« AnteriorContinuar »
sional liveliness of remark, and its notice of a good many facts omitted by most of our other historians; yet, as its spirit was purely republican, its advancement to a s andard work was rendered impossible in England. The style is nervous and animated, although sometimes loose and inaccurate, and the reflections of the author are often acute and sagacious, always noble and benevolent. The five volumes of the History were followed, in 1778, by another, entitled "The History of England from the Revolution to the present time, in a series of Letters to the Reverend Dr. Wilson, rector of St. Stephen's, Walbrook, and prebendary of Westminster," 4to., Bath. The six letters of which this volume consists come down to the termination of the administration of Sir Robert Walpole, in 1742. A female historian, by its singularity, would not fail to excite curiosity; and as Mrs. Macaulay had ventured to step beyond the province of her sex, as it was then considered, she was more severely criticised for her political opinions than a man would have been. As her talents could not be denied, her adversaries resorted to petty, personal scurrilities against her. They said she was "deformed," "ugly," "disagreeable;" and that her ambition to become distinguished had, therefore, taken this course, most absurd for a woman -attempting to encroach on the province of man. Mrs. Arnold, a lady who subsequently became the warm friend of Mrs. Macaulay, remarks, that these notions had prejudiced her, and adds: "Judge then of my surprise, when I saw a woman elegant in her manners, delicate in her person, and with features, if not perfectly beautiful, so fascinating in their expression, as deservedly to rank her face among the higher order of human countenances. Her height was above the middle size, inclining to tall; her shape slender and elegant; the contour of her face, neck, and shoulders, graceful. The form of her face was oval, her complexion delicate, and her skin fine; her hair was of a mild brown, long and profuse; her nose between the Roman and the Grecian; her mouth small, her chin round, as was the lower part of her face, which made it appear to more advantage in front than in profile. Her eyes were as beautiful as imagination can conceive; full of penetration and fire; but their fire softened by the mildest beams of benevolence; their colour was a fine dark hazel, and their expression the indication of a superior soul. Infirm health, too often the attendant on an active and highly cultivated understanding, gave to her countenance an extreme delicacy, which was peculiarly interesting. To this delicacy of constitution was added a most amiable sensibility of temper, which rendered her feelingly alive to whatever concerned those with whom she was connected either by nature or by friendship."
In her friendships, we are told by this lady, she was fervent, disinterested, and sincere; zealous for the prosperity, and for the moral improvement, of those whom she distinguished and loved.
In 1785, Mrs. Macaulay visited the United States, and travelled through the greater part of the country, where she was very kindly received.
She terminated her journey by a visit to General
In 1778, or according to another account, in 1785, Mrs. Macaulay, having lost her first husband, married a Mr. Graham, of whom all that is told is that he was so many years her junior as to expose the lady to much irreverent remark. She also wrote several pamphlets, both during the progress of her great work, and after its completion. of these the catalogue-makers have preserved the following titles: "Remarks on Hobbe's Rudiments of Government and Society," 1767; enlarged and republished in 1769, with the more striking title of "Loose Remarks on some of Mr. Hobbes' Positions;" "Observations on a pamphlet (Burke's) entitled Thoughts on the Causes of the present Discontents," 1770; "An Address to the People of England, Scotland, and Ireland, on the present Important Crisis of Affairs," 1775; "A Treatise on the Immutability of Moral Truth," called in a second much enlarged edition, "Letters on Education," 1790; and "Observations on the Reflections of the Right Hon. E. Burke on the Revolution in France, in a Letter to the Right Hon. the Earl of Stanhope," 1791.
This excellent woman died June 23d, 1791. Her friend Mrs. Arnold, in her account of the private character of Mrs. Macaulay, says: "As a wife, a mother, a friend, neighbour, and the mistress of a family, she was irreproachable and exemplary. My sentiments of this amiable woman are derived from a long and intimate acquaintance with her various excellencies; and I have observed her in different points of view. I have seen her exalted on the dangerous pinnacle of worldly prosperity, surrounded by flattering friends, and an admiring world; I have seen her marked out by party prejudice as an object of dislike and ridicule; I have seen her bowed down by bodily pain and weakness; but never did I see her forget the urbanity of a gentlewoman, her conscious dignity as a rational creature, or a fervent aspiration after the highest degree of attainable perfection. I have seen her humble herself in the presence of her Almighty Father; and, with a contrite heart, acknowledging her sins and imploring his forgiveness; I have seen her languishing on the bed of sickness, enduring pain with the patience of a Christian, and with the firm belief, that the light. afflictions of this life are but for a moment, and that the fashion of the world will pass away, and give place to a system of durable happiness."
