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incapable of delivering twenty consecutive sentences on any serious subject, before a number of people prepared to listen to them. D’Orsay was no exception to the rule. He abounded in rich humour, and excelled in repartee. There was an air of aristocratic nonchalance in the grave irony of his conversational sallies. He gave vent to his wit in the quietest tone, and with the most immoveable features possible. He was an adept in the art of quizzing people who were at all ridiculous, with singular composure of mien and manners. His performances in this line were gone through with ease and elegance; but the gift of eloquence was not bestowed
Of D'Orsay's rich humour and repartee, it might be said, like Selwyn's :
“ His social wit, which, never kindling strife,
Lending soft radiance to the richer stone." It would be difficult to convey in words any precise idea of D'Orsay's wit, and powers of facetiousness in conversation. A mere report would be in vain, of the bon mots he uttered, without a_faithful representation of his quiet, imperturbable manner-his arch look, the command of varied emphasis in his utterance, the anticipatory indications of coming drollery in the expression of his countenance —the power of making his entourage enter into his thoughts, and his success in prefacing his jeux d'esprit by significant glances and gestures, suggestive of ridiculous ideas.
The literary artist who could describe these peculiarities, must be no ordinary word-painter.
D'Orsay had made a study of the wit of Talleyrand; and he became a proficient in that species of refined conversational esprit, combining terseness of language and neatness of expression, and certitude of aim, with the polish of the shaft, and the sharpness of the point of an intellectual weapon
of rare excellence.
The Macaronis of a century ago, the Bucks, Bloods, and Beaus of a later period, represented by the Fops, Exquisites, or Dandies,—the inane exclusives,--the ephemeral Petits Maitres of our times, are not the tribe which furnish men of fashion of D'Orsay’s stamp. D'Orsay was a fop in attire and appearance, but his foppery was only a spice of vanity, superadded to superior intellectual powers, which condescended at times to assume a dandyish character.
D'Orsay's fine taste was particularly exhibited in the construction and turn out of those well-known, elegant vehicles of his and Lady Blessington, which used to attract so much attention in Hyde Park a few years ago. D’Orsay, like Grammont, has left reminiscences of promenade achievements -"à cheval et en voiture ”—in that favoured locality, but of a very different character.
In the time of Grammont, “ Hide Park, as every one knows, was the promenade of London.” In 1659, it was thus described to a nobleman of France :
"I did frequently in the spring accompany my Lord Ninto a field near the town, which they call Hide Park: the place not unpleasant, and which they use as our course : but with nothing of that order, equipage, and splendour. Being such an assembly of wretched jades and hackney coaches, as, next a regiment of carr men, there is nothing approaching the resemblance. The Park, it seems, used by the late King and nobility, for the freshness of the air and the goodly prospect,”* &c. ....
In these latter days, Hyde Park makes a different figure in the pages of Mr. Patmore. The scene he describes is the Ring, and the writer of the sketch is supposed to be lounging there, gazing at the brilliant equipages as they pass, and the celebrities of fashion who figure there.
* A Character of England, as it was lately presented to a Nobleman of France, 12mo. 1659, p. 54. Ap. Grammont's Mem.
“ Observe that green chariot, just making the turn of the unbroken line of equipages. Though it is now advancing towards us, with at least a dozen carriages between, it is to be distinguished from the throng by the elevation of its driver and footman above the ordinary level of the line. As it comes nearer, we can observe the particular points which give it that perfectly distingué appearance which it bears above all others in the throng. They consist of the white wheels, lightly picked out with green and crimson ; the high-stepping action, blood-like shape, and brilliant manège of its dark bay horses : the perfect style of its driver ; the height (six feet two) of its slim, spider-limbed, powdered footinan, perked up, at least, three feet above the roof of the carriage, and occupying his eminence with that peculiar air of accidental superiority, half petit-maitre, half plough-boy, which we take to be the ideal of footman-perfection ; and, finally, the exceedingly light, airy, and (if we may so speak) the intellectual character of the whole set-out. The arms and supporters blazoned on the centre panels, and the small coronet beneath the window, indicate the nobility of station ; and if ever the nobility of pature was blazoned on the complement extern’ of humanity, it is on the lovely face within-lovely as ever, though it has been loveliest among the lovely for a longer time than we dare call to our own recollection, much less to that of the fair being before us. ...
