Imágenes de páginas

'La pensée de la monarchie depuis Louis XIV, c'est qu'il ne pouvait y avoir de force sans unité de foi dans le royaume. Une des fortes résolutions de ce grand règne fut d'imposer l'unité religieuse sous son glorieux sceptre, comme le Cardinal de Richelieu avait préparé l'unité politique. Cette nécessité frappe toutes les intelligences un peu hautes en matière de gouvernement. L'unité c'est la force: les protestants avaient toujours formé le parti d'une inquiète opposition en France: leurs caricatures indiquent un dessein arrêté de détruire le pouvoir pour organiser une république provinciale. Sous le ministère de M. le duc de Bourbon, quelques édits avaient renouvelé les anciennes mesures coercitives contre les protestants; la police diplomatique avait saisi diverses pièces et correspondances qui compromettaient les huguenots des provinces de France Les instructions envoyées aux intendants portent l'ordre impératifs de surveiller les protestants: on devait détruire le preche sans persécuter les personnes, éteindre peu à peu une opposition trop vive à l'unité religieuse et monarchique.'

And now we must give a few words to M. Capefigue himself, as distinguished from his subject. He began his literary career with a work on Philip Augustus, with which we cannot profess any very intimate acquaintance, but of which we have seen enough to be able to testify that it gave promise of better things than apologies for Lewis XV. and Madame de Pompadour. The degradation of the author, exactly like that of his hero, is one perfectly self-chosen. Here and there, even in the present series, M. Capefigue shows glimpses of powers which might have been devoted to better purposes. But such phenomena are perfectly transitory; he always returns to his wallowing in the mire, to his adulation of a foul and despicable tyranny, to elaborate and enthusiastic descriptions of the dinners eaten by the despot, and of the dresses worn by his mistresses. Here he is perfectly at home; every detail is descanted on with a delight which bears no doubt of its perfect accuracy. And at any rate, if M. Capefigue blunders or romances on such points, we cannot undertake to correct him. Many of our readers are doubtless familiar with those bills of fare in Parisian restaurants, where mysterious French in one column is translated into still more mysterious English in another. To read some parts of M. Capefigue's volumes is very nearly the same process. We cannot profess that familiarity with the technicalities of the boudoir and the kitchen which would enable us to understand the French, and to turn to a dictionary is useless, for the supposed English equivalent is always either the same as the French, or else something more incomprehensible still. We can only go away with the general conviction that his majesty ate remarkably good dinners, and that Madame la Marquise was arrayed in a style of consummate elegance. There are, however, other points on which we find ourselves better able to bring M. Cape

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figue to book. Why is it necessary to the honour of the great nation, that all other nations should be simply dealt with as affording materials for blunders? Why is it that an ordinary Frenchman, even an ordinary French littérateur, cannot mention a place or a person belonging to any other country, without introducing some grotesque mis-spelling, some absurd confusion of titles and ranks? The fault, to be sure, is a very old one; it dates as far back as the days when the secretaries of William the Conqueror contrived to mis-spell the names of every man and every manor in England. M. Capefigue is not the man to depart from so inveterate a prescription. He can scarcely introduce a single Teutonic name, whether German or English, without some error or other. To call the most renowned Englishman of that age, at one period of his life, 'Williams Pitt,' at another Chatam,' simply looks odd, and may be mere carelessness, but when it comes to the comte de Walpoole' and the comte de Pelham,' the error is far graver; it implies gross ignorance of the politics of a neighbouring nation. The admirer of the vie gentilhomme' cannot understand how the brother of a duke could be a simple commoner, or how a mere English esquire, without any hereditary title, could obtain at once the highest political power and the highest personal honours. Mr. Pelham and Sir Robert Walpole are simply incomprehensible to a mind constantly occupied by dukes and marchionesses; M. Capefigue, therefore, at once adorns both of them with the coronet of an earl. It is, we suppose, a slip or a misprint, but it is a very awkward one, when we hear of 'le malheureux Charles II. mort sur l'échafaud;' but M. Capefigue ought at least to have known that the lords, chefs de clans, fidèles et loyaux tenanciers,' who died for their share in the Rebellion of 1745 did not all perish by the sentence of courtmartials, nor by the orders of the 'impitoyable' Duke of Cumberland. We suppose it is the vague reverence which so many Frenchmen seem to entertain for the lord mayor, which causes London to figure as 'l'honorable cité;'3 but we are quite at a loss to guess by what exploits the brother of George III. earned his claim to the title of 'le fameux duc d'York.' How M. Capefigue pronounces the name of the English party which he commonly speaks of as 'Wighs,' is as mysterious to us as the word of command, non quarter,' 5 put into the mouths of English officers. One so devoted to the eighteenth century ought to be a little better acquainted with its political history.

