Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

the greater part of the French disbanded. As the Emperor had now joined the Dutch alliance, Louis might well be deeply displeased with Condé for having vainly sacrificed so many lives but he received him with his usual courtesy. The Prince, almost lame with gout and bruises, was climbing slowly the great staircase of Versailles. Louis condescended to appear on the landingplace. «“Sire,” s'écria-t-il de loin," je demande pardon à votre Majesté si je la fais attendre.” “Mon cousin,” répondit Louis XIV., “ne vous pressez pas ; quand on est aussi chiargé de lauriers, on ne saurait marcher si vîte!”,

In 1675 Condé resumed his command in Flanders; but the death of Turenne, apparently on the eve of a great victory, at Stollhausen, gave the Imperialists fresh courage, and so dispirited the French on that more important frontier, that the Prince's presence there to replace his old rival was judged necessary. He undertook this new service with reluctance, for he felt that his physical powers were fast sinking, and was not aware of the plan which had been formed by his predecessor. Je voudrais bien,' said he to one of his attendants, “avoir causé seulement deux heures avec l'ombre de M. de Turenne, pour prendre la suite de ses desseins. He limited his ambition to prevent further disaster —and by his skilful manæuvres at last compelled the enemy to raise the siege of Hagenau, and repass the Rhine; and thus ended the last campaign of Condé. His retreat was heard of with universal regret. We shall have nothing but misfortunes,' said an old soldier, ‘now that Turenne is at St. Denis and Condé at Chantilly.

The rest of his life was spent almost entirely at Chantilly. His friends often urged him to undertake a narrative of his active years, but in vain. He was very willing, however, to talk over past scenes—and did so with a charming frankness and simplicity:

Homme rempli de gloire et de modestie,' says La Bruyère. On lui a entendu dire, Je fuyais, avec la même grace qu'il disait, Nous les battimes.'

‘Simple lui-même, il n'aimait point le faste dans les autres. Un jour que le Duc de Candale, étant chez lui, affectait de ne jamais parler du Duc d'Epernon son père sans ajouter le mot de monsieur, le prince impatienté se mit a crier, “Monsieur mon écuyer, dites à monsieur mon cocher de mettre messieurs mes chevaux à mon carrosse !"!-- p. 431.

He delighted to assemble round him, in his retreat, the men of letters who were now giving splendour to the age of Louis XIV.; and we have numerous testimonies to the extent of knowledge and the elegant taste which he brought to his intercourse with Molière, Racine, and the rest of that brotherhood. Lord Mahon, however, sees more cruelty than wit in his compliment to a poet

aster

aster who had brought him an epitaph on the great comedian. · I wish to God,' said Condé, it had been Molière that brought me yours.' His great out-of-doors amusement was gardening :

'Long-temps après lui on découvrait encore dans les ornemens de Chantilly les traces du héros qui les dirigeait. “Son gout naturel,” dit son arrière petit-fils, “pour le jardinage se trouvait un peu plus à l'aise que quand il cultivait des pots d'aillets dans sa prison de Vincennes !" La beauté et la symétrie du grand et du petit château ; les bocages, les berceaux, les allées, les jardins, ces eaux si claires, si limpides, si abondantes; ce canal que Condé se plaisait à creuser; ce nombre prodigieux de jets-d'eau qui se faisaient entendre nuit et jour, et qui entretenaient la fraicheur de l'air ; cette forêt immense, si bien percée, si bien alignée-tel est le portrait qu'on nous fait de Chantilly avant la Révolution. Depuis, la plupart de ces merveilles de l'Art ont disparu. Mais la Nature ne cède pas aussi facilement à la violence de l'homme, et sait plus promptement reparer ses ravages ; de nos jours (en Septembre 1841) j'ai encore pu admirer cette forêt vaste et sauvage; ces eaux limpides et jaillissantes ; ces verts peupliers d'Arbèle qui ont pris racine dans les débris du Grand Château, et qui maintenant les entourent de leur ombrage; ces sentiers de pelouse, et ces haies d'aubépine ; ce Petit Château, encore debout, et encore plein des souvenirs de Condé; ces jardins restaurés avec soin, et où les plus beaux orangers, les fleurs les plus brillantes, répandent de nouveau leurs parfums.'—p. 432.

