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Chapter 6:


Gottingen, March 26, 1817.—Yesterday I went round and took leave of all my acquaintances and friends. From many I did not separate without a feeling of deep and bitter regret, which I never thought to have suffered on leaving Gottingen. From Eichhorn, whose open-hearted kindness has always been ready to assist me; from Dissen, whose daily intercourse and conversation have so much instructed me; from the Sartorius family, where I have been partly at home, because there is more domestic feeling and happiness there than anywhere else in Gottingen, and where the children wept on bidding me good by; from Schultze, whose failing health will not permit me to hope to receive even happy news from him; . . . . and above all from Blumenbach, ante alios omnes praestantissimus, but whose health and faculties begin to feel the heavy hand of age,—from all these and from many others I separated myself with a regret which made my departure from Gottingen this morning an hour of sadness and depression.

At Cassel I stopped a few hours, and Prof. Welcker, who makes part of my journey with me, carried me to see Volkel,—a man who has made himself rather famous by a treatise on the Olympian Jupiter, and by a little volume, published 1808, on the plundering Greece of its works of art, just at the time Bonaparte had taken everything of this kind from Germany to Paris. . . . . On returning to our lodgings, I took leave of Everett and Stephen Perkins, who had accompanied me thus far, and in the evening came on a few English miles to an ordinary inn. [122]

Frankfort, March 29.—The first person I went to see this afternoon was Frederick von Schlegel, and never was I more disappointed in the external appearance of any man in my life; for, instead of finding one grown spare and dry with deep and wearisome study, I found before me a short, thick, little gentleman, with the ruddy, vulgar health of a full-fed father of the Church. On sitting with him an hour, however, I became reconciled to this strange discrepancy, or rather entirely forgot it, for so fine a flow of rich talk I have rarely heard in Germany. Luden of Jena and Schlegel are the only men who have reminded me of the genuine, hearty flow of English conversation.

The evening I spent at President von Berg's,—a man who was an important member of the Congress of Vienna, and is now an important member of the Diet here, representing many small principalities, Oldenburg, Nassau, etc., uniting in himself six votes. There was a large company there,—the French Minister and the Saxon, but above all, Frederick Schlegel, who was very gay, and talked with much spirit and effect upon a variety of subjects, chiefly literary and political.

Berg is a man of extensive knowledge, and knows more of the minute history of our Revolution than anybody I have seen in Germany. Learning I was from Boston, he told his wife to give me a very poor cup of tea, if indeed she would give me any at all; for that in Boston we once rebelliously wasted and destroyed several cargoes of it. He talked only on political subjects.

March 31.—I dined with Beauvillers, a rich banker, with a party of eighteen or twenty merchants, many of them foreigners who have come to the fair now going on here. My chief amusement was to observe how exactly these people from Vienna, Hamburg, Konigsberg, and Trieste, are like the merchants in Amsterdam, London, and Boston, and to listen to their comical abuse, which all true Frankforters poured out against the Diet, its members, their operations, pride, etc., etc.

I passed an extremely pleasant evening at Senator Smidt's, a man of talent, Ambassador from Bremen, with much influence in the Bundestag. There was a large supper-party, consisting of Count Goltz, the Prussian Ambassador, the Darmstadt Minister, Baron Gagern, the Minister of the King of Holland for Luxembourg,—the most eloquent member of the Diet, and one whose influence over public opinion is probably greater than that of any other, and his influence over the Diet as great as anybody's,—Frederick von Schlegel, again to my great satisfaction, etc., etc. Baron Gagern reminded me [123] of Jeremiah Mason,1 for, the moment I entered the room, he came up to me and began to question me about my country,—its great men, etc., like a witness on the stand, till I began to feel almost uncomfortable at this kind of interlocutory thumb-screwing; but when he had learned all he wanted to,—and his questions were very shrewd, and showed he knew what he was about,—I found him an extremely pleasant, instructive man, a true German, full of enthusiasm and hope, and trusting, as it seems to me, too much to the present flattering prospects of a more intimate union and consolidation of these independent and discordant principalities.

He told me many curious ancedotes, and, among the rest, one of his being present at a levee of Bonaparte's where our minister, Livingston, was so ignorant of all proprieties as to ask the Emperor whether he had received good news from St. Domingo lately,—at a time when everything had gone by the board there; of his having seen a letter from Napoleon to Jerome, when he was King of Westphalia, beginning, ‘Mon frere, tu ne cesses pas daetre polisson,’ etc.

Smidt told me that when the Crown Prince was in Bremen, he told him, that when Napoleon sent Le Clerc to St. Domingo (who died soon after his arrival), he sent him not only for the purpose of subduing and governing that island, but also with regular instructions and plans for extending his influence and power to the United States, and named, at the same time, four persons in France and one in America who were privy to the design, all of whose names Mr. Smidt had forgotten, excepting that of Talleyrand.

The conversation, however, was not wholly political, as there were a number of ladies in the party; and, besides, Frederick Schlegel's good-nature, literature, and wit would have anywhere formed a counterpoise [124] for the spirit of diplomacy; so that, on the whole, it was one of the pleasantest evenings I have passed in Germany.

April 1.—Before leaving Gottingen I had made an arrangement with Hofrath Falcke, member of the Chancery at Hanover, to travel with him from Frankfort to Paris. This morning, therefore, we set out, and came to Darmstadt . . . . This afternoon I went to see Moller, the famous architect. . . . . He showed me a great number of his own architectural drawings, particularly one of the interior of the cathedral at Cologne, as it should have been finished, and one of the wonderful cathedral at Strasburg, which were fine, but were by no means so interesting as an immense plan of the steeple of Cologne Cathedral, which extended across the room, and is the original drawing, made 1240, on parchment, and came accidentally into his hands, after having been plundered from the archives by the French. He himself was no less interesting by his simplicity and enthusiasm, than his drawings were by their beauty and skill.

Heidelberg, April 2.—As soon as we had dined, I went to see the elder Voss,—now an old man between sixty and seventy,—tall, meagre, and beginning to be decrepit. Unlike most German men of letters, I found everything about him neat, and in some points approaching to elegance, though without ever exceeding the limits of simplicity. He received me with an open kindness, which was itself hospitality, and, after sitting with him ten minutes, I was at home.

He described to me his present mode of life, said he rose early and went to bed early, and divided the day between his garden, his books, his wife, and his harpsichord. Thus, he says, he preserves in his old age the lightness of heart which God gave him in his youth. At Eutin, he told me, where he lived a long time, he was poor, and when, at the end of the second year after his marriage, they struck the balance of their accounts, he found they were considerably deficient; ‘and so,’ he added with touching simplicity, ‘we gave up our Sunday's glass of wine and struck coffee out of our luxuries, and did it too without regret, for we were young then; and God has given my wife, as you will see when you know her, a heart no less happy and light than mine.’ He showed me his library, not large, but choice and neatly arranged, . . . . his manuscripts all in the same form . . . . . Among them was his translation of Aristophanes,—written, as he himself confessed, because Wolf had undertaken the Clouds,—and six plays of Shakespeare, in which, he said, he intended to avoid Schlegel's stiffness, but will not, I think, succeed. Of his ‘Louise’ he told me it was written in 1785, but not printed till ten years after; and, on my remarking that there [125] was a vivacity and freshness about many parts of it that made me feel as if it were partly taken from life, he confessed that he had intended the character of the old pastor for a portrait of his wife's father, Boier.

