Thomas Adolphus Trollope.

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other and more resplendently clothed retainers.]

Then follows an account of a fancy _bal monstre_ at the Tuileries,
which might have turned out, says the writer, to deserve that title
in another sense. It was believed that a plot had been formed for
the assassination of the King, at the moment, when, according to his
invariable custom, he took his stand at the door of the supper-room to
receive the ladies there. Four thousand five hundred tickets had been
issued and a certain number of these, still blank, had disappeared.
That was certain. And it was also certain that the King did not go to
the door of the supper-room as usual. But the writer remarks that the
tickets may have been stolen by, or for, people who could not obtain
them legitimately. But the instantly conceived suspicion of a plot is
illustrative of the conditions of feeling and opinions in Paris at the
time.

"For my part," continues Mademoiselle D'Henin, "I never enjoyed a
ball so much; perhaps because I did not expect to be amused; perhaps
because all the royal family, the Jockey Club, and the fastidious
Frenchwomen congratulated me upon my toilet, and voted it one of the
handsomest there. They _said_ the most becoming (but that was _de
l'eau bénite de Cour_); perhaps it was because the Dukes of Orleans,
Nemours, and Aumale, who never dance, and did so very little that
evening, all three honoured me with a quadrille. You see I expose to
you all the very linings of my heart I dissect it and exhibit all
the vanity it contains. But you will excuse me when I tell you of a
compliment that might have turned a wiser head than mine. The fame of
my huntress's costume (Mademoiselle D'Henin was in those days the very
_beau-idéal_ of a Diana!) was such that it reached the ears of the
wife of our butcher, who sent to beg that I would lend it to her to
copy, as she was going to a fancy ball!"

A letter of the 8th of August, 1842, written from Fulham Palace,
contains some interesting notices of the grief and desolation caused
by the sad death of the Duke of Orleans.

"Was there ever a more afflicting calamity!" she writes. "When last
I wrote his name in a letter to you, it was to describe him as the
admired of all beholders, the hero of the _féte_, the pride and honour
of France, and now what remains of him is in his grave! The affliction
of his family baffles all description. I receive the most touching
accounts from Paris. Some ladies about the Court write to me that
nothing can equal their grief. As long as the coffin remained in the
chapel at Neuilly, the members of the family were incessantly kneeling
by the side of it, praying and weeping. The King so far mastered his
feelings, that whenever he had official duties to perform, he was
sufficiently composed to perform _son métier de Roi_. But when the
painful task was done he would rush to the chapel, and weep over the
dead body of his son, till the whole palace rang with his cries and
lamentations. When the body was removed from Neuilly to Notre Dame,
the scene at Neuilly was truly heartrending. My father has seen the
King and the Princes several times since the catastrophe, and he says
it has done the work of years on their personal appearance, The Due de
Nemours has neither eaten nor slept since his brother died, and
looks as if walking out of his grave. Mamma wrote him a few lines
of condolence, which he answered by a most affecting note. Papa was
summoned to attend the King to the House, as _Grand Officier_, and
says he never witnessed such a scene. Even the opposition shed their
crocodile tears. Placed immediately near the King on the steps of
the throne, he saw the struggle between kingly decorum and fatherly
affliction. Nature had the victory. Three times the King attempted to
speak, three times he was obliged to stop, and at last burst into a
flood of tears. The contagion gained all around him. And it was only
interrupted by sobs that he could proceed. And it is in the face of
this despair, when the body of the prince is scarcely cold, that
that horrid Thiers and his associates begin afresh their infernal
manoeuvres!"

A letter of the 3rd April, 1842, contains among a quantity of the
gossip of the day an odd story, which, the writer says, "is putting
Rome in a ferment, and the clergy in raptures." I think I remember
that it made a considerable stir in ecclesiastic circles at the time.
A certain M. Ratisbonne, a Jew, it seems entered a church in Rome (the
writer does not say so, but if I remember rightly, it was the "Gesu"),
with a friend, a M. de Bussières, who had some business to transact in
the sacristy. The Jew, who professed complete infidelity, meantime was
looking at the pictures. But M. de Bussières, when his business was
done, found him prostrate on the pavement in front of a picture of the
Madonna. The Jew on coming to himself declared that the Virgin had
stepped from her frame, and addressed him, with the result, as he
said, that having fallen to the ground an infidel, he rose a convinced
Christian! Mademoiselle D'Henin writes in a tone which indicates small
belief in the miracle, but seems to accept as certain the further
facts, that the convert gave all he possessed to the Church and became
a monk.

