previous next

Chapter 15:

During his absence from home, Mr. Ticknor received many letters and notes from persons eminent on both sides of the ocean, and a few of these present themselves as a supplement to his own account of his experiences. They serve not only to show the impression he made, but to suggest traits of character exhibited in his relations with others, which are not so well brought forward in any other way. The allusions to conversations, and to points of sympathy or difference between him and his correspondents, add touches to the picture that would otherwise be lost. The first, in date, are letters from Mr. Jefferson, who seems to have formed quite an affection for the young Federalist from New England, who visited him early in 1815. These are only specimens, out of many letters written by the Ex-President to Mr. Ticknor.

Those from the Duke de Laval, from Cesare Balbo, Madame de Broglie, and Auguste de Stael are interesting in themselves, and full of vivacity; and they bear still more the marks of that individuality, on both sides, which creates the living element in any correspondence that is worth preserving. These friendships overmastered time and separation, as will be seen in later portions of these volumes.

From Mr. Jefferson.

Poplar Forest, near Lynchburg, November 25, 1817.
dear Sir: Your favor of August 14 was delivered to me as I was setting out for the distant possession from which I now write, and to which I pay frequent and long visits. On my arrival here, I make it my first duty to write the letter you request to Mr. Erving, [301] and to enclose it in this, under cover to your father, that you may get it in time. My letters are always letters of thanks, because you are always furnishing occasion for them. I am very glad you have been so kind as to make the alteration you mention in the Herodotus and Livy I had asked from the Messrs. Desbures. I have not yet heard from them, but daily expect to do so, and to learn the arrival of my books. I shall probably send them another catalogue early in spring; every supply from them furnishing additional materials for my happiness.

I had before heard of the military ingredients which Bonaparte had infused into all the schools of France, but have never so well understood them as from your letter. The penance he is now doing for all his atrocities must be soothing to every virtuous heart. It proves that we have a God in heaven, that he is just, and not careless of what passes in this world; and we cannot but wish, to this inhuman wretch, a long, long life, that time, as well as intensity, may fill up his sufferings to the measure of his enormities. But, indeed, what sufferings can atone for his crimes against the liberties and happiness of the human race; for the miseries he has already inflicted on his own generation, and on those yet to come, on whom he has riveted the chains of despotism!

I am now entirely absorbed in endeavors to effect the establishment of a general system of education in my native State, on the triple basis: 1. of elementary schools which shall give to the children of every citizen, gratis, competent instruction in reading, writing, common arithmetic, and general geography; 2. Collegiate institutions for ancient and modern languages, for higher instruction in arithmetic, geography, and history, placing, for these purposes, a college within a day's ride of every inhabitant of the State, and adding a provision for the full education, at the public expense, of select subjects from among the children of the poor, who shall have exhibited at the elementary schools the most prominent indications of aptness, of judgment, and correct disposition; 3. A university, in which all the branches of science deemed useful at this day, shall be taught in their highest degree. This would probably require ten or twelve professors, for most of whom we shall be obliged to apply to Europe, and most likely to Edinburgh, because of the greater advantage the students will receive from communications made in their native language. This last establishment will probably be within a mile of Charlottesville, and four from Monticello, if the system should be adopted at all by our Legislature, who meet within a week from this time. My [302] hopes, however, are kept in check by the ordinary character of our State legislatures, the members of which do not generally possess information enough to perceive the important truths, that knowledge is power, that knowledge is safety, and that knowledge is happiness. In the mean time, and in case of failure of the broader plan, we are establishing a college of general science at the same situation near Charlottesville, the scale of which, of necessity, will be much more moderate, as resting on private donations only. These amount at present to about 75,000 dollars; the buildings are begun, and by midsummer we hope to have two or three professorships in operation. Would to God we could have two or three duplicates of yourself, the original being above our means or hopes. If then we fail in doing all the good we wish, we will do, at least, all we can. This is the law of duty in every society of free agents, where every one has equal right to judge for himself. God bless you, and give to the means of benefiting mankind which you will bring home with you, all the success your high qualifications ought to insure.

From Mr. Jefferson.