When we entered his parlor again, I was struck with the picture of a beautiful lady. On asking whose likeness it was, the tears started to his eyes, and he imperfectly articulated, ‘The Countess Stolberg’; and afterwards he added, more composedly, ‘She was an angel; one whom I loved more than any human being, except my wife.’ So fresh and faithful are his feelings in his old age to the memory of that extraordinary and unfortunate woman, who has been dead nearly thirty years

Promising to return to supper, I went to see Creuzer, author of the ‘Symbolik,’ etc. He is now, I should think, about fifty,—a man apparently of a strong, decided character, and perhaps not very amiable. I found him pleasant in conversation, and much disposed to tell something of the much he knows; fond of anecdotes, particularly if they were a little scandalous; and in general a man, who, though so deep in his books, still enjoys society. I drank tea with him, in company with Wilken, who is just going to Berlin, and two or three others of the Heidelberg people, who, I thought, were more sociable, talkative, and inquisitive than the professors of the North are,—and then I walked back to the good old Voss, who lives in a beautiful retired situation just outside of the town. It was nearly eight o'clock, and supper was punctually on the table; no one was present except his wife, towards whom his manners were marked by a tenderness which, if it had not been so patriarchal, would have approached to gallantry; and she, though old and beginning to be feeble, discovered a kind of attention to him, . . . . which showed how deep was her affection. . . . . It was a supper of Roman simplicity, nothing but a perch from the Neckar and an omelette. . . . . The conversation was almost entirely of his early friends, of whom the world has since heard so much,—of Holtz, whose life he has written so well; of Leopold Stolberg, for whom, in spite of changes and errors, he seems to have lost none of his regard; and, clarum et venerabile nomen, of Klopstock, with whom he was intimate. Of the last he told me that, after visiting him in 1789, at Hamburg, Klopstock walked with him a mile out of the city, and when they parted, told him, as their conversation had been political, with a kind of prophetic emphasis which left an indelible impression on Voss's mind, ‘The troubles now breaking out in France are the beginnings of a European war between the patricians and the plebeians. I see generations [126] crushed in the struggle. I see, perhaps, centuries of war and desolation, but at last, in the remote horizon, I see the victory of Liberty.’ The contest thus far has been carried on in the spirit he predicted, and the prophecy of such a man deserves to be recorded, to await the issue. Voss never publishes anything without his wife's advice; and in all cases where he himself doubts respecting any of his works, he makes her sole judge, especially in all matters of versification, as he himself told me . . . . She too, as is well known, has uncommon talent.

April 6.—In the afternoon I left Strasburg, and for the first time came into genuine French territory. Nothing can be more mistaken than Mad. de Stael's remark, that the national character of the two people is sharply defined and accurately distinguished at the Rhine. From Frankfort to Strasburg I found it gradually changing, the population growing more gay and open, more accustomed to live in the open air, more given to dress, and in general more light. At Strasburg, German traits still prevail, and I did not lose the language entirely until two posts before I came to Luneville. There I found all completely French,—people, houses, wooden shoes, impositions, etc., etc.

Paris, April 9.—I went this morning to see Oehlenschlaeger, the first Danish poet living, whose comedies are mentioned by Mad. de Stael. I found him a man about forty, hearty, happy, and gay, enjoying life as well as anybody, but living in Paris knowing and caring for nobody. He is vain, but not oppressively so; and on the whole is as likely to live out all his days in peace and happiness and good cheer as any one I have seen for a long time.

April 11.—This evening I have been for the first time to the French theatre; and I hasten to note my feelings and impressions, that I may have them in their freshness. It was rather an uncommon occasion,—the benefit of Mdlle. St. Val, now sixty-five years old, who has not played before for thirty years; and Talma and Mdlle. Mars both played . . . .The piece was Iphigenie en Tauride, by Guymond de la Touche, which has been on the stage sixty years, but I cannot find its merits above mediocrity . . . . . Iphigenie was performed by Mdlle. St. Val, who is old and ugly. She was applauded through the first act with decisive good-nature, and in many parts deserved it; but in the second act, when Talma came out as Orestes, she was at once forgotten, and he well deserved that in his presence no other should be remembered . . . . The piece and his part, like almost everything of the kind in the French drama, was conceived in the style of the court [127] of Louis XIV; but Talma, in his dress, in every movement, every look, was a Greek. . . . . To have arrived at such perfection, he must have studied antiquity as no modern actor has done; and the proofs of this were very obvious. His dress was perfect; his gestures and attitudes reminded one of ancient statues; and when, in imagination pursued by the Furies, he becomes frenzied, changes color, trembles and falls, pale and powerless, before the implacable avengers, it is impossible to doubt that he has studied and felt the scene in Euripides, and the praises of Longinus. His study of the ancient statues struck me in the passage,—when, in his second insanity, he cries out in agony,—

Vois-tu d'affreux serpens, de son front s'elancer,
Et de leur longs replis te ceindre, et te presser?—
he started back into the posture of Laocoon with great effect. Like Demosthenes, he has had difficulties to overcome, and even now at times he cannot conceal an unpleasant lisp; but I have never seen acting, in many respects, like his. Cooke had a more vehement and lofty genius, and Kean has sometimes, perhaps, flashes of eccentric talent; but in an equal elevation of mind, and in dignity and force, Talma, I think, left them all far behind.

April 14.—I called this morning on A. W. Schlegel. His history, like his brother Frederick's, is singular and unfortunate. Their father was a man of considerable learning, and a poet whose religious odes and hymns are still read. Augustus, who was his youngest son but one, was sent early to Gottingen, where he remained five years. As his reputation was already considerable, he was soon called as professor to Jena, and married a daughter of Michaelis. . . . . He resigned his place and left the University. When Mad. de Stael went to Germany, he was without a home; he attached himself to her, and has been with her through all her travels in Germany, Italy, Sweden, and England. . . . . . The consequence of his troubles and this mode of life is, that he now looks like a careworn, wearied courtier, with the manners of a Frenchman of the gayest circles, and the habits of a German scholar,—a confusion anything but natural or graceful.

I found him in full dress, with his snuff-box and handkerchief by his side, not sitting up to receive company, but poring over a folio Sanscrit Grammar; for he has recently left his other studies, even his Etruscan antiquities, that employed him so zealously a year ago, when he wrote his review of Niebuhr, and has thrown himself on the Eastern languages with a passion purely German. He talked very volubly in French, with an uncommonly pure accent, on all the subjects [128] that happened to come up; but, con amore, chiefly on England, and above everything else on his Lectures and the English translation of them, which, he said, he should be much delighted to hear was reprinted in America. In writing them in German, he said, he endeavored to keep before himself English and French prose, which he preferred to the German, and asked me with the eagerness of a hardened literator, whether I had not observed traces of this in reading them,—a question I was luckily able to answer in the affirmative, without doing violence to my conscience. On the whole, he amused me considerably, and I will seek occasion to see him often, if I can.

April 19.—Among other letters to Mad. de Stael, I had brought one from Sir Humphry Davy, and on coming from her house the other day, after having left them, I met him most unexpectedly on the Boulevards. Since then I have seen him two or three times at his lodgings and my own, and to-day I have dined with him at Mad. de Stael's, or rather with her daughter, the Duchess de Broglie, who now receives her mother's friends; long illness preventing her receiving them herself.

