Page images
PDF
EPUB

contrive to see all these gentlemen together?" | spectators. The whole scene, says M. Grimm, M. Mercier, who had the same passion for reminded us of the classic days of Greece and fine speeches, told him one day, “You outdo Rome. But it became more truly touching at every body so much in their own way, that I the moment when its object rose to retire. am sure you will beat Fontenelle even, in Weakened and agitated by the emotions he longevity' “ No, no, Sir!" answered 'the had experienced, his limbs trembled beneath Patriarch, “Fontenelle was a Norman; and, him; and, bending almost to the earth, he you may depend upon it, contrived to trick seemed ready to expire under the weigłá of Nature out of her rights."

years and honours that had been laid ipon One of the most prolific sources of witti- him. His eyes, filled with tears, still sparkled cisms that is noticed in this collection, is the with a peculiar fire in the midst of his pale Patriarch's elevation to the dignity of temporal and faded countenance. All the beauty and father of the Capuchins in his district. The all the rank of France crowded round hin in cream of the whole, however, may be found the lobbies and staircases, and literally bore in the following letter of his to M. De Riche- him in their arms to the door of his carriage. lieu.

Here the humbler multitude took their turn; “Je voudrais bien, monseigneur, avoir le plaisir and, calling for torches that all might get a de vous donner ma bénédiction avant de mourir. sight of him, clustered round his coach, and L'expression vous paraîtra un peu forte : elle est followed it to the door of his lodgings, with pourtant dans la vérité. J'ai l'honneur d'être ca- vehement shouts of admiration and triumph. pucin. Notre général qui est à Rome, vient de This is the heroic part of the scene;—but M. m'envoyer mes patentes; mon titre est; Frère Grimm takes care also to let us know, that the Spiritue el Père Temporel des Capucins. Mandez-moi laquelle de vos maîtresses vous voulez re: Patriarch appeared on this occasion in long tirer du purgatoire : je vous jure sur ma barbe lace ruffles, and a fine coat of cut velvet, with qu'elle n'y sera pas dans vingtquatre heures. a grey periwig of a fashion forty years old, Comme je dois me détacher des biens de ce which he used to comb every morning with monde, j'ai abandonné à mes parens ce qui m'est his own hands, and to which nothing at all dù par la succession de feu madame la princesse parallel had been seen for ages except on de Guise, et par M. votre intendant; ils iront à ce sujet prendre vos ordres qu'ils ' regarderone the head of Bachaumont the novelist, who comme un bienfait. Je vous donne ma bénédico was known accordingly among the wits of tion. Signé Voltaire, Capucin indigne, et qui Paris by the name of " Voltaire's wigblock.” n'a pas encore eu de bonne fortune de capucin.' This brilliant and protracted career, howpp. 54, 55.

ever, was fast drawing to a close, --Retaining We have very full details of the last days to the last, that untameable spirit of activity of this distinguished person. He came to and impatience which had characterized all Paris, as is well known, after twenty-seven his past life, he assisted at rehearsals and years' absence, at the age of eighty-four; meetings of the Academy, with the zeal and and the very evening he arrived, he recited enthusiasm of early youth. At one of the himself the whole of his Irene to the players, latter, some objections were started to his and passed all the rest of the night in cor- magnificent project, of giving an improved recting the piece for representation. A few edition of their Dictionary ;—and he resolved days after, he was seized with a violent vomit- to compose a discourse to obviate those obing of blood, and instantly called stoutly for jections. To strengthen himself for this task, a priest, saying, that they should not throw he swallowed a prodigious quantity of strong him out on the dunghill. A priest was ac- coffee, and then continued at work for upcordingly brought; and the Patriarch very wards of twelve hours without intermission. gravely subscribed a profession of his faith This imprudent effort brought on an inflamin the Christian religion of which he was mation in his bladder; and being told by M. ashamed, and attempted to make a jest, as De Richelieu, that he had been much relieved soon as he recovered. He was received with in a similar situation, by taking, at intervals, unexampled honours at the Academy, the a few drops of laudanum, he provided him. whole members of which rose together, and self with a large bottle of that medicine, and came out to the vestibule to escort him into with his usual impatience, swallowed the the hall; while, on the exterior, all the ave- greater part of it in the course of the night. nues, windows, and roofs of houses, by which The consequence was, as might naturally his carriage had to pass, were crowded with have been expected, that he fell into a sort spectators, and resounded with acclamations. of lethargy, and never recovered the use of But the great scene of his glory was the thea- his faculties, except for a few minutes at a tre; in which he no sooner appeared, than the time, till the hour of his death, which hapwhole audience rose up, and continued for pened three days after, on the evening of the upwards of twenty minutes in thunders of 30th of May, 1778. The priest to whom he applause and shouts of acclamation that filled had made his confession, and : nother, entered the whole house with dust and agitation. his chamber a short time before he breathed When the piece was concluded, the curtain his last. He recognized them with difficulty was again drawn up, and discovered the bust and assured them of his respects. One of of their idol in the middle of the stage, while them coming close up to him, he threw his the favourite actress placed a crown of laurel arm round his neck, as if to embrace him. on its brows, and recited some verses, the But when M. le Curé, taking advantage of words of which could scarcely be distin- this cordiality, proceeded to urge him to make guished amidst the tumultuous shouts of the some sign or acknowledgment of his belief in

