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stated, in diminution of the respect still paid to this wise and beloved king, that his paramour accompanied him in the council, kissed him publicly before his court, and publicly received his caresses. No : the French saw nothing in this but that which was tout Français ; and the only point which they consider of importance is, that the belle Gabrielle was really belle. On this point, considering their monarch's mistress as their own, they are inexorable; and nothing tended so much to depopularize Louis XIV. as his matrimonial intrigue with the ugly old widow of Scarron. Nor is it in the amours of their monarchs only that the French take an interest. Where is the great man in France whose fame is not associated with that of some softer being-of some softer being, who has not indeed engrossed his existence, but who has smoothed and rounded the rough and angular passages of public and literary life?
Where is the Voltaire without his Madame de Châtelet? and yet, what was the nature of the poet's love for the lady whose death-bed he wept over, saying—“Ce grossier St. Lambert l'a tuée en lui faisant un enfant ?”
Where is the Mirabeau without his Sophie de Ruffay? and yet, what was the patriot's passion for his mistress whom he sacrificed to the payment of his debts, and with whose adoration he blended the nightmare reveries of a satyr's mind ?*
How many gentle episodes throw their softening colours on the sanguinary superstitions of the League—on the turbulent and factious gatherings of the Fronde-on the fierce energies and infernal horrors of the revolution ? How gracefully, in defiance of Robespierre, did the gallantry which decorated the court survive in the prison, and sigh forth its spirit on the scaffold! .......
I shall elsewhere have to speak of the power which women still exercise in France over public affairs. Here I shall merely observe, that though not so great as it was, it is still considerable; nor when we speak of the influences of our own aristocracy may it be amiss to remember that influences something similar, and equally illegitimate, may exist among a people of equals, when a cause is to be found in ancient manners and national character.
* See the publication written at the same time as "Les Lettres à Sophie." VANITY
Story of Escousse and Lebras.-French vanity not only ridiculous.--Cause of
union.—Do any thing with a Frenchman by saying, “ Français, soyez Français !”-French passion for equality because France is “toute marquise" -Story of a traveller sixty years ago. ---A fortunate prince in France easily despotic.-Bonaparte's exemplification of the force of a national passion.His proclamation on landing at Elba.Vanity causes fine names, gave force to old corporations, gives force to modern associations.--Applied to the nation, vanity not ridiculous; applied to individuals, ridiculous.-Old men and old women gratify one another by appearing to make love.--The principle of making a fortune by spending it.--The general effects of vanity.
The beautiful song—to be found in the note at the bottom of this page—was the tribute paid by M. Béranger to two youthful poets who destroyed themselves after the failure of a small piece at the "Gaieté.' 6. Je t'attends à onze heures et demie," writes M. Escousse to his friend Lebras—The curtain shall be lifted so that we may precipitate the dénouement." On the receipt of this theatrical little billet, M. Lebras goes quietly to M. Escousse's lodgings, and sits with him over the charcoal that had been duly prepared for precipitating the dénouement. M. Escousse did not, however, pass away from the world without leaving behind him, both in prose and poesy, a record of his sentiments. “I desire,” said he, “ that the
* LE SUICIDE.
SUR LA MORT DES JEUNES VICTOR ESCOUSSE ET AUGUSTE LEBRAS, Fev, 1832.
Quoi! morts tous deux! dans cette chambre close,
Pauvres enfans! l'écho murmure encore
Ils répondaient : Qu'importe que la sève
Pauvres enfans! calomnier la vie !
Pauvres enfans ! mais les plumes venues,
Pauvres enfans ! quelle douleur amère
Pauvres epfans! de fantômes funèbres
journals which announce my death, will add lo their article this declaration :
“ Escousse killed himself because he felt that his place was not here, because he wanted force at every step he took before him or behind him—because the love of glory did not sufficiently animate his soul, if soul he have.”_“Madman,” says the journalist who obeys his wish ;“you die—non pas parce que la gloire vous manque, mais parce que vous manquez à la gloire.” But M. Escousse left also poetry behind him—“I desire that this be the motto of my book
“Adieu, trop inféconde terre;
The air of the world was too heavy for the poetical wings of this unfortunate vaudevillist—and ....*
Thus did these two young gentlemen perish, victims of a vanity which left them in their dying hour no more solema thought than that of their puny reputation. Every one will
A young man who killed himself not long ago, left behind him a variety of articles which he had written upon his suicide and himself, and which he begged his friends to get inserted in the different papers.
re-echo me when I say "the French are the vainest people in the world ;"_but I do not know whether every one will treat their national vanity in the same manner, or take the same view of it that I do. · That vanity is not only ridiculous; it contains a power which many more lofty and serious qualities would fail to supply. With that vanity is combined a capability for great things; a magnificence of design and a daringness of execution, rare amongst the pale and frigid nations of the north. In that vanity is security to France; for in that vanity is—union. That vanity it is which concentrates and connects a people different in their manners, different in their origin, different in their climate, different even in their language. That vanity it iswhich gives to thirty-three millions of individuals—one heart and one pulse. Go into any part of France, some districts of Brittany perhaps excepted, and let any body of persons be assembled! address them to soothe or to excite! Say 66 vive la liberté!" there are times when you will not be listened to “ Vive le roi !-vive la charte !-vive la république!” these are all rallying cries which will now be hissed, and now applauded: but cry“ Vive la France"_" Vive la belle France! songez que vous êtes Français !” and almost before the words are out of your mouth, your voice will be drowned with cheers, and a circulating and sympathetic thrill will have rushed through the breast, and brought tears into the eyes of every one of your audience. If you were to say to an Englishman, "Give me up your property, and give me up your liberty, and give me up your life, for the sake of England; he would say, “Stop a little! what is England to me without my property, and my liberty, and my life ?—my liberty, my property, and my life, are England to me all the world over."— Not so the Frenchman : talk to him of France; tell him that what you wish is for the interest and the glory of France, and he will let you erect scaffolds, and send his children to the guillotine and the battle-he will stop in the highest fever of freedom to bow to the most terrible dictatorship, and stick the red cap of democratism on the triumvirate tyranny of Robespierre, Couthon, and St. Just. There is nothing you may not do with him under the charm of those irresistible words—“ Français, soyez Francais !” “ The Englishman,” as an author lately observed, " is proud of his