Page images
PDF
EPUB

one who beard this conversation burft out into a loud laugh, and Monsieur was quite disconcerted.”

And this was the husband first assigned to our charming Princess Henrietta, fifter to Charles II.! Even her succeffor, who has furnished these fragments, says, she was very much to be pitied. Madame, my predecessor, says the, was very young, beautiful, amiable, and full of grace. She was surrounded by the greatest coquets in the kingdom, who were all mistresses to her inveterate enemies, and who tried every thing in their power to prejudice her husband against her. Indeed, such were the diabolical politics of the French court during the life of this Princess, that it was thought necessary, even by Lewis XIV. himself, to alarm his brother Monsieur, with jealousy, left he should turn his mind too much to politics !

Madame's character of her son, the celebrated Regent Duke of Orleans, corresponds with the ideas which have been long formed of that voluptuous Prince; who, according to Voltaire, resembled his ancestor Henry IV, more than any one of his race; poffefling the same valour, goodness of heart, indulgence, gaiety, facility, and franknels, with a more cultivated mind. Speaking of him, while in bis youth, Madame says,

My son has studied hard, has an excellent memory, quick conception, and has a pleasing figure: he neither resembles his father nor his mother. My late husband had a long face, my son has a square countenance ; but he has his father's gait and gestures, Monfieur had a little mouth and bad teeth; my son has a great mouth and fine teeth. Though learned, he is wholly free from pedantry, and has not the least disposition to melancholy. He has a prodigious number of little entertaining stories at his fingers ends, which be picked up in Italy and Spain, and which he relates admirably. I love him however best when he is serious; he is then more natural and pleasing.'

As these Letters were chiefly written to Princess Caroline, afterward Queen Caroline, at the English Court, Madame takes great pains to assure her correspondent, that her son the Regent never had any intention of affisting the Pretender, either publicly or privately; and if Lord Stair would have made an alliance with him, the rebellion of 1795 would never have bappened, as he would bave prevented the Chevalier de St. George from paffing through France,

My son (says she) understands war, and fears nothing; but his great defect is too much gentleness, and the listening to people who have less understanding than himself, by whom he has been often deceived. Whatever has happened that is disagreeable or unfortunate may be ascribed to that defect. Another fault is his too violent paffion for women. Except in these particulars, I know of nothing reprehenfible in him; but this is sufficient, and thele propensities are but too frequently the source of great evils.

Formerly

[ocr errors]

• Formerly his figure was very pleasing, but at present he grows too fat for his height. But notwithstanding his want of beauty, the women are all mad for him; intereft helps attractions, for he pays well. As my son is no longer a youth of 18 or 19, but near 40 years of age, people are not pleased with his attending balls for the fake of getting at young women, at a time that he has the whole kingdom on his shoulders. I cannot deny but that my son has an insatiable love for women ; but he has a favourite Sultana, Madame de P***. She is at present a widow. She is tall, well made, brown, for the uses no white, has fine eyes, a beautiful mouth, and little understanding; in short, the is a charming morfel.

. It is certain that my son is fufficiently informed to trust to his own judgment in most things. He is well versed in music, and does not compose amiss; he speaks many languages, and loves reading; he understands chemistry; has dipped into most of the fciences; but all this does not prevent his being tired of every thing. If he is ever intoxicated, it is not with drams and liqueurs, but with generous champaigne. I tell him every day that he is too good to the people about him ; but he laughs, and says it is a good fault. I cannot conceive whence he had his patience; his father had none, and I am sure he had it not from me. What the women see in his person, I am as unable to discover; for though I love him myfelf at the bottom of my heart, yet his complexion is now a copper colour; his complaint in his eyes makes him frequently squint, his manners are not very gallant, and he is

very

indiscreet. • My fon had a little girl by an actress, who wished to present him with a second child ; but he told her it had too much of the Harlequin in its composition-and when the desired him to explain himself, he said, it is made of too many different pieces.

• I have often censured his fickleness in the pursuit of knowlege ; i but he tells me that it is not his fault; I with io know every thing,

says he, but as soon as the knowlege is acquired, it ceases to give me pleasure.

