Page images

essentially ridiculous. The Marriage of Figaro is played in all possible shapes on our English stage, without its political tendencies being even noticed. The whole venom of the play, at the time it was produced, lay in the truth and apropos of its satire. Its terrible philosophy is now the mere common-place of pamphleteers. Madame Campan relates, with the most unsuspecting innocence, the following speech of Louis XVI. on the occasion. "That's detestable; that shall never be played: the Bastille must be destroyed, before the license to act this play can be any other than an act of the most dangerous folly. This man scoffs at every thing that is to be respected in a government.

[ocr errors]

Madame Campan and the editors of her work, between them, give three separate versions of the affair of the diamond necklace. Upon the whole, however, they leave the reader something more in doubt than they find him. The clue which should lead to the truth is lost for ever; and nothing is left but the most provokingly contradictory suppositions. That Madame Campan herself believed in the Queen's innocence is evident, and her testimony is of some weight; but that innocence can only be established on data not less incredible than the guilt of a queen would be. That the Prince de Rohan, a veteran courtier, could not have discovered the cheat put on him by an actress, who is said to have personated the Queen in an interview with him in the dusk of an evening, is scarcely within the bounds of possibility: and the facility with which this nobleman contrived to communicate with a confidential friend, and procure the burning of his papers, after his arrest in the palace, is explained in a way that throws some suspicion of collusion between him and the royal family. The grief and disappointment of the King and Queen, on his acquittal, shews that they felt the circumstances as a condemnation of the Queen. That the Cardinal Prince was guilty of intentional fraud there is not the slightest proof. But the intrigues of the great nobility, his relations, and of the whole body of the clergy, to impede his being brought to trial, throw much obscurity even over this point. Whether, however, the Cardinal took the imputation of being a dupe on himself to screen others, or whether he escaped through this interference of the great corps to which he belonged, it is certain that the wretched Countess La Motte, a poor and destitute adventurer, supported by no extrinsic interests, was alone punished; and this circumstance worked powerfully against existing institutions, even with those who did not believe the Queen guilty of the fraud.

The major part of the last volume of these memoirs is occupied with the domestic events of the palace, from the commencement of the Revolution to the death of the King. This is a field too wide to enter upon at the close of this long article: we shall therefore content ourselves with observing, that, amidst many affecting anecdotes of the last days of the monarchy, and some traits honourable to the royal sufferers, there is abundance of evidence, as well direct as unintentional, of the hopeless weakness of the King, the restless intrigue of the Queen, and the fatal duplicity of both, in their professions of attachment to the new order of things. The hatred of the Queen to that constitution which her husband had sworn to maintain, though by no means unnatural in one so circumstanced, blinded her completely to her own situation. She had but two objects constantly before her

eyes, which resolve themselves into one,-escape to the frontiers * and a counter-revolution. Occupied exclusively with these ideas, the Court took no pains to possess itself of the Revolution, and conduct it d to the happiness of France and the security of the throne. This error was even more unpardonable in the royal family than in the aristom cracy, because self-preservation should have led them right, Emil pechez le desordre de s'organizer," was the sensible remark of a Mons sieur Dabucq, who on some occasion was consulted, by the royalıy family. But the aristocrats, and the Queen at their head,"preferred q every thing, even the Jacobins, to the establishment of a constitutionque and dreaded lest its acceptation, under other circumstances than thosed s of restraint, should afford it a sanction, sufficient to support the new? government." “The most unbridled disorders seemed preferable, bear{} cause they buoyed up the hope of a total change." (Vol. ii. p. 165) # This avowal, coming from such a quarter, is decisive; and exculpates H completely the constitutionalists of 1789, who laboured with zeal and al sincerity to consolidate the new system, and to reconcile liberty with lang regal government. But the aristocrats of that day, like the ultras of w the present moment, looked to nothing but their own selfish interests.ail The game they then played is the same their successors are now play. ing. Theirs was a spirit which admitted of no compromise, saw nor dangers, comprehended no obstacles; a spirit which put every thingh to the hazard, and played "le tout pour le tout;" a spirit of temerity, not of courage; and as foreign from calculation, as it was from huwer? manity. This was the spirit which armed France against the persons til of the King and Queen, and hurried them from the throne to the scaf≥90 fold. And the same spirit is now arming all Europe, not against one throne and one king, but against unlimited monarchy wherever zitod exists, or at least against every crowned head that has not the wisdom t and the force to repress its blind and dangerous activity. EhE3 Madame Campan, like her predecessor Dangeau, seems to have collected her anecdotes, without always considering how they would tell: and in the simplicity of her heart, she has rendered herself ah lo unexceptionable evidence of political errors, she neither saw nor under-w stood. Yet this very circumstance gives additional weight to all she says; as it leaves her divested of the malice which misrepresents, and les the spirit of system which seeks to distort events.


