« PoprzedniaDalej »
tiveness of feeling that is supposed to characterize the haut ton of English society.
Mackintosh, in his beautiful “Life of Sir Thomas More," enforcing the virtue of moderation and tolerance of opinion, and reprobating the vulgar brutality of “hating men for their opinions,” said, “All men, in the fierce contests of contending factions, should, from such an example, learn the wisdom to fear, lest in their most hated antagonist they may strike down a Sir Thomas More; for assuredly virtue is not so narrowed as to be confined to any party, and we have in the case of More a signal example, that the nearest approach to perfect excellence, does not exempt men from mistakes which we may justly deem mischievous. It is a pregnant proof that we should beware of hating men for their opinions, or of adopting their doctrines because we love and venerate their virtues.”
But the high purposes to which I have referred, as actuating Lady Blessington and the Count D'Orsay, namely, of bringing together eminent and estimable people of similar pursuits, who had been estranged from one another, at variance, or on bad terms, did not interfere occasionally with the exercise of the peculiar talents and inclinations of both, for drawing out absurd or eccentric people for the amusement of their visitors.
One of the visitors who had frequented Seamore Place, and continued to visit Gore House, about 1837 and 1838, was a very remarkable old French gentleman, then upwards of seventy years of age, whom I had known intimately both in France and England. “ Monsieur Julien le Jeune de Paris, as he styled himself.
He had figured in the great French Revolution — had been patronised by Robespierre, and employed by him in Paris and in the south of France in the reign of terror. It was generally asserted and believed, that he had voted for the death of Louis the Sixteenth. That, however, was not the fact. It was Monsieur Julien l'ainè who gave his voice for the execution of his sovereign. I believe, moreover, that Monsieur Julien le Jeune, though employed under Robespierre, and at one time even acting as his secretary, was not a man of blood de son grè, though a very ardent republican at the period of the regime of terror.
If my poor friend, Monsieur Julien le Jeune, was for some time a minister of that system, he certainly repented of it, and made all the atonement, as he thought, that could be made by him, by his connection with a number of philanthropical societies, and the advocacy of the abolition of the punishment of death, the slave trade, and slavery; and also by the com. position of various works of a half moral, part political and polemical kind, and a considerable quantity of lachrymose poetry, chiefly devoted to the illustration of the wrongs and persecutions he had suffered for his country and his opinions. His pieces on this subject, which were extremely lengthy and doleful, he called “Mes Chagrins Politiques.”
Julien had commenced “patriotic declamation ” at a very early period of his career, on the great stage of the Revolution of 1789. Tuuchard La Fosse, in his “ Souvenirs d'un demi siecle,” makes mention of him at Bordeaux, at the time that Tallien, one of the leading terrorists, was there on his mission of extermination, seeking out the last remains of the fugitive Girondists. The future Madame Tallien, an enchantress of the Corinne school, daughter of the Spanish banker, Monsieur Cabarrus, then bearing the name of Madame Fontenay, was also at Bordeaux, at that time “ in the dawn of her celebrity.”
" It was one day announced,” says Touchard La Fosse, " that a beautiful citizeness had composed a wonderfully patriotic oration, which would be delivered at the club by a young patriot named Julien, (who subsequently, during the Empire, held several important posts in the military administration, and who since the restoration is better known as Julien de Paris, was in conjunction with the estimable Amaury Duval, the founder of the Revue Encyclopedique.')
“ The following decade was the time fixed for the delivery of his discourse. The club was full. All eyes were bent upon a young woman dressed in a riding habit of dark blue kerseymere, faced and trimmed with red velvet. Upon her beautiful black hair, cropped à la Titus, then a perfectly new fashion, was lightly set, on one side, a scarlet cap trimmed with fur. Madame Fontenay is said to have been most beautiful in this attire.
“ The oration, admirably well read by citizen Julien, excited wonderful admiration. Its common-place patriotic declamation, lighted up by a reflection of the admiration felt for the author, gained it the utmost praise. Unanimous applause, a flattering address of the President, honours of the sitting, in short, all the remunerations of popular assemblies were launched upon this beautiful patriot.”
