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Correspondance inédite de Madame ли Deffand. avec D'Alembert, Montesquieu, le Président Heitwilt, La Duchesse du Maine, Mesdames de Choiseul, De Staat, fyc. ¿re. 3 tomes, 12mo. Paris: 1S09.
Lfltrcs de Mademoisflle De Lespinasse. écrites depuis l'Année 1773 jusqu'à l'Année 1776, &c. 3 tomes. 12mo. Paris: 1809.
The popular works of La Harpe and Marmonttl nave made the names at least of these ¡aJies pretty well known in this country: and we hare been induced to place their correspondence under one article, both because their history is in some measure connected, and bwause, though extremely unlike each other, they both form a decided contrast to our own national character, and, taken together, go far tu exluiust what was peculiar in that of France. Most of our readers probably remember what La Harpe and Marrnontel have said of thf-^e two distinguished women; and, at all events, it is not necessary for our purpose to L'ive more than a very superficial account of them. Madame du Deffand was left a widow with я moderate fortune, and a great reputation for wit. about 1750; and soon after gave up her hotel, and retired to apartments in the c->"':fnt de St. Joseph, where she continued to rr-c'-,vi\ almost every evening, whatever was most distinguished in Paris for rank, talent, or accomplishment. Having become almost blind in a few years thereafter, she found she rr.juirej the attendance of some intelligent voting woman, who might read and write for her, and assist in doing the honours of her w.ivtrsaziani. For this purpose she cast her fyi's on Mademoiselle Lespinasse, the illegiti- ¡ mate daughter of a man of rank, who had boen boarded in the same convent, and was for some time delighted with her election. By and bye, however, she found that her \o'jn^ companion began to engross more of the notice of her visitors than she thought suitable; and parted from her with violent, un;»ik-rous, and implacable displeasure. Mademoiselle de Lespinasse, however, carried with her the admiration of the greater part of for patroness' circle; and having obtained a Mall pension from government, opened her own doors to a society not less brilliant than that into which she had been initiated under Madame du Deffand. The fatigue, however. which she had undergone in reading the old marchioness asleep, had irreparably injured her health, which was still more impaired by the agitations of her own inflammable and ambitious spirit; and she died, before she had obtained middle age, about 1776.—leaving on | tne minds of almost all the eminent men in; France, an impression of talent, and of ardour ot imagination, which seeins to have been considered as without example. Madame du Deffaml continued to preside in her circle til!: a period of extreme old age; and died in П80, ir. full possession of her faculties.
Where the letters that are now given to the world have been secreted for the last thirty years, or by whom they are at last published, we are not informed in either of the works before us. That they are authentic, we conceive, is demonstrated by internal evidence; though, if more of them are extant, the selection that has been made appears to us to be a little capricious. The correspondence of Madame du Deffand reaches from the year 1738 to 1764;—that of Mademoiselle de Lespinasse extends only from 1773 to 1776. The two works, therefore, relate to different periods; and, being entirely of different characters, seem naturally to call for a separate consideration. We begin with the correspondence of Madame du Defland, both out of respect to her seniority, and because the variety which it exhibits seems to afford room for more observation.
As this lady's house was for fifty years the resort of every thing brilliant in Paris, it is natural to suppose, that she herself must have possessed no ordinary attraction—and to feel an eager curiosity to be introduced even to that shadow of her conversation vhich we may expect to meet with in her correspondence. Though the greater part of the letters are addressed to her by various correspondents, yet the few vhich she does write are strongly marked with the traces of her peculiar character and talent ; and the whole taken together give a very lively idea of the structure and occupations of the best French society, in the days of its greatest splendour. Laying out of view the greater constitutional gaiety of our neighbours, it appears to us, lhat this society was distinguished from any that has ever existed in England, by three circumstances chiefly:—in the first place, by the exclusion of all low-bred persons; secondly, by the superior intelligence and cultivation of the women ; and, finally, by the want of political avocations, and the absence of political antipathies.
