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Chapter 13:

To Mr. Elisha Ticknor.

Lisbon, November 4, 1818.
. . . . Your letter, my dear father, has much alarmed me about my mother. . . . I pray you to speak on this subject with perfect plainness to me. Do not let me be unprepared for this blow, if indeed it awaits me. I know that what you say does not necessarily convey this dreadful implication, and I trust it is only my feelings to-day that have inferred it where it was not intended to be expressed, but I grow cold as I think of it, even among the possibilities of the future.

November 7.
I have never felt so disheartened and discouraged since I left home. . . . . This is chiefly owing to the sad news I have received here,1 and a little to the slowness with which I proceed in the purposes for which I came. I do not mean that I find any difficulties in the language or literature, for there are none,. . . . but I have books to buy, and the booksellers are ignorant, tardy, and unaccommodating; I have information to gain from men of letters, and they are few, and in general unaccustomed to think much upon the subjects on which I have asked them; so that, though they are kind and even very kind, I hardly get along at all. This disheartens me very much. . . . . For three days I have worked sixteen and eighteen hours a day, without fatigue, in my room and in the public library; and if it depended on nobody but myself,. . . . I could be gone on the 13th.

November 13.
Yesterday I received, my dearest father, yours of September 30. [251] I cannot tell you what a consolation it was to me to hear that my mother is better. Lisbon itself looks brighter with my brightened thoughts, and even the sad, rainy weather is less tiresome. I hope a packet will sail the 16th. If it does, I shall set off at once.

To Mr. Elisha Ticknor.

London, December 2, 1818.
I wrote to you, dearest father and mother, on the 20th of last month, from Lisbon. The day after, I sailed in the packet and came to anchor in Falmouth Harbor on the evening of the 28th;. . . . and as I once more put my foot upon kindred ground, I could have fallen down and embraced it, like Julius Caesar, for, as I have often told you, once well out of Spain and Portugal, I feel as if I were more than half-way home, even though I have the no very pleasant prospect of returning for a little while to the Continent I am so heartily glad to have forsaken. Early the next morning I began my journey, and I cannot express to you how I have been struck by the contrast between Spain—which is now continually present to my imagination as a country dead in everything a nation ought to be—and England, where the smallest village and the humblest peasant bear some decisive mark of activity and improvement and vital strength and power; Spain, where all is so stagnant and lifeless, that the passage from one hamlet to another is a matter of such difficulty and danger that the peasants hazard it only in bodies and strongly armed, and England, where it may almost be said the facility, safety, and rapidity of conveyance make every individual in the kingdom a neighbor to every other. I assure you that often, as I was rolling along the smooth turnpikes, and saw the innumerable coaches glide by me like lightning, or looked upon my map, and saw the whole land so intersected with roads and canals that it looked like an anatomy, my head has grown giddy with the vain effort to trace out a comparison with the country I had just left, and account, even partially, for the overwhelming difference. . . . .

Yesterday morning I came early to Bath,. . . . and at five in the evening took my seat in the mail-coach, which, this morning at eight, landed me safely in the London Coffee-House, Ludgate Hill, without the least curiosity to see the great show of the queen's funeral, which all the city has gone out in the mud and fog to gaze at.2

The first thing I asked for was, of course, my letters. . . . . None are [252] so late as the one I received from you at Lisbon, just before I left;. . . . still I am extremely anxious to receive later accounts, which will tell me the effect cold weather may have produced on my mother's very feeble health.

I shall remain here about four days, just long enough to make a few arrangements and get out my passport, and then go as fast as I can to Paris. On board the packet I wrote to Mr. Gallatin, desiring him to take out the order for opening the king's library to me, an operation that occupies a week. . . . . In a month, I should think, everything will be finished, and then, returning through London,. . . . I shall make all haste to Edinburgh. . . . .

To Mr. Elisha Ticknor.

Paris, December 22, 1818.
Yours of the 16th—29th October, my dear father, arrived since I last wrote you, and, what is better, one from Savage of November 9, both of which speak of great improvement in my mother's health. They have, therefore, removed a great load from my fears, and I feel now as if I had once more the free exercise of my faculties.

I have received the necessary permission at the king's library, and am in full operation among its great treasures. I have, besides, made the acquaintance of Moratin, an exiled Spaniard, who is thoroughly familiar with Spanish literary history, and who gives me three or four hours together whenever I ask it, so that I have all possible direction and assistance in this. In Portuguese I have M. de Souza, who is the learned editor and generous publisher of that magnificent edition of Camoens, of which he sent a copy to Harvard College library. With these two, and the means they have given me, I have been so occupied for several days, that I have not been able to do anything with Reynouard and the Provencal; but as soon as I have finished my Spanish and Portuguese researches, I shall begin here.

It is a melancholy fact, which I am sure will not a little strike you, that, after having been four months at Madrid and one at Lisbon, besides my journeys to the great cities of Andalusia, I should be at last obliged to come back to Paris, to find books and means neither Spain nor Portugal would afford me. But so it is, and I have at this moment on my table six volumes, and shall, before I leave Paris, have many more, which I sought in vain in the libraries of the capital, of Seville, and Granada; and yet, so unequally are the treasures of these languages distributed, that the better half is still wanting in Paris, where the rarest is to be found.



Paris, December 10, 1818, to January 12, 1819.3—The dinner-hour at Paris is six o'clock or half past 6. I always dined in company, generally either at Count Pastoret's, at the Duc de Duras', at the Count de Ste. Aulaire's, or, if I had no special engagement, at the Duc de Broglie's, on whose table I always had a plate. Dinner is not so solemn an affair at Paris as it is almost everywhere else. It is soon over, you come out into the salon, take coffee and talk, and by nine o'clock you separate. Half an hour later the soirees begin. They are the most rational form of society I have yet seen, but are here pushed to excess. Those who are known and distinguished so much as to be able to draw a circle about them, take one or two evenings in each week and stay at home to receive, with very little ceremony, all whom they choose to invite to visit them. There are, therefore, a great number of these parties, and often, of course, several fall on the same night. A person who has an extensive acquaintance will make several visits of this sort every evening,. . . . and that he is in fact obliged to do it is its only objection; for if it were possible to take just as much of it as you like and no more, I do not know that a system of social intercourse could be carried to greater perfection than this is in France. . . . . You come in without ceremony, talk as long as you find persons you like, and go away without taking leave, to repeat the same process in another salon. . . . . The company is very various, but it should be remembered, to the credit of French manners, that men of letters are much sought in it. I was never anywhere that I did not meet them, and under circumstances where nothing but their literary merit could have given them a place. . . . . All, however, is not on the bright side. . . . Almost everybody who comes to these salons comes to say a few brilliant things, get a reputation for esprit,—the god who serves for Penates in French houses,—and then hasten away to another coterie to produce the same effect. This is certainly the general tone of these societies; it is brilliant, graceful, superficial, and hollow. . . . .