Monticello, October 25, 1818.
dear Sir: I received, two days ago, your favor of August 10, from Madrid, and sincerely regret that my letter to Cardinal Dugnani did not reach you at Rome.1 It would have introduced you to a circle worth studying as a variety in the human character. I am happy, however, to learn that your peregrinations through Europe have been [303] successful as to the object to which they were directed. You will come home fraught with great means of promoting the science, and consequently the happiness of your country; the only obstacle to which will be, that your circumstances will not compel you to sacrifice your own ease to the good of others. Many are the places which would court your choice; and none more fervently than the college I have heretofore mentioned to you, now expected to be adopted by the State and liberally endowed under the name of ‘the University of Virginia.’ . . . . I pass over our professorship of Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, and that of modern languages, French, Italian, Spanish, German, and Anglo-Saxon, which, although the most lucrative, would be the most laborious, and notice that which you would splendidly fill, of Ideology, Ethics, Belles-Lettres, and Fine Arts. I have some belief, too, that our genial climate would be more friendly to your constitution than the rigors of that of Massachusetts; but all this may possibly yield to the hoc coelum, sub quo natus educatusque essem. I have indulged in this reverie the more credulously, because you say in your letter that ‘if there were a department in the central government that was devoted to public instruction, I might have sought a place in it; but there is none, there is none even in my State government.’ Such an institution of the general government cannot be, until an amendment of the Constitution, and for that, and the necessary laws and measures of execution, long years must pass away. In the mean while we consider the institution of our University as supplying its place, and perhaps superseding its necessity.

With stronger wishes than expectations, therefore, I will wait to hear from you, as our buildings will not be ready under a year from this time; and to the affectionate recollections of our family, add assurances of my constant and sincere attachment.

From the Duke de Laval.

Madrid, 18 Novembre, 1818.
2Je redponds à votre tres aimable lettre, de la fin d'octobre de Lisbonne; et, suivant vos instructions, mon cher Ticknor, je vais envoyer ce paquet à votre ministre, qui renfermera mes petites lettres de recommendation. Nous nous sommes fort divertis ici, aux - [304] depens de la police du Royaume, de votre expedient, en vous placant sous la protection des contrebandiers, pour arriver sain et sauf à Lisbonne. Vos amis regrettent, et moi, plus que tous les autres, que ces brigandages des grands chemins, vous aient fait prendre la sage resolution de vous embarquer. Caetait un projet bien amical, de venir me donner à la Calle de la Reyna, un dernier shake-hand, avant votre grand depart, pro aris et focis. Il m'est agreable de penser, je vous assure, que j'ai en vous un jeune ami, dont le souvenir ne me manquera jamais, dans les deux hemispheres.

Je vous assure aussi, que, si jamais j'ai besoin d'un change d'asyle, j'irai le chercher à Boston, et non dans la province et les deserts de Texas. J'ai la conviction, que j'y trouverais des hotes con corazon limpio y blando.

Quand vous verrez, à Paris, mes parents et amis, vous leur parlerez de moi, et de notre exaltation commune, pour la poesie dramatique Espagnole. Mathieu,3 la Duchesse de Duras, Mad. Recamier, vous [305] entendront fort bien. Montrez au premier, ces petites pages que nous avons écrites sur ce sujet, en nous separant.4

Vous arrivez á laepoque la plus critique de nos discussions parlementaires: en dehors du cercle de ces interets, vous jugerez sainement, avec un esprit degage de l'influence des partis. Mandez moi vos jugements, vos presages, et vos relations de societe.

Adieu, mon jeune ami. Je vous envoie tous les sentiments, et les benedictions de l'amitie.

M. L.

Mon cousin se chargera de vous introduire pres de M. de Chateaubriand, à qui vous offrirez tous mes souvenirs. Lui et Benjamin Constant, places aux deux extremites de la ligne, combattent avec une égale ardeur, et de grands talents.

From the Duke de Laval.

Madrid, 18 Janvier, 1819.
5Vous ne doutez pas plus, de l'interet que m'a inspire votre lettre, du 18 Decembre, de Paris, que de la constance de mon amitie, mon cher Ticknor. J'ai éte charm d'apprendre la rapidite de votre voyage, et tout le succes de votre expedition.

Comme vous êtes encore dans le cas qu'on vous applique cette hemistiche à Enee: Vastum marts oequor arandum, votre derniere navigation, vous donnera courage pour retourner home.