Condé's descendant, in the ` Essai Historique,' states that from early youth to the age of sixty-four he lived in oblivion of all the duties of religion. He never was seen in a church-his conversation was often grossly blasphemous—and when in Hol, land he made great efforts to attach Spinosa to his personal service. In 1679, however, a strong impression was made on him by the pious death and warnings of his sister, who had atoned for the sins of her youth by an old age of penitence; and shortly afterwards, upon a similar parting with another female friend of his early days, he sent for Bossuet, Bourdaloue, and Nicole. Their dealings with him appear to have produced effects satisfactory to their own minds; and the news of Condé's conversion fell like a thunderbolt among the infidels of the court. Voltaire, in the Siècle,' and elsewhere, betrays his soreness on this subject. L'esprit du Prince,' says he, s'affaiblisait avec son corps, et il ne resta rien du grand Condé les deux dernières anneés de sa vie.' But he produces not a shadow of proof for this assertion; and the minute account we have of the closing scene from Gourville, who drew up the Prince's testament the day before he died, and was by his bedside to the last moment, in Lord Mahon's opinion completely refutes it.

The Prince, so harsh a husband, was, it appears, remarkably affectionate and attentive on all occasions to the wives of his son

D'Enghien

D’Enghien and his grandson the young Duke de Bourbon.* The latter was seized with smallpox when with the court at Fontainbleau in December 1686. The moment he heard of her illness the old man, in spite of his infirmities, travelled rapidly to Fontainbleau : but the fatigue of the winter journey proved fatal. Being urged to retire to Paris, he said, .Je sens que je dois faire un plus longue journée,' and immediately summoned bis confessor.

Having tenderly bid adieu to his family and the numerous officers who knelt with them in his chamber, he expired at seven in the evening of the 11th of December. The English Ambassador, Lord Arran, thus writes on the 14th-and one circumstance that he mentions will remind our readers of the deathbed loyalty of Talleyrand ;-"" Le roi avait envoyé demander comment le prince se portait depuis son dernier accès. Lorsque le gentilhomme chargé de ce message entra dans sa chambre, le prince avait déjà perdu la parole; cependant il prit la main du gentilhomme, et la posa sur son coeur, voulant faire entendre qu'il remerciait le roi de cette preuve d'intérêt. Jamais personne ne mourut avec moins de faiblesse ; il resta dans son bon sens jusqu'à son dernier soupir.”'

The funeral oration of Condé is the chef-d'aurre of Bossuet. He was buried at Vallery, by his father and grandfather, but the heart was deposited in the Jesuits' Church of the Rue St. Antoine. The great-grandson states that, on conveying to the same place the heart of a kinsman, he had occasion to see the cases which

preserved there the hearts of many of his ancestors, and that he and all with bim observed that that of the great Condé was double the size of any of the rest.

This large heart dictated one article of the testament which it is pleasing to recollect. Condé bequeathed 50,000 crowns to be distributed among the poor and the sick of the French districts that had suffered most damage during his rebellious campaigns. But he died without exhibiting the least sign of repenting or relenting as to his unhappy wife. On the contrary, there was found among bis papers a sealed letter to the king, in which, recommending his children to his Majesty's protection, he besought him never to recall the lettre du cachet by which the princess was confined to Châteauroux. The mere fact of this cruel legacy seems to us sufficient evidence that Condé did not believe her to be insane; but Madlle. de Montpensier, in relating the circumstance, has language equally irreconcilable with that theory :

J'aurais voulu qu'il n'eut pas prié le roi que madame sa femme demeurât toujours à Châteauroux. J'en suis três-fâchée. Her

* It was at M. de Bourbon's wedding that Condé first appeared with powder, and in the new style of dress introduced by Louis XIV.; till then he had kept his beard and the old Spanish costume-à la Vandyck.

son,

[ocr errors]

son, however, took no step in her favour. We have no account whatever of her end, except that she died in April, 1694. Her remains were torn from the grave by the mob of Châteauroux during the insanity of 1793, and Lord Mahon's researches as to her epitaph only ascertained that the marble on which it was inscribed had been sold to a builder.

