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[210] study and learned society; is himself the head and chief support of the Academy of Turin; and, after being ambassador all over Europe, has, since I left Madrid, been called home to be Minister of State, and Director of Public Instruction,—an office for which he asked on account of the quiet it would give him in his old age; at the same time he refused the splendid appointment of viceroy of the island of Sardinia, which was sent to him while I was at Madrid. I used to dine with him often in an unceremonious way, and enjoyed much the overflow of his very extensive and judicious learning, for he is in this respect one of the most distinguished men I have seen in Europe. The Duke de Laval, when there was any doubt or question about anything that could not be settled, always used to say, ‘Eh bien done, demandez à Monsieur de Balbe, car il sait tout’; and when I heard him converse I often thought so. Caesar, his only son, a young man about two years older than myself, on whose education he has bestowed unwearied pains, was, among those of his own age, what his father was in the oldest class,—the first at Madrid. He has much learning, good taste, and sense for all that is great and beautiful, extraordinary talents, and an enthusiasm which absolutely preys upon his strength and health. But, though he is passionately fond of letters, his whole spirit is eaten up with political and military ambition. He thinks of nothing but Italy, and, taking his motto from his favorite Dante, ‘Ahi serva Italia di dolore ostello,’ etc., is continually studying the Principe and Arte di Guerra, and dreaming over Machiavelli's grand plan to consolidate it all into one great, splendid empire, with the Alps for a barrier against the intrusions of the North. I knew him intimately, for there was seldom a day we did not meet at least once, and I shall always remember him with affection, for it is rare in Europe to meet a young man with so high talents and so pure a character. On Wednesday evening there was a convocation at the house of the Minister of Russia. He has of late played a bold part in Spanish politics, and a year ago had such personal and immediate influence with the king, that he could nominate or displace a ministry at will; but, since the unfortunate sale of the Russian fleet, his power has declined. In all respects, however, he is a curious study in the great book of the knowledge of the world. He is, on the whole, to be called ignorant of books, and is certainly an idle, lazy man; but his genius is strong, bold, and original, and he makes his way in the palace merely by the imposing weight of talent. Au reste, he is careless and capricious, and the chief part he plays in society is at the whist-table,


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