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If it was not, old Guthrie was born to confound me,
“ The scene that ensued when we swung by a cable,
ELLEN P-s." * Two sick ladies.
NOTICE OF COUNT ALFRED D'ORSAY : HIS ORIGIN-SOME
ACCOUNT OF HIS EARLY LIFE, THE CLOSE OF HIS CAREER, AND OBSERVATIONS ON HIS TALENTS AND THE APPLICATION OF THEM.*
ALFRED GUILLAUME GABRIEL COMTE D'ORSAY was born the 4th of September, 1801. His father, Albert Comte D'Orsay, who was considered one of the finest-looking men of his time, early entered the army, and served with great distinction under Napoleon, who was wont to say of him, that he was "aussi brave que beau.” His mother, a woman no less remarkable for her wit and noble and generous disposition than for her beauty, was a daughter of the King of Wurtemburg by a marriage which was good in religion, though not in law. The family of D'Orsay was a very ancient one, and formerly held large possessions, both in Paris and in the provinces. The grandfather of the late Comte D'Orsay was one of the most liberal patrons of art of his day. His collection of pictures and statues was singularly fine and valuable. Several of the latter, which were seized in the first revolution, that disastrous period, when he lost nearly the whole of his fortune, now form a part of the statuary which
* For a large portion of the details of this Memoir, extending to the period of D'Orsay's last sojourn in Paris, I am indebted to a lady very intimately acquainted with the Count in his brighter days, as well as in his latest moments.
decorates the Place Louis Quinze, and the gardens of the Tuilleries. The fact of their belonging to the house of D'Orsay was admitted by subsequent governments. Louis Philippe, only a short time before his expulsion from France, was in treaty with Comte D'Orsay to pay an annual sum to retain the statues in their present places, having refused to restore them. After the abdication of Napoleon, General D'Orsay entered the service of the Bourbons.
The eldest son of the General having died in infancy, the family consisted of two children, Alfred, and a daughter, Ida, the present Duchesse de Grammont, a year younger than her brother. From his earliest years, Alfred D'Orsay was remarkable not only for comeliness, but quickness of apprehension. As a child and boy, his superior strength and adroit. ness in all exercises, ready wit, high spirit, the frankness of his nature, and chivalrous generosity of his disposition, made him a general favourite with young and old.
At a very early age he entered the army, and somewhat later, and unwillingly, the garde du corps of the restored Bourbon sovereign. All his sympathies during the wbole of his life were with the Bonaparte family. The ardent enthu- . siasm inspired in his boyish mind by Napoleon (whose page he was to have been), kept possession of his mind in afteryears. So far was the feeling carried, that at the entrance of the Bourbons into Paris, though but a mere boy, he betook himself to a retired part of the house, that he might not see or hear the rejoicings that were made for the downfall of Napoleon and his Empire, and gave vent to his feelings in tears and strong expressions of repugnance to the new regime. When in the army, he was greatly beloved by the men, whose comforts and interests he looked to with the utmost care. Their affection for his person was equalled only by the admiration excited by his feats of strength, and superiority over his comrades in all manly exercises.
Some of the traits of his garrison life, though trifling in themselves, are too characteristic to be left unnoticed. At the provincial balls, where his repute as a man of fashion, of family, and of various accomplishments had made itself known, and rendered him a leading object of attention ; he used to be jeered by his brother officers, for his apparent predilection for persons not remarkable for their personal attractions, as he made it a practice to single out the plainest girls present to dance with, and to pay the greatest attention to those who seemed most neglected or unnoticed. There was no affectation of any kind about him; whatever he did that appeared considerate or amiable, was done simply from natural kindness of disposition.
On one occasion, living out of barracks, he lodged at the house of a widow, with a son and two daughters; the son, a young robust man of a violent temper, and of considerable bodily strength, was in the habit of treating his mother and sisters with brutality. Comte D'Orsay, one day, while in his room, hearing a tumult in the apartments of his hostess and her daughters, on the ground floor, descended to ascertain the cause, and finding the young man offering acts of violence to his mother, fell upon him, and inflicted such severe chastisement on him, that quarter was soon called for. The Count then, with his characteristic quietude of manner, in the midst of any excitement or turmoil, ended the scene, by assuring the subdued bully, that any repetition of his violence on his family, would meet with punishment far exceeding in severity that which he had the trouble of bestowing on that occasion.
Comte D'Orsay's first visit to England was in the year 1821 or 1822. He came in company with his sister and her husband, then Duc de Guiche, who, in the previous emigration, had been educated and brought up in England, had served in an English regiment (of dragoons), and who had a sister married to the Viscount Ossulston, now Earl of Tankerville ; consequently the Duke de Guiche already held a position in English society, calculated to ensure the best reception for his brother-in-law in the first circles of London society.
In that visit, which was but brief, the young Count, accustomed to manners and customs of a world of fashion differing very materially from that of London, formed that hasty judgment of English society, erroneous in the main, but in its application to a portion of it, not without a certain basis of truth. Byron's eulogistic expressions, on the perusal of the journal, could not fail to be very gratifying to the writer of it. But the riper judgment, and later experience of the Count, led to the formation of other opinions, and induced him to
* Count D'Orsay's first visit to England.—The Count Marcellus, who was French Chargé d'Affaires at the Court of London, during the ministry of Chateaubriand, in his work “ Politique de la Restauration en 1822 et 1823” (Paris, 1853), makes mention of a ball he gave in London at the period of the invasion of Spain by the legitimists, when the London mob had made an attack on the hotel of the French minister. The ball, he says, was attended by the Duke of Wellington, various representatives of the Congress of Verona—all the world of fashion were there—and “lastly, D'Orsay brought in his train the ordinary circle of dandies who made his escort."
This is the earliest mention I have seen, in any published work, of D'Orsay's sojourn in London previously to the return of Lady Blessington from the continent in 1831. At the time of his visit to England, his brother-in-law, the Duke de Grammont (then Duc de Guiche, who, during his exile from France, had served in the English army (in the tenth dragoons), was sojourning in London, and D'Orsay's visit on that occasion was to his sister and her husband.
At the period of Count D'Orsay's second visit to London, some months after the French revolution of 1830, the Marshal Sebastiani (who had married a sister of the present Duc de Grammont) was ambassador at the court of St. James's, and his being there was one of the inducements which had led D'Orsay to take up his abode in London at that time.