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much is true, the gambler is a less foolish mund Burke truly observed in his great man, and a less useless member of society speech on Economical reform : “ Gaming is than the gamester. While the objects of the inherent in human nature. It belongs to us gambler on the turf and the Stock Exchange, all.” The first achievement of a savage is to and of the gamester at cards and dice, are produce something that will intoxicate him : identical, experience has proved that the he next proceeds to devise a matter whereby former may succeed, and that the latter must he may stake his property, and even his libfail in attaining their objects ; that the gam- erty at play. A civilized man improves on bler may acquire wealth, but that the game- the crude expedients and devices of the savster must be ruined if he persevere in gam- age, substituting for the heavy fermented sap ing. By specuiating in shares, capital is of a tree, the sparkling champagne, and for circulated and commerce increased ; thus, clumsy games with straws or pebbles, the whether the speculator be enriched or impov- roulette-table with its ingenious machinery erished, his fellow-nien are vastly benefited in and elaborate rules. Wealth, excitement, consequence of his transactions. Of the and the power of bringing the future near, gamester we may say what La Bruyère said are prized alike by men of every degree of of him who was once engaged in intrigue: he culture. Though they never obtain by gammust continue as he has begun, because noth- ing the wealth they covet, yet they find in ing else gives him any gratification. A con- gaming the excitement they value next to firmed gamester exists only to deal cards or wealth, and around a gaming-table have disthrow dice. The chances are that he will closed to them a new future every minute or forfeit his honor as well as indulge his taste; every hour. Influenced by such feelings, at for, as Lord Chesterfield warned his son : one time they waste their substance, and at “ A member of a gaming-club should be a another imperil their lives. They will cheercheat, or he will soon be a beggar.” fully traverse unknown seas in quest of an
In our times, the passion for play is grati-l imaginary El Dorado, yet refrain from labofied with less injury to society than during riously tilling the soil beneath their feet, and any other period of our history. Unques-converting its produce into gold. Their, tionably it is an incalculable gain that ladies thoughts are as erroneous as their actions are and gentlemen of fashion should now prefer ridiculous. They fancy that the jewels which dancing to gaming, and should even profess flash from a royal diadem, the gold heaped to take pleasure in attending gatherings made up the royal coffers, constitute the glories of ostensibly for the purpose of conversation, a monarch and the riches of a nation. In but at which the conversation is restricted to acting as they do, they sin against the irrecomplaints about the heat, and protests sistible condition of man's existence, that in against the pressure. The pleasures of soci- the sweat of his brow can he alone earn bis ety are always hollow and frivolous : we re- bread with honor and dignity. Alike in their joice that in these days they are not vicious thoughts and actions do they ignore the imas well as unsatisfying. What the late Sir mutable truth that the wealth of the world George Cornewall Lewis justly remarked, with is the well-directed labor of the world's inobvious reference to the amusements in which habitants. In no other way could the folly modern society delights, would have been of the gamester, and the mischief of gaming, even more telling and applicable had it been be better summed up than in these words of uttered a century ago : “ Life would be very Dr. Johnson: “I call a gamester an unsocial tolerable but for its pleasures."
man; an unprofitable man. Gaming is a To extirpate from the human breast a taste mode of transferring property without profor gaming is simply impossible. As Ed-ducing any intermediate good.”
From The National Review. I depicted it in the light of the sublimest of WITS OF THE FRENCH REVOLUTION. human tragedies. Whatever else a sympaEuvres de Chamfort, précédées d'une étude
thizing or a hostile critic judged it, both resur sa vie et son esprit. Par Arsène Hous
garded it as colossal ; and colossal in a sense saye.
that forbade, as if half profane, the notice of Galerie du XVIIIe. Siècle. Par Arsène Hous- those collateral topics which, in meaner matsaye.
ters, might appropriately claim attention. Histoire de la Presse en France. Par Eugène The scale of action was heroic, the performHatin. Vol. VII.
