May 1. Sent letters to the [American] merchants, declining a public dinner.1 May 2. At last got out to-day. During all this time I have read and seen company. I have hired a Frenchman who does not know English to come every forenoon to read and speak French with me. Went to the Institute and heard the discourse of M. Mignet on Lakaual.2 It was a masterpiece, but had sallies against our country. On my return I addressed him a letter at some length, making a reclamation. In the evening went to the reception of Madame de Circourt. May 3. Appleton called and took me to the Bois de Boulogne; dined with him. Then to Lady Elgin's; then to Michel Chevalier's. May 4. This morning received a visit from M. Mignet,3 in which he expressed himself in the handsomest terms with regard to my letter. Visited with Vattemare the library of the Institute, then the Cour des Comptes, where M. Battie, the premier president, received me very kindly, and gave orders that I should see all the archives, which are kept in a separate building, and also the rooms. The machinery of administration in France seems to be perfect. In the evening went to M. de Lamartine. He was in a small room, with some half-dozen ladies and as many gentlemen, and while I was there several came and went. He received me kindly, and afterwards complimented me on my French, which he said was better than that of any American he had seen for ten years. Surely, his experience had been peculiar. He says he can understand English when spoken slowly. He understands the English better than the Americans; the latter speak vite, vite, si vite. Nobody, he said, could anticipate the future of France. With a people so changeable, nothing was certain but change. I observed that there were two or three beautiful dogs which he petted le invited me to visit him in the country. Afterwards went to Madame de Circourt. Lamartine gave an interesting account of Soule4 at a dinner with Girardin, where were some eighteen persons, at which he undertook to vindicate slavery in a manner very ennuyeuse, while the company held down their heads. May 5. Breakfasted at Madame Mohl's. Among the guests were Mrs. Stowe and Mr. Senior. Went to the Corps Legislatif, where, through the kindness of Comte de Kergorlay, I was accommodated with a seat in one of the tribunes. A member who came to me remarked that “nous n'avons pas d'orages.” Everything was very quiet. the debate was on a law regulating, courts-martial. Dined with Appleton; in the evening heard Ristori in “Camilla,” a piece of moderate merit, but very well acted. I did not like it so well as “Maria Stuardo.”
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2 Joseph Lakanal, 17,2-1845. a French writer and naturalist; a Republican and revolutionist, living in the United States 1815-1837; at one time President of the University of Louisiana. Incidentally the lecturer made some comments unfavorable to life in the United States, to which Sumner took exception as applying only to localities, and not just as a statement of general characteristics. Mignet's lecture may be found in ‘Memoires de l'academie des Sciences Morales et Politiques de l'institut Imperiale de France,’ vol. II. pp. 1-32.
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