The company was not large,—Sir Humphry and Lady Davy, Baron Humboldt, the Duke de Laval, Augustus Schlegel, Auguste de Stael, and the Duke and Duchess de Broglie,—but it was not on that account less agreeable. It was the first time that I had felt anything of the spirit and charm of French society, which has been so much talked of since the time of Louis XIV.; and it is curious that on this occasion more than half the company were foreigners, and that the two who entertained the rest more than any others were Germans. It is but fair to say, however, that Baron Hmnboldt and M. de Schlegel have been so long in France that they have lost their nationality in all that relates to society, and, like Baron Grimm and the Prince de Ligne, have become more amusing to Frenchmen than their indigenous wits. The Duchess de Broglie is quite handsome, and has fine talents; her manners are naive to a fault, without being affected, but her beauty and talent make one forget it. The Duke is a fine-looking man of about twenty-nine, with, it is said, an uncommon amount of political knowledge, with liberal modes of thinking and speaking, still more extraordinary in the grandson of the proud and presumptuous Marshal de Broglie. Schlegel has remarkable powers for conversation, and often shines, because he unites German enthusiasm and force to French lightness and vivacity; and Humboldt was so excited by the presence of Sir Humphry Davy, that he became eloquent . . . . The conversation turned much on South America, of [129] which everybody has been talking in Paris since the publication of the Abbe de Pradt's book, in which he expresses the most sanguine expectation of its speedy emancipation. In these expectations and hopes all the republicans in Paris, with Mad. de Stael at their head, heartily join; but the Baron de Humboldt, though his wishes are the same, is by no means of the same opinion.

April 26.—The two most interesting acquaintances I have in Paris, thus far, are Schlegel and Humboldt; and the manner of living adopted by both of them is original. Schlegel's is such, indeed, as partly to account for his success as a man of letters, and as a member of the gay society of Paris. He wakes at four o'clock in the morning, and, instead of getting up, has his candle brought to him and reads five or six hours, then sleeps two or three more, and then gets up and works till dinner at six. From this time till ten o'clock he is a man of the world, in society, and overflowing with amusing conversation; but at ten he goes to his study and labors until midnight, when he begins the same course again.

Humboldt's is entirely different, but not less remarkable. For him, night and day form one mass of time which he uses for sleeping, for meals, for labor, without making any arbitrary division of it. It must be confessed that this power, or habit, is convenient in the kind of life which must be led in a great metropolis by one who, with great talents, wishes to be at once a learned man and a man of the world. M. de Humboldt, therefore, sleeps only when he is weary and has leisure, and if he wakes at midnight he rises and begins his work as he would in the morning. He eats when he is hungry, and if he is invited to dine at six o'clock, this does not prevent him from going at five to a restaurant, because he considers a great dinner only as a party of pleasure and amusement. But all the rest of the time, when he is not in society, he locks his door and gives himself up to study, rarely receiving visits, but those which have been announced to him the day previous, and never, I believe, refusing these, because, as he well explained to me, when he can foresee an interruption, he prepares himself for it, and it ceases to be such. All this is, to be sure, very fine; but then, such a life presupposes two things: a constitution able to resist all fatigue, physical and moral; and a reputation which puts its possessor above the conventions of society, and allows him to act as a king. Baron Humboldt unites them both. His ample and regular frame, his firm step, and the decision and force with which he marks every movement, indicate the man who has survived the tropical heat of the Orinoco and ascended the peak of [130] Chimborazo; . . . . while, on the other hand, his prodigious acquirements, extending nearly on all sides to the limits of human discovery, kindled by an enthusiasm which has supported him where every other principle would have failed, and prevented from being oppressive or obtruding by a sort of modesty which makes it impossible for him to offend,—all together render him one of the most interesting men in the world, and the idol of Parisian society.

April 29.—I go often to see Bishop or Count Gregoire, who receives company every evening. He has played a distinguished part in French affairs, from the year 1789 till the fall of Bonaparte; but, like many other men of distinction, he plays it no longer. Amidst all changes and perils, however, he has supported with no common firmness the cause of religion; and if—zealous republican as he is—he had not soiled himself by accepting the place and revenue of senator from Bonaparte, he would deserve nearly unmingled praise as a politician . . . . Amidst all his calamities, it is curious that what mortifies and exasperates him the most is the loss of his place in the Academy, which was taken from him because he voted for the perpetual exile of Louis XVI.

May 2.—This evening I have passed, as I do most of my Sunday evenings, very pleasantly, at Helen Maria Williams's. The company generally consists of literary Englishmen, with several Frenchmen, well known in the world,—such as Marron the preacher, whom Bonaparte liked so much, Stapfer the Swiss minister, who concluded the treaty of 1802, several professors of the College de France, etc. This evening Mrs. Godwin was there, wife of the notorious William Godwin, and successor to the no less notorious Mary Wollstonecraft. She has come to Paris to sell a romance, of which I have forgotten the title, that her husband has recently written, and thinks as good as ‘Caleb Williams.’ The booksellers of Paris, I believe, are not of his opinion, and probably they are right, for Mr. Godwin is no longer at the age in which the imagination is capable of such efforts. Miss Williams herself is evidently waning. Her conversation is not equal to her reputation, and I suspect never was brilliant; since, as I should think, it must always have been affected. But still she is an uncommon woman, and, except when she gets upon politics, talks sensibly. . . . . After having been successively royalist, republican, and Bonapartist, she finds it impossible, now she has again become Bourbonist, to get along in conversation. . . . .

May 6.—I dined to-day with an uncommonly interesting party at Mad. de Stael's. Besides the family, there was the Russian Minister, [131] Count Pozzo di Borgo, the Censor-General of the French Press, Villemain, Palissot, author of the ‘Memoirs on French Literature,’ and two or three other persons. The persons present were chiefly of the order of beaux esprits, but no one was so brilliant as the Russian Minister, who has that facility and grace in making epigrammatic remarks, which in French society is valued above all other talent. The little Duchess de Broglie was evidently delighted to an extraordinary degree with his wit, and two or three times, with her enthusiasm and naivete, could not avoid going to her mother's room, to tell her some of the fine things he said. I do not know bow a foreigner has acquired the French genius so completely, . . . . but certainly I have seen nobody yet, who has the genuine French wit, with its peculiar grace and fluency, so completely in his power as M. Pozzo di Borgo;2 and on my saying this to M. Schlegel, he told me there was nobody equal to him but Benjamin Constant.

To Elisha Ticknor.

Paris, May 3, 1817.
Well, my dear father and mother, I can now say I am settled down to my occupations in Paris; and, if I am not happy, which you will not be so unreasonable as to expect me to say, I am at least quite contented. The only way I can keep myself quiet is to have so much business on my hands that, between rising in the morning and going to bed at night I have no idle hour or moment for other thoughts; and so I do not fret myself into discontent by thinking about home.

I rise at six o'clock. Punctually at seven, every morning, comes my French master,—a young man sent to me by the venerable Le Chevalier, who nearly half a century ago wrote a remarkable book on the ‘Plain of Troy’; he remains with me an hour and a half, to my great profit. When he is gone, I prepare my next lesson for him. At eleven, my Italian master comes,—a man of forty, who is a very fine scholar, not only in his own language and literature, but in the ancient and most of the modern. He remains with me as long as my French teacher, and then I prepare for the next recitation, At one, I lunch; for, as to meals, it is necessary to conform to the hours of the people you are among, and nobody dines in Paris before five,—fashionable people, not till six or seven.

At three o'clock, on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, I have an instructor in the Langue Romane, or, in other words, the transition of [132] the Latin language into the modem language of the South of Europe. On Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, a young man who has a thorough knowledge of French literature, with much taste and talent, reads with me and to me, that I may get French pronunciation and the spirit of the French authors, which I certainly could not get so well or so quickly in any other way,—probably not at all. At five o'clock I dine in my own room, which saves me the trouble and time of dining, as most strangers do, at a public eating-house.

Thus you see, that from six in the morning until five in the afternoon I am every moment employed; but from five, I consider myself free. About six o'clock, I generally go over the river, and pass an hour with Thorndike, who is still sick; and then go either to see some French acquaintance, or to the theatre, or else come home and amuse myself with whatever most interests me.