By the first of these circumstances, the old Parisian society wan rendered considerably more refined, and infinitely more easy and natural. The general and peremptory proscription of the bourgeois, excluded, no doubt, a good deal of vulgarity and coarseness; but it had a still better effect in excluding those feelings of mutual jealousy and contempt, and that conflict of family priue and consequential opulence, which can only be prevented from disturbing a more promiscuous assembly, by means of universal and systematic reservo. Where all лге noble; all are equal ;—there is no room for ostentation or pretension of any eort;—every one is in his place every where; and the same manners being familiar to the whole society from their childhood, manners cease in a great measure to be an object of attention. Nobody apprehends any imputation of vulgarity; and nobody values himself on being free from it. The little peculiarities by which individuals are distinguished, are ascribed, not to ignorance or awkwardness, but to caprice merely, or to peculiarity of disposition; and not being checked by contempt or derision, are indulged, for the most paît, as caprice or disposition may dictate; and thus the very highest society is brought back, and by the same causes, to much of the freedom and simplicity of the lowest.
In England, we have never had this arrangement. The great wealth of the mercantile classes, and the privilege which every man here possesses of aspiring to every situation, has always prevented any such complete separation of the high and the low-born, even in ordinary society, and made all large assemblages of people to a certain degree promiscuous. Great wealth, or great talents, being sufficient to raise a man to power and eminence, are necessarily received as a sufficient passport into private company; and fill it, on the large scale, with such motley and discordant characters, as visibly to endanger either its ease or its tranquillity. The pride of purse, and of rank, and of manners, mutually provoke each other; and vanities which were undiscovered while they were universal, soon become visible in the light of opposite vanities. With us, therefore, society, when it passes beyond select clubs and associations, is apt either to be distracted with little jealousies and divisions, or finally to settle into constraint, insipidity, and reserve. People meeting from all the extremes of life, are afraid of being misconstrued, and despair of being understood. Conversation is left to a few professed talkers; and all the rest are satisfied to hold their tongues, and despise each other in their hearts.
The superior cultivation of French Women, however, was productive of still more substantial advantages. Ever since Europe became civilised, the females of that country have stood more on an intellectual level with the men than in any other,—and have taken their share in the politics and literature, and public controversies of the day. far more largely than in any other nation with which we are acquainted. For more than two centuries, they have been the umpires of polite letter«, and the depositaries and the agents of those intrigues by which the functions of government are usually forwarded or impeded. Fhey could talk, therefore, of every thing that men could wish to talk about; and general conversation, consequently, assumed a tone, both less frivolous and fees uniform, than it has ever attained in our country.
The grand source, however, of the difference between the good society of France and "England, is, that, in the former counry, men
had nothing but society to attend to ; whereas, in the latter, almost all who are considerable for ranks or for talents, are continually engrossed with politics. They have no leisure, therefore, for society, in the first place: in the second place, if they do enter it at all, they are apt to regard it as a scene rather of relaxation than exertion; and, finally, they naturally acquire those habits of thinking and of talking, which are better adapted to carry ou business and debate, than to enliven people assembled for amusement. In England, men of condition have still to perform the high duties of citizens and statesmen, and can only rise to eminence by dedicating their days and nights to the study of business and atíair^— to the arts of influencing those, with whom, and by whom, they are to act—and to the actual management of those strenuous contentions by which the government of a tree state is perpetually embarrassed and preserved. In France, on the contrary, under the old monarchy, men of the first rank had no political functions to discharge—no control to exercise over the government—and no rights to assert, either for themselves or their fellow subjects. They were either left, therefore, to solace their idleness with the frivolous enchantments of polished society, or; if they had any object of public ambition, were driven to pursue it by the mediation of those favourites or mistresses who were most likely to be won by the charms of an elegant address, or the assiduities of a skilful flatterer.
