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Title: Lives of Celebrated Women
Author: Goodrich, Samuel G. (Samuel Griswold), 1793-1860
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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  Entered according to Act of Congress,
  in the year 1844,
  In the Clerk's Office of the District
  Court of Massachusetts.


  12 Water Street.


It is an oft-quoted proposition of Rousseau, that "the glory of
woman lies in being unknown." If this be true, we shall deserve
little credit for placing before the world these brief sketches of a
few of the sex who have acquired celebrity among mankind. We are
disposed to think, however, that the oracular words of the Genevan
philosopher--though they may coincide with the despotism of the lords
of creation, who would arrogate, not merely the sceptre of power, but
the trump of fame, entirely to themselves--like most other oracles,
are liable to many exceptions.

It may indeed be true that the _happiness_ of women is generally to be
found in the quiet of the domestic circle; but that all, without
distinction, should be confined to it, and that whenever one of the
sex departs from it, she departs from her allotted sphere, is no more
true than a similar proposition would be of men. Elizabeth of England,
though little to be esteemed as a woman, did as much credit to her sex
as her father did to his; and while he enjoys the renown of having
achieved the reformation in England, she is entitled to the credit of
having been not only his superior as a sovereign, but one of the
greatest sovereigns that ever occupied a throne. Joan of Arc performed
achievements for her country scarcely less than miraculous; and Hannah
More afforded, by her pen, more efficient protection to the three
kingdoms against the volcanic shock of the French revolution than the
entire army and navy of Great Britain.

Will any one pretend that these persons would have better fulfilled
their destiny, if confined to the quiet precincts of the fireside? If
woman is only to be a housewife, why are gifts bestowed upon her, that
make her often the rival, and sometimes the _master_, of the other
sex, even in the higher walks of ambition? Was Sappho's harp, the
mere echo of which has thrilled upon the ear of nearly thirty
centuries, given only to be touched in the secluded harem of some
Lesbian lord? Why had Sévigné such a magic pen, Roland so noble and
dauntless a soul, the maid of Saragossa a patriotism so inspired and
inspiring, if they were designed by their Creator only to preside over
the nursery, the dairy, and the kitchen? If women are created but to
attend to the comforts of the other sex at home, why are such spirits
as those of the lovely and lamented Davidsons ever formed--spirits
bursting with music and poetry, like the Eolian string, that gives
forth its unbidden melody, only because God made it so? Was Mrs.
Hemans designed but to serve her surly and unappreciating lord? Are
Lady Montagu, Mrs. Barbauld, Madame de Stael, Miss Edgeworth, Miss
Sedgwick, Hannah More, Mrs. Sigourney,--who must be regarded as among
the most efficient civilizers of modern times,--to be set down as
violators of a great law which should govern woman's destiny? In
short, shall we, in Christian countries, who make it our boast that we
have elevated woman to free companionship with man, still look
backward, return to the selfish philosophy of the Turk, shut woman up
in the harem, and gloss over our despotism by quotations from the
Swiss Diogenes?

While we repeat that, in general, women consult their true dignity and
happiness by seeking a quiet domestic career, we still maintain that
such among them as have endowments suited to exert a happy influence
upon mankind at large, are as truly fulfilling their duty and their
destiny, by giving them scope, as are the other sex in doing the same
under the like circumstances. It is believed that the following pages,
although they notice only a few of those women who have acquired a
deserved celebrity, will furnish ample argument to sustain the ground
we assume.


  Lucretia and Margaret Davidson                                     9
  Mrs. Adams                                                        49
  Mrs. Washington                                                   79
  Madame de Stael                                                   90
  Lady Hester Stanhope                                             121
  Hannah More                                                      131
  Mrs. Barbauld                                                    167
  Madame de Genlis                                                 182
  Josephine                                                        219
  Marie Antoinette                                                 261
  Madame Roland                                                    267
  Madame de Sévigné                                                286
  Mary, Queen of Scots                                             307
  Elizabeth, Queen of England                                      335
  Isabella of Spain                                                339
  Joan of Arc                                                      349


"There stood on the banks of the Saranac a small, neat cottage, which
peeped forth from the surrounding foliage--the image of rural quiet
and contentment. An old-fashioned piazza extended along the front,
shaded with vines and honeysuckles; the turf on the bank of the river
was of the richest and brightest emerald; and the wild rose and
sweetbrier, which twined over the neat enclosure, seemed to bloom with
more delicate freshness and perfume within the bounds of this earthly
paradise. The scenery around was wildly yet beautifully romantic; the
clear blue river, glancing and sparkling at its feet, seemed only as a
preparation for another and more magnificent view, when the stream,
gliding on to the west, was buried in the broad, white bosom of
Champlain, which stretched back, wave after wave, in the distance,
until lost in faint blue mists that veiled the sides of its guardian
mountains, seeming more lovely from their indistinctness."

Such is the description which the younger subject of these memoirs
gives us of the home of her parents, Dr. Oliver and Margaret Davidson,
in the village of Plattsburg, Vermont. Amidst scenery so well
calculated to call forth and foster poetical talent, Lucretia Maria
Davidson was born on the 27th September, 1808. Of her earliest
childhood there is nothing recorded, except that she was physically
feeble, and manifested extreme sensibility of disposition. She was
sent to school when she was four years old, and there was taught to
read and to imitate, in sand, the printed characters. Books now
possessed for her a greater charm than childish sports. The writing
paper began to disappear mysteriously from the table, and Lucretia was
often observed with pen and ink, to the surprise of her parents, who
knew that she had never been taught to write. The mystery remained
unexplained until she was six years old, when her mother, in searching
a closet rarely visited, found, behind piles of linen, a parcel of
little books filled with hieroglyphics. These were at length
deciphered by her parents, and proved to be metrical explanations of
rudely-sketched pictures on the opposite page; the explanations being
made in Roman letters, most unartistically formed and disposed. Not
long after, Lucretia came running to her mother in great agitation,
the tears trickling down her cheeks, and said, "O mamma! mamma! how
could you treat me so? My little books--you have shown them to
papa,--Anne,--Eliza! I know you have. O, what shall I do?" Her mother
tried to soothe the child, and promised never to do so again. "O
mamma," replied she, a gleam of sunshine illumining the drops, "I am
not afraid of that, for I have burned them all." "This reserve," says
one whose kindred spirit could sympathize with that of Lucretia,
"proceeded from nothing cold or exclusive in her character; never was
there a more loving or sympathetic creature. It would be difficult to
say which was most rare, her modesty, or the genius it sanctified."

It does not surprise us to learn that, under the guidance of pious
parents, religion took a deep and enduring hold, at a very early
period, upon so susceptible a child. From her earliest years, she
evinced a fear of doing any thing displeasing in the sight of God; and
if, in her gayest sallies, she caught a look of disapprobation from
her mother, she would ask, with the most artless simplicity, "O
mother, was that wicked?" Her extreme conscientiousness exhibited
itself in a manner quite remarkable in a child. Some of the friends of
the family thought their mode of education not the most judicious, and
that her devoting so much time to study was not consistent with the
pecuniary circumstances and the physical condition of the mother, who,
being a confirmed invalid, was able to take little part in the
ordinary family labors. Lucretia's parents, however, did not concur in
this opinion, and carefully concealed it from her; but she in some
manner became aware of its existence, and voluntarily acted in
accordance with it. The real feeling which prompted this conduct was
artlessly made apparent by the incident which led her to return to her
favorite occupation. When she was about twelve, she attended her
father to a "birth-night" ball. The next day, an elder sister found
her absorbed in composition. "She had sketched an urn, and written two
stanzas under it. She was persuaded to show them to her mother. She
brought them blushing and trembling. Her mother was ill, in bed; but
she expressed her delight with such unequivocal animation, that the
child's face changed from doubt to rapture, and she seized the paper,
ran away, and immediately added the concluding stanzas. When they were
finished, her mother pressed her to her bosom, wept with delight, and
promised her all the aid and encouragement she could give her. The
sensitive child burst into tears. 'And do you wish me to write, mamma?
and will papa approve? and will it be right that I should do so?'" The
following are the verses:--

  "And does a hero's dust lie here?
  Columbia, gaze, and drop a tear:
  His country's and the orphan's friend,
  See thousands o'er his ashes bend.

  Among the heroes of the age,
  He was the warrior and the sage;
  He left a train of glory bright,
  Which never will be hid in night.

  The toils of war and danger past,
  He reaps a rich reward at last;
  His pure soul mounts on cherub's wings,
  And now with saints and angels sings.

  The brightest on the list of Fame,
  In golden letters shines his name;
  Her trump shall sound it through the world,
  And the striped banner ne'er be furled.

  And every sex, and every age,
  From lisping boy to learned sage,
  The widow, and her orphan son,
  Revere the name of Washington!"

A literary friend, to whom these verses were shown, felt some doubts
as to Lucretia's being the real author of the stanzas, and suffered
them to appear. The feeling that her rectitude was impeached made the
sensitive girl actually ill; but a poetic remonstrance, which she
prepared on the occasion, removed every doubt.

From what has been before said, it must not be supposed that Lucretia
was suffered to abandon herself to literary avocations. She had her
prescribed tasks in sewing, and other customary employments, which she
generally performed with fidelity and with wonderful celerity;
sometimes, however, the voice of her muse struck her in the midst, and
"enchanted she dropped each earthly care." One day, she had promised
to do a certain piece of sewing, and had eagerly run for her basket;
she was absent long, and on her return found that the work was done.
"Where have you been, Lucretia?" said her mother, justly displeased.
"O mamma," she replied, "I did forget; I am grieved. As I passed the
window, I saw a solitary sweet pea. I thought they were all gone. This
was alone. I ran to smell it, but, before I could reach it, a gust of
wind broke the stem. I turned away disappointed, and was coming back
to you; but as I passed the table, there stood the inkstand, and I
forgot you." The following beautiful verses insured the forgiveness of
her mother:--

  "The last flower of the garden was blooming alone,
  The last rays of the sun on its blushing leaves shone;
  Still a glittering drop on its bosom reclined,
  And a few half-blown buds 'midst its leaves were entwined.

  Say, lovely one, say, why lingerest thou here?
  And why on thy bosom reclines the bright tear?
  'Tis the tear of the zephyr--for summer 'twas shed,
  And for all thy companions now withered and dead.

  Why lingerest thou here, when around thee are strown
  The flowers once so lovely, by autumn blasts blown?
  Say, why, sweetest floweret, the last of thy race,
  Why lingerest thou here the lone garden to grace?

  As I spoke, a rough blast, sent by winter's own hand,
  Whistled by me, and bent its sweet head to the sand;
  I hastened to raise it--the dew-drop had fled,
  And the once lovely flower was withered and dead."

All her short pieces were composed with equal rapidity; and sometimes
she wished that she had two pair of hands to record as fast as her
muse dictated. These she composed wherever she chanced to be when the
spirit of poesy came over her. In the midst of her family, blind and
deaf to all around her, she held sweet communion with her muse. But
when composing her longer poems, as "Amie Khan," or "Chicomicos," she
required complete seclusion. She retired to her own room, closed the
blinds, and placed her Æolian harp in the window. Her mother gives
this graphic description: "I entered her room,--she was sitting with
scarcely light enough to discern the characters she was tracing; her
harp was in the window, touched by a breeze just sufficient to rouse
the spirit of harmony; her comb had fallen on the floor, and her long,
dark ringlets hung in rich profusion over her neck and shoulders; her
cheek glowed with animation; her lips were half unclosed; her full,
dark eye was radiant with the light of genius, and beaming with
sensibility; her head rested on her left hand, while she held her pen
in her right. She looked like the inhabitant of another sphere. She
was so wholly absorbed that she did not observe my entrance. I looked
over her shoulder, and read the following lines:--

  'What heavenly music strikes my ravished ear,
  So soft, so melancholy, and so clear?
  And do the tuneful nine then touch the lyre,
  To fill each bosom with poetic fire?
  Or does some angel strike the sounding strings,
  Who caught from echo the wild note he sings?
  But, ah! another strain! how sweet! how wild!
  Now, rushing low, 'tis soothing, soft, and mild.'"

The noise made by her mother roused Lucretia, who soon afterwards
brought her the preceding verses, with the following added to them,
being an address to her Æolian harp:--

  "And tell me now, ye spirits of the wind,
  O, tell me where those artless notes to find--
  So lofty now, so loud, so sweet, so clear,
  That even angels might delighted hear.

  But hark! those notes again majestic rise,
  As though some spirit, banished from the skies,
  Had hither fled to charm Æolus wild,
  And teach him other music, sweet and mild.

  Then hither fly, sweet mourner of the air,
  Then hither fly, and to my harp repair;
  At twilight chant the melancholy lay,
  And charm the sorrows of thy soul away."

Her parents indulged her in the utmost latitude in her reading.
History, profane and sacred, novels, poetry, and other works of
imagination, by turns occupied her. Before she was twelve, she had
read the English poets. Dramatic works possessed a great charm for
her, and her devotion to Shakspeare is expressed in the following
verses, written in her fifteenth year:--

  "Shakspeare, with all thy faults, (and few have more,)
  I love thee still, and still will con thee o'er.
  Heaven, in compassion to man's erring heart,
  Gave thee of virtue, then of vice, a part,
  Lest we, in wonder here, should bow before thee,
  Break God's commandment, worship, and adore thee;
  But admiration, now, and sorrow join;
  His works we reverence, while we pity thine."

But above all other books she valued the Bible. The more poetical
parts of the Old Testament she almost committed to memory; and the New
Testament, especially those parts which relate the life of our Savior,
was studied by her, and excited in her the deepest emotions. As an
evidence of this we give the following verses, written in her
thirteenth year:--


  "The shepherd feeds his fleecy flock with care,
    And mourns to find one little lamb has strayed;
  He, unfatigued, roams through the midnight air,
    O'er hills, o'er rocks, and through the mossy glade.

  But when that lamb is found, what joy is seen
    Depicted on the careful shepherd's face,
  When, sporting o'er the smooth and level green,
    He sees his favorite charge is in its place!

  Thus the great Shepherd of his flock doth mourn,
    When from his fold a wayward lamb has strayed,
  And thus with mercy he receives him home,
    When the poor soul his Lord has disobeyed.

  There is great joy among the saints in heaven,
    When one repentant soul has found its God;
  For Christ, his Shepherd, hath his ransom given,
    And sealed it with his own redeeming blood."

We have now arrived at a period which most girls look forward to
as an epoch in their life--the first ball! Lucretia had been to
dancing-school, and took great delight in that exercise. In the hope
of overcoming her painful timidity, her mother had consented to her
attending the public assemblies of Plattsburg. She was fourteen.
The day arrived, and the important subject of dress was the matter
of consultation between Mrs. Davidson and her eldest daughter,
Lucretia sitting by, absorbed in one of the Waverley novels. "What
shall Lucy wear?" asked the sister. "Come, Lucretia; what color
will you wear to-night?" "Where?" "Where? why, to the assembly, to
be sure." "Is it to-night? so it is!" and she tossed aside her
book, and danced delighted about the room. The question of dress was
now settled, and Lucretia was soon again absorbed in her book. At
the hour for dressing, the delights of the ball again filled her
imagination, and she set about the offices of the toilet with
interest. Her sister was to dress her hair; but, when the time came,
she was missing. She was called in vain, and was at length found in
the parlor, in the dusky twilight, writing poetry. "She returned from
the assembly," says her mother, "wild with delight." "O mamma," said
she, "I wish you had been there. When I first entered, the glare of
light dazzled my eyes; my head whirled, and I felt as if I were
treading on air; all was so gay, so brilliant! But I grew tired at
last, and was glad to hear sister say it was time to go home."

About the same period, life received for her a new object of interest.
Her little sister Margaret, the frequent subject of her verses, was
born. The following are among the earliest stanzas addressed to

  "Sweet babe, I cannot hope that thou'lt be freed
  From woes, to all since earliest time decreed;
  But may'st thou be with resignation blessed,
  To bear each evil, howsoe'er distressed.

  May Hope her anchor lend amid the storm,
  And o'er the tempest rear her angel form;
  May sweet Benevolence, whose words are peace,
  To the rude whirlwind softly whisper, Cease!

  And may Religion, Heaven's own darling child,
  Teach thee at human cares and griefs to smile;
  Teach thee to look beyond that world of woe,
  To heaven's high font, whence mercies ever flow.

  And when this vale of years is safely passed,
  When death's dark curtain shuts the scene at last,
  May thy freed spirit leave this earthly sod,
  And fly to seek the bosom of thy God."

Lucretia was now placed in trying circumstances. Her mother, after the
birth of Margaret, was very ill; the infant, too, was ill; and, to add
to their misfortunes, the nurse was taken sick. Lucretia's eldest
sister had recently been married, and had removed to Canada; so that
upon her devolved great and manifold duties.

The manner in which she discharged these shall be related in her
mother's own words. "Lucretia astonished us all. She took her station
in my sick-room, and devoted herself wholly to the mother and the
child; and when my recovery became doubtful, instead of resigning
herself to grief, her exertions were redoubled, not only for the
comfort of the sick, but she was an angel of consolation to her
afflicted father. We were amazed at the exertions she made, and the
fatigue she endured; for with nerves so weak, a constitution so
delicate, and a sensibility so exquisite, we trembled lest she should
sink with anxiety and fatigue. Until it ceased to be necessary, she
performed not only the duties of a nurse, but acted as superintendent
of the household." Neither did she relinquish her domestic avocations
when her mother became better; "she did not so much yield to her
ruling passion as to look into a book, or take up a pen, lest she
should again become so absorbed in them as to neglect to perform those
little offices which a feeble, affectionate mother had a right to
claim at her hands." As was to be expected, her mental and physical
health suffered; her cheek became pale, and her spirits dejected. Her
mother became alarmed, and expressed her apprehensions. "I am not ill,
mamma," said she, "only out of spirits." An explanation ensued, and
the mother convinced the child that her duty did not require a total
abandonment of the pursuits she longed for, but a judicious
intermingling of literary with domestic labors. The good consequences
of the change were soon manifest in the restored health and
cheerfulness of Lucretia.

It was about this period (1823-4) that she composed the longest of
her published poems, "Amie Khan," an Oriental tale, which would do
credit to much older and more practised writers.

In 1824, an old friend of her mother's, Moss Kent, Esq., visited
Plattsburg. He had never seen Lucretia, but had formed a high opinion
of her genius from some of her productions, which had been shown to
him by his sister. Her appearance at this time was well calculated to
confirm his prepossessions in her favor. She is thus described by her
biographer: "Miss Davidson was just sixteen. Her complexion was the
most beautiful brunette, clear and brilliant, of that warm tint that
seems to belong to lands of the sun, rather than to our chilled
regions; indeed, her whole organization, mental as well as physical,
her deep and quick sensibility, her early development, were
characteristics of a warmer clime than ours: her stature was of the
middle height; her form slight and symmetrical; her hair profuse,
dark, and curling; her mouth and nose regular, and as beautiful as if
they had been chiselled by an inspired artist; and through this
fitting medium beamed her angelic spirit."

Charmed by all he saw and read, Mr. Kent at once made the proposal to
her parents to adopt Lucretia as his own child. The proposal was in
part accepted, and, in accordance with his wishes, it was determined
to send her to the Troy Seminary. Her feelings on this occasion are
thus made known by letter to her sister: "What think you? Ere another
moon shall fill, 'round as my shield,' I shall be at Mrs. Willard's
Seminary. In a fortnight I shall probably have left Plattsburg, not to
return at least until the expiration of six months. O, I am so
delighted, so happy! I shall scarcely eat, drink, or sleep, for a
month to come. You must write to me often, and you must not laugh when
you think of poor Lucy in the far-famed city of Troy, dropping
handkerchiefs, keys, gloves, &c.; in short, something of every thing I
have. It is well if you can read what I have written, for papa and
mamma are talking, and my head whirls like a top. O, how my poor head
aches! Such a surprise as I have had!"

She left home November 24, 1824, to appearance full of health and of
delight at the opportunities of acquiring knowledge which were to be
open to her. At parting she left the following verses:--


  "O Thou whose care sustained my infant years,
    And taught my prattling lip each note of love,
  Whose soothing voice breathed comfort to my fears,
    And round my brow hope's brightest garland wove,--

  To thee my lay is due, the simple song,
    Which nature gave me at life's opening day;
  To thee these rude, these untaught strains belong,
    Whose heart indulgent will not spurn my lay.

  O, say, amid this wilderness of life,
    What bosom would have throbbed like thine for me?
  Who would have smiled responsive? Who, in grief,
    Would e'er have felt and, feeling, grieved like thee?

  Who would have guarded, with a falcon eye,
    Each trembling footstep, or each sport of fear?
  Who would have marked my bosom bounding high,
    And clasped me to her heart with love's bright tear?
  Who would have hung around my sleepless couch,
    And fanned, with anxious hand, my burning brow?
  Who would have fondly pressed my fevered lip,
    In all the agony of love and woe?

  None but a mother--none but one like thee,
    Whose bloom has faded in the midnight watch,
  Whose eye, for me, has lost its witchery,
    Whose form has felt disease's mildew touch.

  Yes, thou hast lighted me to health and life,
    By the bright lustre of thy youthful bloom;
  Yes, thou hast wept so oft o'er every grief,
    That woe hath traced thy brow with marks of gloom.

  O, then, to thee this rude and simple song,
    Which breathes of thankfulness and love for thee,
  To thee, my mother, shall this lay belong,
    Whose life is spent in toil and care for me."

The following extracts from a letter to her mother tell us of the
state of her feelings when established at the Seminary.

"December 24, 1824. Here I am at last; and what a naughty girl I was,
when I was at aunt Schuyler's, that I did not write you every thing!
But to tell the truth, I was topsy-turvy, and so I am now. But in
despite of calls from the young ladies, and of a hundred new faces,
and new names which are constantly ringing in my ears, I have set
myself down, and will not rise until I have written an account of
every thing to my dear mother. I am contented; yet, notwithstanding, I
have once or twice turned a wistful glance towards my dear-loved home.
Amidst all the parade of wealth, in the splendid apartments of
luxury, I can assure you, my dearest mother, that I had rather be
with you, in our own lowly home, than in the midst of all this
ceremony." "O mamma, I like Mrs. W. 'And so this is my little girl,'
said she, and took me affectionately by the hand. O, I want to see you
so much! But I must not think of it now; I must learn as fast as I
can, and think only of my studies. Dear, dear little Margaret! Kiss
her and the little boys for me. How is dear father getting on in this
rattling world?"

