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ODE TO MR. OWEN.
« On sera ridicule, et je n'oserai rire ?"-BOILEAU.
Oh, Mr. Owen, oh!
When shall thy moonish course a boundary know?
Folly's Philosopher, Absurdity's High Priest,
Windy purveyor of a Barmecidal feast !
And barbarous dreams,
Lose in thine eyes
Hope's flattering dyes,
And semblance of facility ?
Prose Crabbe of human kind,
Thy grade is retrograde!
Cashier the money-trade,
Whilst gaunt Derision standing by,
With mouth awry,
“ Do without gold ?"
Of upward growth,
virtues and its passions both)
Deem'st thou it ever can
For this we must admit,
If others thou dost cheat, Thou dost to others as unto thyself!
Gentle Destructive, Leveller benign,
What very odd complacency is thine !
For thee alone
And from her special hands,
Outvying thy demands,
That bait supreme,
Oh! wondrous dream,
With how much wisdom grac'd,
Make all things common, merit to advance,
By tuneless fiddling regulate our taste,
And there turn cold ?
And split up into equal parts ?
And all the throbbings of all human hearts
The harness of thy system
Oh! that like these
Thy pleadings win applause,
'Tis from a simple cause--
And so thou shalt,
Chaos is come again,
And figs on thistles caught,
When property shall lose each proper tie,
And moles shall fly;
And hearts turn cabbages,
Like Babbage's ;
every mountain shall become a plain;
But not before !
D. GLIMPSES OF LAFAYETTE, AND OF A FEW OF
I HAVE just heard that Lafayette is dead ;—the hero of two worlds, of three generations; the honestest man of his time, and that time including more than one era; a true resuscitation of the lover of liberty of old. Since I lately looked over Washington's letters, I do not think quite as much-perhaps I mean I do not feel quite as much-as I used to do about the American Cincinnatus. It would be too long to stop and tell why,-only I do not: so let it pass. This morning, May the 20th, 1834, at five o'clock, Lafayette died; and not France, nor England, nor America, to say nothing of the half-advanced countries of the globe, can point to an individual of their people, and say—“ That is a political man, as purely impressed with the love of liberty, and of the human race, as was he whom we have just lost.”
But it is not my business to dwell upon the public character and virtues of Lafayette; both are either too well known, or will soon be too ably set forth, to require my sketchy notices of them. I only ask to mention something of the man-very little indeed—which I picked up personally, and not during prolonged opportunities for observing him.
I came last to Paris in 1833, on the eve of the commemoration of “ The Three Days." He was then, and for some time had been, at his Roman farm, La Grange, some distance from the metropolis; and this I selfishly regretted, because I had hoped for a chance of seeing him at some friend's soirée, had he continued at his house, Rue d'Anjou St. Honoré; and now that such an accidental meeting seemed impossible, in consequence of the short stay I proposed to make in Paris, I despaired of ever fixing my eyes on the person of my earliest beau idéal of living honour and true greatness.
Great were my surprise, and pleasure, and fuss, at receiving, one morning soon after, a visit from two American ladies, sisters, esteemed friends of Lafayette, with an intimation that, having just arrived from the country, on business in Paris, he proposed calling to see me at halfpast one; and, as I was an invalid, another lady had sent them out from town—beyond a barrier, indeed—to tell me not to be too ill to receive him; and that lady was to come with him, and introduce us.
I was, in fact, ill enough in bed; but contrived, however, to be up, and on my sofa,- the best shift for an interview I could make then, or can now,-before the time named.
He came punctually with the lady. But, in all deference to Lafayette and to his memory, I will venture, before I speak of him, to say a word of her. She is the widow of Benjamin Constant, one of Lafayette's dearest and oldest friends : she is worthy of having been the wife of such a man. Lafayette, after her husband's death, distinguished her by, if possible, an increase of his former respect and affection; and (though the climax is very lamely made out) she has been most kind to myself ;-and, for all these reasons, I take the liberty of alluding to her in the first instance.
I had the honour of meeting Madame Constant, for the first time, out of her own house, and then I was at once struck with the feminine grace and motherly cordiality of her manner; with the variety and originality of her mind; with her feeling; with her smile; and with the peculiar expression of her mouth, which, whether smiling, or serious, or saddened, reminded me of that of a beloved and lost parent.
She left my side ; and I was longing, in my heart, to meet her soon again at some other place, and wishing she might like me enough to long for me in a similar way, when, after having been introduced to my wife in another room, she returned to me with her, to make, as she said, a petition ; and this petition was, that we would waive ceremony, and come to her the next evening. Expressing the sincere pleasure I felt, I readily assented. Victor Hugo, and other sights, might be with her; but though curious after show-animals, I confess the chief magnet to her salon was herself. She knew it was my privilege, though no great one to boast of, to contrive to get into a room before any one else, in order to secure a quiet stretch on a sofa ; and she accordingly pressed me to come very, very early, which I did.
With the exception of the adhesive third person, whom, unfortunately, a married man can scarce ever shake off, we were, therefore, more than an hour alone; and I would not, upon any account, have been well enough to have forfeited the gratification thus afforded to me. It is sometimes a pleasant thing enough, particularly when a kind-hearted woman is concerned, not to be in rude, blustering, striding, impertinent, good health. A clever, good-natured, cranky little Irish doctor suggests, after not curing me, that I could get about very well if I liked; but that one of my reasons for continuing to pretend to ill health is, that I may retain the kind of sympathy to which I have alluded,—just as the negroes say that the monkeys won't talk, for fear they should be made to work. God bless him and them !
If I had liked Madame Constant out of her own house, much, much more did I like her in it. She spoke directly and unaffectedly of what she believed I should most wish to hear under the roof which then covered me-of her husband, his talents, his virtues, his philosophical and political creeds, his amiable peculiarities; and of his friends. The roaring of the Paris cannon, re-echoing to him in his retreat in the country, seemed to add years to his life, she said. He immediately started for Paris ; clambered, with youth's vivacity, over the triumphal barricades; but when he found, some time after, the turn that things were taking--when he saw that for his large views, and for those of his party, the barricades had been erected in vain—" From that day,” said his widow, “my husband never raised his head. The doctors, indeed, treated him for a disease of the spinal chord; but he had no such malady
- he died of—the heart.” And then, with moistened eyes, she prayed of me not to let them dose me, and douche me, and blister me, and burn me, for my own case; an advice which, to my sorrow, I have not had the courage to adopt.
She spoke of his literary works, and mentioned that, of all the lighter ones, Adolphe” had cost him most care, and was his favourite ; that at her instance, (if I rightly recollect,) he had suppressed a good portion of writing which originally was to have formed part of that work, and which contained in itself a separate story and interest; and that it was her intention, some day, to give to the world the valuable fragment. Of his friends I shall only say here, that at their head
was Lafayette. It would be impossible to repeat what she said of the affection existing between those two great men; an affection, up to the moment of Constant's death, truly juvenile in its moral development, though so venerable from their years.
" But there was no one who knew him that did not love him," she said ; and she went on, till she had pointed out, as illustrations of this assertion, his sad-faced valet who entered the room at that moment; and last, though not least, his glossy, well-brushed, over-fed Angola cat, which, by the way, I have for some time seen parading, and marching, and clambering about the room, over carpet, and arm-chairs, and sofas, and tables of knick-knackerynay, even over tables which upheld more precious ornaments—just as if she were the mistress of the house—ay, and a very well brought up mistress too; for, with the exception of occasionally squatting or coiling herself upon a nice table-cover or a silken cushion-which, however, the daintified animal did not hurt nor harm--all her peregrinations were made in the most perfect order, and, it might seem, quite tastefully, and even deferentially, towards the various objects, great and small, slight and important, which surrounded her. “She was his great pet, said my hostess; "she attended him in the morning before he got up; she followed him into his study after breakfast; she played or she Teposed there when she liked; and one day, when he was expected to make an important speech in the Chambre des Députés, his friends, finding that he was absent after his time from the arena, came to seek him at this house, and, going into his study, saw him quietly reading some book, which evidently had nothing to do with the matter in hand and when they told him that everybody was waiting, and that they came for him—“What can I do?” he asked; “ look there !-- there's my cat sleeping in the sun on the papers I have prepared for my speech; and till she awakens, how can I drag her off them ?"
We fell into deeper allusions to the memory of Benjamin Constant. I shall not soon forget the perfectly simple pathos of recollection and affection in which the widow showed his bust in marble executed by a celebrated Parisian artist, and which she had preserved under a glass cover on a console; the exquisite little model of the monumental statue proposed to be erected to his memory, moulded by the same hand; and the large gold-chased cup presented to him by his constituents;—but, above all, never can I forget the flowing eyes, the quivering lips, and the full, though subdued affliction of manner with which she asked me,
And are not these delightful souvenirs for me?”
Hugo did not come that evening. She told me she had even been to seek him, but that he was so ill of the throes of “Marie Tudor,” and of sore eyes brought on by his absorbing studies, that he could not make an appearance. There were other people, however, possessing much interest; and amongst them, the artist who had executed the works to which I have just alluded; and he proved additionally attractive from being a believer in, and expounder of, somnambulism: and there was a lady who had been married to one of Napoleon's brothers, and, strange to say, was very like to Napoleon himself in the face: and there was also a little French gentleman, who told me he had personally known Napoleon very well, and instanced a good many new traits of his manners. But I must say that I came home that evening only thinking of my hostess, her husband, his friend Lafayette, and the bust, the monument model, the cup,