It is to this lamentable inferiority in t h; government and constitution of their country, that the French are indebted for the superiority of their polite assemblies. Their salomare better filled than ours, because they have ¡w senate to fill out of their population; and their conversation is more sprightly, and their society more animated than ours, because there is no other outlet for the talent and ingenuity of the nation but society and conversation. Our parties of pleasure, on the other hand, are mostly left to beardless youths and superannuated idlers—not because our men want talents or taste to adorn them, but because their ambition, and their sense of public duty, have dedicated them to a higher service. When we lose our constitution—when the houses of parliament are shut up, our assemblies, we have no doubt, will be far more animated and rational. It would be easy to havesplendid gardens and parterres, if we would only give up our com fields and our pastures: nor should we want for magnificent fountains and ornamental canals, if we were contented to drain the whole surrounding country of the rills that maintain its fertility and beauty.
But, while it is impossible to deny that the French enjoyed, in the agreeable constitution of their higher society, no slight compensation for the want of a free government, it is curious, and not unsatisfactory, to be able to trace the operation of this same compensating principle through all the departments we have alluded to. It is obviously to our free government, and to nothing else, that we owe that mixture of ranks and of characters, which certain!) renders onr large society less amiable, anc less unconstrained, than that of the old French nobility. Men, possessed of wealth and political power, must be associated with by ai! with whom they choose to associate, and to whom their friendship or support is material A trader who has bought his borough but yesterday, will not give his influence to any set of noblemen or ministers, who will not receive him and his family into their society, and a?ree to treat them as their equals. The same principle extends downwards by imperceptible gradations ;—and the whole community is mingled in private life, it must be owned with fame little discomfort, by the ultimate action of the same principles which combine them, to their incalculable benefit, in public.
Етеп the backwardness or the ignorance of our women may be referred to the same noble origin. Women have no legal or direct political functions in any country in the universe. In the arbitrary governments of Europe, however, they exert a personal influence over those in power and authority, which raises them into consequence, familiarizes them in some degree with business and affairs, and leads them to study the character and the dispositions of the most eminent persons of their day. In free states, again, where the personal inclination of any individual can go but a little way, ami where every thing must be canvassed and sanctioned by its legitimate censors, this influence is very inconsiderable; and women are excluded almost entirely from My concern in those affairs, with which the leading spirits of the country are necessarily occupied. They come, therefore, almost unavoidably, to be considered as of a lover order of intellect, and to act, and to be treated, upon 'hat apprehension. The chief cause of their jiteriority. however, arises from the circumstances that have been already stated. Most '>f the men of talent in upper life are engaged ;n pursuits from which women are necessarily excluded, and have no leisure to join in those pursuits which might occupy them in common. Being thus abandoned ш a good degree to the society of the frivolous of our sex. it is impossible that they should not be frivolous in their turn. In old France, on the contrary, the men of talents in upper life had little to do but to please and be pleased with the women: and they naturally came to acquire that knowledge and those accomplishments which fitted them for such society.
The last distinction between good French and eood English society, arises from the different position which was occupied in each by the men of letters. In France, certainly, i£*y mingled much more extensively with the polite world.—incalculably to the benefit both of that world, and of themselves. In England, °чг great scholars and authors have commonly iifed in their studies, or in the society of a few learned friends or dependants; and their life has been eo generally gloomy, laborious and inelegant, that literature and intellectual eminence have lost some of their honours, and mach of their attraction. With us, when a ПОД takes to authorship, he is commonly
looked upon as having renounced both the gay and busy world; and the consequence is, mat the gay are extremely frivolous, and the active rash and superficial; while the man of genius is admired by posterity, and finishes his days rather dismally, without knowing or caring for any other denomination of men, than authors, booksellers and critics.
This distinction too, we think, arises out of the difference of government, or out of some of its more immediate consequences. Our politicians are too busy to mix with men of study; and our idlers are too weak and too frivolous. The studious, therefore, are driven in a great measure to herd with each other, and to form a little world of their own, in which all their peculiarities are aggravated, their vanity encouraged, and their awkwardness confirmed. In Paris, where talent and idleness met together, a society grew up, both more inviting and more accessible to men of thought and erudition. What they communicated to this society rendered it more intelligent and respectable; and what they learned from it, made them much more reasonable, amiable, and happy. They learned, in short, the true value of knowledge and of wisdom, by seeing exactly how much they could contribute to the government or the embellishment of life; and discovered, that there were sources both of pride and of happiness, far more important and abundant than thinking, writing, or reading.
