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to speak as became you, you were not called upon to say any thing." It must be a comfort to the reader to learn, that immediately after this sentence, a M. Vanrobais, an old and most respectable gentleman, was chivalrous enough, at the age of 70, to marry the deserted widow, and to place her in a situation every way more respectable than that of which she had been so basely defrauded.
There is a great deal, in the first of these volumes, about the statue that was voted to Voltaire by his disciples in 1770.Pigalle, the sculptor, was despatched to Ferney to model him, in spite of the opposition he affects to make in a letter to Mad. Necker, in which he very reasonably observes, that in order to be modelled, a man ought to have a face-but that
age and sickness have so reduced him, that it is not easy to point out whereabouts his had been; that his eyes are sunk into pits three inchez deep, and the small remnant of his teeth recently deserted; that his skin is like old parchment wrinkled over dry bones, and his legs and arms like dry spindles ; in short, “qu'on n'a jamais sculpté un pauvre homme dans cet etat.” Phidias Pigalle, however, as he calls him, goes upon his errand, notwithstanding all these discouragements; and finds him, according to M. Grimm, in a state of great viyacity. “He skips up stairs,” he assures me,
more nimbly than all his subscribers together, and is as quick as lightning in running to shut doors, and open windows; but with all this, he is very anxious to pass for a poor man in the last extremities; and would take it much amiss if he thought that any body had discovered the secret of his health and vigour.” Some awkward person, indeed, it appears, has been complimenting him upon the occasion; for he writes me as follows_ My dear friend-Though Phidias Pigalle is the most virtuous of mortals, he calumniates me cruelly ; I understand he goes about saying that I am quite well, and as sleek as a monk !--Such is the ungrateful return he makes for the pains I took to force my spirits for his amusement, and to puff up my buccinatory muscles to reçommend myself to him!-Jean Jacques is far more puffed up, however, than me; but it is with conceit, from which I am free. In another letter he says_“When the peasants in my village saw Pigalle laying out some of the instruments of bis art, they flocked round us with great glee, and said, Ah! he is going to dissect him-how droll ! ---so one spectacle, you see, is just as good for some people as another.
The account which Pigalle gives of his mission is extremely characteristic. For the first eight days, he could make nothing of his patient he was so restless and full of grimaces, starts and gesticulations. He promised every night to give him a long sitting next day, and always kept his word ;--but then, he could no
prore sit still than a child of three years old. He dictated letters all the time to his secretary; and, in the mean time, kept blowing peas in the air, making pirouettes round his chamber, or indulging in other feats of activity, equally fatal to the views of the artist. Poor Phidias was about to return to Paris in de. spair, without having made the slightest progress in his design; when the conversation happening by good luck to turn upon Aaron's golden call, and Pigalle having said that he did not think such a thing could be modelled and cast in less than six months, the patriarch was so pleased with him, that he submitted to any thing he thought proper all the rest of the day, and the model was completed that very evening.
There are a number of other anecdotes, extremely character. istic of the vivacity, impatience and want of restraint which distinguished this extraordinary person. One of the most amusing is that of the congé which he gave to the Abbé Coyer, who was kind enough to come to his castle of Ferney, with the intention of paying a long visit. The second morning, however, the patriarch interrupted him in the middle of a dull account of his travels, with this perplexing question, “Do you know, M. L'Abbé, in what you differ entirely from Don Quixotte?" The poor Abbé was unable to divine the precise point of distinction; and the philosopher was pleased to add, “Why, you know the Don took all the inns on his road for castles, but it appears to me that you take castles for inns.” The Abbé decamped without waiting for a further reckoning. He behaved still worse to a M. De Barthe, whom he invited to come and read a play to him, and afterwards drove out of the house, by the yawns and frightful contortions with which he amused himself, during the whole of the performance.
