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position which seem to be endemic in the here as in other instances; and rather think society of Geneva, has also perhaps some- the worthy financier must be contented to be thing of the formality, mannerism, and di- known to posterity chiefly as the father of dactic ambition of that very intellectual so- Madame de Staël. ciety. For a personal memoir of one so much But however that may be, the education of distinguished in society, it is not sufficiently their only child does not seem to have been individual or familiar-and a great deal too gone about very prudently, by these sage little feminine, for a woman's account of a personages; and if Mad. de Staël had not woman, who never forgot her sex, or allowed been a very extraordinary creature, both as it to be forgotten. The only things that indi- to talent and temper, from the very beginning, cate a female author in the work before us, she could scarcely have escaped being pretty are the decorous purity of her morality—the well spoiled between them. Her mother had feebleness of her political speculations—and a notion, that the best thing that could be her never telling the age of her friend. done for a child was to cram it with all kinds
The world probably knows as much already of knowledge, without caring very much wheof M. and Madame Necker as it will care ther it understood or digested any part of it; ever to know: Yet we are by no means of --and so the poor little girl was overtasked opinion that too much is said of them here. and overeducated, in a very pitiless way, for They were both very good people-neither several years; till her healih became seriof the most perfect bon ton, nor of the very ously in paired, and they were obliged to let highest rank of understanding, but far above her 'run idle in the woods for some years the vulgar level certainly, in relation to either. longer-where she composed pastorals and The likenesses of them with which we are tragedies, and became exceedingly romantic, here presented are undoubtedly very favour- She was then taken up again; and set to her able, and even flattering; but still, we have studies with greater moderation. All this no doubt that they are likenesses, and even time, too, her father was counteracting the very cleverly executed. We hear a great deal lessons of patient application inculcated by about the strong understanding and lofty prin- her mother, by the half-playful disputations ciples of Madame Necker, and of the air of in which he loved to engage her, and the dispurity that reigned in her physiognomy: But play which he could not resist making of her we are candidly told also, that, with her tall lively talents in society. Fortunately, this and stiff figure, and formal manners, "il y last species of training fell most in with her avoit de la gêne en elle, et auprès d'elle ;"disposition; and she escaped being solemn and are also permitted to learn, that after and pedantic, at some little risk of becoming having acquired various branches of know- forward and petulant. Still more fortunately, ledge by profound study, she unluckily be- the strength of her understanding was such came persuaded that all virtues and accom- as to exempt her almost entirely from this plishments might be learned in the same smaller disadvantage. manner; and accordingly set herself, with Nothing, however, could exempt her from might and main, "10 study the arts of conver- the danger and disadvantage of being a youthsation and of housekeeping—together with ful Prodigy; and there never perhaps was an the characters of individuals, and the manage- instance of one so early celebrated, whose ment of society—to reduce all these things celebrity went on increasing 10 the last period to system, and to deduce from this system of her existence. We have a very lively picprecise rules for the regulation of her con- ture of her, at eleven years of age, in the duct.” Of M. Necker, again. it is recorded, work before us; where she is represented as in very emphatic and affectionate terms, then a stout brown girl, with fine eyes, and that he was extraordinarily eloquent and ob- an open and affectionate manner, full of eager serving, and equally full of benevolence and curiosity, kindness, and vivacity. In the draw. practical wisdom : But it is candidly admit- ing-room, she took her place on a little stool ted that his eloquence was more sonorous beside her mother's chair, where she was than substantial, and consisted rather of well-forced 10 sit very upright, and to look as derounded periods than impressive thoughts; mure as possible : But by and by, two or that he was reserved and silent in general three wise-looking oldish gentlemen, with society, took pleasure in thwarting his wife round wigs, came up to her, and entered into in the education of their daughter, and actu- animated and sensible conversation with her, ally treated the studious propensity of his as with a wit of full age; and those were ingenious consort with so little respect, as to Raynal, Marmontel, Thomas, and Grimm. At prohibit her from devoting any time to com- table she listened with delighted attention 10 position, and even from having a table to all that fell from those distinguished guests; write at!—for no better reason than that he and learned incredibly soon to discuss all submight not be annoyed with the fear of dis-jects with them, without embarrassment or turbing her when he came into her apart- affectation. Her biographer says, indeed, that ment! He was a great joker, too, in an inno- she was always young, and never a child;": cent paternal way, in his own family; but we but it does seem io us a trait of mere child. cannot find that his witticisms ever had much ishness, though here cited as a proof of her success in other places. The worship of M. filial devotion, that, in order to insure for her Necker, in skort, is a part of the established parents the gratification of Mr. Gibbon's soreligion, we perceive, at Geneva; but we ciety, she proposed, about the same time, that suspect that the Priest has made the God, I she should marry him! and combated, with great earnestness, all the objections that were tageously contrasted with Rousseau; who, stated to this extraordinary union.
