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We know, from other sources, that he used to speak of Lord Nelson's mixture of sheepishness and vanity as something incredible; and two distinguished ladies still remember their childish terror when they were there fiercely handled by Lady Hamilton in the character of Medea. Let any reader of Lord Nelson's Memoirs turn to that astonishing piece of laudatory doggrel which he indited to himself in his angel's name,' dated
nine o'clock at night, after a hard-fought battle,' that battle being the memorable battle of Copenhagen, won by his skill and genius, and in which he exhibited a curious care of the national dignity in continuing the contest till he could formally seal the letter containing the acceptance of the terms of capitulation,-and then ask himself whether anything here related is more incongruous in the moral composition of that singular man. It is with historical characters, less perfect than those of Agricola, that we often feel the opportuneness of the fatal blow which removes them from the frailties and inconsistencies of our meaner nature, and purifies, while it consecrates, the greatness of their name.
Mrs. St. George returned to Berlin, notwithstanding Mr. Elliot's discouraging remarks. “The King is a fool,' he said, ' and * the Queen a doll. The Berlin people are false and unprincipled. • You will lose a winter, and probably repent your journey.' She seems, however, to have been well entertained, and to have lived with some notable people, although Berlin reminded her of a provincial town with a large garrison, and manners pretty much on a par with its morals. . The women are borné
to a degree, and do not even possess ornamental accomplish'ments. I forgive this, as a consequence of their bad education, • but I cannot excuse their failure in dress and dancing, which
are the study of their lives.' She was duly impressed by Frederic von Gentz, just rising into importance in the Prussian service. • He strikes me as possessing more energy than any man I had
His head seems to be organised in a very superior manner, and his conversation bears the stamp of real genius. He is one of those who seem to impart a portion of their own endowments; for you feel your mind elevated while in his society. In argument he is irresistible; but it seems to be from fair and honest force, unassisted by trick or artifice. His voice rises, and his eye kindles, yet his warmth never becomes displeasing, nor degenerates into either violence or sharpness. In his writings he proposes Burke for his model, and walks boldly beside him, for we cannot say he is a copyist, though a successful imitator.' (P. 121.) This allusion to Burke is interesting, for it has always seemed
to us that it was in the triumvirate of Burke, Gentz, and De Maistre that the French Revolution found its most formidable and characteristic opponents, in the separate aspects of politics, philosophy, and religion. It was hardly necessary for our clerical editor to have revived the recollection of what the veteran statesman called his · Indian summer under the influence of Fanny Elsler, rather than that of the patriotism and eloquence with which, in 1805, he invoked an united Germany as the only power which could throw off the foreign yoke and give freedom to Central Europe.
Mrs. St. George was witness to the strange catastrophe of the sudden death of a young officer at a ball, in consequence of his tight lacing, which, her friend Prince Adolphus writes to her, he hopes 'may serve as an example to other young men, that they ' may not likewise fall victims to their dress.' It does not seem certain whether Mrs. St. George accepted the pressing invitation to revisit Hanover with which this letter concludes, the journal closing abruptly; but, at any rate, she returned to England in the spring, and soon passed over to Ireland, where the accidental circumstance of a crowded inn was the means of introducing her into the family of Mr. William Shackleton, the Quaker philanthropist and schoolmaster of Ballytore, in the county of Kildare, with whose daughter, Mrs. Leadbeater, she formed a most intimate friendship, and commenced a correspondence that lasted a quarter of a century.*
In the spring of 1802 France was opened by the Peace of Amiens to English travellers, and Mrs. St. George started with her son to spend a few weeks in Paris. What was intended for a holiday excursion resulted in two important events, her second marriage to Mr. Richard Trench, a young lawyer, of the Ashtown family, and her detention for above four years by the useless cruelty of the French despot.
She was struck with the general sadness and worn aspect of the country people, and not very much attracted by Paris :
'I have never seen a spot where I should more grieve at fixing my residence, nor a nation with which I should find it so difficult to coalesce. A revolution does not seem to be favourable to the
• The Leadbeater Papers' have been recently published, including “The Annals of Ballytore,' by Mary Leadbeater, perfectly justifying Mrs. Trench's description of a highly finished Dutch painting, where one is not only struck by the general effect, but
amused and interested by the details, which all bear to be separately examined,' and a most interesting correspondence between the young Edmund Burke and Richard Shackleton.
morals of a people. In the upper classes I have seen nothing but the most ardent pursuit after sensual or frivolous pleasures, and the most unqualified egotism, with a devotion to the shrines of luxury and vanity unknown at any former period. The lower ranks are chiefly marked by a total want of probity, and an earnestness for the gain of to-day, though purchased by the sacrifice of that character which might ensure them tenfold advantage on the morrow.' (P.145.)
The Louvre, where the spoils of the world were then collected in a permanent triumph, filled her with delight; and it is quite in accordance with the general classic tone of her mind and precision of her thoughts and style, that she writes, · When 'I walk among the best Grecian statues, I feel a sort of dignified
calmness take possession of my soul. A secret influence seems 'to overshadow me, and keeps off all little and agitating ideas. • Pictures please, but statues both please and elevate.'
