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as injudiciously in an opposite direction. Convinced now that his son's abilities lay in the sphere of the imagination, nothing would content him but that he should write a tragedy! JeanJacques needed little prompting. His friends and schoolfellows, as highflown in their ideas as himself, were destined to be among the distinguished writers of their day. Victor Cousin, Prosper Merimée, Morel, Sautelet--with others as ardent but with less known names—were his chosen companions. He entered accordingly upon life with the most exalted sentiments as to its aims and duties. At eighteen he writes to an equally young friend, Oui, mon ami, my only 'object is to be useful, but useful in the divine sense of the
term. Whatever is unconnected with that aim I exclude from my life. I am determined neither to work, nor learn, nor feel, ‘nor express anything that does not point that way. Two more years pass, and a reaction sets in. He reads Göthe, learns English, begins music. “Anything to escape the sorrowful realities of life. L'homme est ici-bas pour s'ennuyer et souffrir.'
Meanwhile a tragedy entitled Rosamonde,' embodying the ardours and despairs that alternatively swayed his imagination, was composed—too divinely useful, however, to be adapted to the French stage; for to André-Marie's infinite disappointment it was pronounced irréprésentable. The young tragedian, always steady in self-application, had the patience to remodel it; but we are not aware that ‘Rosamonde,' or a subsequently composed piece, ever stood the test of representation. It served, however, as a safety-valve during a period of intense mental excitement, when, as he expresses himself, “le ' sentiment de malédiction a été sur moi-autour de moi-en moi. This state was principally owing to the reading of Manfred.' Byron never had a nobler victim, for the time, to this morbid creation of his genius. “Jamais, jamais, de 'ma vie, lecture ne m'écrasa comme cela. J'en suis malade.' His imagination was at this boiling point when that event took place which was destined to affect his whole life, and which connects the history of Jean-Jacques with that bewitching and incomprehensible woman, who, alike without birth, fortune and talent, held her reign, lifelong, undisputed and uninterrupted, equally in the circles of fashion and over the hearts of men. Madame Récamier, distinguished neither in art or letters, nor in any of the scandalous forms of notoriety too often connected with celebrated beauties, has yet a reputation which perpetually stimulates curiosity. Born in the same city, Lyons, and in the same year, 1777, as
Julie Carron, the mother of Jean-Jacques, no two carrières • de jeune fille could have been more opposite. The one lived and died like a violet in the shade; her short and humble life only now brought to light by the fame of her husband and son; the other, Juliette Bernard, childless and virtually husbandless, was transplanted as a mere child, in 1789, from a convent near Lyons to the centre of Parisian vice, frivolity, and peril; never from that time to pause in a career, however chequered, almost public in character. The figure of Madame Récamier is one not easily drawn upon a canvas. She is said to have hardly risen in mind above the commonplace ; but no commonplaces explain her. Two main conditions contributed to make her what she was. These were the times in which her youth was spent, and the country to which she belonged. The". Terror,' and the depraved manners which accompanied it, led to the detestable logic which is believed to have united her to M. Récamier; while the freedom of life which French society allows to a married woman gave her a scope and liberty, inevitable in her case, and never more excusable. Both by her position at the side of a man, holding the name of her husband, but supposed to be her father, as well as by the gift of transcendent beauty, she was, in a measure, set apart. That beauty can now only be gauged by the sensation it created, for neither David's picture nor Canova's bust account for its extraordinary reputation; but that it was of a nature that would ' make you crazy,' and did make many miserable, is as certain as evidence can make any fact. Still, Juliette Récamier's reputation is not thus fully accounted for. Her beauty did for her all that beauty, per se, can ever do. It gave her an immediate advantage over others of her sex, and it made her the fashion and the rage, but it never, singly, could have made her what she really became, an enduring power. For this woman forms an exception to the usual limit and fate of evanescent personal charms. She was sure not only to captivate, but certain to retain. There was that about her which enlisted one half of the creation in her favour without rousing the other half against her. Indeed she received the homage and affection of both sexes. At the same time we must preface our brief analysis of the lady by acknowledging that it can only be made in a French sense. The plain English for a woman who lived in the habitual receipt and encouragement of the most ardent declarations of passion from several men at onceindifferent whether married or single-might sound somewhat stern. Those, however, born and bred under the social code of one country cannot be arraigned at the bar of another. Madame Récamier's position also was, even in France, exceptional; in England it would have been impossible. The enchantress might have been the product of this country, but not the men-noble, gifted, and faithful as they were-who formed her court and built up her fame. With us, there is little doubt, such a career would have had a different character, a different name, and a different close. The great fact in her favour, to the full credit of which she is entitled, is that through all the triumphs which her beauty procured, her heart survived unspoiled, and her powers of sympathy unblunted. It is true this in no way prevented her playing ruthlessly with her victims, and even delighting to stimulate that which she never satisfied. But here her sex must share the responsibility. Powers of fascination are not apt to weary with practice, or success to pall with repetition. Possessing a talisman which no man resisted, she would have been super-woman not to have exulted in its use. Elevated by her charms to a kind of sovereignty, she never doubted her right divine to see all at her feet. Passionless herself, yet with an unquenchable desire to please, she played a game in which it never troubled her that she paid the forfeits in a coin different to those she received. It was true she liked admirers to buzz about her, but she did not want them to burn their wings. On the contrary, lovers who were impatient, or who rebelled against short commons, were very inconvenient to her. Not that she released them the more for that; all she wished was to instruct them in the art of friendship; and her success, in this respect, if that could be called friendship which was a passionate and lifelong devotion, was as marvellous as the rest of her history. For the annals of friendship, even in France, have not preserved anything more tender and true than that which ultimately bound her friends to her, her to them, and all, for her sake, to each other. The isolation of her position, the 'open sesame' of her beauty, and the high class of French society into which circumstances had thrown her, gave her an influence she was. always ready to exert, and which she seems never to have abused. For, as the fittest complement to all her attractions, she was pre-eminently a fair woman with discretion. Thus she became a central figure; wanted, consulted, and trusted, as few reigning favourites have proved themselves worthy to be. According to Madame Mohl, there was not an action in
Madame Récamier's life that might not give a lesson to her 'sex.' This, perhaps, may be interpreted by the fact that on all occasions she was essentially and invariably feminine. The whole scale of feminine practice was exemplified by her;
from discretion to judgment, from fortitude to heroism. She never revealed a secret, and many a conspiracy was in her keeping. She bore the loss of fortune with dignity; and she braved exile for the sake of a woman she loved.
