Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

One day he addressed her in the usual common-place strain that he “abimé, anéanti.”—“Oh! pour anéanti," replied the lady, "ce n'est en effet qu' une operation très naturelle de vôtre Systéme." p. 10.

was,

The following passages are from a later part of the journal: but indicate the same turn of mind in the observer.

"Hume's fashion at Paris, when he was there as Secretary to Lord Hertford, was truly ridiculous; and nothing ever marked, in a more striking manner, the whimsical genious of the French. No man, from his manners, was surely less formed for their society, or less likely to meet with their approbation; but that flimsy philosophy which pervades and deadens even their most licentious novels, was then the folly of the day. Freethinking and English frocks were the fashion, and the Anglomanie was the ton du pais. From what has been already said of him, it is apparent that his conversation to strangers, and particularly to Frenchmen, could be little delightful; and still more particularly, one would suppose, to Frenchwomen. And yet, no lady's toilette was complete without Hume's attendance. At the opera, his broad, unmeaning face was usually seen entre deux jolis minois. The ladies in France give the ton, and the ton was deism; a species of philosophy ill suited to the softer sex, in whose delicate frame weakness is interesting, and timidity a charm. But the women of France were deists, as with us they were charioteers. How my friend Hume was able to endure the encounter of these French female Titans, I know not. In England, either his philosophic pride, or his conviction that infidelity was ill suited to women, made him perfectly averse from the initiation of ladies into the mysteries of his doctrine." p. 121, 122.

"Nothing," adds his Lordship, in another place, "ever showed a mind more truly benificent than Hume's whole conduct with regard to Rousseau. That story is too well known to be repeated; and exhibits a striking picture of Hume's heart, whilst it displays the strange and unaccountable vanity and madness of the French, or rather Swiss moralist. When first they arrived together from France, happening to meet Hume in the Park, I wished him joy of his pleasing connexion; and particularly hinted, that I was convinced he must be perfectly happy in his new friend, as their sentiments were, I believed, nearly similar." "Why no, man," said he, "in that you are mistaken. Rousseau is not what you think him; he has a hankering after the Bible, and, indeed, is little better than a Christian, in a way of his own.' p. 120.

"In London, where he often did me the honour to communicate the manuscripts of his additional Essays, before their publication, I have sometimes, in the course of our intimacy, asked him, whether he thought that, if his opinions were universally to take place, mankind would not be rendered more unhappy than they now were; and whether he did not suppose, that the curb of religion was necessary to human nature?" The objections," answered he, "are not without weight; but error never can produce good; and truth ought to take

place of all considerations." He never failed, indeed, in the midst of any controversy, to give its due praise to every thing tolerable that was either said or written against him. His sceptical turn made him doubt, and consequently dispute, every thing; yet was he a fair and pleasant disputant. He heard with patience, and answered without acrimony. Neither was his conversation at any time offensive, even to his more scrupulous companions. His good sense, and good nature, prevented his saying any thing that was likely to shock; and it was not till he was provoked to argument, that, in mixed companies, he entered into his favourite topics." p. 123.

Another of the eminent persons of whom Lord Charlemont has recorded his impressions in his own hand, was the celebrated Montesquieu; of whose acquaintance he says, and with some reason, he was more vain, than of having seen the pyramids of Egypt. He and another English gentleman paid their first visit to him at his seat near Bordeaux; and the following is the account of their introduction,