Dr. Wilson, prebendary of Westminster, was an enthusiastic admirer of hers, and erected a statue to her, as a patroness of liberty, in the church at Walbrook; but on the death of Dr. Wilson, this mark of homage was removed by his successor.
and after the independence was secured, they returned to Skye. Here Flora died, at the advanced age of seventy. By her particular request her body was enclosed and buried in one of the sheets that had been used by the unfortunate prince during the night he rested at Kingsburgh, and which she had preserved, unwashed, for that purpose. Flora Macdonald was the mother of seven children, all of whom were an honour to her name. Dr. Johnson's interview with her is recorded in his "Tour to the Hebrides."
trous defeat of Culloden, when prince Charles Edward, a hunted fugitive, was seeking concealment in the Western Isles, Flora was on a visit to her brother, in South Uist, where, as it happened, the prince lay hid. The circumstances which induced this young and beautiful girl to become the companion of the prince's wanderings, and the sharer of his dangers and almost unexampled hardships, have never been clearly explained. The most probable account, and no doubt the true one, is, that her stepfather, Hugh Macdonel, though in command of a company of royal militia, was in secret so well disposed towards the cause of the Stuarts, that he was induced to allow his stepdaughter to aid in the prince's escape, and to write privately to him by a trusty messenger, making him the offer. Flora was conducted to the prince at midnight, where in a lonely hut they concerted measures for his escape. The isles were overrun with soldiers; the prince's pursuers had traced him to South Uist, and thirty thousand pounds were offered for his apprehension. It was therefore necessary to be prompt, wary, and courageous, in the attempt, all of which qualities Flora brought to the undertaking. After passing through numerous adventures, concealed in rocks and caves, and exposed to imminent danger, they succeeded in leaving the isle; the prince dressed as a female, and personating the character of Betty Burke, an Irish woman in attendance upon Miss Macdonald. On approaching Skye, the boat was fired upon by the soldiers on shore, and Flora, though the bullets fell thick around her, positively refused the prince's request to lie down in the boat for shelter, unless he would consent to do so also, and he was obliged to yield to her importunities to ensure her safety. They succeeded in effecting a landing in Skye. Here, Flora was called upon to exercise all her skill, fortitude, and courage, in behalf of the prince; and many interesting anecdotes of the romantic incidents connected with her efforts to conceal and aid him in his escape, are on record. She conducted him in safety to Portaree, whose arrangements were made to convey him to a neighbouring island, and parted from him after receiving his warmest assurances of gratitude and regard. Twenty days after they parted the prince escaped to France, but before half that period had elapsed Flora was arrested, and carried on board a vessel of war, where she was confined five months. She was then conveyed to London, and detained under surveillance for eight months. In July, 1747, she was finally set at liberty, by the provisions of the Act of Indemnity. While in London, Flora was visited by people of the highest distinction, and on her departure she was presented with fifteen hundred pounds, which had been subscribed by the Jacobite ladies of the metropolis. In 1750, Flora became the wife of Alexander Macdonald, of Kingsburgh. A few years after, in consequence of the embarrassment of their affairs, they were compelled to emigrate to America, where they settled upon an estate which they purchased in North Carolina. On the breaking out of the revolutionary war, Macdonald sided with the royalist party,
WAS the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Payne, of Virginia, members of the society of Friends, who manumitted their slaves soon after their marriage, and removed to Pennsylvania. Miss Dolly Payne was educated in Philadelphia, and, when very young, married Mr. Todd, a lawyer in that city, who soon left her a widow, with one son. In 1794, Mrs. Todd became the wife of Mr. James Madison, and went to live on his estates in Virginia, till he was appointed secretary of state, in 1801, when they removed to Washington, where Mrs. Madison won the admiration of all by the charms of her elegant hospitality. Mrs. Madison also presided at the White House, in the absence of Mr. Jefferson's daughters, and her frank and cordial manners gave a peculiar charm to the frequent parties there assembled. But there