ers demi-gods or demi-fiends, and praise and Esprit de Rivarol. Paris, 1808.
censure alike assumed a tone of fitting gravCauseries du Lundi. Par M. C. A. SainteBeuve. Vols. III., IV.
ity and respect. The half-frantic vehemence
of Burke, the curses of an army of Tory deThe reader, whose historical zeal carries nunciators, the shrieks of political or relighim to the earlier numbers of the Moniteur ious cowardice, the vindictive Conservatism Universel, as they appeared during the weeks —wbich in our own days has dwindled down of the Terror, finds himself confronted by one to the Cassandra-like maledictions of a single of those half-comical, half-revolting contrasts, maudlin peer—for a long while accustomed for which human nature — and especially Englishmen to regard that strange series of French human nature - shows from time to events as a catastrophe whose Titanic proportime so strange a capacity. In one column tions overwhelmed the sense,-an outrage at he will peruse the long morning list of vic- which heaven and earth might stand agbast, tims of the Conciergerie, -old men and maid- and which struck mankind with awful silence, ons, rich and poor, strong and weak, alike --a conflagration, lit with no earthly flame, swept promiscuously away under the ruthless blazing at our very doors, and too full of ban of hostility to the common weal, and, ere grand results, one way or the other, to our their doom printed, already on the road to species, for any language but the impassioned death. In the other, as he turns shuddering cry of hope, the solemn denunciation, the away, he will be detained by an almost groan of horror and despair. At length the equally long list of “ to-night's entertain- dames died down, the smoke cleared away, ments,"-grand scenic tableaux, emblematic and it gradually became perceptible that the ballets, hippodromes à la Grecque, masked universe remained intact. The calm, halfballs, the comic opera, the successful vaude humorous genius of Carlyle, piercing through ville, all proceeding with complete regularity, the golden haze of rhodomontade, and fathand all apparently in the greatest possible oming the shallows of many a tempest-ridden request. What, he will exclaim, must be teacup, marsballed the facts of the story into the innate frivolity, the cruel indifference, artistic shape, reduced heroes and demons the latent barbarism of a race which saw alike to strictly terrestrial proportions, and nothing strange in such an appalling mixture proved that the grand convulsion of French of tragedy and farce! Were they men or society, when cleared of fictitious embellishfiends who could be thus easily amused, while ment, was the handiwork of no superhuman death hung over each, and the pavement out- agents, but of irritable, passionate, and, in side streamed with kindred blood? Who but many cases, extremely feeble men ; that vanthe traditional“ tigre-singe” could skipaway, ity, jealousy, and a host of petty instincts, yet bloody-handed from civil slaughter, to ap- had at least as much to do with it as the plaud the nimble feet of some venal Terpsich- grander passions of our nature; and that ore, or the quips and cranks of some fashion-though, in the evolution of the drama, some able buffoon?