with the same warmth of imagination, and Hei temper appears from the very first to still greater professions of philanthropy in his have been delightful, and her heart full of writings, uniformly indicated in his individual venerosity and kindness. Her love for her character the most irritable, suspicious, and father rose almost to idolatry; and though her selfish dispositions; and plainly showed that taste for talk and distinction carried her at his affection for mankind was entirely theolast a good deal away from him, this earliest retical, and had no living objects in this world. passion seems never to have been superseded, Madame de Staël's devotion to her father or even interrupted, by any other. Up to the is sufficiently proved by her writings;-but age of twenty, she employed herself chiefly it meets us under a new aspect in the Memoir with poems and plays;
but took after that to now before us. The only injuries which she prose. We do not mean here to say any thing could not forgive were those offered to him. of her different works, the history and ana- She could not bear to think that he was ever lysis of which occupies two-thirds of the No- to grow old; and, being herself blinded to his tice before us. Her fertility of thought, and progressive decay by her love and sanguine warmth of character, appeared first in her temper, she resented, almost with fury, every Letters on Rousseau; but her own character is insinuation or casual hint as to his age or debest portrayed in Delphine-Corinne showing clining health. After his death, this passion rather what she would have chosen to be. took another turn. Every old man now reDuring her sufferings from the Revolution, she called the image of her father! and she wrote her works on Literature and the Pas- watched over the comforts of all such persions, and her more ambitious book on Ger- sons, and wept over their sufferings, wiih a many. After that, with more subdued feel. painful intenseness of sympathy. The same ings—more confirmed principles—and more deep feeling mingled with her devotions, and practical wisdom, she gave to the world her even tinged her strong intellect with a shade admirable Considerations on the French Revo- of superstition. She believed that her soul lution; having, for many years, addicted her communicated with his in prayer; and that it self almost exclusively to politics, under the was to his intercession that she owed all the conviction which, in the present condition of good that afterwards befell her. Whenever the world, can scarcely be considered as erro- she met with any piece of good fortune, she neous, that under“ politics were comprehend- used to say, “ It is my father that has obtained morality, religion, and literature.'
