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position which seem to be endemic in the Society of Geneva, has also perhaps something of the formality, mannerism, and didactic ambition of that very intellectual society. For a personal memoir of one so much distinguished in society, it is not sufficiently individual or familiar and a great deal too little feminine, for a woman's account of a woman, who never forgot her sex, or allowed it to be forgotten. The only things that indicate a female author in the work before us, are the decorous purity of her morality-the feebleness of her political speculations and her never telling the age of her friend.
here as in other instances; and rather think the worthy financier must be contented to be known to posterity chiefly as the father of Madame de Staël.
But however that may be, the education of their only child does not seem to have been gone about very prudently, by these sage personages; and if Mad. de Staël had not been a very extraordinary creature, both as to talent and temper, from the very beginning, she could scarcely have escaped being pretty well spoiled between them. Her mother had a notion, that the best thing that could be done for a child was to cram it with all kinds of knowledge, without caring very much whether it understood or digested any part of it;
The world probably knows as much already of M. and Madame Necker as it will care ever to know: Yet we are by no means of opinion that too much is said of them here. They were both very good people-neither of the most perfect bon ton, nor of the very highest rank of understanding,-but far above the vulgar level certainly, in relation to either. The likenesses of them with which we are here presented are undoubtedly very favourable, and even flattering; but still, we have no doubt that they are likenesses, and even very cleverly executed. We hear a great deal about the strong understanding and lofty principles of Madame Necker, and of the air of purity that reigned in her physiognomy: But we are candidly told also, that, with her tall and stiff figure, and formal manners, "il y avoit de la gêne en elle, et auprès d'elle; and are also permitted to learn, that after having acquired various branches of knowledge by profound study, she unluckily became persuaded that all virtues and accomplishments might be learned in the same manner; and accordingly set herself, with Nothing, however, could exempt her from might and main, "to 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 to 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 drawpractical 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 to 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 to 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 to us a trait of mere childcannot 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 short, 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, she should marry him! and combated, with
and so the poor little girl was overtasked and overeducated, in a very pitiless way, for several years; till her health became seriously impaired, and they were obliged to let her run idle in the woods for some years longer-where she composed pastorals and tragedies, and became exceedingly romantic. She was then taken up again; and set to her studies with greater moderation. All this time, too, her father was counteracting the lessons of patient application inculcated by her mother, by the half-playful disputations in which he loved to engage her, and the display which he could not resist making of her lively talents in society. Fortunately, this last species of training fell most in with her disposition; and she escaped being solemn and pedantic, at some little risk of becoming forward and petulant. Still more fortunately, the strength of her understanding was such as to exempt her almost entirely from this smaller disadvantage.
great earnestness, all the objections that were stated to this extraordinary union.
Her temper appears from the very first to have been delightful, and her heart full of generosity and kindness. Her love for her father rose almost to idolatry; and though her taste for talk and distinction carried her at last a good deal away from him, this earliest passion seems never to have been superseded, or even interrupted, by any other. Up to the age of twenty, she employed herself chiefly with poems and plays;-but took after that to prose. We do not mean here to say any thing of her different works, the history and analysis of which occupies two-thirds of the Nothe before us. Her fertility of thought, and warmth of character, appeared first in her Letters on Rousseau; but her own character is best portrayed in Delphine-Corinne showing rather what she would have chosen to be. During her sufferings from the Revolution, she wrote her works on Literature and the Passions, and her more ambitious book on Germany. After that, with more subdued feelings-more confirmed principles-and more practical wisdom, she gave to the world her admirable Considerations on the French Revolution; having, for many years, addicted herself almost exclusively to politics, under the conviction which, in the present condition of the world, can scarcely be considered as erroneous, that under "politics were comprehended morality, religion, and literature.”