natures beyond the ordinary standard of darWe shall run the suspicion, we fear, of ing and ability disclosed themselves,-and one the same sort of inhuman versatility if we intellect at least of the very highest order invite our readers to a less grave, but scarcely rose upon the surrounding chaos, - yet that less characteristic, aspect of the French Rev- most of its results could be accounted for by olution than that with which history has the activity of commonplace emotions workrendered them the most familiar. Friends ing in a host of inferior minds, and had a and foes for the most part, though differing side which was far more ludicrous than either wide as heaven and earth in all beside, have terrific or sublime. A few striking person
ages stand of course foremost on the stage, The salon life of Paris — the paradise of an and vindicate in more than one instance the army of ambitious idlers-engendered a tone doubtful honor of monstrosity. Louis XV., lof mind in which far less attention was paid an effete Sardanapalus, grovelling daily deeper to the accuracy with which an idea was in his sensuality; Orleans, rubicund already thought out than to the elegance with wbich as if with a Tartarean glow; Danton, a por- it was expressed. To achieve a social suctent of ferocious power ; Mirabeau, shaking cess was for the aspirant to fame the most his lion-like locks, and preparing, as a giant imperative of all necessities, and for this refreshed with wine, for the subjection of a neatness, brilliancy, promptitude, were alone pigmy race; the stately Austrian lady, im- essential. A race of men grew up astonishperial in her very weaknesses, falling queen- ingly skilful in the fence of words, masters like and undismayed amid curses and gibes; of forcible, pithy expressions, but superficial Corday, hurrying in joyful enthusiasm to her in knowledge, shallow in thought, and utperilous emprise ; Roland, in her white robe terly innocent of all earnest intention. They and flowing locks, confronting her accusers, breathed the poisoned air of a vicious society, or returning from the tribunal in more than whose refinement but gave a piquancy to stoical dirnity to announce her doom,—these systematic heartlessness and crime. They are indeed the conspicuous personages of the carried their convictions just so far as the tale, but they are not the whole ; nor did their fine ladies, whose smiles they sought, considearnestness for good or evil, their strengthered it in good taste to follow; their skeptiof will, the intensity with which they felt, cism began in restlessness, and ended in a the scale upon which they acted, represent sneer ; their philosophy was the cynicism of the true character of the great mass of French- faded voluptuaries; their ambition, to live men. Behind them stand interior performers, in the mouths of a fashionable coteric; their and it was these, after all, that made the keenest pleasure, to transfix a rival with the Revolution what, we know it to have been. envenomed weapon of a sarcastic epigram. An attitude of mind the very reverse of ma- The criticism passed by one of them upon jestic, a childish passion for display, an in- another might with justice be applied to the satiable thirst for flattery, an exquisite sensi- whole class of which both were members, tiveness to the sting of satire, a passionate and serve as the epitaph for a school of wits : and unthinking rebellion against the inequal." Superficiellement instruit," writes Chamfort ities incidental to human society,--Buch was of Rulhières, “ détaché de tous principes, the thin soil out of which the Revolution l'erreur lui était aussi bonne que la vérité sprang, such were the motive principles which quand elle pouvait faire briller la frivolité shaped its onward course. It was natural de son esprit. Il n'envisageait les grandes enough that a generation bred in an atmos- choses que sous de petits rapports, n'aimait phere like this, should, when it came to be que les tracasseries de la politique, n'était engaged in any considerable undertaking, be- éclairé que de bluettes, et ne voyait dans come from time to time bombastic, theatrical, l'histoire que ce qu'il avait vu dans les petites and extravagant. It was equally natural that intrigues de la société.” The French empire men of such a cast, trained by the tradition was, according to the famous definition, a desof centuries in the habits of brilliant conver- potism tempered by epigrams. The fashionsation, and wielding a language of incompar- able creed of a large section alike of its asable neatness and pliability, should carry the sailants and supporters might be described art of effective rejoinder to the utmost possi- as cynicism set ablaze with wit. ble perfection, and should assign to witty and Two men, conspicuous champions on either epigrammatic language a controversial impor- side, may be accepted as the types of the tance which less impressible natures find it class above described ; and their performdifficult to understand.
ances, although already the object of more This was conspicuously the case in Revolu- literary zeal than their importance might tionary Franco. A large section of society, seem to merit, are yet so amusing, and at elevating drawing-room repartee into a stand- the same time throw so real a light upon ard of thought, accepted a witticism as a the true history of the times, that we make refutation, and considered that a thing ceased no apology for introducing them in detail to to be true when it began to look ridiculous. our readers' attention : Rivarol, the champion of the departing régime; Chamfort, the ette no doubt infused a new spirit into the fanatic of equality, and the assiduous com- dull routine of wickedness which had hitherto poser and collector of revolutionary facetiæ. prevailed at court. Monsieur de Brissac The delicate pencil of M. Sainte Beuve has again figures as the author of an appropriate already sketched the characters of both, and rejoinder. “Mon Dieu,” cried the young enabled us to understand the real affinity of dauphiness, as the crowd surged under the thought and disposition which, under a su- balconies of the Tuileries, “ Mon Dieu, que perficial appearance of antagonism, bound de monde !” “ Madame," said the courthe two men together, and stamped them, tier, " sans que Monsieur le Dauphin puisse though fighting in different camps, as in s'en offenser, ce sont autant d'amoureux." reality kindred natures. Both have left a Full of playfulness and vivacity, the young long list of excellent stories to attest the jus- princess herself was ready and elegant in tice of a contemporary reputation, and the conversation. Shortly after her arrival at humor of each will be best appreciated by Versailles, she made private arrangements to being introduced in connection with the prin- supplement her extremely defective educacipal circumstances of his career.