The transplanting a flower of so delicate a constitution from the
clear air of Lake Champlain to the close atmosphere of a city
boarding-school, was followed by consequences which might have been
expected. Almost from her arrival, Lucretia's letters speak of
ill-health and unhappiness, aggravated by the fear that her progress
in studies, thus frequently interrupted, would disappoint the
expectations of her kind benefactor, for whom she seems to have
cherished the most affectionate and grateful feelings. Neither do the
excitements of a large public seminary seem well adapted to one of so
sensitive a nature. In the course of time, the public examination
approached, and for the two months preceding it, she was kept in a
state of constant agitation and dread, which is thus spoken of in a
half-serious, half-jesting letter to her mother: "We are all engaged,
heart and hand, preparing for this awful examination. O, how I dread
it! But there is no retreat. I must stand firm to my post, or
experience the anger, vengeance, and punishments, which will, in case
of delinquency or flight, be exercised with the most unforgiving
acrimony. We are in such cases excommunicated, henceforth and
forever, under the awful ban of holy Seminary; and the evil eye of
false report is upon us. O mamma, I do, though, jesting apart, dread
this examination; but nothing short of real and absolute sickness can
excuse a scholar in the eyes of Mrs. W. Even that will not do in the
Trojan world around us; for if a young lady is ill at examination,
they say with a sneer, 'O, she is ill of an examination fever!' Thus
you see, mamma, we have no mercy either from friends or foes. We must
'do or die.' Tell Morris he must write to me. Kiss dear, dear little
Margaret for me, and don't let her forget poor sister Luly; and tell
all who inquire for me that I am well, but in awful dread of a great

She was interrupted, in her course of preparation for the examination,
by an illness so serious as to require the attendance of a physician.
But no sooner was she convalescent than she was suffered to renew her
suicidal course. "I shall rise between two and four now every morning,
till the dreaded day is past. I rose the other night at twelve, but
was ordered back to bed again. You see, mamma, I shall have a chance
to become an early riser here." "Had I not written you that I was
coming home, I think I should not have seen you this winter. All my
friends think I had better remain here, as the journey will be long
and cold; but O, there is at that journey's end, which would tempt me
through the wilds of Siberia--father, mother, brothers, sisters,
_home_. Yes, I shall come." "The dreaded examination is now going on,
my dear mother. To-morrow evening, which will be the last, is always
the most crowded, and is the time fixed upon for my _entrée_ upon the
field of action. O, I hope I shall not disgrace myself. It is the rule
here to reserve the best classes till the last; so I suppose I may
take it as a compliment that we are delayed." "The examination is
over. E. did herself and her native village honor; but as for your
poor Luly, she acquitted herself, I trust, decently. O mamma, I was so
frightened! But although my face glowed and my voice trembled, I did
make out to get through, for I knew my lessons. The room was crowded
to suffocation. All was still; the fall of a pin could have been
heard; and I tremble when I think of it even now."

The expected visit to her home was relinquished, and she passed the
vacation with her friends in the vicinity of Troy. An incident which
occurred as she was crossing the Hudson on her return to Troy, is thus
described: "Uncle went to the ferry with me, where we met Mr. P. Uncle
placed me under his care, and, snugly seated by his side, I expected a
very pleasant ride, with a very pleasant gentleman. All was pleasant,
except that we expected every instant that all the ice in the Hudson
would come drifting against us, and shut in scow, stage and all, or
sink us to the bottom, which, in either case, you know, mother, would
not have been quite so agreeable. We had just pushed off from the
shore, I watching the ice with anxious eyes, when, lo! the two leaders
made a tremendous plunge, and tumbled headlong into the river. I felt
the carriage following fast after; the other two horses pulled back
with all their power, but the leaders were dragging them down,
dashing, and plunging, and flouncing, in the water. 'Mr. P., in mercy
let us get out!' said I. But as he did not see the horses, he felt no
alarm. The moment I informed him they were overboard, he opened the
door, and cried, 'Get out and save yourself, if possible; I am old and
stiff, but I will follow you in an instant.' 'Out with the lady! let
the lady out!' shouted several voices at once; 'the other horses are
about to plunge, and then all will be over.' I made a lighter spring
than many a lady does in a cotillon, and jumped upon a cake of ice.
Mr. P. followed, and we stood (I trembling like a leaf) expecting
every moment that the next plunge of the drowning horses would detach
the piece of ice upon which we were standing, and send us adrift; but,
thank Heaven, after working for ten or fifteen minutes, by dint of
ropes, and cutting them away from the other horses, they dragged the
poor creatures out more dead than alive. Mother, don't you think I
displayed some courage? I jumped into the stage again, and shut the
door, while Mr. P. remained outside, watching the movement of affairs.
We at length reached here, and I am alive, as you see, to tell the
story of my woes."

At the spring vacation, Lucretia returned to her loved home; but the
joy of her parents at once more embracing their darling daughter, was
damped by observing that the fell destroyer had set its well-known
mark upon her cheek. Her father called in another physician to consult
with him, and, strange to say, it was decided that she should return
to school in Albany, where she arrived May, 1825, and where her
reception, her accommodations and prospects, seem to have given her
much delight, and where she entered upon her career of study with her
wonted ardor. But her physical strength could not sustain the demands
upon it. She thus writes to her mother: "I am very wretched: am I
never to hear from you again? I am homesick. I know I am foolish, but
I cannot help it. To tell the truth, I am half sick, I am so weak, so
languid. I cannot eat. I am nervous; I know I am. I weep most of the
time. I have blotted the paper so that I cannot write. I cannot study
much longer if I do not hear from you." Her disease appears now to
have assumed a fixed character, and in her next letter, she expresses
a fear that it is beyond the reach of human art. Her mother, herself
ill, set off at once for Albany, and was received by her child with
rapture. "O mamma, I thought I should never have seen you again! But,
now I have you here, I can lay my aching head upon your bosom. I shall
soon be better."

The journey homeward, though made in the heats of July, was attended
with less suffering than was anticipated. "Her joy," says her mother,
"upon finding herself at home, operated for a time like magic." The
progress of disease seemed to be suspended. Those around her received
new hope; but she herself was not deceived, and she calmly waited for
that great change which for her possessed no terrors, for her hopes as
to the future rested upon a sure foundation.

But one fear disturbed her, to which she refers in the following, the
last piece she ever composed, and which is left unfinished:--

  "There is a something which I dread;
    It is a dark and fearful thing;
  It steals along with withering tread,
    Or sweeps on wild destruction's wing.

  That thought comes o'er me in the hour
    Of grief, of sickness, or of sadness;
  'Tis not the dread of death; 'tis more,--
    It is the dread of madness.

  O, may these throbbing pulses pause,
    Forgetful of their feverish course;
  May this hot brain, which, burning, glows
    With all a fiery whirlpool's force,--

  Be cold, and motionless, and still,
    A tenant of its lowly bed;
  But let not dark delirium steal----"

She died on the 27th August, 1825. Her literary labors will surprise
all who remember that she had not yet reached her seventeenth
birthday. They consist of two hundred and seventy-eight poetical
pieces, of which there are five regular poems, of several cantos each;
three unfinished romances; a complete tragedy, written at thirteen
years of age; and twenty-four school exercises; besides letters, of
which forty are preserved, written in the course of a few months, to
her mother alone. Indeed, we cannot but look upon Lucretia Davidson as
one of the wonders of humanity. Her early productions excited even the
admiration of Byron; and the delicacy, dutifulness, and exaltation, of
her character seemed almost to have realized angelic purity and beauty
of soul, in a tenement of clay.

The little Margaret, as we have seen, was the object of Lucretia's
fondest affection. She used to gaze upon her little sister with
delight, and, remarking the brightness and beauty of her eyes, would
exclaim, "She must, she will be a poet!" She did not live to see her
prediction verified, but to use her mother's fond expressions, "On
ascending to the skies, it seemed as if her poetic mantle fell, like a
robe of light, on her infant sister."

Though Margaret was but two years and a half old, the death of her
sister made a strong impression on her, and an incident which occurred
a few months afterwards showed that she appreciated her character. As
Mrs. Davidson was seated, at twilight, conversing with a female
friend, Margaret entered the room with a light, elastic step, for
which she was remarked. "That child never walks," said the lady; then
turning to her, she said, "Margaret, where are you flying now?" "To
heaven!" replied Margaret, pointing up with her fingers, "to meet my
sister Lucretia, when I get my new wings." "Your new wings! When will
you get them?" "O, soon, very soon; and then I shall fly!" "She
loved," says her mother, "to sit, hour after hour, on a cushion at my
feet, her little arms resting upon my lap, and her full, dark eyes
fixed upon mine, listening to anecdotes of her sister's life, and
details of the events which preceded her death, often exclaiming,
while her face beamed with mingled emotions, 'O mamma, I will try to
fill her place! Teach me to be like her!'"

Warned by their dreadful experience in the former instance, the
parents endeavored to repress the intellectual activity of Margaret.
She was not taught to read till she was four years old; but so rapid
was her progress after that period, under her mother's instructions,
that at six she read not only well, but elegantly, and was wont to
solace her mother's hours of protracted illness, by reading to her the
works of Thomson, Campbell, Cowper, Milton, Byron, Scott, &c., in
which she took enthusiastic delight, and in discriminating their
beauties and defects, she showed wonderful taste and intelligence. The
Scriptures were her daily study; not hurried over as a task, but she
would spend an hour or two in commenting with her mother upon the
chapter she had read.

"Her religious impressions," says her mother, "seemed to be interwoven
with her existence. From the very first exercise of reason, she
evinced strong devotional feelings, and, although she loved play, she
would at any time prefer seating herself beside me, and, with every
faculty absorbed in the subject, listen while I attempted to recount
the wonders of Providence, and point out the wisdom and benevolence of
God, as manifested in the works of creation."

About the age of six years, she began to exhibit a talent for
rhyming. One of her earliest pieces, if not remarkable for poetical
merit, is worthy of transcription, from the incident which gave
occasion to its composition; it also exhibits in a striking manner
that conscientiousness for which her sister was so distinguished,
and a power of self-examination of rare existence in one so young.

Her mother reproved her for some trifling act of disobedience upon
which she attempted to justify herself, and for this aggravation of
the fault was banished to her chamber until she should become sensible
of her error. Two hours elapsed, and she continued obstinate;
vindicating herself, and accusing her mother of injustice. Mrs. D.
reasoned with her, exhorting her to pray to God to assist her in
gaining that meekness and humility which had characterized our Savior,
and reminding her of the example he had set of obedience to parents.
An hour or two afterwards, Margaret came running in, threw her arms
around her mother's neck, and, sobbing, put into her hands these

  "Forgiven by my Savior dear
    For all the wrongs I've done,
  What other wish could I have here?
    Alas! there yet is one.

  I know my God has pardoned me;
    I know he loves me still;
  I wish I may forgiven be
    By her I've used so ill.

  Good resolutions I have made,
    And thought I loved my Lord;
  But, ah! I trusted in myself,
    And broke my foolish word.

  But give me strength, O Lord, to trust
    For help alone in thee;
  Thou know'st my inmost feelings best;
    O, teach me to obey."

She took little pleasure in the common sports of children; her
amusements were almost entirely intellectual. If she played with a
doll, or a kitten, she invested it with some historical or dramatic
character, and whether Mary, queen of Scots, or Elizabeth, the
character was always well sustained.

In her seventh year, her health became visibly delicate, and she was
taken to Saratoga springs and to New York, from which excursions she
derived much physical advantage, and great intellectual pleasure; but
she returned to her native village with feelings of admiration and
enthusiasm for its natural beauties, heightened by contrast. As her
health began again to fail in the autumn, and the vicinity to the lake
seemed unfavorable to the health of Mrs. Davidson, the family went to
Canada to pass the winter with the eldest daughter.

Margaret grew stronger, but her mother derived no benefit from the
change, and for eighteen months remained a helpless invalid, during
which time her little daughter was her constant companion and
attendant. "Her tender solicitude," says Mrs. D., "endeared her to
me beyond any other earthly thing. Although under the roof of a
beloved and affectionate daughter, and having constantly with me
an experienced and judicious nurse, yet the soft and gentle voice
of my little darling was more than medicine to my worn-out frame.
If her delicate hand smoothed my pillow, it was soft to my aching
temples, and her sweet smile would cheer me in the lowest depths of
despondency. She would draw for me--read to me--and often, when
writing at her little table, would surprise me by some tribute of
love, which never failed to operate as a cordial to my heart. At a
time when my life was despaired of, she wrote the following verses
while sitting at my bed:--

  'I'll to thy arms in rapture fly,
  And wipe the tear that dims thine eye;
  Thy pleasure will be my delight,
  Till thy pure spirit takes its flight.

  When left alone, when thou art gone,
  Yet still I will not feel alone;
  Thy spirit still will hover near,
  And guard thy orphan daughter here.'"

Margaret continued to increase in strength until January, 1833, when
she was attacked by scarlet fever, under which she lingered many
weeks. In the month of May, she had, however, so far recovered as to
accompany her mother, now convalescent, on a visit to New York. Here
she was the delight of the relatives with whom she resided, and the
suggester of many new sources of amusement to her youthful companions.
One of her projects was to get up a dramatic entertainment, for
which she was to write the play. Indeed, she directed the whole
arrangements, although she had never but once been to a theatre, and
that on her former visit to New York. The preparations occupied
several days, and, being nearly completed, Margaret was called upon to
produce the play. "O," she replied, "I have not written it yet." "How
is this? Do you make the dresses first, and then write the play to
suit them?" "O," replied she, "the writing of the play is the easiest
part of the preparation; it will be ready before the dresses." In
two days she produced her drama; "which," says Mr. Irving, "is a
curious specimen of the prompt talent of this most ingenious child,
and by no means more incongruous in its incidents than many current
dramas by veteran and experienced playwrights."

Though it was the study of her relatives to make her residence in New
York as agreeable to her as possible, the heart of Margaret yearned
for her home: her feelings are expressed in the following lines:--

  "I would fly from the city, would fly from its care,
  To my own native plants and my flowerets so fair;
  To the cool grassy shade and the rivulet bright,
  Which reflects the pale moon on its bosom of light.
  Again would I view the old mansion so dear,
  Where I sported a babe, without sorrow or fear;
  I would leave this great city, so brilliant and gay,
  For a peep at my home on this fine summer day.
  I have friends whom I love, and would leave with regret,
  But the love of my home, O, 'tis tenderer yet!
  There a sister reposes unconscious in death;
  'Twas there she first drew, and there yielded, her breath:
  A father I love is away from me now--
  O, could I but print a sweet kiss on his brow,
  Or smooth the gray locks, to my fond heart so dear,
  How quickly would vanish each trace of a tear!
  Attentive I listen to pleasure's gay call,
  But my own darling home, it is dearer than all."

In the autumn the travellers turned their faces homewards, but it was
not to the home of Margaret's tender longings. The wintry winds of
Lake Champlain were deemed too severe for the invalids, and the family
took up its residence at Ballston. Margaret's feelings upon this
disappointment are thus recorded:--


  "Thy verdant banks, thy lucid stream,
  Lit by the sun's resplendent beam,
  Reflect each bending tree so light
  Upon thy bounding bosom bright!
  Could I but see thee once again,
  My own, my beautiful Champlain!

  The little isles that deck thy breast,
  And calmly on thy bottom rest,
  How often, in my childish glee,
  I've sported round them, bright and free!
  Could I but see thee once again,
  My own, my beautiful Champlain!

  How oft I've watched the freshening shower
  Bending the summer tree and flower,
  And felt my little heart beat high
  As the bright rainbow graced the sky!
  Could I but see thee once again,
  My own, my beautiful Champlain!

  And shall I never see thee more,
  My native lake, my much-loved shore?
  And must I bid a long adieu,
  My dear, my infant home, to you?
  Shall I not see thee once again,
  My own, my beautiful Champlain?"

But Margaret was happy; the family were reunited, and she had health
sufficient to allow her to pursue her studies, still under her
mother's direction. She was fond, too, of devising little plans for
intellectual improvement and amusement: among others, a weekly
newspaper was issued in manuscript, called the "Juvenile Aspirant."
But this happiness was soon clouded. Her own severe illness excited
alarming fears; and hardly was she convalescent, when, in the spring
of 1834, intelligence was received from Canada of the death of her
eldest sister. This was a severe shock, for she had always looked up
to this only surviving sister as to one who would supply the place of
her seemingly dying mother. But she forgot her own grief in trying to
solace that of her mother. Her feelings, as usual, were expressed in
verses, which are as remarkable for their strain of sober piety as for
poetical merit. The following are portions of an address--


  "Weep, O my mother! I will bid thee weep,
  For grief like thine requires the aid of tears;
  But O, I would not see thy bosom thus
  Bowed down to earth, with anguish so severe;
  I would not see thine ardent feelings crushed,
  Deadened to all save sorrow's thrilling tone,
  Like the pale flower, which hangs its drooping head
  Beneath the chilling blasts of Eolus!

  . . . . . . . . . .

  When love would seek to lead thy heart from grief,
  And fondly pleads one cheering look to view,
  A sad, a faint, sad smile one instant gleams
  Athwart the brow where sorrow sits enshrined,
  Brooding o'er ruins of what once was fair;
  But like departing sunset, as it throws
  One farewell shadow o'er the sleeping earth,
  Thus, thus it fades! and sorrow more profound
  Dwells on each feature where a smile, so cold,
  It scarcely might be called the mockery
  Of cheerful peace, but just before had been.

  . . . . . . . . . .

  But, O my mother, weep not thus for _her_,
  The rose, just blown, transported to its home;
  Nor weep that her angelic soul has found
  A resting-place with God.
  O, let the eye of heaven-born Faith disperse
  The darkening mists of earthly grief, and pierce
  The clouds which shadow dull mortality!
  Gaze on the heaven of glory crowned with light,
  Where rests thine own sweet child with radiant brow,
  In the same voice which charmed her father's halls,
  Chanting sweet anthems to her Maker's praise,
  And watching with delight the gentle buds
  Which she had lived to mourn; watching thine own,
  My mother! the soft, unfolding blossoms,
  Which, ere the breath of earthly sin could taint,
  Departed to their Savior, there to wait
  For thy fond spirit in the home of bliss!
  The angel babes have found a sister mother;
  But when thy soul shall pass from earth away,
  The little cherubs then shall cling to thee,
  And then, sweet guardian, welcome thee with joy,
  Protector of their helpless infancy,
  Who taught them how to reach that happy home."

  . . . . . . . . . .

So strong and healthful did she seem during the ensuing summer,
that her mother began to indulge hopes of raising the tender plant
to maturity. But winter brought with it a new attack of sickness,
and from December to March the little sufferer languished on her
bed. During this period, her mind remained inactive; but with
returning health it broke forth in a manner that excited alarm.
"In conversation," says her mother, "her sallies of wit were
dazzling; she composed and wrote incessantly, or rather would
have done so, had I not interposed my authority to prevent this
unceasing tax upon both her mental and physical strength. She
seemed to exist only in the regions of poetry."

There was a faint return of health, followed by a new attack of
disease; indeed, the remainder of her brief sojourn in this world
presents the usual vicissitudes attendant upon her disease--short
intervals of health, which she devoted to study, amid long and dreary
periods of illness, which she bore with exemplary patience. It would
be painful to follow her through these vicissitudes. We need only note
those events and changes which produced a marked effect upon her
feelings, and which she has recorded in verse.

In the autumn of 1835, the family removed to "Ruremont," an
old-fashioned country house near New York, on the banks of Long Island
Sound. The character and situation of this place seized powerfully on
Margaret's imagination. "The curious structure of this old-fashioned
house," says her mother, "its picturesque appearance, the varied and
beautiful grounds around it, called up a thousand poetic images and
romantic ideas. A long gallery, a winding staircase, a dark, narrow
passage, a trap-door, large apartments with massive doors and heavy
iron bolts and bars,--all set her mind teeming with recollections of
what she had read, and imagination of old castles, &c." Perhaps it was
under the influence of feelings thus suggested that she composed the


  "O for the pinions of a bird,
    To bear me far away,
  Where songs of other lands are heard,
    And other waters play!--

  For some aërial car, to fly
    On, through the realms of light,
  To regions rife with poesy,
    And teeming with delight.

  O'er many a wild and classic stream
    In ecstasy I'd bend,
  And hail each ivy-covered tower
    As though it were a friend;

  Through many a shadowy grove, and round
    Full many a cloistered hall,
  And corridors, where every step
    With echoing peal doth fall.

  . . . . . . . . . .

  O, what unmingled pleasure then
    My youthful heart would feel,
  And o'er its thrilling chords each thought
    Of former days would steal!

  . . . . . . . . . .

  Amid the scenes of past delight,
    Or misery, I'd roam,
  Where ruthless tyrants swayed in might,
    Where princes found a home.

  . . . . . . . . . .

  I'd stand where proudest kings have stood,
    Or kneel where slaves have knelt,
  Till, rapt in magic solitude,
    I feel what they have felt."

Margaret now felt comparatively well, and was eager to resume her
studies. She was indulged so far as to be permitted to accompany her
father three times to the city, where she took lessons in French,
music, and dancing. To the Christmas holidays she looked forward as a
season of delight; she had prepared a drama of six acts for the
domestic entertainment, and the back parlor was to be fitted up for a
theatre, her little brothers being her fellow-laborers. But her
anticipations were disappointed. Two of her brothers were taken ill;
and one of them, a beautiful boy of nine, never recovered. "This,"
says her mother, "was Margaret's first acquaintance with death. She
saw her sweet little play-fellow reclining upon my bosom during his
last agonies; she witnessed the bright glow which flashed upon his
long-faded cheek; she beheld the unearthly light of his beautiful eye,
as he pressed his dying lips to mine, and exclaimed, 'Mother, dear
mother, the last hour has come!' It was indeed an hour of anguish. Its
effect upon her youthful mind was as lasting as her life. The sudden
change from life and animation to the still unconsciousness of death,
for a time almost paralyzed her. The first thing that aroused her to a
sense of what was going on about her, was the thought of my
bereavement, and a conviction that it was her province to console me."
But Mrs. Davidson soon presents a sadder picture: "My own weak frame
was unable longer to sustain the effects of long watching and deep
grief. I had not only lost my lovely boy, but I felt a strong
conviction that I must soon resign my Margaret. Although she still
persisted in the belief that she was well, the irritating cough, the
hectic flush, the hurried beating of the heart, and the drenching
night perspirations, confirmed me in this belief, and I sank under
this accumulated weight of affliction. For three weeks I hovered on
the borders of the grave, and, when I arose from this bed of pain, it
was to witness the rupture of a blood-vessel in her lungs, caused by
exertions to suppress a cough. I was compelled to conceal every
appearance of alarm, lest agitation of her mind should produce fatal
consequences. As I seated myself by her, she raised her speaking eyes
to mine with a mournful, inquiring gaze, and, as she read the anguish
which I could not conceal, she turned away with a look of despair."
There no longer remained room for hope, and all that remained to be
done was to smooth the pathway to the grave.

