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frolicking together, though, to the eyes of mankind at large, they wear a stately and solemn garb of works and influences."* Ralph Waldois, as usual, a trifle enigmatical and paradoxical perhaps, but we guess his drift, and reckon him right in the main.
Sir Bulwer Lytton, in one of his novels, says there is in all real genius so much latent playfulness of nature, it almost seems as if genius never could grow old. Bring it familiarly in contact with the young, and it is as young as they are. In another he remarks that, as few men undertake great and desperate designs without strong animal spirits, so it may be observed, that with most who have risen to eminence over the herd, there is an aptness at times to a wild mirth and an elasticity of humour which often astonish the more sober and regulated minds, that are commoners of life;" thus, Napoleon the Great's theatrical grandeur, and “the severe dignity of Cromwell,” are strangely contrasted, says Sir Edward, “by a frequent, not always seasonable buffoonery, which it is hard to reconcile with the ideal of their characters, or the gloomy and portentous interest of their careers.” These remarks are made à propos of Rienzi,--in whose temperament, we are told, the trait here discussed was signally present, distinguishing his hours of relaxation, and contributing to that marvellous versatility with which his harder nature accommodated itself to all humours and all men. Often, we read, from his austere judgment-seat he passed to the social board an altered man; and even the sullen barons who reluctantly attended his feasts, forgot his public greatness in his familiar wit: albeit this reckless humour could not always refrain from seeking its subject in the mortification of his crestfallen foesma pleasure it would have been wiser and more generous to forego. “ And perhaps it was, in part, the prompting of this sarcastic and unbridled humour that made him often love to astonish as well as to awe. But even this gaiety, if so it may be called, taking an appearance of familiar frankness, served much to ingratiate him with the lower orders; and if a fault in the prince, was a virtue in the demagogue.”I The popular leader who will have his laugh out, who must have his joke, is all the more popular with the populace on that very account.
With regard to Cromwell, one of the best and most trustworthy records we have, perhaps, of the levity in which he occasionally indulged, is contained in what nominally is a work of fiction, but a work very literally and laboriously founded upon facts, and, in passages like this, relating to the Protector in his mirthful mood, strictly tenacious of well authenticated evidence, line upon line, from first to last. We allude to the late Mr. Leigh Hunt's one achievement in prose fiction, “Sir Ralph Esher," whose Memoirs involve a most unusual outlay of time and trouble and conscientious care on the part of their author,—the relative ages, for instance, of persons who really existed having been scrupulously calculated by him so as to square with their conduct-no character or event being introduced by him that was not strictly contemporaneous—and no locality even being mentioned in which the persons introduced in it would not be found to have been present on referring to contemporary annals. The second volume of this matter-of-fact romance, then, comprises the autobiography of a certain Sir Philip Herne, who narrates the proceedings at the marriage of Cromwell's daughter Mary to Lord Fauconberg, on the 18th of November, 1657,—the year before the Protector's death. It was expected, according to Sir Philip, that some extraordinary scenes would be mixed up with the gravity of this occasion, Cromwell having, at a previous wedding in his family, “given way to some levities into which he now and then started, to the consternation of his Master of the Cere
* Essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson: First Series: “Heroism."
$ See the Preface to "Sir Ralph Esher."
s."* Not that they were stranger, though perhaps more violent, than kings have been known to indulge in. "I have heard stranger ones related of James; but perhaps they were looked for in a man of Cromwell's reputation and fortunes; and this may have been one of the reasons why he committed them.” For the suggestion is, that, not having been born to his state, perhaps occasionally violating some petty formality of it unawares, Oliver may have acted out of a sort of spite to it; or that perhaps his vagaries had something in them of the same hysterical mixture of melancholy and animal spirits, which vented itself at other times in a passion of tears. Or, again, they may have been part of “the simplicity of real greatness—simple in itself, even though condescending to artifice for its purposes; and seeing no reason, at times, why the boy was not as great and wise a thing as the man.” Or, once more, they may themselves have been artifices to create confidence and good will, and baffle the gravity of objection. Nor would our authority swear, that sometimes a little too much burnt claret had not to do with it.
