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[140] but it was what hits the French taste more than any or all three of them: it was an unhesitating fluency, though he spoke extemporaneously and without notes, a great choice of happy and sparkling phrases, though on a subject the most difficult to apply them discreetly, and an abundance of epigrammatic remarks, which seemed almost like arguments, because they struck the imagination so forcibly, and yet were nothing less. In short, it was a kind of amusement which ought to come rather under the great and indefinite class of what is called in France spectacle, than what in any country should be considered a part of public instruction. It was, however, fine of the sort.

The evening I passed delightfully at Chateaubriand's, with a few of his friends; most of whom were members of the House of Peers. He was in high spirits, excited, and even exalte, and poured out a torrent of rich and various eloquence, which made me almost think better of the language itself than I am accustomed to.

During the beginning of the evening the conversation turned upon the condition of Europe, and he burst upon the discussion by saying, ‘Je ne crois pas dans la societe Europeenne,’ and supported his ominous proposition with a kind of splendid declamation, to which argument would have lent no force. ‘In fifty years,’ said he, ‘there will not be a legitimate sovereign in Europe; from Russia to Sicily, I foresee nothing but military despotisms; and in a hundred,—in a hundred! the cloud is too dark for human vision; too dark, it may almost be said, to be penetrated by prophecy. There perhaps is the misery of our situation; perhaps we live, not only in the decrepitude of Europe, but in the decrepitude of the world’; and he pronounced it in such a tone, and with such a look, that a dead silence followed it, and every person felt, I doubt not, with me, as if the future had become uncertain to him. In a few moments, from a natural impulse of selfishness, the question arose, what an individual should do in such a situation. Everbody looked to Chateaubriand. ‘If I were without a family, I would travel, not because I love travelling, for I abhor it, but because I long to see Spain, to know what effect eight years of civil war have produced there; and I long to see Russia, that I may better estimate the power that threatens to overwhelm the world. When I had seen these I should know the destinies of Europe, I think; and then I would go and fix my last home at Rome. There I would build my tabernacle, there I would build my tomb, and there, amid the ruins of three empires and three thousand years, I would give myself wholly to my God.’ Now there

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