were individuals who never visited at the president's, nor met at the other ministerial houses, whom Mrs. Madison won, by the sweet influence of her conciliatory disposition, to join her evening circle, and sit at her husband's table-always covered with the profusion of Virginia hospitality, but not always in the style of European elegance. The wife of a foreign minister ridiculed the enormous size and number of the dishes, observing that "it was more like a harvest-home supper, than the entertainment of a secretary of state." Mrs. Madison heard of this and similar remarks, and only answered with a smile, "that she thought abundance was preferable to elegance; that circumstances formed customs, and customs formed taste; and as the profusion, so repugnant to fo
reign customs, arose from the happy circumstance of the superabundance and prosperity of our country, she did not hesitate to sacrifice the delicacy of European taste, for the less elegant, but more liberal fashion of Virginia." Her house was very plainly furnished, her dress never extravagant; it was only in hospitality and in charity that she was profuse. The many families daily supplied from that profusely-spread table testified to the real hospitality of the hostess.
In 1809 Mr. Madison was elected president of the United States, which high office he administered for eight years. During all this period, which included the most stormy times of our republic, when the war with Great Britain and other important questions, arrayed a most violent opposition to the government, and party animosity was bitter and vindictive; yet always in the presence of Mrs. Madison, the spirit of discord was hushed; the leaders of opposite parties would stand around her, smiling and courteous to each other, as though in the sunshine of her benevolence all were friends. Mr. Madison was, in manner, cold, reserved, and lofty; his integrity of character was respected by all; but the popularity he enjoyed was won by the mildness and gentle virtues of his wife; she ruled over the hearts of all who knew her. It is said that she never forgot a name she had once heard, nor a face she had once seen, nor the personal circumstances connected with every individual of her acquaintance. Hence her quick recognition of persons; her recurrence to the peculiar interests of each left the gratifying impression that each one was an object of especial regard.
In 1817, Mr. Madison's second term of office having expired, he retired to his paternal estate, in Virginia. Montpelier, as this place was called, had a large and commodious mansion, designed more for comfort and hospitality than show, where the mother of Mr. Madison had always resided. One wing of the house was appropriated to her, and she had there her separate establishment and her old servants, and maintained all the old customs of the last century. By only opening a door the observer passed from the elegancies, refinements, and gayeties of modern life, into all that was venerable, respectable, and dignified in bygone days. It was considered a high favour and distinction by the great and the gay who thronged to visit Mr. and Mrs. Madison at Montpelier, if they were permitted to pay the homage of their respects to his reverend mother. A lady who was admitted to visit her when she was in her ninetyseventh year, thus describes the scene: SheMrs. Madison, the elder still retained all her faculties, though not free from the bodily infirmities of age. She was sitting, or rather reclining on a couch; beside her was a small table filled with large, dark, and worn quartos and folios, of most venerable appearance. She closed one as we entered, and took up her knitting, which lay beside her. Among other inquiries, I asked her how she passed her time.
"I am never at a loss," she replied; "this and these"-touching her knitting and her books"keep me always busy; look at my fingers, and
you will perceive I have not been idle." In truth her delicate fingers were polished by her knittingneedles. "And my eyes, thanks be to God, have not failed me yet, and I read most part of the day. But in other respects I am feeble and helpless, and owe everything to her"-pointing to Mrs. Madison, who sat by us. "She is my mother now, and tenderly cares for all my wants!" My eyes were filled with tears as I looked from the one to the other of these excellent women. Never, in the midst of her splendid drawing-room, surrounded by the courtly and brilliant, the admired and respected-herself the centre of attraction, the object of admiration-never was Mrs. Madison so interesting, so lovely, so estimable, as in her attendance on her venerable mother-inlaw, whom she loved and honoured with grateful affection."