One of his happiest repartees is said to have been made to an Englishman, who had recently been on a visit to the celebrated Haller, in whose praise Voltaire enlarged with great warmth, extolling him as a great poet, a great naturalist, and a man of universal attainments. The Englishman answered, that it was very handsome in M. De Voltaire to speak so well of Mr. Haller, inasmuch as he, the said Mr. Haller, was by no means so liberal to M. De Voltaire. “Alas !” said the patriarch, with an air of philosophic indulgence, “I dare say we are both of us very much mistaken.”
On another occasion, a certain M. de St. Ange, who valued himself on the graceful turn of his compliments, having come to see him, took his leave with this studied allusion to the diversity of his talents, “My visit to-day has only been to Homer-another morning I shall pay my respects to Sophocles and Euripieles--another to Tacitus--and another to Lucian.” “Ah, Sir!". VOL. II. New Series.
replied the patriarch, “ I am wretchedly old-could you not contrive to see all these gentlemen together?” M. Mercier, who had the same passion for fine speeches, told him one day, “ You outdo every body so much in their own way, that I am sure you will beat Fontenelle in longevity.” “No, no, Sir!" answered the patriarch, “Fontenelle was a Norman; and, you may depend upon it, contrived to trick nature out of her rights."
One of the most prolific sources of witticisms that is noticed in this collection, is the patriarch's elevation to the dignity of temporal father of the capuchins in his district. The cream of the whole, however, may be found in the following letter of his to M. de Richelieu.
“ Je voudrais bien, monseigneur, avoir le plaisir de vous donner ma bénédiction avant de mourir. L'expression, vous paraîtra un peu forte : elle est pourtant dans la vérité. J'ai l'honneur d'être capucin. Notre général qui est à Rome, vient de m'envoyer mes patentes; mon titre est, Frère Spirituel et Père Temporel des Canu. cing. Mandez-moi laquelle de vos maîtresses vous voulez retirer du purgatoire; je vous jure sur ma barbe qu'elle n'y sera pas dans vingt-quatre heures. Comme je dois me détacher des biens de ce monde, j'ai abandonné à mes parens ce qui m'est dû par la succes. sion de feu madame la princesse de Guise, et par M. votre intendant; ils iront à ce sujet prendre vos ordres qu'ils regarderont comme un bienfait. Je vous donne ma bénédiction. Signé VOLTAIRE, capucin indigné, et qui n'a pas encore eu de bonne fortune de capucin.” P. 54, 55.
We have very full details of the last days of this distinguished person. He came to Paris, as is well known, after 27 years' absence, at the age of 84; and the very evening he arrived, he recited himself the whole of his Irene to the players, and passed all the rest of the night in correcting the piece for representation. A few days after he was seized with a violent vomiting of blood, and instantly called stoutly for a priest, saying that they should not throw him out on the dunghill. A priest was accordingly brought; and the patriarch very gravely subscribed a profession of his faith in the christian religion-of which he was ashamed, and attempted to make a jest, as soon as he recovered. He was received with unexampled honours at the academy, the whole members of which rose together, and came out to the vestibule to escort him into the hall; while, on the exterior, all the avenues, windows, and roofs of houses, by which his carriage had to pass, were crowded with spectators, and resounded with acclamations. But the great scene of his glory was the theatre; in which he no sooner appeared, than the whole audience rose up, and continued for npwards of twenty minutes in thunders of applause and shouts of acclamation that filled the whole house with dust and agitation. When the piece was concluded, the curtain was again drawn up, and discovered the bust of their idol in the middle of the stage, while the favourite actress placed a crown of laurel on its brows, and recited some verses, the words of which could scarcely be distinguished amidst the tumultuous shouts of the spectators. The whole scene, says M. Grimm, reminded us of the classic days of Greece and Rome. But it became more truly touching at the moment when its object rose to retire. Weakened and agitated by the emotions he had experienced, his limbs trembled beneath him; and, bending almost to the earth, he seemed ready to expire under the weight of years and honours that had been laid upon him. His eyes, filled with tears, still sparkled with a peculiar fire in the midst of his pale and faded countenance. All the beauty and all the rank of France crowded round him in the lobbies and staircases, and literally bore him in their arms to the door of his carriage. Here the humbler multitude took their turn; and, calling for torches that all might get a sight of bim, clustered round his coach, and followed it to the door of his lodgings, with vehement shouts of admiration and triumph. This is the heroie part of the scene; but M. Grimm takes care also to let us know that the patriarch appeared on this occasion in long lace ruffles, and a fine coat of cut velvet, with a gray periwig of a fashion forty years old, which he used to comb every morning with his own hands, and to which nothing at all parallel had been seen for ages except on the head of Bachaumont the novelist, who was known accordingly among the wits of Paris by the name of < Voltaire's wig-block."