1 'Richelieu,' p. 96.
4 'Louis XV.,' p. 331.

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He ought to have known that among the potentates of that age there was neither a King of Saxony,' < nor an Emperor of Austria; he should have known that the election of one Elector of Saxony to the crown of Poland did not constitute a 'dynastie Saxonne,' and that Charles VII. claimed, by his supposed right of descent, not the imperial crown of the West, but the hereditary dominions of the House of Austria. The electorates of Worms and Spires are new to us, and an Elector of Cologne seems an odd competitor for the Bavarian prince. It is only now and then that M. Capefigue takes diversions into the regions of antiquity, and when he does so he is not a little unlucky in so doing. Madame du Barry comme la divinité d'Homère, était sortie de l'écume de l'onde.'" Has M. Capefigue ever read Homer? If so, does he not remember how the Homeric Aphrodite is dealt with by Zeus her father, and by Dione her mother, and that the other legend, with the whole ugly story of which it forms a part, is not Homeric but Hesiodic? M. Capefigue's geographical ideas seem strange. The buried cities of Campania are transformed into Herculanum and Pompeia.'" In a single page (Louis XV., p. 428), we find a Greece which does not include 'la Morée, les îles de l'Archipel,' a ‘Romélie,'' which borders on the Dniester, and a Sparta and a Lacedæmon which seem to be two distinct cities.

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'L'Amiral Orloff avait donc mission d'aide les fils de Lacédémone et de Sparte dans leur noble tentative de liberté.'

Of this last flourish M. Capefigue is so proud that he repeats it on three other occasions. Sparte, Lacédémone, Rome.' 10 Spartiates, Lacédémoniens, Romains" figure as three distinct places with three distinct sets of inhabitants. Before M. Capefigue writes another book, we should recommend him to buy an ancient atlas.

To read through any one of M. Capefigue's volumes is amusing, but to read through all four, as we have done, is certainly tedious. A single well-arranged apology for Lewis XV. and his partners in wickedness would, we should have thought, have been more to the purpose than four distinct biographies, involving, to one who reads them all, an immense amount of wearisome repetition. Four volumes dedicated to vice eating elegant suppers and decked out in graceful ribbons, is too

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3 Ibid., p. 30.
Ibid., p. 139.
8 Ibid., p. 165.

'M. Capefigue is here probably making some jumble between the Rouman provinces and Roumelia (Roum-ili) = Thrace.

10 4 'Pompadour, p. 147. "Ibid., p. 245. So 'Louis XV.,' p. 245.


