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and conductation in
our accombert's name immediate e set of
of the battle of Rosbach, in which the Prussians had defeated his countymen, his national pride found its only consolation in this summary sentence on the characters and conduct of the hostile Generals : - « They are a set of plagiaries, to a man," said he, and he felt immediate relief from the assertion.
D'Alembert's name arrests us as we approach to the close of our account of this entertaining publication. This philosopher, endowed with many and various attainments, was indebted for high reputation to his knowlege of geometry. He began and closed his career with Diderot. If D'Alembert had only added to the discoveries of Euler, of Bernouilli, and of Newton, he would surely be intitled to the rank of a great man: but the preface to the Encyclopédie, for extent and variety of disquisition, for arrangement and perspicuity, and for energy of style and manner, will ever be regarded as one of the noblest literary monuments that have been erected to the glory of human knowlege. His style, ever cold and dry, had few recommendations beyond elegance and clearness; imagination, and what is termed soul, belonged not to his temperament: but, in the expression of the hardiest truths, he extorts admiration by the art, which was singularly his own, of preserving his temper, appearing to respect his antagonists, and confounding them by the authority of his proofs and illustrations. His minor productions must be read with indulgence, because they were probably rather the inspirations of his mistress than the suggestions of his own more sober judgment. His pride consisted in the ascendancy which he had obtained over the two academies ; an ascendancy which the present author attributes rather to the intrigues of Mademoiselle P Espinasse than to any general acknowlegement of his literary superiority. The death of this lady, which left him to his own resources, considerably weakened his academical influence.
The society at d'Alembert's house was for many years one of the most brilliant that could possibly be assembled: but it was far more promiscuous, and for that reason far less agreeable, after the death of his female friend. His own conversation presented all that could delight and instruct the mind. He could unbend with equal ease and compliance to the topic which was of most general interest : and he brought to the discussion an engaging bonbomie and simplicity, with an enexhaustible fund of ideas, anecdotes, and curious reccilections. It would be difficult to conceive a subject, however dry or frivolous, which he had not the secret of rendering agreeable. He spoke well, told stories with precision, and elicited the point of an anecdote with a grace and aptness peculiar to himself. All his sayings possess a delicate and profound character of research, “ Who is happy ?" " Some miserable man," - is a trait of which Diogenes would have been jealous.
• If it be true that nature had conferred on the ladies but few titles to the affections of this philosopher, it is still more true that he was not the less submissive to their empire ; he was the most amorous of all slaves, and the most slavish of all the amorous. When he had risen high in public opinion, (and this was almost the only fund on which he was at that time supported *,) a woman a3 coquettish as frivolous took it into her head to reduce him to subjection. She obtained such possession of him, that he soon neglected all his affairs and all his studies; and perhaps she would have utterly ruined him, if Madame Geoffrin, who had been apprized of it, had not undertaken to interfere, with all the address and all the firmness of character which true friendship can inspire. She went to see the lady in question, although she had no knowlege of her ; represented to her the irreparable injury that she was doing to her friend, and doing, according to all appearance, without any advantage ; obtained possession of all the letters that she had received from him ; and drew from her a solemn promise never to admit him again.
Nothing can equal the prodigious ascendency which Mlle. l'Espi. nasse had acquired over all his thoughts and actions. Although he once revolted from so harsh a tyranny, he did not support the yoke with less devotion. Not a poor Savoyard at Paris performs more tiresome errands, or is more on the tramp, than the first geometrician of Europe, — the chief of the sect of Encyclopædists, the dictator of our academies, the philosopher who had the honour of refusing the glory attached to the preceptor of the heir to the most immense empire, - performed every morning in the service of Mlle. l'Espinasse ; - neither is this all that she had the effrontery to demand of him. Reduced to be the confidant of the tender passion which she had conceived for a young Spaniard, M. de Thora, he was charged with all the arrangements which were to favor the intrigue ; and, when his happy rival had quitted France, he was appointed to go and wait, at the general post-office, for the arrival of the courier, to procure for this lady the pleasure of receiving her letters a quarter of an hour sooner!
This servitude to the will of Mlle. l'Espinasse is rather honourable to one sex than degrading to the other; it only proves how very little influence our systems have, whatever name we may give them, over our character and natural affections. The same disposition which subjected this philosopher to the caprices of his fair friend prompted him to say, in the fear which his sufferings and the approach of his death excited, “ Happy they who have courage ; for myself I have none." This confession manifests a bonhomie far preferable, perhaps, to the ostentation of a sentiment which is scarcely natural in the heart of man, and which in fact is much more rare than we imagine.
5* M. d'Alembert was already a member of all the academies of Europe, when he possessed no more than from 12 to 1,500 livres (6ol.) per ann. "He was not much richer when he refused an income of 100,000 livres from the Empress of Russia, to undertake the instruction of his Imperial Highness.'
It is well known that his first name was Jean Le Rond. A natural son of M. Destouches and Madame la Chanoinesse de Tencin, he was exposed on the steps of the church of Saint-Jean-le-Rond, and thence carried to the Foundling Hospital. His father took him from this asylum, and put him out to nurse with a glazier's wife named Rousseau, rue Michel-le-Comte, who suckled him, and reared him with great trouble on account of the extreme delicacy of his constitution. Indeed, he was so sickly that she refused at first to undertake the charge. A short time before his departure for Russia, his mother desired to see him : but it was with difficulty that he could be induced to accept the invitation, and he would not go unaccompanied by his nurse. The interview was very cold on the part of M. d'Alembert. Madame de Tencin, disconcerted, said to him, “ But I am your mother." -" rou, my mother! no, bere she is ; I know no other." He then threw himself on Madame Rousseau, whom he embraced, weeping in her arms.