Although Margaret endeavored to persuade herself that she was well,
yet, from the change that took place in her habits in the autumn of
1836, it is evident that she knew her real situation. In compliance
with her mother's oft-repeated advice, she gave up her studies, and
sought by light reading and trivial employments to "kill time." Of the
struggles which it cost her thus to pass six months, the following
incident, as related by her mother, will inform us: "She was seated
one day by my side, weary and restless, scarcely knowing what to do
with herself, when, marking, the traces of grief upon my face, she
threw her arms about my neck, and, kissing me, exclaimed, 'My dear,
dear mother!' 'What is it affects you now, my child?' 'O, I know you
are longing for something from my pen.' I saw the secret craving of
the spirit that gave rise to the suggestion. 'I do indeed, my dear,
delight in the effusions of your pen, but the exertion will injure
you.' 'Mamma, I _must_ write! I can hold out no longer! I will return
to my pen, my pencil, and my books, and shall again be happy.'" The
following verses, written soon after, show the state of her

  "Earth, thou hast but nought to satisfy
    The cravings of immortal mind;
  Earth, thou hast nothing pure and high,
    The soaring, struggling soul to bind.

  Impatient of its long delay,
    The pinioned spirit fain would roam,
  And leave this crumbling house of clay,
    To seek, above, its own bright home!

  . . . . . . . . . .

  O, how mysterious is the bond
    Which blends the earthly with the pure,
  And mingles that which death may blight
    With that which ever must endure!

  Arise, my soul, from all below,
    And gaze upon thy destined home--
  The heaven of heavens, the throne of God,
    Where sin and care can never come.

  . . . . . . . . . .

  Compound of weakness and of strength;
    Mighty, yet ignorant of thy power;
  Loftier than earth, or air, or sea,
    Yet meaner than the lowliest flower!--

  Soaring towards heaven, yet clinging still
    To earth, by many a purer tie!
  Longing to breathe a tender air,
    Yet fearing, trembling thus to die!"

Some verses written about the same period show the feelings she held
towards her sister Lucretia.

  "My sister! with that thrilling word
    What thoughts unnumbered wildly spring!
  What echoes in my heart are stirred,
    While thus I touch the trembling string!

  My sister! ere this youthful mind
    Could feel the value of thine own;
  Ere this infantine heart could bind,
    In its deep cell, one look, one tone,

  To glide along on memory's stream,
    And bring back thrilling thoughts of thee;
  Ere I knew aught but childhood's dream,
    Thy soul had struggled, and was free.

  . . . . . . . . . .

  I cannot weep that thou art fled;
    Forever blends my soul with thine;
  Each thought, by purer impulse led,
    Is soaring on to realms divine.

  . . . . . . . . . .

  I hear thee in the summer breeze,
    See thee in all that's pure or fair,
  Thy whisper in the murmuring trees,
    Thy breath, thy spirit, every where.

  Thine eyes, which watch when mortals sleep,
    Cast o'er my dreams a radiant hue;
  Thy tears, "such tears as angels weep,"
    Fall nightly with the glistening dew.

  Thy fingers wake my youthful lyre,
    And teach its softer strains to flow;
  Thy spirit checks each vain desire,
    And gilds the lowering brow of woe.

  . . . . . . . . . .

  Thou gem of light! my leading star!
    What thou hast been I strive to be;
  When from the path I wander far,
    O, turn thy guiding beam on me.

  Teach me to fill thy place below,
    That I may dwell with thee above;
  To soothe, like thee, a mother's woe,
    And prove, like thine, a sister's love.

  . . . . . . . . . .

  When all is still, and fancy's realm
    Is opening to the eager view,
  Mine eye full oft, in search of thee,
    Roams o'er that vast expanse of blue.

  I know that here thy harp is mute,
    And quenched the bright, poetic fire;
  Yet still I bend my ear, to catch
    The hymnings of thy seraph lyre.

  O, if this partial converse now
    So joyous to my heart can be,
  How must the streams of rapture flow,
    When both are chainless, both are free!--

  When, borne from earth for evermore,
    Our souls in sacred joy unite,
  At God's almighty throne adore,
    And bathe in beams of endless light!"

Although the extracts from the works of this gifted being have been so
extensive, we cannot forbear giving some portions of a piece written
about the same period, and entitled--


  . . . . . . . . . .

  "Launched forth on life's uncertain path,
    Its best and brightest gift denied,
  No power to pluck its fragrant flowers,
    Or turn its poisonous thorns aside;--

  No ray to pierce the gloom within,
    And chase the darkness with its light;
  No radiant morning dawn to win
    His spirit from the shades of night;--

  Nature, whose smile, so pure and fair,
    Casts a bright glow on life's dark stream,--
  Nature, sweet soother of our care,
    Has not a single smile for him.

  When pale disease, with blighting hand,
    Crushes each budding hope awhile,
  Our eyes can rest in sweet delight
    On love's fond gaze, or friendship's smile.

  Not so with _him_; his soul chained down
    By doubt, and loneliness, and care,
  Feels but misfortune's chilling frown,
    And broods in darkness and despair.

  Favored by Heaven, O, haste thee on;
    Thy blest Redeemer points the way;
  Haste o'er the spirit's gloom to pour
    The light of intellectual day.

  Thou canst not raise their drooping lids,
    And wake them to the noonday sun;
  Thou canst not ope, what God hath closed,
    Or cancel aught his hands have done.

  But, O, there is a world within,
    More bright, more beautiful than ours;
  A world which, nursed by culturing hands,
    Will blush with fairest, sweetest flowers.

  And thou canst make that desert mind
    Bloom sweetly as the blushing rose;
  Thou canst illume that rayless void
    Till darkness like the day-gleam glows.

  . . . . . . . . . .

  Thus shalt thou shed a purer ray
    O'er each beclouded mind within,
  Than pours the glorious orb of day
    On this dark world of care and sin.

  . . . . . . . . . .

  And when the last dread day has come,
    Which seals thine endless doom,--
  When the freed soul shall seek its home,
    And triumph o'er the tomb,--

  When lowly bends each reverend knee,
    And bows each heart in prayer,--
  A band of spirits, saved by thee,
    Shall plead thy virtues there."

Hitherto Margaret had sedulously avoided all conversations about her
health, and seemed unwilling to let the feeling that disease had
marked her for its victim take possession of her mind. But in the
summer of 1838, she one day surprised her mother by asking her to tell
her, without reserve, her opinion of her state. "I was," says her
mother, "wholly unprepared for this question; and it was put in so
solemn a manner, that I could not evade it, were I disposed to do so.
I knew with what strong affection she clung to life, and the objects
and friends which endeared it to her; I knew how bright the world upon
which she was just entering appeared to her young fancy--what glowing
pictures she had drawn of future usefulness and happiness. I was now
called upon at one blow to crush these hopes, to destroy the
delightful visions; it would be cruel and wrong to deceive her. In
vain I attempted a reply to her direct and solemn appeal; several
times I essayed to speak, but the words died away on my lips; I could
only fold her to my heart in silence; imprint a kiss upon her
forehead, and leave the room, to avoid agitating her with feelings I
had no power to repress."

But this silence was to Margaret as expressive as words. Religion had
always been present with her, but from this period it engrossed a
large portion of her thoughts. She regretted that so much of her time
had been spent in light reading, and that her writings had not been
of a more decidedly religious character. "Mamma," said she one day,
"should God spare my life, my time and talents shall, for the
future, be devoted to a higher and holier end." "O mother, how
sadly have I trifled with the gifts of Heaven! What have I done
which can benefit one human being?" The New Testament was now her
daily study, and a portion of each day was devoted to private prayer
and self-examination.

The closing scene of her life, which occurred on the 25th November,
1838, would lose much of its interest in the description, if given in
other than the beautiful and touching language of her mother. It was
night, and, at the entreaty of her husband, Mrs. Davidson had laid
herself on the bed in a room adjoining that of her daughter. "Between
three and four o'clock, the friend who watched came again, and said,
'Margaret has asked for her mother.' I flew. She held a bottle of
ether in her hand, and pointed to her breast. I poured it on her head
and chest. She revived. 'I am better now,' said she. 'Mother, you
tremble; you are cold; put on your clothes.' I stepped to the fire,
and put on a wrapper, when she stretched out both her arms, and
exclaimed, 'Mother, take me in your arms.' I raised her, and, seating
myself on the bed, passed both my arms around her waist; her head
dropped on my bosom, and her expressive eyes were raised to mine.
That look I never shall forget; it said, 'Tell me, mother, is this
death?' I answered the appeal as if she had spoken. I laid my hand
upon her white brow; a cold dew had gathered there. I spoke--'Yes, my
beloved, it is almost finished; you will soon be with Jesus.' She gave
one more look, two or three short, fluttering breaths, and all was
over; her spirit was with its God: not a struggle or a groan preceded
her departure."

Thus perished Margaret Davidson, at the early age of fifteen years and
eight months. Her sister Lucretia had found in Miss Sedgwick a fitting
biographer, and the memory of Margaret has been rendered more dear by
the touching manner in which Irving has told her brief but wondrous
story. We cannot better close our imperfect sketch, than to use the
words of her biographer: "We shall not pretend to comment on these
records; they need no comment, and they admit no heightening. Indeed,
the farther we have proceeded with our subject, the more has the
intellectual beauty and the seraphic purity of the little being we
have endeavored to commemorate, broken upon us. To use one of her own
exquisite expressions, she was 'a spirit of heaven fettered by the
strong affections of earth,' and the whole of her brief sojourn here
seems to have been a struggle to regain her native skies."


The materials for preparing the memoirs of those American ladies whose
virtues were conspicuous, and whose position in society imposed upon
them great duties, and gave them an extensive influence in their day,
are, in general, exceedingly scanty. Happily, the piety of a
descendant has, in the present case, supplied the deficiency; and in a
mode the most satisfactory. We are here not only made acquainted with
the everyday life and actions as they were exhibited to the world
around, but are admitted to the inmost recesses of the heart, and all
its hopes and feelings are laid open to us. There are few who could
bear such an exposure; but in respect to the subject of our present
sketch, a nearer acquaintance and more rigid scrutiny serve only to
increase our veneration, and to confirm the verdict which her
contemporaries had passed upon her.

Abigail Smith, afterwards Mrs. Adams, was born on the 11th of
November, 1744. She was the daughter of the Rev. William Smith, the
minister of a small Congregational church in Weymouth, Massachusetts,
and was descended on both sides from the genuine stock of the

The cultivation of the female mind was neglected in the last century,
not merely as a matter of indifference, but of positive principle;
female learning was a subject of ridicule, and "female education," as
Mrs. Adams tells us, "in the best families, went no further than
writing and arithmetic; in some, and rare instances, music and
dancing." But Mrs. Adams did not have an opportunity of receiving even
the ordinary instruction. She was never sent to school, the delicate
state of her health forbidding it. But this is hardly to be considered
matter of regret, for constant intercourse with her pious and talented
relations had an influence upon her character of even greater value
than the learning of the schools. The lessons which made the deepest
impression upon her mind were imbibed from her maternal grandmother,
the wife of Colonel John Quincy. "I have not forgotten," says Mrs.
Adams, to her daughter, in 1795, "the excellent lessons which I
received from my grandmother, at a very early period of life. I
frequently think they made a more durable impression upon my mind than
those which I received from my own parents. Whether it was owing to
the happy method of mixing instruction and amusement together, or from
an inflexible adherence to certain principles, the utility of which I
could not but see and approve when a child, I know not; but maturer
years have rendered them oracles of wisdom to me. I love and revere
her memory; her lively, cheerful disposition animated all around her,
while she edified all by her unaffected piety. This tribute is due to
the memory of those virtues, the sweet remembrance of which will
flourish, though she has long slept with her ancestors."

But though the list of accomplishments thought essential for a young
lady's education was so scanty, it must not be supposed that the mind
was left wholly uncultivated. On the contrary, few women of the
present day are so well acquainted with the standard English authors,
as those of the period of which we are now speaking. The influence
which they had on the mind of the subject of this memoir, is apparent
throughout her published correspondence, not only in the style, in the
fondness for quotation, but in the love of fictitious signatures, of
which the "Spectator" had set the example. The social disposition of
youth renders an interchange of thoughts and feelings between those of
the same age essential to their happiness. The sparse population, and
comparatively small facilities for locomotion in the last century,
rendered personal intercourse difficult, and a frequent interchange of
letters was adopted as a substitute. This, as an exercise for the
mind, is of great value, as it induces habits of reflection, and leads
to precision and facility in expressing ideas.

A few of Mrs. Adams's letters, written at an early period of her life,
have been preserved, and from one of these--addressed to a married
lady, several years older than herself, which will account for a
gravity which is beyond her years and ordinary disposition--the
following extracts are made. It is dated at Weymouth, October 5th,

"Your letter I received, and, believe me, it has not been through
forgetfulness that I have not before this time returned you my
sincere thanks for the kind assurance you then gave me of continued
friendship. You have, I hope, pardoned my suspicions; they arose from
love. What persons in their right senses would calmly, and without
repining, or even inquiring into the cause, submit to lose their
greatest temporal good and happiness? for thus the divine, Dr. Young,
looks upon a friend, when he says,--

  'A friend is worth all hazards we can run;
  Poor is the friendless master of a world;
  A world in purchase for a friend is gain.'

* * * You have, like King Ahasuerus, held forth, though not a golden
sceptre, yet one more valuable,--the sceptre of friendship, if I may
so call it. Like Esther, I would draw nigh and touch it. Will you
proceed and say, 'What wilt thou?' and 'What is thy request? it shall
be given thee to the half of my' heart. Why, no, I think I will not
have so dangerous a present, lest your good man should find it out and
challenge me. * * * And now let me ask you, whether you do not think
that many of our disappointments, and much of our unhappiness, arise
from our forming false notions of things and persons. We strangely
impose on ourselves; we create a fairy land of happiness. Fancy is
fruitful, and promises fair, but, like the dog in the fable, we catch
at a shadow, and, when we find the disappointment, we are vexed, not
with ourselves, who are really the impostors, but with the poor,
innocent thing or person of whom we have formed such strange ideas.
* * * You bid me tell _one_ of my sparks--I think that was the
word--to bring me to see you. Why, I believe you think they are as
plenty as herrings, when, alas! there is as great a scarcity of them
as there is of justice, honesty, prudence, and many other virtues.
I've no pretensions to one. Wealth, wealth is the only thing that is
looked after now. 'Tis said Plato thought, if Virtue would appear to
the world, all mankind would be enamored of her; but now interest
governs the world, and men neglect the golden mean."

At the age of twenty, Miss Smith became the wife of John Adams,
afterwards president of the United States. Connected with this event,
an anecdote is related, which, as an indication of the fashion of the
day, and of the disposition of the bride's father, is too good to be
passed over. Mary, the eldest daughter of Mr. Smith, was married to
Richard Cranch, an English emigrant, and, as it would appear, with the
approbation of all parties; for, upon the Sabbath following, he
preached to his people from the text, "And Mary hath chosen that good
part, which shall not be taken from her." But Abigail was not so
fortunate; for her match, it would seem, met the disapprobation of
some of her father's parishioners, either on account of the profession
of Mr. Adams,--that of the law,--which was then an obnoxious one to
many people, who deemed it dishonest; or because they did not consider
Mr. Adams--the son of a small farmer--a sufficiently good match for
the daughter of one of the shining lights of the colony. Mr. Smith,
having become aware of the feeling which existed, took notice of it in
a sermon from the following text: "For John came neither eating bread
nor drinking wine, and ye say, He hath a devil."

The first ten years of Mrs. Adams's married life were passed in a
quiet and happy manner; her enjoyment suffering no interruptions
except those occasioned by the short absences of her husband, when he
attended the courts. In this period she became the mother of a
daughter and three sons, of whom John Quincy Adams was the eldest.

All are familiar with the distinguished part performed by Mr. Adams in
the scenes which immediately preceded our revolution. In all his
feelings and actions he had the sympathy and support of his wife, who
had thus in some measure become prepared for the stormy period which
was at hand.

Mr. Adams, having been appointed one of the delegates to the congress
to be held at Philadelphia, left home in August, 1774; and on the 19th
of that month, we find the following letter addressed to him by his

"The great distance between us makes the time appear very long to me.
It seems already a month since you left me. The great anxiety I feel
for my country, for you, and for our family, renders the day tedious,
and the night unpleasant. The rocks and the quicksands appear on every
side. What course you can and will take is all wrapped in the bosom of
futurity. Uncertainty and expectation leave the mind great scope. Did
ever any kingdom or state regain its liberty, when once it was
invaded, without bloodshed? I cannot think of it without horror. Yet
we are told, that all the misfortunes of Sparta were occasioned by
their too great solicitude for present tranquillity; and from an
excessive love of peace, they neglected the means of making it sure
and lasting. * * * I have taken a very great fondness for reading
Rollin's Ancient History. I am determined to go through it, if
possible, in these my days of solitude. I find great pleasure and
entertainment from it, and I have persuaded Johnny to read me a page
or two every day, and hope he will, from his desire to oblige me,
entertain a fondness for it. I want much to hear from you. I long
impatiently to have you upon the stage of action. The 1st of September
may, perhaps, be of as much importance to Great Britain, as the ides
of March to Cæsar. I wish you every public and private blessing, and
that wisdom which is profitable for instruction and edification, to
conduct you in this difficult day."

She perceived, at a very early period, that the conflict would not be
speedily settled, and of the personal consequences to herself she
speaks in the following affecting terms: "Far from thinking the scene
closed, it looks as though the curtain was but just drawn, and only
the first scene of the infernal plot disclosed: whether the end will
be tragical, Heaven alone knows. You cannot be, I know, nor do I wish
to see you, an inactive spectator; but, if the sword be drawn, I bid
adieu to all domestic felicity, and look forward to that country where
there are neither wars nor rumors of wars, in a firm belief that,
through the mercy of its King, we shall both rejoice there together."

Indeed, from this period till she joined her husband in Europe, in
1784, she enjoyed very little of his society. Had the state of the
times rendered it safe or agreeable for her to have accompanied her
husband in his journeys and voyages, the circumstances of the family
would not have allowed it. Without hereditary fortune, with no
opportunity of practising in his profession, and now serving the
public for a price which would not defray his actual and necessary
expenses,--Mr. Adams would have been, in his old age, in the
lamentable condition of many of the most active patriots of the
revolution, who, devoting their years of vigorous manhood to the
service of their country, were left, in their declining days, in a
state of penury,--had he not possessed in his wife a helper suited to
the exigency. She husbanded their small property, the savings of years
of professional prosperity; she managed the farm with skill; and in
all matters of business she displayed a degree of judgment and
sagacity not to be exceeded. All the powers of her mind were now
called into activity, and her character displayed itself in the most
favorable colors. The official rank of her husband imposed high duties
upon her; her timid neighbors looked to her for support and comfort,
and she was never found wanting.

The absence of Mr. Adams relieved his wife from one source of
anxiety--that for his personal safety. As the conflict in the early
periods of the revolution was confined to the vicinity of Boston, and
as the feelings of parties were more exasperated here than elsewhere,
he would have been in the greatest danger at home. It was a comfort to
her that her husband should "be absent a little while from the scenes
of perturbation, anxiety, and distress," which surrounded her.

As from her residence she could be an eye-witness of few of the
events, the details of which she relates, her letters are of most
value as furnishing a lively exhibition of her own and of the public
feeling. One event, which passed under her own observation, she thus
describes: "In consequence of the powder being taken from Charlestown,
a general alarm spread through many towns, and was pretty soon caught
here. On Sunday, a soldier was seen lurking about, supposed to be a
spy, but most likely a deserter. However, intelligence of it was
communicated to the other parishes, and about eight o'clock, Sunday
evening, there passed by here about two hundred men, preceded by a
horse-cart, and marched down to the powder-house, from whence they
took the powder, and carried it into the other parish, and there
secreted it. I opened the window upon their return. They passed
without any noise,--not a word among them,--till they came against the
house, when some of them, perceiving me, asked me if I wanted any
powder. I replied, No, since it was in so good hands. The reason they
gave for taking it was, that we had so many tories here, they dared
not trust it; they had taken the sheriff in their train, and upon
their return they stopped between Cleverly's and Eltee's, and called
upon him to deliver two warrants.[1] Upon his producing them, they put
it to vote whether they should burn them, and it passed in the
affirmative. They then made a circle and burnt them. They then called
a vote whether they should huzza, but, it being Sunday evening, it
passed in the negative. * * * This town appears as high as you can
well imagine, and, if necessary, would soon be in arms. Not a tory
but hides his head. The church parson thought they were coming after
him, and ran up garret; they say another jumped out of his window, and
hid among the corn; while a third crept under his board fence, and
told his beads."

In the midst of her public cares and anxieties, she did not neglect
her sacred duties as a mother. The care of the education of her four
children devolved entirely upon her, and "Johnny" was at an age to
require much attention. This subject occupied much of her thoughts;
and, indeed, the greatest value of her published correspondence
consists in the hints which it gives us of the course of culture
pursued in producing those glorious fruits of which other generations
have had the enjoyment. She carefully guarded against the contagion of
vice at that period when the mind and heart are most susceptible to
impressions. "I have always thought it," she says to her husband, "of
very great importance that children should, in the early part of life,
be unaccustomed to such examples as would tend to corrupt the purity
of their words and actions, that they may chill with horror at the
sound of an oath, and blush with indignation at an obscene expression.
These first principles, which grow with their growth and strengthen
with their strength, neither time nor custom can totally eradicate."
By precept, and much more by example, she sought to instil principles,
and to form habits, which should lead to the practice of every virtue.
Can we be surprised at the abhorrence which her "illustrious son of an
illustrious mother" has ever exhibited to oppression, when we find her
thus expressing her sentiments in behalf of the oppressed, at a time
when the subject of which she speaks had not excited any attention
either in Europe or America?--"I wish sincerely there was not a slave
in the province; it always appeared to me a most iniquitous scheme to
fight ourselves for what we are daily robbing and plundering from
those who have as good a right to freedom as we have."