"The first appointment with a favourite mistress, could not have rendered our night more restless than this flattering invitation; and the next morning we set out so early, that we arrived at his villa before he was risen. The servant showed us into his library; where the first object of curiosity that presented itself, was a table, at which he had apparently been reading the night before, a book lying upon it open, turned down, and a lamp extinguished. Eager to know the nocturnal studies of this great philosopher, we immediately flew to the book. It was a volume of Ovid's Works, containing his Elegies, and open at one of the most gallant poems of that master of love. Before we could overcome our surprise, it was greatly increased by the entrance of the president, whose appearance and manner was totally opposite to the idea which we had formed to ourselves of him. Instead of a grave austere philosopher, whose presence might strike with awe such boys as we were, the person who now addressed us, was a gay, polite, sprightly Frenchman; who, after a thousand genteel compliments, and a thousand thanks for the honour we had done him, desired to know whether we would not breakfast; and, upon our declining the offer, having already eaten at an inn not far from the house, "Come, then," says he, "let us walk the day is fine, and I long to show you my villa, as I have endeavoured to form it according to the English taste, and to cultivate and dress it in the English manner." Following him into the farm, we soon arrived at the skirts of a beautiful wood, cut into walks, and paled round, the entrance to which was barricadoed with a moveable bar, about three feet high, fastened with a padlock. "Come," said he, searching in his pocket, "it is not worth our while to wait for the key; you, I am sure, can leap as well as I can, and this bar shall not stop me." So saying, he ran at the bar, and fairly jumped over it, while we followed him with amazement, though not without delight, to see the philosopher likely to become our playfellow." p. 32, 33.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

"In Paris, I have frequently met him in company with ladies, and have been as often astonished at the politeness, the gallantry, and sprightliness of his behaviour. In a word, the most accomplished, the most refined petit-mâitre of Paris, could not have been more amusing, from the liveliness of his chat, nor could have been more inexhaustible in that sort of discourse which is best suited to women, than this venerable philosopher of seventy years old. But at this we shall not be surprised, when we reflect that the profound author of L'Esprit des Loix, was also author of the Persian Letters, and of the truly gallant Temple de Gnide." p. 36.

The following opinion, from such a quarter, might have been expected to have produced more effect than it seems to have done, on so warm an admirer as Lord Charlemont.

"In the course of our conversations, Ireland, and its interests, have often been the topic; and, upon these occasions, I have always found him an advocate for a Union between that country and England. "Were I an Irishman," said he, "I would certainly wish for it; and, as a general lover of liberty, I sincerely desire it; and for this plain reason, that an inferior country, connected with one much her superior in force, can never be certain of the permanent enjoyment of constitutional freedom, unless she has, by her representatives, a proportional share in the legislature of the superior kingdom." p. 36.

Of Lord Charlemont's English friends and associates, none is represented, perhaps, in more lively and pleasing colours than Topham, Beauclerk, to the graces of whose conversation even the fastidious Dr. Johnson has borne such powerful testimony. Lord Charlemont, and, indeed, all who have occasion to speak of him, represent him as more accomplished and agreeable in society, than any man of his age-of exquisite taste, perfect goodbreeding, and unblemished integrity and honour. Undisturbed, too, by ambition, or political animosities, and at his ease with regard to fortune, he might appear to be placed at the very summit of human felicity, and to exemplify that fortunate lot to which common destinies afford such various exceptions. But there is no such lot. This happy man, so universally acceptable, and with such resources in himself, was devoured by ennui; and probably envied, with good reason, the condition of one half of those laborious and discontented beings who looked up to him with envy and admiration. He was querulous, Lord Charlemont assures us-indifferent, and internally contemptuous to the greater part of the world; and, like so many other accomplished persons, upon whom the want of employment has imposed the heavy task of self-occupation, he passed his life in a languid and unsatisfactory manner; absorbed sometimes in play, and sometimes in study; and seeking, in vain, the wholesome exercise of a strong

mind, in desultory reading, or contemptible dissipation. His Letters, however, are delightful; and we are extremely obliged to Mr. Hardy, for having favoured us with so many of them. It is so seldom that the pure, animated, and unrestrained language of polite conversation, can be found in a printed book, that we cannot resist the temptation of transcribing a considerable part of the specimens before us; which, while they exemplify, in the happiest manner, the perfect style of a gentleman, serve to illustrate, for more reflecting readers, the various sacrifices that are generally required for the formation of the envied character to which that style belongs. A very interesting essay might be written on the unhappiness of those, from whom nature and fortune seem to have removed all the causes of unhappiness :-and we are sure that no better assortment of proofs and illustration could be annexed to such an essay, than some of the following passages.