Miss Helen Maria Williams and M. Pichon, formerly French Resident in the United States in the time of the Republic, since Jerome's Minister of Finance, and now a member of the King's Council, receive each one evening in the week; and at Mad. de Stael's, or rather her daughter the Duchess de Broglie's,—for her mother is ill, so that I have not seen her,—there is a coterie every evening. Good literary society is found at all, and at the Duchess de Broglie's the best in Paris. I have a general privilege at each of them; and, besides, know many other persons, whom I can visit when I choose, so that I do not get an opportunity to go to the theatre as often as I could wish for the sake of the language and pronunciation. At eleven o'clock, extraordinaries excepted, I am at home and in bed. . . . .


Paris, May 11, 1817.—At last I have seen Mad. de Stael. Ever since I presented my letters, she has been so ill that her physicians refused her permission to see above three or four persons a day, and those such of her most familiar friends as would amuse without exciting her. Yesterday, however, her son called on me, and told me if I would come and dine with them to-day alone, his mother would see me, whether her physician gave her leave or not. I went, therefore, early, and was immediately carried to her room. She was in bed, pale, feeble, and evidently depressed in spirits; and the mere stretching out her hand to me, or rather making a slight movement, as if she desired to do it, cost an effort it was painful to witness.

Observing, with that intuition for which she has been always so [133] famous, the effect her situation produced on me, she said: ‘Il ne faut pas me juger de ce que vous voyez ici. Ce n'est pas moi,—ce n'est que l'ombre de ce que j'etais il y a quatre mois,—et une ombre qui peut-être disparaitra bientot.’ I told her that M. Portal and her other physicians did not think so. ‘Oui,’ said she, while her eye kindled in the consciousness that she was about to say one of those brilliant things with which she had so often electrified a drawing-room,—‘oui, je le sais, mais ils y mettent toujours tant de vanite d'auteur, que je ne m'y fie pas du tout. Je ne me releveraijamais de cette maladie. J'en suis sure.’ She saw at this moment that the Duchess de Broglie had entered the apartment, and was so much affected by the last remark, that she had gone to the window to hide her feelings. She therefore began to talk about America. Everything she said was marked with that imagination which gives such a peculiar energy to her works, and which has made her so long the idol of French society; but whenever she seemed to be aware that she was about to utter any phrase of force and aptness, her languid features were kindled with an animation which made a strange contrast with her feeble condition. Especially when she said of America,—‘vous êtes l'avant garde du genre humain, vous êtes l'avenir du monde,’— there came a slight tinge of feeling into her face, which spoke plainly enough of the pride of genius. As I feared to weary her with conversation, I asked her daughter if I should not go; but she said she was glad to see her mother interested, and wished rather that I should stay. I remained therefore half an hour longer,—until dinner was announced,—during which we talked chiefly of the prospects of Europe, of which she despairs.

When I rose to go she gave me her hand, and said, under the impression I was soon going to America, ‘Vous serez bientot chez vous, —et moi j'y vais aussi.’ I pretended not to understand her, and told her I was sure I should see her in Switzerland, much better. She looked on her daughter, while her eyes filled with tears, and said in English, ‘God grant me that favor,’ and I left her.

The impression of this scene remained upon us all during the dinner; but in the evening old M. St. Leon and Mm. Lacretelle and Villemain (the latter I find to be one of the most eloquent professors in Paris) came in, and gave a gayer air to the party and conversation.

May 13.—I passed this evening with Say, the author of the book on political economy, which is now considered one of the best, or the very best extant, as it is the full development of Adam Smith's system, with an explanation in the notes of the systems of the Economists. [134] It is impossible to be in Say's presence without feeling you are before a man that thinks independently. All he says has a spirit about it which can be the result only of a well-disciplined mind, and even his native language, equivocal as it is, seems to acquire a precision and definiteness under his hands which are foreign from its nature. I have several times seen him alone; but this evening there was company at his house, and I thought its excitement had a good effect on him, since in general he is too serious and even severe for the French character.

May 14.—This evening I passed delightfully at Benjamin Constant's. It matters little to me what may be thought of him as a politician . . . . I care nothing for all his inconsistency, and forget it all when I am in his presence, and listen to the vivacity and wit of his conversation.

There were several distinguished men of letters there this evening. St. Leon, Lacretelle, Schlegel, etc,—two or three women who are at once wits and belles, etc. . . .

They were all assembled to hear the Baron de Humboldt read some passages out of an unpublished volume of his travels. This is precisely the sort of society that used to assemble in the coteries of the times of Louis XIV. and XV., and it required no great effort of the imagination to persuade me that I was at a soiree of those periods. Everything this evening was purely French; the wit, the criticism, the vivacity, even the good-nature and kindness, had a cast of nationality about them, and took that form which in France is called amiability, but which everywhere else would be called flattery. I was therefore amused, and indeed interested and excited; but the interest and excitement you feel in French society is necessarily transient, and this morning my strongest recollections are of Humboldt's genius and modesty, and his magical descriptions of the scenery of the Orinoco, and the holy solitudes of nature, and the missionaries.

May 16.—M. de Humboldt is certainly one of the most remarkable men I have seen in Europe,—perhaps the most so.3 I was sitting with him to-day, and, turning round, observed a large Mercator's Chart [135] of the World suspended in front of the table at which he studies, and it seemed to me at the instant to be an emblem of the immensity of his knowledge and genius, which reach on all sides nearly to the limits of human acquirement, and on some have certainly extended to those limits. I have been most surprised at his classical knowledge, at his taste, and familiarity with the ancient and modern languages, for here he might be to a certain degree dispensed from the obligation of extending his researches very far; and yet I know few professed in the depths of ‘the humanities’ who have more just and enlarged notions of classical antiquity; few scholars who understand Greek and Latin as well as he seems to; and no man of the world who speaks the modern languages with more fluency. And these all lie, as it were, out of the periphery of his real greatness; how great must he then be on those subjects to which he has devoted the concentrated efforts of his talents, and where I have not even the little knowledge and power necessary to estimate what he is!

May 17.—I went this morning to hear a lecture from Lacretelle; not because I have any desire to follow his course,—for I have long awakened from the dream in which I supposed I could find instruction in the branches I pursue, in the German way, from French lectures,— but because I wish to know what is the precise style adopted by these men, who are famous at home and even abroad. I have not been so well pleased with the manner of anybody, whose instructions I have heard, as with that of Lacretelle. He has a fine person, a fine voice, excellent command of language, which never permits him to hesitate, and a prompt taste, which never permits him to choose the wrong word. His memory too is remarkable; for, though his department is history, he never uses notes of any kind, and in relating today the story of Regulus, he repeated not less than thirty different numbers. I prefer him to the other lecturers I have heard, because there is more seriousness and dignity in his manner, less attempt at point and effect, and in general a greater desire to instruct than I have yet found,—though still even his manner is not simple enough to produce the just effect of instruction. He is, still, to a certain degree, a Frenchman talking brilliantly.