It is curious, accordingly, to trace in the volumes before us, the more intimate arid private life of some of those distinguished men, whom we find it difficult to represent to ourselves under any other aspect, than that of the authors of their learned publications. D'Alembert, Montesquieu, Henault, and several others, all appear in those letter? in their :rue and habitual character, of cheerful and careless men of the world—whose thoughts ran mostly on the little exertions and amusements of their daily society ; who valued even heir greatest works chiefly as the means of amusing their leisure, or of entitling them to the admiration of their acquaintances; and occupied themselves about posterity far less han posterity will be occupied about them. 't will probably scandalize a good part of otir men of learning and science (though we think t will be consolatory to some) to be told, that here is great reason for suspecting that the most profound of those authors looked upon earning chiefly as a sort of tranquil and innocent amusement; to which it was very well о have recourse when more lively occtipaions were not at hand, but which it was wise ind meritorious, at all times, to postpone to ileasant parties, and the natural play, either )f the imagination or of the affections. It ap)ears, accordingly, not only that they talked ;asily and familiarly of all their works to their emale friends, but that they gave themselves »•cry little anxiety either about their sale, or heir notoriety out of the sphere of their own icqnaintances, and made and invited all sorte jf jokes upon them with unfeigned gaiety and indifference. The lives of our learned men would be much happier, and their learning much more useful and amiable, if they could be persuaded to see things in the fame li<rht. It is more than time, however, to introduce the reader to the characters in the volumes before us.
Madame du Deffand's correspondence consists of letters from Montesquieu. D'Alembert, Henault. D'Arsens, Formont, Bernstorff. Scheffer. &c. among the men,—and Mesdames de Siaal, de Choiseul. &c. amone the women. Her o\vn letters, as we have already intimated, form but a very inconsiderable part of the collection ;—and, as these distinguished names naturally excite, in persons out of Paris, more interest than that of anv witty marchioness whatsoever, we shall beeiu with some specimens of the intimate and private style of those eminent individuals, who are already so well known for the value and the beauty of their public instructions.
Of these, the oldest and the most popularly knovvn, was Montesquieu,—an author who frequently appears profound when he is only paradoxical, and seems to have studied with (Treat success the art of hiding a desultory and fantastical style of reasoning in imposing aphorisms, and epigrams of considerable effect. It is impossible to read the Esprit des Loii, without feeling that it is the work of an indolent and very ingenious person, who had fits of thoughtfulness and ambition: and had meditated the different points which it comprehends at long intervals, and then connected them as he best could, by insinuations, metaphors, and vague verbal distinctions. There is but little of him in this collection; but what there is, is extremely characteristic. D'Alembi'rt had proposed that he should write the articles Democracy and Despotism, for the Encyclopédie; to which proposal he answers with much naïveté, as follows:
"Qunnt à mon introduction dans 1'Encyclopedie, c'est un beau palais où je serais bien glorieux de mettre les pieds; mais pour les deux articles Démocrntit et Despotisme, je ne voudrais pas prendre ceux-là; j'ai tiré, sur ces articles, de mon cerveau tout ce qui y était. L.'esprit une j'ai est vn moule,' on n' en tire jamais que les même» portrttitt: air,si je ne vous dirais que ce que j'ai du. et peutêtre plus mal que je ne l'ai dit. Ainsi, si vous voulez de rnoi, laissez à mon esprit le choix de quelques articles; et si vous voulez ce choix, ce fera chez madame du DffTand avec du marasquin. Le père Ca«tel dit qu'il ne peut pas ее corriger, parce qu'en corrigeant son ouvrage, il en fait un autre ; et mni je ne puis pas me corriger, pirce que je chante toujours la même chose. Il me vient dans IVsprit que je pourrais prendre peut-être l'article Goût, et je prouverai bien que dUTirih est proprit communia dicere."—Vol. i. pp. 30, 31.
