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royd says of him: “It never occurs to her house, I must remove the misapprehim that she might have refused him, hension which seems to have alarmed and if it was mentioned to him I dare you. I shall visit but not lodge there. I say he would sooner believe a miracle have not the least reason to believe that than the possibility of a sensible woman they think of offering me an apartment, showing such a want of taste.” But in but if they do, I shall certainly refuse defence of Gibbon it must be admitted it, for the sake of my own comfort and that it is difficult to feel a due terror of freedom; so that the husband will be being refused if you are not by any easy, the world will be mute, and my means certain that you will propose. moral character will still preserve its Gibbon must be forgiven for this, as immaculate purity." Mme. Necker forgave him for a far After thus allaying the fears of his greater injury. And after all it is in his stepmother, he goes to Paris and aprelations with Suzanne Curchod–when pears to enjoy himself mightily. He is his disabilities as a lover were most delighted with the reception given him acutely proved—that his qualities as a by the Neckers, which very far surfriend shone most conspicuously. He passed his most sanguine expectations. was her lover for only a short time, but "I do not indeed lodge in their house,” he was her friend for life.
he writes to Mrs. Holroyd, "as it might In 1776 the Neckers visited England, excite the jealousy of the husband and when Gibbon appears to have been a procure me a letter de cachet, but I live most attentive cicerone. Both husband very much with them.” They introand wife pressed him to come and visit duced him to every one worth knowing them in Paris. "I gave her en partant,” in Paris, and he took leave of them in he says, “the most solemn assurances of October with the very greatest regret. following her paws in less than two But as was usual with him, the months, but the voice of Indolence be- “demon of procrastination,” to whom gins to whisper a thousand difficulties,” he ascribes all his shortcomings, preThe voice of Indolence managed to de- vents him writing to his friends, and fer his journey until the spring of the there is apparently no communication following year, but he was then deter- between them until 1781, when Mme. mined to go. Mrs. Gibbon set herself Necker, after reading his four last volagainst the plan and started, he says, umes, writes him a kind of challenge. “two very ingenious objections; first, “I have sulked enough, monsieur, I that I shall be confined, or put to death give myself up at last entirely to the by the priests, and secondly, that I shall pleasure of writing to you, and of readsully my moral character by making ing you, without asking whether the love to Necker's wife."
author of this fine work, if the sublime He found himself obliged to write her genius who has run through the annals a serious letter on the subject:
On the universe, and who seems to have “The constancy and danger of a extracted from all the countries of the twenty years' passion is a subject upon world only the purest perfumes in order which I hardly know how to be serious. to bring them to our senses, whether, I I am ignorant what effect that period say, this astonishing man ignores, like of time has produced upon me, but I do all other lovers of glory, the charms and assure you that it has committed very the duties of friendship, whether this great ravages upon the lady, and that at lively and ardent imagination is joined present she is very far from being an to a cold and lazy character, whether object either of desire or scandal. As a his tastes vary with his opportunities, woman of talents and fortune she is at and whether he only absorbs color from the head of the literature of Paris, the the rays which he decomposes; in fact, station of her husband procures her whether his affections are like his respect from the first people of the books, which interest and amuse him country, and the reception which I shall while he is reading them, and which meet with in her house will give me ad- make way for others, soon replaced in vantages that have fallen to the share their turn; I want to know nothing of few Englishmen. When I mention about all this, and
exclaim sometimes, what! even in talk, and at this stage in his career I. friendship! But do not think that you feel convinced that Mme. Necker liswill get quit of the affair by being left tened to him, more than he listo your indifference. Although I am tened to her. We heari “that his conabsorbed in the objects
most versation was not indeed what Dr. tender attachments, the sensibility Johnson would have called talk. There which I received from Nature permits was no interchange of ideas, for no one of other ties. My spirit only exists in had a chance of replying, so fugitive, so loving, and still searches beyond her variable was his mode of discoursing, circle for new means of existing; I which consisted of points, anecdotes, wish therefore that you would keep me and epigrammatic thrusts.” feeling for me which you promised you
Mme. Necker, as the twilight began to would have; I have counted it in the fade, would perhaps use an interval, sum of my happiness, and-I know you when Mr. Gibbon tapped his snuff-box, -you will feel some affection for me to send for some tea, and then, in the when you see me again, and you will cool of the evening, she and her husnot be convinced of your faults until band would accompany the historian you no longer have any."
