Obrazy na stronie

frank morality; early disenchanted the language as she did everything with all things ; with a grain of irony else, in her own quaint, original way. devoid of all bitterness, the laugh of a With her mother she lived in the world child under a bald head, a Goethe- of letters, so that the salon, after her like intelligence, but free from all marriage with Mr. Mohl, was only a prejudice.” German by birth, and continuation ou an extended scale of one of a band of brothers, all of whom the social evenings at the Abbaye-aux. rose to distinction, the great-hearted, Bois, where they lived for several thoughtful student was a pillar of years. It was there that Chateaubristrength to his more mercurial wife. and, Fauriel, and Ampère frequented Strange that the unpretending home of their drawing-room, as also later when two foreigners on a third floor in a mother and daughter moved to the Rue Paris thoroughfare should have been du Bac, Madame Récamier being a so brilliant a centre for all that was constant guest. The vivacity of La intellectual. Men who were foremost jeune Anglaise, as Mary Clarke was in science, in literature, and in polit- usually termed long after that she ical life, were habitués of Madame could lay no claim to youth, delighted Mohl's salon, where they came in con- them all. Her biographer remarks : tact with men and women who had “ Chateaubriand said of her, · La jeune risen to fame as dramatists or artists. Anglaise is like none else in the Rank and fortune were themselves in world."" Her sayings were so audaher estimation of no account; only cious, so trenchant, and so witty. individual merit or personal distinction | Where she entered dulness and ennui gave the entrée to her drawing-room, fled. Her father's family was said to with the exception that to her own and be of Irish extraction; her mother's her husband's old friends, whether was Scottish ; and she might have distinguished or not, a warm welcome been defined as a mixture of Scottish was always accorded.

sagacity with a superabundance of In the one work we have from Ma- Irish vivacity. dame Mohl's pen - " Madame Réca- My first introduction to Madame mier, with a Sketch of the History of Mohl was early in November, 1858, Society in France" - the words in when on the way to Sicily with my which she describes the salon of Ma-uncle, Dr. Hugh Falconer, the palæon. dame de Rambouillet exactly apply to tologist. We stayed several days in her own: “She did not inquire into Paris in order to pick up an Italian the pedigree of those whose society maid whom Madame Mohl had taken she preferred; wit and intellect en-intinite trouble to find for us. M. Jules sured a perfect welcome. The most Mohl, his friend, was then absent from illustrious persons in every line met in Paris, but madame received us with the her rooms, and each gained by contact greatest kindness. with the others.” Again : “She had | Calling on her directly after breakthat independence of mind that led fast, we were shown into the outer her to prefer merit and intellect to all | drawing-room that communicated with other distinctions, added to great dis- the inner and larger by a glass door, crimination in finding them out.” which, on our names being announced,

Mary Clarke was a child of three was instantly thrown open, and a brisk when taken with her elder sister by little lady tripped forward to welcome their widowed mother to France.us. With the sprightliness and quick With the exception of occasional visits movements of a young girl, she must to England, to Italy, and to Germany, then have been nearly threescore and her life was spent in France, and the ten. I had heard so much about her purity of her French was wont to ex- that various pictures had been formed cite the admiration of those who spoke in my mind — all very different from it as their mother tongue, and who the little lady before us. She was were the best judges. She handled l attired, not in dressing-gown and curlpapers, as when occasionally at other black dress, and could not appear in times we were received by her, but in that. I know you will kindly excuse a dress just clear of the ground, of me." bronze-colored silk, with a tiny pattern “You will do very well in that, my made after a fashion of her own, a little dear. I take no refusal. And stay, open at the throat. Her gown was I'll tell you what I'll do. I shall write simple and suitable, but her headdress and tell the friends I invite not to took us both aback, and we could not dress." refrain from smiling at it, and the So it was agreed, and I was inconsideagerness of her welcome.