Tout ce que vous m'avez mande, de vos premiers apercus à Paris, sont deja de vieilles reflexions pour l'histoire; et le theatre est deja bien change; c'est un autre probleme sous vos yeux. Shakespeare dit, que l'on joue toujours la meme piece; et qu'il n'y a que les acteurs qui varient. Vous, qui naetes pas dans le cercle de ces interets, [306] vous pouvez contempler toutes ces choses en Philosophe, et les traiter de tragedie, ou de Saynete à votre fantaisie, suivant le prisme ou vous les considered. Votre amitie, qui a, sans doute, aussi bonne memoire que votre esprit, me donnera de nouveaux jugements. On ne juge jamais mieux, que quand on peut se placer sur la hauteur de l'impartialite. Vous voyez, vous frequentez, des personnages tres influents au centre, et dans les deux extremites. Ici, toutes nos habitudes de gaite, nos distractions, sont converties dans la plus morne tristesse. Nous sommes couverts de crepes noires; et nous n'avons plus pour nous distraire, qu'un tour de galop, habituellement dans la jolie prairie sur les bords du Mancaneres, avec Lady Georgina,6 qui est parfaitement aimable. c'est la, ou nous avons chevauche si souvent ensemble, estando in diversos praticos, ou vous avez toujours revele votre excellent naturel, avec votre vaste érudition.

II semble que notre Cesar7 a renonce à cet exercice. Depuis qu'il est encorgado de negocios, il est devenu trop grave pour nous. Je sympathisais davantage avec la douceur de votre caractere, et de votre singuliere modestie.

Mm. de l'ambassade, vous offrent milles compliments, et moi, je vous prie d'offrir un ancien hommage hereditaire, à; la jolie Duchesse [307] de Broglie, que je crois aujourd'hui bien dedaignante pour mon souvenir.

Conservez moi la fidelite de votre amitie, et de votre devise, Coelum non animum, et agreez l'assurance, de mes tendres sentiments.

M. L.


Count Cesare Balbo, the writer of the following letters, whose character and talents had attached and interested Mr. Ticknor,9 had been already, in early youth, during Napoleon's government of Italy, put forward in public affairs, and had shown great precocity and ability. He afterwards passed through severe trials, both public and private, suffering much from the weakness and injustice of the princes of his native country. Nevertheless, when in 1847 the goal of his desires for the independence and unity of Italy seemed for a moment almost within reach, he threw himself into the forefront of the conflict, served Charles Albert faithfully as his Prime Minister, sent five sons to the army,—where one of them was killed in battle,—and proved, by his Whole course of action, the sincerity and disinterestedness of the political views he had always urged upon his countrymen.

During a period of forced inaction, in middle life, he devoted himself to literature, and is widely known by his ‘Vita di Dante,’ as well as by his ‘Speranze d'italia,’ and other political writings. He was born in 1789 and died in 1853, leaving a name honored throughout Italy, and distinguished in the cultivated circles of all Europe. Though his correspondence with Mr. Ticknor ceased before very long, yet their affection for each other did not diminish, and in 1836 they met like brothers, and were much together in Turin, and in Paris two years later.

From Count Cesare Balbo.

Madrid, 12 October, 1818.
10To-day, before the time, on Monday morning, I receive your [308] letter from Gibraltar, and I thank Heaven, this time, that I am not capable of controlling my occupations and my hours as you do, otherwise I should be forced to wait seven days for a pleasure which I do not wish to defer a moment,—that of answering you. I never made fine phrases to you, of friendship and eternal devotion; indeed, it pleased me that you made none to me; it pleased me that you were in haste to go from here, to return to your country, and to your true and early friends. Nevertheless, the inhuman pride which you attribute to me does not prevent me from saying, first,—or even I alone,—that excepting, on my part also, the friends of early youth with whom I count on passing my latest age, I have never met nor known any one with whom I so desire a reciprocal correspondence of friendship as with you. Poor correspondence it will be, continued hereafter only by letters and by some casual meeting; but if you continue to write to me often, as you have written, and to remember me on many Sundays in the year, I shall place your friendly remembrance among the best and the rare pleasures of my life. Certain it is, that I have had few like that of receiving this letter, since the day of your departure.

Twenty-four hours after that, precisely, we received the long-expected and desired news of the change of my father's destination. He is recalled, made Minister of State, and Capo del Magistrato della Riforma, a title which you will not understand, and which means Chief of the Department of Instruction. It is an honorable, tranquil post, important to the well-being of our country; my father is much satisfied.