In the way of exemplification we are then told that Cromwell would break off from the gravest and most pressing discussions, at the signal of an accidental jest, or a passing expression of fatigue, and play and romp like a boy; throwing about the cushions, pulling hair, and having a chase round the council-table. “ It is well known, that when he and the other regicides were signing the death-warrant, he smeared Ingoldsby's face with the pen, having dipped it too full of ink. This was certainly an hysterical action, and the only one that I could never reconcile to my better notions of him. It is impossible to conceive any state of feeling, diseased or healthy, which should have been allowed to disturb the decorum of such a moment. Probably it arose from an intense consciousness of his being ignorant how to hit the exact point of behaviour. His inconsequentialities were usually of a pleasanter character. I remember I was present one day, when, in the course of a most affecting conversation with Lord Orrery, on the subject of childhood, the Protector suddenly asked him if he could play at leap-frog, and actually had a leap or two with him on the spot; delighting, as he went over the noble lord, to dig his knuckles in his back, and make him groan under the transit.”+
As another instance of a distinguished potentate who, till we were better informed, would seem to us in the highest degree an unlikely man
* Pelting the wedding guests with comfits, and even the enormity of pitching wine into the ladies' bosoms, are mentioned among His Excellency's frolics at table.
† Memoirs of Sir Ralph Esher, vol. ii. ch. iii.'
for ebullitions of mirth, however few and far between, may be named that Prince of Orange, whom, for the apparent absence of anything like this social disposition, men called the Silent, or the Taciturn. His temperament was cheerful, we are expressly assured by the historian of the Dutch Republic. "At table, the pleasures of which, in moderation, were his only relaxation, he was always animated and merry, and this jocoseness was partly natural, partly intentional. In the darkest hours of his country's trial, he affected a serenity which he was far from feeling, so that his apparent gaiety at momentous epochs was even censured by dullards, who could not comprehend its philosophy, nor applaud the flippancy of William the Silent.**
And among the gravest of grave statesmen, in all ages, will be found the same genial capacity for undress joyousness—the same in kind, at least, though varying infinitely in degree and mode of manifestation. One example only will we cite, in the person of the lamented French Minister, M. Casimir Perier, who, in the world, was distant, cold, and ill at ease; but to those who knew him intimately, was, in M. de Rémusat's phrase, “captivating" and “entertaining," while in his own domestic circlef he was lively and humorous, laughing occasionally with the "joyous burst of youths of another age, and amusing himself with a thousand puerilities of social life, despised at present when the affectation of solemnity is the prevailing fashion of the mind.”I-Horace Walpole, at threescore and ten, writes to the Countess of Ossory his “extreme approval" of her good humour in dancing and acting, at Ampthill, for he should hate gravity, dignity, or austerity, he protests, in one's own house in the country.
6. Who had not rather see Scipio playing at leap-frog with his children at his Ampthill
, than parading to St. Paul's to sing "Te Deum'? "S And has not that contemporary of Walpole's, who ranks first among our religious poets, thus rhymed and reasoned :
He will not blush that has a father's heart,
* Rise of the Dutch Republic. By J. Lothrop Motley. Vol. iii. part vi. ch. vii. † See Appendix No. XV. to Guizot's Memoirs, vol. ii. I Ch. de Rémusat.
§ Walpole's Letters, vol. ix. p. 88. Cowper, Tirocinium.
VOLTAIRE AT FERNEY.*
A BAPTISMAL register, preserved in the church of Saint André-desArts, certifies that François Marie Arouet was born on the 21st of November, 1694, son of François Arouet, king's counsel, and of Marie Marguerite Daumart, his wife. In 1776, “ Voltaire,” christened François Marie Arouet, wrote to Diderot : “It is nigh thirty years since I have seen Paris, and I never lived there two years consecutively in my whole life. I would willingly return there to pass a last quarter of an hour, if it was possible to pass that last quarter of an hour in that country; but unfortunately it is very difficult to live and to die there as one would like." This idea was revived and realised in 1778, when he left Ferney for Paris in February, and died there at No. 1, Rue de Beaune. The house in which he was born has given way to improvements, that in which he died is known to all Paris. The apartment occupied by him was closed for many years, and served as an asylum to some priests at the time of the Revolution, no one thinking of seeking for them there.
“ After thirty years of absence and sixty years of persecution,” he wrote from Paris on the 31st of March, 1778, to Madame de Meynières, "I have found a public and even a pit that has become philosophical and especially compassionate to a declining old age.” From the month of November, 1758, when he acquired the property of Ferney, up to the 5th of February, 1778, he consecrated nigh twenty years in immortalising that delightful retreat. “ I am going to reside at Ferney in a few weeks, he wrote to D'Alembert. Philosophers must always have two or three holes underground against the dogs that run after them.”