I have recently - even while transcribing these extracts from her
letters - heard of the death, within the last few years, of the writer
of them. She died in England, I am told, and unmarried. Her sympathies
and affections were always strongly turned to her mother's country, as
indeed may be in some degree inferred from even those passages of her
letters which have been given. And I can well conceive that the events
which, each more disastrous than its predecessor, followed in France
shortly after the date of the last of them, may have rendered,
especially after the death of her parents, a life in France
distasteful to her. But I, and, I think, my mother also, had entirely
lost sight of her for very many years. Had I imagined that she was
living in England, I should undoubtedly have endeavoured to see her.

I have known many women, denizens of _le grand monde_, who have
adorned it with equally brilliant talents, equally captivating beauty,
equally sparkling wit and vivacity of intelligence. And I have known
many, denizens of the studious and the book world, gifted with larger
powers of intellect, and more richly dowered with the results of
thought and study But I do not think that I ever met with one who
possessed in so large a degree the choice product resulting from
conversance with both these worlds. She was in truth a very brilliant
creature.

Madame D'Henin I remember made us laugh heartily one evening by
telling us the following anecdote. At one of those remarkable
_omnium-gatherum_ receptions at the Tuileries, of which I have spoken
in a former chapter, she heard an American lady, to whom Louis
Philippe was talking of his American recollections and of various
persons he had known there, say to him, "Oh, sire, they all retain the
most lively recollections of your majesty's sojourn among them, _and
wish nothing more than that you should return among them again_!" The
Duke of Orleans, who was standing behind the King, fairly burst into a
guffaw.

There was a story current in Rome, in the days of Pius the Ninth,
which may be coupled with this as a good _pendant_. His Holiness, when
he had occupied the papal throne for a period considerably exceeding
the legendary twenty-five years of St. Peter, was one day very affably
asking an Englishman, who had been presented to him, whether he had
seen everything in Rome most calculated to interest a stranger, and
was answered; "Yes indeed, your Holiness, I think almost everything,
except one which I confess I have been particularly anxious to
witness - a conclave!"

Here are a few jottings at random from my diary, which may still have
some little interest.

"Madame Le Roi, a daughter of General Hoche, told me (22nd January,
1840), that as she was driving on the boulevard a day or two ago,
a sou piece was thrown with great violence at the window of her
carriage, smashing it to pieces. This, she said, was because her
family arms were emblazoned on the panel. Most of the carriages in
Paris, she said, had no arms on them for fear of similar attacks."

Then we were active frequenters of the theatres. We go, I find, to the
Français, to see Mars, then sixty years old, in _Les Dehors Trompeurs_
and in the _Fausses Confidences_; to the opera to hear _Robert le
Diable_ and _Lucia di Lammermuir_, with Persiani, Tamburini, and
Rubini; and the following night to the Français again, to see Rachel
in _Cinna_.

I thought her personally, I observe, very attractive. But that, and
sundry other subsequent experiences, left me with the impression
that she was truly very powerful in the representation of scorn,
indignation, hatred, and all the sterner and less amiable passions of
the soul, but failed painfully when her _rôle_ required the exhibition
of tenderness or any of the gentler emotions. These were my
impressions when she was young and I was comparatively so. But when,
many years afterwards, I saw her repeatedly in Italy, they were not, I
think, much modified.

The frequent occasions on which subsequently I saw Ristori produced an
impression on me very much the reverse. I remember thinking Ristori's
"Mirra" too good, so terribly true as to be almost too painful for the
theatre. I thought Rachel's "Marie Stuart" upon the whole her finest
performance, though "Adrienne" ran it hard.

Persiani, I note, supported by Lablache and Rubini, had a most
triumphant reception in _Inez de Castro_, while Albertazzi was very
coldly received in _Blanche de Castille_. Grisi in _Norma_ was
"superb." "Persiani and P. Garcia sang a duet from _Tancredi_; it was
divine! I think I like Garcia's voice better than any of them. Nor
could I think her ugly, as it is the fashion to call her, though it
must be admitted that her mouth and teeth are alarming."