I am left, as I foresaw, until some one can be found who knows so little of this country that he desires to come here; and it might be long, I think; but I shall do what I can, assuredly, that this exile may not last much longer. But my father, who was called to come in all haste, has not been able to leave yet; he will not leave before the last days of this month; he will not arrive before the last of the next; he will not speak of me before the beginning of the following; they will give no thought to my affairs before the end; and, in short, before the month of February or March I do not hope for that liberty which I would so gladly employ in making the trip to England with you. Judge for yourself, then, of the pleasure I take in the hope you give me of your passing again through Madrid. I no longer hope, I say, that I can accompany you, but I cling to the hope—indeed I feel it more sure than ever—that I may join you in England. Would to God that of these meetings, although short, I might hope for many; [309] that such a sea might not divide us, or that you should consent to the wishes of your father; but I must perforce admit that you are right in not desiring this our trade, more infernal—whatever you may say —than the five hundred mouths of fire at Gibraltar. You have always seen in me this same love of the diplomacy; but since your departure I have had new reasons for abhorring it. . . . . You may judge, then, if I was pleased by the news you gave me of the arrival of the Countess di Teba. I do not say, have not said, and will not say, that she is a mere pretty Andalusian woman; willingly, and exactly as you yourself regarded her, the most interesting Spanish Lady. Therefore we shall not be able to dispute this time . . . .

Addio, caro; I conclude, without beginning to discourse of ambition, and of Machiavelli, because if I should throw myself into that, I should do nothing else all day. Love me as much as is possible far away, writing to me as often as you can, and believe me your friend,

ces. Balbo.

I open this again to quote to you a scrap of the author whom you love above every other, which, having fallen upon it by chance, seems to me capable of serving me, by way of answer, applying it to myself. You see that he begins, ‘Fling away ambition,’ and ends with ‘Serve the King.’ This is just what you will not understand, and what I believe practicable, and mean to do. The two and a half penultimate lines, chiefly, contain all my ambition, all my morality, all my politics. I did not remember them, but henceforward they will be among the very few I carry in my mind:—

I charge thee, fling away ambition;
By that sin fell the angels; how can man then,
The image of his Maker, hope to win by 't?
Love thyself last: cherish even hearts that hate thee;
Corruption wins not more than honesty.
Still in thy right hand carry gentle peace,
To silence envious tongues. Be just, and fear not:
Let all the ends thou aim'st at be thy country's,
Thy God's, and truth's; then if thou fall'st,
Thou fall'st a blessed martyr. Serve the King.

From Count Cesare Balbo.

Madrid, 15 April, 1819.
11Yesterday evening I was told, by the Duc de Laval, of your affliction, my friend. For a long time I have wished to write to you, [310] for a long time I have delayed, for reasons I will tell you later; but there is no reason, and no business, which shall delay me longer, when I know you are unhappy, and that in your grief you doubt those whom you have inspired with a real friendship for you. I know by experience what it is to lose the person most dear to us, and on whom rested our hope of love, of comfort, and companionship for the whole of life; and I know, moreover, that under such misfortunes we easily suspect all our friends of forgetting us. You have, assuredly, at home, many persons who will be comforters to you, and who will prove their friendship for you. But I should like to prove to you that, excepting the friends of your childhood, you have none on whom you ought to count more than on me. I except those, because you, in talking with me, have several times excepted them, and, as it were, placed them out of the range of comparison with any friendship formed by you in Europe; but it seemed to me, even then, that, among these, you made some account of mine. I, on my part, can assure you, with sincerity, that not only for many years, but for all the years which I distinctly remember, I have never known any man whom I love so much, or by whom I so much desire to be loved, as by you. Such declarations would be needless, were it not that I know myself to be guilty of a long silence with you; and that I should be truly unhappy if, in your present circumstances, you should interpret this silence as a proof of forgetfulness. Now I will tell you, not as apology, how I have been prevented so long from writing to you. . . . .