“Julien le Jeune" thus, we find, had commenced his metier of patriotic recitations some forty-three or four years previously to his exhibitions in Seamore Place. formance was in the presence of a very celebrated French enchantress, who reigned in revolutionary circles, and the latest was in the presence of an Irish enchantress, who reigned over literary fashionable society in London.
At the period of his sojourn in London his head was filled with these “ Chagrins.” As regularly as he presented himself in the evenings at the salons of Lady Blessington, he brought with him, on each occasion, a roll of paper in his side pocket, consisting of some sheets of foolscap filled with his “Chagrins," which would be seen projecting from the breast of his coat, when, on entering the room, he would stoop to kiss the hand of Lady Blessington, after the manner of the polished courtiers of la Vielle Cour; for Monsieur Julien le Jeune, in his old age at least, was a perfect specimen of French
The first per
courtesy, and preserved very little of the burly bearing, or the sturdy manners or opinions of a Republican.
Poor Julien le Jeune, like D'Alembert, had the gift of shedding tears at pleasure, to which don le larmes that belonged to D'Alembert, La Harpe was indebted for the success of one of his dramatic pieces.
" C'est ce don de larmes que La Harpe dut le succès de sa Melanie. L'etiquette voulait qu'on eut pleuré à ce drame. D'Alembert ne manquait jamais d'accompagner La Harpe. Il prenait un air sérieux et composé, qui fixait d'abord l'attention. Au premier acte il faisait remarquer les apercues philosophiques de l'ouvrage; en suite profitant du talent qu'il avait
pour la pantomine, il pleurait toujours aux mêmes endroits, ce qui imposait aux femmes la nécessité, de s'attendrir -et comment auraient elles eu les yeux secs lorsqu'un philosophe fondait en larmes ?”—Tom. ii. 10.
It used to be a scene, that it was most difficult to witness with due restraint, and certainly not without great efforts at external composure—when Monsieur Julien le Jeune, all radiant with smiles and overflowing with urbanity, having paid his devoirs to her Ladyship, would be approached by Count D'Orsay, and with the eyes of the whole circle fixed on him (duly prepared to expect amusement), the poor old man would be entreated to favour Lady Blessington with the recital of another canto of his political afflictions. Then Julien would protest he had read all that was worth reading to her Ladyship, but at length would yield to the persuasions of Lady Blessington, with looks and gestures which plainly said, Infandum Regina jubas renovare dolorem.”
On the first occasion of my witnessing this scene, Julien had just gone through the usual formula of praying to be excused, and had made the protestation above referred to, when D'Orsay, with a gravity that was truly admirable, and surprising how it could be maintained, overcame all the re
« Ce pauvre
luctance assumed by poor old Julien, to produce the poem expressly brought for recital, by renewed supplications, and on a novel plea for the reading of it.
There was one present the Count observed, who had never heard the " Chagrins,” long and earnestly as he desired that gratification—"N'est ce pas Madden, vous n'avez jamais entendu les Chagrins politiques de notre cher ami Monsieur Julien ?"
All the reply that could be given to the inquiry was“ Jamais."
“ Allons mon ami," continued D'Orsay. Madden a bien besoin d'entendre vos chagrins politiques-1 a les siens aussi—(I had recently suffered at the hands of some reviewers)--Il à souffert-lui—il a des sympathies pour les blessés, il faut le donner cette triste plaisir-N'est ce pas Madden ?"
Another dire effort to respond in the affirmative—" Oui, Monsieur le Comte.”
Mons. Julien, after playing off for some minutes all the diffident airs of a bashful young lady dying to sing and protesting she cannot, placed himself at the upper end of the room, near a table with wax lights, pulled the roll of paper from his breast pocket, and began to recite his “Chagrins Politiques ” in a most lugubrious tone, like Mademoiselle Duchesnois avec des pleurs dans sa voix. The saloon was crowded with distinguished guests. On the left hand of the tender-hearted poet and most doleful reciter of his own sorrows-this quondam secretary of Robespierre—was Lady Blessington in her well-known fauteuil, looking most intently, and with apparent anxious solicitude, full in the face of the dolorous reciter. But it would not do for one listening to the “Chagrins,” to look too curiously into the eyes of that lady, lest he might perceive any twinkling there indica. tive of internal hilarity of a communicative kind. On the