Page images

And forth into the fields I went,
And Nature's living motion lent
The pulse of hope to discontent. . .
... 'I marvelled bow the mind was brought
To anchor by one gloomy thought;
And wherefore rather I made choice
To commune with that barren voice,

Than him that said, “Rejoice! Rejoice !"* According to Mr. Disraeli, there is nothing more strange, but nothing more certain, than the different influence which the seasons of night and day exercise upon the moods of our minds. “ Him whom the moon sends to bed with a head full of misty meaning, the sun will summon in the morning with a brain clear and lucid as his beam. Twilight makes us pensive ; Aurora is the goddess of activity. Despair curses at midnight ; Hope blesses at morn.”+

Peter Pindar expends some fifteen or sixteen solemn stanzas on his midnight aspiration to change condition with an ow). But with returning day, a change comes o'er the spirit of his thoughts.

Thus out of humour I address’d the bird,

Wishing to change conditions with the fowl,
But at the cheerful morn, upon my word,

I liked the man-state better than the owl. I

may watch the fluctuations of feeling in Esther Summerson, when Mr. Dickens packs off that “ little woman,” and Charley, her sprightly attendant, or attendant sprite, to the coast of Kent, in quest of Richard. How it was a night's journey in those coach times, we read ; and how at one time her journey looked to her hopeful, and at another hopeless. Now she thought she should do some good, and now wondered how she could ever have supposed so.

But the coach wheels seemed to play one tune over and over again, all night. • At last we came into the narrow streets of Deal; and very gloomy they were, upon a raw misty morning. But stay, Dame Durden ; you can scarcely say it is next morning yet. The sea is heaving under a thick white fog; and no one is astir on the long flat beach ; and you have not been to bed all night. Let us see you housed, and then resume your narrative. Allons donc. “ But when we got into a warm room in an excellent hotel, and sat down, comfortably washed and dressed, to an early breakfast (for it was too late to think of going to bed), Deal began to look more cheerful.”S Then the fog begins to rise like a curtain ; and numbers of ships stand out in full view; and the world is astir, and the writer's spirits become buoyant, and—in short, it is next morning.

Burns is roused from, and abruptly interrupted in, his lugubrious verses on the glooms and hardships of a bleak Winter's Night, by a pleasant homely agency, that quite answers the purpose

I heard nae mair, for Chanticleer

Shook off the pouthery snaw,
And haild the morning wi' a cheer,

A cottage-rousing craw.ll

[ocr errors]


* Tennyson, The Two Voices.
f The Young Duke, ch. xiv.
| Peter Pindar's Odes, &c., Address to an Owl.
Bleak House, ch. xlv.

l! Burns, A Winter Night.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

There is an influence in the light of morning, testifies Nathaniel Hawthorne, " that tends to rectify whatever errors of fancy, or even of judgment, we may have incurred during the sun's decline, or among the shadows of the night, or in the less wholesome glow of moonshine."*

All the night, till morning prime,

Hadst thou not a sense of moan,
Voices saying, “Ah, the time,

Ah, the pleasant time is gone." Such is an over-night stanza of Chauncy Hare Townshend's. But he has his next-morning stanza to follow suit :

Then, at morn, methinks the moan

Parted with the parting gloom,
And a softer, happier tone

Breathed around thy quiet room.f
Or hear another poet, of the inodern and meditative school :

Fair unto all men, shining Morning, seems
Thy face serene when a new day unrolls,
And all old sights and long-endurèd doles
Seem fresh and bearable in thy bright beams.



Many legislators, priests, and philosophers have, from the earliest period, entertained the most varying opinions as to the true position of women, and the majority have not been too favourable to the fairer half of creation. The latter complain, not without reason, that in the distribution of duties and rights they have been unfairly treated by the men. Our century has devoted special attention to this subject. Books have appeared about the qualities, abilities, duties, and rights of the female sex, of whose extraordinarily great number but few of our readers can have an idea. This we perceived on perusing a work which has only just appeared. It gives such a perfect survey of the efforts made for women in the West, that we are really amazed at the learning and researches of the authoress. We cannot let this work pass without giving our readers a glance at it, especially at those parts which are occupied with the French and Romanic nations, for whose women the authoress claims a certain amount of superiority over the men.

At the court of Louis XVIII., Zoë Talon, Countess Cayla, certainly held the first place. Through her beauty, her wit, her merry ways, and her skill in the forms of social intercourse, she acquired an extraordinary power over the heart of the old most Christian king, and her influence was omnipotent. This was recognised by the Jesuits, who had recently been rehabilitated by Pius VII., and they sought to secure the aid of the powerful favourite. It is said that the countess had a great share in the taking Messrs. de Villéle and De Corbière into the government, and that she overcame the king's aversion for his brother's favourites. In truth, Louis XVIII. did not stand so aloof from the opinions of his age as many persons believed. Brought up in the ideas of the encyclopædists, accustomed in his exile to see the grandeur of England ascribed to its free institutions, he would probably, under other circumstances, have reconciled the elder line of the Bourbons with the revolution.

* Mosses from an Old Manse: Rappaccini's Daughter. † The Three Gates, p. 215 sq.

William Caldwell Roscoe, Poems, p. 81.
Dora d'Istria: “Des Femmes par une Femme.”

But the witty friend of the Countess Cayla was surrounded by a party who entertained different sentiments. To quote Madame Dora d'Istria :

In Venice I often had opportunity to observe the exalted fragments of this party. Among others I can still see before me the stern features of the Duchess d'Angoulême, whom I met once at a large party given by the Duchess de Berry. This princess, whom Napoleon called the “ only man in the family,” possessed an unbending character. In 1815 she attempted to defend Bordeaux against Napoleon's generals, and her two uncles played a pitiable part compared with the dauntless behaviour of this woman. It is known that these princes displayed but little energy in the Revolution, and on the return of Napoleon they most hurriedly sought shelter in the ranks of the allies. But, although the French set a very high value on courage, the duchess does not appear ever to have become popular among them. Owing to her excessive piety she was assumed to have a weak mind, and to be entirely ruled by the Jesuits, who at that time menaced the monarchy with ruin through their daring and premature propositions. I always thought, too, that the veil of deep sorrow that lay on her forehead, made the French believe she would never forgive them the horrors of the Revolution. Her mind was not sufficiently enlightened to see that such scenes only occur in countries where the masses have been brutalised by a long despotism, for which bad governments are solely responsible. Unfortunately, such pious souls cling the more closely to their anger, because they will not believe the lessons of history, and feel convinced they are defending the cause of Heaven by taking vengeance on their persecutors.

A far more important woman was the Duchess de Berry. As a Neapolitan princess, she, like her deceased sister-in-law, belonged, through her father Francis I., to the Bourbon family, and through her mother, a daughter of the Emperor Leopold II., to the House of Lorraine. She formed the most marked contrast with the queen, as the Duchess d’Angoulême was called in the Vendeamine palace, where the Duchess de Berry resided. The liveliness of the women of Southern Italy is well known. The Parisians gladly forgave it in her, because it responded to the French character better than the stiffness of the Duchess d'Angoulême and the party of her brother-in-law (Monsieur, afterwards Charles X.). Although her education had been sadly neglected, the duchess was good tempered, open hearted, and confiding ; she also possessed in her youth grace and seductiveness, though no pretensions to beauty. When she arrived at Marseilles in May, 1818, she at once won the affections of the Provençals by a fortunate remark. The Duke de Lévis wished to address her in Italian. “ French,” she said, “French, I know no other language.” Louis XVIII. was well affected towards her, and her husband himself, who had two daughters by an Englishwoman, and made no great secret of his liaison with Virginie Letellier,

[ocr errors]

the opera-dancer, always treated her with the greatest respect. Like her, the duke was fond of the arts, and though her marriage was followed by no deeper affection, still their mutual tastes produced a certain intimacy between husband and wife. As ex-protectress of the Gymnase, where Scribe gained so many successes, the duchess, when living in Venice, did not forget her theatre or her favourite author. Many savans and artists also received encouragement and assistance from her. The Parisian tradesmen regarded her as their providence, for she bought largely and paid punctually. Her popularity was also heightened by her frequent trips to Dieppe, Béarn, and other places.

This bright sky, however, soon became overcast, and heavy blows fell on the poor woman. On February 13, 1820, the Duke de Berry was murdered by Louvel, and in the following May two fanatics tried to frighten the widow into a miscarriage, and thus kill the child she was about to bring into the world. But in these horrible trials she displayed a strong mind and great calmness. She did not quit her husband during his long death-struggle, and promised to be a mother to his two daughters by the English woman. She asked and obtained from the king the pardon of two men whom a jury had found guilty of murder. Still

, it was regretted that she gave a ball on the day of the execution of the sergeants of La Rochelle. This is, perhaps, the only trait in her life which reminds us that she was the daughter of Francis I. and sister of Ferdinand II., two princes whose memory is justly detested in Italy. Although an Italian, the duchess was not, like her sister and brother-in-law, blind to the aversion which the bigotry of the court produced among the French. She made fruitless efforts to rescue her son from being educated by the Jesuits. Against her will, M. Tharin, an agent of the sons of Loyola, and their defender, was appointed tutor to the Duke de Bordeaux. Early in 1830, however, she succeeded in liberating herself from this man.