May 18.—This evening, by a lucky accident, I went earlier than usual to Miss Williams's, and found there, by another mere accident, Southey . . . . There was little company present, and soon after I went in I found myself in a corner with him, from which neither of us moved until nearly midnight. He is, I presume, about forty-five, tall and thin, with a figure resembling the statues of Pitt, and a face [136] by no means unlike his. His manners are a little awkward, but the openness of his character is so great that this does not embarrass him. He immediately began to talk about America, and particularly the early history of New England, with which he showed that sort of familiarity which I suppose characterizes his knowledge wherever he has displayed it. Of Roger Williams and John Eliot I was ashamed to find that he knew more than I did. Roger Williams, he thought, deserved the reputation which Penn has obtained, and Eliot he pronounced one of the most extraordinary men of any country. Once, he said, he had determined to write a poem on the war and character of King Philip, and at that time studied the Indian history and manners, which he thinks highly poetical. So near has the Plymouth Colony come to being classical ground! While engaged in these researches, and as he was once travelling in a post-chaise to London, he bought at a stall in Nottingham, Mather's Magnalia, which he read all the way to town, and found it one of the most amusing books he had ever seen. Accident and other occupations interrupted these studies, he said, and he has never taken them up again. He had read most of our American poetry, and estimated it more highly than we are accustomed to, though still he did not praise it foolishly. Barlow's Columbiad, Dwight's Conquest of Canaan, McFingal, etc., were all familiar to him, and he not only spoke of them with discrimination, but even repeated some lines from them in support of his opinion of their merits. By accident we came upon the review of Inchiquin, which, he said, was written in a bad spirit; and he added that he had seldom been so chagrined or mortified by any event of his literary life, as by being thought its author, though he should rather have written the review than the New York answer to it . . . . . He talked with me about the Germans and their literature a good deal, and said if he were ten years younger he would gladly give a year to learn German, for he considered it now the most important language, after English, for a man of letters; and added with a kind of decision which showed he had thought of the subject, and received a good deal of information about it, that there is more intellectual activity in Germany now than in any other country in the world. In conversation such as this three hours passed very quickly away, and when we separated, I left him in the persuasion that his character is such as his books would represent it,—simple and enthusiastic, and his knowledge very various and minute.

May 28.—I dined to day again at Mad. de Stael's. There were few persons there, but she likes to have somebody every day, for society [137] is necessary to her. To-day, however, she was less well, and saw none of us. At another time I should have regretted this; but today I should have been sorry to have left the party for any reason, since, beside the Duc de Laval, and M. Barante, whom I already knew, there were Chateaubriand and Mad. Recamier, two persons whom I was as curious to see as any two persons in France whom I had not yet met. The Duchess de Broglie, with her characteristic good-nature, finding how much I was interested in these new acquaintances, placed me between them at dinner, so that I had an opportunity to know something more of them. Mad. Recamier must now be forty or more, though she has not the appearance of so much, and the lustre of that beauty which filled Europe with its fame is certainly faded. I do not mean to say she is not still beautiful, for she certainly is, and very beautiful. Her figure is fine, her mild eyes full of expression, and her arm and hand most beautiful. I was surprised to find her with fair complexion, . . . . and no less surprised to find the general expression of her countenance anything but melancholy, and her conversation gay and full of vivacity, though at the same time, it should be added, always without extravagance.

Chateaubriand is a short man, with a dark complexion, black hair, black eyes, and altogether a most marked countenance. It needs no skill in physiognomy, to say at once that he is a man of firmness and decision of character, for every feature and every movement of his person announce it. He is too grave and serious, and gives a grave and serious turn to the conversation in which he engages; and even when the whole table laughed at Barante's wit, Chateaubriand did not even smile;—not, perhaps, because he did not enjoy the wit as much as the rest, but because laughing is too light for the enthusiasm which forms the basis of his character, and would certainly offend against the consistency we always require. It was natural for us to talk about America, and he gave me a long and eloquent description of his travels from Philadelphia to Niagara, and from Niagara across the unbroken forests to New Orleans; but I must confess he did not discover that eagerness and vanity on the subject which I think he does in his Martyrs and his Itinerary. . . . On the contrary, he seemed rather to prefer to talk of Italy and Rome, of which his recollections seemed more lively than of any other part of his travels; and, indeed, I doubt not he would like to return there rather than to revisit any country he has yet seen, for he spoke of Rome as a ‘place where it is so easy to be happy.’ His conversation, like his character, seems prompt, original, decisive, and, like his works, full of sparkling phrases, [138] happy combinations and thoughts, sometimes more brilliant than just. His general tone was declamatory, though not extravagantly so, and its general effect that of interesting the feelings and attention, without producing conviction or changing opinion.

Sunday, June 1.— Passing Mad. de Stael's this afternoon, I called to ask for her; but, seeing accidentally the Duchess de Broglie, she carried me to her mother's room, where I found her sitting up, with Schlegel, her son, and Rocca—whom the world has talked about so much—sitting with her. She was full of the news just received of troubles in Portuguese America,—from which she hopes much more than will ever happen,—and of a review that Constant has just printed in the Mercure, which she says is equal in felicity of diction to anything that has been written in France these thirty years. While we were talking of it several persons came in,—Barante, whom I almost always find there; Lady Jersey, a sensible, beautiful English woman; and finally Constant himself, who seemed well pleased to collect the tributes of applause which were offered to him by all, and especially by the beautiful Duchess de Broglie, who with her usual naivete told him what she thought of his review, and what she had heard of the opinions of others. It was a very amusing scene, and there was a great deal of French wit, epigram, and compliment lavished in the conversation; but it was interrupted by the arrival of the patriarch of French medicine, Dr. Portal, who, of course, sent every one out of the apartment with as little ceremony as he himself came in.

In the evening I was—as I usually am on Sunday eve—at Miss Williams's, and was amused to hear Humboldt, with his decisive talent and minute knowledge of the subject, show how utterly idle are all the expectations now entertained of the immediate and violent emancipation of South America. Without knowing it, he answered every argument Mad. de Stael had used, this morning, to persuade me that the fate of the South was as much decided as the fate of our Independence was at the capture of Yorktown; and I note the fact at this moment, to wait the event that will decide which of these two personages is right.

June 2.—I called this morning on Chateaubriand. He is now poor, for his occupation is gone, and he lives in a hotel garni, not far from my lodgings. We talked a good deal about our American Indians, and the prevalent notions of civilizing them; upon which he has the rational opinions that nobody can entertain, I suspect, but one who has seen them. He told me, too, a good deal about his journey [139] across Greece that interested me, and a good deal that would prevent my undertaking a similar excursion, in the assurance that less could be learned from it than I had supposed.

June 5.—Chateaubriand called on me this morning, and asked me to visit him this evening. There were only three or four of his friends there, for Mad. de C—is ill. He talked a great deal, but was not so much excited—or, as the French call it, exalte— as he was at Mad. de Stael's; and, if he was more reasonable in consequence, he was less amusing. His character, however, appeared more amiable to-night. He talked with good-nature and candor of the review in the Mercure that cut him up a few days ago so terribly; played with his cat as simply as ever Montaigne did; and went often to see how his wife did. I saw him, therefore, in a new point of view, and one which interested me for him a good deal.

June 12.—The Duke de Broglie and Mons. de Stael, who had heard of my affair4 with the police from the secretary of our legation (to whom I had sent a note upon it), called on me this morning, d la Francaise, to express their regret, etc., and asked me to dine, at Mad. de Stael's, with Lafayette. Nobody else was there; for Mad. de Stael on the whole grows worse, and the family do not like to see much company, though they still invite some, lest she should be alarmed more than her situation will bear. The dinner was very sad. Lafayette asked the Duchess some questions about her mother, but it was more than she could bear, and she was obliged to leave the table. The General himself—who is one of the most kind-hearted men in the world—was hardly less affected at finding he had unconsciously gone too far. . . . . I was indeed glad when the dinner was ended.

