« EelmineJätka »
or three steps at a time. In his passage he only met with three or four emigrants who had nothing to do casting on us a disdainful look, he turned up his nose and his pale face, and passed on.
At home, this great financier kept no sort of order; he had no regular hours for his meals or for sleep. Over head and ears in debt, he paid nobody, and never could take the trouble to cast up a bill. A valet de chambre managed his house. Ill dressed, without pleasure, without passion, greedy of power, he despised honours, and would not be any thing more than William Pitt.
In the month of June, 1822, Lord Liverpool took me to dine at his country-house. As we crossed Putney Heath, he showed me the small house where the son of Lord Chatham, the statesman who had had Europe in his pay, and distributed with his own hand all the treasures of the world, died in poverty.
CHANGE IN ENGLISH MANNERS.
CLERGY. FASHIONABLE WORLD.
SEPARATED from the Continent by a long war, the English retained their manners and their national character till the end of the last century. All was not yet machine in the working classes,— folly in the upper classes. On the same pavements where you now meet squalid figures, and men in frock coats, you were passed by young girls in white tippets, straw hats tied under the chin with a riband, with a basket on the arm in which was fruit or a book; all kept their eyes cast down, all blushed when one looked at them. Frock coats, without any other, were so unusual in London, in 1793, that a woman, deploring with tears the death of Louis XVI., said to me, "But my dear sir, is it true that the poor King was dressed in a frock coat when they cut off his head?"
The gentlemen-farmers had not yet sold their patrimony to take up their residence in London; they still formed in the House of Commons that independent fraction which, transferring their support from the opposition to the ministerial side, upheld the ideas of order and propriety. They hunted the fox, and shot pheasants in autumn, ate fat goose at Michaelmas, greeted the sirloin with shouts of "Roast beef for ever!" complained of the present, extolled the past, cursed Pitt and the war, which doubled the price of port wine, and went to bed drunk, to begin the same life again on the following day. They felt quite sure that the glory of Great Britain would not perish so long as God save the King was sung, the rotten boroughs maintained, the game-laws enforced, and hares and partridges could be sold by stealth at market, by the names of lions and ostriches.
The English clergy were learned, hospitable, and generous; they had received the French clergy with a charity truly christian. The University of Oxford had a New Testament, according to the Romish reading, printed at its expense, with these words:-For the use of the Catholic Clergy, exiled for religion, and distributed it gratuitously among the refugees.
As for high English society, I, an insignificant exile, saw but the outside of it. At the King's levees, or those of the Princess of Wales, ladies
passed along seated aside in sedan-chairs, their hoops protruding at the door of the chair, like the fore part of an altar; they themselves, looked, upon these altars up to their waists, like madonnas or pagodas. These fair ladies were the daughters of those mothers whom the Duc de Guines and the Duke de Lauzun had adored; and these daughters were, in 1822, the mothers and grandmothers of little girls who danced at my house, in short petticoats, to the sound of Collinet's flute. It is eleven years since that time; eleven years added to the skirt of a dress must have made the steps none the lighter. And each of these little girls has now perhaps eleven little girls, the eldest eleven years old, and almost ready to be married-rapid generations of flowers!
George III. survived Mr. Pitt, but he had lost both reason and sight. Every session, at the opening of Parliament, the ministers read to the silent and affected chambers the bulletin of the King's health. The blind monarch was seen wandering about like King Lear in his palaces, groping with his hands the walls of the apartments of Windsor Castle, or seated at the piano, playing with his white hair, a sonata of Handel's or the favourite air of Shakspeare—a worthy end of Old England!*
The extracts from the Memoirs are broken off here.
CAPTAIN ROSS. JACQUEMONT. LAMARTINE.
TRAVELS!-delightful word!-it reminds me of my whole life. The Americans are pleased to consider me as the bard of their ancient forests; and Abou Gosh, the Arab, still remembers my excursion in the mountains of Judea. I opened the door of the East to Lord Byron, and to the travellers who have since me visited the Cephisus, the Jordan, and the Nile-a numerous posterity, whom I have sent to Egypt as Jacob sent thither his sons. My old and young friends have enlarged the narrow path left by my passage. M. Michaud, the last pilgrim of his Crusades, has beheld the holy sepulchre; M. Lenormant has explored the tombs of Thebes, to preserve for us the language of Champollion; he has seen that liberty reviving amidst the ruins of Greece which I there saw expiring under the turban, intoxicated with fanaticism, opium, and women. My footsteps in every