But the thunder was already pealing which would again drive into exile a dynasty gifted with so little foresight.

These different facts are now nearly as much forgotten as the enterprise of the Duchess de Berry to huri Louis Philippe from the throne. We can read in the Memoirs of General Dermoncourt, who at length arrested the duchess, thanks to the treachery of a renegade Jew, the story of the daring campaign of the “ Regent Marie Caroline.” As an honest opponent he does full justice to her courage. “ She is,” says the author of the work “ La Vendée et Madame, "one of those weak organisations of which we might be inclined to believe that a breath would blow them out, but which only fully enjoy their existence when the storm is raging in the air or in their hearts. She afforded an extraordinary proof of her energy, when she spent thirty-six hours behind a chimney, in which the fire burnt the whole night, and where she defied heat, anxiety, hunger, and sleeplessness.” Her further fate is well known, but a few later observations


find room here. With growing years and misfortune the duchess resumed some of her Neapolitan habits. If it was difficult in later days to recognise in her the ex-patroness of the Gymnase, the châtelaine of Rosny, the hostess of the Salon Marsan, the friend of Chateaubriand and Berryer, still treachery and misfortune had not weakened her kindly feelings towards human beings. I saw her frequently with my mother, not only on public reception days, but also in intimate visits. She

[ocr errors]



would sooner talk about artistic or purely literary subjects, than any other. I cannot remember ever having heard a word from her about the memorable foray in France. At the most, there escaped from her at times allusions to the misfortunes which in our days are not spared those who wish to carry through their obstinate views against the will of the masses. It is now no secret that she was more inclined to the sensible royalism of a Berryer or Chateaubriand, than to the absolutism of Prince Polignac and the Jesuits. During the July days she made representations to the king at St. Cloud, which, however, were of no avail, as it was considered unworthy for men to heed the advice of a woman. The courage and cheerfulness with which she afterwards endured the dangers to which she was exposed in Southern France and the Vendée, could the less please the originator of the ordonnances, because he had himself been obliged to accept the most violent reproaches from La Charette for his own over-clever, i.e. cowardly, behaviour. All authority over her son was taken from her, and it passed from Charles X. to his son, and finally to the Duchess d'Angoulême.

Madame Dora d'Istria does not draw a very favourable picture of the Count de Chambord. As he has no children, no hopes for the future are left to the few partisans of the elder line of the Bourbons. Besides, in any case, the Countess de Chambord is not at all the woman to render a restoration popular. Maria Theresa, Archduchess of Austria, is the daughter of Francis IV., Duke of Modena and Reggio, and sister of Francis V., two little despots, whose names still stink in the nostrils of all liberal Italians. Francis V., a worthy

Francis V., a worthy son of the executioner of Menotti and Ricci, was obliged to seek a refuge in Austria from the righteous wrath of his subjects. We are far from saying that the Countess de Chambord fully approves the conduct of her father and brother. The example of the Duchess de Berry proves that a sensible and well-meaning person need not be slavishly attached to the opinions of her family. On the other hand, it must be added that the Countess de Chambord is not only not pretty, but has none of that attractiveness of manner which sometimes makes even ugly women pleasing.

The sister of the Count de Chambord was married in the autumn of 1845. This young princess had a very fine head, but it was too large, and set too low on the shoulders. She is said to have inherited this defect from her father. Few women have had such a tragical fate as the Duchess of Parma. After the murder of the Duke de Berry she was compelled to fly before the victors of July. Afterwards she saw her mother the prisoner of the younger line, and the place of her father occupied by a man far inferior in rank to the duchess. When she married a member of her family, Charles III., Duke of Parma and Piacenza, the end of her misfortunes seemed to have arrived. But her consort treated her no better than he did his subjects. His accession to the throne was followed by the occupation of his states by the Austrians ; and those who had the misfortune to displease the duke were either executed or flogged. Governed by an Englishman of the name of Ward, he was so odious to his subjects and to all Italy, that his premature death under a murderer's knife in March, 1854, did not arouse the slightest regret. The duchess, who undertook the regency for her son, Robert I., at first introduced wise measures. She reduced the civil list to one-third, discharged twothirds of the army, whose support was too heavy a burden for the little country, reorganised the legislature, reopened several schools which her


« EelmineJätka »