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saved from the same fate; for the baillie of the place, who we suppose, was as fat as an alderman, was just about to seat himself on the cushion where she lay, when the fates, who had carved out a more glorious destiny for her, interposed, and rescued her from the baillie's unwieldly weight. No doubt the old gentlewoman recals with delight the various perils and mischances that her youth suffered, and amuses her own family and friends by recounting them by the winter fire-side; but it appears to be a strange fancy to imagine that the world should occupy itself in learning that she was dry-nursed ; that at the age of eighteen months she narrowly escaped drowning in a fish-pond; that the usual means were employed to cure her squinting; and that when she was made a canoness, the Grand Prior, in attempting to cut off a lock of her hair, clipped off her ear, which, however, grew again.
Mr. Salgues's version of the Countess's history of her marriage, is extremely pleasant :~ As the amiable canoness grew up, she became charming. The Count de Genlis, a young man of twentyseven, a colonel in the army, and nephew to the Marquis de Puisieux, minister for foreign affairs, beheld the portrait of the enchantress, and feeling that his heart was wounded by the sight, tbrew himself at her feet, offering her his fortune and his hand. The offer was accepted; the Marquis was angry; they married secretly, and set out for Picardy; and in this way the young Countess de Lanes became Countess de Genlis.' It would be necessary to copy the whole of this illustrious lady's memoirs if we would describe all the sallies, the tricks, and the frolics of the young Countess. She conducted her husband's horses to water, riding astride upon them; and played off a thousand tricks upon the peasantry, knocking in the evening at the doors of the cabarets, and asking for sarrechien and then running away with all her might, roaring with laughter. She moreover bled and physicked the villagers with various success, made them swallow decoctions of various herbs, and far from demanding payment for her prescriptions, she frequently added to her potions a good silver shilling, which made them go down more pleasantly. All this was delightful, but Paris was a thousand times more so.
When Madame de Genlis retired to the convent of Belle Chasse with the children of the Duke de Chartres, she was visited by several of the literary men who were at that period called “ Philosophers,” in Paris. D'Alembert, unquestionably in jest, promised her that if she would lay aside her bigotry, he would exert himself to create in the French Academy a place for four female members, of wbich she, of course, should be one ; but the Countess, who prized her bigotry still more than her literary reputation, or at least, ihan a place in the French Academy, felt her rage kindle at the proposal, and the philosopher returned no more. La Harpe, however, who visited her for love, was not to be repressed, even by her bigotry; for love is much-enduring, patient, and unwearied. He celebrated her charms and her wit in a thousand songs, in a thousand madrigals, and the Countess replied to his passion in the same way. This was exactly as it should be. The love that evaporates in a song, should be paid with a song, and with nothing more.
The children who had been placed under the care of the Countess de Genlis, at length reached that age in which the services of a master appeared to be required . The period, says M. Salgues,' approached, when according to custom, their education was no longer to be confided to women. But was Madame de Genlis an ordinary woman! Did not her knowledge, her talents, the greatness of her conceptions, elevate her above her sex? The Duke de Chartres came formally to consult her on the choice of a Governor. She named several able men, one after another, but the Duke approving of none of them, she said, “Well, here is myself ?” “Aye, replied the Duke, you are the person':” and Madame de Genlis was forthwith transformed from the Governess, to the Governor or Tutor, of the young princes.' The dwelling of Belle Chasse now became the residence of all the sciences, and arts, and knowledge, known to man. Maupertuis had, a short time previously, proposed to found a city in which the language of the ancient Romans only should be spoken; but Madame de Genlis did much better : her dining-room became a polyglote school, and her house a living encyclopedia. Her pupils breakfasted in German, dined in English, supped in Italian, and by this ingenious method feasted body and mind at the same time. The mechanical arts themselves were not banished from this scientific mansion. The delicate fingers of the Countess wielded in succession the pen, the turning machine, the saw, and the plane. She moreover constructed twiy baskets, admirable for their tastefulness and lightness, and manufactured laces, gauzes, and portfolios, superior even to those of England, to.gether with marble paper and wigs.
