Page images

The mild, honest, heroic countenance of The sight of all the marvels of Europe gathArchduke Charles presents a wondrous re- ered together at the Musée Napoléon, less, lief to these masks of the back chambers. as he observed, for the glory of art than for It was the morning after Essling, numbered the glory of one man, filled him with melanby Thiers among the victories of Napoleon, choly. Leroi, the coiffeur of Josephine, he but which does not prevent the Austrians relates, had passed over to Marie Louise, viewing that hecatomb of forty to fifty thou- but venturing one day to remark to the emsand men as a sanguinary triumph, that M. press, seeing her in a high dress, "Ah! de Varnhagen first saw the Austrian gener- madame, when one has the good fortune to alissimo. The friend of Beethoven was play- possess such a handsome bust, what a pity ing a sacred melody on the piano! As it is it is to hide it," he was incontinently shown customary in Italian operas for the heroine the door, never to be admitted again. to prelude her appearance by an improvisation on the harp, so M. de Varnhagen had to wait till the melody was concluded before the archduke received him, which he did with a grave dignity, and, mounting on horseback, they proceeded on a military inspection. At that epoch Archduke Charles was the soul of the Austrians. Short and thin, his whole appearance indicated a nervous susceptible temperament. The labors and fatigues of war had no effect, however, upon the natural fragility of his form, which, in Napoleon, had disappeared in the "empâtement" of his person. He was doted upon by the soldiery, for his heroism, courage, intrepidity, good sense, and amiability, were alike uncontested. No man since the time of Wallenstein enjoyed a similar popularity with the army. Add to this, his power was absolute and uncontrolled. He had no chambers, no ministry, not even an emperor to interfere or thwart him in any thing he thought proper to do.

M. de Varnhagen saw the hero of Essling twenty years afterwards, at a time when, without noise, trouble, or remorse, he had, like most of the archdukes, withdrawn into a modest, quiet retirement. The old man still took pleasure in talking of Wagram. "It was a great, a terrible battle," he said, "that we lost, but neither I nor my soldiers were to blame; every man fought like a hero, and only a few days afterwards they sustained another attack with indomitable bravery; to do more was beyond human power." It was always expected that so upright and competent a person, with known literary tastes, would have left some memorials of that great war behind him; but he did not do so. "It will be for our nephews," he used to say, “if our nephews take any interest in what we have done."

In 1810, M. de Varnhagen was at Paris.

The Germans breakfasted at Prince Metternich's and dined at Prince Schwarzenberg's. At the former, a discussion is related as having taken place between Gall and Sternberg upon the delicate topic of religion. The count had brought the phrenologist to admit that religion was necessary, "were it only to keep the populace in control." "And we, on our side," said the incorrigible philosopher, "what should we do without the salutary terrors that religion inspires to the ruling powers ?" M. de Varnhagen was soon satiated with the pleasures of Paris. He declares that he soon experienced no desire to penetrate farther into this " 'pompous void." Upon most of the faces, he says, met with in public, he could perceive but one expression, that of lassitude, weariness, disgust, the expression of a constant want to escape from one's own self, perchance from one's conscience. The only spot where he found comfort and repose was at the boarding-school of Mademoiselle Henriette Mendelssohn, where the select of the day assembled, after the pupils had gone to bed, in the gardens, to hear a daily letter from the exiled Madame de Staël.

M. de. Varnhagen took an active part at that sad and fatal fire which consumed the Hôtel de Montesson, on the occasion of the festivities given to celebrate the nuptials of Napoleon and Marie Louise. He describes the emperor as arriving with the empress on his arm, with a serious, hard, "almost wicked" look-not one trace of amiability! Those present, he declares, hated one another, and would rather have met on the field of battle than at such humiliating festivities. Shameful and melancholy hypocrisy! A Tyrolese ballet was performed in front of the Chateau de Laxenbourg; a real postilion brought despatches from Francis to his

daughter; at midnight dancing commenced, exceeding mediocrity, and he had for a minPrince Esterhazy giving his hand to the ister a M. de Berstett. Having no male dequeen of Naples, Eugène Beauharnais, vice- scent, it became a question of partitioning roy of Italy, leading out Princess Pauline his territories. To avert this catastrophe, Schwarzenberg. After the dance, the em- M. de Berstett had an interview with the peror and empress walked among the crowd, Emperor Alexander, at that time at Aix-lawhen a sudden gust of wind'set fire to some Chapelle, and, by dint of weeping for the gauze. It was so slight that Count Bentheim imaginary grievances of his master, sucput cut the taper with his hat, and Count ceeded in exacting from the czar, who had Dumanoir, tearing down the decorations, never seen a diplomatist weep before, a trampled out the fire with his feet. But, promise that the integrity of the duchy alas! it had extended higher, out of reach, should be preserved, and that, failing a diand had attained the light trellis-work that rect issue, a morganatic branch should be supported the decorations. Everybody be- legitimized. This trick made Metternich gan to run, some even shouted treachery. and De Gentz laugh heartily when they Prince Schwarzenberg ordered the emperor's heard of it. carriage to a back door, so that he might retire with less impediment. Napoleon angrily counterordered it to the front.

