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especially with the good feeling with which they seemed to deplore the possibility of a disunion of the States,—an event fraught with the ruin of the whole continent. I had seen it stated in one of the newspapers that the Princess Bagration,--who passed through Brussels about six months ago on her way to Paris, where she now is, and, indeed, is said to be privily married to a remarkably handsome and amiable young English officer of my acquaintance,-had been ordered by the Czar Nicholas to return to Russia immediately, upon pain of confiscation of all her estate. I asked the queen if it could possibly be true. She told me it was,-and that the motive assigned for it was that the princess had dined at Court when she was here, the King of the Belgians not having, as yet, been recognized by the Russian autocrat. I replied that I thought it a piece of despotism, at once so barbarous and so unmanly, that I could not but doubt its existence. Yes, said she, I suppose it must appear very revolting to you.
Upon the whole, as you may infer from this and some of my more recent letters, Brussels has been very agreeable during the winter. I gave, myself, a grand dinner to the diplomatic corps and some of the ministers, but, although the English ladies were all teazing me to let them dance in my fine house, as they said, I would not go the ball. I did not feel well enough settled for that, and then I hate to be put out next day. If I stay here next winter I may, possibly, be more obliging, and, indeed, gratitude would seem to require it, for nothing can be kinder than the reception the English here, especially, have given me. Except that they call me Legarry, instead of Legree, I could almost fancy myself at home,-and, I assure you, although very much accustomed to be petted in Charleston, as you know, I have no reason to be at all dissatisfied with the place I hold here. Knowing the English as well as I do,-their pride, their whims, their precision, etc.,-I feel more complimented by their intercourse with me, than by all the fine things their ambassador here has been pleased to say of me. One of the gentlemen is always telling me I ought to have gone or go as ambassador to London. I should not break my heart if a certain great man, 3000 miles off, were to take the same idea into his head. And, àpropos of this, the consul at Ostend, who is just returned from Washington, tells me I am in very good odor there, and may expect promotion. This gentleman seemed delighted with me and my establishment, except that there was no lady in it, though he protested vehemently against my marrying any of "the quality here", as he called it, wher my own country boasts the most beautiful and virtuous women in the world, (and so it does, unquestionably). He told me, too, jocularly, that if I did not treat him with great indulgence, as my subaltern, he would tell upon
me, at Washington, how I was living like a lord, etc., though, he added, he believed the stingiest democrat of them would be proud to know it.
Vanity of vanities, all is vanity, saith the Chargé. As I am here, I should be pleased to be transferred to London or Paris, and to spend a few years more, under such advantageous circumstances, in Europe, but only a few years, and solely with a view to increased wisdom and usefulness. All, else, I know to be nonsense. I think, too, my education and studies have given me a decided advantage over the great majority of Americans, and that I can do the country some service, and, may I add, honor? So, you see, patriotism makes me seek my own elevation, which, however paradoxical it may be, is the naked truth. I embrace you both, my sisters, sincerely and tenderly.
H. S. L.
Mr. Legaré, to his Mother.
BRUSSELS, 11TH MAY, 1835.
My dear Mother, --I returned yesterday from a short excursion to Antwerp, of which I enclose you some memoranda, thinking they might amuse you. Mary (to whom I wrote about a fortnight ago) will, I dare say, take an interest in what I say of the fine pictures I saw there,—though, I suppose, I gave her a full account of them when I returned from the same city just two years ago. If so, she may compare my two descriptions, and amuse herself with the changes which time has, probably, made in some of my opinions on such subjects, as on others yet more important.
The change of air has done me wonderful good,—that is, it has continued and, I hope, completed the effect of a course of medicine I had gone through, to get rid of some bad humors in my blood and bile, and prepare me to benefit by such an excursion. I have been horribly dyspeptic for a long time past, with symptoms, as I hinted to you before, of a certain malady of sedentary persons, which has always alarmed me very much, but not as much as I now think it ought. For a week after I left Brussels these symptoms had totally disappeared, and my stomach been restored to a tone of strength and health, such as I have not experienced this many a long day. But, a day or two before I left Antwerp, in consequence, I believe, of my having been tempted by over-confidence in it, to eat vegetables and acid things, which I, in general, never touch at all, I had a short relapse. Abstinence the next day, and activity since, have kept me very well for the two last days.
I returned to Brussels yesterday, and did intend to go on im
mediately to Liège and Cologne, where I should have amused myself for some fortnight or three weeks more, until I should have been quite re-established. The truth is, I am exhausted by intense, perpetual meditation in solitude, which sounds oddly enough in the mouth of one of the corps diplomatique, in rather a gay Court and city, but is nevertheless true. It is true I have been, during the whole winter, dining out, going to the theatre, where I had part of a box, and to balls and soirées, every evening; but then, these engagements left me the whole day, from half-past 6 in the morning to half-past 5, and often till 7, perfectly alone, reading, writing and thinking perpetually,-even at my meals, when at home, wrapt up in thought and actually occupied with books. I have been taking a great deal of exercise during the whole winter, and it has done me immense good, but still I was never well; scarcely a day passed that I was not, some time or other in the course of it, more or less indisposed,—and, if I deviated at any time from the strictest simplicity of diet, (which I very seldom did,) I never failed to pay a heavy penalty for it during the night or the next day. But I shall never have done, if I go into details of this sort, which I trust are now become mere matter of history.