June 16.—M. Villemain, of the Academy of Paris Faculty of Letters, is so famous an instructor that I have long intended to hear him, but have been prevented until this morning. He is now lecturing on French eloquence, in a desultory and amusing manner I should think, from what I have heard, and this morning he was on Rousseau's Emile. The number of his hearers could not have been less than three hundred and fifty, and I endeavored to find out what were the merits or attractions which give him such an extraordinary popularity. They are certainly neither a strong and vigorous eloquence, like Lacretelle's, nor amusing anecdotes and witticisms like those of Andrieux, nor severe instruction like what all good lectures should contain, for he evidently neither seeks nor possesses these merits; [140] but it was what hits the French taste more than any or all three of them: it was an unhesitating fluency, though he spoke extemporaneously and without notes, a great choice of happy and sparkling phrases, though on a subject the most difficult to apply them discreetly, and an abundance of epigrammatic remarks, which seemed almost like arguments, because they struck the imagination so forcibly, and yet were nothing less. In short, it was a kind of amusement which ought to come rather under the great and indefinite class of what is called in France spectacle, than what in any country should be considered a part of public instruction. It was, however, fine of the sort.

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

During the beginning of the evening the conversation turned upon the condition of Europe, and he burst upon the discussion by saying, ‘Je ne crois pas dans la societe Europeenne,’ and supported his ominous proposition with a kind of splendid declamation, to which argument would have lent no force. ‘In fifty years,’ said he, ‘there will not be a legitimate sovereign in Europe; from Russia to Sicily, I foresee nothing but military despotisms; and in a hundred,—in a hundred! the cloud is too dark for human vision; too dark, it may almost be said, to be penetrated by prophecy. There perhaps is the misery of our situation; perhaps we live, not only in the decrepitude of Europe, but in the decrepitude of the world’; and he pronounced it in such a tone, and with such a look, that a dead silence followed it, and every person felt, I doubt not, with me, as if the future had become uncertain to him. In a few moments, from a natural impulse of selfishness, the question arose, what an individual should do in such a situation. Everbody looked to Chateaubriand. ‘If I were without a family, I would travel, not because I love travelling, for I abhor it, but because I long to see Spain, to know what effect eight years of civil war have produced there; and I long to see Russia, that I may better estimate the power that threatens to overwhelm the world. When I had seen these I should know the destinies of Europe, I think; and then I would go and fix my last home at Rome. There I would build my tabernacle, there I would build my tomb, and there, amid the ruins of three empires and three thousand years, I would give myself wholly to my God.’ Now there [141] was not much fanaticism in this; it was the out-breathed despair of the heart of a poet, whose family has been exterminated by one revolution, and who has himself been sacrificed to another; and, though I do not think of the destinies of Europe and the world very much as he does, yet I shall, as long as I live, respect him for what I saw of his feelings to-night.

To Elisha Ticknor.

Paris, June 13, 1817.
. . . . You tell me, in whatever country I am, ‘to say nothing against its government.’ I have never done so, least of all in France, where, on the whole, an impartial man would respect the present government and the Bourbon family; and yet I have become, by some means of which I have no conjecture, suspected by the police here. Just as I was finishing my French lesson (on the 10th), at half-past 6 A. M., two persons asked to see me, but declined giving their names. I told my servant to admit them. The oldest, a respectable-looking man, asked me if I knew him; to which I replied in the negative; and then, inquiring whether I was an American citizen, he said he wished to speak to me in private; upon which my instructor withdrew. The stranger then, unbuttoning his coat, showed the badge of the police, and presented to me a royal order signed by the minister of police, requiring him to take the justice of the peace of my quarter, to proceed to my lodgings, and to institute a ‘severe search’ for ‘all papers, libels or libellous writings, and books dangerous to the government,’ —to seal up all such as might be found of this nature, and carry them to the office of the police.

I did not hesitate a moment what to do. The commissaries who were standing guard outside were called in. I opened—not without making a proper protest against the outrage—my drawers and my desk, sat myself quietly down, and told them to do what they saw fit, upon peril of their responsibility. The search occupied until nearly eleven o'clock; and, after reading all my letters, my journal, my copies, etc.,—or as much of them as was necessary to be sure they were merely domestic and commonplace,—they finished by drawing up a proces verbal of two folio pages, saying, as you may well suppose, that they had found nothing, for in truth there was nothing to find. On parting with the gentlemen, I read them a lecture on the nature of the fruitless outrage they had committed, of the cause of which they were of course as ignorant as myself; and the justice of the peace in return expressed his regrets, and his conviction that I was ‘not a [142] dangerous person!’ adding, however, that while I remain in Paris, I shall be under the surveillance of the police. The search was rigorous, but in general civilly conducted.

A Greek manuscript gravelled them a little; for, though the peace officer was a well-instructed man, and read English and German, he knew nothing of Greek; but as the manuscript was from the royal library, and sanctified by the arms of the Bourbons, they were easily satisfied. One of the men was impudent to me about my curtains being closed, which he thought were kept drawn, not so much for the milder light, as to prevent my neighbors from seeing what was going on. But except that I had no difficulty with them.

One or two circumstances in the transaction are rather striking. In the first place, that four persons should be sent when it is usual to send but two, as I am told; in the second place, Mr. Warden says this is the first instance he has ever known that an American citizen has been subjected to such an insult and outrage as to have a search of any kind made in his quarters; also the form of the order itself was uncommon. It was a printed paper, the blanks of which were filled by some secretary, and the whole signed by the minister. The minister, however, had gone over and corrected it in his own handwriting; had added ‘libels or libellous writings’; and, instead of the words ‘perquisition exacte,’ had substituted ‘perquisition severe,’ which was no doubt the reason why the officers proceeded so rigorously.

The fact is, I have been denounced, but not in consequence of any letters, and not by any one who knows me well, for my name was spelt wrong in the order, ‘Bignor’; but there is no doubt I was the person intended, as my lodgings and citizenship were rightly designated. This gives me great comfort; for it must be some vulgar spy, and not my servant or any one whom I see often,—otherwise I should have been suspicious of everybody who approaches me.

However, it is all over. I wrote a note to the American legation, stating the facts, the morning after it all happened, and when Mr. Gallatin returns in a few days from Geneva I shall call upon him. The secretary offered to write immediately to the French minister, but I told him I thought it better to wait till Mr. Gallatin arrives; though I have no idea that any satisfaction, or apology even, will be obtained under any circumstances.

I need not say, my dear father and mother, that there is nothing in all this which should give you a moment's uneasiness. The government has done all it can, and is, of course, satisfied that my apparent [143] objects here are my real ones. I may or may not be watched a little while by some of their familiars; but, you know, watching is unavailing where there is nothing to discover; and, as I shall not change my conduct in the least, because there is nothing in it either wrong or suspicious, I shall soon put to rest any doubts that may remain. My letters, like all Mr. Wells's between Paris and Havre, never pass through the post-office; so, if I had written treason, the ministry would never have been the wiser for it.

It has been suggested to me that my habit of staying at home all day and going out in the evening, visiting no public places, and knowing such men as Count Gregoire, Benjamin Constant, the Marquis de Lafayette, Gallois, etc., may have drawn this inquisition upon me. It is possible, but I doubt it.

You will understand, of course, that the object of the government was to find correspondence, etc., with refugees in America; of this there is no doubt. How I came to be suspected of it is a mystery which will never be explained to me.

June 23, 1817.
In my last letter I spoke of a visit and search to which I had been subjected from the French police . . . . . Since the visitation I have not been molested, except that several of my letters have been broken open; and, as to the surveillance, I doubt whether it has been really carried into effect, except in regard to my correspondence. Mr. Gallatin returned from Geneva two days ago, and, after calling upon me himself when I was out, civilly sent his secretary to desire me to come to him, and give him some account of this extraordinary insult to my citizenship. I shall go this morning, but that will be the end of the whole affair; for, even if he should take the matter more seriously in hand than he will think prudent or I should desire, he would obtain no apology or explanation.