She was, from a very early period, a lover of cities, of distinction, and of brilliant and varied discussion-cared little in general for the beauties of nature or art-and languished and pined, in spite of herself, when confined to a narrow society. These are common enough traits in famous authors, and people of fashion and notoriety of all other descriptions: But they were united in her with a warmth of affection, a temperament of enthusiasm, and a sweetness of temper, with which we do not know that they were ever combined in any other individual. So far from resembling the poor, jaded, artificial creatures who live upon stimulants, and are with difficulty kept alive by the constant excitements of novelty, flattery, and emulation, her great characteristic was an excessive movement of the soul-a heart overcharged with sensibility, a frame over-informed with spirit and vitality. All her affections, says Madame Necker,-her friendship, her filial, her maternal attachment, partook of the nature of Love-were accompanied by its emotion, almost its passionand very frequently by the violent agitations which belong to its fears and anxieties. With all this animation, however, and with a good deal of vanity-a vanity which delighted in recounting her successes in society, and made her speak without reserve of her own great talents, influence, and celebrity-she seems to have had no particle of envy or malice in her composition. She was not in the least degree vindictive, jealous, or scornful; but uniformly kind, indulgent, compassionate, and forgiving-or rather forgetful of injuries. In these respects she is very justly and advan
tageously contrasted with Rousseau; who, with the same warmth of imagination, and still greater professions of philanthropy in his writings, uniformly indicated in his individual character the most irritable, suspicious, and selfish dispositions; and plainly showed that his affection for mankind was entirely theoretical, and had no living objects in this world.
Madame de Staël's devotion to her father is sufficiently proved by her writings;-but it meets us under a new aspect in the Memoir now before us. The only injuries which she could not forgive were those offered to him. She could not bear to think that he was ever to grow old; and, being herself blinded to his progressive decay by her love and sanguine temper, she resented, almost with fury, every insinuation or casual hint as to his age or declining health. After his death, this passion took another turn. Every old man now recalled the image of her father! and she watched over the comforts of all such persons, and wept over their sufferings, with a painful intenseness of sympathy. The same deep feeling mingled with her devotions, and even tinged her strong intellect with a shade of superstition. She believed that her soul communicated with his in prayer; and that it was to his intercession that she owed all the good that afterwards befell her. Whenever she met with any piece of good fortune, she used to say, "It is my father that has obtained this for me!"
In her happier days, this ruling passion took occasionally a more whimsical aspect and expressed itself with a vivacity of which we have no idea in this phlegmatic country, and which more resembles the childish irritability of Voltaire, than the lofty enthusiasm of the person actually concerned. We give, as a specimen, the following anecdote from the work before us. Madame Saussure had come to Coppet from Geneva in M. Necker's carriage; and had been overturned in the way, but without receiving any injury. On mentioning the accident to Madame de Staël on her arrival, she asked with great vehemence who had driven; and on being told that it was Richel, her father's ordinary coachman, she exclaimed in an agony, "My God, he may one day overturn my father!" and rung instantly with violence for his appearance. While he was coming, she paced about the room in the greatest possible agitation, crying out, at every turn, "My father, my poor father! he might have been overturned!"—and turning to her friend, "At your age, and with your slight person, the danger is nothing-but with his age and bulk! I cannot bear to think of it." The coachman now came in; and this lady, so mild and indulgent and reasonable with all her attendants, turned to him in a sort of frenzy, and with a voice of solemnity, but choked with emotion, said, "Richel, do you know that I am a woman of genius?"—The poor man stood in astonishment-and she went on, louder, "Have you not heard, I say, that I am a woman of genius?" Coachy was still mute. "Well then! I tell you that I am a woman of genius-of great genius-of pro
digious genius!-and I tell you more-that
Her insensibility to natural beauty is rather unaccountable, in a mind constituted like hers, and in a native of Switzerland. But, though born in the midst of the most magnificent scenery, she seems to have thought, like Dr. Johnson, that there was no scene equal to the high tide of human existence in the heart of a populous city. "Give me the Rue de Bae," said she, when her guests were in ecstasies with the Lake of Geneva and its enchanted shores "I would prefer living in Paris, in a fourth story, with an hundred Louis a year." These were her habitual sentiments;-But she is said to have had one glimpse of the glories of the universe, when she went first to Italy, after her father's death, and was engaged with Corinne. And in that work, it is certainly true that the indications of a deep and sincere sympathy with nature are far more conspicuous than in any of her other writings. For this enjoyment and late-developed sensibility, she always said she was indebted to her father's intercession.