erate enough to allow her to take this - Well, you've come at last. I began trouble. Also, I was to go to the Rue to think that you would never come !" du Bac next morning but one, so as to was the exclamation ; and while she meet the Italian maid. expressed regret at “Mr. Mohl's” ab. That second interview was very sence, we had time to note the small funny and also satisfactory, as it led features, the saucy, upturned nose, and to Carolina's immediate engagement; the round, bright eyes so suggestive of but it was not half so droll as a visit I keen sagacity. But the eyes looked made to Madame Mohl a few days through a dishevelled maze of little later, when Carolina was with me. curls, which were in layers one above We found her in the ante-room, exanother, and completely covered her pressing her opinion of some badly forehead. She reminded me (as I once done work to a Paris working upholsent word to her biographer, Miss sterer. The man stood like a statue O'Meara, who was desirous of collect and neither flinched nor winked, while ing materials for the memoirs) of a the irate little lady shook her clenched little Skye terrier that had been out in fist close to his nosc ! I was astounded, a gale of wind.

and with difficulty kept my counteNever shall I forget her childlike cry nance. But, alas ! the scene was too of delight when, after my uncle had much for Carolina, who tried to screen told her of our detention at Abbeville herself behind me. A half-suppressed so as to see M. Boucher de Perthes's titter betrayed her, and Madame Mohl collection of paleolithic flint imple- looking round, angrily caught sight of ments (a day memorable in their his. the girl in vain striving to stifle her tory, since before that time their being laughter. Much time and trouble had of human workmanship had been dis- been expended in finding a family who credited in France and in England), would undertake to leave the orphan she made some observation upon his Carolina in Rome, her birthplace, and travelling suit. The rough outfit had I fear that Madame Mohl did not forbeen made specially for geological give this mirthful explosion. work, and was certainly out of the The dinner-party preceding her Fricommon. The coat contained so many day evening reception was limited to pockets, outside and inside, as to be seven, Lady Augusta Bruce (afterwards embarrassing and bewildering to the the wife of Dean Stanley) being prewearer.

vented by the illness of her mother. " Why, you are made of pockets 1" An intimate friend of Mr. Mohl's took she exclaimed, when he had uubut-his place ; Lady William Russell and toned his coat and displayed the inte- her two sons, Mr. Odo Russell (afterrior casing. She was evidently charmed wards Lord Ampthill) and his brother, with the coat and its wearer, and in- then Mr. Arthur Russell, made up the sisted on our going to dine with her on number. We sat at a round table, the the following Friday ; but having no conversation, in deference to the Paris suitable dress, I begged to be excused. savant, being in French. I was placed

“I had to take as little luggage as between the brothers Russell, and blunpossible, and have no evening dress, I dered on in very Scottish French, until Madame Mohl. I have only a high with a quiet smile Mr. Odo Russell

suggested, “Had we not better speak | material. There were few ornaments, in English ?”

| little gilding, and no glare. A subdued The dinner was served à la Russe, a light was thrown from green-shaded fashion which was at that date by no lamps in corners on account of “Mr. means usual in England ; and the Mohl's” eyes, and this softened light dishes, which were few in number, added to the pervading atmosphere of were the best of their kind, such as repose. only a French chef could send to table. Amongst the first arrivals were It was a lively little party, and our Thackeray and his two young daugh. hostess indulged in occasional witty ters, the latter in pretty light blue and merry sallies. Lady William Rus- dresses. As they were being ansell had great conversational powers, nounced, Madame Mohl called out from and we were charmed with her. The the other end of the drawing-room, ease with which she expressed herself “My dears, didn't I tell you that you in French, and her clear enunciation, were not to dress !” were admirable. She was quite what Thackeray was very animated, and Lord Houghton described her, a talked as perhaps only Thackeray could " grande dame to the tips of her fin- talk. Like others, he came under the gers.” Across these four-and-thirty spell of Lady William Russell's fasci. years even the little items of her dress nation, and was at once monopolized come to one's remembrance — the dark by her. Gradually, however, a group stone-colored silk, the cape of fine old gathered round them, and soon the lace on her shoulders, and the flashing author of " Vanity Fair” found himof gems on her fingers.