He had passed the three or four preceding years at Lausanne, at Mounon, aux Délices, and at Tournay. It has been our good fortune to depict the correspondence—at first civil, then satirical, and finally abusive, and in all these phases so fully characteristic of the man--which passed between Voltaire and the President de Brosses on the occasion of his purchasing, occupying, and, as he would have it, improving, but in reality spoiling, the latter property.f In that correspondence Voltaire spoke of “Les Délices” as a hole, as he did of Ferney, when, in the name of Frederick of Prussia and of the Empress Catherine, he offered an asylum there to Diųerot and D'Alembert to facilitate their Encyclopædic labours. “I add one little word more: I have embellished my hole entitled · Les Délices. I have embellished a house at Lausanne. These two properties, thanks to my care, are worth double what they cost. It shall be the same with your property.”+
Nothing could be more pleasant than the so-called “ Délices.” It was, as he himself describes it, one of the most beautiful landscapes in the universe—a picture that Claude Lorraine would have painted from the windows of the house itself-water, fountains, and verdure. On one side,
Voltaire à Ferney: Sa Correspondance avec la Duchesse de Saxe-Gotha, suivie de Lettres et de Notes Historiques entièrement inédites, recueillies et publiées par MM. Evariste Bavoux et A. F. Paris: Didier et Cio.
† Voltaire et le Président de Brosses. Correspondance inédite, etc. Par. M. Th. Foisset. Paris. 1858.
the Lake of Geneva ; the Rhône issuing forth and forming a canal at the bottom of the garden; close by, the Arve, bringing down the floods of Savoy; and twenty leagues of snow-clad mountains beyond. “I see from my windows the town in which Jean Chauvin, the Picard called Calvin, reigned, and the spot where he burnt Servet for the good of his soul.” At that time he says, but no doubt with his customary exaggeration, that he had upwards of sixty persons to feed every day, planting, building, commentating Corneille, and trying to imitate him, all to avoid idleness. " It is very agreeable,” he said elsewhere, “ to live in a republic to the chiefs of which one can say: 'Come and dine with me to-morrow.'”
Such was the existence which he led at the “ Délices,” when, with that spirit of inconstancy and discontent which followed him
to his last moments, when he must needs go to Paris to die, he purchased Ferney. “Old age and philosophy," was his excuse, “require amusement. I am ruining myself, I know it, but I am amusing myself. I play with life; that is the only thing that it is good for.”
He made over the Délices to the Duke de Villars. The editors of the present correspondence say that they have sought for the pretended Délices, the long walk, the green barred gate, and the great green arbour that overtopped the wall, and it was with difficulty that they could even make out the whereabouts of this asylum, which had been so entirely effaced from the memory of the Genevese by Ferney. It was, indeed, at the latter spot that the last period of Voltaire's activity concentrated itself. He spent the money derived from the sale of “Les Délices” in adding two wings to Ferney and making “embellishments." He knocked down four towers because they obstructed his view. He added pillars, colonnades, and peristyles, only to be able to say that he preferred meadows and cornfields. He wrote to M. de Chenevières, who inhabited “ Maisons," that he had made a little Maisons of Ferney, but not a little maison, reproducing in miniature what “Maisons” was on the large scale. He never ceased to delectate over the embellishments which he had effected. “We have, as in all eclogues, flowers, verdure, and shade; the château has assumed the form of a regular building; with a frontage of twelve hundred feet, we have added woods; we swim in the useful and the agreeable.” The park was nearly a league in circuit, and he was still working in 1765 in finishing off, as he called it, “ this little château ;" yet, in 1767, he wrote to M. d'Argental, “ that there was no means at his age
of existing in this climate, which was as horrible in winter as it was charming in summer;" and to M. de Bordes he wrote, “ that the troubles at Geneva, the measures taken by government, the interruption of all commerce, the intolerable rigour of winter, the want to which this poor country was reduced, rendered Ferney less agreeable to him.” He at the same time, by his own admission, was supporting more than thirty persons and feeding twelve horses.
The new correspondence eliminated in recent times by M. Foisset from M. de Brosses and other sources, by MM. de Cayrol and Alphonse François,* and by M. Evariste Bavoux and A. F. (Alphonse François ?), from the archives of Saxe-Gotha and other places, does not add much to
* Lettres Inédites de Voltaire. Par MM, de Cayrol et Alphonse François. Two Vols.