There is likewise another very pleasing letter to M. de Henault, and a gay copy o£verses to Madame de Mirepoix ;—but we hasten on to a personage still more engaging. Of all the men of genius that ever existed, IVAlembert perhaps is the most amiable and truly respectable. The great extent and variety of his learning, his vast attainments and discoveries in the mathematical sciences, and the beauty and eloquence of his literarv compositions, are known to all the workf: But the
simplicity and openness of his character—hn perpetual gentleness and gaiety in societjrthe unostentatious independence of his sfnii ments and conduct—his natural and cheerful superiority to all feelings of worldly ambition, jealousy, or envy—and that air of perpetual youth and unassuming kindness, which mai!*him so delightful and so happy in the sooietv of women,—are traits which we scarcely expect to find in combination with those splendid qualifications ; and compose altogether a character of which we should have been tempted to question the reality, were we not fortunate enough to be familiar with its counterpart i:¡ one living individual.*
It is not possible, perhaps, to give a better idea of the character of D'Alembert, than merely to state the fact, and the reason of hie having refused to go to Berlin, to preside over the academy founded there by Frederic. In answer to a most flattering and urgent application from that sovereign, he writes thus to M. D'Argene.t
"La situation où je suis seroit peut-être, monsieur, un motif suffisant pour bien d'autres, de renoncer à leur pays. Ma fortune est au-dessous du médiocre; 170(1 liv. de rente font tout mou revenu: entièrement indépendant et maître de mes volor tés. je n'ai point de famille qui s'y oppose; oublié du trouvernement comme tant de gens le sont de la Providence, persécuté même autant qu'on peut l'être quand on évite de donner trop d'avantage» sur soi à la méchanceté des hommes ; je n'ai aucune part aux récompenses qui ple.uvent ici sur les ar:.¿ de lettres, avec plus de prolusion que de lumières. Malgré tout cela, monsieur, la tranquillité d.>nt je jouis est si parfaite et si douce, que je ne puis me résoudre à lui iaire courir le moindre risque."— "Supérieur à la mauvaise fortune, les éprcures de toule espèce que j'ai essuyées dans ce genre, m'om endurci à l'indigence et au malheur, et ne in'ùi: laissé de sensibilité que pour ceux qui me ressemblent. A force de privations, je me suis accoutumé sans effort à me contenter du plus étroit nécessaire. et je serois même en état de partager mon peu de Í«* tuneavec d'honnêtesgensplus pauvres que moi. J'ni commencé, comme les autres hommes, par désirfr le? plácese! le« richesses, j'ai fini par y renoncer absolument; et de jour en jour je m'en trouve mioux. La vie retirée et assez obscure que jf mène est parfaitement conforme à mon caractère, à пк.п amour extrême pour l'indépendance, et peut-être même à un peu d'éloignement que les événcinrns de ma vie m'ont inspiré pour les hommes. La retraite ou le régime que nie prescrivent mon état el mon gont m'ont procuré lasante la plus parfaite ii la plus égale—c'est-à-dire, le premier bien d'un philosophe; enfin j'ai le bonheur de jouir d'nn pelil nombre d'amis, dont le commerce et la confiance font la consolation et le charme de ma vie. jugez maintenant vous-même, monsieur, s'il m'est passible de renoncer à ces avantages, et de chnnirer un bonheur sur pour une situation toujours incernirc, quelque brillante qu'elle puisse être. Je ne oVire nullement des bontés du roi, et de tout ce qu'il p*':i:
* It cannot noir offend tho modesty of any !ivir<: render, if I explain that the person here allm!« -i ы was mv excellent and amiable fiiend, the lale Professor Pbyfair.
