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ÆT. 35.] BRITISH LOOM—LAWRENCE'S PORTRAIT.
19 which superadd the appearance of European arte . . . I wish I had some specimens of my own to send you ; but that will be coming ere long—at least, I am reading hard for important views. In the mean time, you will let me send you a print of my head, which is only valuable as an engraving from Lawrence's drawing of me, corrected by himself, with his own name written in the proofs.
This copper-plate engraving, executed at his own expense, was presented by Sir Thomas Lawrence to the Poet, for whose benefit it was published. The sale of the impressions realized a handsome sum, which relieved him from some temporary embarrassment. This well-timed generosity was conferred with the greatest delicacy; and in the Poet's mind added gratitude to admiration.
Among the memoranda of this spring, is one of a visit to Madame de Staël, which procured him the acquaintance of several distinguished foreigners; but what rendered it no less profitable than pleasant, was her fascinating powers of conversation, to which he bears faithful testimony.
The invitation which preceded this visit is characteristic:“Mon fils part le 1er Mars, pour quinze jours. Voulezvous venir occuper son appartement chez moi, pendant ce temps ? Cet appartement est très simple. et la vie que je mène aussi : mais je serai ravie de vous récevoir à la ville, comme à la campagne ; et peut-être vous conviendra-t-il d'être parfaitement libre, et jouir en même temps du plaisir que vous me ferez de toutes manières. Je me crois toute isolée par le départ de mon fils; et quand je ne serais pas isolée, ne sentirais-je pas toujours le prix de votre présence ? Si ma maison avait été plus grande, j'aurais prié Madame Campbell d'être de la partie ; j'espère qu'elle m'en dédommagera cet automne à la campagne. Mille complimens, &c.
B. DE STAËL." To the “Daughter of Necker," the episode of Ellenore, spoke with peculiar force and tenderness, and the following lines were often on her lips :
“... Daughter of Conrad! when he heard his knell,
And bade his country and his child farewell!
The plaint that owned unutterable wo;
In the political affairs of Europe, which were now assuming a new and cheering aspect, Campbell felt and expressed the deepest interest. So absorbed, indeed, were his thoughts by the rapid progress of events, the fast approaching crisis, and the glorious results which it promised, that most of his correspondence is a mere chronicle of the day-short comments on military despatches, and confident predictions of what very soon after became the province of history. This eventful spring was the most exciting, but perhaps the least productive, season of his life; and for several weeks, or even months, his study of “ The Poets,” if not entirely neglected, was greatly retarded by the grand topics of the day.
During the ephemeral peace of 1802, he had often expressed an ardent, but fruitless, desire to visit “ the scenes of the Revolution, the public monuments and libraries of Paris, but above all the Louvre ;” and now that the fall of Napoleon, the capture of Paris, the restoration of the Bourbons, and the presence of the Allied armies had drawn thousands of English subjects to the spot, he resolved to profit by the momentous crisis, and accomplish the long-cherished hope of a visit to the French capital.
Several of his intimate friends had already crossed the Channel ; others were on the move : Mrs. Siddons, John Kemble, the Baroness de Staël, and others, whose society would give a charm even to the novelties of Paris, had pressed him to join them; and, on the 25th of August, Campbell embarked for Normandy. In twelve hours he had completed the first, and worst stage of his journey, and entered the picturesque streets of Dieppe. Several of his letters, as if suddenly infected with a passion for the “old court language," he has written in French ; but, as the sentiments are pure, untranslateable English, I shall endeavor to relieve them from their foreign garb, so that the general reader may accompany him with more satisfaction in his first impressions of " the fallen Empire.”
DIEPPE, August 26, 1814. “I have this instant arrived, after a very short trip across. The morning was splendid : I have traversed the whole townvery ancient and very picturesque. The ladies look so like our great-grandmothers, the houses so like those of our own ancestors, that one seems to have gone back a century or two. .... All with whom I have yet conversed on the ticklish subject of politics, appear to be very loyal, and much attached to their legitimate sovereign.