His conduct towards this good woman was highly honourable on an occasion of greater moment. At the death of her husband, the grand-children did all in their power to seize on her little property; “ Let them take all,” said d'Alembert, “I will never forsake you," and he kept his word to the day of her death.
No two characters and no two muses were more devotedly attached to pleasure than those of Bernard and Pannard, and no two persons could have sought pleasure by more contrary ways. Bernard, who merited and acquired from his politeness the surname of gentil, was considered as the Anacreon of the French; an Anacreon, indeed, well frizzed, powdered, and perfumed with musk; -- an Anacreon in yellow slippers, and soft silken morning gown, a recliner on sofas, the friend, companion, and confidant of every Parisian belle, and the envy of every Parisian beau. Whatever opinion may be formed of his genius from his two operas, Castor and Pollux, and The Surprizes of Love, or from his Poems on the Art of Love and Phrosine and Mélidore, he cannot be denied the merit of having written the two best odes in the French language, and the Ode to the Rose will be read and adinired when the works of many of his detractors have paid their debt to time.
• It 'might be said that he had rendered all his sentiments and all his passions subservient to that spirit of gallantry which is the prevailing character of his works; and perhaps the world never saw a philosopher so consistent, so faithful to his principles as Bernard. His epicurism possessed an admirable uniformity; a certain evenness, better supported and more regular than the stoicism of Epictetus or of Cato. He had arranged his plan of existence as he would arrange the plan of an opera: he had prepared festivals for every season of his life; and, if fate had not interfered with these flattering projects, no one would have met with more complete success. He
had found the wondrous secret of culling flowers in every place, and of gathering them almost without a thorn. Few men have been better treated by the ladies, and few have known how to enjoy that favor with less trouble and perplexity; yet none have less indulged in per. sonal vanity. Few men of letters have tasted more deliciously all the delights of literary glory, and none have set in play fewer engines to secure it. Born poor, he had the advantage of acquiring a considerable fortune, and obtained it without meanness or disagreeable labour. Every thing concurred to promise him the most happy old age, when he was attacked suddenly by a very singular malady: which was for a long time considered to be the effect of too great a succession of pleasures, to which he had devoted himself indeed with much modera. tion, although he strove to preserve them beyond the time permitted by nature.'
The malady which interrupted his easy and voluptuous life was as singular as that life itself, and as his character. It was a kind of absence of mind, which left to his ideas their habitual tournure, but broke their connection with each other, and destroyed that consistency which constitutes personality. He recognized his accustomed friends, and addressed them with the same elegant choice of expressions as in his happier days: but his memory was alive only by fits and starts; and he forgot what he had said and done, and what he had proposed to say and do. He became the ghost of his former self; and, like the fabled ghosts of old, he yet lingered in the places which he most delighted to frequent. The opera, the promenade, the fête, were yet dear to him from habit. He had placed his bust at the entrance of his wine-cellar, and, with a presentiment of his fate, had given to it this inscription :
“ Redoutable tyran des morts,
À tes loix puisqu'il faut se rendre, .
Libre, sans crainte et sans remords,
C'est par là que j'y veux descendre.” . The vast obituary contained in these memoirs comprizes a history of longevity which would be incredible were it not authentic. Are we to attribute it to the easy circumstances enjoyed by the literary men of France, and to the benevolence and liberality of the nobles, as well as of the people, whose honor was concerned in the literature of their nation? -- Besides the office of librarian at Choisy, to which Louis XV. had appointed Bernard, he presented him with another lucrative post, and with an estate at Choisy, where his friends enabled him to build an elegant country-house.
Having mentioned the celebrated Ode to the Rose by Gentil Bernard, we subjoin a translation of it, which has at least the merit of closeness : App. Rev. VOL. LXXIV.
Whose kiss to Zephyr lends perfume,
Haste thee,- the season bids thee bloom.
Awhile to face the flaunting day;
Is that which sees thee fade away.
Your lustre and your fate agree ;
'Tis hers to pass away like thee.
That airy form, without a peer ;
As in the palm of beauty here.
There find alike a throne and tomb;
I languish for so sweet a doom.
And when 'tis thine of bliss to die,
If fair Themira knows to sigh.
T' obey his orders be thy pride :
Her bosom grace, but do not hide.
To come and trouble thy repose,
And treat my rivals as thy foes. Pannard was somewhat more of an English Anacreon. He busied himself little with the ladies, but was tenderly respectful to his bottle. This man, however, has insinuated his name into every collection of French metrical trifles. “He was a fellow of infinite wit,” chansonnier, and drunkard by profession. Of the two accounts given of him and his companion Galuis by Grimm and Marmontel, we prefer the latter :
" Pannard, Galais, and company passed their days in the tipplinghouse, and carried their thoughtlessness about life (le désouci) to the highest pitch. Galaie had been a grocer, and a bankrupt. Two hours before his death, he sent some couplets to Pannard. "I had