And now we are inevitably separated; and perhaps at this moment you are at sea, approaching another continent. And now, my friend, is the time to make firmer and closer the relations between us. And, if you are not unwilling, it seems to me these may be truly called friendship; for even without being able to gather from them the fruit that is commonly gathered, when one lives near the other, it yet appears to me that, whether near or far, if there is true esteem,—conformity, in a great degree, of opinion,—affection,—desire of being useful to one another, and to exchange mutual information of all that happens to each,--there is true friendship. All this exists on my side, and I assure you of it, fully and sincerely. In you I believe it did exist, and I hope that this my silence for some months past has not deprived me of the friendship you had for me, especially now when you know how it has come to pass that I have delayed writing to you as I wished to do, least of all when I add that I have just passed, in point of health, inward tranquillity, and satisfaction with myself, the worst six months which have fallen to my lot for many years. . . . . [311]

I must tell you that, forced by the diplomatic caution, and the vice of unpunctuality of the Duc de Laval, to give up the rides we used to take with him, I still find, in all other things, that it is difficult to meet a better man, in any class, or in any business, least of all in the business which is his, and mine. We have, therefore, remained quite intimate in our relations, in which I find no other defect in him than that of his want of confidence, for I am not so miserly of mine towards him, but give him, without claim of restitution, whatever I can give him.

Addio, dear Ticknor; be assured that the time we have passed together will always dwell in my memory, and that I cannot fail, in consequence, to take a most lively interest in whatever occurs to you after your present affliction. Write to me, I beg, very soon; and if you do not dislike it, let us agree upon a correspondence, not regular but continuous, to take the place between us of that affectionate companionship which I should so much like to have with you. But cannot you, some day, come back to see Europe and Italy once more? Addio.

In a letter from the Duchesse de Broglie, answering one from Mr. Ticknor written when he was in England in February, 1819, she says:—

12Je vous assure que je regrette beaucoup vos petites visites, à cinq heures. Je suis fachee d'avoir concu tant d'affection pour un sauvage de l'orinoque, qui ne nous rejoindra peut-être jamais. Qui sait si les revolutions ne nous ameneront pas dans votre tranquille et beau pays. Je ne vous parlerai pas de notre politique, que vous dedaignez, je vous dirai pourtant, que nous avons de la peine à faire avancer la liberty, quoiqu'avec un Ministere à bonnes intentions. Il rencontre des difficultes portant en haut et en bas, et il n'a pas beaucoup de force pour les vaincre. Vous avez tort de mepriser les efforts d'une nation pour être libre. Toutes les creatures de Dieu sont faites pour une noble [312] destinee, et vous n'avez pas le droit de nous regarder comme des êtres inferieurs. En voila assez la — dessus. Vos amis les Ultras sont toujours en colere, et nous detestent beaucoup. Il y a eu quantite de duels. Ce qui est horrible, les querelles politiques deviennent des querelles privees. Cela naegaye pas Paris. Le reste est toujours de meme, les salons comme vous les avez vu, beaucoup de vanite, peu d'affection.

Victor, Auguste, Mlle. Randall,13 tout cela pense a vous. Vous nous avez tous gagne le coeur. Je ne sais pas si vous avez assez de vanite pour être content du succes general que vous avez eu ici. Au reste, vous avez plus d'orgueil que de vanite, comme nous avons dit.

N'oubliez pas mes livres americains. Parlez moi un peu de laetat religieux de l'ecosse, et de l'angleterre. Vous savez que ce sujet m'interesse. Mais, je vous promets de ne pas y meler du mystere. Dites moi aussi, si l'on vous parle de l'ouvrage de ma mere.

The brother of Madame de Broglie, Auguste de Stael, a young man of distinguished ability, and of a singularly pure and elevated character, was one of those who, like Cesare Balbo, formed a warm and lasting friendship for Mr. Ticknor. An early death cut short the high career of the Baron de Stael, and caused a loss both to friendship and to letters, which Mr. Ticknor always continued to regret.

In concluding a short note, dated March 17, 1819, M. de Stael says:— [313]

Laissez moi esperer, que j'aurai encore quelques lignes de vous, avant de passer l'atlantique; et que vous n'oublierez pas des amis, qui vous sont bien tendrement attaches.

In 1825 the following interesting letter came from him, written in English, so nearly perfect that it is given here exactly from the autograph.

Coppet, August 10, 1825.
my dear Ticknor,—It is an object of most sincere regret to me, that it was not in my power to be of any use to your friends in Paris, and to express to them the gratitude and friendship which I feel for you. Your kind letter reached me here a few days ago, and I had left Paris about the middle of June. Nothing can be more striking than your observations on Lafayette's journey, and your picture of the five living Presidents. I read it with tears in my eyes, for after religion, there is nothing that penetrates so deep into the heart of man as the love of freedom. Yours is, indeed, a noble and blessed country, and the whole of America—when she gets rid of the Brazilian Emperor, which is only an unnecessary piece of ridicule—will present an unexampled scene of grandeur, wealth, and reason. But for God's sake keep your eyes open upon your slave States. I am sadly struck with the madness of the people of Georgia; and prudence unites with common sense, justice, and religion to recommend that some early steps should be made towards the abolition of slavery. I live in the daily expectation to hear that the fate of St. Domingo has extended to the whole of the West Indies. And what will become of your Southern States, and their slaves, when there is an African empire established in the West, which will be but a just compensation for all the cruelties which the negroes have suffered from the Europeans, for years and ages. Let your statesmen act and speak; your philosophers advise; your ministers preach upon this subject. Delenda est Carthago.