During the recess of Congress, Mr. Adams was at home, but left it
again for Philadelphia on the 14th April, 1775. Four days afterwards
the expedition to Lexington and Concord took place. The news of this
event reached Mr. A. at Hartford; he, did not, however, yield to his
anxieties and return, but contented himself by sending home
encouragement and advice. After saying that he never feels any
personal fear, he adds, "I am often concerned for you and our dear
babes, surrounded as you are by people who are too timorous, and too
much susceptible of alarm. Many fears and imaginary evils will be
suggested to you, but I hope you will not be impressed by them. In
case of real danger, fly to the woods with my children."

Mrs. Adams might be excused for entertaining fears; her residence was
near the sea-coast, and the enemy sent out foraging expeditions: the
point of destination was perhaps some island in the harbor; but of
this there could be no certainty. Of one of the alarms thus
occasioned, Mrs. Adams writes to her husband as follows: "I suppose
you have had a formidable account of the alarm we had last Sunday
morning. When I rose, about six o'clock, I was told that the drums had
been some time beating, and that three alarm guns were fired; that
Weymouth bell had been ringing, and Mr. Weld's was then ringing. I
sent off an express to learn the cause, and found the whole town in
confusion. Three sloops and a cutter had dropped anchor just below
Great Hill. It was difficult to tell their designs: some supposed they
were coming to Germantown, others to Weymouth: people, women,
children, came flocking down this way; every woman and child driven
off below my father's; my father's family flying. The alarm flew like
lightning, and men from all parts came flocking down, till two
thousand were collected. But it seems their expedition was to Grape
Island, for Levett's hay." "They delight," says she, on another
occasion, "in molesting us upon the Sabbath. Two Sabbaths we have been
in such alarm that we have had no meeting; this day we have sat under
our own vine in quietness; have heard Mr. Taft. The good man was
earnest and pathetic. I could forgive his weakness for the sake of his
sincerity; but I long for a Cooper and an Elliot. I want a person who
has feeling and sensibility; who can take one up with him,

  And 'in his duty prompt at every call,'
  Can 'watch, and weep, and pray, and feel for all.'"

The battle of Bunker's Hill followed soon, and, from the top of the
highest house in Braintree, Mrs. Adams beheld the conflagration of
Charlestown. But she does not lose her courage. In writing to her
husband, she seeks to lessen his anxieties. "I would not," says she,
"have you be distressed about me. I have been distressed, but not
dismayed. I have felt for my country and her sons, and have bled with
them and for them."

The appointment of General Washington to the command of the army, then
stationed at Cambridge, inspired new confidence. Mrs. Adams thus
speaks of the impression made by her first interview with him and
General Lee: "I was struck with General Washington. You had prepared
me to entertain a favorable opinion of him; but I thought the half was
not told me. Dignity with ease and complacency, the gentleman and
soldier, look agreeably blended in him. Modesty marks every line and
feature of his face. Those lines of Dryden instantly occurred to me--

  'Mark his majestic fabric! he's a temple
  Sacred by birth, and built by hands divine;
  His soul's the deity that lodges there;
  Nor is the pile unworthy of the god.'

General Lee looks like a careless, hardy veteran, and, by his
appearance, brought to my mind his namesake, Charles XII. of Sweden.
The elegance of his pen far exceeds that of his person."

The horrors of war were now aggravated by those of pestilence. From
the British army in Boston, the dysentery had spread into the
surrounding country. Mrs. Adams and her whole family were attacked.
"Our house," she writes to her husband, September 8, 1775, "is a
hospital in every part, and, what with my own weakness and distress of
mind for my family, I have been unhappy enough. And such is the
distress of the neighborhood, that I can scarcely find a well person
to assist me in looking after the sick." Again on the 25th she writes,
"I sit with a heavy heart to write to you. Woe follows woe, and one
affliction treads upon the heels of another. My distress in my own
family having in some measure abated, it is excited anew upon that of
my dear mother. She has taken the disorder, and lies so bad, that we
have little hope of her recovery." On the 29th, "It is allotted me to
go from the sick and almost dying bed of one of the best of parents,
to my own habitation, where again I behold the same scene, only varied
by a remoter connection--

  'A bitter change, severer for severe.'

You can more easily conceive than I can describe what are the
sensations of my heart when absent from either, continually expecting
a messenger with the fatal tidings." "The desolation of war is not so
distressing as the havoc made by pestilence. Some poor parents are
mourning the loss of three, four, and five children; and some families
are wholly stripped of every member."

But the hand of the pestilence was stayed, and her country again
engrosses her thoughts. She very early declares herself for
independence, and wonders how any honest heart can hesitate at
adopting the same sentiment. An attempt to drive the enemy from Boston
is meditated, and she tells us that she has been kept in a state of
anxiety and expectation. "It has been said 'to-morrow' and 'to-morrow'
for this month; but when this dreadful to-morrow will be, I know not.
But hark! The house this instant shakes with the roar of cannon. I
have been to the door, and find it a cannonade from our army." The
militia are all ordered to repair to the lines. The result was thus
related: "I have just returned from Penn's Hill, where I have been
sitting to hear the amazing roar of cannon, and from whence I could
see every shell which was thrown. The sound, I think, is one of the
grandest in nature, and is of the true species of the sublime. * * * I
could no more sleep than if I had been in the engagement: the rattling
of the windows, the jar of the house, the continual roar of
twenty-four pounders, and the bursting of shells, give us such ideas,
and realize a scene to us of which we could form scarcely any
conception. * * * All my distress and anxiety is at present at an end.
I feel disappointed. This day our militia are all returning without
effecting any thing more than taking possession of Dorchester Hill. I
hope it is wise and just, but, from all the muster and stir, I hoped
and expected more important and decisive scenes. I would not have
suffered all I have for two such hills." The British soon afterwards
evacuated Boston, and Massachusetts never again became the theatre of

In 1778, the fortitude of Mrs. Adams received a new trial. Her husband
was appointed one of the commissioners at the court of France. The sea
was covered with the enemy's ships; and, should he escape these and
all the natural dangers of the seas, and arrive at the place of his
destination in safety, rumor said that he would there be exposed to
one of a more terrific character, "to the dark assassin, to the secret
murderer, and the bloody emissary of as cruel a tyrant as God, in his
righteous judgments, ever suffered to disgrace the throne of Britain.
I have," continues Mrs. Adams, writing soon after her husband's
departure, "travelled with you across the Atlantic, and could have
landed you safe, with humble confidence, at your desired haven, and
then have set myself down to enjoy a negative kind of happiness, in
the painful part which it has pleased Heaven to allot me; but the
intelligence with regard to that great philosopher, able statesman,
and unshaken friend of his country,"--alluding to a report of Dr.
Franklin's assassination in Paris,--"has planted a dagger in my
breast, and I feel with a double edge the weapon that pierced his
bosom. * * * To my dear son remember me in the most affectionate
terms. Enjoin it upon him never to disgrace his mother, and to behave
worthily of his father. I console myself with the hopes of his reaping
advantages under the careful eye of a tender parent, which it was not
in my power to bestow." Mr. Adams was accompanied by his eldest son,
John Quincy Adams, and, after incurring various hazards from
lightning, storm, and the enemy, arrived in France. The maternal
solicitude of Mrs. Adams relieved itself in part by writing letters to
her son filled with the warmest affection and the most wise counsel.
She urges it upon him "to adhere to those religious sentiments and
principles which were early instilled into your mind, and remember
that you are accountable to your Maker for all your words and actions.
Great learning and superior abilities, should you ever possess them,
will be of little value and small estimation, unless virtue, honor,
truth, and integrity, are added to them. Dear as you are to me, I
would much rather you should have found a grave in the ocean you have
crossed, than see you an immoral, profligate, or graceless child."

As has already been said, Mrs. Adams managed her husband's money
affairs at home. A short extract from one of her business letters to
him may be interesting, and will show how a matter always troublesome
was in such times doubly so: "The safest way, you tell me, of
supplying my wants, is by drafts; but I cannot get hard money for
bills. You had as good tell me to procure diamonds for them; and when
bills will fetch but five for one, hard money will exchange ten, which
I think is very provoking; and I must give at the rate of ten, and
sometimes twenty, for one, for every article I purchase. I blush
whilst I give you a price current; all meat from a dollar to eight
shillings a pound; corn twenty-five dollars, rye thirty, per bushel;
flour two hundred dollars per hundred pounds; potatoes ten dollars per
bushel, &c. I have studied, and do study, every method of economy;
otherwise a mint of money would not support a family. I could not
board our sons under forty dollars a week at school. * * * We have
been greatly distressed for grain. I scarcely know the looks or taste
of biscuit or flour for this four months; yet thousands have been much
worse off, having no grain of any sort." Nor were things then at the
worst; for in October, 1780, we find "meat eight dollars, and butter
twelve, per pound; corn one hundred and twenty dollars, and rye one
hundred and eight, per bushel; tea ninety dollars, and cotton wool
thirty, per pound." But our readers must not suppose that this was
entirely owing to a scarcity of products; these prices are in
"continental money," seventy dollars of which would hardly command one
of "hard money."

Hitherto Mr. Adams's residence had seemed too unsettled to render it
worth while for his wife to undertake a long and dangerous voyage to
meet him. But after the acknowledgment of our independence by Great
Britain, a commission was sent to Mr. Adams as first minister to that
court; and it was probable that his residence there would be
sufficiently long to justify him in a request to Mrs. Adams to join
him. The feelings of the latter on the subject were thus expressed
before the appointment was actually made: "I have not a wish to join
in a scene of life so different from that in which I have been
educated, and in which my early, and, I must suppose, happier days
have been spent. Well-ordered home is my chief delight, and the
affectionate, domestic wife, with the relative duties which accompany
that character, my highest ambition. It was the disinterested wish of
sacrificing my personal feelings to the public utility, which first
led me to think of unprotectedly hazarding a voyage. This objection
could only be surmounted by the earnest wish I had to soften those
toils which were not to be dispensed with; and if the public welfare
required your labors and exertions abroad, I flattered myself that, if
I could be with you, it might be in my power to contribute to your
happiness and pleasure." "I think, if you were abroad in a private
character, I should not hesitate so much at coming to you; but a mere
American, as I am, unacquainted with the etiquette of courts, taught
to say the thing I mean, and to wear my heart in my countenance,--I
am sure I should make an awkward figure; and then it would mortify my
pride, if I should be thought to disgrace you."

In spite, however, of this reluctance, she embarked on board the
_Active_, a merchant ship, for London. Of this voyage Mrs. Adams
has given a most graphic and not very agreeable picture; and nothing
can present a greater contrast than her dirty, close, narrow
quarters, on board a vessel deeply loaded with oil and potash,--the
oil leaking, and the potash smoking and fermenting,--with the
floating palaces in which the voyage is now made. The culinary
department was in keeping with the rest of the ship. "The cook was a
great, dirty, lazy negro, with no more knowledge of cookery than a
savage; nor any kind of order in the distribution of his dishes; but
on they come, higgledy-piggledy, with a leg of pork all bristly; a
quarter of an hour afterwards, a pudding; or, perhaps, a pair of roast
fowls first of all, and then will follow, one by one, a piece of
beef, and, when dinner is nearly completed, a plate of potatoes. Such
a fellow is a real imposition upon the passengers. But gentlemen
know but little about the matter, and if they can get enough to eat
five times a day, all goes well." Yet the passengers, of whom there
were a number, were agreeable, and, as the wind and weather were
favorable, the voyage did not last more than thirty days.

She hoped to have found Mr. Adams in London, but he was at the Hague;
and "Master John," after waiting a month for her in London, had
returned to the latter place. She received, however, every attention
from the numerous Americans then in London, refugees as well as
others, many of whom had been her personal friends at home. Ten days
were spent in sight-seeing, on the last of which a servant comes
running in, exclaiming, "Young Mr. Adams has come!" "Where, where is
he?" cried out all. "In the other house, madam; he stopped to get his
hair dressed." "Impatient enough I was," continues Mrs. A.; "yet, when
he entered, we had so many strangers, that I drew back, not really
believing my eyes, till he cried out, 'O my mamma, and my dear
sister!' Nothing but the eyes, at first sight, appeared what he once
was. His appearance is that of a man, and on his countenance the most
perfect good-humor; his conversation by no means denies his stature."

Her first year in Europe was spent at Auteuil, near Paris, and she
seems to have enjoyed herself, in spite of her ignorance of the
language; though she sometimes expresses her longing for home and the
enjoyment of social intercourse with her friends in America. Her
letters, during this period, present us with a lively picture of the
state of society and of manners. We have space only for her account of
her first visit to madame de la Fayette. "The marquise met me at the
door, and with the freedom of an old acquaintance, and the rapture
peculiar to the ladies of this nation, caught me by the hand, and gave
me a salute upon each cheek. She presented me to her mother and
sister, who were present with her, all sitting in her bedroom, quite
_en famille_. One of the ladies was knitting. The marquise herself was
in a chintz gown. She is a middle-sized lady, sprightly and
agreeable, and professes herself strongly attached to Americans. She
is fond of her children, and very attentive to them, which is not the
general character of ladies of high rank in Europe. In a few days, she
returned my visit, upon which I sent her a card of invitation to dine.
She came. We had a large company. There is not a lady in our country
who would have gone abroad to dine so little dressed; and one of our
fine American ladies, who sat by me, whispered to me, 'Good heavens!
how awfully she is dressed!' I could not forbear returning the
whisper, which I most sincerely despised, by replying that the lady's
rank sets her above the little formalities of dress. The rouge, 'tis
true, was not so artfully laid on, as upon the faces of the American
ladies who were present. Whilst they were glittering with diamonds,
buckles, watch-chains, girdle-buckles, &c., the marquise was nowise
ruffled by her own different appearance. A really well-bred
Frenchwoman has the most ease in her manners that you can possibly
conceive of."

In June, 1784, Mr. Adams took up his residence in London. His
situation and that of his wife was far from being a pleasant one. The
hostile feelings towards Americans, engendered by so many years of
warfare, and exasperated by the mortification of ill-success, had not
subsided. The loss of his North American colonies was severely felt by
the king, who had too much good sense, however, to suffer his feelings
to appear in his intercourse with the new minister; but the queen,
who, though exemplary in the discharge of domestic duties, was
weak-minded, proud, and petulant, could not conceal her bitterness,
and her conduct towards Mrs. Adams was hardly civil. Perhaps, however,
the account of it given by the latter is colored by her own prejudices
against the royal family, which, throughout her life were expressed in
the strongest language, and which, towards the king, at least, were
entirely unjust. Her presentation at court could not but be somewhat
embarrassing and awkward to all parties. The manner in which it passed
shall be related in her own words. "The ceremony of presentation is
considered as indispensable. One is obliged to attend the circles of
the queen, which are held in summer once a fortnight, but once a week
the rest of the year; and what renders it very expensive, is, that you
cannot go twice the same season in the same dress, and a court dress
cannot be used any where else. I directed my mantua-maker to let my
dress be elegant, but as plain as it could be, with decency;
accordingly it is white lutestring, covered and full trimmed with
white crape, festooned with lilac ribbon and mock point lace, over a
hoop of enormous extent; a narrow train of three yards, which is put
into a ribbon on the left side, the queen only having a train-bearer.
Ruffle cuffs, treble lace ruffles, a very dress cap, with long lace
lappets, two white plumes, and a blond lace handkerchief--this is my
rigging. I should have mentioned two pearl pins in my hair, ear-rings
and necklace of the same kind. * * * 'Well,' methinks I hear you say,
'what is your daughter's dress?' White, my dear girls, like her
mother's, only differently trimmed; her train being wholly of white
crape, and trimmed with white ribbon; the petticoat, which is the
most showy part of the dress, covered and drawn up in what are called
festoons, with light wreaths of beautiful flowers; sleeves white
crape, drawn over the silk, with a row of lace round the sleeve, near
the shoulder, another half way down the arm, and a third upon the top
of the ruffle, a little flower stuck between; a kind of hat cap, with
three large feathers, and a bunch of flowers; a wreath of flowers upon
the hair. * * * We were placed in a circle round the drawing-room,
which was very full, I believe two hundred persons present. The royal
family have to go to every person, and find small talk enough to speak
to all, though they very prudently speak in a whisper. The king
enters, and goes round to the right; the queen and princesses to the
left. The king is a personable man, but with a red face and white
eyebrows. The queen has a similar face, and the numerous royal family
resemble them. When the king came to me, Lord Onslaw said, 'Mrs.
Adams;' upon which I drew off my right hand glove, and his majesty
saluted my left cheek, then asked me if I had taken a walk to-day. I
could have told his majesty that I had been all the morning preparing
to wait upon him; but I replied, 'No, sire.' 'Why, don't you love
walking?' says he. I answered that I was rather indolent in that
respect. He then bowed and passed on. It was more than two hours after
this, before it came my turn to be presented to the queen. She was
evidently embarrassed when I was presented to her. I had disagreeable
feelings too. She, however, said, 'Mrs. Adams, have you got into your
house? Pray, how do you like the situation of it?' whilst the royal
princess looked compassionate, and asked me if I was not much
fatigued. Her sister, Princess Augusta, after having asked your niece
if she was ever in England before, and her answering, 'Yes,' inquired
of me how long ago, and supposed it was when she was very young. And
all this with much affability, and the ease and freedom of old
acquaintance. * * * As to the ladies of the court, rank and title may
compensate for want of personal charms; but they are, in general, very
plain, ill-shaped, and ugly; but don't you tell any body that I say
so; the observation did not hold good, that fine feathers make fine
birds." Referring to this same occasion in a subsequent letter, she
says, "I own that I never felt myself in a more contemptible situation
than when I stood four hours together for a gracious smile from
majesty, a witness to the anxious solicitude of those around me for
the same mighty _boon_. I, however, had a more dignified honor, as his
majesty _deigned to salute me_."

Of other sources of annoyance Mrs. Adams thus speaks: "Some years
hence, it may be a pleasure to reside here in the character of
American minister; but, with the present salary, and the present
temper of the English, no one need envy the embassy. There would soon
be fine work, if any notice was taken of their billingsgate and abuse;
but all their arrows rebound, and fall harmless to the ground. Amidst
all their falsehoods, they have never insinuated a lisp against the
private character of the American minister, nor in his public line
charged him with either want of abilities, honor, or integrity. The
whole venom is levelled against poor America, and every effort to make
her appear ridiculous in the eyes of the nation."

It would have been difficult to find a person better adapted than Mrs.
Adams for the trying situation in which she found herself. In other
times, a woman of more yielding temper, who could adapt herself more
readily to those about her, would, perhaps, answer better. Love of
country was engrained in her; for her "the birds of Europe had not
half the melody of those at home; the fruit was not half so sweet, nor
the flowers half so fragrant, nor the manners half so pure, nor the
people half so virtuous." Three years' residence in England produced
no change of feeling. In anticipation of a return to her home, we find
her writing thus: "I shall quit Europe with more pleasure than I came
to it, uncontaminated, I hope, with its manners and vices. I have
learned to know the world and its value; I have seen high life; I have
witnessed the luxury and pomp of state, the power of riches, and the
influence of titles, and have beheld all ranks bow before them, as the
only shrine worthy of worship. Notwithstanding this, I feel that I can
return to my little cottage, and be happier than here; and, if we have
not wealth, we have what is better--integrity."

Soon after Mr. Adams's return, he was elected vice-president of the
United States, and took up his residence, at least during the sessions
of Congress, first at New York, and afterwards at Philadelphia. The
"court" of General Washington was much more to the taste of Mrs. Adams
than that of George III.; the circle at the first "drawing-room," she
tells us, was very brilliant; that "the dazzling Mrs. Bingham and her
charming sisters were there; in short, a constellation of beauties."

The next eight years of her life, during which her husband held the
office of vice-president, were passed with few incidents to disturb
her happiness. Another generation, the children of her daughter, who
was married to Colonel Smith, were receiving the benefits of her
instruction and experience.

A residence at Philadelphia was not favorable to her health, which,
never having been very firm, about this period began decidedly to
fail. The bracing air of Quincy was found to be more congenial. For
this reason, she was not with her husband at the time when his
official duty required him to announce himself as the successor to
General Washington; and to this circumstance we are indebted for the
following letter,--written on the day on which the votes were counted
by the Senate,--in which, says her biographer, "the exalted feeling of
the moment shines out with all the lustre of ancient patriotism,
chastened by a sentiment of Christian humility of which ancient
history furnishes no example:"--

  "QUINCY, _February 8th, 1797_.

    "'The sun is dressed in brightest beams,
    To give thy honors to the day.'