But enough of this attempt at definitions, doubly difficult for an English pen to draw. To this irresistible lady, JeanJacques Ampère was presented when he was in his twentieth and she in her forty-third year; a disparity one might have supposed sufficient to render the one harmless, and the other secure. But the Circe would have smiled at such a conclusion, and never stood more coufessed in her potency than on the day she received the unsuspecting youth. Ballanche, his father's friend, who, for years, had lost all puwer of breaking through the magnetic circle which, wherever she moved, kept him near enough to see her daily–Ballanche, the simple, dreamy, ugly man— the Mandarin of literature, as M. Mohl called him — who was emphatically “her property'- acted as the decoy on this occasion. There, ushered suddenly into the presence of the still most beautiful woman of her time, surrounded by some of the most ancient and illustrious names in France, the young man found himself in an atmosphere he had never breathed before.
The form of society which constitutes a French salonif that term may still be used in the present tense—is one of the broad distinctions between French and English life. It is a thing not to be made to order by any amount of rank or wealth ; it is dependent for its creation and support solely on the gentle sex; and it has not the remotest relationship to that uncomfortable crowd, spasmodically summoned, which constitutes the English lady's at home. Compared with that, indeed, it may be termed a very domestic institution, consisting, as it mainly does, in bringing together, in an inexpensive and apparently spontaneous way, the same circle of friends over and over again. Nevertheless, the conditions of the salon are so curiously anti-English that there is no form of French dissipation we should not be more ready to imitate. In truth the grapes are sour for us. The salon has its foundations deep in French life, and in that alone. Every well-ordered French home is in some sort its cradle. French children are born and bred in an atmosphere which, were it only by the careful and ready practice of the inimitable language they inherit, educates them for it. English mothers are satisfied with teaching their children how to speak; French mothers instruct them how to talk. The duties of a French governess include the careful direction and manipulation of the incipient powers of neat and sprightly chat. Un peu plus de sel, mes enfans,' is no unusual admonition to the little circle who are endeavouring to faire la conversation out of nothing at all. Thus the children are trained in the use of polite expressions and appropriate turns of speech ; damaging, as we think, to the charm and simplicity of childhood, but also calculated to destroy that tyranny of mauvaise honte which paralyses even such scanty vocabulary as our awkward boys and girls possess, and often clings to them through life. To quote Madame M*** (Mohl): • Children in · France are found fault with if they do not explain themselves 'well, or if they use vulgar expressions; slang is totally inad"missible; they are much conversed with, and encouraged to "talk. A schoolboy in England is a very honest fellow and we esteem him; but if he had been taught to explain himself in his mother-tongue, and did not begin everything with “I say, «old fellow," we should not hear so many gentlemen of thirty years of age hum and haw whenever they are going to speak, • for conversing it cannot be called.
But the primary condition of the salon is its leader. Such materials as we have described, like restless 'molecules,' require a centre round which to 'crystallise.' And here the Salic law, as in most respects in France, where the tact and intelligence of women is concerned, is directly reversed. For the salon ignores all male descent, and acknowledges only the female line. Far even from being an affair of connubial partnership, one of the rules laid down in the ancien régime was, that the husband, if not happily dead, should be either absent, or “nul.' By so much the more were the social qualifications of the lady required to be of the highest order. She must either be a wit herself, or have the power to attract wits round her. She must have perfect knowledge of men and books, of the last epigram, and of the newest brochure. She must be gifted with appreciation for distinctions of every kind; with superiority to all littlenesses of pique or jealousy; with the art 'de faire briller ' les autres ; ' with the tact to mettre les ennemis en présence, les
talents en valeur, et les ennuyeux à la porte;' and finally, she must keep at home every evening! No. woman, therefore, without great abilities, great exertions, and great sacrifices ever formed a salon, or kept it together. It is not to be wondered that Miss Berry, the only lady who contrived to hold a nightly assembly of this kind in London, has been heard to say, with a sigh, People little know the number of small 'three-cornered notes my evenings cost me.'
Another distinction of a subtler kind between French and English society is the opposite way in which the two races