To the lovers of anecdote her volumes will afford a rich treat; and fo the quantity of collateral evidence brought forward by her editors, while it increases this stock of amusement, assists the memory of moreau serious readers, and adds largely to the value of the publication. M.ɔdi

In the preparations for flight, a trait of human nature in the great deserves of mention. The Queen insisted on having a complete troupeau for herself and ange ther for her children; and though Madame Campan urged that a Queen of France of would find chemises everywhere, she persisted in making purchases of linen, which endangered an instant discovery of her intentions. She had likewise a superb nécessaire upon which she also set her heart: and her persevering efforts to get this sent out of the country, or to have a similar one made for the flight, were in her on circumstances yet more extravagant and whimsical.




EVERY family, I believe, has its great man: my maternal uncle, Sir Nicholas Sawyer, is ours. His counting-house is in Mark-lane, where he lived for a period of twenty years: on his being knighted, however, he thought, and his wife was sure, that knighthood and city air would notocoalesce; so the family removed to Bedford-square. Our family live in Lime-street, and I am in the counting-house. The knighthood and the Bedford-square house at once elevated my uncle to be the greatoman of the family, insomuch that we, the Wodehouses, are at present rather in the shade, and the Sawyers in the full blaze of thest suno My father is naturally too indolent a man to trouble his head about this; but my mother has a growing family that must be pushed. Sir Nicholas is apt to dine with us now and then, and my mother, upon these occasions, schools us to what we are to say and do, as Garrick was said to have tutored his wife. My sister Charlotte is told to like Handel's music, to which the great man, being what is called “serious,” } is partial, my brother John, who is articled to an attorney, is told to pull Boote's suit at law out of his pocket; I am told to dislike port wine, and to be partial to parsnips; and even little Charles is told to lisp The Lord my pasture shall prepare." I question whether the Quaker meeting-house in White-yard-court can muster such a congregation of unfledged hypocrites. When Sir Nicholas issues one of his dinner ediets, it occasions as great a bustle in our establishment, as Queen Elizabeth's created when she quartered herself upon Kenilworth castle. I will mention what happened last Wednesday. There is very little variety in the infliction. The narrative of what passes at one dinner may serve for a hundred."

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]



Sir Nicholas Sawyer is in the habit of looking in at our countinghouse in his h s way to his own. That is to say, whenever he condescends to walk. At these times he uniformly tells us why he cannot have the ́* carriage. It is wanted by Lady Sawyer: upon one occasion to accompany Lady Fanny Phlegethon to the opening of the new church at Kennington: upon another, to pay a kind visit to the poor Countess of Cowcross: upon a third, to attend Mr. Penn's Outinian Lecture with Lady Susan Single. Last Wednesday morning he paid us one of his usual visits; and having skimmed the cream of the Public Ledger, asked my father if he dined at home on that day? My father answered' yes; as indeed he would have done had he been engaged to dine off pearls and diamonds with the Royal Ram. "Bob," said my father to me, "do run upstairs and tell your mother that your uncle will dine with us to-day." I did as I was bid, and on opening the parlour-door, found my mother teaching little Charles his multiplication-table, and Charlotte singing to the piano "Nobody coming to marry me." As she had just then arrived at "Nobody coming to woo," which last-mentioned monosyllable she was lengthening to woohoo-hoo-hoo, in a strain not unlike that of the "Cuckoo harbinger of Spring." "This was unlucky: the cadenza might have been heard down in the counting-house: and any thing more opposite to Handel could not well be imagined. I delivered my message: my alarmed mother” started up; Charlotte threw away her Hymen-seeking ditty, and pouncing upon Acis and Galatea began to growl "Oh, ruddier than



the berry." As for little Charles, he was left to find out the result of five times nine, like the American boy, by dint of his own natural sagacity. A short consultation was held between my mother and Charlotte upon the important article of dinner. A round of beef salted, in the house so far fortunate: a nice turbot and a few mutton-chops would be all that it was requisite to add. The debate was now joined by my father he agreed to the suggestion, and my mother offered to adjourn instanter to Leadenhall-market. No, my dear, no," said my father; "remember when your brother last dined with us, you bought a hen lobster, and one of the chops was all bone." My mother owned her delinquency, and my father walked forth to order the provisions.