This brilliant and protracted career, however, was now drawing to a close.-Retaining to the last that untameable spirit of activity and impatience which had characterized all his past life, he assisted at rehearsals and meetings of the academy, with the zeal and enthusiasm of early youth. At one of the latter, some objections were started to his magnificent project of giving a new edition of their dictionary ;-—and he resolved to compose a discourse to obviate those objections. To strengthen himself for this task, he swallowed a prodigious quantity of strong coffee, and then continued to work for upwards of twelve hours without intermission. This imprudent effort brought on an inflammation in his bladder; and being told by M. De Richelieu, that he had been much relieved in a similar situation, by taking, at intervals, a few drops of laudanum, he provided himself with a large bottle of that nedicine, and with his usual impatience, swallowed the greater part of it in the course of the night. The consequence was, as might naturally have been expected, that he fell into a sort of lethargy, and never recovered the use of his faculties, except for a few
minutes at a time, till the hour of his death, which happened three days after, on the evening of the 30th May, 1778. The priest to whom he had made his confession, and another, entered his chamber a short time before he breathed his last. He recognised them with difficulty, and assured them of his respects. One of them coming close up to him, he threw his arms round his neck, as if to embrace him. But when M. le Curé, taking advantage of this cordiality, proceeded to urge him to make some sign or acknowledgment of his belief in the christian faith, he gently pushed him back, and said, “ Alas! let me die in peace.' turned to his companion, and, with great moderation and presence of mind, observed aloud, “You see his faculties are quite gone." They then quietly left the apartment;-and the dying man, having testified his gratitude to his kind and vigilant attendants, and named several times the name of his favourite niece Madame Denis, shortly after expired.
Nothing can better mark the character of the work before us, and of its author, than to state that the despatch which contains this striking account of the last hours of his illustrious patron and friend, terminates with an obscene epigram of M. Rulhiere, and a gay critique on the new administration of the
opera Buffa! There are various epitaphs on Voltaire, scattered through the sequel of the volume: we prefer this very brief one, by a lady of Lausanne.
“Ci git l'enfant gaté du monde qu'il gata." Among the other proofs which M. Grimm has recorded of the celebrity of this extraordinary person, the incredible multitude of his portraits that were circulated deserves to be noticed. One ingenious artist, in particular, of the name of Huber, had acquired such a facility in forming his countenance, that he could not only cut most striking likenesses of him out of paper, with scissors held behind his back, but could mould a little bust of him in half a minute, out of a bit of bread, and at last used to make his dog manufacture most excellent profiles, by making him bite off the edge of a biscuit which he held to him in three or four different positions !
There is less about Rousseau in these volumes than we should expect from their author's early intimacy with that great writer. What there is, however, is candid and judicious. M. Grimm agrees with Mad. de Staël, that Rousseau was nothing of a Frenchman in his character ;- and accordingly he observes, that though the magic of his style, and the extravagance of his sentiments procured him some crazy disciples, he never had any partisans among the enlightened part of the nation. He laughs a good deal at his afiectations and unpardonable animosities—but gives, at all