In the immediate wake of this singular plan of education, we have the history, in epitome, of one of those scenes of literary squabbling which have so frequently been exhibited at Paris. During her education scheme at Belle Chasse, the Countess, besides her baskets and lace, had manufactured a kind of Romance,called “Adela and Theodore,” which her lover, La Harpe, had undertaken to praise to the skies in the “ Mercure de France.” Instead of a panegyric from La Harpe, however, the “ Mercure" only contained a critique, which was any thing but favourable. Revenge now took the place of love, though it does not appear how La Harpe was to blame; and as her quondam admirer had also written a book,' the power to avenge herself was in the lady's hands, and she availed herself of it to the utmost.
We quit Madame de Genlis, however, and pass on to the other characters here assembled together. M. Salgues is perfectly mistaken if he imagines that the Bienheureux Robert d'Arbisselles, abbot of Fonterrault, possesses a reputation worth demo
Leated of this “ Bienheertain jokes, and scandas Historical and
lishing. To use a phrase coined at the west end of the town, and not altogether intelligible out of that quarter, “ Robert” is a
person “wbom nobody knows." The name of the convent of **Fonterrault occupies, to be sure, a place in “Bayle's Historical and Critical Dictionary,” where certain jokes, and scandalous anecdotes, are related of this “ Bienheureux” personage; but “ the world ” bas long ceased to take any interest in such matters, and the resuscitation attempted by M. Salgues will have no effect. We do not now care one straw whether he partook or not of the bed of his pretty nuns, or whether the letters of Geoffry de Vendome and the Bishop of Rennes, be genuine or not. If Robert was guilty of loving this species of martyrdom, other holy personages, as Saint Adhelm, bishop of Canterbury, had been addicted to the same thing. In fact, the middle ages were as fertile in vice of every species, as they were in ignorance and foolery.
Madame de Maintenon, whatever may be the rank she occupies in Fuller's Dictionary, is tolerably well understood, in the present day, at least here in England. Her talents for intrigue, her affected piety, her inordinate ambition, and her heartless selfishness, have long been acknowledged ; and if a few harmless Jesuits have amused themselves in these latter days, when they have little else to occupy them, with descanting on her virtues, and her piety, why should we be angry? Men must employ themselves, and there seems to be something chivalrous in propping up equivocal reputations, like those of Madame de Maintenon, Jane of Naples, and Mary Queen of Scots. Let us quit this ingenious old lady, who contrived at the age of fifty-two to become the mistress of a king younger than herself, and pass on to characters more worthy of our notice.
The next personage whose character M. Salgues undertakes to examine, is Mohammed. Conscious, or at least fearful that he was about to tread on dangerous ground, our author adopted the plan of throwing what he had to say concerning the Arabian Prophet into dialogue, supposing that by this means he should the more easily escape censure, supposing that any of the truths he was about to utter should be found unpalatable. In old times this contrivance was sometimes found to succeed. Euripides vented his own incredulity through the mouths of his dramatis persona, and Plato is thought to have done the same thing. But the trick has now become a little stale ; and therefore M. Salgues, in adopting a form of composition which he could not manage adroitly, subjected himself to the certainty of being tedious, without deriving any equivalent advantage. The subject, although by no means new, is sufficiently fertile, and an author thoroughly impregnated with the spirit of the East, and at the same time aware of the extent and nature of the prejudices prevailing in Europe on the subject, might have rendered an outline of the character of Mohammed exceedingly striking. The ignorance of
Europeans upon every point relating to the history, manners, and opinions of Asiatic nations, appears truly marvellous, when we consider the number of travellers who have traversed the East for the purpose of collecting correct information on the character of the people and their institutions. There are individuals still to be found who believe that Mohammed's coffin hangs suspended by magnetism between earth and heaven, in the great mosque at Medina ; that during his lifetime he pretended to have cut the moon in two; and that he supposed women, that is one half of the whole human race, to be without souls. But it is not worth while to refute the opinions of persons so absurd as these. The Koran exists, let them read it; the book contains their refutation. The errors of the literary and the learned, however, must be treated differently; and on this particular subject the literary and the learned are but little more correct in their notions than the vulgar. M. Salgues has attacked and exposed some of these, but in a tone more calculated to irritate and offend than to convince. His knowledge of the East, appears too confined for the task he has undertaken, and accordingly his success is very small.
