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requires a less exercise of reason, but that it naturally, and almost necessarily, calls forth a greater actual exertion of our faculties. As intercourse grows more open and familiar, we become less observant and discriminating.
But if the author of the volumes before us has laboured under a disadvantage common to biographers, he, certainly, has some peculiar recommendations to our confidence. Of all men, physicians enjoy the greatest facilities for studying human character, and probing the very inmost recesses of the soul.
“Reges dicuntur multis urgere culullis,
Thus may the hypocrite sometimes be unmasked, and thus a sovereign might prove a courtier, an sit amicitia dignus, if he merely wished to expose political opinions, considering disbelief in the divine right of kings as the extreme of human frailty. But it is not amid drunken revelry that we can best study man; that we can observe the excellences and noble attributes which adorn, as well as the stains which darken his nature. On the sick bed, when the body is weakened by disease, all the qualities of the mind and the feelings of the heart appear in an artless dishabille, which exhibits their true forms in strong and decided outlines.
The works which may serve as memoirs, in part, more or less deserving of credit, of Lafayette's public life, are very numerous. The remarkable events which France has witnessed within the last half century, have called forth a multitude of historians of every variety of ability and authenticity. Of course, “the hero of three revolutions" figures largely in many of these records. Professed biographers, too, of Lafayette, have not been wanting, though, up to the present time, nothing of this kind has been given to the world at all worthy of the man, or of the wonderful scenes in which he took so important a part. We observe that the American publishers of the present volumes give notice, that these sketches of his private life are the only memoirs, which “ we shall have for a long period, at least, with the permission of the family of the deceased.” We cannot
that we feel any regret at this announcement, supposing it to be correct. What historian, of the present day, could do full justice to such a subject ? Will England ever furnish a writer, who, laying aside the prejudice imbibed at his mother's breast, and the sworn enmity of his maturer years, can portray with candour and impartiality the character of a French republican? We never expect to witness such a triumph over self. Can we entertain the hope, that, in France, under the present dynasty, any author will arise to do justice to the me
mory of one so offensive to the sight of royalty? What would be more easy for a government which has the complete mastery of the press than to stifle, at the birth, any work containing sentiments hostile to monarchical interests? But how could Lafayette's career be truly exhibited without a full and candid exhibition of the opinions and principles which governed his words and actions, even to the last hour of his existence; without a thorough examination of the influence which he has exerted upon his generation, and of the return with which his services have been rewarded? And what could be the result of such an exhibition, but to weaken the hands of tyranny, by a strong and popular contrast to its usurpations; to throw contempt upon royalty stained with the vilest ingratitude ?
An American, while able fully to appreciate a republican character, and also enjoying perfect liberty of words and action, would, however, unless from peculiar circumstances, labour under evident disadvantages. But still we may give it, as our firm conviction, that if any creditable life of Lafayette shall appear, within the next half century, it will be a product of the American soil. One thing we take for granted--that the task of the biographer ought always to fall to a friend, rather than an enemy; that the invidious exaggerations of the one are more unfriendly to the cause of truth, than the indulgent colouring of the other.
M. Cloquet, the author of these recollections of Lafayette, has been hitherto known to us only as a skilful surgeon, a professor in the School of Medicine at Paris, and a distinguished medical writer. From the tone of his preface, we should judge that he has seldom, if ever, gone out of the line of his profession, so far as in the present instance. At the earnest solicitation of Mr. Isaiah Townsend, an American resident in Paris, he consented to record a few such reminiscences of his acquaintance with Lafayette, as would, probably, prove interesting to our countrymen, for whom alone they were originally intended. These sketches were translated by Mr. Townsend, and printed in a New York paper, the Evening Star, from which they were copied into several other journals. Many of them we read with interest at the time of their first appearance, but they are now issued, much improved and extended.' Thé present translation, prepared under the eye of the author, has been published here, and in London, simultaneously with the publication of the French original in Paris. It is, in general, well expressed in pure English. The author says of the French edition, “ The printing has been confided to M. Jules Didot, sen., who has discharged his task in a manner worthy of his typographical reputation.” We may add, in commbadation of the cis-Atlantic publishers, that the dress which the work has
assumed under their auspices, is pre-eminently beautiful, even at this day, when such a profusion of “blue, and purple, and scarlet,” for outside-adorning, meets the eye. With the engravings, which are nearly all from designs by M. Cloquet himself, we have been particularly pleased. Many of them exhibit, at a glance, a sort of information which words could not convey, and which we, at least, have often wished to obtain.
We are very seldom willing to admit the validity of excuses set forth in an author's preface. They are, generally, such as are properly “available only to a defendant;" such as “no plaintiff can offer as a supplementary ground of action.” But the circumstances to which M. Cloquet's work owes its conception and present publication, do, undoubtedly, warrant a good share of indulgence on the part of its readers. Our own remarks shall be governed by this consideration. The merits of the work, as a literary production, certainly are not of the highest order. We value it chiefly for its authenticity, and as exhibiting, in a strong light, Lafayette's feelings and opinions in regard to America. It is especially adapted to interest Ameri
As the author, in the course of his narrative, has introduced the names of several individuals still living, particularly of the surviving members of Lafayette's family, he has thought it necessary to make a formal apology for so doing. We should not take notice of this circumstance, if it were not for a singular infelicity of expression in the apology thus offered, which evidently might be construed to contain an insinuation, very far, no doubt, from the intention of the writer.