self surrounded and discoursing to an One could not but see how our admiring little audience. sprightly hostess effaced herself, and, Madame Mohl's salon that evening like a skilful pilot, led the conversation was as usual crowded, many of the into channels which were familiar to guests bearing names familiar to us her guests, and where they uncon- from hearsay. Among other celebsciously displayed their best powers. rities we noted Elie de Beaumont, the In her work on “Madame Récamier” geologist and perpetual secretary of we again come on an observation which the Institute ; M. Milne-Edwards, the exactly defines the writer :

naturalist; M.'de Quatrefages, the an. If she knew an anecdote à propos of

thropologist; M. de St. Hilaire, and something, she would call on any one else

a host of members of the Institute. who knew it also to relate it, though no

There was no cumbersome preparation one related it better than herself. No one for the guests ; the only refreshments ever understood more thoroughly how to were tea and cake on a table in a corshow off others to the best advantage ; if ner of the inner drawing-room, tea she was able to fathom their minds, she being poured out by the hostess herwould always endeavor to draw up what self. How often, in the hum and babel was valuable. This was one of her great of talk, that high voice rang out shrilly charms ; and as the spirits of the speaker and merrily, as she apostrophized some were raised by his success, he became really of her guests, tickling the ears of all more animated, and his ideas and words

who wanted to hear more and lose flowed on more rapidly.

| nothing! Our old note-book records : When we adjourned to the inner “ No music, no cards, no games in the drawing-room, the evening guests were salon, only conversation ; but the ease beginning to arrive. The two rooms and grace of French manners struck were spacious but not lofty, plainly yet us particularly." most comfortably furnished with wall. We had to leave Paris before the divans, covered, as were the easiest of return of M. Jules Mohl, his wife, with easy-chairs, which were of all sizes, characteristic kindness, loading us, unwith crimson woollen damask, the solicited, with letters of introduction to window-hangings being of the samel her friends in Italy. It was Madame Mohl's habit to pay an annual visit to, being fifty-seven and he forty-seven, to her English friends, and, late in the point out that if they were to continue summer of 1859, M. Mohl followed his to speud their evenings together, the wife to England. In going through convenances must be observed. His some old letters I find oue addressed to simple rejoinder was staggering, “ Quoi his friend.

fairé ?" Was there ever a finer comPARIS, 120 RUE DU BAC, edy! The celebration of their mar

26th July, 1859. riage was at the time kept a profound MY DEAR FALCONER, -I hope to be in

secret, and only the two witnesses were London on the 8th of August, or a few

present — Jules Mohl inviting a friend days later. If I cannot finish some things

on the previous evening to come to in the time I calculate, will you be so kind as to solicit my admission to the Athenæum

him next day and act as témoin. The from that time for a month, if it can be

friend was punctual, but went under done, and the number of foreigners who

the impression that he was to serve as can be admitted allows of it? You know witness at a duel! We read that “ the what a pleasure it is to me to enjoy the ceremony was performed in tho preshospitality of the Club.

ence of the témoins, and the newly I have read a great deal since of your married couple parted at the church cave, your bone knives, and all these old-door, and returned to their respective world remains, and am anxious to hear homes. Two days later they met again from you the sequel of the story. I talked | at a restaurant near the railway station, to Elie de Beaumont about it, who is most dined there with their witnesses, and obdurately incredulous. But we will talk of this and many other

set off on a wedding tour to Switzermatters in London. — Yours very sin

land." cerely,


After an interval of several years,

and in the spring of 1867, I again saw The attachment that had long ex- Madame Mohl. Being then with my isted between Jules Mohl and Hugh sister for several weeks in Paris, we Falconer was fostered by the frequent received the old affectionate welcome, autumnal visits of the former to Lon- and went frequently to her Friday redon; so at a season when society was ceptions. It was then for the first time scarce, and the visiting world “out of that we made acquaintance with “the town," the two friends saw much of husband of Madame Mohl,” and our each other at the Atheneum Club, I great pleasure was to have a seat by where on consecutive days they dined his side during the evenings, which he and spent their evenings together. made most interesting by pointing out With his great erudition, Jules Mohl the celebrities, and telling us the names had the singleness and simplicity of a of the guests. He always joined us child, and a sense of humor that made sisters, and kept by us during the evenhis companionship delightful. To my ing, for the dear sake, we believe, of uncle he more than once described his friend, who, alas ! was no more the circumstances of his engagement with us, and from whom he was not to to Miss Mary Clarke, and they were be very long separated. inconceivably comical. During Mrs. On one Friday the salon was unuClarke's life he had been for some sually crowded. Ladies in full toilet twenty years a daily visitor, and spent edged into a company where there was nearly every evening with mother and little space for display, and after showdaughter for that daughter's sake; yet ing themselves, made room for others, on the death of the former it did not and withdrew to later parties, where occur to our philosopher that a certain fashions and dress would be more apstep was necessary to ensure to him apreciated. But there was always a continuance of that daily companion- | happy mixture of dress and undress at ship which was essential to his happi- Madame Mohl's. On that particular ness. He was obtuse, and it fell to the evening, we happened to be near lady, who was ten years his senior, she lenough to Lord Houghton to hear him