Then there were brilliant receptions at the English Embassy (Lord
Granville) and at the Austrian Embassy (Comte d'Appony). My diary
remarks that stars and gold lace and ribbons of all the Orders in
Christendom were more abundant at the latter, but female beauty at the
former. I remember much admiring that of Lady Honoria Cadogan, and
that of a very remarkably lovely Visconti girl, a younger sister of
the Princess Belgiojoso. But despite this perfect beauty, my diary
notes, that it was "curious to observe the unmistakable superiority
as a human being of the young English patrician." I remember that the
"sit-down" suppers at the Austrian Embassy - a separate little table
for every two, three, or four guests - were remarked on as a novelty
(and applauded) by the Parisians.

Then at Miss Clarke's (afterwards Madame Mohl) I find Fauriel, "the
first Provençal scholar in Europe," delightful, and am disgusted with
Merimée, because he manifested self-sufficiency, as it seemed to my
youthful criticism, by pooh-poohing the probability of the temple
at Lanleff in Brittany having been aught else than a church of the
Templars.

Then Arago reads an _Eloge_ on "old Ampère," of which I only remark
that it lasted two hours and a half. Then there was a dinner at Dr.
Gilchrist's whose widow our old friend Pepe, who for many years had
always called her "Madame Ghee-cree," subsequently married. My notes,
written the same evening, remind me that "I did not much like the
radical old Doctor (his wife was an old acquaintance, but I had
never seen him before); he is eighty, and ought to know better. Old
Nymzevitch (I am not sure of the spelling), the ex-Chancellor of
Poland, dined with us. He is eighty-four. When he said that he had
conversed with the Duc de Richelieu, I started as if he had announced
himself as the Wandering Jew. But, in fact, he had had, when a young
man, an interview with the Duc, then ninety. He was, Nymzevitch told
me, dreadfully emaciated, but dressed very splendidly in a purple
coat all bedizened with silver lace. He received me, said the old
ex-Chancellor, with much affable dignity."'

Then comes a breakfast with Pepe, at which I met the President
Thibeaudeau, "a grey old man who makes a point of saying rude, coarse,
and disagreeable things, which his friends call dry humour. He found
fault with everything at the breakfast table."

Then a visit to the Chamber (where I heard Soult, Dupin, and Teste
speak, and thought it "a terrible bear-garden)" is followed by
attendance at a sermon by Athanase Coquerel, the Protestant preacher
whose reputation in the Parisian _beau monde_ was great in those days.
He was, says my diary, "exceedingly eloquent, but I did not like his
sermon;" for which dislike my notes proceed to give the reasons, which
I spare the, I hope grateful, reader. Then I went to hear Bishop
Luscombe at the Ambassador's chapel, and listened to "a very stupid
sermon." I seem, somewhat to my surprise as I read the records of it,
to have had a pronounced taste for sermons in those days, which I fear
I have somehow outgrown. But then I have been very deaf during my
later decades.

Bishop Luscombe may perhaps however be made more amusing to the reader
than he was to me in the Embassy chapel by the following fragment of
his experience. The Bishop arrived one day at Paddington, and could
not find his luggage. He called a porter to find it for him, telling
him the name to be read on the articles. The man, very busy with other
people, answered hurriedly, "You must go to hell for your luggage."
Now, Luscombe, who was a somewhat pompous and very _bishopy_ man, was
dreadfully shocked, and felt, as he said, as if the porter had struck
him in the face. In extreme indignation he demanded where he could
speak with any of the authorities, and was told that "the Board"
was then sitting up stairs. So to the boardroom the Bishop went
straightway, and announcing himself, made his complaint. The chairman,
professing his regret that such offence should have been given,
said he feared the man must have been drunk, but that he should be
immediately summoned to give an account of his conduct. So the porter
in great trepidation appeared in a few minutes before the august
tribunal of "the Board."

"Well, sir," said he in reply to the chairman's indignant questioning,
"what could I do? I was werry busy at the time. So when the gentleman
says as his name was Luscombe, I could do no better than tell him to
go to h'ell for his luggage, and he'd have found it there all right!"