What should I tell you of our own politics? They are so shabby as to make one ashamed to speak of them; yet disgusting as the conduct of our rulers is, in every respect, I think that the country is advancing, but there is a complete chasm between the government and the people. There are not two ideas or two sentiments in common. On one side bigotry, hypocrisy, and corruption, on the other indifference as to what passes in the Tuileries, but constant activity to improve, not only one's fortune, but one's mind. You may judge of it by the state of our literature. Many valuable books have made [314] their appearance since you left us, chiefly in the historical line, Barante, Thierry, Guizot, Sismondi, etc., and the extensive sale of books shows that we are beginning to emerge from our intellectual stupor.

In my humble sphere, I have just published a volume of Letters on England, which will be sent to you from Paris.14 I am told it has' brought some practical ideas of liberty in circulation, which will perhaps induce me to write another volume. In the mean time, I am very busy with farming, without the slightest wish, for my friends or myself, to have any share in the management of public affairs. I am here alone this summer. Broglie and my sister are at their place in Normandy, where I shall join them in the autumn, after a little journey to the south of France. Next year, if God permits, we shall all be at Coppet. Pray come and see us. I cannot reconcile myself to the idea that you should not pay us another visit; and my constitution suffers so much from a sea voyage, that I have but little hopes of seeing America, though it be one of my most earnest desires.

Forgive this broken English of mine, and believe me most faithfully yours. Sis felix et memor nostri.

1 The letter to Cardinal Dugnani had a curious history. It must have reached Mr. Elisha Ticknor, for the letter to him which contained it was found among his papers. The enclosed letter, however, never left this continent, but was found many years afterwards ‘in the garret of an old house in Plymouth, Massachusetts, among a mass of ship-papers, log-books, etc., etc. The owner of the house formerly owned sailing vessels, and two of his brothers were sea-captains, one of whom sailed to the Mediterranean.’ In 1864 Mr. Ticknor received a letter from Troy, New York, addressed to him by a lady born in Plymouth, who offered to send him Mr. Jefferson's letter to the Cardinal, which she had found among some autographs in her possession, and of which she had traced the history as above. She thought he ought to have the letter, because it concluded with a very high compliment to him. Mr. Ticknor was much pleased by this little incident, accepted the letter, and sent the lady a copy of the handsome quarto edition of his Life of Prescott, then just published. The fate of the letter was never further explained. Mr. Elisha Ticknor had obviously sent it on its way, but it did not go far on its journey.


Translation: I answer your very kind letter of the last of October from Lisbon; and obeying your instructions, my dear Ticknor, I send this parcel to your minister, who will enclose my little letters of introduction. We were very much amused, here, over the police of the kingdom, and your expedient of placing yourself under the protection of the contrabandists, in order to reach Lisbon in safety. Your friends regret, and I most of all, that this brigandage on the highways has induced you to come to the prudent decision to take to the sea. It was a friendly plan, that of coming to give me a last shake-hand in the Calle de la Reyna, before your final departure pro aris et focis. I assure you it is pleasant to me to think that I have in you a young friend, whose remembrance will never fail me, in both hemispheres.

I assure you, also, that if ever I am forced to a change of abode I will go to seek it in Boston, and not in the province and the deserts of Texas. I have a conviction that I should find a welcome there from hosts with hearts transparent and kind.

When you see my relatives and friends in Paris, you will speak of me to them, and of our common enthusiasm for Spanish dramatic poetry. Mathieu, the Duchesse de Duras, Mad. Recamier, will understand you very well. Show the first, those little pages which we wrote on that subject, at parting.

You arrive at the most critical moment in our parliamentary discussions; being outside of the circle of these interests, you will judge soundly, with a mind unprejudiced by party influences. Send me your conclusions, your anticipations, your associations in society.