say ou entering that he had only ar-, One Friday evening, at the Rue du Bac, rived an hour before from England, M. Guizot came in, and related the followand the remembrance of this trifling ing story that he had just heard :circumstance was curiously veritied the "A relation of the Duchess de la Rother day, when in readiny Lord

had married one of those suppôts de Satan

(her term for any one in imperial employ), Houghton's "Life," we came upon the and had further degraded herself by living following passage under the date 1867 :

under the roof with Celui-ci. The un“I left London two inches deep in

happy lady had become from that time snow, and found here the warmth of forth naturally as one dead to her kith and spring. The change was quite comical. kin in the noble faubourg ; but she was I went to Madame Mohl's in the even-now ill, dying it was believed, and it was a ing, and found myself talking to Re- fit occasion for the exercise of mercy. The nan, etc., as if I had been in Paris a family therefore resolved to send her to month. Comme la vie est facile ici !" judgment absolved, at least, by the Fau

Renan's appearance was striking. It / bourg St. Germain. The duchess herself may be prejudice. but I was always generously volunteered to take this mesunpleasantly impressed by him. He sage of pardon to her dying relative. She

ordered her carriage, and said to the footwas stout, broad, and short-necked ;

| man, .Aux Tuileries ! The man stared, his large, projecting eyes were placed

but carried the order to the coachman; far apart, and with the wide mouth | whereupon that venerable functionary, who were the reverse of attractive. Yet had driven three generations of the de la his face was undoubtedly massive and R-'s, got down from his seat, and preexpressive of power, and we were often senting himself at the carriage window, assured that the charm of his speech at said, “Madame la Duchesse, I cannot have once dispelled the impression made by the honor of conducting your grace to the his unprepossessing appearance. Ma- Tuileries ; my horses do not know the way dame de Witt, the daughter of Guizot, / there.' was a frequent guest, as were the

| Madame Mohl clapped her hands in deTourgueuieffs, etc. ; but on the even

light, exclaiming, “And the duchess kissed

the old coachman ?” ing in question the individual who in

"No," said M. Guizot ; “but she got out terested us most after Renan was the l of her carriage and sent for a cab." young widowed Duchess Colonna, who Madame Mohl lived on this story for a had achieved great success as a sculp- week, and so did her friends. tress. In a low dress of black velvet, which threw her snowy shoulders into More than once her opinion is restrong contrast, her swau-like neck corded of conversation as it is generally without any ornament, and her profu- / practised in England :sion of fair hair in masses of short

We are scarcely aware in England how curls, she was the ideal of elegance.

| seldom we practise that form of talk which What a little court she held, and how

alone can be called conversation, in which graceful were her movements !

what we really think is brought out, and Political opinions were so openly ex- which flows the quicker from the pleasure pressed and so adverse to the imperial of seeing it excite thoughts in others — régime at Madame Mohl's, that I often conversation to which both reason and wondered that the government did not fancy pay their tribute. ... Conversation interfere and order the doors of the is the mingling of mind with mind, and is salon to be closed. She carried her

the most complete exercise of the social dislike to the emperor Louis Napoleon,

faculty; but the general barter of commonwhom she always spoke of as “ Celui

places we choose to call conversation is as

far removed from its reality as the signs of ci," to such a pitch, that she persisted

Caspar Hauser were from the talking of when travelling to use her old Louis ordina

ordinary men. Philippe passport under her maiden name of Mary Clarke. On this heal I Her definition of de l'esprit was that cannot resist quoting an anecdote re-“ it does not mean great wit, it is corded in her “Life :" —

| rather that quick perception which

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