escape the seductions of a more sublime saperstition. In theology, as well as in every thing else, however, she was less dogmatic than persuasive; and, while speaking from the inward conviction of her own heart, poured out its whole warmth, as well as its convictions, into those of others; and never seemed to feel any thing for the errors of her companions but a generous compassion, and an affectionate desire for their removal. She rather testified in favour of religion, in short, than reasoned systematically in its support; and, in the present condition of the world, this was perhaps the best service that could be rendered. Placed in many respects in the most elevated condition to which humanity could aspire-possessed unquestionably of the highest powers of reasoning-emancipated, in a singular degree, from prejudices, and entering with the keenest relish into all the feelings that seemed to suffice for the happiness and occupation of philosophers, patriots, and lovers she has still testified, that without religion there is nothing stable, sublime, or satisfying! and that it alone completes and consummates all to which reason or affection can aspire.— A genius like hers, and so directed, is, as her biographer has well remarked, the only Missionary that can work any permanent effect on the upper classes of society in modern times;— upon the vain, the learned, the scornful, and argumentative, they "who stone the Prophets while they affect to offer incense to the Muses."
Both her marriages have been censured ;the first, as a violation of her principles-the second, of dignity and decorum. In that with M. de Staël, she was probably merely passive.
The world is pretty generally aware of the brilliancy of her conversation in mixed company; but we were not aware that it was generally of so polemic a character, or that she herself was so very zealous a disputant, --such a determined intellectual gladiator as 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 les sentiments naturels ont leur pudeur."
She had at all times a deep sense of religion. Educated in the strict principles of Calvinism, she was never seduced into any admiration of the splendid apparatus and high pretensions of Popery; although she did not altogether
Like most other energetic spirits, she despised and neglected too much the accommodation of her body-cared little about exercise, and gave herself no great trouble about health. With the sanguine spirit which belonged to her character, she affected to triumph over infirmity; and used to say-"I might have
been 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 counBut 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 --and died at last in the utmost composure and tranquillity.
We would rather not make any summary at present of the true character and probable effects of her writings. But we must say, we are not quite satisfied with that of her biographer. It is too flattering, and too eloquent and ingenious. She is quite right in extolling the great fertility of thought which characterises the writings of her friends;and, with relation to some of these writings, she is not perhaps very far wrong in saying that, if you take any three pages in them at random, the chance is, that you meet with more new and striking thoughts than in an equal space in any other author. But we cannot at all agree with her, when, in a very imposing passage, she endeavours to show that she ought to be considered as the foundress of a new school of literature and philosophy -or at least as the first who clearly revealed to the world that a new and a grander era was now opening to their gaze.
In so far as regards France, and those countries which derive their literature from her fountains, there may be some foundation for this remark; but we cannot admit it as at all applicable to the other parts of Europe; which have always drawn their wisdom, wit, and fancy, from native sources. The truth is, that previous to her Revolution, there was no civilised country where there had been so little originality for fifty years as in France In literature, their standards had been fixed nearly a century before: and to alter, or even to advance them, was reckoned equally impious and impossible. In politics, they were restrained, by the state of their government, from any free or bold speculations; and in metaphysics, and all the branches of the higher philosophy that depend on it, they had done nothing since the days of Pascal and Descartes. In England, however, and in Germany, the national intellect had not been thus stagnated and subdued-and a great deal of what startled the Parisians by its novelty, in the writings of Madame de Staël, had long been familiar to the thinkers of these two countries. Some of it she confessedly borrowed from those neighbouring sources; and some she undoubtedly invented over again for herself. In both departments, however, it would be erroneous, we think, to ascribe the greater part of this improvement to the talents of this extraordinary woman. The Revolution had thrown down, among other things, the barriers by which literary enterprise had been so long restrained in France and broken, among
In looking back to what she has said, with so much emphasis, of the injustice she had to suffer from Napoleon, it is impossible not to be struck with the aggravation which that injustice is made to receive from the quality of the victim, and the degree in which those sufferings are exaggerated, because they were her own. We think the hostility of that great commander towards a person of her sex, character, and talents, was in the highest degree paltry, and unworthy even of a high-minded tyrant. But we really cannot say that it seems to have had any thing very savage or ferocious in the manner of it. He did not touch, nor even menace her life, nor her liberty, nor her fortune. No daggers, nor chains, nor dungeons, nor confiscations, are among the instruments of torture of this worse than Russian despot. He banished her, indeed, first from Paris, and then from France; suppressed her publications; separated her from some of her friends; and obstructed her passage into England ;very vexatious treatment certainly,-but not quite of the sort which we should have guessed at, from the tone either of her complaints or lamentations. Her main grief undoubtedly was the loss of the society and brilliant talk of Paris; and if that had been spared to her, we cannot help thinking that she would have felt less horror and detestation at the inroads of Bonaparte on the liberty and independence of mankind. She avows this indeed pretty honestly, where she says, that, if she had been aware of the privations of this sort which a certain liberal speech of M. Constant was ultimately to bring upon herself, she would have taken care that it should not have been spoken! The truth is, that, like many other celebrated persons of her country, she could not live happily without the excitements and novelties that Paris alone could supply; and that, when these were withdrawn, all the vivacity of her genius, and all the warmth of her heart, proved insufficient to protect her from the benumbing influence of ennui. Here are her own confessions on the record :
Montaigne a dit jadis: Je suis François par Paris,
A great deal of citation and remark, relating chiefly to the character and conduct of Bonaparte, and especially to his persecution of the fair author, is here omitted-the object of this reprint being solely to illustrate her Personal character.