ed this for me!" She was, from a very early period, a lover In her happier days, this ruling passion took of cities, of distinction, and of brilliant and occasionally a more whimsical aspect: and varied discussion-cared little in general for expressed itself with a vivacity of which we the beauties of nature or art—and languished have no idea in this phlegmatic country, and and pined, in spite of herself, when confined which more resembles the childish irritability to a narrow society. These are common of Voltaire, than the lofty enthusiasm of the enough traits in famous authors, and people person actually concerned. We give, as a of fashion and notoriety of all other descrip- specimen, the following anecdote from the tions: But they were united in her with a work before us. Madame Saussure had come to warmth of affection, a temperament of enthu- Coppet from Geneva in M. Necker's carriage; siasm, and a sweetness of iemper, with which and had been overturned in the way, but withwe do not know that they were ever combined out receiving any injury. On mentioning the in any other individual.' So far from resem- accident to Madame de Staël on her arrival, bling the poor, jaded, artificial creatures who she asked with great vehemence who had live upon stimulants, and are with difficulty driven; and on being told that it was Richel, kept alive by the constant excitements of her father's ordinary coachman, she exclaimpovelty, flattery, and emulation, her great ed in an agony, “My God, he may one day characteristic was an excessive movement of overturn my faiher!" and rung instantly with the soul-a heart overcharged with sensibility, violence for his appearance. While he was a frame over-informed with spirit and vitality. coming, she paced about the room in the All her affections, says Madame Necker,-her greatest possible agitation, crying out, at every friendship, her filial, her maternal attachment, turn, “ My father, my poor father! he might partook of the nature of Love-were accom- have been overturned !"_and turning to her panied by its emotion, almost its passion-- friend, “At your age, and with your slight and very frequently by the violent agitations person, the danger is nothing—but with his which belong to its fears and anxieties. With age and bulk! I cannot bear to think of it.”' all this animation, however, and with a good The coachman now came in; and this lady, deal of vanity—a vanity which delighted in so mild and indulgent and reasonable with all recounting her successes in society, and made her attendants, turned to him in a sort of her speak without reserve of her own great frenzy, and with a voice of solemnity, but talents, influence, and celebrity-she seems choked with emotion, said, “Richel, do you to have had no particle of envy or malice in know that I am a woman of genius ?”—The her composition. She was not in the least poor man stood in astonishment—and she degree vindictive, jealous, or scornful; but went on, louder, "Have you not heard, I say, uniformly indulgent, compassionate, and that I am a woman of genius?" Coachy was forgiving-or rather forgetful of injuries. In still mute. “Well then! I tell you that I am these respects she is very justly and advan-la woman of genius of great genius--of drodigious genius!—and I tell you more-that, escape the seductions of a more sublime so.' all the genius I have shall be exerted to se- perstition. In theology, as well as in every cure your rotting out your days in a dungeon, thing else, however, she was less dogmatic if ever you overturn my father !" Even after than persuasive; and, while speaking from the fit was over, she could not be made to the inward conviction of her own heart, poured laugh at her extravagance; but was near be- out its whole warmth, as well as its convicginning again—and said “And what had I to tions, into those of others; and never seemed conjure with but my poor genius?"
to feel any thing for the errors of her comHer insensibility to natural beauty is rather panions but a generous compassion, and an unaccountable, in a mind constituted like hers, affectionate desire for their removal. She and in a native of Switzerland. But, though rather testified in favour of religion, in short, born in the midst of the most magnificent than reasoned systematically in its support; scenery, she seems to have thought, like Dr. and, in the present condition of the world, Johnson, that there was no scene equal to the this was perhaps the best service that could high tide of human existence in the heart of be rendered. Placed in many respects in the a populous city. “Give me the Rue de Bae," most elevated condition to which humanity said she, when her guests were in ecstasies could aspire-possessed unquestionably of the with the Lake of Geneva and its enchanted highest powers of reasoning-emancipated, in shores——"I would prefer living in Paris, in a a singular degree, from prejudices, and enterfourth story, with an hundred Louis a year." ing with the keenest relish into all the feelings, These were her habitual sentiments;-But that seeme to suffice for the happiness and she is said to have had one glimpse of the occupation of philosophers, patriots, and lovers glories of the universe, when she went first-she has still testified, that without religion to Italy, after her father's death, and was en- there is nothing stable, sublime, or satisfying! gaged with Corinne. And in that work, it is and that it alone completes and consummates certainly true that the indications of a deep all to which reason or affection can aspire.and sincere sympathy with nature are far A genius like hers, and so directed, is, as her more conspicuous than in any of her other biographer has well remarked, the only Miswritings. For this enjoyment and late-de- sionary that can work any permanent effect on veloped sensibility, she always said she was the upper classes of society in modern times;indebted to her father's intercession.
upon the vain, the learned, the scornful, and arThe world is pretty generally aware of the gumentative, they “who stone the Prophets brilliancy of her conversation in mixed com- while they affect to offer incense to the Muses.” pany; but we were not aware that it was Both her marriages have been censured ;generally of so polemic a character, or that the first, as a violation of her principles-he she herself was so very zealous a disputant, second, of dignity and decorum. In that with -such a determined intellectual gladiator as M. de Staël, she was probably merely passive. her cousin here represents her. Her great It was respectable, and not absolutely undelight, it is said, was in eager and even vio- happy; but unquestionably not such as suited lent contention; and her drawing-room at her. Of that with M. Rocca, it will not perCoppet is compared to the Hall of Odin, where haps be so easy to make the apology. We the bravest warriors were invited every day have no objection to a love-match at fifty:to enjoy the tumult of the fight, and, after But where the age and the rank and fortune having cut each other in pieces, revived to are all on the lady's side, and the bridegroom renew the combat in the morning. In this seems to have little other recommendation trait, also, she seems to have resembled our than a handsome person, and a great deal of Johnson,—though, according to all accounts, admiration, it is difficult to escape ridicule,she was rather more courteous to her oppo- or something more severe than ridicule. Mad. nents. These fierce controversies embraced N. S. seems to us to give a very candid and all sorts of subjects — politics, morals, litera- interesting account of it; and undoubtedly ture, casuistry, metaphysics, and history. In goes far to take off what is most revolting on the early part of her life, they turned oftener the first view, by letting us know that it origiupon themes of pathos and passion-love and nated in a romantic attachment on the part death, and heroical devotion; but she was of M. Rocca; and that he was an ardent suitor cured of this lofty vein by the affectations of to her, before the idea of loving him had enher imitators. "I tramp in the mire with tered into her imagination. The broken state wooden shoes,” she said, “whenever they of his health, too--the short period she surwould force me to go with them among the vived their union-and the rapidity with which clouds.” In the same way, though suffici- he followed her to the grave--all tend not only ently given to indulge, and to talk of her to extinguish any tendency to ridicule, but to emotions, she was easily disgusted by the disarm all severity of censure; and lead us parade of sensibility which is sometimes made rather to dwell on the story as a part only of the by persons of real feeling; observing, with tragical close of a life full of lofty emotions. admirable force and simplicity, “Que tous Like most other energetic spirits, she desles sentiments naturels ont leur pudeur.” pised and neglected too much the accommoda.
She had at all times a deep sense of religion. tion of her body-cared little about exercise, Educated in the strict principles of Calvinism, and gave herself no great trouble about health. she was never seduced into any admiration With the sanguine spirit which belonged to of the splendid apparatus and high pretensions her character, she affected to triumph over of Popery; although she did not altogether infirmity; and used to say—“I might have
heen sickly, like any body else, had I not re- , other trammels, those which had circumscribsolved to vanquish all physical weaknesses." ed the liberty of thinking in that great coun. But Nature would not be defied !-and she try. The genius of Madame de Staël co-opedied, while contemplating still greater under- rated, no doubt, with the spirit of the times, takings than any she had achieved. On her and assisted its effects, but it was also acted sick-bed, none of her great or good qualities upon, and in part created, by that spirit-and abandoned her. To the last she was kind, her works are rather, perhaps, to be considerpatient, devout, and intellectual. Among other ed as the first fruits of a new order of things, things, she said—- J'ai toujours été la même that had already struck root in Europe, than -vive et triste. J'ai aimé Dieu, mon père, as the harbinger of changes that still remain et la liberté !” She left life with regret-but to be effected. * felt no weak terrors at the approach of death In looking back to what she has said, with -and died at last in the utmost composure so much emphasis, of the injustice she had to and tranquillity.