In 1836 Mr. Madison died. He had lived twenty years in retirement, and had found, in the society of his wife, and in her unremitting attentions to him, when enfeebled by age and infirmity, that she was the best gift of God; or, as he expressed it, "his connexion with her was the happiest event of his life."
After his decease, Mrs. Madison removed to the city of Washington, where she continued to be held in the highest respect till her death, which occurred July 22d, 1849. Her funeral was attended by a very large concourse; the highest officers of the government united with the people in this testimonial of regard to the honoured and beloved Mrs. Madison.
A BEAUTIFUL French actress and dancer, who made herself conspicuous in the revolution in France, by representing, in 1793, in public, the part of the Goddess of Reason, and receiving in that character the homage of the phrenzied people.
MAINE, ANNE, LOUISE, BENEDICTE DE BOURBON, DUCHESS DE, GRAND-DAUGHTER of the great Condé, was born in 1676; and was married, in 1692, to Louis Augustus de Bourbon, duke de Maine, son of Louis XIV., and Madame de Montespan. Through the influence of Madame de Maintenon, the children of Madame de Montespan were legitimized; and she wrung from the old king, on his death-bed, a testament in favour of the duke du Maine. This having been revealed to the duke of Orleans, he took steps, before the opening of the will, to have his claim to the regency, as first prince of the blood, acknowledged, and the will was set aside. A strong and dangerous party, opposed to the power of the regent, immediately sprung up, of which the duchess du Maine was the acknowledged chief. Her rank, talents, and ambition, rendered her influence formidable; and had she only been able to impart her own active and energetic spirit to her husband, the duke of Orleans would not have obtained the regency without a struggle. She held her little court at Sceaux, and, under the mask of pleasure and devotion to literature, she carried on political intrigues.
Madame du Maine had received an excellent classical education. Her wit was light and brilliant, and her conversation singularly felicitous. She was bold, active, and vehement, but deficient in moral courage. Her temper was fickle, selfish, and violent; and, small as she was in person, she had the reputation of beating her husband, who, grave, learned, and deformed in person, had no latent energies to arouse. The weakness of du Maine encouraged the princes of the blood to protest against the edicts by which the legitimized children of Louis XIV. had been rendered their equals in rank. Madame du Maine answered this attack by a long and learned memorial, in which the rights of these princes were set forth; but without avail. The legitimized princes were deprived of their right of succession to the crown. Bent upon revenge, Madame du Maine's projects were favoured by the state of the country. She carried on intrigues with Spain and with the disaffected Bretons, and moved every engine within her reach to bring the regent into disrepute and overturn his power. A plot was formed, having many ramifications, its chief objects being the deposition of the regent, and the aggrandizement of the duke du Maine. The plot, however, was prematurely discovered. The duke and duchess were arrested, and the duchess was imprisoned in the castle of Dijon, where, after a tedious confinement, she became so heartily weary as to make her submission to the regent. She was liberated, and her husband was released at the same time. They resumed their former mode of existence, and the little court at Sceaux was soon as gay as ever, though it was never again so brilliant as formerly. The political part of Madame du Maine ended with her captivity. Her literary influence, though circumstances caused it to decline, was more real and lasting than her political power. If she gave no new impulse to genius, she assisted its developement, and had enough taste to feel the superiority of Voltaire. Her most extraordinary quality appears to have been her conversational style.
MAINTENON, MADAME DE,
AN extraordinary woman, who, from a low condition, was elevated to the honour of becoming the wife of Louis XIV., was descended from the ancient family of d'Aubigné, her proper name being Frances d'Aubigné. M. d'Aubigné, her grandfather, was a Protestant, and a man of great merit and high standing; but his son, Constante d'Aubigné, the father of Madame de Maintenon, was a man of most infamous character, and actually murdered his first wife. He married afterwards the daughter of Peter de Cardillac, lord of Lane, at Bordeaux, December 27th, 1627. Going to Paris soon after his second marriage, he was, for some very great offence, thrown into prison. Madame d'Aubigné in vain solicited his pardon. Cardinal Richelieu told her, that "to take such a husband from her, was to do her a friendly office." Madame d'Aubigné shut herself up in prison with him, and there her two oldest sons were born. She then obtained leave to have her husband removed to the prison at Niort, that they might be
Martinico in 1646, leaving his wife in the greatest poverty. She returned to France, leaving her daughter in the hands of the principal creditor, as a pledge for the payment of her debts; but he soon sent her to France after her mother, who, being unable to support her, her aunt Villette offered her a home, which she thankfully accepted. But Madame Villette was a Protestant, and instructed her niece in the peculiar tenets of that faith. This alarmed another relation of Frances d'Aubigné's, Madame de Neuillaut, a Catholic, who solicited and obtained an order from the court to take her out of the hands of Madame Villette; and, by means of threats, artifices, and hardships, she at length made a convert of her.