I had a specimen of the varieties of French society, and at a very curious and interesting moment, for it was just as the revolution took place in the Ministry, by which the Duke de Richelieu was turned out, and Count Decazes put in. . . . . The most genuine and unmingled ultra society I met, was at the Marchioness de Louvois'. She is an old lady of sixty-five, who emigrated in 1789, [254] and returned in 1814; and her brother, the present Bishop of Amiens, who was then French Minister at Venice, retreated at the same time to the upper part of Germany, and continued an exile as long as the family he served. I never went there that the old lady did not read me a good lecture about republicanism; and if it had not been for the mild, equal good sense of the Bishop, I should certainly have suffered a little in my temper from her attacks, supported by a corps of petits Marquis de l'ancien regime, who were always of her coterie. . . .

The Duchess de Duras' society was ultra too, but ultra of a very different sort. It was composed of much that is distinguished in the present management of affairs, to which she has been able to add many men of letters without distinction of party. This is the result of her personal character. She is now about thirty-eight years old, not beautiful, but with a striking and animated physiognomy, elegant manners, and a power in conversation which has no rival in France since the death of Mad. de Stael. Her natural talents are of a high order, and she has read a great deal; but it is her enthusiasm, her simplicity and earnestness, and the graceful contributions she levies upon her knowledge to give effect to her conversation, that impart to it the peculiar charm which I have seen operate like a spell, on characters as different as those of Chateaubriand, Humboldt, and Talleyrand. I liked her very much, and went to her hotel often, in fact sometimes every day. On Sundays I dined there. Chateaubriand, Humboldt, and Alexis de Noailles were more than once of the party; and the conversation was amusing, and once extremely interesting, from the agony of political feeling, just at the moment when the king deserted them, and gave himself up to Mons. Decazes. On Tuesday night she received at home, and all the world came,. . . . and I think, except the politics, it was as interesting a society as could well be collected. On Saturday night, as wife of the first Gentleman of the Bedchamber, she went to the Tuileries and received there, or, as it is technically called, did the honors of the Palace. . . . . I think I have never seen the honors of a large circle done with such elegance and grace, with such kind and attentive politeness, as Mad. de Duras used to show in this brilliant assembly.

But it was neither in the Court circle at the Tuileries, nor in her own salon on Tuesdays, nor even at her Sunday dinners, that Mad. de Duras was to be seen in the character which those who most like and best understand her thought the most interesting. Once when I dined with her entirely alone, except her youngest daughter, and [255] once when nobody but De Humboldt was there, I was positively bewitched with her conversation. One evening she made a delightful party for the Duchess of Devonshire, of only five or six persons, —my old friend the Viscount de Senonnes, Humboldt, Forbin, and two or three ladies; and Chateaubriand read a little romance on the Zegri and Abencerrages of Granada, full of descriptions glowing with poetry, like those of the environs of Naples in ‘The Martyrs.’. . . . Between four and six o'clock every day her door was open to a few persons, and this was the time all most liked to see her4 . . . .

The Countess Pastoret's was, too, an ultra house, for her husband is entirely of the Bourbon party, and takes a good deal of interest in politics; but, in general, the political tone did not prevail, for he is a member of the Institute, and a man of considerable learning. . . . Mad. de Pastoret asked me to three little dinners, and once, when Camille Jourdain, Cuvier, and La Place were there. These parties were extremely simple, rational, and pleasant. This, in fact, is exactly Mad. de Pastoret's character. She has natural talent, and has cultivated herself highly. . . . I have seldom seen a better balanced mind, or feelings more justly regulated. . . . I have talked with many persons who have passed through the horrors of the Revolution, but no descriptions I have received have produced such an effect on my feelings, as those given by Mad. de Pastoret's simple and unpretending, but touching eloquence. It reminded me of La Roche Jacquelin. . . . . Since the death of her son, Mad. de Pastoret has never been into the world, and therefore is at home every evening, and sees only those who will not exact a formal return of visit for visit. Among those who came there most frequently was the old Due de Crillon, the representative of Henry IV.'s Crillon,. . . . and such men as Cuvier and La Place, who, like Count Pastoret himself, belong, by their age and character, to an elder state of society, and by their political situation take a deep interest in the affairs of the day.

One of the stories that Mad. de Pastoret told me was indeed touching5 . . . . . During the worst period of the Revolution, she livedas she did when I knew her, and I believe as she always did—in a luxurious hotel on the Place Louis XV. She was, in fact, for some [256] time confined there,—with the guillotine in the middle of it,—and not allowed to go out of her house, any more than the rest of her family, who were all royalists. Suddenly, her husband was arrested and imprisoned. The front of the house was entirely closed up, and light, and, as far as possible, sound, were excluded. But there was no room to which the grating, rattling sound of the axe, as it fell, did not more or less penetrate, or where the shouts of the cruel multitude were not heard, as, now and then, though rarely, they expressed their triumphant satisfaction at the death of some peculiarly obnoxious victim. The dreadful thing to Mad. de Pastoret was that, being unable to get any information whatever concerning her husband, the axe never fell but she asked herself whether it might not have been for him. On one occasion she obtained special permission to go out, under surveillance, and she employed it to visit the foreign ministers, —some of whom she knew,—and obtain their intercession for her husband. The person who received her with the most kindness was the American Minister, Mr. Morris. Mons. Pastoret afterwards escaped from France, and was for some time in exile. He has since been Chancellor of France, and has published law-books of great merit.