“I trust,” he says, “they will pardon me for having introduced their names without previously obtaining their consent; and I am the more inclined to rely upon their indulgence, as I have fortunately had no occasion to present them in any other than a favourable light.”—Preface, p. xv.
Perhaps the translation alone may be at fault, but the words certainly convey the idea that he might, unforlunately, have had occasion to allude to them in a less favourable manner.
There is sometimes too much minuteness in M. Cloquet's descriptions. He seems to have carried the “business habits” of the surgeon rather too far, in this particular. In writing a work on anatomy, it might be well enough to trace each little nerve or artery through its winding course, and to mention its most insignificant characteristics. But here the case is different. To illustrate our meaning we make a few short extracts.
"Lafayette was tall and well-proportioned. He was decidedly inclined to embonpoint, though not to obesity. His head was large; his face oval and regular; his forehead lofty and open ; his
which were full of goodness and meaning, were large and prominent, of a VOL. XX.NO. 39.
grayish-blue, and surmounted with light and well-arched, but not bushy eyebrows; his nose was aquiline; his mouth, which was habitually embellished with a natural smile, was seldom opened except to utter kind and gracious expressions; his complexion was clear; his cheeks were slightly coloured; and at the age of seventy-seven pot a single wrinkle furrowed his countenance, the ordinary expression of which was that of candour and frankness."
“According to the circumstances in which he was placed, joy, hope, pity or gratitude, tenderness or severity, were, by turns, predominant in his eyes and in every feature of his countenance.' (We might almost have divined as much.)
“His other movements were easy and natural, and though he had but little suppleness in his fingers, his gestures were graceful, and rarely abrupt,” &c.
" When the subject of conversation was gay, he laughed heartily ; but even the excess of his mirth was never displayed in sudden and violent bursts of laughter." (These facts will certainly take a prominent place in history.)
“Lafayette's dress was always extremely simple, and free from every thing like pretension. He usually wore a long gray or dark coloured coat;"' (Quære,—is “dark coloured” merely explanatory of the epithet "gray;" or does it convey the derogatory idea, that Lafayette's principles were so unsettled, that his coats were not invariably of the same colour ?)
a round hat,” (by this token we should have known him among a thousand,) "pantaloons and gaiters." (What a remarkable idiosyncracy is here indicated !) -Vol. I., p. 7, et seq.
We might multiply passages of this kind, selecting them from all parts of both volumes, but we shall trespass on the patience of the reader with only one other short quotation, exhibiting the same attention to minute circumstances, and, moreover, disclosing a marked aptitude, in M. Cloquet, for the study of comparative anatomy. He is relating the events of Lafayette's last illness, detailing the gradual progress of his disease, and preparing his readers for the “closing scene,” when he introduces the following particulars :
“During his malady, Lafayette was very fond of a small white bitch, which he had received, I believe, from Madame de Bourck, and which never quitted him. The animal, which was gifted with a remarkable degree of instinct, permitted nobody except Bastien to approach her master's clothes, when he was in bed, expressed sorrow or joy according as he felt better or worse, and might have served as a thermometer to indi
cate the state of his health. Since the General's death, she bas followed Bastien to Lagrange, but has never resumed her gaiety.”—Vol. II., pp. 96 and 97.
If the reader will absolve us from the rash promise made above, we will give another instance which has since met our eye. The author details, at some length, the circumstances of M. Dulong's fatal duel with General Bugeaud, of which we shall have occasion to speak hereafter, and after other particulars, gravely tells us, of the wounded and dying man,
“He was bled copiously, and the blood was received in a salad bowl !”— Vol. II., p. 89.
But we drop the pen of criticism to enter upon the more agreeable task of endeavouring to extract something from this work which may profit or please our readers.
As its title purports, it contains little more than sketches of private life. Such opinions as the author has himself heard expressed by Lafayette, during a familiar intercourse of many years, on a variety of different subjects, both moral and political, he records at length. Of course, he recollects no expression of opinion in regard to the government of Louis Philippe, which, as we know from other sources, was regarded, by Lafayette, with feelings of the deepest disappointment and reprobation. Indeed he forewarns us, that, in these letters, he has as much as possible avoided every subject connected with the politics of the present day;" adding,
“If I have spoken of some of Lafayette's opinions; if I have developed and commented on some of his ideas, I have done so with the reserve that becomes my situation.”—Preface, p. xiii.
Those parts of the work in which we have been the most interested, are the descriptions of the domestic arrangements and course of life at Lagrange, and the relation of the circumstances attending the last illness and death of this illustrious man. His country residence is thus described.
"Lagrange-Bleurau, better known at present by the name of LagrangeLafayette, is situated thirteen leagues east of Paris, near Rosny-en-Brie, and nearly half way from Melun to Meaux. The château and farm touch one another, and are situated in the centre of the grounds which surround them, and form an almost perfect circle of more than eight hundred French acres. The roads leading to Lagrange cross the property, and are well planted and carefully kept in order. The entrance into the park is through a wide and handsome avenue, slightly curved and bordered with young and sturdy apple trees, the branches of which incline towards the traveller, and seem to offer him the Powers or fruit with which they are loaded. This avenue turns to the left, passing along the farm, and an old chapel, which, at present, forms part of it: and thus crosses a small plantation of chestnut trees, and soon after