M

the Christian faith, he gently pushed him himself that all the powers of Europe haii back, and said, "Alas! let me die in peace.” their eyes fixed upon him as a most danger. The priest turned to his companion, and with ous and portentous being, whom they should great moderation and presence of mind, ob- take the first opportunity to destroy. He was served aloud, "You see his faculties are quite also satisfied that M. de Choiseul had progone.” They then quietly left the apartment; jected and executed the conquest of Corsica, —and the dying man, having testified his for no other purpose but to deprive him of the gratitude to his kind and vigilant attendants, honour of legislating for it; and that Prussia and named several times the name of his and Russia had agreed to partition Poland favourite niece Madame Denis, shortly after upon the same jealous and unworthy conexpired.

sideration. While the potentates of Europe Nothing can better mark the character of were thus busied in thwarting and mortifying the work before us, and of its author, than to him abroad, the philosophers, he was perstate, that the despatch which contains this suaded, were entirely devoted to the same striking account of the last hours of his illus- project at home. They had spies, he firmly trious patron and friend, terminates with an believed, posted round all his steps, and were obscene epigram of M. Rulhiere, and a gay continually making efforts to rouse the popucritique on the new administration of the lace to insult and murder him. At the head opera Buffa! There are various epitaphs on of this conspiracy, of the reality of which he Voltaire, scattered through the sequel of the no more doubted than of his existence, he volume :-we prefer this very brief one, by a had placed the Duc de Choiseul, his physilady of Lausanne.

cian Tronchin, M. D'Alembert, and our auCi.gît l'enfant gaté du monde qu'il gata."

thor !—But we must pass to characters less

known or familiar. Among the other proofs which M. Grimm The gayest, and the most naturally gay has recorded of the celebrity of this extra- perhaps of all the coterie, was the Abbé Gaordinary person, the incredible multitude of liani, a Neapolitan, who had resided for many his portraits that were circulated, deserves to years in Paris, but had been obliged, very be noticed. One ingenious artist, in particular, much against his will, to return to his own of the name of Huber, had acquired such a country about the time that this journal comfacility in forming his countenance, that he menced. M. Grimm inserts a variety of his could not only cut most striking likenesses letters, in all of which the infantine petulance of him out of paper, with scissars held be- and freedom of his character are distinctly hind his back, but could mould a little bust marked, as well as the singular acuteness and of him in half a minute, out of a bit of bread, clearness of his understanding. The first is and at last used to make his dog manufacture written immediately after his exile from Paris most excellent profiles, by making him bite in 1770. off the edge of a biscuit which he held to

“Madame, je suis toujours inconsolable d'avoir him in three or four different positions !

quitté Paris; ei encore plus inconsolable de n'avoir There is less about Rousseau in these reçu aucune nouvelle ni de vous, ni du paresseux volumes, than we should expect from their philosophe. Est-il possible que ce monstre, dans author's early intimacy with that great writer. son impassibilitié, ne sente pas à quel point mon What there is, however, is candid and judi- honneur, ma gloire, dont je me fiche, mon plaisir cious. M. Grimm agrees with Madame de et celui de mes amis