T. C.” Next day he continues :
“I have now recovered the effects of my voyage, and completed the circuit of the town, which, although it contains neither theatre, ball-room, nor library, pleases me exceedingly. The inhabitants are affable; the public walks charming; and tomorrow is to be celebrated the national fête of St. Louis. But why am I not at Paris, you will ask? The truth is, health must take precedence of pleasure; and here, for the present, all is novelty. Yet the loyalty, after all, is but superficial—for here is a portrait of young Napoleon which I send you. Last evening I fell in with a rural fête-champêtre in my rambles. I was greatly amused by their dancing ; so much gravity, so much ceremony, so unlike the people of our own country. The mountains and cliffs surrounding the town present a magnificent view of the sea; and when the sky is very clear, says my guide, the heights of Dover may be seen from them. I was so overcome by the scene, that I burst into tears. ...
“Here, as I ascertained, one may live nobly on an income of two hundred a year. I have made the acquaintance of a Monsieur Morell, whose love of strangers and rapidity of thoughtflashing like lightning-remind me strongly of Jeffrey of Edinburgh. I find everything as agreeable as possible--one only exception, that of their brick floors, which make me shiver—but I am promised a carpet for my bedroom. I am lodged in the house of the Protestant minister: I think him an honest man, but dislike his politics. In our conversation last night, he eulogised* Buonaparte, and attempted even to justify the war in Spain. . . . . But I am not come here to meddle in politics.
* To the reader who remembers the generous treatment of the Vaudois, and other Protestant pastors and their flocks, by Napoleon, and the sad reverses they experienced at the Restoration, this eulogy—the natural expression of gratitude-will not seem at all surprising.
VISIT TO FRANCE-DIEPPE-ANECDOTES.
The strong party, however, detest “ce monstre Buonaparte !" and shout for the King.
“At the fête-champêtre one little circumstance struck me as interesting: on their return from the dance, they walked through the streets in parties of twelve or fifteen, each girl leaning on her partner's arm, and all singing. Another peculiarity is, that the ballad-singers here are not restricted to the streets, but enter freely into the hotels, and even private houses, and there exercise their vocation for a few sous. Their voices, in general, are very powerful, clear, and sharp—but in the true French style.
DIEPPE, September 1, 1814. ".•. Letters, they say, are opened in their way to England. The government is so unsettled that they are obliged to take this precaution. You need not, however, be apprehensive: recollect my old compliment to you, on the subject of handwriting-yours is safe from all deciphering. * Jeffrey alone excels you in hieroglyphical chirography! But you ask what further news, adventures, or remarks on France? Why, the Comte de Caumont is gone to Paris so I did not see him; but the second night I spent at Dieppe, I was alone in the coffeeroom, when a carriage arrived with a gentleman and his wife. They proposed supping with memor rather, that I should join their party. He reminded me of Mr. S., and was, in fact, just Mr. S. translated-face, manners, and tongue-into French. We cozed exceedingly well. I described to him, as well as I could, the scene and sensations of Louis XVIII., on leaving England. He had himself been in England, an émigré and severe sufferer by the Revolution. After a pleasant evening, he concluded by fixing a day when I should visit him at his château, seven miles hence. The day came : it was the last which he was to spend in this neighborhood. I had engaged a voiture : everything was ready but my linen, which was all damp, and had to be dried. One would have thought it easy to get a shirt aired; but no—there was no fire in the house! Behold the comfort of French lodgings! Mine host and his daughters lit a fire of straw, and gave me back my linen still damp-spotted, sooted, and unwearable. So, having no other change, I was obliged to send an apology.-But let us not mind vexations.t
* See “Lines on telling her faults, to F. W. M.,” page 626, Vol. I. 7 It was probably this or some very similar disappointment that inspi.