In 1651, Madame de Neuillaut took her to Paris, where, meeting the famous wit, the abbé Scarron, she married him, notwithstanding his being infirm and deformed; preferring this to the dependent state she was in. She lived with him many years; and Voltaire says that these were undoubtedly the happiest part of her life. Her beauty, but still more her wit, though her modesty and good sense preserved her from all frivolity, caused her society to be eagerly sought by all the best company in Paris, and she became highly distinguished. Her husband's death in 1660 reduced her to the same indigent state as before; and her friends used every effort to prevail on the court to continue to her the pension which Scarron had enjoyed. So many petitions were sent in, beginning "The widow Scarron most humbly prays," that the king exclaimed with irritation, "Must I always be tormented with the widow Scarron?" At last, however, he settled a much larger pension on her, as a mark of esteem for her talents.
In 1671, the birth of the duke of Maine, the
son of Louis XIV. and Madame de Montespan, who was then a year old, had not yet been made public. The child had a lame foot, and the physician advised that he should be sent to the waters of Barége. This trust was committed to Madame Scarron, as a safe person; and from this time she had the charge of the duke of Maine's education. The letters she wrote to the king on this subject charmed him, and were the origin of her fortune. Louis gave her the lands and name of Maintenon in 1679, which was the only estate she ever had, though afterwards in a position that afforded her an opportunity of acquiring an immense property.
Her elevation, however, was to her only a retreat. Shut up in her rooms, which were on the same floor with the king, she confined herself to the society of two or three ladies, whom she saw but seldom. The king came to her apartment every day, and continued there till after midnight. Here he did business with his ministers, while Madame de Maintenon employed herself with reading or needle-work, carefully avoiding all interference in state affairs, but studying more how to please him who governed, than to govern. She made but little use of her influence over the king, either to enable her to confer benefits or do injuries.
About the end of 1685, Louis married Madame de Maintenon. She was then fifty years of age, and the king forty-eight. This union was kept a profound secret, and she enjoyed very little public distinction in consequence of her elevation. But after the king began to lead this retired life with Madame de Maintenon, the court grew every day more serious; and the monotony of her life was so great, that she once exclaimed to her brother, "I can bear this no longer; I wish I were dead!”
The convent of St. Cyr was built by her at the end of the park of Versailles, in 1686. She gave the form to this establishment, assisted in making the rules, and was herself superior of the convent, where she often went to dissipate her ennui and melancholy.
The king died, September 2d, 1715; after which event, Madame de Maintenon retired wholly to St. Cyr, and spent the remainder of her days in acts of devotion. Louis XIV. made no certain provision for her, but recommended her to the duke of Orleans, who bestowed on her a pension of 80,000 livres, which was all she would accept. She died, April 15th, 1719.
In 1756, the letters of Madame de Maintenon were published in nine volumes, at Amsterdam; but with many arbitrary changes. Another, and more complete edition, was published in 1812. In 1848, "A History of Madame de Maintenon, &c., by M. le Duc de Noailles," appeared in Paris. This last work gives a highly favourable portrait of the character of Madame de Maintenon. Her talents no one ever questioned; and none, save the enemies of virtue, have doubted hers. The following morceaux are from her published letters:
tions. Songez, mon cher frère, au voyage d'Amé-
LETTRE À M. D'AUBIGNÉ, SON FRÈRE.
On n'est malheureux que par sa faute. Ce cera toujours mon texte et ma réponse à vos lamenta
A MADAME DE ST. GÉRAN.
Vous voulez savior, Madame, ce qui m'a attiré