back to his terrace. Several friends And later on in this same letter she would drop in—the Severays, Mr. Tissot, urges him to come and settle in France. the sprightly Mlle. Necker, who had
"You ought not to return to a country been spending the afternoon with some where you will search in vain for the other friends, perhaps the Abbé Raynal, sweet illusions of your youth. I some- and after strolling up and down on the times let my thoughts stray to those terrace—which Mme. Necker, painfully places once so dear, and, since they are
addicted to classical allusion, probably no longer peopled for me, I only look likened to the Sacred Hill, or to the upon them as on the playthings of my Acropolis-herself to a disciple, Gibbon childhood. You are in the arms of to Socrates—they would turn indoors. glory, come to a people who adore her, The tables would be all ready, and after or, if the times do not seem favorable playing cards, a small and—as Mr. Gibto you, let us not lose sight of that bon would have called it-an elegant peaceful retreat, where we ought to be repast would be served, all carefully together, there to await between study superintended by Monsieur Deyvurdun, and friendship the gentle close of Gibbon liked to hope that he should beautiful enough day; live in your own spend many such weeks staying with country or live with us. Every one
his friends at Copet, but he was anxious here talks of you, monsieur, with an- about her health, and took leave of her noyance, or with praise; your silence is with a strong feeling that he should your kult, as soon as you speak it will
see her again. Mme. Ne er, be forgotten."
however, recovered. In 1788 her husHow little Mme. Necker thought then band was recalled to office, dismissed that political changes would not only in '89, recalled six days later, and finally determine Gibbon to settle abroad, but dismissed again in 1790. It was in 1792 would send her and her husband to that Gibbon at last realized his project within a few leagues of him.
of going to stay with his friends. He In 1783 Gibbon took up his final abode writes to Lord Sheffield as follows:at Lausanne, and in 1784, three years
“I have most successfully, and most after Mons. Necker's dismissal from agreeably, executed my plan of spendoffice, he and his wife spent a summer
ing the month of March at Geneva, in at the Gates of Lausanne, while their the Necker house, and every circumnew purchase, the Barony of Copet, was stance that I had arranged turned out under repair. One can imagine how beyond my expectation; the freedom of often Gibbon after his studious morn- the morning, the society of the table ing, and his meal at two, would waddle and the drawing-room, from half an out on a round of visits, and towards hour past two till six or seven; an evensundown make for the Neckers' house.
1 Bland Burgey Bart., Letters and CorrespondThe evening would then be spent in
ence, p. 59-61.
ing assembly and card-party, in a round And again: of the best company, and, except one “Come back to us when you have day in the week, a private supper of come back to yourself; it is the moment free and friendly conversation.”
which ought always to belong to your At the risk of wearying, I cannot re- first and to your last friend. I could not frain from quoting a letter of Mme. say now which of these two titles is the Necker's, written when the memory of sweetest and dearest to my heart.” these meetings at Lausanne must have But in little more than a year this been present in her mind, and in which long and tender friendship was disshe urges him to come and visit her at solved by death. Gibbon had grown to Copet.
a cumbersome size, and though he “We often think, monsieur, of the talked vaguely of paying another visit days full of charm which we spent with to England, it is certain that but for the you at Geneva. I experienced during death of Lady Sheffield he would never that time a new feeling for me, and per- again have crossed the sea. For alhąps for many people. I united in the though he did not realize it, his own same place, and by a favor of malady was growing apace. Europe providence, one of the tender and pure was in flames, and there was a positive affections of my youth with that one danger in attempting the journey to which shapes my lot in life, and which England. But these considerations did makes it so worthy of envy. This pe- not weigh for one moment with Gibbon culiarity, joined to the delight of a con- when it was a question of his friend in versation without its equal, created a trouble. He was just about to write to sort of enchantment for me; and the Lord Sheffield, “after too long a siconnection of the past and the present lence," when he was suddenly struck, made my days seem like a dream which "indeed, struck to the heart, by the fatal had issued from the ivory door to con- intelligence" of Lady Sheffield's deathsole mankind."