  And may it prove an auspicious prelude to each ensuing season. You
  have this day to declare yourself head of a nation. 'And now, O
  Lord, thou hast made thy servant ruler over the people. Give unto
  him an understanding heart, that he may know how to go out and
  come in before this great people; that he may discern between good
  and bad. For who is able to judge this thy so great a people?'
  were the words of a royal sovereign, and not less applicable to
  him who is invested with the chief magistracy of a nation, though
  he wear not a crown, nor the robes of royalty. My thoughts and my
  meditations are with you, though personally absent; and my
  petitions to Heaven are, that the 'things which make for peace may
  not be hidden from your eyes.' My feelings are not those of pride
  or ostentation. They are solemnized by a sense of the obligations,
  the important trusts, and numerous duties, connected with it. That
  you may be enabled to discharge them with honor to yourself, with
  justice and impartiality to your country, and with satisfaction to
  this great people, shall be the daily prayer of your

  A. A."

Never has this country witnessed such scenes as characterized the
struggle between the two great political parties which divided the
people during Mr. Adams's administration. As the representative of one
of these, he was assailed with an asperity and malignity to which,
happily, succeeding electioneering furnishes no parallel. Accustomed
to take a warm interest in political events, it could not be expected
that Mrs. Adams should cease to do so when her husband was the chief
actor; nor is it surprising that she should have felt what she deemed
the ingratitude of his countrymen in casting aside so long-tried and
faithful a servant. Retirement to private life was to her a source of
rejoicing rather than of regret. At her age, and with her infirmities,
she was far happier at Quincy, overseeing the operations of her dairy,
whilst her husband, like Cincinnatus, assumed the plough. She has left
a record of one day's life; and from this we suppose other days varied
but little. It is in a letter to her granddaughter, dated November
19th, 1812. "Six o'clock. Rose, and, in imitation of his Britannic
majesty, kindled my own fire. Went to the stairs, as usual, to summon
George and Charles. Returned to my chamber, dressed myself. No one
stirred. Called a second time, with a voice a little raised. Seven
o'clock. Blockheads not out of bed. Girls in motion. Mean, when I hire
another man-servant, that he shall come for one call. Eight o'clock.
Fires made. Breakfast prepared. Mr. A. at the tea-board. Forgot the
sausages. Susan's recollection brought them upon the table. _Enter
Ann._ 'Ma'am, the man is come with coal.' 'Go call George to assist
him.' _Exit Ann._ _Enter Charles._ 'Mr. B. is come with cheese,
turnips, &c. Where are they to be put?' 'I will attend to him myself.'
_Exit Charles._ Just seated at the table again. _Enter George_, with,
'Ma'am, here is a man with a drove of pigs.' A consultation is held
upon this important subject, the result of which is the purchase of
two spotted swine. Nine o'clock. _Enter Nathaniel_ from the upper
house, with a message for sundries; and black Thomas's daughter for
sundries. Attended to all these concerns. A little out of sorts that I
could not finish my breakfast. Note; never to be incommoded with
trifles. _Enter George Adams_ from the post-office--a large packet
from Russia, (to which court her son J. Q. Adams was then minister.)
Avaunt, all cares! I put you all aside, and thus I find good news from
a far country. Children, grandchildren all well. For this blessing I
give thanks. At twelve o'clock, by previous engagement, I was to call
for cousin B. Smith, to accompany me to the bridge at Quincy Port,
being the first day of passing it. Passed both bridges, and entered
Hingham. Returned before three. Dined, and, at five, went to Mr. T. G.
Smith, with your grandfather--the third visit he has made with us in
the week; and let me whisper to you, he played at whist. Returned. At
nine, sat down and wrote a letter. At eleven, retired to bed. By all
this you will learn that grandmother has got rid of her croaking, and
that grandfather is in good health, and that both of us are as
tranquil as that bold old fellow, Time, will let us be. Here I was
interrupted in my narrative. I reassume my pen upon the 22d of
November, being this day sixty-eight years old."[2]

From 1801 until her death, in 1818, Mrs. Adams resided at Quincy.
Cheerful and retaining the possession of her faculties to the last,
she enlivened the social circle about her, and solaced the solitary
hours of her husband. She lived long enough to see the seeds of virtue
and knowledge which she had planted in the minds of her children,
spring up and ripen into maturity; to receive a recompense, in
addition to the consciousness of duty performed, for her anxiety and
labors, in the respect and honors which her eldest son received from
his countrymen.

  [1] For summoning juries.

  [2] President Adams survived his excellent lady several years, and
      died on the 4th of July, 1826, aged ninety-one. On the morning
      of the jubilee, he was roused by the ringing of bells and the
      firing of cannon. Being asked if he knew what day it was, he
      replied, "O yes, it is the glorious 4th of July--God bless it!
      God bless you all!" Just before he expired, he said, "Jefferson
      survives;" but at one o'clock that very day, Jefferson rendered
      up his spirit to his Maker. The family residence of John Adams
      at Quincy is the residence of his distinguished son, John Quincy


Martha Dandridge was born in the county of New Kent, Virginia, in May,
1732. Her education was entirely of a domestic character, there being
no schools in the region where she dwelt. As she grew up, she was
distinguished for personal beauty, pleasing manners, and general
amiability of demeanor. She frequently appeared at the court of
Williamsburg, then held by the royal governors of Virginia, and became
a general favorite.

At the age of seventeen, she was married to Daniel Park Custis, of her
native county, and the new-married couple were settled at the White
House, on the banks of the Pamunkey River. Mr. Custis devoted himself
to agricultural pursuits, and became an eminently successful planter.
They had four children, two of whom died at an early period. Martha
arrived at womanhood, and died at Mount Vernon, in 1770, and John
perished at the age of twenty-seven, while in the service of his
country, at the siege of Yorktown, in 1781. Mr. Custis died at about
middle age, leaving his widow, still young, yet possessed of an ample
fortune. Beside extensive landed estates, she had £30,000 sterling in

[Illustration: MRS. WASHINGTON.]

Mrs. Custis was sole executor of her husband's will, and she appears
to have been well qualified to discharge the duties which devolved
upon her. She conducted her affairs with surprising ability, and the
concerns of her extensive fortune seemed to thrive under her
management. In 1758, Colonel Washington, then twenty-six years of age,
became accidentally acquainted with the fair widow, and, after a brief
courtship, they were married. This occurred in 1759. Soon after, they
removed to Mount Vernon, which henceforward became their permanent

Mrs. Washington had no children by this second marriage. Martha and
John Custis were, however, fully adopted into the affections of her
present husband. In discharging her various domestic duties, and
rearing her children, time flowed smoothly on for almost twenty years.
In 1775, Washington, being appointed commander-in-chief of the
American army, proceeded to Cambridge, and did not return to Mount
Vernon till after the peace of 1783, except in a single instance. In
December, she proceeded to Cambridge, and joined her husband. Here she
remained till spring, having witnessed the siege and evacuation of
Boston. She then returned to Virginia.

During the war, it was the custom for the general to despatch an
aid-de-camp to Mount Vernon, at the close of each campaign, to escort
his wife to head-quarters. The arrival of Lady Washington, as she was
now called, at the camp, was an event always anticipated with
pleasure, and was the signal for the ladies of the general officers to
join their husbands. The appearance of the aid-de-camp, escorting the
plain family chariot, with the neat postilions in their scarlet and
white liveries, was deemed an epoch in the army, and served to diffuse
a cheering influence even amid the gloom which hung over our
destinies, at Valley Forge, Morristown, and West Point. She always
remained at head-quarters till the opening of the campaign, and she
often remarked, in after life, that it had been her fortune to hear
the first cannon at the opening, and the last at the closing, of the
several campaigns of the war.

During the whole period of the revolutionary struggle, she preserved
her equanimity, together with a degree of cheerfulness which
inspired all around her with the brightest hopes of final success.
The glorious results of the campaign of 1781 were, however,
associated with an event most afflictive to her. John Custis, now her
only child, had accompanied Washington to the siege of Boston, and had
witnessed the most important events of the contest. At Yorktown, he
was one of the aids of Washington, and lived to see the surrender of
the British army on the 19th of October; but he died soon after of
camp fever, which was then raging to a frightful extent within the
enemy's intrenchments.

The war being closed, Washington returned to Mount Vernon. His time
was now occupied in the peaceful pursuits of private life. He
cultivated his lands, and improved his residence at Mount Vernon by
additional buildings, and the laying out of his gardens and grounds.
He occasionally diversified his employments by the pleasures of the
chase. Much of his time, however, was occupied in discharging the
grateful duties of hospitality. His fame was spread far and wide, and
his home was crowded with guests, among whom were often seen
illustrious strangers from foreign lands. During this happy period,
Mrs. Washington performed the duties of a Virginia housewife, and
presided at her well-spread board, with an ease and elegance of manner
suited to her character and station.

The period at length arrived when Washington was again to leave his
home, and enter upon public duties. Being elected president of the
United States, he set out, in the spring of 1789, to join Congress at
New York, then the seat of the general government. Accompanied by his
lady, he proceeded to that city, every where received by crowds of
people, showering upon him their most grateful homage. At Trenton, New
Jersey, he was received in a manner which is said to have affected him
even to tears. In addition to the usual military compliments, the
bridge over the creek running through the town was covered with a
triumphal arch, supported by thirteen pillars, entwined and ornamented
with flowers and laurel, and bearing on the front, in large gilt
letters, this inscription:--

            WILL BE THE

Here were assembled the mothers and daughters dressed in white, each
bearing a basket of flowers, which were strewn before the chief,
while they sang it chorus,

  "Welcome, mighty chief, once more,
  Welcome to this grateful shore;
    Now no mercenary foe
    Aims again the fatal blow,
    Aims at thee the fatal blow.

  Virgins fair and matrons grave,
  Those thy conquering arms did save,
    Build for thee triumphal bowers;
    Strew, ye fair, his way with flowers,
    Strew your hero's way with flowers."

Arrived at New York, the president's establishment was formed upon a
scale partaking at once of simplicity and dignity. "The house was
handsomely furnished; the equipages neat, with horses of the first
order; the servants wore the family liveries; and, with the exception
of a steward and housekeeper, the whole establishment differed very
little from that of a private gentleman. On Tuesdays, from three to
four o'clock, the president received the foreign ambassadors and
strangers who wished to be introduced to him. On these occasions, and
when opening the session of Congress, he wore a dress sword. His
personal apparel was always remarkable for being old-fashioned, and
exceedingly plain and neat.

"On Thursdays were the congressional dinners, and on Friday night,
Mrs. Washington's drawing-room. The company usually assembled about
seven, and rarely staid exceeding ten o'clock. The ladies were seated,
and the president passed round the circle, paying his compliments to
each. At the drawing-rooms, Mrs. Morris always sat at the right of the
lady president, and at all dinners, public or private, at which Robert
Morris was a guest, that venerable man was placed at the right of Mrs.
Washington. When ladies called at the president's mansion, the habit
was for the secretaries and gentlemen of the president's household to
hand them to and from their carriages; but when the honored relicts of
Greene and Montgomery came, the president himself performed these
complimentary duties.

"On the great national festivals of the fourth of July and twenty-second
of February, the sages of the revolutionary Congress and the officers
of the revolutionary army renewed their acquaintance with Mrs.
Washington. Many and kindly greetings took place, with many a
recollection of the days of trial. The members of the Society of
Cincinnatus, after paying their respects to the chief, were seen to
file off towards the parlor, where Lady Washington was in waiting to
receive them, and where Wayne, and Mifflin, and Dickenson, and Stewart,
and Moylan, and Hartley, and a host of veterans, were cordially
welcomed as old friends, and where many an interesting reminiscence
was called up, of the head-quarters and the 'times of the revolution.'

"On Sundays, unless the weather was uncommonly severe, the president
and Mrs. Washington attended divine service at Christ Church; and in
the evenings, the president read to Mrs. Washington, in her chamber, a
sermon, or some portion of the sacred writings. No visitors, with the
exception of Mr. Trumbull, of Connecticut,--who was then speaker of
the house, and afterwards governor of Connecticut,--were admitted on

"There was one description of visitors, however, to be found about the
first president's mansion, on all days. The old soldiers repaired, as
they said, to head-quarters, just to inquire after the health of his
excellency and Lady Washington. They knew his excellency was, of
course, much engaged; but they would like to see the good lady. One
had been a soldier of the life-guard; another had been on duty, when
the British threatened to surprise the head-quarters; a third had
witnessed that terrible fellow, Cornwallis, surrender his sword; each
one had some touching appeal, with which to introduce himself at the
peaceful head-quarters of the president. All were 'kindly bid to
stay,' were conducted to the steward's apartments, and refreshments
set before them; and, after receiving some little token from the lady,
with her best wishes for the health and happiness of an old soldier,
they went their ways, while blessings upon their revered commander and
the good Lady Washington were uttered by many a war-worn veteran of
the revolution."[3]

In the autumn of 1789, General Washington made a tour to the Eastern
States. Soon after his return, Mrs. Washington addressed a letter to
Mrs. Warren, of Boston, giving an account of her views and feelings at
that period, which, as it is interesting for the information it
contains, and alike creditable to the head and heart of the writer, we
present to the reader. It is dated December 26th, 1789.

"Your very friendly letter of last month has afforded much more
satisfaction than all the formal compliments and empty ceremonies of
mere etiquette could possibly have done. I am not apt to forget the
feelings which have been inspired by my former society with good
acquaintances, nor to be insensible to their expressions of gratitude
to the president; for you know me well enough to do me the justice to
believe that I am fond only of what comes from the heart. Under a
conviction that the demonstrations of respect and affection to him
originate in that source, I cannot deny that I have taken some
interest and pleasure in them. The difficulties which first presented
themselves to view on his first entering upon the presidency, seem
thus to be in some measure surmounted. It is owing to the kindness of
our numerous friends in all quarters that my new and unwished-for
situation is not indeed a burden to me. When I was much younger, I
should probably have enjoyed the innocent gayeties of life as much as
most persons of my age; but I had long since placed all the prospects
of my future happiness in the still enjoyments of the fireside at
Mount Vernon.

"I little thought, when the war was finished, that any circumstances
could possibly happen, which would call the general into public life
again. I had anticipated that, from that moment, we should be suffered
to grow old together in solitude and tranquillity. That was the first
and dearest wish of my heart. I will not, however, contemplate with
too much regret, disappointments that were inevitable, though his
feelings and my own were in perfect unison with respect to our
predilection for private life. Yet I cannot blame him for having
acted according to his ideas of duty in obeying the voice of his
country. The consciousness of having attempted to do all the good in
his power, and the pleasure of finding his fellow-citizens so well
satisfied with the disinterestedness of his conduct, will, doubtless,
be some compensation for the great sacrifices which I know he has
made. Indeed, on his journey from Mount Vernon to this place in his
late tour through the Eastern States, by every public and every
private information which has come to him, I am persuaded he has
experienced nothing to make him repent his having acted from what he
conceived to be a sense of indispensable duty. On the contrary, all
his sensibility has been awakened in receiving such repeated and
unequivocal proofs of sincere regard from his countrymen.

"With respect to myself, I sometimes think the arrangement is not
quite as it ought to have been,--that I, who had much rather be at
home, should occupy a place with which a great many younger and gayer
women would be extremely pleased. As my grandchildren and domestic
connections make up a great portion of the felicity which I looked for
in this world, I shall hardly be able to find any substitute that will
indemnify me for the loss of a part of such endearing society. I do
not say this because I feel dissatisfied with my present station; for
every body and every thing conspire to make me as contented as
possible in it; yet I have learned too much of the vanity of human
affairs to expect felicity from the scenes of public life. I am still
determined to be cheerful and happy in whatever situation I may be;
for I have also learned from experience that the greater part of our
happiness or misery depends on our dispositions, and not on our
circumstances. We carry the seeds of the one or the other about with
us in our minds wherever we go.

"I have two of my grandchildren with me, who enjoy advantages in point
of education, and who, I trust, by the goodness of Providence, will be
a great blessing to me. My other two grandchildren are with their
mother in Virginia."

In the spring of 1797, bidding adieu to public life, Washington
took leave of the seat of government, and returned to Mount Vernon,
prepared in good earnest to spend the remainder of his days in
retirement. He accepted, indeed, the command of the army of the
United States, soon after; but this did not draw him from his home.
In 1799, he died, after a brief illness. His affectionate partner
was at the bedside when his spirit departed. "It is all over now,"
said she. "I shall soon follow him. I have no more trials to pass
through." About two years after, she was seized with bilious fever.
Being perfectly aware that her end was at hand, she assembled her
grandchildren at her bedside, discoursed with them of their duties in
life, of the happy influences of religion, of the consolations it had
afforded her in hours of affliction, and the hopes it offered of a
blessed immortality; and then, surrounded by weeping relatives,
friends, and domestics, the venerable relict of Washington resigned
her life into the hands of her Creator, in the seventy-first year
of her age.

Few women have figured in the great drama of life, amid scenes so
varied and imposing, with so few faults, and so many virtues, as
Martha Washington. Identified with the Father of his country in the
great events which led to our national independence, she partook much
of his thoughts, views, and counsels. In the dark hours of trial, her
cheerfulness soothed his anxieties, and her devotional piety aided him
in drawing hope and confidence from Heaven. She was indeed the fit
partner of Washington, and, in her sphere, appears to have discharged
her duties with a dignity, devotion, and consistency, worthy of her
exalted destinies.

  [3] American Portrait Gallery.


Jacques Necker, born of Protestant parents at Geneva, was sent, at
the age of fifteen, to seek his fortune at Paris. After serving as
a clerk in the banking-house of Vernet, he passed into that of the
eminent banker Thelusson, where he displayed such a capacity for
business, as to lead to his admission into the house as a partner.
In a few years he acquired a large fortune, and withdrew from active
business, but remained at Paris as minister of the republic of
Geneva to the French court. His "Eloge de Colbert," which gained the
prize in the French Academy in 1773, and his essay on the corn
laws, first drew towards him the attention of the public, which
finally settled upon him as the only person capable of preserving
the country from that bankruptcy upon the verge of which it was
standing; and Louis XVI., notwithstanding his religious bigotry, was
compelled to appoint Necker to the office of director-general of
the finances, in 1785, being the first Protestant who had held office
since the revocation of the edict of Nantes.

There resided with Madame Thelusson, as companion, a Swiss lady, named
Curchod, the same who had the fortune to excite in the bosom of the
historian Gibbon, for the first and last time, the passion of love.
There is, however, no undue praise in the following description which
he has given of her: "The personal attractions of Mdlle. Curchod were
embellished by the virtues and talents of her mind. Her fortune was
humble, but her family was respectable. Her mother, a native of
France, had preferred her religion to her country. Her father, with
the moderation of a philosopher, was content with a small salary and
laborious duty in the obscure lot of minister of Cressy, a small
village in the mountains of Switzerland. He bestowed a liberal and
even learned education on his only daughter. She surpassed his hopes
by her proficiency in the sciences and languages; and in her short
visits to Lausanne, the wit, the beauty, and the learning, of
Mademoiselle Curchod were the theme of universal applause. The report
of such a prodigy awakened my curiosity; I saw and loved. I found her
learned without pedantry, witty in conversation, pure in sentiment,
and elegant in manners." After the death of her father, she supported
herself and her mother by teaching young ladies at Geneva; from whence
she removed to Paris.

The character of Necker gained her admiration, her respect, and her
love. She married him; and, from that time, the great business of her
life was to make him happy. To divert him after the cares of business,
she sought to make her house agreeable. She had not the light and gay
manners of a Parisian lady, but she had a native grace and sweetness,
and a solidity of talent, which caused her society to be sought for by
the learned and intelligent, and her drawing-rooms to be filled with
the _beaux esprits_ of Paris.

Her only daughter, Anne Louisa Germaine, born in 1766, became her next
object of solicitude. She wished that her education should be perfect;
she wished her to know every thing, and thought that her mind could
not be stored with too many words and facts; she introduced her, even
in infancy, to the brilliant circle of her own friends, and learned
men were almost her only companions. It was therefore with a transport
of delight that the child received, at the age of eleven, a young
girl, whom her mother wished her to make her companion, and who
afterwards described her thus: "She spoke with a warmth and facility
which were already eloquent, and which made a great impression on me.
We did not play like children. She at once asked me what my lessons
were, if I knew any foreign languages, and if I went often to the
play. When I said, I had only been three or four times, she exclaimed,
and promised that we should often go together, and, when we came home,
write down an account of the piece. It was her habit, she said; and,
in short, we were to write to each other every day. We entered the
drawing-room. Near the arm-chair of Madame Necker was the stool of her
daughter, who was obliged to sit very upright. As soon as she had
taken her accustomed place, three or four old gentlemen came up, and
spoke to her with the utmost kindness. One of them, in a little round
wig, took her hands in his, held them a long time, and entered into
conversation with her, as if she had been twenty. This was the Abbé
Raynal; the others were Messrs. Marmontel, Thomas, the Marquis de
Pesay, and Baron de Grimm. We sat down at table. It was a picture to
see how Mademoiselle Necker listened. She did not speak herself; but
so animated was her face, that she appeared to converse with all. Her
eyes followed the looks and movements of those who talked; it seemed
as if she grasped their ideas before they were expressed. She entered
into every subject, even politics, which at this epoch was one of the
most engrossing topics. After dinner, a good deal of company arrived.
Each guest, as he approached Madame Necker, addressed her daughter
with some compliment or pleasantry; she replied to all with ease and
grace. They delighted to attack and embarrass her, and to excite her
childish imagination, which was already brilliant. The cleverest men
were those who took the greatest pleasure in making her talk." When
she was not in society, she was kept constantly at her books. She
wrote a great deal, and her writings were read in public and
applauded. This system of education had its natural results. Praise,
and reputation, and success in society, became as necessary to her as
her daily food: her understanding, brilliant, but not profound,
gathered knowledge by cursory reading and from conversation--not by
hard study; hence it was superficial.

Her physical strength could not endure this constant straining and
excitement of the mind. At fourteen, her physicians ordered that she
should be removed to the country, and should give up all study. Madame
Necker was deeply disappointed: unable to carry her system of
education to the fullest extent, she abandoned it altogether;
henceforth she took little interest in the talents of her daughter,
and, when she heard her praised, would say, "O, it is nothing,
absolutely nothing, in comparison to what I intended to make her."
This carelessness on the part of her mother, developed in the young
girl an ardent affection for her father, which she dwells upon in her
writings with so much fervor. There existed between them the most
unreserved and open communication of thought. He delighted in her
talents, which she exerted for his entertainment, and to amuse his
hours of leisure. Her superior success in this last particular even
excited the jealousy of her mother, who sought by reproof to check the
outpouring of her wit and imagination. Mademoiselle listened with
respect to the reproof, but took the first opportunity to escape from
her mother's side, and shelter herself behind her father's chair,
where she soon collected the cleverest men in the room to listen to
her sallies, and to be charmed by her eloquence.

As has already been said, her career of authorship began at a very
early age. When a little older, she composed tales and plays, which
were received with rapturous applause by the company to which, in
accordance with French custom, they were read; but which in print
appear flat enough. At the age of fifteen, she made her appearance
before the great public as the author of an anonymous political
pamphlet in defence of an act of her father's, which had excited a
great clamor on the part of the ultra-royalists, and was the cause of
his resignation of office.

The position which her father held in France, during her early years,
exercised a very important influence on the character and feelings of
Mademoiselle Necker. Despised as a plebeian and detested as a reformer
by the queen and the court, he was regarded, by the moderate of all
parties, as the only man who could save France, and was worshipped as
an idol by the people at large. No sooner was it known that he had
resigned, than "all France," as she says,--that is, all who were
eminent for wealth, for talent, or for rank, excepting the few
attached to the court,--came to visit him, and to express to him their
regrets, their fears, and the hope that he would soon return to
office. She heard that consternation pervaded Paris; all fearing ruin
for that country which Necker had abandoned. It is not surprising that
she should conceive for him a passionate admiration; should regard him
as superior to all in modern times, and as answering the _beau ideal_
of Grecian or of Roman patriotism. Nor is it wonderful that his
persecution by the court should have excited feelings of resentment
and disgust towards a form of government under which such things could
take place.