Our dinner-hour is five, and my brother John dines with us, generally returning afterwards to Mr. Pounce's office in Bevis Marks. I met him on the stairs, and told him of the intended visit. Jack winked his left eye, and tapped a book in his coat-pocket, as much as to say, "Let me alone: I'll be up to him." At the hour of five we were all assembled in the drawing-room, with that species of nervous solicitude which usually precedes the appearance of the great man of the family. A single knock a little startled us; but it was only the boy with the porter. A double knock terrified us: Charlotte mechanically began to play, "Comfort ye my people:" my mother took the hand of little Charles, whose head had been properly combed, in anticipation of the customary pat, and advanced to meet her high and mighty relation: the door opened, and the servant delivered—a twopenny-post printed circular, denoting that muffins were only to be had good at Messrs. Stuff and Saltem's, in Abchurch-lane, and that all other edibles were counterfeits. My father ejaculated "Psha!" and threw the epistle into the fire. Little Charles watched the gradually diminishing sparks, and had just come to parson and clerk, when the sudden stop of a carriage and a treble knock announced to those whom it might concern that his High Mightiness had really assailed our portal. The scene which had just before been rehearsed for the benefit of the twopenny postman, was now performed afresh, and Sir Nicholas Sawyer was inducted into the arm-chair. I had the honour to receive his cane, my brother Jack his gloves, and little Charles his hat, which he carried off in both hands without spilling. "What have you got in your pocket, Jack?" said the Great Man to my brother. "Only the first volume of Morgan's Vade Mecum," answered the driver of quills. "Right," rejoined our revered uncle: "always keep an eye to business, Jack. May you live to be Lord Chancellor, and may I live to see it!" "At this he laughed," as Goldsmith has it; "and so did we: the jests of the rich are always successful." My mother, however, conceived it to be no jesting matter, and in downright earnest began to allege that John had an uncommon partiality for the law, and would doubtless do great things, if he was but properly pushed. She then averred that I, too, had a very pretty taste for printed cottons, and that when I should be taken into partnership I should, in all human probability, do the trade credit, if I was but properly pushed. But for this a small additional capital was requisite, and where I was to get it Heaven only knew. Charlotte's talent for music was then represented to be surprising, and would be absolutely astonishing if she could but afford to

get her properly pushed by a few lessons from Bishop. As to little Charles, she was herself pushing him in his arithmetic. Never was there a mother who so pushed her offspring it is no fault of hers that we are not every one of us flat on our faces long ago.

Dinner being announced, the Great Man took his seat at the right hand of my mother. He was helped to a large slice of turbot, whereupon he tapped the extremity of the fish with his knife. This denoted his want of some of the fins, and my mother accordingly dealt out to him a portion of these glutinous appendages. Common mortals send a plate round the table for whatsoever they may require; but, when the Great Man of the Family graces the table, every thing is moved up to him. The buttock of beef being a little too ponderous to perform such a visit, the Great Man hinted from afar off where he would be helped. "Just there: no, not there: a little nearer the fat or stay: no it is a little too much boiled: I will wait a slice or two: ay: now it will do: a little of the soft fat, and two spoonfuls of gravy: put two small parsnips with it; and, Thomas, bring me the mustard." It may be well imagined that these dicta were followed by prompt obedience. There are only two viands for which I entertain an aversion-parsnips and tripe. The former always give me the notion of carrots from the catacombs, and the latter, of boiled leather breeches. My politic mamma, aware of my uncle's partiality for parsnips, had lectured me into the propriety of assuming a fondness for them; adding, that Sir Nicholas had been married five years without children, and that I should probably be his heir, and that one would not lose one's birthright for a mess of pottage. It is whispered in the family that my uncle is worth a plum. It would, therefore, be a pity to lose a hundred thousand pounds, by refusing to swallow a parsnip. I contrived to get down a couple; and was told by Sir Nicholas that I was a clever young man, and knew what was what. My mother evidently thought the whole of the above-named sum was already half way down my breeches pocket. "Has any body seen Simpson and Co." enquired the Great Man, during a short interval between his mouthfuls. I was upon the incautious point of answering yes, and that I thought it a very good thing, when my father, with the most adroit simplicity, answered, "I met Simpson this morning at Batson's his partner is at Liverpool." Hereat the Great Man chuckled so immoderately that we all thought that a segment of parsnip had gone the wrong way. "No, I don't mean them-come, that's not amiss-Simpson and Scott, of Alderman's Walk. Ha, ha, hah! No: I mean Simpson and Co. at Drury Lane." "No," answered my mother, we none of us ever go to the play." Lord, help me! it was but a week ago that my Father, Jack, and I, had sat in the pit to see this identical drama! Now came in the mutton chops. The process was electrical, and deserves a minute commemoration. First, the Great Man had a hot plate, upon which he placed a hot potatoe. Then our man Thomas placed the pewter dish, carefully covered, immediately under our visitor's nose. At a given signal Thomas whisked off the cover, and my uncle darted his fork into a chop as rapidly as if he were harpooning a fish. What became of the cover, unless Thomas swallowed it, I have not since been able to form a guess.


I pass over a few more white lies, uttered for the purpose of ingra

« PreviousContinue »