The Countess de Ste. Aulaire's salon was the place of meeting for the Doctrinaires, Decazes' party, which triumphed while I was in Paris, and to whose triumph Mad. de Ste. Aulaire contributed not a little. She is a beautiful woman, with an elegant mind, and much practical talent; and her husband, a relation of Decazes, is one of the powerful men of their party, and a leading member in the Chamber of Deputies. Their house used to be called ‘the Ministry,’ and Mad. de Ste. Aulaire's parties, ‘the ministerial parties’; for Decazes came occasionally, and Barante, Guizot, etc., were there nearly every Tuesday night; and as this convocation happened on one of the evenings of Mad. de Duras', I two or three times witnessed singular contrasts on going from one to the other, just as the great question of the change of Ministry, which lasted above a fortnight, was in the agony of agitation. . . . .

The Princess Aldobrandini6 was at home every night. She is not as beautiful as she was when I knew her in Italy, but she has lost none of her vivacity, and talks still as fast as ever. A good many Italians came to her hotel, and among them my old friend, Count Confalonieri of Milan; but the old Duc de la Rochefoucauld, her grandfather, was the most amusing and interesting of all the persons I met there. It is the same who was in America, and he still retains [257] the hardy, vigorous, independent mind that must always have distinguished one who has passed without loss of honor through so many revolutions, and is still as good-humored and kind as all his friends have uniformly found him. . . . .

The Duchess de Grammont had a soiree for the Liberals every Saturday night, to which I always went before going to the Tuileries, in order to see and hear both sides together. The persons who came to it were merely a part of those who went to Mad. de Broglie's, and it was generally rather dull. . . .

I went more frequently to the Duchess de Broglie's than anywhere else. She has the same tender, affectionate character she had when I saw her watching over her mother's failing health, the same openhearted frankness, and the same fearless independence of the world and its fashions, that has always distinguished her. . . . . I have seldom seen any one with deeper and more sincere feelings of tenderness and affection, and never a Frenchwoman with so strong religious feelings; and when to this is added great simplicity and frankness, not a little personal beauty, and an independent, original way of thinking, I have described one who would produce a considerable effect in any society. In her own she is sincerely loved and admired. . . . .

These were the houses to which I went most frequently, and the persons I best knew at Paris, excepting my countrymen. . . . . Humboldt, I think, I saw, either by accident or otherwise, nearly every day, and of all the men I have known, he is, in some respects, the most remarkable; the man on whom talent and knowledge have produced their best and most generous effects. . . . .

The last day I was in Paris, Mad. de Broglie made a little dinner-party for me, to which she asked Humboldt, Forbin, De Pradt,7 Lafayette, and two or three other persons, whom I was very glad to see before leaving Paris. It happened too to be Monday night, and therefore I passed the remainder of the evening in her salon, upon which my latest recollections of Paris rest, for I left her hotel about one o'clock, and a very short time afterwards was on the road to Calais.8


The following anecdotes were written down later by Mr. Ticknor, and placed by him in the Journal according to the date:—

I have spoken of Prince Talleyrand, whom I saw occasionally in Paris this winter (1818-19), and of whom I have given my general impressions.9 But I met him twice, under circumstances which afforded me such intimations of his character, that I think it worth while to record them long afterwards, although I failed at the time to write out my notes, as I often did during my hurried life in Paris, at that period.

On both the occasions referred to, I met Mons. de Talleyrand at the hotel of the Duchess de Duras, to whom I was presented by a letter from the Duc Adrien de Montmorency Laval, French ambassador in Madrid, in such a way that, from the first, she received me with great kindness and permitted me to visit her familiarly. She received a great deal of company, but her favorite time for seeing her friends without ceremony was between four and six,—what she called ‘mes [259] petites cinq heures,’—the last thing, in fact, before dinner, when her reception-room was no longer the salon for formal morning calls, but a charming library, just lighted for the early darkness of the season. I went oftenest at this hour, and generally found one or two friends with her.

One evening, as I entered, I saw a single elderly gentleman standing with his back to the fire, dressed in a long gray surtout coat, buttoned quite up to his throat, and marked only with the red ribbon of the Legion of Honor, which ornamented the buttonholes of so many of the persons met in good society, that it constituted no distinction worth notice. He had on a heavy, high, white cravat, concealing a good deal of the lower part of his face, and his hair seemed brought down with powder and pomatum so as to hide his forehead and temples. In short, hardly anything of his features could be seen that it was easy to cover, and what I saw attracted at first little of my attention. He stood there kicking the fire-fender. I observed, however, that he was in earnest conversation with Mad. de Duras; that she called him ‘Mon Prince’; and that the tones of both of them, and especially those of the lady, were a little too eager to be entirely pleasant, though quite well bred.

I therefore took up a pamphlet and seemed to read; but I listened, as they were talking on a subject of political and legal notoriety, with which society and the journals were then ringing. It was, whether, under a phrase in the ‘Charte,’ or Constitution, ‘La religion Romaine Catholique est la religion de laEtat,’ Protestants were required on days of public religious ceremony, like the Procession of the Corpus Christi, to hang out tapestry before their houses, or give other outward signs of respectful observance. The more earnest Catholics maintained that they were so required; the Protestants denied it, and had just prevailed, on the highest appeal in the courts of law. Mad. de Duras was displeased with this decision, and was maintaining her point with not a little brilliancy; the gentleman in gray answering her with wit, but not as if he wanted to discuss the matter. But at last it seemed to me that he became a little piqued with some of her sharp sallies, and said, rather suddenly and in a different tone, ‘But do you know, Mad. de Duras, who advised’—I think he said ‘Beugnot’—‘to put those words into the Charte?’ ‘No, I do not,’ she replied, ‘but they are excellent words, whoever it was.’ ‘Eh bien,’ he retorted, instantly, ‘caetait moi.’ ‘I am glad,’ she replied, with equal promptness, and laughing, not altogether agreeably, ‘that you advised such good words, and I thank you for them.’ ‘But do you [260] know why I advised them?’ ‘No,’ she said, ‘but I am sure you can have had only a good reason for so good a thing.’ ‘Well,’ he continued, ‘I suggested those words because they did not mean anything at all,—parcequ'ils ne signifiaient rien du tout.’