cause que j'aurois été capable de plier devant la tyrannie-si l'exemple de mon père, et son sang qui coule dans mes veines, ne l'emportoient pas sur cette foiblesse."-Vol. iii. p. 8.
tion; and that nothing but a little perseverance is required to restore the plastic frame of our 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 members 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. In France, however, the people being reconciled to the free and substantial of the most wit and vivacity seem to have talk of these stout republicans, he finally realways been the most subject to ennui. The turned to the amiable trifling of his own faletters of Mad. du Deffand, we remember, are mous metropolis. full of complaints of it; and those of De Bussy also. It is but a humiliating view of our frail human nature, if the most exquisite arrangements for social enjoyment should be found thus inevitably to generate a distaste for what is ordinarily within our reach; and the habit of a little elegant amusement, not coming very close either to our hearts or understandings, should render all the other parts of life, with its duties, affections, and achievements, distasteful and burdensome. We are inclined, however, we confess, both to question the perfection of the arrangements and the system of amusement that led to such results; and also to doubt of the permanency of the discomfort that may arise on its first disturbance. We are persuaded, in short, that at least as much enjoyment may be obtained, with less of the extreme variety, and less of the overexcitement which belongs to the life of Paris, and is the immediate cause of the depression that follows their cessation; and also, that, in minds of any considerable strength and resource,
this depression will be of no long dura- I should have taught to mankind.
It is an affliction, certainly, to be at the end of the works of such a writer-and to think that she was cut off at a period when her enlarged experience and matured talents were likely to be exerted with the greatest utility, and the state of the world was such as to hold out the fairest prospect of their not being exerted in vain. It is a consolation, however, that she has done so much;-And will remain not only as a brilliant memorial of her own unrivalled genius, but as a proof that sound and comprehensive views were entertained, kind affections cultivated, and elegant pursuits followed out, through a period which posterity may be apt to regard as one of universal delirium and crime;-that the principles of genuine freedom, taste, and morality, were not altogether extinct, even under the reign of terror and violence-and that one who lived through the whole of that agitating scene, was the first luminously to explain, and temperately and powerfully to impress, the great moral and political Lessons, which it
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 delightful book than this: whether we consider the
attraction of the Character it brings so pleas ingly before us-or the infinite variety of ori
This was my last considerable contribution to that memory. At all events, if it was an improthe Edinburgh Review; and, indeed, (with the ex-priety, it was one for which I cannot now submit to ception of a slight notice of Mr. Wilberforce's Me-seek the shelter of concealment: And therefore I moirs,) the only thing I wrote for it, after my ad- here reprint the greater part of it: and think I canvancement to the place I now hold. If there was not better conclude the present collection, than with any impropriety in my so contributing at all, some this tribute to the merits of one of the most distinpalliation I hope may be found in the nature of the guished of my Associates 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 it solely out of affection to the memory of the friend I had lost; and I think I said nothing which was not dictated by a desire to vindicate and to honour
A considerable part of the original is omitted in this publication; but consisting almost entirely in citations from the book reviewed, and incidental remarks on these citations.