And yet this czar, who thus disposed of principalities when the coalition had overthrown the usurpations of Napoleon, preThis part of the story has been always tended to possess liberal ideas. He declared hitherto incorrectly related even in the pages at the Diet of Warsaw that liberal instituof the Moniteur. Prince Joseph Schwarzen- tions, which had been confounded with subberg was in the mean time rushing through versive and disastrous doctrines, when carfire and smoke in search of his wife. He ried out with pure and conservative intenhad last seen her dancing in an adjoining tions, were alone calculated to ensure the salon. He rushed in, but found no one. happiness of nations. Unfortunately, the Once more he penetrated into the mansion, foul assassination of Kotzebue by the fanatic now in flames at every point; he found a Sand came to give a deathblow to the hopes form enveloped in fire, with a diadem on her of the liberal party, of which M. de Varnhead. The princess also wore a diadem; he hagen was one of the distinguished upholdbore her out, but it was the Princess de ers, and at the head of which was incontestLeyen. A Swedish officer, bearing out an-ably the Duke of Saxe Weimar, the friend other lady, declared that the princess was of Goethe and of Schiller. A favorite saystill behind. At the most imminent risk ing of that intellectual prince was, that it of his life, he attempted to penetrate once was by freedom in teaching, and by the anmore, but it was just as the walls gave way, tagonism of opinions, that the truth was arand all was buried in one common ruin. The rived at. Princess Louisa, wife of the duke, next day General Hulin, Dr. Gall, and M. de was as intellectual and as strong-minded as Varnhagen were digging together among the prince, who wished to make his little the ruins, when they discovered a human capital of Weimar the head-quarters of Gerform, that of a female, but calcined and ir- man liberty as well as of German arts and recognizable. It was, however, soon de- literature. The 15th of October, 1806, Natected to be all that remained of Princess poleon returning from the battle of Jena, met Schwarzenberg by a collar of medallions, her at the top of a staircase. "Who are you, upon which were engraved the names of her madame?" The duchess introduced herchildren. One only remained without an inscription; it had been left for the child that she bore in her bosom, and which perished with her on that fatal night.

self. "I pity you, then," observed the emperor, "for I shall crush your husband.” The Princess Louisa was not terrified by this brutality; she visited the emperor again, M. de Varnhagen was appointed minister and he, to rid himself of her remonstrances, at Carlsruhe shortly after leaving Paris. said, "Believe me, madame, there is a The reigning prince was the Grand-Duke Providence that orders all things, and I am Charles, to whom Napoleon had given as a only its instrument." But he afterwards wife Stephanie de Beauharnais, a niece of said of the princess: "There is a woman Josephine. This Charles was a prince of to whom our two hundred guns imparted

[blocks in formation]

no fear." And he said to M. de Müller, the | salons; but M. de Varnhagen himself attests

Weimarian ambassador at Potsdam, "Your princess acted like a man, and won all my esteem."

M. de Varnhagen, like De Humboldt, became more and more radical in his old age. Many have attributed this to the influence of his intellectual wife, the celebrated Rahel; but reading over his Memoirs, nine ponderous tomes, of which the least has eight hundred pages, we find the official man, be he emperor, king, general, or diplomatist, so laid bare, his actions traced to such miserable sources, his conduct represented as guided and influenced by such ignoble principles, that the impression received is that it was the mere result of all his many years' experience of great men and of public life. In reading such a book, it is like going behind the scenes with the manager, who introduces one to a piece of tin, and says it is with that, that we imitate thunder; and to a cracked bell, saying it is with that, that we sound the massacre of St. Bartholomew. It is certain that Rahel, whom the Germans designate as a feminine Hamlet, had a great influence on the formal yet loquacious diplomatist who had the happiness to call himself her husband, as she had, indeed, upon all her contemporaries; and it is equally well known that she affected the cynicism of the French Republicans in her

that his radicalism had another and a more natural source. "I have seen the men and the things of my time," he used to say; "I have long and silently meditated upon what I have seen, and the result has been an intense disgust of the world." "Society," again he would say, "is lost, ruined in the higher classes, to whom the friction with politics has rubbed off all that educational varnish and good tone that formerly distinguished it, and aristocracy thus finds itself every year losing more and more of its privileges, at the very time that democracy is aggrandizing and organizing itself." A radicalism of such a nature is a mere sign of old age and weariness. It is not given to every one to be a Metternich or a Talleyrand; never to shrink before a responsibility, never to yield a line of action once decided upon, or bend before the storm. It is only weak and wayward temperaments that, after such long monologues with their consciences, come to the conclusion that, the higher classes being corrupt, the people, whom they do not know, have much chance of being better. Radicalism with such an origin is scepticism, and nothing more. It despairs of one class, and scarcely ventures to hope better things of another. Men of action go to no such extremes.

would joyfully sacrifice the life he had saved, at any time, on his least command. The next day the gentleman met him again, and asked him how he did after his fright; when the man, instead of being any longer thankful for his safety, upbraided him for pulling him by the ear in such a manner that it had pained him ever since. Thus that trifling inconvenience, in twenty-four hours, had entirely swallowed up the remembrance that his life was owing to it. Just so doth the gentleman I am speaking of act by all the world.-The Adventures of David Simple (by Henry Fielding's Sister).