Adieu, my young friend; I send you all the sentiments and the benedictions of friendship.

M. L.

My cousin will take care to introduce you to M. de Chateaubriand, to whom you will convey my remembrance. He and Benjamin Constant, placed at the two extremities of the line, fight with equal zeal, and with great talents.

3 Mathieu de Montmorency, a member of the intimate circle of Mad. de Stael and Mad. Recamier, a cousin and friend of the Duke de Laval, mentioned again in the postscript to the above letter.

4 These were manuscript notes, written by each and exchanged, of which the Duke de Laval's part was preserved among Mr. Ticknor's papers.


Translation: You no more doubt the interest your letter of the 18th December from Paris excited in me, than the constancy of my friendship, my dear Ticknor. I was delighted to hear of the rapidity of your journey, and the entire success of your expedition. As you are still in a position to have applied to you this stanza applied to Aeneas, Vastum maris oequor arandum, your late voyage will give you courage for returning home.

All that you have given me of your first views of Paris are already antiquated reflections fit for history, and the theatre is already changed; another problem is before your eyes. Shakespeare says it is always the same piece played, only the actors change. You who do not belong in the circle of these interests can contemplate all these things as a philosopher, and regard them as tragedy or as farce according to your fancy, according to the prism through which you look on them. Your friendship, which has, no doubt, as good a memory as your mind, will send me new conclusions. We never judge better than when we can place ourselves on the height of impartiality. You meet, you associate with very influential personages of the centre, and of both extremes. Here all our habits of gayety, our amusements, are transformed into gloomy sadness. We are wrapped in black crepe, and nothing is left to cheer us but a gallop, usually in the pretty meadow on the banks of the Mancaneres, with Lady Georgina, who is quite charming. It was there that we often rode together, busy with many matters; there, that you always exhibited your excellent nature and your vast erudition. Our Caesar seems to have abandoned this exercise. Since he has become charge d'affaires he has grown too grave for us. I had more sympathy with the gentleness of your character, and your singular modesty. The gentlemen of the Embassy send you many compliments, and I beg you to offer an ancient hereditary homage to the pretty Duchesse de Broglie, who now, I think, disdains my remembrance. Preserve for me the fidelity of your friendship, and of your device, Coelum non animum, and accept the assurance of my tender sentiments.

M. L.

6 Lady Georgina Wellesley, wife of Sir Henry, and daughter of the Marquess of Salisbury.

7 Cesare Balbo.

8 The Duke de Laval died at the age of seventy, three months before Mr. Ticknor reached Paris in 1837, so that they never met again.

9 See ante, pp. 210, 212, 213.

10 Translated from the Italian.

11 Translated from the Italian.

12 Translation: I assure you that I very much miss your little visits at five o'clock. I am vexed at having formed such an affection for a savage from the Orinoco, who will perhaps never return to us. Who knows whether revolutions may not take us into your peaceful and beautiful country. I will not talk to you of our politics, on which you look down, but I will say that we have much trouble in promoting liberty, even with a well-disposed ministry. It encounters difficulties, above and below, and has not much strength for surmounting them. You are wrong to despise the efforts a nation makes to be free. All God's creatures are formed for a noble destiny, and you have no right to regard us as inferior beings. Enough on that subject. Your friends the Ultras are still angry, and detest us greatly. There has been a quantity of duels. The dreadful thing is that political quarrels become private quarrels. It does not make Paris gay. All else continues the same, the salons as you saw them, much vanity, little feeling.

Victor, Auguste, Miss Randall, all of them think of you. You won all our hearts. I do not know whether you have vanity enough to be pleased with the general success that you had here. Indeed, you have more pride than vanity, as we told you.

Do not forget my American books. Tell me something about the religious condition of Scotland, and England. You know that is a subject which interests me, but I promise not to mingle mystery with it. Tell me, too, whether people talk to you of my mother's work.

13 The Duke de Broglie, the Baron de Stael, and Miss Randall, who was a faithful friend of Madame de Stael, and her companion during the last years of her life.

14 These, and some other of M. de Stael's writings, were collected after his death, forming three volumes, with a biographical notice of him, written by his sister. In this short memoir is a remarkable account given by him, in a letter to his mother, of an interview he had, when he was but seventeen years old, with Napoleon I., whom he sought in Savoy, as he passed through, and pleaded with him for his mother, then exiled from Paris and persecuted by the Emperor.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: