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Those looks demure, that deeply pierce the soul,
Where, with the light of thoughtful reason mix'd,
Shines lively fancy and the feeling heart:
Oh, come ! and while the rosy-footed May
Steals blushing on, together let us tread
The morning dews, and gather in their prime
Fresh-blooming flowers, to grace thy braided hair.

And if his attachment to her suggested that beautiful description of domestic happiness with which his Spring concludes,

But happy they, the happiest of their kind,
Whom gentler stars unite, &c.

who would not grieve at the destiny which denied to Thomson pleasures he could so eloquently describe, and so feelingly appreciate ?

Truth, however, obliges me to add one little trait. A lady who did not know Thomson personally, but was enchanted with his "Seasons," said she could gather from his works three parts of his character,--that he was an amiable lover, an excellent swimmer, and extremely abstemious. Savage, who knew the poet, could not help laughing at this picture of a man who scarcely knew what love was; who shrunk from cold water like a cat; and whose habits were those of a good-natured bon vivant, who indulged himself in every possible luxury, which could be attained without trouble! He also died unmarried.

Hammond, the favourite of our sentimental great-grandmothers, whose “ Love Elegies” lay on the toilettes of the Harriet Bryons and Sophia Westerns of the last century, was an amiable youth, " very melancholy and gentlemanlike,” who being appointed equerry to Prince Frederic, cast

his eyes on Miss Dashwood, bed-chamber woman to the Princess, and she became his Delia. The lady was deaf to his pastoral strains; and though it has been said that she rejected him on account of the smallness of his fortune, I do not see the necessity of believing this assertion, or of sympathizing in the dull invectives and monoto. nous lamentations of the slighted lover. Miss Dashwood

never married, and was, I believe, one of the maids of honour to the late Queen.

Thus the six poets, who, in the history of our literature, fill up the period which intervened between the death of Pope and the first publications of Burns and Cowper-all died old bachelors!

CHAPTER XXXVIII.

FRENCH

POETS.

VOLTAIRE AND

MADAME DU CHATELE T.

If we take a rapid view of French literature, from the reign of Louis the Fourteenth, down to the Revolution,

re dazzled by the record of brilliant and celebrated women, who protected or cultivated letters, and obtained the homage of men of talent. There was Ninon; and there was Madame de Rambouillet; the one galante, the other precieuse. One had her St. Evremond; the other her Voiture. Madame de Sablière protected La Fontaine; Madame de Montespan protected Molière; Madame de Maintenon protected Racine. It was all patronage and protection on one side, and dependence and servility on the other. Then we have the intrigante Madame de Tencin ;* the good-natured, but rather bornée Madame de Géoffrin ; the Duchesse de Maine, who held a little court of bel esprits and small poets at Sceaux, and is best known as the patroness of Mademoiselle de Launay. Madame d'Epinay, the amie of Grimm, and the patroness of Rousseau; the clever, selfish, witty, ever ennuyée, never ennuyeuse Madame du Deffand; the ardent, talented Mademoiselle de l'Espinasse, who would certainly have been a poetess, if she had not been a philosopheress and a Frenchwoman: Madame Neckar, the patroness of Marmontel and Thomas:-e tutte quante. If we look over the light French literature of those times, we find an inconceivable

* Madame de Tencin used to call the men of letters she assembled at her house “mes bêtes," and her society went by the name of Madame de Tencin's ménagerie. Her advice to Marmontel, when a young man, was excellent. See his Memoirs, vol. i.

heap of vers galans, and jolis couplets, licentious songs, pretty, well-turned compliments, and most graceful badinage; but we can discover the names of only two distinguished women, who have the slightest pretensions to a poetical celebrity, derived from the genius, the attachment, and the fame of their lovers. These were Madame du Châtelet, Voltaire's “Immortelle Emilie:” and Madame d'Houdetot, the Doris of Saint Lambert.

Gabrielle-Emilie le Tonnelier de Bréteuil, was the daughter of the Baron de Bréteuil, and born in 1706. At an early age she was taken from her convent, and married to the Marquis du Châtelet; and her life seems thenceforward to have been divided between two passions, or rather two pursuits rarely combined,

love, and geometry. Her tutor in both is said to have been the famous mathe. matician Clairaut; and between them they rendered geometry so much the fashion at one time, that all the women, who were distinguished either for rank or beauty, thought it indispensable to have a geometrician in their train. The “Poëtes de Société" bid for a while their diminished heads, or were obliged to study geometry pour se mettre à la mode. Her friendship with Voltaire began to take a serious aspect, when she was about eight-and-twenty, and he was about forty; he is said to have succeeded that roué par excellence, the Duc de Richelieu, in her favour.

This woman might have dealt in mathematics, -might have inked her fingers with writing treatises on the Newtonian philosophy; she might have sat up till five in the morning, solving problems and calculating eclipses ;-—and yet have possessed amiable, elevated, generous, and attractive qualities, which would have thrown a poetical interest round her character; moreover, considering the horribly corrupt state of French society at that time, she might have been pardoned “une vertu de moins," if her power over a great genius had been exercised to some good purpose;—to restrain his licentiousness, to soften his pungent and merciless satire, and prevent the frequent prostitution of his admirable and versatile talents. But a female skeptic, profligate from temperament and principle;

* Correspondence de Grimm, vol. ii. 421.

a termagant, " qui voulait furieusement tout ce qu'elle voulait;" a woman with all the suffisance of a pedant, and all the exigeance, caprices, and frivolity of a fine lady,– grands dieux ! what a heroine for poetry !

To a taste for Newton and the stars, and geometry and algebra, Madame du Châtelet added some other tastes, not quite so sublime;—a great taste for bijoux-and pretty gimcracks—and old china--and watches-and ringsand diamonds-and snuff-boxes-and-puppet-shows !* and, now and then, une petite affaire du caur, by way of variety.

Tout lui plait, tout convient à son vaste genie :
Les livres, les bijoux, les compas, les pompons,
Les vers, les diamants, le biribi,t l'optique,
L'algèbre, les soupers, le latin, les jupons,

L'opera, les procès, le bal, et la physique ! This " Minerve de la France, la respectable Emilie," did not resemble Minerva in all her atiributes; nor was she satisfied with a succession of lovers. The whole history of her liaison with Voltaire, is enough to put en route all poetry, and all sentiment. With her imperious temper and bitter tongue, and his extreme irritability, no wonder they should have des scènes terribles.I Marmontel says they were often à couteaux tirés; and this, not metaphorically but literally. On one occasion, Voltaire happened to criticize some couplets she had written for Madame de Luxembourg. “ L'Amante de Newton's could calculate eclipses, but she could not inake verses ; and, probably, for that reason, she was most particularly jealous of all censure, while she criticized Voltaire with. out manners or mercy; and he endured it, sometimes with marvellous patience.

A dispute was now the consequence; both became

* Je ris plus que personne aux marionettes ; et j'avoue qu'une boite, une porcelaine, un meuble nouveau, sont pour moi une vrai jouissance.(Euvres de Madame du Chatelet-Traité de Bonheur.

+ The then fashionable game at cards.

1 Vollaire once said of her, “C'est une femme terrible, qui n'a point de Alexibilité dans le cæur, quoiqu'elle l'ait bon.” This hardness of temper, this volonté tyrannique, this cold determination never to yield a point, were worse than all her violence.

§ The title which Voltaire gave her.

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