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beloved; both were sarcastic, careless, and daring, and therefore feared. The morality of Madame de Staël was by far the most faulty, but so was the society to which she belonged; so were the general manners of those by whom she was encircled."

There is one real point of similarity between Madame de Staël and Mrs. Piozzi, which has been omitted in the parallel. Both were treated much in the same manner by the amiable, sensitive, and unsophisticated Fanny Burney. In Feb. 1793, she wrote to her father, then at Paris, to announce her intimacy with a small "colony" of distinguished emigrants settled at Richmond, the cynosure of which was the far-famed daughter of Necker. He writes to caution her on the strength of a suspicious liaison with M. de Narbonne. She replies by declaring her belief that the charge is a gross calumny. "Indeed, I think you could not spend a day with them and not see that their commerce is that of pure, but exalted and most elegant, friendship. I would, nevertheless, give the world to avoid being a guest under their roof, now that I have heard even the shadow of such a rumour."

If Mr. Croker was right, she was then in her fortysecond year; at all events, no tender, timid, delicate maiden, ready to start at a hint or semblance of impropriety; and she waved her scruples without hesitation when they stood in the way of her intercourse with M. D'Arblay, whom she married in July 1793, he being then employed in transcribing Madame de Staël's Essay on the Influence of the Passions.

As to the parallel, with all due deference to Madame D'Arblay's proved sagacity aided by her personal knowledge of her two gifted friends, it may be suggested that they present fewer points of resemblance than any two women of at all corresponding celebrity.* The superiority in the highest qualities of mind will be awarded without hesitation to the French woman, although M. Thiers terms her writings the perfection of mediocrity. She grappled successfully with some of the weightiest and subtlest questions of social and political science; in criticism she displayed powers which Schlegel might have envied while he aided their fullest development in her "Germany"; and her "Corinne" ranks amongst the best of those works of fiction which excel in description, reflection, and sentiment, rather than in pathos, fancy, stirring incident, or artfully contrived plot. But her tone of mind was so essentially and notoriously masculine, that when she asked Talleyrand whether he had read her "Delphine," he answered, "Non, Madame, mais on m'a dit que nous y sommes tous les deux déguisés en femmes."† This was a material drawback on her agreeability: in a moment of excited consciousness, she exclaimed, that she would give all her fame for the power of fasci

* Lady Morgan and Madame de Genlis have been suggested as each presenting a better subject for a parallel.

"To understand the point of this answer," says Mr. Mackintosh, "it must be known that an old countess is introduced in the novel full of cunning, finessing, and trick, who was intended to represent Talleyrand, and Delphine was intended for herself." Life of Sir James Mackintosh, vol. ii. p. 453.

nating; and there was no lack of bitterness in her celebrated repartee to the man who, seated between her and Madame Recamier, boasted of being between Wit and Beauty, "Oui, et sans posséder ni l'un ni l'autre."* The view from Richmond Park she called "calme et animée, ce qu'on doit être, et que je ne suis pas."

In London she was soon voted a bore by the wits and people of fashion. She thought of convincing whilst they thought of dining. Sheridan and Brummell delighted in mystifying her. Byron complained that she was always talking of himself or herselft, and concludes his account of a dinner-party by the remark: "But we got up too soon after the women; and Mrs. Corinne always lingers so long after dinner, that we wish her in the drawing-room." In another place he says: "I saw Curran presented to Madame de Staël at Mackintosh's; it was the grand confluence between the Rhone and the Saône, and they were both so d-d ugly that I could not help wondering how the best intellects of France and England could have taken up respectively such residences." He afterwards qualifies this opinion: “Her figure was not bad; her legs tolerable; her arms good altogether I can conceive her having been a de

*This mot is given to Talleyrand in Lady Holland's Life of Sydney Smith. But it may be traced to one mentioned by Hannah More in 1787, as then current in Paris. One of the notables fresh from his province was teased by two petits maîtres to tell them who he was. "Eh bien donc, le voici : je suis ni sot ni fat, mais je suis entre les deux."- Memoirs of Hannah More, vol. ii. p. 57. † Johnson told Boswell: "You have only two topics, yourself and myself, and I am heartily sick of both."

sirable woman, allowing a little imagination for her soul, and so forth. She would have made a great man."

This is just what Mrs. Piozzi never would have made. Her mind, despite her masculine acquirements, was - thoroughly feminine: she had more tact than genius, more sensibility and quickness of perception than depth, comprehensiveness, or continuity of thought. But her very discursiveness prevented her from becoming wearisome: her varied knowledge supplied an inexhaustible store of topics and illustrations; her lively fancy placed them in attractive lights; and her mind has been well likened to a kaleidoscope which, whenever its glittering and heterogeneous contents are moved or shaken, surprises by some new combination of colour or of form. She professed to write as she talked; but her conversation was doubtless better than her books: her main advantages being a well-stored memory, fertility of images, aptness of allusion, and apropos.

Her colloquial excellence and her agreeability are established by the unanimous testimony of her cotemporaries. Her fame in this respect rests on the same basis as that of all great wits, all great actors, and many great orators. To question it for want of more tangible and durable proofs, would be as unreasonable as to question Sydney Smith's humour, Hook's powers of improvisation, Garrick's Richard, or Sheridan's Begum speech. But ex pede Herculem. Marked indications of her quality will be found in her letters and her books. Both," remarks an acute and by no means




partial critic, "are full of happy touches, and here and there will be found in them those deep and piercing thoughts which come intuitively to people of genius." Surely these are happy touches:

"I hate a general topic as a pretty woman hates a general mourning when black does not become her complexion."

"Life is a schoolroom, not a playground."

In allusion to the rage for scientific experiment in 1811: "Never was poor Nature so put to the rack, and never, of course, was she made to tell so many lies."

"Science (i. e. learning), which acted as a sceptre in the hand of Johnson, and was used as a club by Dr. Parr, became a lady's fan, when played with by George Henry Glasse."

"Hope is drawn with an anchor always, and Common Sense is never strong enough to draw it up."

"The poppy which Nature sows among the corn, to shew us that sleep is as necessary as bread." †

"The best writers are not the best friends; and the last character is more to be valued than the first by cotemporaries: after fifty years, indeed, the others carry away all the applause."

This is the reason why posterity always takes part with the famous author or man of genius against those who witnessed his meanness or suffered from his selfishness; why fresh apologists will constantly be found for

*The Athenæum. Jan. 26th, 1861.

Or to shew us that the harvest diminishes with sloth, and that what we gain in sleep we lose in bread. But qui dort, dine.

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