suffer from Napoleon, it is impossible not to We would rather not make any summary be struck with the aggravation which that inat present of the true character and probable justice is made to receive from the quality effects of her writings. But we must say, of the victim, and the degree in which those we are not quite satisfied with that of her sufferings are exaggerated, because they were biographer. It is too flattering, and too elo- her own. We think the hostility of that great quent and ingenious. She is quite right in commander towards a person of her sex, charextolling the great fertility of thought which acter, and talents, was in the highest degree characterises the writings of her friends ;- paltry, and unworthy even of a high-minded and, with relation to some of these writings, tyrant. But we really cannot say that it seems she is not perhaps very far wrong in saying to have had any thing very savage or ferocious that, if you take any three pages in them at in the manner of it. He did not touch, nor random, the chance is, that you meet with even menace her life, nor her liberty, nor her more new and striking thoughts than in an fortune. No daggers, nor chains, nor dungeons, equal space in any other author. But we nor confiscations, are among the instruments cannot at all agree with her, when, in a very of torture of this worse than Russian despot. imposing passage, she endeavours to show that He banished her, indeed, first from Paris, and she ought to be considered as the foundress then from France; suppressed her publicaof a new school of literature and philosophy tions; separated her from some of her friends; -or at least as the first who clearly revealed and obstructed her passage into England ;to the world that a new and a grander era was very vexatious treatment certainly, —but not now opening to their gaze.
quite of the sort which we should have guessed In so far as regards France, and those coun- at, from the tone either of her complaints or tries which derive their literature from her lamentations. Her main grief undoubtedly fountains, there may be some foundation for was the loss of the society and brilliant talk this remark; but we cannot admit it as at all of Paris; and if that had been spared to her, applicable to the other parts of Europe ; which we cannot help thinking that she would have have always drawn their wisdom, wit, and felt less horror and detestation at the inroads fancy, from native sources. The truth is, that of Bonaparte on the liberty and independence previous to her Revolution, there was no civil- of mankind. She avows this indeed pretty ised country where there had been so little honestly, where she says, that, if she had been originality for fifty years as in France. In aware of the privations of this sort which a literature, their standards had been fixed certain liberal speech of M. Constant was nearly a century before: and to alter, or even ultimately to bring upon herself, she would to advance them, was reckoned equally im- have taken care that it should not have been pious and impossible. In politics, they were spoken! The truth is, that, like many other restrained, by the state of their government, celebrated persons of her country, she could from any free or bold speculations; and in not live happily without the excitements and metaphysics, and all the branches of the novelties that Paris alone could supply; and higher philosophy that depend on it, they had that, when these were withdrawn, all the vidone nothing since the days of Pascal and vacity of her genius, and all the warmth of Descartes. In England, however, and in her heart, proved insufficient to protect her Germany, the national intellect had not been from the benumbing influence of ennui. Here thus stagnated and subdued—and a great deal are her own confessions on the record :of what startled the Parisians by its novelty, in the writings of Madame de Staël, had long Montaigne a dit jadis : Je suis François par Paris,
"J'étois vulnérable par mon goût pour la société been familiar to the thinkers of these two
et s'il pensoit ainsi, il y a trois siècles, que seroji-ce countries. Some of it she confessedly borrowed depuis que l'on a vu réunies tant de personnes from those neighbouring sources; and some d'esprit dans une même ville, et tant de personnes she undoubtedly invented over again for her- accoutumées à se servir de cet esprit pour les plaisirs
Le fantôme de l'ennui m'n self. In both departments, however, it would de la conversation ? be erroneous, we think, to ascribe the greater
toujours poursuivie ! C'est par la terreur qu'il me part of this improvement to the talents of this extraordinary woman. The Revolution had
A great deal of citation and remark, relaung thrown down, among other things, the barriers chiefly to the character and conduct of Bonaparte,
and especially to his persecution of the fair author, by which literary enterprise had been so long is here omitted—the object of this reprint being restrained in France - and broken, among solely to illustrate her Personal character.
cause que j'aurois été capable de plier devant la tion; and that nothing but a little perseverance tyrannie-si l'exemple de mon père, et son sang qui is required to restore the plastic frame of our coule dans mes veines, ne l'emportoient pas sur cette foiblesse.''-Vol. iii. p. 8.