tion; “Il faut," she said, “que la dauphine The soeiety which, half way through the prenne soin de la réputation de l'archiducheighteenth century, excited the aspirations esse." It was in no such innocent recreaof an ambitious Frenchman, was no longer tions that the king's remaining powers were that of Versailles. To the court of Louis meanwbile expended. His notorious exXV. survived nothing but the tedious cere- cesses excited scandal, alarm, indignation. monial and the complete depravity of his The base of an cquestrian statue, in the great-grandfather's period. The intellectual Place Louis Quinze, was guarded by four figprestige, which lent a refining splendor to ures representing Peace, Prudence, Strength, the great monarch's reputation, had van- and Justice: an unknown hand wrote under ished along with everything else decent and it, respectable. The palace was as gloomy as it “ ( la belle statue ! O le beau piédestal ! was corrupt; “quant à la gaieté,” says the Les vertus sont a pied ; le vice est a cheval.” historian, “il n'en était plus question, le Vice at length dismounted for the last time, foyer de l'esprit et des lumières était à Paris." and the terrified courtiers prepared for a new Madame Campan, indeed, with the applausive allegiance. The details of that terrible deathservility of a royal servant, informs us that bed are universally familiar : one story, howthe king knew how to jest, and occasionally ever, may be worth recording. It is a scene honored bis dependents with witticisms wbich enacted between the Duc de Villequier, first proved “ la finesse de son esprit, et l'éléva- gentleman of the chamber, and Monsieur Antion de ses sentiments.” As specimens, drouillé, the head surgeon to the court. The however, of the one and the other, she gives king's disease, it will be remembered, renthe stupid slang terms by which the sovereign dered it almost certain death to go near him. was pleased to designate the four princesses The duke thereupon politely suggested to the who had the misfortune to acknowledge his doctor that it was his duty to open and emraternity; and she suggests that his réper- balm the body. The doctor professed his toire of indelicate phraseology was sedulously alacrity for the task, but he added : “ Penenlarged by reference to the dictionary when dant que j'opérerai, vous tiendrez la tête ; in his mistresses' society. It is pleasant to votre charge vous y oblige.” The duke said turn from such a scene to the dignified re- pot a word ; and Louis the Fifteenth, it is ply made by M. de Brissac, one of the few perhaps superfluous to state, was buried uncourtiers to whom decency had not come to opened and unembalmed. The new court be a joke. The king was rallying him upon had hardly opened when the young queen's the sensitiveness he displayed as to some daring spirits, her impatience of ceremonial, matrimonial catastrophe. “ Allons, Mon- her girlish caprices, above all, the political sieur de Brissac, ne vous fachez pas ; c'est intrigues amid which she lived,-began to un petit malheur ; ayez bon courage." endanger ker popularity. Her contempt for “ Sire," said the injured husband, " j'ai etiquette scandalized the fine ladies, and ob toutes les espèces de courage, excepté celui tained for her the perilous nickname of " Mo de la bonte." The arrival of Marie Antoin- queuse." At her first mourning reception
after the king's death we find one of the la- so gracious that, as he said, he could never dies of the court squatting down behind her, either forget or repeat them, that a pension pulling her companion's petticoats, and en- was to be conferred upon him. • Madam,” dangering the gravity of the whole proceed - 80 ran the courtier-like dedication of the ing. The epigram which appeared next day piece," the indulgent approbation with wbich might have warned her of the danger of your majesty has deigned to honor the tragpetty indiscretions :
edy encourages me to present it to you. “ Petite reine de vingt ans,
Your goodness has rendered the design still Vous qui traitez si mal les gens,
dearer to my gratitude. Happy, madam, Vous repasserez la barrière,
could I consecrate it by new efforts, justify Laire, larila, larila, laire,” etc.