, dont je me soucie beaucoup,

sont intéressés dans l'affaire que je lui ai confiée, et Staël, that Rousseau was nothing of a French- combien je suis impatient d'apprendre qu'en fin la man in his character ;-and accordingly he pacouille a doublé le cap et passé le terrible défilé observes, that though the magic of his style de la révision : car, après cela, je serai tranquille and the extravagance of his sentiments pro- sur le reste. cured him some crazy disciples, he never had

“ Mon voyage a été très heureux sur la terre et

surl'onde; il a même été d'un bonheur inconcevable. any hearty partisans

among the enlightened Je n'ai jamais eu chaud, et toujours le vent en poupe part of the nation. He laughs a good deal at sur le Rhône et sur la mer; il paraît que tout me his affectations and unpardonable animosi- pousse à m'éloigner de tout ce que j'aime au monde. ties,—but gives, at all times, the highest L'héroïsme sera donc bien plus grand et bien plus praise to his genius, and sets him above all mémorable, de vaincre les élémens, la nature, les his contemporaries, for the warmth, the ele- d'eux. Oui, Paris est ma patrie; on aura beau

dieux conspirés, et de retourner à Paris en dépit gance, and the singular richness of his style m'en exiler, j'y retomberai. Attendez-vous donc He says, that the general opinion at Paris was, à me voir établi dans la rue Fromenteau, au quatrithat he had poisoned himself;—that his natu- ème, sur le derrière, chez la nommée. fille ral disposition to melancholy had increased in majeure. Là demeurera le plus grand génie de an alarming degree after his return from Eng- notre âge, en pension à frente sous par jour; et il land, and had been aggravated by the sombre Je vous prie d'envoyer vos lettres toujours à l'hôtel

sera heureux. Quel plaisir que de délirer! Adieu. and solitary life to which he had condemned de l'ambassadeur. himself ;-that mind, he adds, at once too “Grimm est-il de retour de son voyage ?" strong and too weak to bear the burden of existence with tranquillity, was perpetually the same tone.

Another to the Baron Holbach is nearly in prolific of monsters and of phantoms, that haunted all his steps, and drove him to the

"Que faites-vous, mon cher baron ? Vous amusezborders of distractior.. There is no doubt,

vous ? La baronne se porte-t-elle bien ? Comment continues M. Grimm, that for many months le premier maître d'hôtel, mange-l-elle toujours

vont vos enfans? La philosophie, dont vous êtes before his death he had firmly persuaded | d'un aussi bon appétit ?

"Pour moi, je m'ennuie mortellement ici; je ne vous voulez. Cela lui était d'autant plus aisé, que vois personne, excepié deux ou trois Français. Je Marius, fondateur de ce parti, était de son pays. Il suis le Gulliver revenu du pays des Hoyinhyims, en fut même tenté, car il débuta par attaquer Sylla

vais rendre des visites de devoir aux femmes à la tête desquels, après la mort de Marius, étaient des deux ministres d'état et de finances; et puis je Claudius, Caulina, César. Mais le parti des grands dors ou je rêve. Quelle vie ! Rien n'amuse ici : avait besoin d'un jurisconsulte et d'un savant; car point d'édiis, point de réductions, point de retenues, les grands seigneurs, en général, ne savent ni lire point de suspensions de paiemens : la vie y est d'une ni écrire ; il sentit donc qu'on aurait plus besoin de uniformité tuante; on ne dispute de rien, pas même lui dans le parti des grands, et qu'il y jouerait un de religion. Ah! mon cher Paris ! ah ! que je te rôle plus brillant. Il s'y jeta, et dès lors on vit un regrelle !

homme nouveau, un parvenu inēlé avec les patri. * Donnez-moi quelques nouvelles littéraires, ciens. Figurez-vous en Angleterre un avocat dont mais n'en attendez pas en revanche. Pour les la cour a besoin pour faire un chancelier, et qui suit grands événemens en Europe, je crois que nous en par conséquent le parui du ministère. Cicéron brilla allons devenir le bureau. On dit, en effet, que la donc à côté de Pompée, etc., toutes les fois qu'il flotte Russe a enfin débarqué à Patras, que toute la était question de choses de jurisprudence; mais il Morée s'est révoltée et déclarée en faveur des dé- lui manquait la naissance, les richesses; et surtout barqués, et que sans coup ferir ils s'en sont rendus n'étant pas homme de guerre, il jouait de ce côté-là maitres, excepté des villes de Corinthe et de Napoli un rôle subalterne. D'ailleurs, par inclination de Romanie: cela mérite confirmation. Quelle naturelle, il aimait le parti de César, et il était avanture! Nous serons limitrophes des Russes ; fatigué de la morgue des grands qui lui faisaient et d'Otrante à Pétersbourg il n'y aura plus qu'un sentir souvent le prix des bienfaiis dont on l'avait pas, et un petit trajet de mer: Dux fæmina facti. comblé. Il n'était pas pusillanime, il était incertain; Une femme aura faii cela ! Cela est trop beau pour il ne défendait pas des scélérats, il défendair les gens être vrai."

