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[213]

The other person I refer to is the Prince and Duke de Laval Montmorency, of whom I have already spoken so often. He is one of the most distinguished noblemen in Europe, for he traces his ancestry ap to the remotest age of the French Monarchy, and there finds his progenitor to be the first nobleman in the country who received the Christian religion, and who thus gave to the family the title of ‘Premier Baron Chretien,’ which they still wear in their arms. Since then there has hardly been one of its generations that has not been marked by some of the great offices of the kingdom. They have repeatedly been married into the royal family of the Bourbons, have acquired successively the title of Count of Buchoven, and Prince of Laval from the German Empire, Duke of Laval, and peer of the realm in France, and Duke of San Fernando-Luis and grandee of the first class in Spain, besides all sorts of knighthoods, crosses, commanderships, etc., etc., and besides having been, more than once, at the head of affairs at home, and having often gained great battles abroad. I have never yet found anybody who was not ready to say that these honors are well placed on the prince that now wears them; for to more than common talents, and more than common acquired knowledge, he adds a genuine goodness that delights, above everything else, in promoting the happiness of all around him. In the last point he gave his own character exactly one evening, when he said to a lady that accused him of wishing to disoblige her: ‘Moi, madame? vous,— vous dites cela de moi? de moi, qui ai toujours eu l'ambition, que depuis le plus humble valet, jusqua au Roi, tout le monde dise, quand je passerai, c'est un excellent homme; il a le coeur profoundement bon’; and, in truth, I never saw him otherwise. Mad. de Stael loved him very much, and during her last sickness, when he happened to be at Paris, used to beg him to come and see her every day, that she might enjoy his brilliant conversation; for, even at Paris, he was famous for this talent, and at Madrid was unique. His dinners were by far the pleasantest there, for whatever there was of elegant talent and literature at Madrid were friends at his house, and, wherever he was, the conversation took a more interesting and cultivated turn than elsewhere. The daily rides that I made with him, and Caesar de Balbo, are among the brightest spots in my life in Europe, though perhaps I never disputed so much and so hotly, in a given time, in my life, for though he is nearly fifty years old, and has passed, with unmoved tranquillity, through the revolutions of the last thirty years, without taking part in any, he is in discussion as prompt, excitable, and enthusiastic as a young man of twenty; and as Caesar


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