your benefits by new undertakings, and find Four years later her enemies had gathered grace before your majesty more by the merit courage, and the feeling against her was of the work than the choice of a subject." deeper and less concealed. The birth of her Let us see what manner of man it was whose daughter gave rise to a host of cruel pleasant-courtier tongue could run 80 glibly in the ries, in which the royal family were unhap- conventional phrases of servility. pily the readiest to take a part. The Comte Born, a natural child, in 1741, he bore the de Provence held the child at the font. name of Nicholas, and as such was entered,
Monseigneur," he said, when the grand in the position that became his low estate, at almoner inquired its name, “ cette question the Collège des Grassins, in the Paris univern'est pas la première que vous avez à m'adres- sity. His appearance bespoke sensitiveness, ser; il faut s'enquerir d'abord les père et energy, and enthusiasm : his delicate nostril, mère." The almoner, astonished, said that his blue eyes lighting up in instantaneous that question was asked only when doubt ex- vivacity, his flexible and touching voice, gave isted as to the parentage of the child ; 66 per- the impressian of a finely strung, highly personne ignore,” he added, " que madame est vous organization. His abilities were not née du roi et de la reine." - Est-ce votre slow in making themselves felt, and the young avis, M. le Curé ?” the count sardonically scholar soon carried every prize before him. asked, turning to the Curé of Notre Dame. All thoughts of the Church, the natural caThe audience stood aghast : and the curé, in reer for one so circumstanced, were speedily fear and trembling, strove to close so embar- resigned ; and some youthful indiscretion rassing a scene. The disrespect did not stop brought his career as a collegian to a close. here; the city authorities aped the imperti- The world was all before him; the escape nence of the court: and the queen, at last from the thraldom of orders delightful; and vexed beyond cndurance, uttered an impa- Chamfort secure of pleasing, and with all the tient sneer at the contemptuous delay with qualities to command success, threw himself which the birthday fêtes were organized with courageous recklessness upon society. " The magistrates," she said, " are resolved, Literary employment, however was not to be I suppose, to defer them till the little one is had; famine knocked loudly at the door ; his big enough to dance at them herself.” The mother was looking to him for bread; and fraternal affection thus curiously exemplified the young adventurer, in despair, applied for on the part of the queen's brother-in-law was the place of clerk to a procureur. The prothe subject of a drama dedicated in this very cureur discerned the superiority of his petiyear to the queen, which placed Chamfort, tioner, and made him tutor to his son ; but already the darling of Parisian drawing- he soon found his household in disorder. rooms, in the full sunshine of imperial favor. “ Enfant d'Amour, beau comme lui, plein de For fifteen years he had been laboring at his feu, de gaieté, impétueux et malin," the newtragedy of Mustapha and Zéangir; and in comer proved a very troublesome inmate ; 1776 it was for the first time acted at Ver- and we next find him travelling into Germany sailles. Its success was complete. The ten- in the capacity of private secretary to some der intimacy of the two brothers, who defy provincial millionnaire. This plan, however, all attempts at separation, and perish at last answered as badly as the last ; and Chamfort in each other's arms, affected the king to returned nothing richer, except for the distears. The queen summoned the fortunate covery " qu'il n'y avait rien à quoi il fut author to her box, and announced, in terms noins propre qu'à être un Allemand." He