de son parti qui ne valaient guère mieux que ceux The next is not such pure trifling.

du parti contraire.” ** Vous avez reconnu Voltaire dans son sermon ;

We shall add only the following. moi je n'y reconnais que l'écho de feu M. de Vol. Le dialogue des tableaux du Louvre intéresse taire. Ah! il rabâche irop à présent. Sa Catherine peu à cinq cents lieues de Paris ; le baron de Glei. est une maîtresse femme, parce qu'elle est intol. chen et moi, nous en avons ri: personnes ne nous érante et conquerante; tous les grands hommes aurait entendus. Au reste, à propos des tableaux, ont été intolérans, et il faut l'être. Si l'on rencontre je remarque que le caractère dominant des Français sur son chemin un prince sot, il faut lui prêcher la perce toujours ; ils sont causeurs, raisonneurs, badins tolérance, afin qu'il donne dans le piège, et que le par essence. Un mauvais tableau entante une parti écrasé ait le temps de se relever par la tolérance bonne brochure ; ainsi vous parlerez mieux des arts qu'on lui accorde, et d'écraser son adversaire à son que vous ne les cultiverez jamais. Il se trouvera iour. Ainsi le sermon sur la tolérance est un ser- au bout du compte, dans quelques siècles, que vous mon fait aux sots ou aux gens dupes, ou à des gens aurez le mieux raisonné, le mieux discuté ce que qui n'ont aucun intérêt dans la chose : voilà pour toutes les autres nations auront fait de mieux. quoi, quelquefois, un prince séculier doit écouler la Chérissez donc l'imprimerie, c'est votre lot dans ce tolérance ; c'est lorsque l'affaire intéresse les prêtres bas monde. Mais vous avez mis un impôt sur le sans intéresser les souverains. Mais en Pologne, les papier. Quelle sottise! Plaisanterie à part, un évêques sont tout à la fois prêtres et souverains, et, impôt sur le papier est la faute en politique la plus s'ils le peuvent, ils feront fort bien de chasser les forie que se soit commise en France depuis un siècle. Russes, et d'envoyer au diable tous les Dissidens ; !! valait mieux faire la banqueroute universelle, et et Caiherine fera fort bien d'écraser les évêques si laisser au Français le plaisir de parler à l'Europe à cela lui réussit. Moi je n'en crois rien ; je crois que peu de frais. Vous avez plus conquis de pays par les Russes écraseroni les Turcs par contre-coup, les livres que par les armes. Vous ne devez la et ne seront qu'agrandir et réveiller les Polonais, gloire de la nation qu'à vos ouvrages, et vous voulez comme Philippe II. et la maison d'Autriche écra. vous forcer à vous iaire!" sèrent l'Allemagne et l'Italie, en voulant troubler Ma belle dame, s'il servait à quelque chose de la France qu'ils ne firent qu'ennoblir: voilà mes pleurer les morts, je viendrais pleurer avec vous la prophéties.

perte de notre Helvétius ; mais la mort n'est autre * Votre lettre du 8 juin n'est point gaie ; il s'en chose que le regret des vivans; si nous ne le regretfaut même beaucoup : vous avouez vous-même que tons pas, il n'est pas mort: tout comme si nous ne vous n'avez que quelques lueurs de gaieté ; je crains l'avions jamais ni connu ni aimé, il ne serait pas né. que cela ne tienne au physique, et que vous ne vous Tout ce qui existe, existe en nous par rapport à porliez pas bien : voilà ce qui me fâche. Pour moi, nous. Souvenez-vous que le petit prophète faisait je fais iout ce que je puis pour vous égayer, et ce de la métaphysique lorsqu'il était triste ; j'en fais de n'est pas un petit effort pour moi : car je suis si même à préseni. Mais enfin le mal de la perte ennuyé de mon existence ici, qu'en vérité je deviens d'Helvétius est le vide qu'il laisse dans la ligne du homme d'affaires et homme grave de jour en jour bataillon. Serrons donc les lignes, aimons-nous davantage, et je finirai par devenir Nepolitain, iout davantage, nous qui restons, et il n'y paraîtra pas. comme un autre.''

