Слике страница
PDF
ePub

avoiding confusion, when there is any great earnestness among a large collection of persons with regard to any object of curiosity, we can imagine the whole assemblage falling into one as soon as she takes her seat, and thus enjoying, each in turn, the coveted delight.—But we mistake; other information respecting French society is communicated, unwittingly however, by her Ladyship. It is this : that they are as fond of ridicule in 1830, as they were in 1816, and as they have ever been: We have little difficulty in believing, that her Ladyship received a vast deal of attention in Paris; still, we must confess, that it appears to us impossible not to be convinced, from her own story, that it was owing to a very different reason from the one to which it is attributed by her self-love. If there is any feature in the French character peculiarly salient or prominent, it is the love of ridicule. “Take care," said a lady to her son, who was on the eve of departure for his travels, “ of the Inquisition at Madrid, of the mob at London, and of ridicule at Paris." Nothing that is at all calculated to excite an ironical smile or a sarcastic remark, escapes a “fasting Monsieur's” observation, and even the greatest virtues and genius, if combined with any quality which can afford matter for a joke, will scarcely prevent their possessor from being made a laughing-stock. Napoleon was so well aware of this propensity of his subjects, that he was prevented by it from placing his own figure in the car which surmounts the triumphal arch erected between the Court of the Tuileries and the Place du Carousal, being apprehensive that the wags would avail themselves of the opportunity thus afforded of punning at his expense -le char le tient-le charlatan. What a delectable tit-bit, consequently, for this appetite of the Parisians, must be a darling little philosopher in petticoats, (not quite sexagenary,) who dabbles in all sciences and arts, and is at the same time a pretender to the pretty affectations and hoydenish manners of a youthful belle! Such a person, especially if she possess that happy opinion of herself, which prevents her from having the slightest suspicion that she can be the object of anything but admiration with all, is regarded by them as a legitimate subject for a mystification, which, in our vernacular, means hoax,-elle se prête au ridicule, as they say, she lends herself, as it were, to ridicule; and to be convinced that they know how to take consummate advantage of the loan, it is only necessary to glance over “ France in 1830.” Every one who does so will, we feel confident, understand in the same manner as ourselves, the meaning of that “ brilliant welcome," which Miladi, with so much complacency, informs us she received “in the capital of European intellect.” From beginning to end, these volumes afford almost continued specimens of perfection in the art of “ quizzing," and may therefore be particularly indicated to such as

are anxious to acquire proficiency in that way. We are glad that we have at length discovered a description of persons to whom we can conscientiously recommend the work we are reviewing, as calculated to afford desirable information.

There is another cause, besides this fondness for ridicule, to which the mystification of her Ladyship may be attributed. Whoever is at all acquainted with her writings, must be aware that she pretends to be a great republican, and to entertain a most orthodox horror of royalism and the appendages thereof, and that she has called the royalist party in France all the hard names she could find in the most approved collection of opprobrious epithets. This circumstance, it is easy to imagine, may have excited a slight desire of revenge in the breasts of some of the younger members of that party.

In her very preface, we have an evidence of her having been the victim of as well concerted and admirably conducted a hoax, as was ever played off upon any one—it surpasses that which was put upon poor Malvolio in “Twelfth Night.” After making the remark upon which we have already commented, that a second work on France from her pen could " alone be justified by the novelty of its matter, or by the merit of its execution,” she says

“ It may serve, however, as an excuse, and an authentication of the attempt, that I was called to the task by some of the most influential organs of public opinion, in that great country. They relied upon my impartiality (for I had proved it, at the expense of proscription abroad, and persecution at home); and, desiring only to be represented as they are, they deemed even my humble talents not wholly inadequate to an enterprise whose first requisite was the honesty that tells the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth." Oh you wicked wags! If the abolition of capital punishment be effected in France, we hope you will be specially excepted as unworthy of mercy for this cruel plot to make Miladi Morgan expose herself thus to the sneers of an ill-natured world. We think we see you in conclave, laughing and joking over an epistle you have just concocted and signed with the names of half a dozen of the leaders of the liberals, in which her Ladyship is earnestly conjured to cross the Irish and the English channels and hasten to Paris, in order to dispel by the effulgence of her intellectual rays, the mists and darkness that the fiend of ultraism had spread over the political horizon. Seriously speaking, we cannot divine any other than this or a similar manner of accounting for her Ladyship's assertion, that “she was called to the task by some of the most influential organs of public opinion in France;' —she would not certainly affirm what she knew to be false, and the idea that she did receive a bonâ fide request of the above purport from such individuals, is too absurd to command belief for a moment. Would any one in his senses, who is

“ desirous of being represented as he is,” put in requisition the pencil of an artist by which he would be sure to be caricatured ?