THE MAN OF SENSIBILITY.-He is of a very | adore him for thus delivering him, and said he forgiving temper; but the worst is, he forgives himself with full as much ease as he does another, which makes him have too little guard over his actions. He designs no ill and wishes to be virtuous; but if any virtue interferes with his inclinations, he is overborne by the torrent, and does not deliberate a moment which to choose. Confer an obligation on him, and he is overwhelmed with thankfulness and gratitude: and this not at all owing to dissimulation, for he does not express half he feels. But this idea soon gives place to others, and then to anything which is in the least disagreeable to him, and he immediately sets his imagination (which is very strong) to work, to lessen all you have done for him; and his whole mind is possessed by what he thinks your present ill-behavior. He has often put me in mind of a story I once heard of a fellow, who accidentally falling into the Thames, and not knowing how to swim, had like to have been drowned; when a gentleman, who stood by, jumped into the river and saved him. The man fell on his knees, was ready to

IN one of the Highland graveyards occurs the following epitaph :

"Here lies interred a man o' micht,
His name was Malcolm Downie;
He lost his life ae market nicht
By fa'in' off his pownie."

[blocks in formation]

From Blackwood's Magazine.

body could predict what the character of the new administration was to be. The obscurity in which the new rector had buried his views was the most extraordinary thing about him. He had taken high honors at college, and was "highly spoken of;" but whether he was high, or low, or broad, mus

tive, nobody in the world seemed able to tell. "Fancy if he were just to be a Mr. Bury over again! Fancy him going to the canal, and having sermons to the bargemen, and attending to all sorts of people except to us, whom it is his duty to attend to!" cried one of this much-canvassed clergyman's curious parishioners. "Indeed, I do believe he must be one of these people. If he were in society at all, somebody would be sure to know."

It is natural to suppose that the arrival of the new rector was a rather exciting event for Carlingford. It is a considerable town, it is true, now-a-days, but then there are no alien activities to disturb the place-no man-cular or sentimental, sermonizing or decoraufactures, and not much trade. And there is a very respectable amount of very good society at Carlingford. To begin with, it is a pretty place-mild, sheltered, not far from town; and naturally its very reputation for good society increases the amount of that much-prized article. The advantages of the town in this respect have already put five per cent upon the house-rents; but this, of course, only refers to the real town, where you can go through an entire street of high garden-walls, with houses inside full of the retired exclusive comforts, the dainty, economical refinement peculiar to such places; and where the good people consider their own society as a warrant of gentility less splendid, but not less assured, than the favor of majesty itself. Naturally there are no Dissenters in Carlingford-that is to say, none above the rank of a greengrocer or milkman; and in bosoms devoted to the Church it may be well imagined that the advent of the new rector was an event full of importance, and even of excitement.

"Lucy dear, Mr. Bury christened you,” said another not less curious but more tolerant inquirer.

"Then he did you the greatest of all services," cried the third member of the little group which discussed the new rector under Mr. Wodehouse's blossomed apple-trees. "He conferred such a bencfit upon you that he deserves all reverence at your hand. Wonderful idea! a man confers this greatest of Christian blessings on multitudes, and does not himself appreciate the boon he conveys!"


Well, for that matter, Mr. Wentworth, you know-" said the elder lady; but she got no farther. Though she was verging upon forty, leisurely, pious, and unmarried, that good Miss Wodehouse was not polemical. She had "her own opinions," but few people knew much about them. She was seated on a green garden-bench which surrounded the great May-tree in that large, warm, well-furnished garden. The high brick walls, all clothed with fruit-trees, shut in an enclosure of which not a morsel, except this velvet grass, with its nests of daisies, was not under the highest and most careful cultivation. It was such a scene as is only to be found in an old country town; the walls jealous of intrusion, yet thrusting tail plumes of lilac and stray branches of

He was highly spoken of, everybody knew; but nobody knew who had spoken highly of him, nor had been able to find out, even by inference, what were his views. The Church had been low during the last rector's reign profoundly low-lost in the deepest abysses of Evangelicalism. A determine dinclination to preach to everybody had seized upon that good man's brain; he had half emptied Salem Chapel, there could be no doubt; but, on the other hand, he had more than half filled the Chapel of St. Roque, half a mile out of Carlingford, where the perpetual curate, young, handsome, and fervid, was on the very topmost pinnacle of Anglicanism. St. Roque's was not more than a pleasant walk from the best quarter of Carlingford, on the north side of the town, thank Heaven! which one could get at without the dread apple-blossom, like friendly salutations to passage of that new horrid suburb, to which the world without; within, the blossoms young Mr. Rider, the young doctor, was de- dropping over the light, bright head of Lucy voting himself. But the Evangelical rector Wodehouse underneath the apple-trees, and was dead, and his reign was over, and no-impertinently flecking the Rev. Cecil Went

« PreviousContinue »