July 13, 1817.
My affair with the police has come to so singular a conclusion that, after all I have said about it, I cannot choose but finish its history. Yesterday morning Mr. Gallatin came to see me rather earlier than it is common to make visits, and, on entering my room, seemed not a little embarrassed. After considerable curious hesitation, he drew from his pocket a paper, gave it to me, and said, with the abrupt haste of a man desirous to get quickly through a business he does not like to begin, ‘That is the letter, sir, I wrote to the Duke de Richelieu on your case.’ I read it. It was a simple statement of the facts, followed by some remarks on the nature of the outrage, much [144] more high-toned than I thought it demanded, or than I supposed a man as cool and calculating as Mr. Gallatin would have made. ‘Are those the facts, sir?’ I said they were. ‘Well, sir,’ he continued, ‘there is the answer I received half an hour ago.’ On reading it, I found the Duke de Richelieu had informed him that his letter had been transmitted immediately to the Minister of Police, who had caused search to be made in his office, and in the office of the Prefecture of the Police for Paris, to find the records of the case; that none such had been found; that of course the search in question must have been made by persons unknown to the police; and that if the American minister would ascertain who they were, and would transmit their names to the Office of State, they should be immediately punished as such an unauthorized outrage deserved. I was thunderstruck; not because I imagined a trick had been played upon me, like that performed by the pretended inquisitors on Gil Blas, but because my word was now at stake against that of the Minister of Police, and at the same time I did not know how I could prove my statement. Mr. Gallatin asked me if I still supposed the persons to be officers of the police. I told him I did not doubt it in the least, for that they had done their business like men who were accustomed to do it every day. ‘Do you know the names of any of them?’ ‘No,’ I answered; but I did not doubt that one was the police-officer of my quarter, and described him as a man of fifty or upwards, fat, gray-headed, and bald; so that, on finding such a person, Mr. Gallatin might be sure there was no deception or mistake. For, though I do not think he doubted my veracity, yet his situation was so embarrassing, after a flat denial of his statement, that he really did not know what to believe or to do. I told him I would, if possible, find the commissary, and he proposed to go with me to his house. He was not at home, but his wife said he should come to Mr. Gallatin's at four o'clock, and I agreed to meet him there, and verify him. The three hours that intervened, you may be sure, I passed rather uncomfortably; for, if this were not the man, I knew not where to go for confirmation, and must stand convicted. Before four o'clock I was at Mr. Gallatin's hotel, but I was too late; the man had been there at three. Mr. Gallatin recognized him at once from my description, and said boldly, ‘I understand you are the person who made a search, some time since, of Mr. Ticknor's papers, etc., in the Rue Taranne, No. 10.’ After reflecting a moment, the man said ‘Yes,’ he had done it; saying, at the same time, ‘that he did not know the causes of it; that he hoped I did not complain of the manner in which it was done, etc.’ Mr. [145] Gallatin assured him that it was not to know the causes, or to complain of the manner, that he had desired to see him, but to ascertain the fact, and gave him the Duke de Richelieu's letter. On reading it, Mr. Gallatin said, he was first very much alarmed at finding he had confessed something he should not have told, and then very angry that his conduct was thus disavowed. ‘But,’ said Mr. Gallatin, ‘can there be no mistake?’ ‘Certainly not,’ said the officer; ‘for the order was directed to an American citizen, living in the Rue Taranne, No. 10; and, though there was a mistake in the name, it was only a mistake in spelling it, and I mentioned this circumstance expressly in my proces verbal, which Mr. Ticknor also signed himself, and therefore they know it all, as well as you and I do, and I can prove it, and exculpate myself, unless they have destroyed my proc's verbal.’ He ended by saying that he hoped I should not push the affair any further, which certainly would be best for him, though I doubt not he acted with perfect prudence under his instructions.

There, then, the matter rests. I told Mr. Gallatin that I felt no further interest in it, and he replied that nothing could now be done, but to write to the Minister, and give him the name of the commissary, which he felt so reluctant to do that perhaps he should not do it at all. I acquiesced the more gladly, as this was precisely the man who had behaved most civilly; and thus, I presume, the affair ends. If it were carried further, the reply, no doubt, would be, that it was a mistake arising from similarity of names, which would be as true as that the examination of my papers was unauthorized.

In the Journal, the account of this singular visitation is almost identical with this,—perhaps with less vivacity; but, under the date of June 19th, there is this passage:—

At last, I believe I have found out the cause of my difficulty with the police. M. de Humboldt, having heard of the visitation, called on me this morning, for the express purpose of cautioning me against an Englishman, whom we have both met at Benjamin Constant's. He has lived in Paris fifteen years, and is well known as a spy. M. de Humboldt adds that he is very ill-tempered, and that he never passes an evening in his company without recalling, at home, everything he has said, to know whether possibly he may have exposed himself at all. With this man I had a slight argument at Constant's, one evening, on German literature, in which Constant took my side; but the thing went but a little way, as the Englishman showed ill-feeling, and I chose to remain silent. Humboldt remarked it, and said he thought [146] at the time that the fellow would play me a trick if he had the opportunity. What Humboldt did not know until I told him, is, that I met this Englishman, a few evenings before the perquisition, at Chateaubriand's, when the conversation turning on the French refugees in America, I said they were not received there with the enthusiasm that is generally supposed in Europe. The Englishman denied this with uncommon promptness, and alleged, in proof, that a great dinner had been given to them in Boston. A charge of this kind, upon a town which had sung a solemn Te Deum for Bonaparte's defeats in Russia, and made an illumination for the restoration of the Bourbons, naturally vexed me, and I told him and Chateaubriand very circumstantially how things stood. The Englishman made no reply, but was evidently displeased, especially at the decided satisfaction Chateaubriand expressed. If, then, he is a spy, I doubt not he is the person who denounced me, not, perhaps, because he thought me dangerous or wished to revenge on me the little disputes I had with him,—though M. de Humboldt believes him capable even of this,— but because his bread depends on the information he gives, and he would be as well paid for denouncing me, as for denouncing any one else.

On the 27th July, Mr. Ticknor says: ‘From the early part of July almost all my French friends had left Paris, and I was very solitary, except that I had acquaintances more or less intimate among Americans.’ The remainder of his residence in Paris he gave to a careful study of the public places and institutions of the city, writing elaborate and historical notes on what he saw. In August, he made two visits at Draveil, the chateau of Mr. Parker, an American gentleman, who had lived in France for thirty years.


It is a fine establishment, worthy of an English nobleman from its magnitude, its completeness, and its hospitality. Several persons who interested or amused me were staying there, and the days passed pleasantly in driving about the neighborhood . . . . Once I went with the ladies to see Marshal Davoust, who lives at a fine chateau about three leagues from Draveil. Mad. Davoust received us, the Marshal having gone out hunting. She is a good-looking woman of some cultivation. When her husband was absent, she shut herself up, and received no company. So once, when she went to court with [147] her husband, after such a seclusion, Bonaparte asked her, ‘Eh bien, ma belle Princesse d'eckmuhl, pour combien avez-vous vendu votre foin, cette annee?’