When we reviewed the later volumes of our author's · History of England,' we took the liberty of finding fault with him for giving his admirable characters of various eminent persons before the course of his narrative had embraced their actions. On the present occasion his Lordship begins and closes without any attempt whatever 10 sum up the qualities either of Condé or of Clémence. We are sorry for this, but not quite so vain as to try what he has chosen to avoid; and if formal characters may be dispensed with in any biographical work, it is certainly in one where the facts have been compiled and collected with the care and fairness, and commented on, as they occur, with the good sense and good feeling of Lord Mahon.

Art. V.-The Bible in Spain. By George Borrow. London.

1842. 2 vols. 12mo. MR.

R. Borrow's book on the Gipsics of Spain,' published a

couple of years ago, was so much and so well reviewed (though not, to our shame be it said, in our own Journal), that we cannot suppose his name is new to any of our readers. Its literary merits were considerable--but balanced by equal demerits. Nothing more vivid and picturesque than many of its descriptions of scenery and sketches of adventure : nothing more weak and confused than every attempt either at a chain of reasoning, or even a consecutive narrative of events that it included. It was evidently the work of a man of uncommon and highly interesting character and endowments; but as clearly he was quite raw as an original author. The glimpses of a most curious and novel subject that he opened were, however, so very striking, that, on the whole, that book deserved well to make a powerful impression, and could not but excite great hopes that his more practised pen would hereafter produce many things of higher consequence. The present volumes will, we apprehend, go far to justify such anticipations. In point of composition, generally, Mr. Borrow has made a signal advance; but the grand point is, that he seems to have considered and studied himself in the interval ; wisely resolved on steadily avoiding in future the species of efforts in which he had been felt to fail; and on sedulously cultivating and improving the peculiar talents which were as

universally

universally acknowledged to be brilliantly displayed in numerous detached passages of his ‘Gipsies.'

His personal history appears to have been a most strange one --fuller of adventure than anything we are at all familiar with even in modern romance. It is a pity that he has been withheld, by whatever and however commendable feelings, from giving a distinct account of it, at least in its leading features; but we have only hints and allusions, widely scattered and often obscure. He must pardon us, therefore, if in stating our notion of what his life has been, we should fall into some little mistakes.

We infer, then, from various obiter dicta of our author, that he is a native of Norfolk-in which county, in very early days, his curiosity and sympathy were powerfully excited by the Gipsy race; insomuch that he attached himself to the society of some members of the fraternity, and so won on their confidence that they initiated him in their dialect, of which, by degrees, he became quite master, and also communicated to him much of their secret practical lore, especially as regards the training and management of horses.

From Norfolk the young gentleman appears to have gone to Edinburgh, for the purpose of studying in its university. He, we gather, while thus resident in Scotland, not only studied Latin

and Greek and Hebrew with diligence, but made frequent excursions into the Highlands, and, being enthusiastically delighted with the region and the legends of its people, added one more to the very short list of Saxons that have ever acquired any tolerable skill in its ancient language. Whether or not Mr. Borrow also studied medicine at Edinburgh, with a view to the practice of that profession, we do not venture to guess-but that he had attended some of the medical and surgical classes in the university cannot be doubted.

Of the course of his life after the period of adolescence we know scarcely anything, except what is to be inferred from the one fact that he chose to devote himself to the service of the British and Foreign Bible Society, and from the numerous localities which he alludes to as having been visited by him in that occupation, and the most of them, be it observed, so visited that he acquired the free use, in speaking and in writing, of their various dialects. Mr. Borrow, incidentally and unaffectedly (as we conceive), represents himself as able to serve the Society by translating the Scriptures, and expounding them in conversation (he nowhere hints at preaching), in the Persian, the Arabic, the German, the Dutch, the Russian, the Polish; in Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese; and in the varieties of the Gipsy dialect actually in use over almost every part of Europe. Of his complete skill in the Scandinavian languages we cannot doubt, because he published some ten years ago a copious body of

translations

« ElőzőTovább »