“But, see ! what is this vision of the age of chivalry, that comes careering towards us, on horseback, in the form of a stately cavalier, than whom nothing has been witnessed in modern times more noble in air and bearing, more splendid in person, more distingué in dress, more consummate in equestrian skill, more radiant in intellectual expression, and altogether more worthy and fitting to represent one of those knights of the olden time, who warred for truth and beauty, beneath the banner of Cour de Lion. It is Count D'Orsay, son-in-law of the late Lord Blessington, and brother to the beautiful Duchess de Guiche. Those who have the pleasure of being personally intimate with this accomplished foreigner, will confirm our testimony, that no man has ever been more popular in the upper circles, or has better deserved to be so. His inexhaustible good spirits and good-nature, his lively wit, his generous disposition, and his varied acquirements, make him the favourite companion of his own sex ; while his unrivalled personal pretensions render him, to say the least, the observed of all observers' of the other sex. Indeed, since the loss of poor William Locke, there has been nobody to even dispute the palm of female admiration with Count D'Orsay.”*
D'Orsay's position in English fashionable society was not due to rank, wealth, or connections, or to his generally admitted excellence of taste in all matters appertaining to attire, equipage, the adornment of saloons, “ the getting up
“” of liveries, the training of his tigers, or the turning out of cabs, tilburies, chariots, and other vehicles remarkable for elegance of form, or lightness of construction.
It is very evident, that the individual was something more than a mere fop and man of fashion, or “a compound even of Hercules and Adonis,” who could count among his friends the Duke of Wellington, Marquis Wellesley, the Lords Brougham, Lyndhurst, and Byron ; and such men as Landor, Forster, D'Israeli, the Bulwers, &c.
The foreigner could be no ordinary person, who figured in the society of the most eminent men of England for nearly twenty years; and who, in circles where genius, as well as haut ton, had its shrines, “ claimed kindred there, and had his claim allowed.”
* My Friends and Acquaintances, &c. vol. i. p. 194.
D'Orsay's celebrity was undisputed as a man of fashiona noble-looking, classically-moulded, English mannered, young Frenchman “ of the vielle cour,"—a beau monde gentleman, at once graceful, dignified, frank, and debonnaire, full of life, wit, humour, and originality-an “exquisite” of the first water, in brilliant circles—an admirable rider, fit “to witch the world ” of the Parks of London " with noble horsemanship ;” a keen sportsman, a capital boxer for an amateur, a good swimmer, an excellent swordsman, a famous shot, a celebrated cricket player ; at one time a great collector of classical rarities “ far gone (like Horace Walpole in his youth) in medals, lamps, idols, prints, and all the small commodities of antiquity;" at another time, a zealous partizan of a great conspirator, and great promoter of his plans to effect a revolution.
Alfred D'Orsay figured, in his day, in all these characters; but, alas ! of what avail to his memory is the celebrity he obtained in any of them ?
All the celebrity which his true friends may desire to be coupled with his name, is that which he derived from the exercise of his fine talents as an artist, and of his kindly feelings as a man naturally disposed to be benevolent, generous, and open-hearted.
In Dickens' “ Household Words” (No. 176, p. 536), there are a few kind words spoken of poor D'Orsay, in some allusions made to the former occupants of “the little stuccoed houses” of Kensington Gore, contiguous to Lady Blessington's :-“At number 5, lived Count D'Orsay, whose name is publicly synonymous with elegant and graceful accomplishments; and who, by those who knew him well, is affectionately remembered and regretted, as a man whose great abilities might have raised him to any distinction, and whose gentle heart even a world of fashion left unspoiled.”
Mr. Patmore, in his recent work, “My Friends and Ac