« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
vous une adorable créature.") The young people rehearse and coquet and amuse themselves very well indeed. M. de Bellegarde and Madame d'Escla. velles permit the frivolity in the hor that it may distract Louise from the melancholy thoughts of her husband's infidelity.
She is sufficiently distracted, it seems. The play is a comedy entitled “L'Engagement téméraire;” and one night Francueil presents to the troupe the author, one Jean-Jacques Rousseau, “as poor as Job, and with wit and vanity enough for four.” Rousseau is at this time thirty-seven years old-coward, liar, sensualist, genius. It is only the genius which Madame d'Epinay and her friends regard. That covers all sins. The charming comédiennes flatter him, no doubt, to the top of his bent, and he answers them after his kind, with brutality and insult, so that they must needs worship the more. Through his comedy runs all the time that other comedy of the loves of Francueil and Louise, and in the background, watching always, Mademoiselle d'Ette writes her view of the proceedings to her Chevalier Vallory.
Among the easy lies which steal into these Memoirs of Madame d'Epinay there are, most naturally, also many suppressions of fact. In 1750 is born her daughter Pauline, whom Madame, with but too good reasons, tries to confuse with the child born in 1747. But if it is the consequences of evil-doing which ruin reputation, it is the evil itself which ruins the soul. It seems to matter very little whether in such a case Madame speaks the truth or not. The sin is sinned.
It is in this same year that Louise is introduced to the society of Mademoi. selle Quinault. The Quinault is a wit, entirely without a moral sense and with a taste for clever company and doubtful jokes. Francueil calls her "la Ninon du siècle." At her house, twice
a week, meet a little party as clever as any in Paris. Here, one night is M. Duclos, who is to be Secretary of the Academy and historiographer of
ance, and who is already the man who can, or at any rate does, say anything-trenchant, despotic, domineering. Here is the Marquis de Saint-Lambertsoldier, poet, philosopher, cultivated man of the world, and lover of that Madame d'Houdetot, Louise's sister-inlaw, who is afterwards the original of Rousseau's "Julie" in "Héloise." Louise herself brings to the party (“we were only five") youth, charm, sympathy; that engaging weakness that always makes her agree with the last speaker; and that accommodating conscience that is hurt by no vileness prettily expressed. The Quinault's little niece is sent away at the dessert. One wants to say everything that comes into one's head. The hostess is not going to have any 'restriction on her coarse pleasantries. When the conversation turns on the decency of going without clothes, Louise weakly thinks for a minute the subject a little unsuitable but then, M. de St.-Lambert puts into it reflections so grave, so exalted!" The remark is inimitably characteristic of the woman. A little new poem by Voltaire is introduced presently-on whose merits the little gathering differs charmingly-and another evening, when Rousseau is of the company, they discuss atheism. They touch all subjects with a cleverness not a little seductive and extraordinary, and express their theories with such a brilliancy that there is no wonder that the theorists as well as their listeners are too dazzled to see the truth. It is only Rousseau (though he is a beast, he has something of the freedom and naturalness of a beast of the field) who brings into this world of shams and artifices that enthusiastic earnestness which characterizes all his emotions while they last.
“As for me,” says he, “I believe in
God.” And when St.-Lambert speaks spy?.
I have so many reasons to of such a faith as the origin of all the suspect her.” follies, “Messieurs," says Rousseau, At a supper party at Madame Jully's, “if you say another word, I go.” And Francueil, who is intoxicated, drops a later, “I cannot bear this rage for de- note Louise has given him in front of struction... The idea of a God is M. d'Epinay. The hostess, who has had necessary to happiness."
on her own account a pretty little ex. Louise is on the side of faith, too. But perience in intrigue, picks up the note “we only believe as deep as we live" and saves the situation. It is thought after all. She has a charming fit of re- that M. d'Epinay has incited Francueil pentance presently for her poor, light, to drink in order that he may make adlittle life; confesses all the "chagrins missions derogatory to Louise. It may que m'avait donné mon mari" to the be true, perhaps. In this society nothAbbé Martin; for a few days wants ing is too vile to be possible. Madame's dreadfully to be a Carmelite, and is a intimates are now Rousseau, Gauffelittle deterred from the plan by the court, Duclos, Madame de Jully, ChevaAbbé telling her that God is not to be lier Vallory and Mademoiselle d'Ette. made a pis aller, and a great deal de- In that list there is no person clean, terred by the fact that the world (where honorable or virtuous. It is not until says M. Martin, lies her duty) is really Rousseau introduces Grimm to the parmore attractive after all.
ty (though even Grimm, Heaven knows, By this time M. d'Epinay's extrava- does not reach an over-exalted standard gances have necessitated a séparation of moral perfection) that one feels one de biens between husband and wife. can breathe at all in that tainted air. Madame now begins to receive her
Grimm is at this time still a young friends regularly twice a week for man. He is the friend of Holbach and music, and to read or play comedies. Diderot, as well as of Rousseau. He Duclos comes to stay at La Chevrette, is of German extraction with some of half falls in love with Louise and gets the solidity of the Teutonic character, her quite into his coarse power by combined with the taste and polish of making her tell him the story of her the Frenchman. He is already an love for Francueil. Mademoiselle habitué of the salons of Madame Geofd'Ette, who is still hez Epinay, hates frin and the Duke of Orleans. He is Duclos, and fights him, as it were, for the favorite of Catharine of Russia, and the mastery over the little Madame. has begun his “Correspondance LittéLouise is the shuttlecock between two raire.” In character he seems to be players. If she were a good woman her strong, melancholy and reserved-the weakness would ruin her past hope.
man who is, as it were, always supeAs it is
rior to the situation, hard and excellent Francueil grows cold
presently, in counsel, fixed in idea, cool and wise which, with his temperament, might in judgment, firm, clear-seeing and am. very well have been expected. Louise bitious. weeps over his coldness to Mademoi- Since Louise has now broken with her selle d'Ette, looks up through tears, lover, as her lover, it is inevitable that and sees-or thinks she sees-that
she should fall under a new command. Mademoiselle herself has a passion for It would seem to be in the nature of Francueil. Louise is soon writing (very
the noblest women, as the weakest, likely not at all unjustly) of that dear. never to know rest or happiness until est confidante and bosom friend: "Who they have met their master. Only in knows if she is not now my husband's the one case it is too hard to ind him, and in the other too easy. One may be than the beasts in his instincts, and thankful that it is Grimm who now with aspirations reaching to the gods. dominates this little Madame, instead Here he is, very vile, but not wholly of another d'Epinay or a Francueil. vile; mixed in the basest intrigues, vain,
She begins by asking him to her con- mad, morbid, lying, treacherous, and certs. He has a passionate love of yet with ideals not all ignoble, and a music, as well as that cultivated taste rugged earnestness not to be denied. for art, science and literature. One Madame's pleasure at being so nearly night he hears her name insulted, fights in touch with a celebrity can never be a duel for its honor (alas! poor, soiled quite unalloyed. The celebrity is, from little name), is wounded and has earned the first, consistently rude and ungrateher gratitude forever. Duclos, who tyr- ful, taking offence where no offence is annizes over her, hates Grimm, as may meant, piqued, childish, ridiculous, and be imagined. Francueil, who still visits obstinately seeing the world en noir. at La Chevrette, may be, in his heart, To La Chevrette come constantly Desnot too much his friend. “But," says mahis, Saint-Lambert, Gauffecourt, Mon. Madame, easily; "we led a very charm- sieur Jully. Louise, gaily playful, calls ing life.”
M. de Francueil came as them “mes ours;" and Grimm her "Tyoften as M. Grimm. "Ils se partageaint ran Le Blanc." "Tyran Le Blanc" is même de fort bon accord les soins qu'ils called away presently by his duties; voulaient bien se donner
and Louise, on some ill-fated day, instruction - de mes enfants." There is troduces that charming sister-in-law of no sentence in history, perhaps, which hers, Madame d'Houdetot, at the Herreveals so total a depravity of all moral mitage. sense as this one. It is Grimm, but not Hitherto the relationship between the Louise, who does at last object to the Hermit and Madame d'Epinay has been situation, and, having forced her to a kind of coquettish friendship. - If quarrel with Duclos, suggests that Rousseau is a little bit in love with Francueil shall no longer be a guest at Madame (and he always falls in love her house.
-save the mark!-with any woman With her connection with Grimm (it with whom he is brought much in conlasts till her death) begins the least un- tact), Louise, for all her "Tyran Le worthy part of her life. If he loves her Blanc,” is not the woman to object to he loves his career and ambition better. the admiration. It seems pretty cerBut he rules her. And on her side she tain that she feels a little betrayed has that wholesome fear of him which when Jean-Jacques finds in the sister-often keeps a fickle nature constant. in-law the Julie of his "Nouvelle He
It is in 1756 that Madame d'Epinay loïse" in the flesh, and worships at the offers Rousseau the famous "Hermit- shrine of a woman who is neither mod. age"—the little house situated near La ish nor beautiful, and is already proChevrette, on the borders of the forest vided (though, to be sure, that does not of Montmorency, and belonging to M. count much in these times) with both d'Epinay. Rousseau responds to the husband and lover: Louise is thrown offer after this manner: "Do you want back upon herself. There is a coldness. to make me a valet, a dependent, with Then she sends Rousseau some flannel your gift?” says he—and takes it. for a waistcoat-to restore warmth one
Madame has now the satisfaction of may suppose. There is a deeper cold. seeing every day the greatest scoun- ness. Then an angry flame about a drel and genius of the time. Here is letter. If there is anything duller than the man at once mean and great, lower details of old intrigues it is the details
of old quarrels. It may be safely as- and aptly described as one of those sumed that Rousseau is in the wrong women "who write moral treatises on (he has a talent for being in that posi- education in the brief leisure left them tion) and that Louise is inconsequent by their lovers.") She establishes herand imprudent as usual.
self then at Geneva under Tronchin, well pity her. Her Tyrant has joined and lives there a life very modest and the army at the bidding of the Duke of simple. She has her mornings to herOrleans. She writes to him that when self, dines en famille, and after dinner he is with her he inspires her with that receives till seven or eight. She walks feeling of security which a child has a good deal in the public gardens. She resting on its mother's breast. There has always been fond of walking, and are a thousand dangers and difficulties Tronchin, who is greatly in advance of about her loneliness. Her father-in- his age in his views upon health, recomlaw, who cared for her, is dead. She mends the exercise to his lazy and has certainly no wisdom or judgment ladylike patients. The little society of her own to rely on. She impetuous- of Geneva is very pleasant and honest, ly confides in everybody, as she lias Madame finds. One plays cards, does always done, and her confidences are, needlework, has a little music, takes very naturally, betrayed. She is sup. tea after the English fashion, and visits posed to inform the Marquis de Salut- one's friends in the afternoons. Isn't Lambert of Rousseau's passion for his this better than La Chevrette and mistress. Perhaps she really does; she Mademoiselle d'Ette (Madame has comdenies the insinuation so warmly. pletely broken with the d'Ette by now), Everybody seems to get mixed up in and the uneasy years of intrigue and the quarrel, and all act after their owu passion that made up her youth? natures, which are bad. Its first ve. When Grimm comes to Geneva for hemence dies out a little. But Rous- an eight months' stay, during which he seau, who still keeps her gift—the Her- and Louise work together at the “Cormitage-defames the giver with respondance Littéraire,” she is perhaps matchless foulness in his “Confes- as happy as she has ever been in her sions." From that effect of her folly, life. She presently makes the acquaineven Grimm (who, from his letters, tance of Voltaire, who calls her his would seein to be the only person who Beautiful Philosopher, and plays with brings any reason and common sense her (all men regard Louise as a clever into the dispute) cannot save her. All little toy, it seems) when she becomes a the time Madame has been writing bini constant visitor at Les Délices, while plaintive little lying letters (giving her she, on her side, speaks of that "with. own convenient, plausible views of the ered Pontiff of Encyclopædism" situation and her conducti, which de- more amiable, more gay and more ex. ceive herself, but not her lorer or the travagant than at fifteen. world.
When she returns to Paris, after an In 1757 she goes to General, partly on absence of two years, Rousseau has account of money troubles and partly left the Hermitage. Grimm has been to consult the famous Dr. Troncbin. nominated envoy to Frankfort, and she She leaves Grimin behind ber, at var finds a resource from boredom and soliwith Rousseau :ad -vising the firs: tude in the friendship of Diderot and volumes of the famous Encyclopædia the Salon of Baron Holbach, and that with Diderot. With her go her son and "Correspondance Littéraire,” which is Linant, his tutor. (Louise is always a Grimm's true title to glory, and which good mother, according to her lights, has as its aim to render foreign princes
an account of the art, science, litera- tice leads to Candeille, Goddess of Reature, wit and mental progress of Paris. son. To this Salon comes almost the Madame d'Epinay is now past youth. whole diplomatic corps.
Baron GleiHer mother is dead. Her daughter, chen, Lord Stormont (the Ambassador Pauline, is married. M. d'Epinay, of of Great Britain), Caraccioli, Diderot, whom Diderot says that he ran through Galiani and the ill-fated Marquis de two millions of money without saying Mora, are here almost
every night. a kind word or doing a good action to Louise listens equally charmingly to anybody, is completely bankrupt. Ma- them all. Is she a humbug? Hardly. dame takes a very small house, estab- She has only that most dangerous gift lishes her Salon, and reconquers that --the power of seeing things exactly world, which through bad health, dam- as the last speaker sees them. When aged reputation and long absence she this man is talking philosophy to her has lost. She is now, perhaps, both she is an impassioned philosopher. With morally and mentally her best. The a theologian she has a culte for religquick temptations of youth have left ions. To be sympathetic it is not necesher. And this is the woman, alas! who sary to know much of a man's work is only good when there is no incite- and aims, but essential to catch his enment to be bad. It must be said of her thusiasm for them, to respond to fervor that she has shown not a little pluck with fervor, and to realize that what and spirit in the face of poverty and one's dearest hope is to oneself this difficulties. Her fickleness has Grimm's man's career or philosophy or ambistrength to support it. Her sympathy tion is to him. with literature makes an honest inter- If even Madame d'Epinay has this est for her. If she is still something of gift in a less degree than some of her the gay little liar, bright, volatile, in- rival Salonières, that she has it in a triguing, who began the world very marked degree is not to be doubtLouise d'Esclavelles, that is because
ed. life, though it develops character, sel- In the early days of 1775 appear in dom alters it.
print her "Conversations d'Emilie," The Salon of Madame d'Epinay has which are, in fact, literal reproductions that characteristic common to nearly of conversations she has had with a all the Salons—its presiding genius is certain dear little granddaughter, her neither young, beautiful, wealthy, nor daughter's child. The book, though it even well educated.
is really a book of education, is only A woman, in fact, always influences another proof that nature and naturalnot by how much she knows, but by
are always delightful. Little how much she feels. In the gatherings Emilie's replies have the innocent of this little Louise, at any rate, the
naïveté of childhood and all the freshgravest subjects are discussed and ness of truth. Madame d'Epinay's threshed out. After the ivresse and talent as a writer is, indeed, like the folly of the Regency, gravity has sud- literary talent of nearly all women, denly become the mode. The most and lies in this work, as in her “Mefrivolous women are profoundly ab- moirs," in reproduction and observasorbed in political economy and phi
tion, and not in invention. "Emilie" is lanthropy. Philosophic ideas are daily smiled on by Voltaire in his old age at gaining ground. To-day one is evolv- Ferney, and by that cleverest of woming a new religion-some fine religion en, the Empress Catharine of Russia. of Humanity, which works out beauti- Diderot, Grimm, Gleichen and Galiani fully in talk or on paper, and in prac- praise its gaiety and originality, and,