Moi qui suis le major de ce malheureux régiment,

je vous crie à tous : serrez les lignes, avancez, feu ! Another contains some admirable remarks On ne s'apercevra pas de notre perte. Ses enfans on the character of Cicero, introduced in the n'ont perdu ni jeunesse ni beauté par la mort de eame style of perfect ease and familiarity. leur père ; elles ont gagné la qualité d'héritières ; ** On peut regarder Cicéron comme livérateur, Elles se marieront, n'en doutez pas : cet oracle est

pourquoi diable allez-vous pleurer sur leur sort ? comme philosophe et comme homme d'état: 11 a plus sur que celui de Calchas. Sa femme est plus à été un des plus grands ligérateurs qui aient jamais plaindre, à moins qu'elle ne rencontre un gendre été ; il savait tout ce qu'on savait de son temps, aussi raisonnable que son mari, ce qui n'est pas excepté la géométrie et autres sciences de ce genre. bien aisé, mais plus aisé à Paris qu'ailleurs. ll y a Il était médiocre philosophe : car il savait tout ce que les Grecs avaient pensé, et le rendait avec une dans votre Paris; il y en a plus qu'ailleurs, croyez

encore bien des meurs, des verius, de l'héroïsme clarté admirable, mais il ne pensait rien et n'avait moi : c'est ce qui me le fait regretter, et me le fera pas la force de rien imaginer. Comme homme peut-être revoir un jour.” d'état, Cicéron, érant d'une basse extraction, et voulant parvenir, aurait dû se jeter dans le parti de