Mad. de Duras replied with something approaching to asperity, and the conversation went on for some little time in this tone, until, finding it, I suppose, more agreeable to talk about something else, she turned to me in a rather decisive manner, and said, ‘You have no troubles of this sort in America; you have no state religion.’ I answered, without entering into the matter, that of course we had not; but the gentleman in gray—apparently as glad to change the subject as the lady was—immediately began to talk about the United States, and to ask questions. I had not the smallest suspicion who he might be, but I soon perceived that he had been himself in America. I therefore took the liberty to ask him what parts of the country he had visited. He told me that he had been in Philadelphia, in Washington's time; and on my soon replying that I was from Boston, he said that he had been there too, and praised America generally. Mad. de Duras here interrupted him by saying, ‘It was there I first saw you, when I was a little girl, my mother and I émigrees. We met you at a public ball in Philadelphia.’ ‘Oui,’ said the gentleman in gray, going right on with his own thoughts, ‘c'est un pays remarquable, mais leur luxe, leur luxe est affreux,’ comparing it, no doubt, with the tasteful and dainty luxury to which he had been accustomed in France, before he fled from the Revolution, and amidst which he had everywhere lived since his return.

I now became very curious to know who he was, and asked him what other parts of the United States he had visited. He told me he had been in New York, and that, at one time, he went as far east as Portland. I immediately suspected who he was, for I knew that M. de Talleyrand had been so far east, and no farther. I questioned him, therefore, about Boston. He seemed to have some recollection of it; said he knew a very intelligent family there, he did not remember their names, but there was a daughter in it whose name was ‘Barbe’ [Barbara], one of the handsomest creatures he ever saw. I knew in an instant that it was Barbara Higginson, whom I had known as Mrs. S. G. Perkins quite intimately, when she was the mother of half a dozen children; with whom I had crossed the Atlantic in 1815, and who had often told me of her acquaintance with Talleyrand, and that he talked English with her who knew no French at all, when he refused to talk it in society generally. But he no longer [261] cared anything about her or about anybody in Boston, except as a part of his own recollections and life.

In this way we continued to talk for some time, until, at last, Mad. de Duras turned and said, ‘Messieurs, you talk so much about individuals that I think you ought to know each other,’ and presented me without further words to Prince Talleyrand. Everything, of course, now became easy and simple. I asked him about the United States, concerning which I thought he did not like to talk, but he said, ‘There is a great deal to be learnt there, j'y ai appris assez, moimeme’; and then, turning to Mad. de Duras, he said, laughing, ‘If Dino [his nephew] would go there, he would learn more than he does every night at the opera.’ I asked him about Washington's appearance, and he spoke of him very respectfully but very coldly, which I easily accounted for, because it was well known that Washington had told Hamilton that he could not receive Talleyrand at his levees, and Pichon had told me, in 1817, that he knew Talleyrand had never forgiven it.10 But this naturally brought Hamilton into his thoughts, and of him he spoke willingly, freely, and with great admiration. In the course of his remarks, he said that he had known, during his life, many of the more marked men of his time, but that he had never, on the whole, known one equal to Hamilton. I was much surprised, as well as gratified, by the remark; but still feeling that, as an American, I was, in some sort, a party concerned by patriotism in the compliment, I answered,—with a little reserve, perhaps with a little modesty,— that the great military commanders and the great statesmen of Europe had dealt with much larger masses of men, and much wider interests than Hamilton ever had. ‘Mais, monsieur,’ the Prince instantly replied, ‘Hamilton avait devine l'europe.’ After this, he spoke almost inevitably of Burr, whom he had also known in America, but whom he did not rate, intellectually, so high as I think most persons who knew him have done. He said, that when Burr came to Europe, he wished to induce the French government to be concerned in a project for dismembering the United States, which he had earlier entertained. ‘But,’ Talleyrand said, ‘I would have nothing to do with him. I [262] hated the man who had murdered Hamilton.’ ‘Assassine’ was the word he used. This may have been his sole motive, though he had little influence, I suppose, at that time, and it is not very likely. But, at any rate, he suffered Burr to fall into poverty in Paris and come home a beggar, arriving at Boston, where he was relieved, but not visited, by Mr. Jonathan Mason.

The conversation now became very various and interesting, and was continued until near dinner-time. Among other things, Mad. de Duras gave an account of her own escape and her mother's from Bordeaux for the United States, amidst the terrors of the Revolution; and finding that I was acquainted with Captain Forbes, who had materially assisted them to get on board an American vessel in the night, she charged me with many messages for him, and subsequently added a note of acknowledgment, which I delivered to its address personally the following summer on Milton Hill. Captain Forbes told me that he had already received other acknowledgments from her and her mother; her father, General Kersaint, having perished by the guillotine in the days of Terror.

But, at last, it was time to go, and we went, the Prince first and I afterwards, not thinking to see him again. However, I did see him several times, but only once when the conversation was especially interesting, and this was again in the library of Mad. de Duras, the last time I saw her, and just as I was leaving Paris for London. It was at the moment when there had been for several days a ‘crise,’ as it was called, or a sort of suspension of efficiency in the government, from the resignation of the Duc de Richelieu, and the difficulty of arranging a new Ministry. I had not been in the room five minutes before I perceived that, like all the rest of the world, Prince Talleyrand and Mad. de Duras were talking about the anxieties of the time, and that the Viscount de Senonnes was there, listening. I joined Mons. de Senonnes, whom I knew very well, and we both said as nearly nothing as possible. Indeed, there was nothing for anybody else to say. The Prince had all the talk, or all but the whole of it, to himself, and he was much in earnest in what he said; willing, too, I suppose, that it should be heard and his opinions known. His view of things seemed the most sombre. Everything was threatening. No sufficient Ministry could be formed. The king had nobody to depend upon. In short, everything was as dark as possible. Mad. de Duras said very little. She was, as everybody knew, an important personage in the management of affairs at the Palace, and was now evidently made unhappy by the view the Prince gave of the immediate future, [263] which certainly was gloomy enough. At last he rose to go, but continued to talk in the same disagreeable strain as he moved very slowly towards the door; and then, at the instant he went out of the room, said, in a peculiar tone of voice, ‘Et, cependant, Madame de Duras, il y a un petit moyen, si l'on savait s'en servir,’11 and disappeared, waiting no reply. An awkward silence of a moment followed, and then, making sincerely grateful adieus and acknowledgments to Mad. de Duras, I followed him.