• My son was a boy of only 17 years old when they married him by force, threatening to shut him up in a castle called Villers-Cot. terets. The lady whom he was obliged to marry was Mademoiselle de Blois, youngest natural daughter of Lewis XIV. by Madame de Montespan, who, though the most indolent and nervous valetudinarian on record, lived till 1749, when she was upward of 70. The country has no kind of attractions for my son ; he is only fond of a town life, like Madame de Longueville, who being kept a great while in Normandy by her husband, would not enter into any of the amusements of the place, through several were offered to her choice --but she told the people about her, that it was in rain :0 teaze her any more about it, for fe hated innocent pleasures.

. My son is naturally brave, and being in no fear of death, it is plain that he fears nothing. He does not know what it is to be jealous of his mistresses ; he pretends that tenderness and jealousy are only to be found in romances. He ears, drinks, fings, and pafies the night with his mistresses, and that's all. My son is not capable of being serious with bis children, or of preferving the gravity of a father ; he lives with them like a kind friend or brother. He never says a

13

word

word to me of itate affairs, a lesson which he learned from his father, who used to say, all will be right; provided Madame knows nothing of the matter. After the Midiflippi business, I received a threatening letter, that a determined conspiracy was formed to poison my sonbut when I shewed him the letter, he only laughed heartily at my fears for his safety, and said, that they were not sufficiently ingenious in France to poison him in the true Persian manner, mentioned in the letter.'

This true disciple of Epicurus died in 1724, at 50 years of age, after enjoying every possible human gratification, natural and artificial, to the utmoft limits of his powers; never forgetting to crop those flowers, which, according to his own celebrated precept, he thought it right we should sow in our passage to another state :

Si la vie humaine n'est qu'un passage, semons au moins des fleurs. Our extracts from these Fragments have been already so copious, that we dare not trust ourselves with the entertaining account which Madame gives of the Miffifappi scheme by the 'famous projector, Law; which, beside the madness, misery, and calamities it occafioned, was likewise productive of many circumstances truly ridiculous, during the golden dreams of the whole French nation.

• If Law (says Madame) wished for the favour of French women, they would kiss his derriere. One day when he gave audience to a great number of ladies, they would not suffer him to leave them for the most presling occasions, which though he was forced to explainthey only cried out, Oh! if that's all, we certainly shall not part with you --" you may do whatever you please, provided you listen to us the while." There was nothing. to which they would not submit, in order to get at the speech of M. Law. One lady, despairing of success by any

other means, ordered her coachiman to drive to the door of a house where she knew he was to ding and began crying fire! fire! with all her might; on which the whole company ran out to see where, and Law among the ref; when the curious lady jumped out of her coach to have a full view of him, which håving accomplished, the took to her heels, and made her escape. Another lady ordered her coachman to overturn her carriage opposite to Law's house, in order to bring him out to her relief; in which the succeeded with whole bones, and confessed to the terreitrial Plutus that the accident was brought about expressly to have an opportunity of speaking to him. A livery servant having gained a great fum, set up a coach. The first day itrat he was to use it, he went mechanically behind his carriage, instead of taking poffeffion of the inside—when his coachman cried out, Where are you going, Sir! the coach is your own. True, says the maller--I had forgot. The coachman of Law himself became so rich, that he gave his master warning-when the Projector begged that he would not leave hiin till he had found him another coachman. The next day his old servant brought him two, and assured his former master that they were both so good, that he would hire for bis own use the man who was not so fortunate as to Rey, Feb. 1789

м

please

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

please him. The Projector, Law, says Montesquieu, turned the ftate, as a botcher turns a garment.'

The illustrious author of these Fragments has frequently characterised the great personages with whom she lived, in no very flattering manner; but, if she has been somewhat severe on them, the has not changed her style in speaking of herself, which she seems to have done with Teutonic truth and fimplicity.