The notice of the death of Helvetius, conl'opposition, de la chambre basse ou du peuple, si tained in this last extract, leads us naturally to turn to the passage in M. Grimm in which Nobody knows a better or a more amiable this event is commemorated; and we there figure in this book, than Madame GEOFFRIN. find a very full and curious account of this Active, reasonable, indulgent, and munificent zealous philosopher. Helvetius was of Dutch beyond example for a woman in private life, extraction; and his father having been chief she laid a sure claim to popularity by taking physician to the Queen, the son was speedily for her maxim the duty of giving and forappointed to the very lucrative situation of giving;" and showed herself so gentle in her Farmer-general of the Finances. He was re- deportment to children and servants, that if markably good tempered, benevolent, and she had not been overcome with an unlucky liberal; and passed his youth in idle and vo- passion for intrigue aud notoriety, she might luptuous indulgence, keeping a sort of seraglio have afforded one exception at least to the as a part of his establishment, and exercising general heartlessness of the society to which himself with universal applause in the noble she belonged. Some of the repartees rescience of dancing, in which he attained such corded of her in these volumes, are very eminence, that he is said to have several remarkable. M. de Rulhiere threatened to times supplied the place of the famous Dupré make public, certain very indiscreet remarks in the ballets at the opera. An unhappy pas- on the court of Russia, from the sale of which sion for literary glory came, however, to dis- he expected great profits. Madame Geoffrin, turb this easy life. The paradoxes and ef- who thought he would get into difficulties by frontery of Maupertuis had brought science taking such a step, offered him a very handinto fashion; and for a season, no supper was some sum to put his manuscript in ihe fire. thought complete at Paris without a mathe- He answered her with many lofty and animatician. Helvetius, therefore, betook him- mated observations on the meanness and unself immediately to the study of geometry: worthiness of taking money to suppress truth. But he could make no hand of it; and for- To all which the lady listened with the utmost tunately the rage passed away before he had complacency; and merely replied, "Well! time to expose himself in the eyes of the in- say yourself how much more you must have." itiated. Next came the poetical glory of Vol. Another mot of hers became an established taire ;—and Helvetius instantly resolved to be canon at all the tables of Paris. The Comte a poet-and did with great labour produce a de Coigny was wearying her one evening long poem on happiness, which was not pub- with some interminable story, when, upon lished however till after his death, and has somebody sending for a part of the dish benot improved his chance for immortality. But fore him, he took a little knife out of his it was the success of the President Montes- pocket, and began to carve, talking all the quieu's celebrated Esprit des Loix, that final time as before. "Monsieur le Comte,'' said ly decided the literary vocation of Helvetius. Madame Goeffrin, a little out of patience, That work appeared in 1749; and in 1750 the “at table there should only be large knives Farmer-general actually resigned his office; and short stories. In her old age she was married, retired into the country, spent ten seized with apoplexy; and her daughter, long years in digesting his own book De during her illness, refused access to the phil'Esprit, by which he fondly expected to rival losophers. When she recovered a little, she the fame of his illustrious predecessor. In laughed at the precaution, and made her this, however, he was wofully disappointed. daughter's apology-by saying, "She had The book appeared to philosophers to be done like Godfrey of Bouillon-defended her nothing but a paradoxical and laborious repe- tomb from the Infidels." The idea of her tition of truths and difficulties with which all ending in devotion, however, occasioned much good thinkers had long been familiar; and it merriment and some scandal among her phiprobably would have fallen into utter oblivion, losophical associates. had it not been for the injudicious clamour The name of Marmontel occurs very often which was raised against it by the bigots and in this collection ; but it is not attended with devotees of the court. Poor Helvetius, who any distinguished honours. M. Grimm achad meant nothing more than to make him-cuses him of want of force or passion in his self remarkable, was as much surprised at style, and of poverty of invention and littlethe outeries of the godly, as at the silence ness of genius. He says something, however, of the philosophers; and never perfectly re- of more importance on occasion of the first covered the shock of this double disappoint- representation of that writer's foolish little ment. He still continued, however, his habits piece, entitled, “Silvain." The courtiers and of kindness and liberality-gave dinners to sticklers for rank, he observes, all pretended the men of letters when at Paris, and hunted to be mightily alarmed at the tendency of this and compiled philosophy with great perse-little opera in one act; and the Duc de Noailles verance in the country. His temper was so took the trouble to say, that its plain object good, that his society could not fail to be was to show that a gentleman could do nothagreeable; but his conversation, it seems, was ing so amiable as to marry his maid servant, not very captivating; he loved to push every and let his cottagers kill his game at their matter of discussion to its very last results; and pleasure. It is really amusing, continues M. reasoned al times so very loosely and largely, Grimm, to observe, how positive many people as to be in danger of being taken for a person are, that all this is the result of a deep plot very much overtaken with liquor. He died of on the part of the Encyclopedistes, and tha. gout in his stomach, at the age of fifty-six; this silly farce is the fruit of a solemn conand, as an author, is now completely forgotten. I spiracy against the privileged o ders, and in

pour

support of the horrible doctrine of universal et qu'il ne sera pas plus permis que par le passé de equality. If they would only condescend to 1 arler chez elle ni d'affaires intérieures, ni d'affaires consult me, however, he concludes, I coulos extérieures ; ni d'affaires de la cour, ni d'affaires de oblige them with a much simpler, though less a ville; ni de paix, ni de guerre ; ni de religion, magnificent solution of the mystery; the truth physique ; ni de grammaire, ni de musique ; ni, en being, that the extravagance of M. Marmon général, d'aucune matière quelconque ; et qu'elle tel's little plot proceeds neither from his love commet dom Burigni, bénédictin de robe courte, of equality, nor from the commands of an anti- pour faire faire tout le monde, à cause de sa dexsocial conspiracy, but purely from the poverty

iérité, connue, et du grand crédit dont il jouit, el of his imagination, and his want of talent for les contraventions à ces défenses. L'Eylise, con

être grondé par elle, en particulier, de toutes dramatic composition. It is always much sidérant que le silence, et notamment sur les mamore easy to astonish by extravagance, than tières dont est question, n'est pas son fort, promet to interest by natural representations; and d'obéïr autant qu'elle y sera contrainte par forme those commonplaces, of love triumphing over

de violence." pride of birth, and benevolence getting the We hear a great deal, of course, of Diderot, better of feudal prejudices, are among the in a work of which he was partly the author; most vulgar resources of those who are inca- and it is impossible to deny him the praise pable of devising incidents at once probable of ardour, originality, and great occasional and pathetic.