Necker remained a short time in France, and then returned to Coppet,
an estate which he purchased on the banks of the Lake of Geneva, from
whence he watched the course of events, feeling certain that he should
at last be recalled to the helm. An occasional visit to Paris, or the
publication of a political pamphlet, served to keep him in the public

At the age of twenty-two; Mademoiselle Necker was married. To her,
marriage was merely a convenience. It was necessary to give her a
position in society--admittance at court. She did not look for a
lover, not even for a friend or companion, in her husband. He must be
of noble birth, and a Protestant. The Baron de Stael, the Swedish
ambassador, had both these requisites; he was, moreover, an amiable
and honorable man. He had received positive assurances from his
sovereign, that he should be continued for many years at the court of
France, and she, having made a distinct contract that she should never
be obliged to go to Sweden, except with her own consent, accepted his
proposals of marriage.

We have a portrait of her as she appeared at this period, written in a
style then much in fashion: "Zalma advances; her large dark eyes
sparkle with genius; her hair, black as ebony, falls on her shoulders
in waving ringlets; her features are more marked than delicate, yet
they express something superior to her sex. 'There she is!' every one
cried, when she appeared, and all became breathless. When she sang,
she extemporized the words of her song; the celestial brightness of
composition animated her face, and held the audience in serious
attention; at once astonished and delighted, we know not which most to
admire, her facility or perfection. When her music ceased, she talked
of the great truths of nature, the immortality of the soul, the love
of liberty, of the fascination and danger of the passions: her
features meanwhile have an expression superior to beauty; her
physiognomy is full of play and variety; the accents of her voice have
a thousand modulations; and there is perfect harmony between her
thoughts and their expression. Without hearing her words, the
inflection of her tones, her gestures, her look, cause her meaning to
be understood. When she ceased, a murmur of approbation ran round the
room; she looked down modestly; her long eyelashes covered her
flashing eyes, and the sun was clouded over."

Meantime affairs in France were rapidly approaching to a crisis.
Minister succeeded minister, but each left the ship more inextricably
involved than his predecessor. The failure of the crops, and
consequent distress of the poorer classes, increased the turbulence of
the people and the distress of the court. At length, in 1788, seven
years after his resignation, the queen and the court were compelled to
confess that the only hope of safety was in recalling Necker, and to
join in the general solicitation that he would take the helm.

His name revived the public credit; the pressing wants of the treasury
were supplied; by importing grain, he removed the fears of famine. His
position at this period was one to gratify his highest ambition; his
return had been a triumph over the court; and the people were eager to
prostrate themselves at his feet. But his talents were those of the
financier only; as a statesman, he was sadly wanting. The example of
the Americans had excited in the minds of a portion of the nobility an
indefinable and romantic longing for something called _liberty_; the
middle classes, who possessed the most intelligence, education, and
wealth, were indignant at being excluded from most places of honor,
and at being obliged to bear the whole burden of the taxes, from which
the nobles and the clergy were exempt; the great body of the people,
who were in the condition of slaves, had the wrongs and outrages of
many centuries of oppression to avenge: all these classes, though
agreeing in nothing else, were united in demanding a change. On the
other side, the queen, supported by her royal brothers-in-law and a
portion of the nobles, resolutely set themselves against any

Necker did not agree entirely with either party; he was in favor of a
limited monarchy; the British constitution appeared to him, as it did
to his daughter, the perfection of government. But he had not the
decision and energy requisite for insuring the success of his own
opinions. The well-disposed but weak monarch yielded to the more
daring counsels of the court, and prepared to crush at once their
opponents by force. But these measures were concerted without the
knowledge of Necker, and before they could be executed, he must
quietly be got rid of. Accordingly, on the 11th of July, 1789, as he
was about to sit down to dinner, he received an order to quit France
within four and twenty hours, and without exciting observation. Necker
obeyed to the very letter. He and his wife, without changing their
dress, stepped into the carriage, as if to take the usual evening
airing, and travelled night and day till they reached Brussels.

Madame de Stael was informed of this event on the morning of the 12th,
and on the 15th, having been advised of their route, she set off to
join her parents. "When I reached them," says she, "three days after,
they still wore the full dress which they had on, when, after a large
dinner party, and while no one suspected the agitating position in
which they were placed, they silently quitted France, their friends,
their home, and the power which they enjoyed. This dress, covered with
dust, the name assumed by my father for the sake of avoiding
recognition in France, and so detention through the favor in which he
was still held,--all these filled me with feelings of reverence, that
caused me to throw myself at his feet, as I entered the room of the
inn where I found him."

While thus exhibiting his respect for the king, Necker, by another
act, displayed his love for the people. To purchase a supply of corn
for the starving population of Paris, Necker had negotiated a loan of
two millions of livres, for which his own personal security was to be
given. The transaction was not completed at the period of his exile,
and, lest this should occasion any delay, he wrote at once to confirm
his guaranty.

No sooner was Necker's dismissal known, than Paris rose in insurrection.
An army of one hundred thousand men was arrayed in a night; on the 14th
of July, the Bastile was destroyed, and the king was forced to attend
in person at the Hotel de Ville, and to express his approbation of the
acts of the revolutionists. A courier, bearing an order of recall,
overtook Necker at Frankfort. He hesitated, but at last determined to
comply. "What a moment of happiness," says Madame de Stael, "was our
journey to Paris! I do not think that the like ever happened to any man
who was not sovereign of the country. * * * The liveliest acclamations
accompanied every step; the women threw themselves on their knees afar
off in the fields when they saw his carriage pass; the first citizens
of the different places acted as postilions; and, in the towns, the
inhabitants took off the horses to drag the carriage themselves. It was
I that enjoyed for him; I was carried away by delight, and must not
feel ungrateful for those happy days, however sad were the ones that
followed." "O, nothing can equal the emotion that a woman feels when she
has the happiness of hearing the name of one beloved repeated by a
whole people. All those faces, which appear for the time animated by
the same sentiment as one's self; those innumerable voices, which echo to
the heart the name that rises in the air, and which appear to return
from heaven after having received the homage of earth; the inconceivable
electricity which men communicate to each other when they share the
same emotions; all those mysteries of nature and social feeling are added
to the greatest mystery of all--love--filial or maternal--but still love;
and the soul sinks under emotions stronger than itself. When I came to
myself, I felt that I had reached the extreme boundary of happiness."

The triumph was of short duration: striving to act a middle part,
Necker incurred the distrust of both parties. His want of capacity,
also, to rule the tempest, was most evident; his propositions were
weak and inconsistent; but his daughter saw not this: the loss of the
confidence of the king and of the favor of the people, was attributed
by her to their ingratitude and perversity; in her eyes, her father
was still the greatest of men. His resignation and departure from
France was to her a subject of mortification, however. As he passed on
his way to Switzerland, the same people who, the year before, had
swelled the acclamations of triumph and joy, now met him with
reproaches and revilings. At one place he was detained as a prisoner,
and only released in pursuance of a decree of the National Assembly.

His daughter remained at Paris. Although excluded theoretically from
the exercise of any political power, there is no country where the
women take so active a part in politics as in France. Madame de Stael
was not a woman to forego the exercise of rights which custom had
given her sex: accordingly we find her deeply involved in all the
political intrigues of the day, and her drawing-room the scene of the
most important political discussions.

During the dreadful days of August, 1792, she exerted herself to the
utmost to save the lives of her friends; fearlessly traversing the
streets filled with the lowest wretches of both sexes; visiting the
victims in the obscure houses in which they were concealed, and taking
them into her own house, which, from the protection which the law of
nations throws over an ambassador, she trusted would be to them a
sanctuary. But those now in power heeded little the law of nations:
the police demanded to search her house; she met them at the door,
talked to them of the rights of ambassadors, and of the vengeance
which Sweden would take if they persisted in their demand; she rallied
them upon their want of courtesy, and finally, by argument and gayety,
induced them to abandon their intention.

Although it was apparent that her personal safety was endangered, she
could not bear to leave Paris, the theatre in which so exciting a
drama was being acted. With her passports ready, she yet lingered
until the 2d of September, when the news of the advance of the
foreign troops into France excited the Parisians to madness, and led
to the commission of those horrible excesses which have left an
indelible stain on the French name. She then set out for Switzerland;
but even now her love of effect and of display was exhibited. She left
her house in a coach drawn by six horses, with the servants in full
livery, trusting for safety to her title as wife of an ambassador. But
she had hardly left her own door, when the carriage was surrounded by
a host of furious women, who compelled the postilions to drive to the
office of the section of the city to which she belonged, from whence
she was ordered to the Hotel de Ville. This was at the opposite side
of the city, and she was three hours in making her way thither through
crowds of ferocious wretches thirsting for her blood. She was detained
at the Hotel de Ville during the remainder of the day, and in the
evening was conducted by Manuel to his own house. On the next day, she
was suffered to leave the city attended by her maid alone, and
accompanied by a gendarme.

At Coppet she found personal safety; but not even the society of her
father could render its quiet agreeable to her. Her activity found
some exercise for itself in affording protection to those who were so
fortunate as to escape from the fangs of the Revolutionary Tribunal.
She also wrote an eloquent appeal in behalf of the queen, and
"Reflections on the Peace," which was quoted by Fox, as full of sound
political views and just argument.

No sooner had the fall of Robespierre rendered Paris a comparatively
safe place of residence, than she hastened thither, eager to bear a
part in the busy scenes which were taking place. Her return formed an
epoch in society; it was the signal of the revival of refinement. She
became the centre of a brilliant circle, composed of the most
distinguished foreigners, and of the most eminent men of France. In
the society of women she took no pleasure; she loved to be surrounded
by those who could appreciate her talents, and could discuss those
questions which are foreign to the general tastes of women. But it
could hardly be called discussion: her own opinions were delivered
like oracles, and if she ever asked a question, it was in such an
indeterminate way that no one felt called upon to reply. In this
connection one little peculiarity may be mentioned: in public she
always held in her hand, which, by the by, was well-formed, some
plaything, which she twirled between her fingers; in summer, it was a
twig of poplar with two or three leaves at the end; in winter, it was
a rolled paper; and it was usual, on her entrance at a party, to
present a number of these, from which she made a selection.

The influence which she had acquired excited the alarm of the
revolutionists; she was denounced in the Convention and attacked in
the newspapers. But this moved her not, so long as by her eloquence
she could make converts to her own opinions--opinions adopted hastily,
and without reflection, which were, therefore, often changing, and
frequently contradictory.

At length Bonaparte appeared upon the stage; and at their first
interview, Madame de Stael felt that he was a man not to be dazzled or
won. He had just returned from the conquest of Italy. She thus speaks
of the impression he made on her: "I could not reply to him, when he
told me that he had visited Coppet, and felt much regret at passing
through Switzerland without seeing my father. To a feeling of
admiration succeeded one of fear--a feeling that was experienced by
all who approached him, and which resulted solely from his personal
attributes; for at this time he held no political power, but had
himself fallen under the suspicions of the Directory. I soon learned
that his character was not to be defined by the words in ordinary use;
that he was neither gentle nor violent, mild nor cruel, according to
the fashion of other men. The feeling of fear was only increased by
subsequent intercourse with him. I had a confused feeling that no
emotion of the heart ever influenced him."

In all that Madame de Stael says of Napoleon, there is an evident
feeling of pique, and of mortified vanity. Hitherto triumphant in
society, she now met with one upon whom all her powers were tried in
vain. An opportunity of testing this occurred at an early period.
Bonaparte proposed to the Directory the invasion of Switzerland;
upon which she sought a conference with him, in the hope of turning
him from his purpose. He viewed the interference as impertinent,
and the matter entirely out of a woman's province: from deference
to her reputation, however, he entered into a discussion of the
matter, and, having said as much as he thought ought to convince her,
turned the conversation to other subjects, much to Madame de Stael's
mortification, who could not bear to be treated like a mere woman.

When Bonaparte became first consul, Madame de Stael did not hesitate
to express openly her dissatisfaction at his rising power. Joseph
Bonaparte, of whom she was fond, remonstrated with her. "My brother,"
said he, "complains of you. 'Why,' said he, yesterday, 'does not
Madame de Stael attach herself to my government? What does she want?
The payment of the money due her father? She shall have it. To remain
in Paris? I will permit it. In short, what does she want?'" "The
question is not what I want," replied Madame de Stael, "but what I

There was one thing which operated as a check on her, and that was,
the fear of being obliged to leave Paris. The possibility of such a
catastrophe filled her with wretchedness. Away from the society and
the excitements of that capital, she was the victim of _ennui_: her
own brilliant powers of mind furnished her with no protection; she had
no internal resources for happiness. Hear her own confession: "In this
point was I vulnerable. The phantom of _ennui_ forever pursues me;
fear of it would have made me bow before tyranny, if the example of my
father, and the blood which flowed in my veins, had not raised me
above such weakness."

The "dispensation of _ennui_" she viewed as the most terrible exercise
of Bonaparte's power. But even her fear of it would not control the
ruling passion: she continued to discourse on politics, though to a
constantly diminishing audience, and to excite those with whom she
possessed influence to oppose the measures of government, until the
forbearance of that government was exhausted, and she received advice
from the minister of police to retire for a short time into the
country. This she terms the commencement of a series of persecutions
by Bonaparte--a reproach which is not deserved; for it could not be
expected that any government, much less one whose power was not yet
established, would submit to a constant opposition, which exhibited
itself not only in epigrams, always a most powerful weapon in France,
but, as she herself confesses, in direct political intrigues; the
interference, too, being by one who had small claims to be called a
Frenchwoman. She was the daughter of a Swiss, and the wife of a Swede,
of which latter character she more than once made use to secure her
own personal safety and that of her friends. What course could the
government have adopted of a milder character? There was no personal
violence, nor threat of any: she was banished from the theatre of her
hostile influence, and forbidden to circulate her works there.

Not long after the banishment of Madame de Stael from Paris, Bonaparte
passed through Switzerland, on his way to Italy. Having expressed a
wish to see Necker, the latter waited on him. After a two hours'
conversation, the aged minister left Napoleon, fascinated, like all
who approached him, by his powers of pleasing, and gratified, as well
by this mark of respect, as by the permission which he obtained for
his daughter to reside at Paris.

The publication of her work on "Literature" restored Madame de Stael
to popularity. Her _salons_ were again crowded, but chiefly with
foreigners, for she still remained upon bad terms with the first
consul. "She pretends," said he, "to speak neither of politics nor of
me; yet it happens that every one leaves her house less attached to me
than when they went in. She gives them fanciful notions, and of the
opposite kind to mine." Wounded vanity had no doubt a large share in
producing her state of feeling. Upon him, as we have before seen, all
her powers of fascination were exerted in vain. Indeed, he seems, in
his treatment of her, to have been wanting in his usual tact. She was
one day asked to dine in company with him. As she had heard that he
sometimes spoke sarcastically of her, she thought he might perhaps
address to her some of these speeches, which were the terror of the
courtiers. She prepared herself, therefore, with various repartees.
But Bonaparte hardly appeared conscious of her presence, and her
consolation for the neglect was the conjecture that fear had been the
cause of his forbearance.

The early attempts of Madame de Stael in novel-writing gave no promise
of superiority in that department of literature. Four tales, published
in 1795, were as weak in plan and in execution as they were deficient
in moral taste. It is a sad illustration of the state of moral feeling
in the community, that a mind, naturally so well-intentioned and
powerful, could be so debased, especially of one who had, at all
times, a deep sense of religion, and who had been educated in the
strict principles of Calvin. "Delphine," which appeared in 1802, is
marked by the same faults of a moral character, and its tendency was
so marked, as to incur the censure even of French critics, "who
dared," as Madame de Stael indignantly exclaims, "to blame a book
approved by Necker." That the censure was merited, no right-minded
person can deny. The defence which Madame de Stael felt called upon to
put forth is weak, inconclusive, and abounding in sophistries. The
misfortunes of the heroine are, indeed, the consequences of her
actions, but these results are made to appear her misfortune, and not
her fault. Fascinated by the eloquence of the author, our hearts are
enlisted on the side of the sufferer, whatever may be the decision of
our judgment.

Though deficient in some of the requisites for a novelist, especially
in dramatic talent, Madame de Stael was eminently endowed with one
essential faculty--that of delineating character. In Delphine, it was
said the character of the author herself was exhibited, and that
Madame de Vernon, in whom we have a perfect picture of social
Machiavelism, was drawn from Talleyrand. "I am told," said he to her,
"that you have put us both in your novel in the character of women."
Even if this had been the occasion of offence to the wily courtier, he
was too sagacious to disclose it.

Madame de Stael was at Coppet, passing the summer, when her father
published a work called "Last View of Politics and Finance." In this
he points out the progress which Bonaparte was making towards despotic
power. Irritated at this attack, the first consul forbade the return
of the daughter to Paris, from whence she had conveyed such false
impressions to her father.

But, much as she loved her father, she could not content herself away
from Paris. Genevese society contrasted sadly, in her estimation, with
the brilliant circle of her Parisian friends. Hoping, amidst the
excitements which attend the commencement of a war, to be overlooked,
she ventured, after the rupture of the peace of Amiens, to establish
herself at the distance of thirty miles from her beloved capital. The
first consul was informed that the road to her residence was crowded
with her visitants. She heard that she was to receive an order to
depart, and she sought to evade it by wandering from the house of one
friend to that of another. It was at length received, and the
intercession of Joseph Bonaparte, and other friends of the first
consul, was of no avail.

Loath to appear in disgrace among the Genevese, and hoping, amid new
scenes, to forget her griefs, she resolved to visit Germany. "Every
step of the horses," she tells us, as she left Paris, "was a pang;
and, when the postilions boasted that they had driven fast, I could
not help smiling at the sad service they did me."

The enjoyment which she derived from the attention and kindness with
which she was every where received, and from the vast field of
knowledge which opened itself to her, was interrupted by the sad news
of the illness of her father, followed quickly by intelligence of his
death. She at once set off for Coppet. Her feelings, during the
melancholy journey, are beautifully and naturally recorded in the "Ten
Years of Exile." This work, which was not published until after her
death, is the most interesting of her writings, and the best as it
respects style. It was commenced at Coppet, and feigned names and
false dates were substituted for the real, for the purpose of
misleading the government, whose perfect system of _espionage_ would
otherwise have rendered fruitless her most careful endeavors at

Her fears for the consequences of a discovery were natural; for she
expresses most freely her opinions of the character and conduct of the
great ruler of France, which take their coloring from her feelings,
highly excited by the persecution of which she conceived herself to be
the victim. Here are also recorded her observations on the various
countries which this persecution compelled her to visit. But the work
is far more valuable and interesting from the traits which it
unconsciously discloses of the character of the author herself; and
any diminution of our preconceived ideas of the absolute dignity of
her nature, is more than compensated by the abundant proofs of the
kindness and honesty of her disposition.

Her first occupation, after the death of her father, was to publish
his writings, accompanied by a biographical memoir. Her passion for
him took a new turn. Every old man recalled his image; and she watched
over their comforts, and wept over their sufferings. It mingled with
her devotions. She believed that her soul communed with his in prayer,
and that it was to his intercession that she owed all the good that
befell her. Whenever she met with any piece of good fortune, she would
say, "It is my father who has obtained this for me."

In happier days, this passion sometimes was the occasion of scenes not
a little amusing to the bystanders. Her cousin and biographer, Madame
de Necker Saussure relates the following anecdote: She had come to
Coppet from Geneva in Necker's carriage, and had been overturned on
the way, but received no injury. On relating the incident to Madame de
Stael, she inquired, with great vehemence, who had driven; and, on
being told that it was Richel, her father's coachman, she exclaimed,
in an agony, "Mon Dieu! he may one day overturn my father!" and
ordered him into her presence. While waiting his coming, she paced the
room, crying out, "My father, my poor father, _he_ might have been
overturned;" and, turning to her cousin, "At your age, and with your
slight person, the danger is nothing; but with his bulk and age--I
cannot bear to think of it!" The coachman now came in; and the lady,
usually so mild and indulgent with her servants, in a sort of frenzy,
and in a voice of solemnity, but choked with emotion, said, "Richel,
do you know that I am a woman of genius?" The poor man stared at her
in astonishment, and she went on, yet louder, "Have you not heard, I
say, that I am a woman of genius?" The man was still mute. "Well,
then, I tell you that I _am_ a woman of genius--of great genius--of
prodigious genius! and I tell you more--that all the genius I have
shall be exerted to secure your rotting out your days in a dungeon, if
ever you overturn my father!"

To recruit her health, which was wasting with grief, she next
undertook a journey into Italy. Hitherto she had appeared totally
insensible to the beauties of nature, and when her guests at Coppet
were in ecstasies with the Lake of Geneva, and the enchanting scenery
about it, she would exclaim, "Give me a garret in Paris, with a
hundred Louis a year." But in Italy she seems to have had a glimpse
of the glories of the universe, for which enjoyment she always said
she was indebted to her father's intercession.

The delights which she experienced in that enchanting country are
imbodied in the novel of "Corinne." Her representation of its society
evinces a want of intimate acquaintance with it, but it is a lively
and true picture of the surface. In this work her peculiar talent as a
novelist is richly displayed. In the characters of Comte d'Erfeuil,
Corinne, and Oswald, we have not only examples of the most true and
delicate discrimination, but vivid portraits of individuals, in whom
are imbodied the most pleasing peculiarities of their respective
nations. A purer morality displays itself in Corinne; the result,
rather than the object, of the book. She does not seek, by logical
demonstration, to enforce a moral axiom, but the influence of the
spirit which emanates from the whole is purifying and elevating.

Madame de Stael was forbidden to approach within forty leagues of
Paris; but, after hovering about the confines of the magical circle,
she at last established herself within it, at a distance of only
twelve leagues from the city. So long as she was contented to remain
in obscurity, in the society of a small circle of friends, and to
maintain a strict silence on the subject of politics, her violation of
the imperial mandate was overlooked. But the publication of Corinne
put an end to the indulgence, and she was ordered to quit France.