t This learned person writes in я very affected and précieux style. He ends one of his letters to D'Alembert with the following eloquent expression :—" Ma camé s'effoiblit tous les jours de plus en plus; et je me dispone à aller faire bientôt mtt rérrrrucet au père éternel: mais tandis que J6 resterai dans ce monde je serai le plus zélé de vos admirateurs."
faire pour me rendre agréable mon nouvel état ; mais, malheureusement pour moi, toutes les circonstances essentielles à mon bonheur ne sont pas en son pouvoir. Si ma santé venoit à s'altérer, ce qui ne seroit que trop à craindre, que deviendrois-je alors ! Incapable de me rendre utile au roi, je me verrois forcé à aller finir mes jours loin de lui, et à reprendre dans ma patrie, ou ailleurs, mon ancien état, qui auroit perdu ses premiers charmes. Peutêtre même n'aurois-je plus la consolation de retrouver en France les amis que j'y aurois laissés, et à qui je percerois le cœur par mon départ. Je vous avoue, monsieur, que cette dernière raison seule peut tout sur moi. " Enfin (et je vous prie d'être persuadé que je ne cherche point à me parer ici d'une fausse modestie) je doute que je fusse aussi propre à cette place que S. M. veut bien le croire. Livré dès mon enfance à des etudes continuelles, je n'ai que dans la théorie la connoissance des hommes, qui est si nécessaire dans la p atique quand on a affaire à eux La tranquillité, et, si je l'ose dire, l'oisiveté du cabinet, m'ont rendu absolument incapable des détails aux† le chef d'un corps doit se livrer. D'ailleurs, ans les différens objets dont l'Académie s'occupe, il en est qui me sont entièrement inconnus, comme la chimie, l'histoire naturelle, et plusieurs autres, sur lesquels par conséquent je ne pourrois être aussi utile que je le désirerois. Enfin une place aussi brillante que celle dont le roi veut m'honorer, oblige à une sorte de représentation tout-à-fait éloignée du train de vie que j'ai pris jusqu'ici; elle engage à un grand nombre de devoirs : et les devoirs sont les entraves d'un homme libre.''-Vol. ii. pp.73-78.
This whole transaction was kept quite secret for many months; and, when it began to take air, he speaks of it to Madame du Deffand, in the following natural manner.
"Après tout, que cela se répande ou ne se répande pas, je n'en suis ni fâché ni bien-aise. Je garderai au roi de Prusse son secret, même lorsqu'il ne l'exige plus, et vous verrez aisément que mes lettres n'ont pas été faites pour être vues du ministère de France : je suis bien résolu de ne lui pas demander plus de grâces qu'aux ministres du roi de Congo; et je me contenterai que la postérité lise sur mon tombeau ; il fut estimé des honnêtes gens, et est mort pauvre parce qu'il l'a bien voulu. Voilà, madame, de quelle manière je pense. Je ne veux braver ni aussiflatter les gens qui m'ont fait du mal, ou qui sont dans la disposition de m'en faire; mais je me conduirai de manière que je les réduirai seulement à ne me pas faire du bien."-Vol.ii. pp. 33, 34.
Upon publishing his Melanges, he was furiously attacked by a variety of acrimonious writers ; and all his revenge was to retire to his geometry, and to write such letters as the following to Madame du Deffand.