"Oh! I see," said the chairman, "it is a case of misplaced aspirate!
We have spaces on the wall marked with the letters of the alphabet,
and you would have found your luggage at the letter L. You will see
that the man meant no offence. I am sorry you should have been so
scandalised, but though we succeed, I hope, in making our porters
civil to our customers, it would be hopeless, I fear, to attempt to
make them say L correctly." _Solvuntur risu tabulae_.

I find chronicled a long talk with Mohl one evening at Madame
Récamier's. The room was very full of notable people of all sorts, and
the tide of chattering was running very strong. "How can anything last
long in France?" said he, in reply to my having said (in answer to
his assertion that Cousin's philosophy had gone by) that it had been
somewhat short-lived. "Reputations are made and pass away. It is
impossible that they should endure. It is in such places as this that
they are destroyed. The friction is prodigious!"

We then began to talk of the state of religion in France. He said
that among a large set, religion was now _à la mode_. But he did not
suppose that many of the fine folks who _patronised_ it had much
belief in it. The clergy of France were, he said, almost invariably
very illiterate. Guizot, I remembered, calls them in his _History of
Civilisation doctes et crudits_, but I abstained from quoting him.
Mohl went on to tell me a story of a newspaper that had been about to
be established, called _Le Democrat_. The shareholders met, when it
appeared that one party wished to make it a Roman Catholic, and the
other an atheist organ. Whereupon the existence of God was put to the
vote and carried by a majority of one, at which the atheist party were
so disgusted that they seceded in a body.

I got to like Mohl much, and had more conversation, I think, with him
than with any other of the numerous men of note with whom I became
more or less acquainted. On another occasion, when I found him in his
cabinet, walled up as usual among his books, our talk fell on his
great work, the edition of the oriental MSS. in the _Bibliothèque
Royale_, which was to be completed in ten folio volumes, the first
of which, just out, he was showing me. He complained of the extreme
slowness of the Government presses in getting on with the work. This
he attributed to the absurd costliness, as he considered it, of the
style in which the work was brought out. The cost of producing that
first volume he told me had been over 1,600_l_. sterling. It was to be
sold at a little less than a hundred francs. Something was said (by
me, I think) of the possibility of obtaining assistance from the King,
who was generally supposed to be immensely wealthy. Mohl said that he
did not believe Louis Philippe to be nearly so rich a man as he was
supposed to be. He had spent, he said, enormous sums on the châteaux
he had restored, and was affirmed by those who had the means of
knowing the fact, to be at that time twelve millions of francs in
debt.

My liking for Mohl seems to have been fully justified by the
estimation he was generally held in. I find in a recently published
volume by Kathleen O'Meara on the life of my old friend, Miss Clarke,
who afterwards became his wife, the following passage quoted from
Sainte-Beuve, who describes him as "a man who was the very embodiment
of learning and of inquiry, an oriental _savant_ - more than a
_savant_ - a sage, with a mind clear, loyal, and vast; a German mind
passed through an English filter, a cloudless, unruffled mirror, open
and limpid; of pure and frank morality; early disenchanted with all
things; with a grain of irony devoid of all bitterness, the laugh of a
child under a bald head; a Goethe-like intelligence, but free from all
prejudice." "A charming and _spirituelle_ Frenchwoman," Miss O'Meara
goes on to say, "said of Julius Mohl that Nature in forming his
character had skimmed the cream of the three nationalities to which he
belonged by birth, by adoption and by marriage, making him deep as a
German, _spirituel_ as a Frenchman, and loyal as an Englishman."

I may insert here the following short note from Madame Mohl, because
the manner of it is very characteristic of her. It is, as was usual
with her, undated.

* * * * *

"MY DEAR MR. TROLLOPE, - By accident I have just learned that you are
in London. If I could see you and talk over my dear old friend (Madame
Récamier) I should be so much obliged and so glad. I live 68 Oxford
Terrace, Hyde Park. If you would write me a note to say when I should
be at home for the purpose. But if you can't, I am generally, not
always, found after four. But if you could come on the 10th or 12th
after nine we have a party. I am living at Mrs. Schwabe's just now
till 16th this month. Pray write me a note, even If you can't come.

"Yours ever,

"MARY MOHL."

* * * * *

All the capital letters in the above transcript, except those in her
name are mine, she uses none. The note is written in headlong hurry.