his sister, as he often used to call her. In spite of the classical allusion, this He at once proposed to start for passage speaks a very warm feeling, England. and a little later on in the same letter "The only consolation in these melanshe exclaims, apropos of the confidence choly trials to which human life is eshe had made her about writing his own posed—the only one, at least, in which memoirs:
I have any confidence is the presence “Good-bye, monsieur; no one in the of a real friend; and of that, as far as world has more reason than you to up- it depends upon myself, you shall not be derstand the value of that unique com- destitute.” bination of the most brilliant and most He arrived in England on one of the gifted intellect, with the sweetest and first days in June, and spent-except for most steadfast of characters, and one a fortnight in Bath, a visit to Althorpe, might well say of you what Cicero"- and a few days in London—the whole of but I will spare my readers another the rest of his life with “the precious classical allusion. This letter was writ. remnant” of his old and dear friends. ten in June, 1792, and again in July of In December the news of his serious the same year she writes imploring him state had reached Lausanne where the to come:
Neckers were at that moment staying. “Come to Copet, provided that our She had written to him in July in great happiness does not deprive you of anxiety about his journey: “You promyours; but if habit is against us it can ised me from Dover, monsieur, a letter also be favorable to us, for the inter by the next courier; I am still waiting
between different souls and for it, and each day with more anguish. minds becomes very like habit, which I consume myself with disquieting conis at least one of its most delightful re- jectures. One must be just; you could sults, and a liaison that began almost as not think of us as often as we do when soon as thought, is to be preferred be- we draw you close to our hearts. In fore one which you have formed with London everything leads
to your furniture and rooms."
thoughts of this world, while every
thing turns us from them here; when swer this last letter of hers; but she near you the memories which you had the memory of a long and recalled
sweet to me, and chequered friendship, and the referthe current thoughts which you awak- ences to her in his memoirs were probened were joined to them without pain; ably not so much a surprise to her as a the linking of a great number of years great pleasure and gratification. One seemed to make all periods touch each can imagine her mingled sensations on other with an electric rapidity; you reading the following passage:-. were twenty years old and fifty at the “The report of such a prodigy awak. same time to me; away from you the ened my curiosity; I saw and loved. I different places which I have lived in found her learned without pedantry, are no more than the milestones of my lively in conversation, pure in sentilife; they tell me of all the miles which ment, and elegant in manners; and the I have already covered.”
first sudden emotion was fortified by Her anxiety was increased tenfold the habits and knowledge of a more when she heard of his illness, and the familiar acquaintance.” last letter which she ever wrote to him And although her pride and her pleascontains, perhaps, the strongest expres- ure lay probably more in the memory of sion of her deep and abiding affection:- their friendship than in that of their
"I cannot express to you, monsieur, brief love affair, she may have been the shock which this unexpected news relieved to hear that she was the only about you was to me. In vain did M. de woman he had ever really thought of Sévery surround it with all the moral- marrying. izing which might divert
sad “Shall I add that, since the failure of thoughts; your courage, your gaiety, my first wishes, I have never enteryour amenity, all these qualities, so tained any serious thoughts of a matrilovable in old days, weigh upon my monial connection.” heart, together with the other causes
EDITH LYTTELTON. which I have to cherish you. The twilight of our life is indeed covered with clouds, if friendship itself, the sweet friendship in which we found a shelter,
From The Cornhill Magazine. actually becomes a centre of a grief
WIT OF THE REGENCY: LORD which reverberates in every part of my
ALVANLEY. being. I shall say no more, monsieur,
We know not whether Lord Alvanley my weakness ill matches your heroism, is to be congratulated or condoled with and it is only in talking to you of your- in having flourished two generations self that we can stop talking of you to
ago. Had he been a celebrity of the each other. We are at Lausanne; we
present day, he might have fallen into regret you at the dawn of day, and
the fashion and written his autobiogabove all at sunset; for it was then that we were accustomed to see you enter raphy—the rather that he had pressing our solitary hive, charged with the
pecuniary inducements thereto. Or he
would have infallibly been the subject honey which you had collected else
or victim of the versatile biographer, where, but richer still with that which flowed from your lips. At the same
inspired by the enterprising publisher. time I congratulate myself on being
Any capable writer would have found here, in reach of news of you; I saw
sufficient materials in social gossip and your last bulletin, and I hope you will
stories in general circulation, and a go on with the same exactitude, for you
Boswell, a Lockhart, or a Trevelyan know how much your friends suffer,
would have made a most fascinating and you have none of that tigerish book. Moreover, Alvanley offered an nature, which has become so familiar inciting study of a character in which to us."