The “persecution at home,” that her Ladyship affects to have suffered, refers, we suppose, to sundry articles in the Quarterly Review and other Journals, in which she was rather roughly handled. We all know, however, what a pleasant thing it is to deem ourselves the objects of persecution, when it does not interfere with our profit—it is a flattering unction we love to lay to the soul, as it seems to augment our importance-and Miladi appears to have been highly delighted with the persecutions she has encountered. She is continually alluding to the attacks of the Quarterly, and whenever an opportunity occurs, favours us with extracts from them, and now and then she slips in some satirical observation concerning herself from the Journal des Débats. The different manner in which she has been treated by the Edinburgh and Quarterly Reviews, is an exemplification of the potent influence which party spirit exercises over those journals. In the latter, one or two of her works have been criticised with overwhelming power, and in a tone and spirit superlatively bitter. In the former, on the contrary, she is spoken of with studied lenity, although the Reviewer is obliged to confess that he is not one of her particular admirers, and seems to be perpetually restraining himself from indulging in the language of raillery and sarcasm. We need hardly add that the political principles which her Ladyship professes to entertain, are the main cause of this discrepancy. For our own part, we conscientiously believe that the English journal has not gone half so far beyond the truth as its Scotch rival has fallen short of it, in their respective strictures. With regard to the republican bursts of Lady Morgan, we cannot help suspecting that there is more affectation and cant in them than sincerity :-she is too anxious to let it be known that she is caressed

every

where by the ne plus ultras of aristocracy and rank, as well as by those of intellect, and, at the same time, there is too much parade and ostentatious vehemence in her explosions against the royalist party.

As to the other article which her Ladyship says she has received in exchange for her impartiality!" proscription abroad,"-we feel pretty confident that it exists no where but in her own imagination. There it has, doubtless, been engendered by the malice of some ultra in disguise, who has made her Ladyship believe, that the Emperor of Austria, the Grand Signior, the King of Owyhee, and the other despots of the earth, have forbidden, on pain of racking, roasting, and every kind of torture, the importation of her books into their dominions, lest these should be revolutionized by them forth with. Heaven defend us ! we are very much afraid that Lady Morgan will set

this world of ours on fire, somewhere about the time when it comes in contact with the comet. It is not mere supposition on our part that her Ladyship deems herself an object of dread to the Austrian government at least ;-read what she says à propos of the entrée of its ambassador into a ball-room where she was making all the lamps and candles hide their diminished heads. “When his Austrian excellence was announced, how I started, with all the weight of Aulic proscription on my head! The representative of the long-armed monarch of Hapsburg so near me, -of him, who, could he only once get his fidgetty fingers on my little neck, would give it a twist, that would save his custom-house officers all future trouble of breaking carriages and harassing travellers, in search of the pestilent writings of Ladi Morgan. I did not breathe freely, till his excellency had passed on with his glittering train, into the illumined conservatory, and was lost in a wilderness of flowering shrubs and orange trees.” Ought not this ambassador to be recalled for his negligence, his want of loyalty, in not attempting to get his fingers about Miladi's little neck,' in order to restore his Imperial master to peace and tranquillity of mind ? Poor Francis ! still are you doomed to be fidgetty on your throne. We think we see you receiving intelligence of the appearance of this last emanation from Ladi Morgan's untiring pen-a mortal paleness overspreads your face, as Metternich rushes into your presence with terror depicted in his countenance, articulating only “ Ladi Morgan, Ladi Morgan,” having just obtained himself a knowledge of the dreadful fact from an almost breathless courier-in an agony of suspense you gaze wildly at your faithful counsellor, until he has recovered composure sufficient to unfold to you the whole tale of horror. It is told! The monarch in whose hands are the lives of fifty millions of subjects, lies himself, to all appearance, deprived of existence. But see! he revives—his lips move-what are the words which fall faintly upon the ears of the bewildered attendants who have been called into the apartment by the cries of the prime minister ? They are words of malediction, of the same purport as those which Henry II. of England uttered against his servants, for their want of zeal in allowing him to be so long tormented by Thomas à Becket, and which caused that prelate's death. But alas ! for your repose, Imperial Cæsar, it is not so easy at the present day, as in former times, for de Luces and de Morevilles to gratify the vengeful wishes of their masters, and Lady Morgan yet breathes the breath of life (although it is true she did not do it “freely,” according to her own account, while in the vicinity of your ambassador in Paris,) to keep your nervous system in disorder, and for the continued vexation of the rational part of the reading world.