• Infincerity,' says she, passes in this court for wit, and truth for imbecility; so that I am neither polished nor witty-and am often told that I am too rude and sincere. It was in pure obedience to my father's will that I came hither. In my early youth, I used to amufe myself with fire-arms, swords and piftols, more than toys and dolls. There was nothing I wished so much as to be a boy, and this nearly cost me my life; for having heard that Mary Germain became a boy by jumping, I set about jumping with such violence, that it is the greatest wonder in the world I did not beat out my brains.—In the whole universe, more ugly hands than mine, I believe, could not be found. The late King has frequently told me fo, in sport, and I have often joined heartily in the laugh; for there is nothing on which I pique myself less than on my personal charms; and I generally begin the laugh at my own uglinefs, which totally defeats the sarcasms of others.-I must be frightfully ugly, for I never had one tolerable feature. My eyes are small; I have a short snub nosc, flat lips; out of which the materials for a fine face are but few. I have large Aabby cheeks, a lank figure, though short in ftature. On the whole, I am so hideous, that, if I had not some solidity and goodness of character, I should be insupportable. If any one had a mind to discover my wit by my eyes, he must take a microscope, or be a wizzard. I was once to have been married to the Duke of Courland; but having feen me, he was so enchanted, that he never returned to finish the courtship.

• I readily obeyed Monfieur, my late husband, in not importuning him with my embraces. Indeed, I was delighted, when he proposed separate beds, after the birth of my daughter; for I never loved the trade of making children. It was extremely disagreeable to lie in the same bed with Monsieur ; he would not fúffer one to come within a mile of him when he was alleep, so that I lay so near the edge of the bed, that I have often combled on the floor.'

Madame seems, like most foreign princeffes, to have remained a mere bye-stander at the court of France, neither affimilating the manners, nor heartily espousing the interests of that kingdom. She hated Madame de Montespan and Madame de Maintenon alike, and entered into none of the intrigues or cabals with which she was surrounded. During her son's regency, she wrote her friend, the Princess Caroline, word, that the would not meddle with politics.

• I am too old (says she), and want repose. I never learned the art of reigning, and I should acquit myself very ill. My son, thank God, has sufficient abilities and talents to do without me.

I shalt give a good example to my son's wife and daughter. This kingdom has unluckily been but too long governed by women, old and young,

of

of every kind; it is high time now for the men to govern themselves. However, when my recommendation can be of the least use to poor and worthy people, I shall cagerly use it-nothing gives me more pleasure than to succeed in such applications; and I thank God for it as much as if I had been prosperous in my own affairs of the greatest consequence.'

And with this benevolent sentiment, so different from that of her nephew, the Dauphin, on the same subject, we shall close our account of this worthy Princess and her Fragments; which are rendered so amufing, by the delineations they contain of transactions behind the curtain, in the most polished and voJuptuous court of Europe, that we hope our readers will not be offended at the length of our extracts and remarks.

D? Bu.../ Art. II. De la Morale Naturelle, suivie du Bonheur des Sots. i.e.

An Esay on Natural Ethics, or Moral Science. By M. NecKER. 8vo. Paris. 1788.

Is it not Patroclus, that here comes forth in the armour of Achilles,' or rather in an armour as like it as this literary Patroclus could procure from the forge of a mortal Vulcan? To speak without a figure, we cannot discern in the work be. fore us the genuine characters of that elevated genius, that enlightened understanding, and that feeling heart, which penned the Essay on the Importance of religious Sentiments. We are much mistaken, if there is any thing more of M. Necker in this work, than a nice, little, prim picture of him prefixed to it, and a keen and elaborate attempt to imitate his style, in thirty-four short chapters. We are confirmed in our opinion by an Ésay on the Happiness of Fools, subjoined to the work, which is still more inferior to the taste and spirit of M. NECKER than the work itself. This supplement, which is an impotent attempt toward wit and pleasantry, in our opinion, fully discovers the imposa ture.

The work, however, considered in itself, rises far above contempt. It abounds with sensible and acute observations on moral duties and relations, The style is lively and animated, though too quaint and affected; and the spirit that reigns throughout the whole, is friendly to virtue. The author appears to difadvantage in M. Necker's coat, but he would have passed for a very personable man in his own.

Mac. Art. III. Mecanique Analytique. i. e. Analytical Mechanics.

By M. DE LA GRANGE, Member of the Academies of Paris, Berlin, Petersburg, and Turin. 4o. 513 Pages, Paris. 1788.

The defign of this work, which is worthy the great reputation of its celebrated author, is to facilitate the solution of all the problems relative to the science of mechanics, confidered in M 2

all

« PreviousContinue »