Mignet, whom I met at the house of Thiers, I liked too, but Mohl was
my favourite.

It was all very amusing, with as much excitement and interest of
all kinds crammed into a few weeks as might have lasted one for a
twelvemonth. And I liked it better than teaching Latin to the youth of
Birmingham. But it would seem that there was something that I liked
better still. For on March 30th, leaving my mother in the full swing
of the Parisian gaieties, I bade adieu to them all and once again
"took to the road," bound on an excursion through Central France.




CHAPTER IV.


My journey through central France took me by Chartres, Orleans, down
the Loire to Nantes, then through La Vendée to Fontenay, Niort,
Poitiers, Saintes, Rochefort, La Rochelle, Bordeaux, Angouleme,
Limoges, and thence back to Paris. On looking at the book for the
first time since I read the proof-sheets I find it amusing. The fault
of it, as an account of the district traversed, is, that it treats
of the localities described on a scale that would have needed twenty
volumes, instead of two, to complete the story of my tour in the same
proportion. I do not remember that any of my critics noted this fault.
Perhaps they feared that on the first suggestion of such an idea I
should have set about mending the difficulty by the production of a
score of other volumes on the subject! I could easily have done so. I
was in no danger of incurring the anathema launched by Sterne - I think
it was Sterne - against the man who went from Dan to Beersheba and
found all barren. I found matter of interest everywhere, and could
have gone on doing so, as it seemed to me in those days, for ever.

The part of France I visited is not much betravelled by Englishmen,
and the general idea is that it is not an interesting section of the
country. I thought, and still think, otherwise. My notion is, that
if a line were drawn through France from Calais to the centre of the
Pyrenean chain, by far the greater part of the prettiest country and
most interesting populations, as well as places, would be found to the
westward of it. I do not think that my bill of fare excited any great
interest in the reading world. But I suppose that I contrived to
interest a portion of it; for the book was fairly successful.

I wrote a book in many respects of the same kind many years
subsequently, giving an account of a journey through certain
little-visited districts of central Italy, under the title of a
_Lenten Journey_. It is not, I think, so good a book as my French
journeys furnished, mainly to my mind because it was in one small
volume instead of two big ones, and both for want of space and want of
time was done hurriedly and too compendiously. The true motto for the
writer of such a book is _nihil a me alienum puto_, whether _humanum_
or otherwise. My own opinion is, to make a perfectly clean breast of
it, that I could now write a fairly amusing book on a journey from
Tyburn turnpike to Stoke Pogis. But then such books should be
addressed to readers who are not in such a tearing hurry as the
unhappy world is in these latter days.

It would seem that I found my two octavo volumes did not afford me
nearly enough space to say my say respecting the country traversed,
for they are brought to an end somewhat abruptly by a hurried return
from Limoges to Paris; whereas my ramble was much more extended,
including both the upper and lower provinces of Auvergne and the
whole of the Bourbonnais. My voluminous notes of the whole of these
wanderings are now before me. But I will let my readers off easy,
recording only that I walked from Murat to St. Flour, a distance of
fifteen miles, in five minutes under three hours. Not bad! My diary
notes that it was frequently very difficult to find my way in walking
about Auvergne, from the paucity of people I could find who could
speak French, the _langue du pays_ being as unintelligible as Choctaw.
This would hardly be the case now.

I don't know whether a knot of leading tradesmen at Bordeaux could
now be found to talk, as did such a party with whom I got into
conversation in that year, 1840. It was explained to me that England,
as was well known, had liberated her slaves in the West Indies
perfectly well knowing that the colonies would be absolutely ruined by
the measure, but expecting to be amply compensated by the ruin of
the French colonies, which would result from the example, and the
consequent extension of trade with the East Indies, from which France
would be compelled to purchase all the articles her own colonies now
supplied her with. One of these individuals told me and the rest of
his audience, that he had the means of _knowing_ that the interest of
the English national debt was paid every year by fresh borrowing, and
that bankruptcy and absolute smash must occur within a few years.
"Ah!" said a much older, grey-headed man, who had been listening
sitting with his hands reposing on his walking-stick before him, and
who spoke with a sort of patient, long-expecting hope and a deep sigh,



Online LibraryThomas Adolphus TrollopeWhat I Remember, Volume 2 → online text (page 4 of 24)