Multifarious are the other instances we might cite of the manVOL. IX.-NO 17. 4

16

Lady Morgan's France in 1829–30.

[March,

181. Lady Morgan's France

where in it

, is concentrated in the cu
Grand Monarch ; by the sunshine
the clouds which pass across it

, every
This, however, is certainly not the ca
present day.
But the principal drawback upon the
France

, is decidedly the multitude of me
are continually noyed, and whose n
sends the eye, while it sickens the heart
vehicle stop wi vot being immediately
distressing object

. fat the mind can com

and comforts of English hostels. There are, however, various other particulars of importance for a traveller's enjoyment, which Shakspeare's "sea-walled garden” furnishes in by far the greater abundance. In France the roads are comparatively much inferior, and the general appearance of the country is less pleasing. You meet there with few or none of those detached farm-houses, with their little dependencies of cottages, which everywhere greet the eye in England, bespeaking the honest and w

onditioned yeoman, and presenting a picture of prosperity and contentment, the villages through which you pass, mostly " ar a decayed and squalid appearance~the magnificent cour".. y-seats, with their parks and other appurtenances, whose frequent recurrence in England constitutes so rich a feast for the gaze of the stranger, are rarely rivalled in France--the landscape here, also, is much seldomer able to borrow that venerable grace and romantic charm which the remains of feudal ages alone can lend. This last circumstance is one greatly to be regretted ; for perhaps the most exquisite gratification to be derived from travelling through a country, where for centuries civilization in a greater or less degree has exercised sway, arises from the contemplation of the various monuments of by-gone days, some slowly mouldering into dust, others still proudly defying the assaults of the great destroyer. The mind dwells upon them with a species of pensive delight, and that peculiar charm which their association with the fictions and annals of times past inspires. It would seem, that France should be especially rich in the relics of that feudalism of which for a long time it was the chief seat, but a reason for their scantiness may be found in the policy which caused Louis XI., and which was subsequently pursued by Richelieu, and completed by Louis le Grand, to call the nobles from their estates, where they exercised almost sovereign authority, to the capital, and convert them into mere hangers on of the court-in the destructive hostilities which have almost incessantly desolated the kingdom--and especially in the determined war that was made upon castles by the patriots of the Revolution. These, at all events, are the causes which Sir Walter Scott, in his “Paul's Letters to his Kinsfolk," assigns for the circumstance we are lamenting. The first one of them had also been previously intimated by that worthy personage, the father of Tristram Shandy,"Why are thoro en fow nalores

as to render it impossible for any one Fortunats's or Rothschild's purse

, to
inconsiderable, upon them all. A human
attempt to do it, with a pocket of bu
would soon be reduced to the neces
in the mendicant band, and crying
in their peculiar tone, " Donnez un
heureux, pour l'amour de Dieu, et de
a sous to a poor unfortunate, for the lo
Is Virgin." The crowds of these begge
lead the stranger to apprehend that i
to such an extent as to mar in a degra
sidence there; he is, however, agreea
in his perambulations through its st
ly free from them, in consequence of
the police. It is worthy of remark
the case in England. There the roa
cause for the tear of compassion, or
elicited by scenes of misery;

but in
must be made of sterner stuff than we
van avoid endeavoaring to repeat"
Jessness," at almost every step, afte
mahnitely stronger claims upon char
advanced by the poor Franciscan.

We have thus enumerated most of
in England is preferable to that in Ps
cumstance to be remarketi
counterbalanas

« ПретходнаНастави »