eloquence. Yet we not only feel neither reThis was written in the year 1770;-and spect nor affection for Diderot—but can selwhile it serves to show us, that the imputa- dom read any of his lighter pieces without a tion of conspiracies against the throne and certain degree of disgust. There is a tone of the altar, of which succeeding times were blackguardism—(we really can find no other doomed to hear so much, were by no means word)—both in his indecency and his proan original invention of the age which gave fanity, which we do not recollect to have met them the greatest encouragement, it may with in any other good writer; and which is help also to show upon what slight founda- apt, we think, to prove revolting even to those tion such imputations are usually hazarded. who are accustomed to the licence of this Great national changes, indeed, are never the fraternity. They who do not choose to look result of conspiracies—but of causes laid deep into his Religieuse for the full illustration of and wide in the structure and condition of so- this remark—and we advise no one to look ciety,--and which necessarily produce those there for any thing—may find it abundantly, combinations of individuals, w seem to be though in a less flagrant form, in a little essay the authors of the revolution when it happens on women, which is inserted in these volumes to be ultimately brought about by their in- as a supplement or corrective to the larger strumentality. "The Holy Church Philosophic work of M. Thomas on that subject. We of Paris, however

, was certainly quite inno- must say, however, that the whole tribe of cent of

any such intention; and, we verily be- French writers who have had any pretensions lieve, had at no time any deeper views in its 10 philosophy for the last seventy years, are councils than are expressed in the following infected with a species of indelicacy which is extract from its registers.

peculiar, we think, to their nation ; and strikes "Comme il est d'usage, dans notre sainte Eglise us as more shameful and offensive than any philosophique, de nous réunir quelquefois pour don other. We do not know very well how to ner aux fidèles de salutaires et utiles instructions describe it, otherwise than by saying, that it sur l'état actuel de la foi. les progrès et bonnes consists in a strange combination of physical ceuvres de nos frères, j'ai l'honneur de vous adres. ser les annonces et bans qui ont eu lieu à la suite de science with obscenity, and an attempt to notre dernier sermon.'

unite the pedantic and disgusting details of ** Frère Thomas fait savoir qu'il a composé un anatomy and physiology, with images of voEssai sur les Femmes, qui fera un ouvrage con luptuousness and sensuality ;-an attempt, sidérable. L'Eglise estime la pureté de meurs et

we think, exceedingly disgusting and deles verius de frère Thomas ; elle craint qu'il ne connaisse pas encore assez les femmes ; elle lui basing, but not in the least degree either conseille de se lier plus intimement, s'il se peut, seductive or amusing. Maupertuis and Volavec quelques unes des héroïnes qu'il fréquente, taire, and Helvetius and Diderot, are full of pour le plus grand bien de son ouvrage ; et, pour this. Buffon and d'Alembert are by no means le plus grand bien de son style, elle le conjure de free of it; and traces of it may even be disconsidérer combien, suivant la découverte de notre covered in the writings of Rousseau himself. illustre patriarche, l'adjectif affaiblit souvent le sub: We could pardon some details in the Emile stanrif, quoiqu'il s'y rapporte en cas, en nombre et

-or the Confessions ;—but we own it appears en genre.

** Sæur Necker fait savoir qu'elle donnera tou. to us the most nauseous and unnatural of all jours à dîner les vendredis : l'Eglise s'y rendra, things, to find the divine Julie herself informparce qu'elle fait cas de sa personne et de celle de ing her cousin, with much complacency, that son époux ; elle voudrait pouvoir en dire autant de she had at last discovered, that quoique son son cuisinier.

"Sæur de l'Espinasse fait savoir que sa fortune cæur trop tendre avoit besoin d'amour, ses ne lui permet pas d'offrir ni à dîner, ni à souper, et sens n'avoient plus besoin d'un amant.' qu'elle n'en a pas moins d'envie de recevoir chez The following epigram is a little in the elle les frères qui voudront y venir digérer. L'Eglise taste we have been condemning ;—but it has m'ordonne de lui dire qu'elle s'y rendra, et que, the merit of being excessively clever. Maquand on a autant d'esprit et de mérite, on peut se dame du Chatelet had long lived separate passer de beauté et de fortune.

** Mère Geoffrin fait savoir qu'elle renouvelle les from her husband, and was understood to redéfenses et lois prohibitives des années précédentes, ceive the homage of two lovers—Voltaire and 18

M 2

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »