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He had none of the reflection of his bride. caution ; for, besides his having no right He was a mere laugher and jester, fond to say any thing, he had the mean and unof expense and gallantry; and, though he candid effrontery to pretend that he was became the father of two children, seems angry with her solely because she was not to have given his wife but little of his at- generous in money matters. He tells us, tention. He fell in a duel about some fe- that after all he had done for her and her male, seven years after his marriage. The friends, (what his favors were, God knows, poor man was a braggart in his amours. she refused him the assistance of her purse Bussy says, that he boasted to him of the at a moment when his whole prospects in approbation of Ninon de l'Enclos; a cir. life were in danger. The real amount of cumstance which, like a great number of this charge appears to have been that Bussy, others told in connection with the 'modern who, besides being a man of pleasure and Leontium,' is by no means to be taken for expense, was a distinguished cavalry offigranted. Ninon was a person of a singular cer, once needed money for a campaign ; repute, owing to as singular an education; and that, applying to his cousin to help him, and while, in consequence of that educa. her uncle the Abbé, who had the charge of tion, a license was given her, which, to say her affairs, thought proper to ask him for sethe truth, most people secretly took, the curities. The cynicaland disgusting, though graces and good qualities which she retain- well-written book, in which the Count lied in spite of it, ultimately rendered her belled his cousin, (for, as somebody said house a sort of academy of good breeding, of Petronius, he was an author purissime which it was thought not incompatible with impuritatis,) brought him afterwards into sober views in life to countenance. Now, such trouble at court, that it cost him many it is probable, from the great reputation years of exile to his estates, and a world of which she had for good sense, that she al-servile trouble and adulation to get back to ways possessed discernment enough to see the presence of Louis the Fourteenth, who through such a character as that of Mon- could never heartily like him. He had ridisieur de Sévigné. The wife, it is true, many culed, among others, the kind-hearted La years afterwards, accused her, to the young Vallière. Madame de Sévigné, in conseMarquis, of having spoilt (or hurt) his fa- quence of these troubles, forgave him ; and ther,' (gâté,) and it may have been true to their correspondence, both personally and a certain extent ; for a false theory of love by letter, was renewed pleasantly enough would leave a nature like his nothing to fall on his part, and in a constant strain of reback upon in regard to right feeling; but gard and admiration. He tells her, among people of the Marquis's sort generally come other pretty speeches, that she would cer. ready spoilt into society, and it is only an tainly have been goddess of something or indulgent motive that would palm off their other, had she lived in ancient times. But faults upon the acquaintances they make Madame de Sévigné writes to him with evithere. Be this as it may, Bussy-Rabutin, dent constraint, as to a sort of evil genius who had always made love to his cousin who is to be propitiated; and the least after his fashion, and who had found it met handsome incident in her life was the apwith as constant rejection, though not per parently warm interest she took in a scanhaps till he had been imprudently suffered dalous process instituted by him against a to go the whole length of his talk about it, gentleman whom his daughter had married, avows that he took occasion, from the Mar- and whose crime consisted in being of in. quis's boast about Ninon, to make her the ferior birth ; for Count Bussy-Rabutin was gross and insulting proposal, that she should as proud as he was profligate.* Bussy tried take her 'revenge. Again she repulsed to sustain his cause by forged letters, and him. A letter of Bussy's fell into her hus. had the felicity of losing it by their assist. band's hands, who forbade her to see him ance. It is to be hoped that his cousin bad more ; a prohibition, of which she doubt. been the dupe of the forgeries; but we have less gladly availed herself. The Marquis no doubt that she was somewhat afraid of perished shortly afterwards; and again her him. She dreaded his writing another book. cousin made his coxcombical and success. We know not whether it was during her less love, which, however, he accuses her married life, or afterwards, that Bussy reof receiving with so much pleasure as to lates a little incident of her behavior at show herself jealous when he transferred it court, to which his malignity gives one of to another ; a weakness, alas! pot impos. sible to very respectable representatives ofl * Sce a strange, painful, and vehement letter,
written by her on the subject, to the Count de Guipoor human nature. But all which he says taut. Vol. xiii. of the duodecimo Paris edition of to her disadvantage must be received with | 1823-4, p. 103.
its most ingenious turns. They were both pity but the superintendent; and not on his there together at a ball, and the King took heart, poor man! but on his neck; when it her out to dance. On returning to her seat, was threatened with the axe for doing as according to the Count's narrative,— It his predecessors had done, and squandering must be owned,' said she, 'that the King the public money. Fouquet was magnifipossesses great qualities: he will certainly cent and popular in his dishonesty, and obscure the lustre of all his predecessors.'- hence the envious conspired to pull him *I could not help laughing in her face,' ob down. Some of the earliest letters of Maserves Bussy, 'seeing what had produced dame de Sévigné are on the subject of his this panegyric.' I replied, 'There can be trial, and show an interest in it so genuine, no doubt of it, madam, after what he has that fault has been found with them for not done for yourself.' I really thought she being so witty as the rest! was going to testify her gratitude by crying. It was probably from this time that she Vive le Roi.'*
began to visit the court less frequently, and This is amusing enough; but the spirit to confine herself to those domestic and which induces a man to make charges of accomplished circles, in which, without this nature, is apt to be the one most liable suspecting it, she cultivated an immortal to them itself. Men at the court of Louis reputation for letter-writing. Her political used to weep, if he turned his face from and religious friends, the De Retzes and the them. The bravest behaved like little boys Jansenists, grew out of favor, or rather into before him, vying for his favor as children dislike, and she perhaps suffered herself to might do for an apple. Racine is said to grow out of favor with them. She always have died of the fear of having offended him; manifested, however, great respect for the and Bussy, as we have before intimated, King; and Louis was a man of too genuine was not a whit behind the most pathetic of a gallantry not to be courteous to the lady the servile, when he was again permitted whenever they met, and address to her a to prostrate himself in the court circle. few gracious words. On one occasion she Madame de Sévigné probably felt on this gazed upon the magnificent gaming-tables occasion as every other woman would have at court, and curtsied to his Majesty, after felt, and was candid enough not to hide her the fashion which her daughter,' she says, emotion; but whether, instead of pretend had taught her;' upon which the monarch ing to feel less, she might not have plea- was pleased to bow, and look very acknow. santly affected still more, in order to regain ledging. And, another time,when Madame de her self-possession, and so carry it off with Maintenon, the Pamela of royalty, then queen a grace, Bussy was not the man to tell us, in secret, presided over the religious amuseeven if his wit had had good-nature enough ments of the King, she went to see Racine's to discern it.
play of Esther performed by the young laThe young widow devoted herself to her dies of St. Cyr; when Louis politely exchildren, and would never again hear of pressed his hope that she was satisfied, and marriage. She had already become cele- interchanged a word with her in honor of brated for her letters ; continued to go oc- the poet and the performers. She was not casionally to court; and frequented the indeed at any time an uninterested observer reigoing literary circles, then famous for of what took place in the world. She has their pedantry, without being carried away other piquant, though not always very lucid by it. Several wits and men of fashion notices of the court—was deeply interested made love to her, besides Bussy. Among in the death of Turenne-listens with emo. them were the learned Menage, who court- tion to the eloquence of the favorite preached her in madrigals compiled from the Ita-ers—records the atrocities of the poisoners, lian; the superintendent of the finances, and is compelled by her good sense to leave Fouquet, who, except in her instance and off wasting her pity on the devout dulness that of La Vallière, is said to have made of King James II. But the proper idea of Danaes wherever he chose to shower his her, for the greater part of her life, is that of gold; and the Prince of Conti, brother of a sequestered domestic woman, the delight the great Condé, who, with the self-suffi- of her friends, the constant reader, talker, cient airs of a royal lover, declared that he laugher, and writer, and the passionate adfound her charming, and that he had 'amirer of the daughter to whom she addressword or two to say to her next winter.'|ed the chief part of her correspondence. Even the great Turenne is said to have sometimes she resided in Brittany, at an loved her. On none of them did she take estate on the sea-coast, called the Rocks,
• Histoire Amoureuse des Gaules. Tom. i. p. 158. which had belonged to her husband; someCologne, 1709.
times she was at Livry, near Paris, where the good uncle possessed his abbey ; some. Try that is charged against him, or livelier times at her own estate of Bourbilly, ip offence, but always so perilous to his neck Burgundy; and at others in her house in that he and they die with laughter.' Enter, town, where the Hôtel Carnavalet (now a with her friend Madame de la Fayette, the school) has become celebrated as her latest celebrated Duke de la Rochefoucauld, gouty, and best-known residence. In all those but still graceful, and he and the lady die abodes, not excepting the town-house, she with laughter ;' enter the learned Corbinelli, made a point of having the enjoyment of a and he dies; enter Madame de Coulanges, garden, delighting to be as much in the the sprightly mixture of airiness and witty open air as possible, haunting her green malice, and she dies of course ; and the alleys and her orangeries with a book in happy mortality is completed by her husher hand, or a song upon her lips, (for she band, the singing cousin aforesaid-'a lit. sung as she went about, like a child,) and tle round fat oily man,' who was always 'in' walking out late by moonlight in all sea- with some duke or cardinal, admiring his sons, to the hazard of colds and rheuma- fine house and seasting at his table. These tisms, from which she ultimately suffered were among the most prominent friends or severely. She was a most kind mistress to associates of Madame de Sévigné; but there her tenants. She planted trees, made la- were also great lords and ladies, and neighbyrinths, built chapels, (inscribing them bors in abundance, sometimes coming in 'to God,') watched the peasants dancing, when they were not wanted, but always sometimes played at chess, (she did not welcomed with true French politeness, exlike cards ;) and at almost all other times, cept when they had been heard to say any when not talking with her friends, she was thing against the daughter;' and then Ma. reading or hearing others read, or writing dame told them roundly to their faces that letters. The chief books and authors we she was not at home. There was Segrais, hear of are · Tasso,' 'Ariosto,' 'La Fon and Saint Pavin, and Corneille, and Bostaine,' 'Pascal,' 'Nicole,' 'Tacitus,' the suet, and Treville, who talked like a book ; huge old romances, "Rabelais,' Rochefou- and the great Turenne; and the Duke de cauld,' the novels of her friend Madame de Vivonne, brother of Montespan,) who called la Fayette, Corneille, Bourdaloue and Bos- her · darling mamma;' and Madame Scarsuet, Montaigne, Lucian, Don Quixotte, and ron, till she was Maintenon ; and Madame Saint Augustin; a goodly collection surely, de Fiesque, who did not know how to be a 'circle of humanity.' She reads the ro- afflicted; and D'Hacqueville, whose good mances three times over; and when she is offices it was impossible to tire ; and fat not sure that her correspondent will ap- Barillon, who said good things though he prove a book, says that her son has brought was a bad ambassador; and the Abbé Têtu, her into it,' or that he reads out 'passages.' thin and lively; and Benserade, who was Sometimes her household get up a little the life of the company wherever he went; surprise or masquerade; at others, her cou. and Brancas, who liked to choose his own sin Coulanges brings his 'song.book,' and rivals ; and Cardinal de Retz, in retirement they are the happiest people in the world;' feeding his trout, and talking metaphysics. that is to say, provided her daughter is She had known the Cardinal for thirty with her. Otherwise, the tears rush into years ; and, during his last illness, used to her eyes at the thought of her absence, and get Corneille, Boileau, and Molière to come she is always making dragons' or 'cook- and read to him their new pieces. Perhaps ing,'—viz., having the blue devils and fret. there is no man of whom she speaks with ting. But, when they all are comfortable, such undeviating respect and regard as this what they are most addicted to is dying once turbulent statesman, unless it be with laughter.' They die with laughter if Rochefoucauld, who, to judge of most of her seeing a grimace; if told a bon-mot; if accounts of him, was a pattern of all that witnessing a rustic dance; if listeving to was the reverse of his • Maxims.' Monsieur de Pomenars, who has always With her son the Marquis, who was a
some criminal affair on his hands;' if get. man of wit and pleasure about town,'till he ting drenched with rains if having a sore settled into sobriety with a wife who is said finger pinched instead of relieved. Here to have made him devout, Madame de Sélounges the young Marquis on the sofa with vigné lived in a state of confidence and unre. his book; there sits the old Abbé in his serve, to an excess that would not be deemed arm-chair, fed with something nice; the very delicate in these days, and of which, ladies chat, and embroider, and banter Ma- indeed, she herself sometimes expresses her demoiselle du Plessis ; in comes Monsieur dislike. There is a well-known collection de Pomenars, with the news of some forge. I of letters, professing to have passed between
him and Ninon de l'Enclos, which is spuri- land off, for the remainder of the mother's ous; but we gather some remarkable par existence-a space of six-and-twenty years; ticulars of their intimacy from the letters and though she contrived to visit and be of the mother to her daughter; and, among visited by Madame de Grignan so often that others, Ninon's sayings of him, that he had they spent nearly half the time with each
a soul of pap,' and the heart of a cucum. other, yet the remaining years were a torber fried in snow.'
ment to Madame de Sévigné, which nothing The little Marquis's friends (for he was could assuage but an almost incessant cor. small in his person) did not think him a respondence. One letter was no sooner man of very iinpassioned temperament. He received than another was anxiously dewas, however, very pleasant and kind, and sired; and the daughter echoed the anxiety. an attentive son. He had a strong contempt, Hours were counted, post-boys watched for, too, for the character of Æneas,' and the obstacles imagined ; all the torments expemerit of never having treated Bussy Rabu- rienced, and not seldom manifested, of the tin with any great civility. Rochefoucauld most jealous and exacting passion, and at said of him, that his greatest ambition would the same time all the delights and ecstasies have been to die for a love which he did vented of one of the most confiding. But not feel. He was at first in the army, but what we have to say of this excess of manot being on the favorite side either in po ternal love will be better kept for our conlitics or religion, nor probably very active, cluding remarks. Suffice it to observe, in could get no preferment worth having ; so hastening to give our specimens of the lelhe ended in living unambitiously in a deters, that these graver points of the corresvout corner of Paris, and cultivating his pondence, though numerous, occupy but a taste for literature. He maintained a con- small portion of it ; that the letters, genetest of some repute with Dacier, on the dis- rally speaking, consist of the ainusing gospatable meaning of the famous passage in sip and conversation which the mother Horace, Difficile est propriè communia dicere. would have had with the daughter, had the His treatise on the subject may be found in latter remained near her; and that Madame the later Paris editions of his mother's let. de Sévigné, after living, as it were, for no ters; but the juxtaposition is not favorable other purpose than to write them, and to to its perusal.
straiten herself in her circumstances for But sons, dukes, cardinals, friends, the both her children, died at her daughter's whole universe, come to nothing in these house in Provence, of an illness caused by famous letters, compared with the daughter the fatigue of nursing her through one of to whom they owe their existence. She her own. Her decease took place in April bad not the good spirits of her mother, but 1696, in the seventieth year of her age. she had wit and observation; and appears Her body, it is said, long after, was found to have been so liberally brought up, that dressed in ribbons, after a Provençal fashion, she sometimes startled her more acquies at which she had expressed great disgust. cent teacher with the hardihood of her spe- Madame de Grignan did not survive many culations. It is supposed to have been years. She died in the summer of 1705, of owing to a scruple of conscience in her de grief, it has been thought, for the loss of scendants, that her part of the correspond-her only child the Marquis de Grignan, in ence was destroyed. She professed her. whom the male descendants of the family self, partly in jest and partly in earnest, a became extinct. It is a somewhat uppleazealous follower of Descartes. It is curious sant evidence of the triumph of Ninon de that the circumstance which gave rise to l'Enclos over the mortality of her contemthe letters, was the very one to which Ma- poraries, that, in one of the letters of the dame de Sévigné had looked for saving her correspondence, this youth, the grandson of the necessity of correspondence. The Madame de Sévigné's husband, and nephew young lady became the wife of a great of her son, is found studying good breeding lord, the Count de Grignan, who, being a at the table of that 'grandmother of the man of the court, was expected to continue Loves.' The Count de Grignan, his father, to reside in Paris; so that the mother trust. does not appear to have been a very agreeed she should always have her daughter at able personage. Mademoiselle de Sévigné hand. The Count, however, who was lieu- was his third wife. He was, therefore, not tenant-governor of Provence, received or very young; he was pompous and fond of ders, shortly afterwards, to betake himself expense, and brought duns about her; and to that distant region: the continued non- his face was plain, and it is said that he did residence of the Duke de Vendôme, the not make up for his ill looks by the virtue governor, conspired to keep him there, on of constancy. Madame de Sévigné seems to have been laudably anxious to make the those of Madame de Sévigné, though the best of her son-in-law. She accordingly specimens hitherto published have not been compliments him on his 'fine tenor voice;' very successful, we do not believe it. and, because he has an uncomely face, is Phrases here and there may be so; differalways admiring his 'figure.' One cannot sence of manners may render some few unhelp suspecting sometimes that there is a translatable in so many words, or even unin. little malice in her intimations of the con- telligible ; but for the most part the sententrast, and that she admires his figure most ces will find their equivalents, if the transwhen he will not let her daughter come to lator is not destitute of the spirits that see her. The Count's only surviving child, suggested them. We have been often given Pauline, became the wife of Louis de Simi- to understand, that we have been, by transane, Marquis d'Esparron, who seems to lation, too much in the habit, on our own have been connected on the mother's side part, of assuming that French, however with our family of the Hays, and was lieu- widely known, was still more known than tenant of the Scottish horse-guards in the it is; and we shall endeavor, on the present service of the French king. Madame de occasion, to make an attempt to include the Simiane inherited a portion both of the look whole of our readers in the participation of and wit of her grandmother; but more re- a great intellectual pleasure. sembled her mother in gravity of disposi- ! The first letter in the Collection, written tion. A daughter of hers married the Mar- when Madame de Sévigné was a young and quis de Vence; and of this family there are happy mother, gives a delightful foretaste descendants now living ; but the names of of what its readers have to expect. She Grignan, Rabutin, and Sévigné, have long was then in her twentieth year, with a baby been extinct-in the body. In spirit they in her arms, and nothing but brightness in are now before us, more real than myriads ber eyes. of existing families; and we proceed to enjoy their deathless company.
To the Count de Bussy-Rabutin. "We shall not waste the reader's time
• March 15th, (1647.)* with the history of editions, and telling how You are a pretty fellow, are you not ? to have the collection first partially transpired / written me nothing for these two months. Have
you forgotten who I am, and the rank I hold in the against the consent of friends.' Friends
is family ? 'Faith, little cadet, I will make you reor families are too often afraid, or ashamed, I member it. If you put me out of sorts, I will or jealous, of what afterwards constitutes reduce you to the ranks. You knew I was about their renown; and we can only rejoice to be confined, and yet took no more trouble to that the sweet 'winged words' of the most ask after my health than if I had remained a spin. Aowing of pens, escaped, in this instance, ster. Very well be informed to your confusion out of their grudging boxes. We give the that I have got a boy, who shall suck hatred of letters in English instead of French, not |
you into his veins with his mother's milk, and that
II mean to have a great many more, purely to supbeing by any means of opinion that all
ply you with enemies. You have not the wit to who read and appreciate Madame de Sé-l do as much, you with your feminine produetions. vigné, may be supposed to understand that • After all, my dear cousin, my regard for you is language nearly as well as their own.' not to be concealed. Nature will proclain it in Undoubtedly, people of the best natural spite of art. I thought to scoid you for your lazi. understandings are glad, when, in addition
ness through the whole of this letter ; but I do my
heart too great a violence, and must conclude with to what nature has given them, they pos
telling you that M. de Sévigné and myself love sess, in the knowledge of a foreign lan.
you very much, and often talk of the pleasure we guage, the best means of appreciating the should have in your company.' wit that has adorned it. But it is not impossible that some such people, nay many,
Bussy writes very pleasantly in return; in this age of diffusion of knowledge,'
but it will be so impossible to make half may have missed the advantages of a good!
the extracts we desire from Madame de Sé education, and yet be able to appreciate the
the vigné's own letters, that we must not be imperfectly conveyed wit of another, better temp
tempted to look again into those of others. than some who are acquainted with its own
The next that we shall give is the famous vehicle. Besides, we have known very dis
one on the Duke de Lauzun's intended martinguished people confess, that all who read,
riage with the Princess Henrietta of Bouror even speak French, do not always read 20
bon; one of the most striking, though not it with the same ready result and comfort
the most engaging, in the collection. We to the eyes of their understandings as they do their own language ; and as to the ‘im-lters, gave the years. They were added by one of
* Madame de Sévigné never, in dating her letpossibility of translating such letters as her editors.