You will have learned, from my last letter to Mary, that I have asked leave, for better for worse, to return to America next June, with the conditional permission of doing so in October, if your letters require it. When I did so, I thought our difference with France about to be immediately adjusted, (as it might easily have been,) but, within these few days, that matter has assumed a different complexion, and I should not be surprised if something serious came of it at last, by the strange management of the parties concerned. In that event, I do not know what the President will do. H. S. L.
God bless you all.
Mr. Legaré to his Sister.
SPA, MIDI 14 Août, 1834. The date of this letter, my dear Mary, reminds me that it was this very month, fifteen years ago, that I first visited Spa,-a younker, then, of 22-3, with a head full of imaginings, a few of which have been since realized, but the greater part, of course, gone to that limbo where, dit-on, all things lost on earth, that are empty enough to fly upwards, are to be found. I am just this moment arrived, and as it is too hot to go out, (for this summer has been warm enough to be called summer,) I feel inclined to turn the first moments of my leisure here to account,-that is, to an account of why and how I came here.
Brussels, like other great cities, is deserted in the summer,--that is to say, by some scores of people that call themselves every body, but this summer, especially, its desolation has been frightful. This is owing to the deaths of some of those people whose houses were points of general rendezvous to all one would wish to meet; such, especially, as the Prince Auguste d'Arenberg and Lady Charlotte Fitzgerald. They remained in town all last summer, and you know how much of my time was agreeably passed in the society which these distinguished persons gathered about them. Besides dining with the Prince once, twice, and even three times a week, the corps diplomatique were generally invited to dinner by the King on Thursdays, and not unfrequently on Tuesdays or Sundays besides. The consequence was that, for many months, I literally lived in the most agreeable manner with the most agreeable people, and consider my social position at Brussels as having been as fortunate as it possibly could be, if fortunate it can be called, considering the sort of people it has accustomed me to, and the sort of people it has singularly estranged me from,-though not forever. Vous com
I left Brussels on the 10th. Slept at a miserable village called Wavre, but slept well, although I went to bed unwell, and not without serious apprehensions, from my sensations in leaving town and during the short journey of fifteen miles in the afternoon, that I was going to be attacked furiously by the cholera, native or imported. The next day, at 12, I arrived at Namur,for, I must here mention to you, that the great object of my excursion was to take the famous drive on the bank of the Meuse, from that city to Liège, a distance of about forty-five miles, which is as much vaunted as any equal extent of country in Europe. I was in my own carriage, and, of course, did it all very leisurely. Between Namur and Liège is a little town, crammed in between the mountains, through which the Meuse forces its way, and cut in two by this river, known, it seems, to antiquity, and recorded by the Emperor Antoninus, now called Huy or Hoëy. Of this little rookery I made a stage. It is nearly half way between the two cities just mentioned, and divides the scenery into classes as well as parts: the upper is wilder and more rugged, the valley of the river being quite narrow, generally walled in by beetling and craggy cliffs of great height, and only now and then running out into the country in a recess spacious enough to admit a village, or giving the river two beds. instead of one, and filling up the interval between them with islets of smooth meadow-ground. The road is MacAdamised, and runs the whole way just upon the edge of the stream, which, during the summer, is shallow enough to be fordable every where, so that the boats that navigate it are pulled up by
horses that wade in the stream itself, instead of walking upon the banks. This celebrated scenery sometimes recalled to me the French Broad, which you have seen,--but it differs from it, first in that the valley is uniformly wider, and so presents more variety and soft contrasts, and then that the banks are less bold and striking as mountain cliffs. I enjoyed the evening at Huy extremely. I arrived there just before sunset of a charming evening, and saw, when I walked out, the last blushing tints of day fade away in the west, while the crescent of the young moon gradually brightened as they faded away, and, at length, hung over the point of the mountains that shut up my prospect on almost all sides, and looked, in its quiet softness and beauty, like the eye of heaven itself, reminding man of its presence even in the deepest and stillest solitudes. You will, I am sure, excuse this flight, and all this attempt at description, when I tell you that more than ever, now, I love and long for the repose of nature, for which I was certainly formed, although it has been hitherto my lot to enjoy it so little; and, while I am writing to you at my window, a very pretty girl, perched up at her's on the opposite side of the court, occasionally casts down upon me a glance of curiosity, which I could almost wish were one of tenderness. From Huy to Liège, the scene becomes more and more cultivated and soft, and, of course, less like what you are accustomed to.
At Liège, my taste for the picturesque brought me into the greatest scrape of the kind I ever fell into. The town is built on the Meuse, and runs up the side of a mountain. After having visited the lower part of it, I determined, in the evening, to take an excursion (on foot, mind you) into the upper, in order to have a fine prospect. Accordingly, ignorant of the geography of the coast and without chart or pilot, I set out at random, and pursued the first street that led upwards. And I continued to pursue it and pursue it, with indefatigable perseverance, although half dead with heat and fatigue, until I saw a sort of alley which came down a tremendous flight of steps. This seemed to me to be just the thing for my design on the picturesque, and so I shot into this lane by way of variety, mounted the steps, and kept mounting, without being able to see any thing at all but the ground under my feet and the sky over my head, for the cursed lane was absolutely shut in on both sides by a wall, along its whole length. At last, arrived at the very summit of the mountain, I found that, by mounting up upon the inner wall, where it became practicable, I could place myself so as to be able to get an imperfect view of the valley, the city and the heights in the distance. I returned dissatisfied and exhausted, and consoling myself only with the reflection that the fatigue