can

"I have been but once at the club since you left England. We were entertained, as usual by Dr. Goldsmith's absurdity. Mr. V. give you an account of it. Sir Joshua Reynolds intends painting your picture over again; so you may set your heart at rest for some time: It is true, it will last so much the longer; but then you may wait these ten years for it. Elmsly gave me a commission from you about Mr. Walpole's frames for prints, which is perfectly unintelligible: I wish you would explain it, and it shall be punctually executed. The Duke of Northumberland has promised me a pair of his new pheasants for you; but you must wait till all the crowned heads in Europe have been served first. I have been at the review at Portsmouth. If you had seen it, you would have owned that it is a very pleasant thing to be a King. It is true, made a job of the claret to who furnished the first tables with vinegar, under that denomination. Charles Fox said, that Lord S-wich should have been impeached! What an abominable world do we live in! that there should not be above half a dozen honest men in the world, and that one of those should live in Ireland. You will, perhaps, be shocked at the small portion of honesty that I allot to your country: but a sixth part is as much as comes to its share; and, for any thing I know to the contrary, the other five may be in Ireland too; for I am sure I do not know where else to find them. Your philanthropy engages you to think well of the greatest part of mankind; but every year, every hour, adds to my misanthropy, and I have had a pretty considerable share of it for some years past. Leave your parliament and your nation to shift for itself; and consecrate that time to your friends, which you spend in endeavouring to promote the interest of half a million of scoundrels. Since, as Pope says,

"Life can little else supply,

Than just to look about us, and to die.”

Do not let us lose that moment that we have; but let us enjoy all

that can be enjoyed in this world-the pleasures of a true uninterrupted friendship. Let us leave this island of fog and iniquity, and sail to purer regions, not yet quite corrupted by European manners. It is true, you must leave behind you Marino, and your medals; but you will likewise leave behind you the S-s, and R-bys of this place. I know you will say you can do all this without flying to the other pole, by shunning the society of such wretches; but what avails it to me, that you are the very man I could wish, when I am separated from you by sea and land? If you will quit Marino, and sail with me, I will fly from Almack's, though, whatever evil I may have suffered from my connexion with that place, I shall always with gratitude remember, that there I first began my acquaintance with you. Why should fortune have placed our paltry concerns in two different islands? If we could keep them, they are not worth one hour's conversation at Elmsly's. If life is good for any thing, it is made so by the society of those whom we love. At all events, I will try to come to Ireland, and shall take no excuse from you, for not coming early in the winter to London. The club exists but by your presence. The flourishing of learned men is the glory of the state;-Mr. Vesey will tell you that our club consists of the greatest men in the world: and consequently you see there is a good and patriotic reason for you to return to England in the winter." p. 168, 169.

"I am rejoiced to find by your letter, that Lady C. is as you wish. I have yet remaining so much benevolence towards mankind, as to wish that there may be a son of your's, educated by you, as a specimen of what mankind ought to be. Goldsmith, the other day put a paragraph into the newspapers, in praise of Lord Mayor Townshend. The same night we happened to sit next to Lord Shelburne, at Drury Lane. I mentioned the circumstance of the paragraph to him. He said to Goldsmith, that he hoped that he had mentioned nothing about Malagrida in it. "Do you know," answered Goldsmith, "that I never could conceive the reason why they call you Malagrida; for Malagrida was a very good sort of a man." You see plainly what he meant to say; but that happy turn of expression is peculiar to himself. Mr. Walpole says, that this story is a picture of Goldsmith's whole life. Johnson has been confined for some weeks in the Isle of Skye. We hear that he was obliged to swim over to the main land, taking hold of a cow's tail. Be that as it may, Lady Di. has promised to make a drawing of it. Our poor club is in a miserable decay; unless you come and relieve it, it will certainly expire. Would you imagine, that Sir Joshua Reynolds is extremely anxious to be member of Almack's? You see what noble ambition will make a man attempt. That den is not yet opened, consequently I have not been there; so, for the present, I am clear upon that score. I suppose your confounded Irish politics take up your whole attention at present: but we cannot do without you. If you do not come here, I will bring all the club over to Ireland, to live with you, and that will drive you here in your own defence. Johnson shall spoil your books, Goldsmith puli your flowers, and Boswell talk to you. Stay then if you can. Adieu, my dear Lord." p. 176, 177, 178;

« AnteriorContinuar »