But I had not fairly got into my carriage, in the court-yard, before M. de Senonnes overtook me, and said that Mad. de Duras would be obliged to me if I would return to her for a moment in the library. Of course I went, and as soon as I had shut the door, she said, ‘You must be aware of the meaning of the extraordinary conversation you have just heard, and especially of the Prince's last words; and I hope you will do me the favor not to speak of it while you remain in France. As you are going away so soon, you will not, I trust, feel it much of a sacrifice.’ Of course I gave her the promise and kept it, although I should much have liked to tell the whole conversation at the De Broglies', where I dined with Humboldt, Lafayette, and De Pradt the same evening, and who would have enjoyed it prodigiously. But the first house at which I dined in England was Lord Holland's, where I met Tierney, Mackintosh, and some other of the leading Whigs, to whom I told it amidst great laughter. Two or three times afterwards, when I met Sir James Mackintosh, he spoke of Talleyrand, and always called him ‘le petit moyen.’


On the 18th of January, 1819, I came to London [from Ramsgate], by the way of Canterbury, getting thus a view of the agricultural prospects in the county of Kent, and struck for the third time with the bustle which, from so far, announces the traveller's approach to the largest and most active capital in Europe. . . . .

I went to see the kind and respectable Sir Joseph Banks several times, and renewed my acquaintance with the Marquess of Lansdowne, passed a night with my excellent friend Mr. Vaughan, etc. . . . . I found here, too, Count Funchal,. . . . and was very glad to know more of Count Palmella, whom I had known a little at the Marquis of Marialva's, and who is certainly an accomplished gentleman and [264] scholar, as well as a statesman.12 I have met few men in Europe who have so satisfied my expectations as this extraordinary young man, who, at the age of about thirty, has thus risen to the height of power, in one of the most despotic governments in the world, by the mere force of talent, without friends or intrigue. I dined with him twice, once quite alone, and was struck with his various, original, and graceful style of conversation. I have now become so weary with the perpetual change of acquaintance, that I generally seek, wherever I go, to make myself, as familiar as I can in one house, at the expense of all others. . . . . The one to which I went the most frequently in London, and where I spent a part of many evenings, was Lord Holland's,13 and certainly, for an elegant literary society, I have seen nothing better in Europe. Lord Holland himself is a good scholar, and a pleasant man in conversation; Sir James Mackintosh was staying in his house, Sydney Smith and Brougham came there very often, and Heber and Frere, Lord Lansdowne, Lord Lauderdale, Lord Auckland, Lord John Russell, etc., and I do not well know how dinners and evenings could be more pleasant. There was no alloy but Lady Holland, whom I did not like,. . . . but I should have been very foolish if I had suffered this to prevent my enjoyment, when to avoid it I had only to talk to some one else14 . Lord Holland is an open-hearted gentleman, kind, simple, and hospitable, a scholar with few prejudices, and making no pretensions, either on the score of his rank, his fortune, his family, his culture, or anything else. I never met a man who so disarms opposition in discussion, as I have often seen him, without yielding an iota, merely by the unpretending simplicity and sincerity of his manner. He is said to resemble Mr. Fox in his face, and certainly is like Mr. Fox's busts; but I should think there was more mildness in his physiognomy than I can find in Mr. Fox's portraits. [265]

Sir James Mackintosh is a little too precise, a little too much made up in his manners and conversation, but is at the same time very exact, definite, and logical in what he says, and, I am satisfied, seldom has occasion to regret a mistake or an error, where a matter of principle or reasoning is concerned, though, as he is a little given to affect universal learning, he may sometimes make a mistake in matters of fact. As a part of a considerable literary society, however, he discourses most eloquent music, and in private, where I also saw him several times, he is mild, gentle, and entertaining. But he is seen to greatest advantage, and in all his strength, only in serious discussion, to which he brings great disciplined acuteness and a fluent eloquence, which few may venture to oppose, and which still fewer can effectually resist.

Allen, who is a kind of secretary to Lord Holland, and has lived in his family many years, is a different man. He has a great deal of talent, and has written much and well, in the ‘Edinburgh Review’; he has strong feelings and great independence of character, which make him sometimes oppose and answer Lady Holland in a curious manner. He has many prejudices, most of them subdued with difficulty, by his weight of talent and his strong will, but many still remaining, and, finally, warm, sincere feelings, and an earnest desire to serve those he likes. Sir James Mackintosh said of him to me, that, considering the extent of his knowledge, he had never known anybody in whom it was so accurate and sure; and though there is something of the partiality of an old friendship in the remark, there is truth in it, as the ‘Review of Hallam's Middle Ages’ and many others will prove. Mr. Allen, however, was not a man to contribute a great deal to such general conversation as that at Lord Holland's. It was necessary to sit down alone with him in a corner, or on a sofa, and then his conversation was very various and powerful, and showed that he had thought deeply, and made up his mind decisively, upon a great many subjects.

Sydney Smith, who then happened to be in London, was in one respect the soul of the society. I never saw a man so formed to float down the stream of conversation, and, without seeming to have any direct influence upon it, to give it his own hue and charm. He is about fifty, corpulent, but not gross, with a great fund of good-nature, and would be thought by a person who saw him only once, and transiently, merely a gay, easy gentleman, careless of everything but the pleasures of conversation and society. This would be a great injustice to him, and one that offends him, I am told; for, notwithstanding [266] the easy grace and light playfulness of his wit, which comes forth with unexhausted and inexhaustible facility, and reminded me continually of the phosphoric brilliancy of the ocean, which sparkles more brightly in proportion as the force opposed to it is greater, yet he is a man of much culture, with plain good-sense, a sound, discreet judgment, and remarkably just and accurate habits of reasoning, and values himself upon these, as well as on his admirable humor. This is an union of opposite qualities, such as nature usually delights to hold asunder, and such as makes him, whether in company or alone, an irresistibly amusing companion; for, while his humor gives such grace to his argument that it comes with the charm of wit, and his wit is so appropriate that its sallies are often logic in masquerade, his good-sense and good-nature are so prevalent that he never, or rarely, offends against the proprieties of life or society, and never says anything that he or anybody else need to regret afterwards.

