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as with the Englishman, coarse and powerful. You may break the glittering ice which covers him, without bringing down upon yourself the swollen and muddy torrent that roars beneath his neighbour;' the stream which will issue from it will only have its petty dribblings, and will return quickly and of itself to its accustomed channel. The Frenchman is mild, naturally refined, little inclined to great or gross sensuality, affecting a sober style of talk, easily armed against filthy manners by his delicacy and good taste. The Count de Grammont has too much wit to love an orgie. After all, an orgie is not pleasant; the breaking of glasses, brawling, lewd talk, gluttony in eating and drinking,—there is nothing in this very tempting to a delicate disposition: the Frenchman, after Grammont's type, is born an epicurean, not a glutton or a drunkard. What he seeks is amusement, not unrestrained joy or bestial pleasure. I know well that he is not void of reproach. I would not trust him with my purse, he forgets too readily the distinction be. tween meum and tuum; above all, I would not trust him with my wife : he is not over-delicate ; his escapades at the gaming-table and with women smack too much of the sharper and the false-swearer. But I am wrong to use these big words in connection with him ; they are too weighty, they crush so delicate and so pretty a specimen of humanity. These heavy habits of honour or shame can only be worn by a serious class of men, and Grammont takes nothing seriously, neither his fellowmen, nor himself, nor vice, nor virtue. To pass his time agreeably is his sole endeavour. “They had said good-bye to dulness in the army,' observed Hamilton, “as soon as he was there.' That is his pride and his aim; he troubles himself, and cares for nothing beside. His valet robs him: another would have brought the rogue to the gallows; but the theft was clever, and he keeps his rascal. He left England forgetting to marry the girl he was betrothed to; he is caught at Dover; he returns and marries her : this was an amusing contretemps; he asks for nothing better. One day, being penniless, he fleeces the Count de Caméran at play. "Could Grammont, after the figure he had once cut, pack off like any common fellow ? By no means; he is a man of feeling; he will maintain the honour of France. He covers his cheating at play with a joke; at bottom, his notions of property are not over-clear. He regales Caméran with Caméran's own money; would Caméran hare done it better, or otherwise ? What matter if his money be in Grammont's purse or his own? The main point is arrived at, since there is pleasure in getting the money, and there is pleasure in spending it. The hateful and the ignoble vanish from a life conducted thus. If he pays his court to princes, you may be sure it is not on his knees ; so lively a soul is not weighed down by respect; his wit places him on a level with the greatest; under pretext of amusing the king, he tells
1 See, in Richardson, Swift, and Fielding, but particularly in Hogarth, the delineation of this brutish debauchery.
him plain truths. If he finds himself in London, surrounded by open debauchery, he does not plunge into it; he passes through on tiptoe, and so daintily that the mire does not stick to him. We do not recognise any longer in his anecdotes the anguish and the brutality which the circumstances actually conceal; the narrative flows on quickly, raising a smile, then another, and another yet, so that the mind is brought by an adroit and easy progress to something like good humour. At table, Grammont will never stuff himself; at play, he will never grow violent; with his mistress, he will never give vent to coarse talk; in a duel, he will not hate his adversary. The wit of a Frenchman is like French wine; it makes men neither brutal, nor wicked, nor gloomy. Such is the spring of these pleasures: a supper will destroy neither the delicacy, nor the good nature, nor the enjoyment. The libertine remains sociable, polished, obliging; his gaiety culminates cnly in the gaiety of others ;2 he is attentive to them as naturally as to himself; and in addition, he is ever on the alert and in a mood for intellectual exertion : sallies, flashes of brilliancy, witty speeches, sparkle on his lips; he can think at table and in company, sometimes better than if alone or sober. It is clear that with him debauchery does not extinguish the man; Grammont would say that it perfects him, that wit, the heart, the intelligence only arrive at excellence and true enjoyment, amid the elegance and animation of a choice supper.
III. It is quite the contrary in England. When we scratch the covering of an Englishman's morality, the brute appears in its violence and its deformity. One of the English statesmen said that with the French au unchained mob could be led by words of humanity and honour, but that in England it was necessary, in order to appease them, to throw to them raw flesh. Violence, blood, orgie, that is the food on which this mob of noblemen precipitated itself. All that excuses a carnival was absent; and, in particular, wit. Three years after the return of the king, Butler published his Hudibras ; and with what éclat his contemporaries only could tell, while the echo is sustained down to our own days. How mean is the wit, with what awkwardness and dulness he dilutes his splenetic satire! Here and there lurks a happy picture, the remnant of a poetry which has just perished; but the whole material of the work reminds one of a Scarron, as unworthy as the other, and more malignant. It is written, they say, on the model of
i The king was playing at backgammon; a doubtful throw occurs: 'Ah, here is Grammont, who 'll decide for us ; Grammont, come and decide.' "Sire, you have lost.' 'What you do not yet know.' ... 'Ah, Sire, if the throw had been merely doubtful, these gentlemen would not have failed to say you had won.'
2 Hamilton says of Graininont, 'He sought out the unfortunate only to succour them.'
Don Quixote; Hudibras is a Puritan knight, who goes about, like his antitype, redressing wrongs, and pocketing beatings. It would be truer to say that it resembles the wretched imitation of Avellaneda. The short metre, well suited to buffoonery, hobbles along without rest on its crutches, floundering in the mud which it delights in, as foul and as dull as that of the Enéide Travestie. The description of Hudibras and his horse occupies the best part of a canto; forty lines are taken up by describing his beard, forty more by describing his shoes. Endless scholastic discussions, arguments as long as those of the Puritans, spread their wastes and briars over half the poem. No action, no nature, all is would-be satire and gross caricature ; neither art, nor harmony, nor good taste: the Puritan style is converted into a harsh gibberish; and the engalled rancour, missing its aim by its mere excess, spoils the portrait it wishes to draw. Would you believe that such a writer gives himself airs, wishes to enliven us, pretends to be funny? What delicate raillery is there in this picture of Hudibras' beard |
. His tawny beard was th' equal grace
Its own grave and the state's were made.'s Butler is so well satisfied with his insipid fun, that he prolongs it for a good many lines :
• Like Samson's heart-breakers, it grew
1 A Spanish author, who continued and imitated Cervantes' Don Quixote.
! A work by Scarron. Hudibras, ed. Z. Grey, 1801, 2 vols., i canto i. v. 289, says also:
. For as Æneas bore his sire
Of his own buttocks on his back.' * ludibras, part i. canto i. v. 241-250.
With red-hot irons to be tortur'd,
Both down together at a blow.'?
• This sword a dagger had, his page,
That was but little for his age ;
Set leeks and onions, and so forth.'? Everything turns on the trivial : if any beauty presents itself, it is spoiled by burlesque. To read those long details of the kitchen, those boisterous and crude jokes, one might fancy oneself in the company of a common buffoon in the market; it is the talk of the quacks on the bridges, adapting their imagination and language to the manners of the beer-shop and the hovel. There is filth to be met with there; in short, the rabble will laugh when the mountebank alludes to the disgusting acts of private life.3 Such is the grotesque stuff in which the courtiers of the Restoration delighted; their spite and their coarseness took a pleasure
1 Hudibras, part i. canto i. v. 253-280.
2 Ibid. v. 375–386. 3. Quoth Hudibras, I smell a rat.
Ralpho, thou dost prevaricate;
Part i. canto i. 0. 821-834.
in the spectacle of these bawling puppets; even now, after two centuries, we hear the ribald laughter of this audience of lackeys.
IV. Charles 11., when at his meals, ostentatiously drew Grammont's attention to the fact that his officers served him on their knees. They were in the right; it was their fit posture. Lord Chancellor Clarendon, one of the most honoured and honest men of the Court, learns suddenly and in full council that his daughter Anne is enceinte by the Duke of York, and that the duke, the king's brother, has promised her marriage. Listen to the words of this tender father; he has himself taken care to hand them down:
• The Chancellor broke out into a very immoderate passion against the wickedness of his daughter, and sail with all imaginable earnestness, “ that as soon as he came home, he would turn her (his daughter) out of his house as a strumpet to shift for herself, and would never see her again."!!
Observe that this great man had received the news from the king unprepared, and that he made use of these fatherly expressions on the spur of the moment. He added, "that he had much rather his daughter should be the duke's whore than his wife.' Is this not heroical ? But let Clarendon speak for himself. Only such a true monarchical heart can surpass itself :
* He was ready to give a positive judgment, in which he hoped their lordships would concur with him; that the king should immediately cause the woman to be sent to the Tower, and to be cast into a dungeon under so strict a guard, that no person living should be admitted to come to her: and then that an act of parliament should be immediately passed for the cutting off her head, to which he would not only give his consent, but would very willingly be the first man that should
What Roman virtue! Afraid of not being believed, he insists; whoever knew the man, will believe that he said all this very heartily. He is not yet satistied; he repeats his advice; he addresses to the king different conclusive reasonings, in order that they might cut off the head of his daughter:
"I had rather submit and bear it (this disgrace) with all humility, than that it should be repaired by making her his wife, the thought whereof I do so much abominate, that I had much rather see her dead, with all the infamy that is due to her presumption.'3 In this manner, a man, who is in a difficulty, can keep his salary and his Chancellor's robes. Sir Charles Berkley, captain of the Duke of York's guards, did better still; he solemnly swore that he bad lain