" Me voilà claquemuré pour long-temps, et vraisemblablement pour toujours, dans ma triste, mais très-chère et très-paisible Géométrie ! Je suis fort content de trouver un prétexte pour ne plus rien faire, dans le déchaînement que mon livre a excité contre moi. Je n'ai pourtant ni attaqué personne, ni même désigné qui que ce soit, plus que n'a fait l'auteur du Méchant, et vingt autres, contre lesquels personne ne s'est déchaîné. Mais il n'y a qu'heur et malheur. Je n'ai besoin ni de l'amitié de tous ces gens-là. puisque assurément je ne veux rien leur demander, ni de leur estime, puisque j'ai bien résolu de ne jamais vivre avec eux : aussi je les mets 2 pis faire. " Adieu, Madame; hâtez votre retour. Que ne *avez-vous de la géométrie ! qu'avec elle on se passe de bien des choses !''-Vol. i. pp. 104, 105. " Mon ouvrage est publié; il s'est un peu vendu ; les frais de l'impression sont retirés ; les éloges, os critiques et l'argent viendront quand ils vouont ''-"Je n'ai encore rientouché. Je vous man
derai ce que je gagnerai : il n'y a pas d'ap;arence que cela se monte fort haut ; il n'y a pas d'apparence non plus que je continue à travailler dans ce enre. Je ferai de la géométrie, et je lirai Tacite ! l me semble qu'on a grande envie que je me taise, et en vérité je ne demande pas mieux. Quand ma petite fortune ne suffira plus à ma subsistence, je me retirerai dans quelque endroit oü je puisse vivre et mourir à bon marché. Adieu, Madame. Estimez, comme moi, les hommes ce qu'ils valent, et il ne vous manquera rien pour être heureuse. On dit Voltaire raccommodé avec le roi de Prusse, et Maupertuis retombé. Ma foi, les hommes sont bien foux, à commencer par les sages.''-Vol. ii. pp. 50, 51. " Eh bien ! vous ne voulez donc non plus, que je me claquemure dans ma géométrie ? J'en suis pourtant bien tenté. Si vous saviez combien cette géométrie est une retraite douce à la paresse ! et puis les sots ne vous lisent point, et par conséquent ne vous blâment ni ne vous louent : et comptez-vous cet avantage-là pour rien ? En tout cas, j'ai de la géométrie pour un an, tout au moins. Ah ! que je fais à présent de belles choses que personne ne lira ! "J'ai bien quelques morceaux de littérature à traiter, qui seroient peut-être assez agréables; mais je chasse tout cela de ma tête, comme mauvais train. a géométrie est ma femme, et je me suis remis en ménage. " Avec cela, j'ai plus d'argent devant moi que je n'en puis dépenser. Ma foi, on est bien fou de se tant tourmenter pour des choses qui ne rendent pas plus heureux : on a bien plutôt fait de dire : Ne pourrois-je pas me passer de cela ? Et c'est la recette dont j'use depuis long-temps.''-Vol. ii. pp. 52, 53.
With all this softness and carelessness of character, nothing could be more firm and inflexible when truth and justice were in question. The President Henault was the oldest and first favourite of Madame du Deffand ; and, at the time of publishing the Encyclopaedia, Madame du § had more wer over D'Alembert than any other person. he wished very much that something flattering should be said of her favourite in the Introductory Discourse, which took a review of the progress of the arts and sciences; but §A§ resisted, with heroic courage, all the entreaties that were addressed to him on this subject. The following may serve as specimens of the tone which he maintained on the occasion.
" Je suis devenu cent fois plus amoureux de la retraite et de la solitude. que je ne l'étois quand vous avez quitté Paris. Je dîne et soupe chez moi tous les jours, ou presque tous les jours, et je me trouve très-bien de cette manière de vivre. Je vous verrai donc quand vous n'aurez personne, et aux heures où je pourrai espérer de vous trouver seule : dans d'autres temps, j'y rencontrerois votre président, qui m'embarrasseroit, parce qu'il croiroit avoir des reproches á me faire, que je ne crois point en mériter, et que je ne veux pas être dans le cas de le désobliger, en me justifiant auprès de lui. Ce que vous me demandez pour lui est impossible, et je puis vous assurer qu'il est bien impossible, puisque je ne fais pas cela pour vous. En premier lieu, le Discours préliminaire est imprimé, il y a plus de six semaines : ainsi je ne pourrois pas l'y fourrer au : jourd'hui, même quand je le voudrois. En second lieu, pensez-vous de bonne foi, madame, que dans un ouvrage destiné à célébrer les grands génies de la nation et les ouvrages qui ont véritablement contribué aux progrès des lettres et des sciences, je doive parler de l'Abrégé chronologique ? C'est un ouvrage utile, j'en conviens, et assez commode ; mais voilà tout en vérité: c'est là ce que les gens