Brougham, whom I knew in society, and from seeing him both at his chambers and at my own lodgings, is now about thirty-eight, tall, thin, and rather awkward, with a plain and not very expressive countenance, and simple or even slovenly manners. He is evidently nervous, and a slight convulsive movement about the muscles of his lips gives him an unpleasant expression now and then. In short, all that is exterior in him, and all that goes to make up the first impression, is unfavorable. The first thing that removes this impression is the heartiness and good — will he shows you, whose motive cannot be mistaken, for such kindness can come only from the heart. This is the first thing, but a stranger presently begins to remark his conversation. On common topics, nobody is more commonplace. He does not feel them, but if the subject excites him, there is an air of originality in his remarks, which, if it convinces you of nothing else, convinces you that you are talking with an extraordinary man. He does not like to join in a general conversation, but prefers to talk apart with only two or three persons, and, though with great interest and zeal, in an undertone. If, however, he does launch into it, all the little, trim, gay pleasure-boats must keep well out of the way of his great black collier, as Gibbon said of Fox. He listens carefully and fairly—and with a kindness that would be provoking, if it were not genuine—to all his adversary has to say, but when his time comes to answer, it is with that bare, bold, bullion talent which either crushes itself or its opponent. . . . . Yet I suspect the impression Brougham generally leaves is that of a good-natured friend. At least, that is the impression I have most frequently found, both in England and on the Continent. [267]

Heber15 is an elegant gentleman, a kind of literary, amateur Maecenas, with a very fine and curious library; in short, a man in whom a gentlemanly air prevails, both in his manners, accomplishments, talents, and knowledge, all of which may be considered remarkable.

Frere is a slovenly fellow. His remarks on Homer, in the ‘Classical Journal,’ prove how fine a Greek scholar he is; his ‘Quarterly Reviews,’ how well he writes; his ‘Rovers, or The Double Arrangement,’ what humor he possesses; and the reputation he has left in Spain and Portugal, how much better he understood their literatures than they do themselves: while, at the same time, his books left in France, in Gallicia, at Lisbon, and two or three places in England; his manuscripts, neglected and lost to himself; his manners, lazy and careless; and his conversation, equally rich and negligent, show how little he cares about all that distinguishes him in the eyes of the world. He studies as a luxury, he writes as an amusement, and conversation is a kind of sensual enjoyment to him. If he had been born in Asia, he would have been the laziest man that ever lived. . . . .

There were of course more who came there, the Ordes, Bennett, Lord William Russell, etc., etc., besides Counts Palmella and Souza; but those I have described, and who were there often, constituted the proper society at Lord Holland's, and gave it that tone of culture, wit, and good talk without pretension, which make it, as an elegant society, the best I have seen in Europe. It was in this society I spent all the leisure time I had while I was in London.

Two days I passed very pleasantly at the Marquess of Salisbury's. He lives at Hatfield, Herts., in a fine establishment, once a residence of James I., and built by him; though a part of it is older, and contains the room where Elizabeth was imprisoned by her sister Mary, and wrote the verses that still remain to us. It is surrounded by a large park, full of venerable oaks, and is a kind of old baronial seat, which well suits with the species of hospitality exercised there. The long gallery is a grand, solemn hall, which, with its ornaments, carries the imagination at once back to the period when it was built; and King James's room, an enormous saloon, fitted up with grave magnificence, is said to be one of the most remarkable rooms in England. . . . . I arrived late in the afternoon,. . . . and, while I was dressing, a large party of gentlemen that had been out hunting passed under my windows, on their return to the hall, with all the uproar and exultation of success. . . . . [268]

We sat down to dinner about thirty strong. The conversation was chiefly political and high ministerial, but the young gentlemen talked a good deal about the day's sport, which, just at this moment, when the shooting season is closing, is a matter of importance. . . . . As we returned to the saloon, we found a band of music playing in the long gallery, which we were obliged to traverse in its whole length. After coffee and tea had been served, the party was a little increased by visitors from the neighborhood, and for those who were disposed to dance there was the long gallery and music, but no ceremony. . . . .

The marquess is seventy years old,16 but well preserved, and a specimen of the gentlemen of the last generation, with elegant, easy manners, and a proud, graceful courtesy. Lady Salisbury is but little younger, yet able to ride on horseback every day, and even to join occasionally in the chase. . . . . I became, of course, acquainted with most of the persons there; but those that interested and pleased me most were the Marchioness of Downshire and her two daughters, the Ladies Hill, beautiful girls and much accomplished, with whom I danced all the evening. I know not when I have enjoyed myself in the same way so much and so simply. . . . .

[The next morning] Lord Cranbourne17 took me out and showed me the antiquities of the house and the beauties of the place. We rode about the fine park, stopped a little to see a shooting battue that was going on, went over the farming arrangements, etc., all marked with that extensive completeness and finish which it is seldom wrong to presuppose when an English nobleman's seat is concerned. . . . .

On returning to the saloon [after dinner of the second day], we found that a great deal of company had come, and in the course of an hour, the nobility and gentry of the county were collected there. It was, in fact, an annual ball that Lady Salisbury, who loves old fashions, gives every winter, in compliance with ancient usage, to the respectable families in the county, besides being at home, as it is called, one evening in every week to any who are disposed to come and dance without show or ceremony. . . . . The evening to me was delightful. I liked this sort of hospitality, which is made to embrace a whole county. The next morning I came back to London,. . . . and the following day early set off for the North.