contrasts and inconsistencies Gibbon died on January 16th, 1794, in strangely blended; but the opportunity London, so that the two friends never is lost, for much has been forgotten. He met again. He probably could not an- has left few written evidences of his
talent, though there is far more in his to be the idler and voluptuary when he casual correspondence than is generally might have been anything he pleased. suspected. A fashionable Boswell, one His keen insight into affairs, his of the great viveur's favorite boon com- shrewd knowledge of men, his tact, his panions, should have noted his table geniality, and the readiness of repartee talk, and caught the exquisite butevan- which would have been readiest in deescent bouquet of his sparkling wit. bate, might have made him a The reminiscences should have been manding personality among statesmen. gathered besides from the lips of the In the post of foreign secretary he men who marvelled at the eccentrici- might have been a Palmerston, or le ties and extravagances they sought to might have led the House with the imitate, although they not only treas- good humor of a Lord North, and with ured his innumerable bons mots, but far wider political wisdom. He inherattributed to him anything good which ited more than the paternal talent, but went ownerless. Like Talleyrand, he unluckily his father had gone before stood sponsor to many things he never him. He succeeded to a peerage and said. It was his misfortune from his a fortune of eight thousand pounds a youth upwards to be admired and en- year, and that fortune he set himself vied as an Admirable Crichton, and we industriously to dissipate. see in his letters that in solitude and For it is noteworthy that Alvanley, in sober moments he often lamented a like other contemporary arbiters of wasted life. He was the man of fash- fashion who were consulting counsel of ion par excellence, a wit, a bon vivant the autocratic patronesses of Almack's, who reigned supreme among the epi- could boast of no illustrious descent. cures, and was the idol of the clubs. The noble beaux who acknowledged Yet he was no effeminate sy barite, for his supremacy would have called him a he was foremost 'in the first flight in the parvenu. His grandfather was only a shires. His very follies and vices were provincial solicitor, and his father, the such as commended him to the respect successful lawyer, founded the shortof the society of the day. He was the lived family. It would have been well most free-handed and generous of men;
had the son inherited some of the enhe was the most venturesome of gam- ergy of the father's temperament. No blers at Crockford's or Watier's, where lawyer threw himself so earnestly into he always lost or won like a gentle- the cases he advocated as the elder man; and he was famous for his suc- Arden. On one occasion an English cesses with the fair sex, who were flat- friend had taken a French gentleman tered by his careless though courteous into court to witness the proceedings. attentions. Moreover, he was not with- Arden chanced to be pleading with his out cultivation; he
usual vehement passion. The Frenchplished linguist, an excellent classical man asked his name, and was told it scholar, and had done a good deal of was Sir Pepper Arden. “Parbleu il casual reading, even in such abstruse est très bien nommé,” was the answer, subjects as political economy. Like “Le Chevalier Poivre Ardent." The Brougham, he had the knack of crack- second Lord Alvanley was seldom seen ing the kernel of the nut, and the art out of temper, and never betrayed into of making the most of anything he any loss of self-control. He is said to knew. We suspect that these triumphs have had an exquisite charm of manand the false glitter of his social repu- ner, which was rather enhanced by the tation were often gall and bitterness to slight lisp which gave point to his sarhim when he had time to reflect. With casms and pleasantries. When he came his brilliant intelligence, and an ambi- on town as a mere youth, with a comtion paralyzed by constitutional men- mission in the Coldstreams, he slipped tal indolence, he must have been con- at once into a recognized place in sociscious that he had wasted rare oppor- ety. By way of interlude, he served tunities. He had deliberately chosen with distinction at Copenhagen and in