To Mohammed succeeds Martin Luther, a great man also, and one who, in certain parts of Europe, is as little understood as the Arabian Prophet is in any part of Christendom. If M. Salgues is unsatisfactory in the preceding article, he is far more so in this. Luther was a man above his reach. The intrepid, ardent, indefatigable advocate of liberty of conscience, who performed more than a hundred philosophers towards the emancipation of Europe, from the darkness of the middle ages, is here attempted to be shown up in a ludicrous light, as pretending to hold conferences with the devil, while he was only dreaming. It is true the author pretends all the while to be defending the great reformer; but we can discover that, in the midst of his apparent design, there is another, which is neither more nor less than to cover both Catholic and Protestant with ridicule. This is a relic of the philosophism of the last age, which is not at all to the taste of the present; and our lively satirist, by giving himself up a litile too much to this view, is extremely likely to give more offence to real philosophers than to any other class of men whatever.
Leaving Martin Luther to be appreciated by more competent persons, we come to the famous Cardinal de Richelieu, who is here delineated with considerable truth and vivacity:
«« This man,” says our author, “ has still a magnificent mausoleum in the Sorbonne; and in Paris, and in all parts of France statues are found to his memory. It was of him that Montesquieu remarked that he compelled his king to play the second part in his kingdom, while he was acting the first in all Europe ; that he rendered the sovereign contemptible, while he was shedding glory upon his reign. I would consent,” adds M. Salgues, that the Cardinal de Richelieu should have statues erected to him wherever the qualities of the mind are considered every thing, and
those of the heart nothing, wherever the genius of politics is preferred to the rights of humanity, of justice, and of morality. He humbled the enemies of France, he raised to the highest degree of glory the crown left by Henry IV, to a feeble successor; he was the terror of the great, whom he cast bound hand and foot at the foot of the throne, but he was himself regarded with horror by the people, who were pressed to the earth by ibe weight of his intolerable despotism. He erected the power of the prince upon the ruins of public liberty. Let him have a statue raised to bim, provided its head resembles those theatrical masks which are majestic on one side and hideous on the other. · Nature had bestowed upon him a powerful mind and a superior judgment, but an iron heart. Covetous of every kind of glory, he began by studying with ambitious ardour the science of theology. At the age of nineteen he discoursed with eclat on various subjects in the college of the Sorbonne. His talents, his court favour, his reputation, raised him at the age of twenty-two to the honour of the episcopacy, and it was the Pope himself who consecrated him with his own hands. He now composed various controversial, pious, and ascetical works, and acquired a high reputation in the church. He expounded the principal points of the Catholic faith, and of those christian perfections which he recommended to others, but took care not to practise himself. Ascending rapidly from one step to another, he became almoner to queen Mary de Medicis, whom he first served, then provoked to hatred, then betrayed, and, hurrying her abominable son into a forgetfulness of his natural duties, caused to be banished from the court, from the kingdom, and to die in despair and misery in a foreign land. While the monarch's favourites furthered his designs, he made use of their services; when they could no longer serve his purpose, he cut them off, or cast them from the court; he took possession of the mind of Louis XIII, the degenerate heir of Henry IV., and discovering that he was hated by the great, that certain courtiers were planning his ruin, he seized upon that pretext to surround himself with a guard, at first of fifty archers, then of two companies of cavalry, and two hundred infantry, while his palace displayed greater pomp and more severe etiquette than that of the sovereign himself.'
In describing the actions of this proud and unprincipled priest, our author falls into an error, not uncommon in historians of judgment superior to him, of attributing all the blame to the minister, and none to the king. For example, he observes that Richelieu plunged the monarch in a narrow and superstitious devotion, kept him in continual fear of sorcerers and the devil, and occupied his whole time in pilgrimages and “neuvaines,” or nine days' prayers, while he himself was advancing with rapid strides towards supreme power. But how came Richelieu to possess this boundless influence over his prince's mind ? Was Louis XIII. a mere puppet, without judgment, without intellect, without common sense? If he was, it was a matter of course that he should be led by the nose by the first man who should have the courage to attempt it; and he was merely unfortunate, in putting his head into the noose of a roguc like Richelieu. When one individual is said to lead another into an evil course of action, an accusation is advanced against both ;