I went, however, at first, no farther than Bedfordshire, where I passed three days at the splendid seat of the Duke of Bedford. The entrance to Woburn Abbey is by a Roman gateway opening into the [269] park, through which you are conducted, by an avenue of venerable elms, through fine varieties of hill and dale, woodland and pasture, and by the side of streamlets and little lakes, above three miles. . . . . I arrived late in the afternoon. . . . . At half past 6 Lord John Russell, who had just returned from shooting, made me a visit, and carried me to the saloon and introduced me to his father and family. I was received with an English welcome, and a few minutes afterwards we sat down to table. There were about twenty guests at the Abbey, the Marquess and Marchioness of Woodstock, Earl and Countess Jersey, Earl Spencer,18 Marquess Tavistock, Lord and Lady Ebrington, Lord and Lady William Russell, Mr. Adair, etc. The dinner was pleasant,—at least it was so to me,—for I conversed the whole time with Mr. Adair,19 formerly the British Minister at Vienna, and a man of much culture, and Lady Jersey, a beautiful creature with a great deal of talent, taste, and elegant knowledge, whom I knew a little on the Continent. . . . .

In the evening the party returned to the great saloon, called the Hall of State, and every one amused himself as he chose, either at cards, in listening to music, or in conversation, though several deserted to the billiard-room. For myself, I found amusement enough in talking with Lady Jersey, or Lord John Russell, or the old and excellent Earl Spencer, but I think the majority was rather captivated with Lady Ebrington's music. . . . .

The next morning, at ten o'clock, found us mustered in the breakfast-room. It was a day of no common import at a nobleman's countryseat, for it was the last of the shooting season. The Duke was anxious to have a quantity of game killed that should maintain the reputation of the Abbey, for the first sporting-ground in Great Britain; and therefore solemn preparations were made to have a grand battue of the park, for it was intended, in order to give more reputation to the day's success, that nothing should be shot out of it; nor, indeed, was there any great need of extending the limit, for the park is twelve miles in circumference. Mr. Adair, Lord John, and myself declined, as no sportsmen, and so the number was reduced to eleven, of whom seven were excellent shots. The first gun was fired a little before twelve, the last at half past 5; and when, after the dinner-cloth was removed in the evening, the game-keeper appeared, dressed in all his paraphernalia, and rendered in his account, it was found that four hundred and four hares, partridges, and pheasants had been killed, of which more [270] than half were pheasants. The person who killed the most was Lord Spencer, though the oldest man there. This success, of course, gave great spirits to the party at dinner, a good deal of wine was consumed, —though nobody showed any disposition to drink to excess,—and the evening passed off very pleasantly. It was certainly as splendid a specimen as I could have hoped to see, of what is to be considered peculiarly English in the life of a British nobleman of the first class at his country-seat. I enjoyed it highly.

The next day was much more quiet. Several of the party went to town, and, though Lord Auckland and one or two others came down to the Abbey, the number was seriously diminished. I had the more time and opportunity to see the establishment and become acquainted with its inhabitants. Considered as a whole, Woburn Abbey is sometimes called the finest estate in England. As I went over it, I thought I should never find an end to all its arrangements and divisions. Within—besides the mere house, which is the largest and most splendid I have seen—is the picture-gallery, containing about two hundred pieces, many of which, of the Spanish and Italian schools, are of great merit; and the library, which is a magnificent collection of splendid books, composed of beautiful editions of the best authors, in all languages, besides a mass of engravings and maps. I could have occupied myself in these apartments for a month. Outside, there are the aviary, fish-ponds, greenhouses, the gardens, tennis-court, riding-school, etc., and a gallery containing a few antiques that are curious, especially the immense Lanti vase, which has been much talked about, and well deserves it. . . . .

The Duke of Bedford is now about fifty-five, a plain, unpretending man in his manner, reserved in society, but talking well when alone, and respectable in debate in the House of Peers; a great admirer of the fine arts, which he patronizes liberally; and, finally, one of the best farmers in England, and one of those who have most improved the condition of their estates by scientific and careful cultivation. . . . . Lord John is a young man of a good deal of literary knowledge and taste, from whose acquaintance I have had much pleasure.20

On the 4th February I left the hospitality, kindness, and quiet enjoyment of Woburn Abbey, and went over to Cambridge. . . . . Of the society at Cambridge I had a pretty fair specimen, I imagine, though I passed only three days there. The first afternoon, on my arrival, I went to young Craufurd's, son of Sir James, whom I knew in Italy last winter. He had just taken his degree, and is to receive a fellowship [271] at King's in a few days, so that he is rather more than a fair specimen of their manners and learning. I dined with him in their hall, and passed the evening with him at his room, in one of those little parties the young men make up, to drink wine and have a dessert after dinner. Those I met with him were clearly above the common level, as I knew he himself was; but still, admitting them to be among the best, I was struck with the good tone that prevailed among them, their sensible and sometimes acute conversation, and their easy, gentlemanly manners. I must, too, add, that, although I saw others of his acquaintance at breakfast the next morning, and occasionally met students elsewhere, I did not find any material difference. . . . .

The second day I was in Cambridge I passed entirely with Professor Monk,21 who went round with me all the morning, to show me the buildings and curiosities of the place. . . . . There was much pleasure in this, and I was rather sorry when dinner-time came, which is a pretty formidable thing in Cambridge. I dined to-day in the great dinner-hall of Trinity, with Professor Monk and the Fellows and Professors attached to that college. We were at a separate table with the Gentlemen Commoners, and fared very well. The mass of students was below, and a slight distinction was made in their food. I met here the Vice-Master, Renouard, Sedgwick, Judgson; the Dean, Dobree, Monk's rival in Greek; and, after dinner, went to the Combination Room, where much wine was drunk, much talk carried on. The tone of this society was certainly stiff and pedantic, and a good deal of little jealousy was apparent, in the manner in which they spoke of persons with whom they or their college or their university had come into collision. . . . . I ought to add, that we passed the evening at Mr. Sedgwick's rooms, where there were only a few persons from several different colleges, among whom better manners and a finer tact in conversation prevailed. . . . .