The tedium of her life at Coppet was somewhat relieved by the visits
of her friends, and of distinguished foreigners. She was occupied,
too, by her work on Germany, which was completed in 1810. To
superintend its publication, she took up her abode at the permitted
distance from Paris, at the old chateau of Chaumont-sur-Loire, already
notable as the residence of Diane de Poitiers, Catherine de Medicis,
and Nostradamus.

She submitted her book to the censor, and expunged such passages as
were objected to. She now deemed herself safe in publishing it. Ten
thousand copies were already printed, when an order was issued by
Savary, minister of police, for the suppression of the work. The
impressions were seized, and, the ink being obliterated by a chemical
process, the paper was returned to the publisher. The manuscript was
demanded, and the author ordered to quit France in twenty-four hours;
but, upon her remonstrance, the time was extended to eight days. "Your
exile," says Savary, "is the natural consequence of the course of
conduct you have constantly pursued for many years. It is evident that
the air of France does not agree with you." The true reasons for the
suppression of her work were not assigned, but were turned off with
the remark that "It is not French; and that the French are not yet
reduced to seek for models in the countries which she admired."

In 1810, M. de Rocca, a French officer, who was yet suffering from
dangerous wounds, received in Spain, arrived at Geneva. His personal
condition and his reputation for brilliant courage heightened the
interest excited by his youth and noble physiognomy. He first saw
Madame de Stael at a public assembly. She entered the ball-room,
dressed in a costly but unbecoming style, and followed by a train of
admirers. "Is this the far-famed woman?" said Rocca; "she is very
ugly, and I detest such straining for effect." A few words of
sympathy, set off by the music of her voice, effected a complete
revolution in his feelings. Wishes and hopes apparently the most
extravagant took possession of his heart--for she was now a widow. "I
will love her so much that she will marry me," said he, and his words
were soon fulfilled; but the event was carefully concealed until the
death of Madame de Stael; for she was peculiarly sensitive to public
opinion, and refused to acknowledge a marriage which might have
excited ridicule--so great was the disparity of age and of condition
between the parties. She was unwilling likewise to change her name.
"Mon nom est a l'Europe," said she to M. Rocca, when, on a subsequent
occasion, he jestingly asked her to marry him.

For this marriage, as well as for her former one, Madame de Stael has
been severely censured. Many apologies, if any be really necessary,
may be found for her. Since the death of her father, she had felt,
more than before, the want of an essential accessory to her happiness.
Speaking of the asylum which she hoped to find in England, she said,
"I feel the want of love, of cherishing, of some one to lean upon; if
I can find in that country a man possessing real nobleness of
character, I will gladly yield up my liberty." Heartbroken and
disappointed, both as a woman and an author, she had returned to
Coppet, to find her residence there more irksome and unhappy than
ever. She was advised not to go farther than ten leagues from home;
and fear lest she should involve her friends, induced her to forbid
their coming to her. Her fears were not altogether without reason.
Regardless of the advice she had received, she made the tour of
Switzerland with M. de Montmorency, and the consequence to him was
exile from France. Another friend, the beautiful and celebrated Madame
de Recamier, paid for a few hours' intercourse by exile to Lyons.

Imagination conjured up new terrors. The fear of imprisonment seized
her, and she resolved to escape. The choice of a route perplexed her.
She passed her life, she says, in studying the map of Europe, to find
how she could escape beyond the wide-spread poison-tree of Napoleon's
power. She at length departed. England was the point of destination.

Passing through Germany, she was received at St. Petersburg with great
distinction by the emperor, and, thence passing on her way, spent
eight months at Stockholm with her old friend Bernadotte, crown prince
of Sweden; with whom at Paris, in the early days of Bonaparte's
career, she had been discovered concerting measures to stop his
progress towards absolute power--a discovery which furnished an
apology for the treatment she received.

The "Ten Years of Exile," which, after an intermission of several
years, had been resumed, closes at Stockholm. In England, she met with
a most cordial reception. Fashionable society courted her as a _lion_;
the more intelligent and highly educated sought her for her genius.

Her work on Germany was published in London, and raised her
reputation as a critic to the highest point. She was among the
founders of the philosophical school of critics; who, not wasting
their attention on the conventional forms of composition, look to the
intrinsic qualities which constitute literary excellence. But she was
not sufficiently dispassionate always to form a correct judgment. Her
enthusiasm and susceptibility made her too indulgent. As she would
often be thrown into ecstasies by a wretched hand-organ in the street,
so she would be in raptures with verses, the melody of which pleased
her ear. She would repeat them with great pomp and emphasis, and say,
"That is what I call poetry! it is delicious! and all the more that it
does not convey a single idea to me."

"Germany" was a gift of the greatest price to France. Her standards in
literature had been fixed a century before, and to alter or advance
them was deemed a work of impiety. A natural result was a want of
vigor and of originality. She had imposed her fetters, too, on foreign
nations. The cold, artificial spirit of the age of Louis XIV. long
pressed, like an incubus, upon the literary spirit of Germany. But
about the middle of the last century, the spell was broken. A literary
revolution took place in that country, and, from being destitute of
all national literature, Germany became possessed of one the most
characteristic. To furnish a literary and mental portraiture of this
emancipated nation, was a work requiring a rare combination of
talents, and one which was executed by Madame de Stael with singular

She hailed with delight the overthrow of Napoleon, which opened to
her the way to Paris. But she never joined in the senseless cry which
was raised, that he had neither talents nor courage. "It would be too
humiliating for France, and for all Europe," she said, "that, for
fifteen years, it had been beaten and outwitted by a coward and a
blockhead." Her joy was, however, tempered by grief and indignation,
that the soil of France, "cette belle France," should be desecrated by
the feet of foreign invaders. To avoid witnessing the humiliating
spectacle of Paris in the possession of barbarians, she retired to
Coppet, where, in 1816, she renewed her acquaintance with Lord Byron,
whose genius fascinated her, and who had been chief favorite while she
was in England. She now gave him much advice as to his conduct, which
he met by quoting the motto to "Delphine,"--"Man must learn to brave
opinion,--woman to submit to it." But she no longer defended the truth
of this epigraph. Always religious, the principles of Christianity now
mingled more intimately in her sentiments.

Time, too, had wrought a change in her character: she was much
softened, and appreciated more justly the real blessings and
misfortunes of life. In her own family she found sources of happiness.
Her children were dutiful and affectionate, and the marriage of her
daughter to the Duke de Broglie gave her pleasure. Her chief cause of
disquietude was the ill health of her husband, in anticipation of
whose death she composed a book, with the title, "The only Misfortune
of Life, the Loss of a Person beloved." But she was not destined to be
the sufferer now. She had ever despised the accommodation of the body,
and gave herself no trouble about health. She affected to triumph
over infirmity, and was wont to say, "I might have been sickly, like
any body else, had I not resolved to vanquish physical weakness." But
nature was not to be thus defied. Her health failed, and the use of
opium aided the progress of disease. But sickness threw no cloud over
her intellect; "I am now," she said, "what I have ever been--sad, yet
vivacious;" but it displayed the moral beauties of her character in a
more striking light. She was kind, patient, and devout. Her sleepless
nights were spent in prayer. Existence no longer appeared to her in
its gayest colors. "Life," she said, "resembles Gobelin tapestry; you
do not see the canvass on the right side; but when you turn it, the
threads are visible. The mystery of existence is the connection
between our faults and our misfortunes. I never committed an error
that was not the cause of a disaster." Yet she left life with regret,
though death possessed for her no terrors. "I shall meet my father on
the other side," she said, "and my daughter will ere long rejoin me."
"I think," said she, one day, as if waking from a dream, "I think I
know what the passage from life to death is; and I am convinced that
the goodness of God makes it easy; our thoughts become confused, and
the pain is not great." She died with the utmost composure, at Paris,
July, 1817.

Her husband survived her but a few months. "Grief put a period to his
already precarious existence. He withdrew from Paris, to die beneath
the beautiful sky of Provence, and there breathed his last sighs in
the arms of his brother."

The chief works of Madame de Stael, and her peculiarities as an
author, have already been spoken of. One work, published after her
death, and the most powerful of all, remains to be mentioned. In the
"Considerations on the French Revolution," she sought to blend the
memoir with the philosophical history. The faults are what might have
been expected. The details, too minute for the one, are too scanty for
the other. In the selection of these she was biased by her personal
feelings, but to a degree far less than was to be anticipated. Her
feelings were warm and excitable; she had lived in the midst of the
events of which she speaks; she had herself been an actor, and her
father had borne a conspicuous part, in them; indeed, one grand
purpose of the work is to exculpate him. That she should, under these
disqualifying circumstances, have produced a work so temperate, and on
the whole so impartial--one that exhibits such philosophical depth and
comprehensiveness of vision--excites in us wonder and admiration. But
it is not as a history that the work is interesting and valuable. It
is that it exhibits to us the impressions made by the great events of
which she speaks, and the scenes which she witnessed, upon a powerful
and original mind. It abounds with profound reflections and brilliant
remarks. The style, eloquent and impassioned, is in a high degree
conversational, and, as we read it, we almost expect to hear the sound
of the voice. The remarkable talent for discrimination and delineation
of character, which distinguish her as a novelist, lead us to regret
that it did not come within the design of the work to furnish us with
historical portraitures of the distinguished personages of the period.
The few which she has given us, increase our regret, and mark her as a
mistress in the art.


The third Earl of Stanhope, father of the subject of our present
sketch, possessed abilities which qualified him for any station; yet
he devoted his ample fortune, his time, and his thoughts, to mechanics
and to experiments in science and philosophy; with what success, the
Stanhope printing press, many improvements in the process of
stereotype printing, and his various papers on the electric fluid, are
evidence. He married a daughter of the great Earl of Chatham; and of
this marriage, Lady Hester Stanhope was the earliest fruit. She was
born in 1776.


Genius was the only inheritance she received from her father. Upon the
death of her mother, which happened when she was young, she was
received into the house of her uncle, William Pitt, the younger, and
was there brought up. Between this minister and his brother-in-law
there was little sympathy of opinion. Stanhope was an enthusiast for
the improvement of social institutions, and hailed the French
revolution as the beginning of the change which he hoped for. So
confident was he in those views, as to urge upon his children the
necessity of qualifying themselves to earn a living by some honest
calling. He could not approve the measures which the minister now
adopted; and, as his children adhered in principle to their uncle, he
renounced them, saying, "that, as they had chosen to be saddled on the
public purse, they must take the consequences."

The genius and originality of Lady Hester made her an especial
favorite with her uncle. She presided at his table, and he evinced his
respect for her abilities, by employing her, after his retirement from
office, as his secretary. Though to the multitude this great statesman
appeared cold and unbending, with his intimates, and those whom he
received into his private friendship, he was cheerful and affable; to
women he was polite in the extreme, and, in the midst of his gravest
avocations, would rise to pick up his secretary's fallen handkerchief.
Devoted to the affairs of state, Pitt paid no attention to his own
pecuniary concerns, so that the only provision he could make for his
niece at his death, was to recommend her to the favor of his king and
country, who acknowledged their obligation to him by bestowing upon
her a pension of twelve hundred pounds, annually.

Soon after the death of her uncle, she left England, and spent some
years in visiting the chief cities of continental Europe. Her rank,
her beauty, and her fortune, were alone sufficient to attract crowds
of suitors; but they were all rejected. After satisfying her curiosity
in Europe, she embarked, with a numerous retinue, for Constantinople,
with the determination of making a long sojourn in the East, and
taking with her a large amount of property. A storm overtook the
vessel on the coast of Caramania, fronting the Island of Rhodes; the
vessel struck against a rock, and soon went to pieces, burying Lady
Hester's jewels and other property, to a large amount, in the waves.
Her own escape was almost miraculous. The piece of the wreck on which
she had taken refuge was cast on the shore of a small, desert island,
where she remained twenty-four hours, without help or food of any
kind. At last, some fishermen of Marmoriga, who were in search of the
remains of the wreck, found her out, and brought her to Rhodes.

Her resolution was not daunted by this disaster. She returned to
England, collected the remains of her fortune, and, after investing a
portion of it in the English funds, embarked once more for the East,
taking with her articles for presents, and whatever else might be of
service in the countries she designed to visit. Her voyage was
prosperous, and she landed at the site of the ancient Laodicea, now
called Latakia, between Tripoli and Alexandretta, on the coast of

In the neighborhood of this place she fixed her residence, and entered
upon a course of preparation for her intended journeys into the most
inaccessible parts of Arabia, Mesopotamia, and the desert. She
strengthened her body by diet and exercise, and, from being weak and
debilitated, became strong and vigorous as an Amazon. She studied the
Arab language, and sought for intercourse with the various classes of
Arabs, Druses, and Maronites of the country.

After having become perfectly familiar with the language, manners, and
usages, of the country, she organized a large caravan, and, loading
her camels with rich presents for the Arabs, set out on her travels.
She visited every place worthy of notice in Syria. At Palmyra numerous
hordes of wandering Arabs assembled round her tent, to the number of
forty or fifty thousand, and, charmed by her beauty, her grace, and
her splendor, proclaimed her queen of that once imperial city, and
delivered firmans into her hand, by which it was agreed that every
European who should receive her protection might proceed in perfect
safety through the desert, paying to them a certain fixed tribute.

The newly-proclaimed queen herself ran great hazard, on her return
from Palmyra, and narrowly escaped being carried off by a tribe
hostile to those of that region. She, however, received notice of her
danger in season--by the swiftness of her horses, and a twenty-four
hours' journey of almost incredible extent--to place herself and her
caravan out of the reach of the enemy. The next few months she passed
at Damascus, protected by the Turkish pacha, to whom the Porte had
highly recommended her.

Satisfied, at length, with a life of wandering, Lady Hester settled
herself on one of the mountains of Lebanon, near the ancient Sidon.
Quitting this place, the traveller enters upon a wild and barren
country. Hill succeeds to hill, and all are divested of vegetation or
soil. At last, from the top of one of these rocks, his eye rests upon
a valley deeper and broader than the rest, bordered on all sides by
more majestic but equally barren mountains. In the midst of this
valley the mountain of Djoun rises, with a flat summit covered with a
beautiful green vegetation. A white wall surrounds this mass of
verdure, and marks the habitation of the "Sittee Inglis," or "English
lady." It is a confused assemblage of small cottages, each containing
one or two rooms, without windows, and separated from one another by
small gardens. All the verdure was the result of her own labor; she
created what to Eastern eyes might seem a paradise--gardens containing
bowers of fragrant vines, kiosks embellished with sculpture and
paintings, with fountains of marble; and arches formed of orange, fig,
and lemon-trees.

Here she resided for many years in a style of Eastern magnificence,
surrounded by a concourse of household officers, and a numerous
retinue of young females,--upon whose education she employed
herself,--and a host of servants, black and white. She held friendly
intercourse with the Sublime Porte, with the various pachas, and with
the chiefs of the numerous tribes of Arabs and others about her. Such
was the state in which she lived, and the influence which she exerted,
that she might well imagine herself "Queen of the Desert."

But the splendor of her reign was soon dimmed. Her treasures were not
large enough to bear the unlimited draughts upon them. Her Arab
friends, whose affections were only to be preserved by constant gifts,
cooled towards her when these became less rich and less frequent;
those who had accompanied her from Europe, died or deserted her; and
she was at length left in a state of absolute retirement.

Some sources of influence still remained to her; one of these was in
that power which the strong-minded and educated always exercise over
the weak and ignorant. Astrology--a science long banished from
Europe--still holds its sway in the East. The opinion went abroad that
Lady Hester could read the stars, and procured for her that respect
among the common people, and, to a certain extent, that personal
security, which had formerly been purchased with the shawls of
Cashmere, and the rich silver-mounted pistols of England.

But whilst practising these arts upon others, she became herself the
victim of strange delusions. She came by degrees to believe that the
history of all was written in the stars, and that she had there read
the history of the world. The Messiah was soon to appear upon the
earth, and by his side, mounted upon a milk-white mare of matchless
beauty, which was then in her stable, she was to witness the conquest
of Jerusalem, and the establishment of his kingdom. She had, too, in
her stable the mare upon which her companion was to ride. This animal,
in all other respects of beautiful proportions, had behind the
shoulders a cavity so large and deep, and imitating so completely a
Turkish saddle, that one might say with truth she was foaled saddled.
The appearance of an animal with this peculiarity, in itself a
deformity, served as an incitement to credulity, and to keep up the
delusion. The animal was watched with the greatest care by two grooms,
one of whom was never to lose sight of her. No one had ever mounted
her, and from her bearing one might have fancied that the creature was
conscious of the admiration and respect which were entertained for her
by all around, and felt the dignity of her future mission.

The talent which Lady Hester was supposed to possess was put in
constant requisition by her credulous neighbors; nor was her power
ever exercised for bad purposes. She used it to calm the passions of
the violent; to induce the unjust and the oppressor to make reparation
for their wrong-doings; and put it to other good uses, of which the
following anecdote, related by herself, will furnish an example: "An
Arab suspected his wife of talking too much with strangers in his
absence, and one of his neighbors confirmed his suspicions. He went
home, proceeded to strangle the unfortunate woman, and, when she
became insensible, he dragged her to some distance, and commenced
interring her: the first heap of sand which he threw upon her recalled
sensation; she manifested symptoms of life, and he repented of his
vengeance; he brought her to me half dead; told the story of her
supposed guilt, but owned he was premature in strangling her, as he
should have first got me to consult her star, to ascertain if she
really deserved to die or not. I sent the woman to the _harem_, had
her bled, and taken care of till she recovered, and then I summoned
the man before me. 'My good friend,' said I, 'your wife's star has
been consulted; take her back in peace, and thank God you have her;
for it is written in the stars, "On vain surmises thou shalt not
strangle thy wife, neither shalt thou hearken to the slanderers of her
honor."' The man immediately held out his hand to his gentle rib; she
kissed it, and forth he walked, desiring her to follow him, with the
most perfect indifference. I asked the woman if she were afraid of
another act of violence. She calmly replied, 'Is he not my husband?
Has he not a right to kill me, if he suspects me of doing wrong?'"

Lady Hester believed in the science of astrology to the fullest
extent. She believed that we are all children of some one of the
celestial fires which presided at our birth, and of which the happy or
malignant influence is written in our eyes, on our foreheads, in our
fortunes, in the lines of our hands, in the form of our feet, in our
gesture, in our walk. She believed that, from these various elements,
she could read the character and destiny of any individual who was but
for a few moments in her presence. In accordance with her belief, she
thought that skilful astrologers should be appointed to every
district, to consult the heavenly bodies at the birth of every child;
the nature of each natal star to be registered by them, and kept
secret till the period of education, which is to be adapted to that
particular calling which the star of every human being indicates.

The following somewhat poetical description of the personal appearance
of Lady Hester is given by a traveller, who, in 1832, was suffered to
visit her--a favor rarely granted to Europeans: "I was introduced into
her cabinet by a little negro child. It was so extremely dark, that it
was with difficulty I could distinguish her noble, grave, yet mild and
majestic features, clad in an Oriental costume. She rose from the
divan, advanced, and offered me her hand. She appeared to be about
fifty years of age; but she possessed those personal traits which
years cannot alter. Freshness, color, and grace, depart with youth;
but when beauty resides in the form itself, in purity of expression,
in dignity, in majesty, and a thoughtful countenance, whether in man
or woman, this beauty may change with the different periods of life,
but it does not pass away--it eminently characterized the person of
Lady Hester Stanhope.

"She wore a white turban, and on her forehead was a purple-colored
woollen fillet, which fell on each side of her head as low as her
shoulders. A long, yellow Cashmere shawl, and an immense Turkish robe
of white silk, with flowing sleeves, enveloped all her person in
simple and majestic folds, while an opening of these folds upon the
bosom displayed a tunic of rich Persian stuff, covered with flowers,
which was attached round the neck by a clasp of pearls. Turkish yellow
morocco boots, embroidered with silk, completed this beautiful
Oriental costume, which she wore with that freedom and grace, as if
she had never used any other from her youth."

Though Lady Hester retained her power over the lower classes by means
of their superstitious fears, the neighboring chiefs were not to be
thus restrained, and some of them sought by robbery to indemnify
themselves for the loss of the accustomed presents. Hoping to coerce
her into a renewal of them, they harassed her by petty vexations; her
camels were seized; her servants were beaten; and at length, when she
retaliated, a firman was procured, forbidding any Mussulman, on pain
of death, to remain in her service, or to carry water to her house.
The severity of the last prohibition may be judged from the fact that
the water for the use of her house and garden had to be brought from a
river three or four miles distant. Her appeal, however, to the Porte
procured the withdrawal of the firman, and saved her gardens from the
destruction which a want of irrigation would soon have produced.

In 1837, a new source of vexation to Lady Hester arose. The British
government, having received information that some of her English
creditors were in a state of destitution, appropriated the pension
which Lady Hester had so long received to their relief. This met with
a spirited remonstrance on the part of her ladyship, who called to
her aid the Duke of Wellington and other opponents of the whig
administration. Failing in these efforts, she appealed to the queen
herself, but with no better success. She did not long survive this
new source of mortification. On hearing of her illness, the British
consul at Beyroot, accompanied by Mr. Thomson, an American missionary,
hastened to her assistance; but, on their arrival, nothing was left
for them to do but to pay the last sad offices to her remains. She
died on the 23d of June, 1839.

Various and opposing motives have been assigned for the unusual
conduct of Lady Hester: we think, however, its explanation is to be
found in an eccentric imagination, a turn for adventure, and that love
of power which is inherent in the human breast. We can hardly consider
it more extraordinary that one English lady should be found willing to
accept a government under the sunny skies of Syria, than that so many
English officers should seek for sway on the burning shores of Africa
and the East Indies.


Hannah More was the youngest but one of the five daughters of Jacob
More, who, after receiving an education for the church, bounded his
wishes by the possession of a school at Stapleton, England, upon
obtaining which, he married the daughter of a respectable farmer; and
to the soundness of her judgment in the culture and regulation of her
children, the credit and success which attended them are, in a great
degree, to be attributed.

Like other intelligent children, Hannah More displayed at an early age
a desire for knowledge and a love of books. To supply the want of the
latter, her father was accustomed to relate to his children, from
memory, the most striking events of Grecian and Roman history,
dwelling much on the parallels and wise sayings of Plutarch. He would
also recite to them the speeches of his favorite heroes in the
original languages, and then translate them into English. Hannah thus
acquired a taste for the Latin classics, an acquaintance with which
she carefully cultivated, in defiance of her father's horror of _blue
stockingism_, which was extreme, and which probably prevented his
instructing her in Greek.

