but this remedy for you. You love play to madness, without loving money. You would be fully capable of engaging in affairs whilst detesting them. You have all the esprit one can have, without any curiosity, without any desire to know anything: in a word, were it not for Lord Ossory, to whom I suppose you are still attached, I should be under serious apprehension lest you should be found in the Thames or hanging from a tree.'
It was the current belief at the time, that he was one of the most devoted adorers of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire.
M. de Lescure, forming rather an undue estimate of the comparative merit of the letters to Walpole, remarks :
Madame du Deffand only begins to think when she begins to feel. It is her affection for Walpole which has awakened in her the passion, the eloquence, the style, all the qualities that the President Henault had allowed to sleep. This tardy and senile love-which is the only emotion, the only drama, of her existence has inspired, one may say, the genius of Madame du Deffand. Before, it was a woman of a great esprit. After, it is a great writer.'
A great writer (if a great writer at all) only in the sense in which Madame de Sévigné was a great writer ; that is, a great letter writer. There was one marked analogy between these two ladies : an ill-requited attachment-an exaggerated, almost morbid, sentiment-was the main source of inspiration in each. In the one case, the rock from which the waters were to come was struck by the cold unsympathising daughter : in the other, by the harsh fastidious warmth-repelling friend.
Madame du Deffand's style has never attracted a tithe of the enthusiastic admiration lavished on her predecessor in the same line; and her fame mainly rests on the tradition of her conversational powers, and on her association with the master-spirits of her age. It is their letters, even more than her own, that give value and interest to the seven volumes of Correspondence now before us. But hers abound in spirited narrative and apt illus
tration; tration ; they are light without being superficial; above all, they are easy, natural, and unstudied. Where she appears to have taken pains, and to have had something resembling a literary aspiration, was in the portraits which she drew of her friends; but, as these were intended to be shown (indeed, were generally addressed) to the sitters, they are probably more remarkable for grace of expression and delicacy of touch than for truth. Amongst the many similar portraits of herself by contemporaries, that from the pen of the President Henault is the most worthy of attention, because no one knew her better, and because it was not meant to see the light in his lifetime.
The heart, upright, noble, and generous, unceasingly occupied in being useful and in imagining the means—how many people, and considerable people, had reason to say it! the intellect sound, an agreeable imagination, a gaiety which made her young again (I speak of later times, for she had once a charming face), the mind accomplished, and taking no pride in anything of all this at the age when she only thought of diverting herself. It were much to be wished that what she has written should not be lost: Madame de Sévigné would not be the only one to cite.'
She composed songs, and sang them. In a letter to Walpole, dated March 10, 1771, when she was seventy-five, she describes a supper given by the King of Sweden (Charles XI., then at Paris) and apparently to her :
'I found with the King the two Duchesses (d'Aiguillon, mère and régnante), and MM. de Sestain and de Creuz. The King busied himself with getting me a good arm-chair, and made me change that in which they had placed me for a more convenient one. He would fain have had a tub.* The big Duchess set to singing the song I had made on my tub, telling the King that it was of my composition. . . We supped: after supper they spoke of the Chevalier de Bouflers. They made me sing L'Ambassade; and then Madame d'Aiguillon told the King to ask me for the song of “ The Philosophers ;' after which she whispered him that it was by me; and the King, she, and all the company cried out as one does at the end of a new play, The Author, the Author, the Author. The party broke up at midnight. I cannot tell you how kind Madame d’Aiguillon was, and all the care she took to bring me out.'
Her longing for society increased with her years. "Que la chère soit bonne,' was her repeated injunction to her cook; j'ai besoin de monde plus que jamais. On the 15th November,
1777, she writes to Crawford :* As if it was not enough to be blind, I have now the dread of
* Tonneau, the name given by her to an easy-chair of peculiar construction which she occupied at home.
becoming becoming deaf. I have seen the Abbé de Saint-Julien : you may take for granted that he said all he could imagine to console me, but faith and hope are not my principal virtues.'
June 2, 1778, to Madame de Choiseul :
* Picture to yourself, dear grandmama, that, to extreme old age, and to blindness, is added deafness. .... It is too many miseries at once: I have not the courage to support them. In this situation the death of Voltaire has made, I own, little impression on me, and I am not in a condition to relate any circumstance of it.'
Still she bore up gallantly, and her deafness must have been slight, for on October 8, 1779, she writes to Walpole, that she has been reading (i.e., having read to her) the · Théâtres' of Corneille, Racine, and Voltaire, remarking that she finds the last ‘greatly inferior, not at all worthy to rank with the two others : all his personages are no other than himself. In the same letter she congratulates Walpole on having refurnished his house, and asks jocularly wbether, if she were to come to England, he could take her in.
She died on September 23rd, 1780. What she said of the President's mode of dying was true of her own. She went out, or became extinguished, like a lamp, without pain or consciousness, showing at no time any apprehension of death. Her religious state has been questioned. La Harpe, speaking of a spiritual director who had been in attendance on her, says that, be his qualifications what they might, she did not keep him six months. The ascetic language of these pious intercommunications was not in the tone of her ordinary conversation, nor in harmony with her soul. So, when the curé of Saint-Sulpice came to see her in her last illness, she said,
Monsieur le Cure, you will be satisfied with me; but spare me three things: no questions, no reasons, no sermons. This is partially confirmed by Wiart, her private secretary, in a letter to Walpole, giving a detailed account of her last illness and death. She was buried, he states, in the Church of Saint-Sulpice, her parish, according to her request.
* But they would not suffer any marks of distinction to be paid to her. These gentlemen were not perfectly satisfied. However, her Curé saw her every day, and had even commenced her confession, when she lost her head and was not able to receive the sacraments ; but M. le Curé behaved admirably. He did not believe her end so near.'
The master-passion strong in death was never more strikingly exemplified than in her. Her last words were as characteristic as the More Light' of Goethe, the • Aber' (But) of Frederic Schlegel, the “Give Dayrolles a chair' of Chesterfield, or the
• Life * Life is a poor vanity' of Locke. They were • Vous m'aimez donc?' addressed in a mixed tone of surprise and incredulity to the secretary, who knelt dissolved in tears at her bedside. She died doubting the existence, the bare possibility, of the feeling or faculty which helps, more than any other, to expand the heart, to refine the intellect, to soften and sweeten life, to grace and elevate humanity !
ART. VI.-1. The Report of the Committee of the House of
Commons on Public Business. 1878. 2. The House of Commons—Nlustrations of its History and
Practice. (A new and revised edition.) By Reginald F. D. Palgrave, the Clerk Assistant of the House of Commons. London, 1878. TN the simple antique' days when Englishmen were reI nowned for steady common sense rather than for fitful sentiment, and ventured to call a spade a spade without the prelude of a general profession of philanthropy, and when our countrymen were still bold enough to call the pot black without guarding that statement by a full and ample apology to the rest of the batterie de cuisine—a combination of the disaffected harbouring a design to nullify the due effects of the Queen's Writ, to defeat the purpose of the Legislature, and to insult the people of the United Kingdom in the persons of their representatives in Parliament, would have been described as a mischievous conspiracy. Could it have been conceived that such a confederacy would have the least prospect of achieving success, our ancestors would not have rested content with merely denouncing it by its true name, but would have defeated their practices by bringing the offenders to sudden justice. And however novel might have been the form of the offence, it would have been dealt with under the known principles of the Constitution with calmness, but with vigour. But in our time, not only has such a scheme been conceived, it has been executed. The design, brooded over in the dark, has been hatched in the daylight. After being dimly hinted at in the secret councils of the Fenian Society, it has been proclaimed openly at a hundred public meetings, and boasted of even within the Palace of Westminster. The plan of turning the consultations of Parliament for the safety, honour, and welfare of our Sovereign and her dominions, into senseless wrangling, and perverting its endeavours to settle all things on the best and surest foundations, that peace and happiness, truth and justice, religion
ederacy would ould it have been describe
and piety may be established among us, into a dull discreditable farce, has already been carried on for the best part of two Sessions. Nor is there any security that this burlesque of Parliamentary Government may not be repeated with weary iteration for another hundred nights.
In times not long ago, the House of Commons set more value on its time, held a higher opinion of its usefulness, was more conscious of its dignity, and knew better how to set a restraint on the follies of the few who have ever essayed obstinately to resist its wishes. Now a small cabal of such persons seems to enjoy a perfect immunity, as if protected by the charm of some magic ring. They appear endowed with a sort of divine right of doing harm, which is accompanied by a delightful notoriety akin (in vulgar minds) to fame: while if some one, overbold and out of season, actuated by some old-fashioned hankering for useful work, hints at censure, the rebuke must be couched in terms as obscure as the lines of a modern epic, and the homeopathic dose of blame must be administered to the honourable delinquents in a large spoonful of the honey of flattery-for that which from an Obstructer is but a choleric word, is from any other member flat breach of order; and the House seems to have adopted the notion of some Oriental races, that whatever has the appearance of proceeding from mental derangement must be treated with reverence, as coming not of the human will, but of divine inspiration. Proudly once we were wont to court comparison with the national assemblies of other countries, and to contrast the quiet and practical temper of our House of Commons with the vapourings of excited Frenchmen in the Chamber of Deputies, or the rowdyism of certain professional politicians in the American House of Representatives; and now is it not just a little sad to hear those, whose silent example used to guide the House, exclaim that, not at Board, nor vestry, nor political party gathering, have they observed so unpractical a spirit, or such disorderly conduct as is now tolerated at St. Stephen's, and express their regret that they still retain the honour (once the proudest for which an Englishman could strive) of a seat in the House of Commons ? Alas, it is but simple matter of history that these sentiments have found frequent utterance in either lobby through the months of April and May.
We suspect that the critical position of affairs in the East had a good deal to do with the laissez-aller policy of Sir Stafford Northcote at the commencement of the Session. At that juncture Cabinet Councils were held almost daily, and with his best powers of observation bent on the war-cloud brooding over Constantinople, it would be ungenerous to