Herbert Marsh and Dr. Clarke were not in Cambridge. One person, however, I knew there, who was both a scholar and an accomplished gentleman, Dr. Davy, Master of Caius, to whom Lord Holland gave me letters, and from whom I received a great deal of kindness. I breakfasted with him alone, and enjoyed the variety of his conversation, always nourished with good learning, but never hardened with pedantry. . . . In the afternoon he carried me to dine with a club which originated in attachment to the fallen Stuarts, and was therefore called ‘The Family,’ but has long since become a mere dinner-party every fortnight. Six of the fourteen Masters were there, Smyth, [272] the Professor of Modern History, and two or three other professors. I was amused with the severity of their adherence to ancient customs and manners, and was somewhat surprised to find pipes introduced after dinner, not so much because smoking was liked, as because it was ancient in the usages of the club. . . .

My journey to the North was a journey of speed, and, of course, I saw little and enjoyed less. . . . . Two or three points and moments, however, I shall not easily forget. The first was York. I arrived there on Sunday morning, and remained until the next day, but I passed the greater part of my time in its grand Gothic cathedral. It is one of those great monuments of the ponderous power of the clergy of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries which are scattered all over Europe, and whose unfinished magnificence shows how suddenly this power was broken up. York is as grand and imposing as almost any of them, I think, unless it be that at Seville, where there is a solemn harmony between the dim light that struggles through its storied windows, the dark, threatening masses of the pile itself, the imposing power of the paintings,. . . . and the deep, wailing echoes of that worship which is to be found and felt, in all its original dignity and power, only beyond the Pyrenees. . . . Excepting that, I know nothing that goes before York. . . . .

The next point that surprised me was Newcastle. I merely passed the night there,. . . . but the appearance of the country about it was extraordinary. At the side of every coal-pit a quantity of the finer parts that are thrown out is perpetually burning, and the effect produced by the earth, thus apparently everywhere on fire, both on the machinery used and the men busied with it, was horrible. It seemed as if I were in Dante's shadowy world. . . . .

1 Of the death of his brother-in-law, Mr. Woodward, and of his mother's indisposition.

2 Queen Charlotte, wife of George III.

3 Summary such as he made at the end of his visits in other cities.

4 The Duchess de Duras published two graceful stories, ‘Ourika,’ and ‘Edouard,’ and printed for private distribution a collection of prayers and devout meditations.

5 This paragraph was written out later by Mr. Ticknor, and added to the Journal.

6 Later, Princess Borghese.

7 The Abbe de Pradt, who, as Mr. Ticknor elsewhere says, ‘of all others in French society, is said to have the most esprit in conversation.’

8 Among the smaller souvenirs of this visit in Paris are notes from the Duc de Broglie and from Humboldt to Mr. Ticknor, which have a pleasant flavor and hints of character. M. de Broglie says—

Je suis au desespoir, mon cher federaliste, de vous avoir encore une fois manque de parole. Ce n'est pas ma faute. J'ai éte ce matin, visiter une prison hors de Paris; je comptais être revenu á temps; et les heures nous ont gagnes au point, que j'arrive en ce moment. Venez nous voir ce soir. Nous reprendrons jour et heure. Ne soyez pas trop en colere. Tout à vous.

V. Broglie. 5h. 1/2

M. de Humboldt writes thus:—

Je vais reiterer une demande bien indiscrete, monsieur. Jaetais venu ce matin vous offrir mes amities, et vous prier, de vouloir bien vous charger de quelques feuilles imprimees, pour la maison de Sir Joseph Banks. Le celebre botaniste M. Brown, qui a éte a la Nouvelle Hollande, et qui est le Bibliothecaire de Mr. Banks, me demande avec instance, le 4me volume de mes Nova Genera Plantarum, qui renferme les Composees que nous avons decouvertes, M. Bonpland et moi, et que Mr. Kunth a decrites. Je vous supplie en grace de me renvoyer le pacquet, si vous le trouvez trop volumineux. Mille tendres amities.

J'espere vous voir ce soir, chez le D. de Broglie. Veuillez bien en tout cas, me marquer en deux lignes si vous pouvez vous charger du paquet.

9 The passage in which Mr. Ticknor had already given his impression of Talleyrand is this: ‘His recollection of all he had seen and of all the persons he had known in America seemed as distinct as if he had left the country only a few days since; and he spoke of them with a fresh and living interest that continually surprised me. I remarked, however, that if I spoke, in reply to him, of anything that had happened since to those persons, or of any change in the circumstances that were still so familiar to his thoughts, it made not the slightest impression upon him. It was only his own recollections that interested him, and the persons he had known then occupied him only as a part of himself, so that it was indifferent to him whether they were now dead or alive.’

10 Among the Writings of Washington, published in 1838, by Jared Sparks, appears (Vol. X. p. 411) a letter to Alexander Hamilton, dated May 6, 1794, and marked Private, in which the President gives his reasons for not receiving M. Talleyrand-Perigord; and in an accompanying foot-note a letter is given from Lord Lansdowne, introducing Talleyrand to General Washington. The autograph letter of Washington to Hamilton came into Mr. Ticknor's possession through Mr. Sparks.

11 ‘And yet, Madame de Duras, there is a small resource, if they knew how to make use of it.’

12 See ante, pp. 180 and 248. Palmella had been Portuguese plenipotentiary at the Congress of Vienna, and afterwards held other high offices.

13 Then living in St. James's Square.

14 Lady Holland was polite and even kind in after years to Mr. Ticknor, who used to attribute it to a little passage of arms that once occurred between them. She characteristically remarked to him, that she believed New England was originally colonized by convicts, sent over from the mother country. Mr. Ticknor replied that he was not aware of it, but said he knew that some of the Vassall family—ancestors of Lady Holland—had settled early in Massachusetts, where a house built by one of them was standing in Cambridge, and a marble monument to a member of the family was to be seen in King's Chapel, Boston. Lady Holland was, for a moment, surprised into silence; then questioned him about the monument, and asked him to send her a drawing of it, which he did.

15 Richard Heber.

16 First Marquess of Salisbury, died in 1823.

17 Eldest son of Lord Salisbury.

18 Second Earl Spencer.

19 Afterwards the Right Honorable Sir Robert Adair.

20 They had met in Italy. See ante, p. 166.

21 Greek professor, afterwards Bishop of Gloucester.

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