much for us. But then we are really not in the line. We retain some old-fashioned prejudices against adultery and for political freedom. That freedom is a noble thing' was the doctrine of the father of history; it is a tenet not countersigned by M. Capefigue. A wise apocryphal writer placed an old adulterer that doateth' among those whom his soul hated; in the hands of M. Capefigue such an one becomes the model of kings and of men. Books more profoundly immoral than these four we have never come across, though we believe they do not contain a single word which cannot with propriety be read aloud in a family.' The adornment of vice and frivolity united to the grossest political tyranny, the deification of mere prettiness without virtue, wisdom, or any ennobling quality, is a sin of as deep a die as the historian can be guilty of. Charmant, gracieux, élégant, ravissant'-we had rather not see the words for another twelvemonth to come; they will remind us too strongly of an age, of which its own panegyrist says, 'Cette société qui oubliait Dieu et les mœurs, marchait à sa décadence avec une grâce parfaite.'3 M. Capefigue once seemed as if he might have become a historian, at least a historical essayist; he has sunk of his own accord into the laureate of cooks, milliners, and courtesans. Let us conclude with his own exposition of feelings raised in him by a degradation upon which he seems rather to pride himself. It gives one the same sort of feeling as that of the veteran Turk looking at the man in a hat and tight trousers, and warning his son that if he forgot God and the prophet, he might come to look like that. Whatever changes may come upon us, may we at least be spared the ignominy of resembling the later estate of M. Capefigue.

Here, then, is our author's bit of autobiography

'Meudon, Bellevue, belles et royales demeures, qu'êtes-vous devenues? Encore quelques années de révolution et l'on eût démoli Saint Cloud et dévasté les forêts de Fontainebleau et de Compiègne. L'auteur, quand il a décrit le moyen age, Philippe-Auguste, s'est contenté d'être un pauvre pelerin, un naïf chroniqueur nourri de chartes, de cartulaires, aimant les cathédrales, les monastères, les ermitages au désert. Pour le xviii* siècle il ne veut que voir et sentir. Il n'a pas le génie assez vaste pour faire la statistique du genre humain et donner les leçons philosophiques aux siècles écoulés ; il écrit même ces lignes en face du château d'Asnières, petit bijou, bague au doigt mise à une gracieuse marquise, peinture d'éventail sur ce beau rideau de verdure qui borne la Seine.'


1 “Η ἰσηγορίη ὡς ἐστὶ χρῆμα σπουδαῖον. Herod. v. 78.
2 Ecclus. xxv. 2.

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3 Richelieu,' p. 182.



HERE are many roads to fame, and various are the gifts needed to pursue them with success. A quick eye and a steady hand will at the present season place their possessor on a more exalted pinnacle of glory than the most subtle intellect, the brightest imagination, or the most copious flow of eloquence. The rulers of the senate and the ornaments of the bar may have felt during the last month that the simple country gentleman is their master in an art which for the time assumes a higher interest than their own. Politics stagnate, and the oracles of the law slumber; but partridges rise with sudden rustling from the turnips, and he is the best man who can make the neatest and surest double-shots. If a lesson were wanted on the vanity of man's ambition, we would take a distinguished author or orator, who had been for the last eight months a shining light of the metropolis, and start him for a day's shooting in September, in company with half a dozen first-rate sportsmen. How small, how unutterably contemptible, must a mere townbred writer or speaker feel after trying from breakfast-time to luncheon to accomplish the apparently easy feat of bagging a few brace of partridges! We will suppose that a literary or forensic eminence has been properly equipped and armed. For the first time, perhaps, in his life he carries in his hand a doublebarrelled full-cocked gun. Five or six of the same formidable implements are in active movement and use around him. He feels, however, that the weapons of his companions are infinitely less dangerous than his own. He has entered the first turnip

* 1. Manual of British Rural Sports. By Stonehenge. Fourth Edition.
London. Routledge and Co. 1859.
The Shot-Gun and Sporting Rifle.
Routledge and Co. 1859.

By Stonehenge.


2. Instructions to Young Sportsmen in all that relates to Guns and Shooting. By Lieut.-Col. P. Hawker. Eleventh Edition. London. Longman and Co. 1859.

3. The Post and the Paddock. By the Druid, Hunting Edition. London. Piper and Co. 1857.

Silk and Scarlet. By the Druid. London. Rogerson and Tuxford. 1859.

4. The Bye-Lanes and Downs of England. By Sylvanus.

Bentley. 1859.


5. The Sporting Review for September. London. Rogerson and Tuxford.

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