Mr. Trench was confined on parole to Orleans and its immediate vicinity, but his wife was permitted to visit Paris as often as she chose, and probably might have obtained a passport without difficulty, had she been willing to return to England alone. In the correspondence that spreads over this period, we are certainly disappointed at finding so little matter of public interest ; but it must be remembered that these letters had to go through the French Post-office, and that therefore, just the information respecting men and things, that we should have wished for, is what Mrs. Trench would be least able to communicate. Nor was the society into which she was now cast, such as to supply any available material. The imperial government kept watch and ward over the salons of Paris, and so charming a déténue would hardly have been permitted to become an habituée in what still remained of good society. She was therefore constrained to live with people she did not like, and cannot help sometimes contrasting her present position with the former sway of her wit and beauty. Isabey keeps her a long time waiting for a sitting; and she recalls the days when artists vied with each other to paint her for their own advantage, adding, “I will write a poem, called the Progress of • Woman, a fine occasion to show one's skill in the degradation
of the tints.' The official people whom she sees on the subject of her own and Mr. Trench's detention were civil, and the Empress to whom she presented her placet, very kind, saying, she remembered her at Court, and would herself present her petition to the Emperor. The following passage is remarkable, as it will remind our readers of the recent restoration of the ground in front of the Tuileries, when the malcontents said, On voit bien que ce n'est pas Lenôtre.'
* Paris, July, 1805. • The Emperor has adopted an idea which I admire very much, of having a small garden under his windows, into which no creature ever enters, except himself and the Empress. I think the idea of having a little sacred spot, very beautiful; and I wonder it has never been thought of, as it is almost as practicable as it is refined.' (P. 172.)
It must be confessed that in the art and mystery of letterwriting, English women cannot be said to have attained the eminence that has been won by our Gallic neighbours. In the old days, when letters were literature, we can indeed enjoy, with Charles Lamb, the magnificent conceits of the Sociable Letters'
. of Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle, which referred to such a sociability as never existed here or elsewhere, but we have nothing to compete with those wonderful exercises of feminine grace, wit, and ingenuity which originated with the society of the Hotel Rambouillet, under the example of Balzac and Voiture, and passed on in uninterrupted succession, through the salon of the Marquise de Sablé, in the Place Royale, down to the Hotel d'Albret, and the last days of the Grand Monarque. We have no English noble lady who occupies the literary position of Mme. de Sévigné, and no companion of Royalty who can be classed with Mme. de Maintenon. It is needless to say how much this depended upon a peculiar condition of society, and the high controlling authority exercised by women in France, where la vieille femme never meant . an old woman,' and where men of the highest station and intellect looked upon female companionship, not as a diversion, but as a fair intercourse of mind with mind, with differences of superiority, but parity of intelligence. The correspondence of Ladies Hertford and Pomfret, the letters of Lady Mary Wortley Montague, of Mrs. Montague, of Miss Seward and Mrs. Carter, have each their merits, the last perhaps the greatest, but they none of them can be said to possess that undefinable charm which accompanies the flow of good thought and pleasant expression from the pen of a woman who is writing to a person she loves or likes, without a notion of fame or interest beyond. Mme. de Sévigné, no doubt, knew well that Bussy bound up her letters in quarto volumes, and that many important eyes, it was said even those of divine Majesty itself, had lighted upon them. But this did not apply to those addressed to her daughter and more intimate friends, which form the real foundation of the affectionate celebrity she has inspired.
Heinrich Heine somewhere lays down the proposition that every woman who 'writes anything does so, with one eye on her subject and the
other on some particular man (always with the exception of a certain Countess, who having only one eye, is compelled to *cast it alternately from one to the other).' The best female correspondence fully accepts this conclusion, and the letters of an accomplished woman to a man in whom she has entire confidence, will always afford a scope for the use and play of all her faculties that she can never find elsewhere. Thus many of us are acquainted with women, of no especial social endowments or vivacity of disposition, who come out upon paper in confidential correspondence, with a readiness, neatness, versatility and wit, which no one would otherwise suspect to belong to them.
It will therefore excite no surprise in those who have entereủ into the peculiar qualities of Mrs. Trench's mind, to find in her letters to her husband and her son as perfect specimens of this form of composition as our language can supply. There is a certain foreign, or may be Irish, manner about them, which checks a tendency to small moralisings and stilted sentiment that were characteristics of the ethics of her time, while a large amount of English good sense and a real purity of heart control a somewhat petulant spirit that might otherwise have degenerated into flippancy and cynicism.
In the spring of 1807, Mr. and Mrs. Trench obtained the long-sought-for permission to return to England. From this period to her death in 1827, she kept up the lively correspondence which occupies the rest of this volume. Her spirits had been sadly depressed by the death at Paris of her muchloved boy, the offspring of her second marriage. It is evident that she derived some consolation from the facility of the utterance of her grief which she pours out with unreserved eloquence both in English and French. But her animation fully returned when she found herself back again in the London society she loved so well; still she says with much feeling, • You know I have no weak, vain pride in being inconsolable, on the contrary, no sooner did anything divert my thoughts
than I adopted and cherished it, neither do I profess at all moments to feel the wound, although I always feel its general effects on my mind.'
She does not seem to have resided much in Ireland, and thus ingeniously defends her absenteeism, writing in a letter from Cheltenham to Mrs. Leadbeater:
“You are kind in wishing us in Ireland. A superior education for our children, the power of enjoying all the innocent pleasures of life without injuring their future prospects by expense, and my own health, all conspire to detain us here. We leave no gap, and