We fell accidentally into a discussion almost political, and as nothing touches the French and the Bonapartists like the loss of the battle of Waterloo, she began to give me reasons for it. I could have given her better, if it would have been polite; but one she gave was curious, as an authentic anecdote. To prove that the Emperor was ill that day, she said he did not rise until seven o'clock, and never spoke while he dressed. When his secretary gave him his sword, he drew it with a sigh, and then, thrusting it back into the scabbard, said with an air of weariness he had never shown before, ‘Encore une bataille!’ sprang upon his horse and hurried to the field, as if more impatient to finish the day than anxious how it should be finished. This singular conversation came at last to the most delicate of all topics,— the conduct of the Prince himself at Hamburg; and, as I had made up my mind upon the subject in Germany, I suppose she perceived my impression in spite of me, for she said that, as she should like to have me know the truth, she would send me the Marshal's defence. Just at this moment the Marshal met us in the avenue, with his rifle on his back, his collar unbuttoned, and his whole dress careless and dirty. He is a tall, stout man, with black hair and eyes, and very bald. There is little appearance of talent in his physiognomy, but there is something imposing in his air and manner, though perhaps it is nothing more than the remains of the command he exercised so long. With this there was politeness and even an air of mildness, that surprised me not a little in the man who commanded at Hamburg in 1813. In conversation he seemed moderate, talked freely on all subjects but politics; . . . . but, on leaving him, I remembered very little he had said, except that, in alluding to the troubles in South America, he said almost impatiently, ‘Je ne crois plus aux revolutions!’ A few days afterwards, the Marechale returned the visit of the ladies, and brought the defence of her husband presented to the king. It is plain and simple, and showed that his orders from the Emperor were such as would have justified any general oppressions and cruelty, though I think hardly such special instances of inhumanity as I have heard of.


To Mrs. Walter Channing.

Paris, August 1, 1817.
. . . . I have been above a week at Mr. Parker's, at Draveil, about twelve miles from Paris, a superb establishment, whose completeness splendor, and hospitality, equally struck me. Several persons were staying there at the same time that I was, and among them two French ladies remarkably well instructed, one of whom has a great deal of talent, so that there was no want of society such as I most desire to have. I used to get up early and occupy myself with my books in my chamber until noon; then I came down, and the French lady I mention gave me a regular lesson in reading French, which, among her other accomplishments, she had learned to read and declaim with uncommon elegance and power. After this we commonly went to ride, either round the superb park which surrounds the house, or in a wood near it, where there is an oak called the Pere de la Foret, preserved in memory of the times when Gabrielle d'estrees and Henry IV. used to sit under its shade. After dinner one of the ladies always played on the piano, which in the course of the last year I have not only learned to like, but have learned to understand music so far that I can distinguish between that of the different nations in general, and have taste enough to prefer Italian and German to either French, which I find frivolous, or English, which seems to me unmeaning. At sunset always came a walk,—not as in our own more decisive climate, where the sun goes down

Arraying in reflected purple and gold
The clouds that on his western throne attend,

but still beautiful, as sunset must be everywhere, and followed by a prolonged, transparent, distinct twilight, such as is unknown in our more heavy atmosphere. The evening always brought us together in a little parlor, and it passed away too quickly in work and reading.

French was the language of conversation, but all the party understood English, and therefore Shakespeare and Milton came in for their share. This naturally produced discussions of the relative merits of the two literatures; and, though I found myself alone, you do credit enough to my obstinacy, if Walter will not to my taste, to believe I did not shrink from maintaining the supremacy of English literature in defiance of them all . . . . The affair ended by a challenge, given and accepted, to stake Shakespeare and Milton against the whole body of French poetry. The French party was to begin by reading the best [149] passages in their language, taking none but of the very first order, and I undertook to reply passage by passage, and page by page, taking only my two favorites. All the morning the ladies were in council with Voltaire, Racine, Corneille,—in short, a whole library. In the evening they covered the table with books till there was not room to put down a pin-cushion, and were a little abashed to find I took from my pocket nothing but your little ‘Paradise Lost,’ which alone exhausted their three great authors. In short, in four evenings they had no more passages of the first order of poetry to offer, and I had still Shakespeare's best plays in reserve, so that I prevailed on putting the vote, by four to two, without counting myself. . . . .



To Dr. Walter Channing.

Paris, August 12, 1817.
. . . . If you wish to have my opinion of the French theatre, I am perfectly ready to say that it affords an entertainment such as I have never known elsewhere, and for the most natural of all reasons,— because it is more cultivated and more important here; because it enters much more deeply and intimately into the system of life, and instead of being an accidental amusement, it is an every-day want. I do not speak now of their tragedy, which wants force and passion, and pleases me little; it has all the beauties of an inimitable diction, but as to the ordinary pretence of the French men of letters that it is the continuation and perfection of the Greek, I think it entirely false. How, for instance, can they compare a theatre, of which a story is related like that of the first representation of the Eumenides of Aeschylus, with a theatre of proprieties and conventions? A Greek was not more unlike a Frenchman than the theatres of the two nations. But in respect to the comedy, I cannot avoid agreeing with the French critics. In fact, it seems to me to make a genus in the drama by itself, and it is a great injustice to it to call it by the same name that is worn by other genera in other nations. ‘The Misanthrope,’ for instance, or ‘Tartuffe,’ have but little in common with the English comedy, except inasmuch as Sheridan and a few others have imitated the French; and still less can the intriguing comedy of Spain, or the vulgar buffoonery of Italy, pretend to a relationship.

This excellency of the French comedy is, too, very natural and [150] probable à priori. Their national character furnishes more material for it than can be found anywhere else; the forms of society and the tone of their conversation partake just enough of the nature of a representation to fit them admirably for the stage, and their light and flexible and equivocal language lends itself to express comical shades and inflections, of which all others are incapable, while at the same time the foppery and gallantry of their actors, and the levity and the coquetry of their actresses, are so natural and piquant, because they, like the nation they belong to, are playing the same parts all day in common life that they represent to the public in the evening.

Do not misunderstand me. I do not regret that we have none of this comedy in English, for I deprecate the character and principles out of which it grows, and should lose no inconsiderable proportion of my hope for England and America, if they had reached or were approaching that ominous state of civilization and refinement in which it is produced. . . . . After all, I had rather go to the French theatre than the English, as an entertainment. Shakespeare and Milton have more poetry than all France can show from the time of the Troubadours and Fabliaux to Delille and Chateaubriand; but no nation, I think, has hit like them the exact tone and grace of theatrical representation.

My love to all; and save me a corner in your new, old house in Summer Street, where I may feel at home when I come among you.

1 Mr. Ticknor, on a visit to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, before he went to Europe, carried a letter of introduction to Mr. Jeremiah Mason, a distinguished lawyer of that city, and was invited to tea. Mr. Mason asked him endless questions, and he grew so tired and vexed that, as he left the house, he said to himself that he would never pass through that man's door again. The next day, he met Mr. Mason at dinner at Mr. Webster's, when the style of address was quite changed, and he never after regretted knowing Mr. Mason. During Mr. Ticknor's absence in Europe, his journal was for a time in the hands of his friend, Mr. N. A. Haven, of Portsmouth. Mr. Mason insisted on seeing it. The passage above, comparing Baron Gagern to Mr. Mason in his style of questioning, met his eye. Years afterwards, when acquaintance had grown to friendship, Mr. Mason mentioned that he had read that passage, which drew forth a confession about the first call, and Mr. Mason replied that he always questioned young men so.

2 Note by Mr. Ticknor: ‘I have learned since that he is a Corsican.’

3 One day Mr. Ticknor was walking in Paris with a friend and townsman, when they met Baron Humboldt. Mr. Ticknor bowed, and was passing on, when Humboldt stopped, and said that there was to be a function at the Institute the next day, and that if Mr. Ticknor would like to be present, he would give him a ticket. The offer was accepted with proper acknowledgments. Humboldt then added, ‘Perhaps your friend would like to go too?’ His companion said he should be very glad, and a ticket was given to him also. As they parted, his friend said, ‘Now, is there a Frenchman in all Paris who would have done this?’

4 This affair is explained a few pages farther on.

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