nature, to its natural appetite and relish for
the new pleasures and occupations that may We think this rather a curious trait, and not yet await it, beyond the precincts of Paris or very easily explained. We can quite well London. We remember a signal testimony understand how the feeble and passive spirits to this effect, in one of the later publications, who have been accustomed to the stir and we think of Volney, the celebrated traveller; variety of a town life, and have had their in- --who describes, in a very amusing way, the anity supplied by the superabundant intellect misery he suffered when he first changed the and gaiety that overflows in these great re- society of Paris for that of Syria and Egypt; positories, should feel helpless and wretched and the recurrence of the same misery when, when these extrinsic supports are withdrawn: after years of absence, he was again restored But why the active and energetic meribers to the importunate bustle and idle chatter of of those vast assemblages, who draw their Paris, from the tranquil taciturnity of his warresources from within, and enliven not only like Mussulmans!—his second access of home themselves, but the inert mass around them, sickness, when he left Paris for the United by the radiation of their genius, should suffer States of America,—and the discomfort he in a similar way, it certainly is not so easy to experienced, for the fourth time, when, after comprehend. În France, however, the people being reconciled to the free and subsiantial of the most wit and vivacity seem to have talk of these stout republicans, he finally realways been the most subjeci to ennui. The turned to the amiable trifling of his own fa. letters of Mad. du Deffand, we remember, are mous metropolis. full of complaints of it; and those of De Bussy It is an affliction, certainly, to be at the end also. It is but a humiliating view of our frail of the works of such a writer-and to think human nature, if the most exquisite arrange that she was cut off at a period when her enments for social enjoyment should be found larged experience and matured talents were thus inevitably to generate a distaste for what likely to be exerted with the greatest utility, is ordinarily within our reach; and the habit and ihe state of the world was such as to hold of a little elegant amusement, not coming very out the fairest prospect of their not being exclose either to our hearts or understandings, erted in vain. It is a consolation, however, should render all the other parts of life, with that she has done so much ;-And her works its duties, affections, and achievements, dis- will remain not only as a brilliant memorial tasteful and burdensome. We are inclined, of her own unrivalled genius, but as a proof however, we confess, both to question the that sound and comprehensive views were perfection of the arrangements and the system entertained, kind affections cultivated, and of amusement that led to such results; and elegant pursuits followed out, through a period also to doubt of the permanency of the dis- which posterity may be apt to regard as one comfort that may arise on its first disturbance. of universal delirium and crime ;—that the We are persuaded, in short, that at least as principles of genuine freedom, taste, and momuch enjoyment may be obtained, with less rality, were not altogether extinct, even under of the extreme variety, and less of the over- the reign of terror and violence—and that one excitement which belongs to the life of Paris, who lived through the whole of that agitating and is the immediate cause of the depression scene, was the first luminously to explain, and that follows their cessation ; and also, that, in temperately and powerfully to impress, the minds of any considerable strength and 're- great moral and political Lessons, which it Bource, this depression will be of no long dura-1 should have taughi to mankind.
(October, 1835.) Memoirs of the Life of the Right Honourable Sir James Mackintosh. Edited by his Son,
ROBERT JAMES MACKINTOSH, Esq. 2 vols. 8vo. London: 1835.* THERE cannot be, we think, a more delight-, attraction of the Character it brings so pleasful book than this: whether we consider the ingly before us—or the infinite variety of ori
* This was my last considerable contribution 10 that memory. Al all events, if it was an improthe Edinburgh Review; and, indeed, (with the ex. priery, it was one for which I cannot now submit to ception of a slight notice of Mr. Wilberforce's Me- seek the shelier of concealment: And therefore I moirs.) the only thing I wrote for in, after my ad- bere reprint the greater part of it: and ihink I can. vancement to ihe place I now hold. If there was not better conclude the preserit collection, than with any impropriery in my so contributing at all, some his tribute to the meriis of one of the most distinpalliation I hope may be found in the nature of the guished of my Associales in the work out of which feelings by which I was led to it, and the tenor of it has been gathered. what these feelings prompted me to say, I wrote A considerable part of the original is omitted in it solely out of affection to the memory of the friend this publication ; but consisting almost entirely in I had lost; and I think I said nothing which was citations from the book reviewed, and incidental re. not dictated by a desire to vindicate and to honour | marks on these citations.