« ForrigeFortsett »
Dining at Lord Hyde's a few days after, he remarked, that the anecdote of the Abbe Terrasson had brought asparagus into fashion, and encreased the price. With an esprit the most caustic, and epigramatic, he was inordinately fond of praise. A person one day said, that to praise Fontenelle required the finesse and talent of Fontenelle.
“N'importe,” replied the latter, “ Louez moi, toujours.”
Vertot's works are very voluminous, and his “ Histories of Revolutions," of which he wrote no less than three, are worth perusal.
St. GERMAIN EN LAYE, 30th. I like this old place. Its very atmosphere inspires a dreamy sort of reverie, in which the mind is carried out of the busy present, into the pensive past. Here dwelt the Sybarite Louis XIV.; and here, died, in exile, the dethroned James II. of England! How many heart burnings must the latter have endured from the period of being treated as the fêted monarch, until he became to be considered only as the
pensioned refugee; his misfortunes aggravated, by the knowledge that a daughter usurped his throne.
He must, indeed, have felt “how sharper than a serpent's tooth it is, to have a thankless child.” That the ties of consanguinity are less regarded in the families of sovereigns, than in those of any
other class, history has given us many examples; from the most remote periods, down to modern days, nay, even to Austria, in its abandonment of Napoleon. The son-in-law, the husband of a daughter, and the father of a grandchild of that royal house, Napoleon was too much of a parvenu among sovereigns, to have calculated on this desertion. A legitimate king would have been prepared for it.
The forest of St. Germain is delightful, and as I observed the sunbeams glancing through its umbrageous shades, my imagination peopled it with a royal cavalcade, as in days of yore; when the fourteenth Louis, attended by his courtiers, and ladies, pursued the chace, and the sound of hunting horns rang through the woods. Here appeared the fair, and timid La Vallière, struggling between love, and religion, and doomed to find in a convent the peace a court denied her. Then passed the beautiful, but vain and ambitious de Montespan, proud of her shame, and glorying in her sin. Fontanges, and
a whole host of other beauties glided by; the cortege closed by Maintenon with grave yet sweet countenance, already meditating on the throne which she aspired to share; and enslaving her royal lover, by a resistance, whose novelty formed, perhaps, her greatest, if not only attraction.
I could wander for hours in the Forest of St. Germain, reflecting on the glittering pageants that have appeared among its stately avenues in the olden time; and on the mighty changes that have since occurred. Here, all remains the same. blue sky looks down on the gigantic trees ; air rustles their leaves ; and the same green sward offers a carpet to the feet. But they, the proud, the gay, where are they? He who abandoned the
pa· lace of St. Germain, because it commanded a view of the towers of St. Denis, where he was one day to repose, has long been consigned to that spot, he could not bear to contemplate, followed by little regret, and remembered but as a vain-glorious voluptuary; a slave to love and luxury, in his youth, and to bigotry and superstition, in his old age.
The coarser vices of the fifteenth Louis, screened the memory of his predecessor from the severity of censure he merited. Pompadour, and Du Barry, were considered to be more degrading mistresses to a monarch, than les grandes dames selected for that glittering shame by Louis XIV., and the park au cerf, a more demoralizing example, than a court, which might be almost looked on as a harem. French morals were shocked at the low intrigues of one monarch, though they had more than tolerated the more elevated profligacy of the other. But a true morality would be disposed to consider the courtly splendour attached to the loves of Louis XIV. as the more demoralizing example, of the two, from being the less disgusting.
31st.—Left St. Germain with regret; but the fair, to which crowds were flocking, destroyed its • greatest attraction for me, who like its solitude and repose. Fine ladies, and gentlemen, mingling in the dance, with grisettes, and shopmen, beneath trees from which lamps were suspended, soon fatigues even a looker on; and the witnessing whole piles of edibles demolished, and whole bevies of lovers rendering themselves agreeable, by filling the ears of their mistresses with flattery, and their mouths
with cakes and bon-bons, soon ceases to interest. What most strikes me in France, is the predetermination of being gay, evinced by all who frequent any place of amusement. Here, are never seen the vapid countenances, or air ennuyé, sure to be encountered at similar scenes in England; where people, especially those of the upper class, seem to go, only for the purpose of exhibiting their discontent. This facility of being amused, is a great blessing; more particularly to those, who cannot exist without at least making the effort to seek amusement. For myself, a book, or the society of two or three friends, is always sufficient, provided the book be one that makes me feel, or think,-in fact, be what I call a suggestive book,--and that the friends are imaginative people. But defend me from matter-of-fact ones! who reason when they ought to feel, and reduce all to the standard of their own mediocrity.
Paris, 31st.—Always gay, and pleasant, but frivolous Paris! where to amuse oneself seems to be the sole business of life with all thine inhabitants, from the elegant duchesse of the Faubourg St.