The bent of her mind displayed itself at an early age. Every scrap of
paper, of which she could possess herself, was scribbled over with
essays and poems, having some well-directed moral. Her little sister,
with whom she slept, was the depositary of her nightly effusions; and,
in her zeal lest they should be lost, she would sometimes steal down
to procure a light, and commit them to paper. The greatest wish her
imagination could frame, was that she might some day be rich enough to
have a whole quire of paper; and, when this wish was gratified, she
soon filled it with letters to depraved characters, of her own
invention, urging them to abandon their errors, and letters in return,
expressive of contrition and resolutions of amendment.

[Illustration: HANNAH MORE.]

Her elder sisters, having been educated with that view, opened a
boarding-school for young ladies at Bristol; and under their care the
school education of Hannah was completed. While yet a pupil, she
attracted the notice and enjoyed the friendship of many eminent men.
She delighted to study the sciences with Ferguson, the astronomer; and
such was his opinion of her taste and genius, that he submitted his
compositions to her for the correction of errors in style. Of her
conversational powers at this period an anecdote is related. A
dangerous illness brought her under the care of Dr. Woodward, an
eminent physician. On one of his visits, being led into conversation
with his patient on literary subjects, he forgot the purpose of his
coming; till, recollecting himself when half way down stairs, he cried
out, "Bless me! I forgot to ask the girl how she was;" and returned to
the room, exclaiming, "How are you to-day, my poor child?"

In her seventeenth year, she appeared before the public as an author.
The class of books, now so common, called "Readers," and "Speakers,"
was then unknown. Young persons were in the habit of committing to
memory the popular plays of the day, which were not always pure in
their sentiments, or moral in their tendency. "To furnish a
substitute," as the youthful moralist tells us in her preface, "for
the very improper custom of allowing plays, and those not of the
purest kind, to be acted by young ladies in boarding-schools, and to
afford them an innocent, and perhaps not altogether unuseful
amusement, in the exercise of recitation," she composed a drama,
called the "Search after Happiness." Her object was to convey
instruction in a pleasing form, and the intention was well executed.
The plot is of the simplest kind, and one not calculated to kindle the
fervors of poetry. Four young ladies betake themselves to the retreat
of a virtuous lady, who, with her two daughters, has renounced the
world and fixed herself in a secluded spot--to receive from her, as
from an oracle, instructions which shall guide them in the way which
leads to peace and contentment.

Among the pupils of the Misses More were two Misses Turner, who were
in the habit of passing the vacations at the house of a bachelor
cousin of the same name. They were permitted to bring some of their
young friends with them, and took the two youngest of their
governesses, Hannah and Patty More. "The consequence was natural.
Hannah was clever and fascinating; Mr. T. was generous and sensible:
he became attached, and made his offer, which was accepted. She gave
up her interest in the school, and was at much expense in fitting
herself out to be the wife of a man of fortune." The day was fixed
more than once for the wedding, and Mr. Turner each time postponed it.
Her sisters and friends interfered, and broke off the engagement, and
would not suffer her to listen to any of his subsequent proposals. To
compensate her, as he said, for the robbery he had committed on her
time, and to enable her to devote herself to literary pursuits, Mr.
Turner settled upon her an annuity; and at his death, to show that he
still retained his esteem, he left her a legacy. The distress and
disturbance which this event occasioned her, led to a resolution, on
her part, never again to incur a similar hazard--a resolution the
strength of which was tested by actual trial.

Among the favorite sports of Hannah's childhood was the making a
carriage of a chair, and playing at riding to London to visit bishops
and booksellers--a day-dream which became a reality in 1784. Of the
circumstances which led to the journey we have no record. A few days
after her arrival in London, she was, by a fortunate accident, brought
to the notice of Garrick. A letter written by her to a mutual friend,
describing the effect produced upon her mind by his representation of
Lear, was shown to him, and excited in him a curiosity to see and
converse with her. The desire was gratified; they were reciprocally
pleased, and Miss More was soon domesticated with Mr. Garrick and his
affectionate wife; and, for the next twenty years, she spent six
months of each year under their hospitable roof. Through them she was
at once received on terms of cordial kindness into their wide and
splendid circle. She was welcomed as a sister spirit by the _coterie_
which she has so elaborately eulogized in the "Bas Bleu." She has
often been heard to describe, very humorously, her raptures on her
first introduction to a "live author," and her sisters long remembered
her strong desire to get a sight, from some hiding-place, of Dr.
Johnson. She was now to meet him face to face. The first interview was
at Sir Joshua Reynolds's. She had been prepared by Sir Joshua for
finding him in one of his sombre moods, but was surprised and
delighted at his coming to meet her, as she entered the room, with
good-humor on his countenance, and a macaw of Sir Joshua's on his
hand; and still more at his accosting her with a verse from a morning
hymn, which she had written at the desire of her early and firm
friend, Dr. Stonehouse.

A few extracts from the sprightly letters of a sister who accompanied
her, will furnish the best picture of the scenes in which Miss More
now bore a part. "Hannah has been introduced to Burke--the Sublime and
Beautiful Burke! From a large party of literary persons assembled at
Sir Joshua's she received the most encouraging compliments; and the
spirit with which she returned them was acknowledged by all present."
"The most amiable and obliging of women--Miss Reynolds--has taken us
to Dr. Johnson's _very own_ house! Can you picture to yourselves the
palpitation of our hearts as we approached his mansion? Miss Reynolds
told the doctor of all our rapturous exclamations on the road. He
shook his scientific head at Hannah, and said, 'she was a silly
thing.' When our visit was ended, he called for his hat to attend us
down a very long entry to our coach, and not Rasselas could have
acquitted himself more _en cavalier_. I forgot to mention, that, not
finding Johnson in his parlor when we came in, Hannah seated herself
in a great chair, hoping to catch a little ray of his genius: when he
heard of it, he laughed heartily, and told her it was a chair on which
he never sat. He said it reminded him of Boswell and himself, when
they stopped a night at the spot--as they imagined--where the weird
sisters appeared to Macbeth; the idea so worked upon their enthusiasm
that it deprived them of rest; however, they learned, the next
morning, to their mortification, that they had been deceived, and were
quite in another part of the country."

Johnson was not always, however, in the humor to swallow the flattery
which she lavished upon him; Mrs. Thrale records a surly enough rebuke
which the doctor administered to her: "Consider, madam, what your
flattery is worth before you choke me with it." As he was complaining,
upon another occasion, that he had been obliged to ask Miss Reynolds
to give her a hint on the subject, somebody observed that she
flattered Garrick also; "Ay," said the doctor, "and she is right
there; first, she has the world with her; and, secondly, Garrick
rewards her. I can do nothing for her. Let her carry her praise to a
better market." But in this flattery there was no want of sincerity
and no disingenuousness. At the age of thirty-one she had brought to
London the fresh, ecstatic enthusiasm of a country girl of seventeen;
when, instead of having Johnson pointed out to her as he rolled along
the pavement of Fleet Street, and gazing at Garrick from the side
boxes, she found herself at once admitted to the inmost circle of the
literary magnets--it is not wonderful that her feelings should
overflow in language and gesture rather too warm for the acclimated
inhabitants of the temperate zone.

The same hyperbolical style is to be found in the letters intended
only for the eyes of her sisters. "Mrs. Montagu is not only the finest
genius, but the finest lady, I ever saw; she lives in the highest
style of magnificence; her apartments and tables are in the most
splendid taste; but what baubles are these when speaking of a Montagu!
Her form--for she has no body--is delicate to fragility; her
countenance the most animated in the world; she has the sprightly
vivacity of sixteen, with the judgment and experience of a Nestor.
Mrs. Carter has in her person a great deal of what the gentlemen mean
when they speak of a 'poetical lady:' independently of her great
talents and learning, I like her much: she has affability, kindness,
and goodness; and I honor her heart more than her talents; but I do
not like one of them better than Mrs. Boscawen; she is at once
learned, polite, judicious, and humble." At a party at which all these
and other luminaries were collected, Dr. Johnson asked Miss More her
opinion of the new tragedy of "Braganza." "I was afraid," says she,
"to speak before them all, as I knew there was a diversity of opinion:
however, as I thought it a less evil to dissent from a fellow-creature
than to tell a falsity, I ventured to give my sentiments, and was
satisfied with Johnson's answering, 'You are right, madam.'"

Stimulated by the approbation of such judges, Miss More turned to
literature with redoubled energy; and from this period, the important
part of her personal history may be read in that of a succession of
works, all in their season popular; all commendable for moral tone;
considerably above mediocrity in literary execution; and some of them
worthy to survive their age.

After her return home, she one day laughingly said to her sisters, "I
have been so fed with praise, that I think I will try what is my real
value, by writing a slight poem, and offering it to Cadell."
Accordingly she wrote and sent him "Sir Eldred of the Bower," a ballad
in the style which Dr. Percy had rendered popular. Cadell offered her
a price far exceeding her idea of its worth; adding that, if she would
ascertain what Goldsmith received for the "Deserted Village," he
would make it up to the same sum. With the public the poem met with a
success which its merits by no means justify. At a tea-visit in her
own lodgings, where she had Johnson all to herself,--and as she tells
us he ought always to be had, for he did not care to speak in mixed
companies,--the new poem was discussed. The leviathan of letters,
instead of expressing his contempt for compositions of this class, and
treating her to a new stanza,--like

  "I put my hat upon my head,
    And walked into the Strand,
  And there I met another man
    With his hat in his hand,"--

indited the following, which she proudly engrafted on the original in
the second edition, no doubt receiving the compliment as paid to the
author, rather than to the heroine:--

  "My scorn has oft the dart repelled
    Which guileful beauty threw;
  But goodness heard, and grace beheld,
    Must every heart subdue."

In her early life, Miss More was subject to frequent attacks of
illness, which she was wont to say were a great blessing to her, for
they induced a habit of industry not natural to her, and taught her to
make the most of her _well_ days. She laughingly added, it had taught
her to contrive employment for her sick ones; that from habit she had
learned to suit her occupations to every gradation of the capacity she
possessed. "I never," said she, "afford a moment of a healthy day to
cross a _t_ or dot an _i_; so that I find the lowest stage of my
understanding may be turned to some account, and save better days for
better things. I have learned also to avoid procrastination, and that
idleness which often attends unbroken health." These habits of order
and industry gave her much time for intellectual pursuits, even amidst
the dissipations of the city.

At her first introduction to its brilliant society, Patty More seemed
to have some apprehensions that her sister "Hannah's head might not
stand proof against all the adulation and kindness of the great
folks." But these effected no change in her deportment; her simplicity
remained unsullied; home and the society of her sisters had lost for
her none of its charms. Her good sense and firmness of character were
subjected to a yet more severe trial upon the production of the
tragedy of "Percy." Nothing could exceed the zeal which Garrick
displayed to insure its success. Miss More thus speaks of it in a
letter to her sister: "It is impossible to tell you of all the
kindness of the Garricks; he thinks of nothing, talks of nothing,
writes of nothing, but 'Percy.' When he had finished his prologue and
epilogue, he desired I would pay him. Dryden, he said, used to have
five guineas apiece, but, as he was a richer man, he would be content
if I would treat him with a handsome supper and a bottle of claret. We
haggled sadly about the price; I insisting that I could only afford to
give him a beef-steak and a pot of porter; and at about twelve, we sat
down to some toast and honey, with which the temperate bard contented
himself." She adds in the same letter, "What dreadful news from
America!--Burgoyne's surrender.--We are a disgraced, undone nation.
What a sad time to bring out a play in! when, if the country had the
least spark of virtue remaining, not a creature would think of going
to it."

The success of "Percy" was prodigious; greater than that of any
tragedy for years. She received for it about six hundred pounds,
which, she tells us, "her friend Mr. Garrick invested for her on
the best security, and at five per cent., and so it made a decent
little addition to her small income." Cadell paid one hundred and
fifty pounds for the copy-right, and it proved a very successful
speculation. The first edition, of four thousand copies,--a very
large one for those days,--was sold off in a fortnight.

Though the patronage of Garrick and the popularity of the author
contributed in no small degree to its success, yet the tragedy
itself possesses intrinsic merits. The plot is simple. Bertha, the
daughter of Lord Raby, is betrothed, in early youth, to Earl Percy.
His family incur the displeasure of Lord Raby, and, during the young
earl's absence in the Holy Land, he compels his daughter to marry
Earl Douglas, the hereditary enemy of the Percys. The proud spirit
of Douglas is chafed to find that his own ardent love is met only
with cold and respectful obedience. He suspects the preëngagement
of her affections, and his jealousy rouses him to fury, when Percy
is found in the neighborhood of his castle. In the catastrophe,
all the principal personages are involved in a common destruction.
In the development of the plot the author displays considerable
imagination, and much dramatic skill. The interest is well sustained;
the didactic spirit sometimes breaks forth, as in the conclusion of
the following extract, in which Lord Raby laments the sombre and
melancholy spirit with which the jealousy of Douglas has infected his
whole household:--

  "----Am I in Raby castle?
  Impossible! That was the seat of smiles;
  There cheerfulness and joy were household gods.
  But now suspicion and distrust preside,
  And discontent maintains a sullen sway.
  Where is the smile unfeigned, the jovial welcome,
  Which cheered the sad, beguiled the pilgrim's pain,
  And made dependency forget its bonds?
  Where is the ancient, hospitable hall,
  Whose vaulted roof once rung with harmless mirth;
  Where every passing stranger was a guest,
  And every guest a friend? I fear me much,
  If once our nobles scorn their rural seats,
  Their rural greatness, and their vassals' love,
  Freedom and English grandeur are no more."

The following passage, in which Bertha seeks to exculpate herself for
the breach of faith with which Percy, whom she meets by accident after
his return, charges her, is full of pathos:--

  "I could withstand his fury; but his tears--
  Ah, they undid me! Percy, dost thou know
  The cruel tyranny of tenderness?
  Hast thou e'er felt a father's warm embrace?
  Hast thou e'er seen a father's flowing tears,
  And known that thou couldst wipe those tears away?
  If thou hast felt, and hast resisted these,
  Then thou may'st curse my weakness; but if not,
  Thou canst not pity, for thou canst not judge."

Encouraged by the success of "Percy," and urged by Garrick, Miss More
composed a second tragedy, called the "Fatal Falsehood." The whole was
completed, and four acts had been revised by Garrick, when death
deprived her of that warm and disinterested friend. Miss More pays the
following tribute to his memory: "I never can cease to remember with
affection and gratitude so warm, steady, and disinterested a friend; I
can most truly bear this testimony to his memory, that I never
witnessed, in any family, more decorum, propriety, and regularity,
than in his; where I never saw a card, or ever met--except in one
instance--a person of his own profession at his table. All his
pursuits and tastes were so decidedly intellectual, that it made the
society and the conversation which was always to be found in his
circle, interesting and delightful."

The success of the "Fatal Falsehood" was great, but not equal to that
of "Percy." We must content ourselves with making one extract, in
which she characterizes "Honor," as it is technically called:--

  "Honor! O yes, I know him. 'Tis a phantom,
  A shadowy figure, wanting bulk and life,
  Who, having nothing solid in himself,
  Wraps his thin form in Virtue's plundered robe,
  And steals her title. Honor! 'tis the fiend
  Who feeds on orphans' tears and widows' groans,
  And slakes his impious thirst in brothers' blood.
  Honor! why, 'tis the primal law of hell!
  The grand device to people the dark realms
  With noble spirits, who, but for this cursed honor,
  Had been at peace on earth, or blessed in heaven.
  With this _false_ honor Christians have no commerce;
  Religion disavows, and truth disowns it."

One more tragedy, the "Inflexible Captive," completes Miss More's
labors in this department of literature. She arrived at the conclusion
that, by contributing plays, however pure, to the existing stage, she
should be using her powers to heighten its _general_ attraction as a
place of amusement; and, considering the English theatre as, on the
whole, the most profligate in the world, she resolved to abjure it and
all its concerns forever--an instance of self-love sacrificed to
principle hardly to be paralleled. When her works were collected, the
tragedies were allowed to take their place, in order, as the author
tells us in a preface written in her happiest manner, that she might
ground on such publication her sentiments upon the general tendency of
the drama, and, by including in her view her own compositions, might
involve herself in the general object of her own animadversions.

She makes no apology for the republication of her "Sacred Dramas,"
though they may, perhaps, be regarded as falling within the range of
some of her criticisms on the old Mysteries and Moralities--pieces "in
which events too solemn for exhibition, and subjects too awful for
detail, are brought before the audience with a formal gravity more
offensive than levity itself."

As a general poet, Miss More was, at this period, the very height of
the fashion. Horace Walpole thought himself honored in being
permitted to print some of her pieces in the most lavish style of
expense, at the press of Strawberry Hill. But fashions in literature
are scarcely more lasting than those in dress. Her poems are now
immersed in Lethe, except a few terse couplets, which have floated
down to the present generation on the stream of oral citation, and
are now often in the mouths of people who fancy that they belong
to Swift or Gay. Many of her poems are, however, worthy of a better
fate. They are distinguished by purity and elevation of sentiment,
ease and strength of diction, and harmony of versification. In the
last particular she received great praise from Johnson, who
pronounced her to be "the best versificatrix in the English

We will give a few extracts. The first is from "Sensibility," a poem
in which she claims for that quality the place which Mrs. Grenville,
in a then well-known ode, arrogated for "Indifference."

  "Sweet sensibility! thou keen delight!
  Unprompted moral! sudden sense of right!
  Perception exquisite! fair virtue's seed!
  Thou quick precursor of the liberal deed!
  Thou hasty conscience! reason's blushing morn!
  Instinctive kindness e'er reflection's born!
  Prompt sense of equity! to thee belongs
  The swift redress of unexamined wrongs;
  Eager to serve, the cause perhaps untried,
  But always apt to choose the suffering side;
  To those who know thee not no words can paint,
  And those who know thee know all words are faint.
  She does not feel thy power who boasts thy flame,
  And rounds her every period with thy name.
  As words are but th' external marks to tell
  The fair ideas in the mind that dwell,
  And only are of things the outward sign,
  And not the things themselves they but define,
  So exclamations, tender tones, fond tears,
  And all the graceful drapery feeling wears,--
  These are her garb, not her; they but express
  Her form, her semblance, her appropriate dress;
  And these fair marks,--reluctant I relate,--
  These lovely symbols, may be counterfeit.
  There are who fill with brilliant plaints the page,
  If a poor linnet meet the gunner's rage;
  There are who for a dying fawn deplore,
  As if friend, parent, country, were no more;
  Who boast, quick rapture trembling in their eye,
  If from a spider's snare they snatch a fly;
  There are whose well-sung plaints each breast inflame,
  And break all hearts--but his from whence they came."

The "Bas Bleu" is a sprightly portraiture of what she considered to
be the right constitution and character of social conversation. It
is a vivacious image of that circle of gay and graceful conversers
from whose appellation it takes its name. It was first circulated
in manuscript, and we find Miss More apologizing to her sister for
the shortness of a letter, on the ground that she had not a moment
to spare, as she was copying the "Bas Bleu," for the king, at his
request. Dr. Johnson pronounced it to be "a very great performance."
To the author herself he expressed himself in yet stronger terms.
She writes to her sister, "As to the 'Bas Bleu,' all the flattery
I ever received from every body together would not make up his sum.
He said--but I seriously insist you do not tell any body, for I
am ashamed of writing it even to you--he said, 'there was no name in
poetry that might not be glad to own it.' You cannot imagine how
I stared; all this from Johnson, that parsimonious praiser! I
told him I was delighted at his approbation; he answered quite
characteristically, 'And so you may, for I give you the opinion of
a man who does not rate his judgment in these things very low, I
can tell you.'" The following extract will give some idea of its

  "What lively pleasure to divine
  The thought implied, the printed line!
  To feel allusion's artful force,
  And trace the image to its source!
  Quick Memory blends her scattered rays,
  Till Fancy kindles at the blaze;
  The works of ages start to view,
  And ancient wit elicits new.
  But wit and parts if thus we praise,
  What nobler altars shall we raise?
  Those sacrifices could we see
  Which wit, O virtue! makes to thee,
  At once the rising thought to dash,
  To quench at once the bursting flash!
  The shining mischief to subdue,
  And lose the praise and pleasure too!
  Though Venus' self could you detect her
  Imbuing with her richest nectar
  The thought unchaste, to check that thought,
  To spurn a fame so dearly bought,--
  This is high principle's control,
  This is true continence of soul.
  Blush, heroes, at your cheap renown,
  A vanquished realm, a plundered town
  Your conquests were to gain a name--
  This conquest triumphs over fame."

"Florio" is a metrical tale of a young man of good principles and
right feelings, who, from deference to fashion, has indulged in
vanities and follies bordering on depravity, which he lays aside in
disgust when virtue and good sense, in alliance with female
loveliness, have made apparent to him the absurdity and danger of his
aberrations. In the following extract the reader will recognize some
of the oft-quoted couplets of which we have spoken:--

  "Exhausted Florio, at the age
  When youth should rush on glory's stage,
  When life should open fresh and new,
  And ardent Hope her schemes pursue,
  Of youthful gayety bereft,
  Had scarce an unbroached pleasure left;
  He found already, to his cost,
  The shining gloss of life was lost,
  And Pleasure was so coy a prude,
  She fled the more, the more pursued;
  Or, if o'ertaken and caressed,
  He loathed and left her when possessed.
  But Florio knew the world; that science
  Sets sense and learning at defiance;
  He thought the world to him was known,
  Whereas he only knew the _town_.
  In men this blunder still you find:
  All think their little set--mankind.
  Though high renown the youth had gained,
  No flagrant crimes his life had stained;
  Though known among _a certain set_,
  He did not like to be in debt;
  He shuddered at the dicer's box,
  Nor thought it very heterodox
  That tradesmen should be sometimes paid,
  And bargains kept as well as made.
  His growing credit, as a sinner,
  Was, that he liked to spoil a dinner,
  Made pleasure and made business wait,
  And still by system came too late;
  Yet 'twas a hopeful indication
  On which to found a reputation:
  Small habits, well pursued, betimes
  May reach the dignity of crimes;
  And who a juster claim preferred
  Than one who always broke his word?"

The death of Garrick may be considered an era in the life of Miss
More. His wit, his gayety, his intelligence, added to his admiration
of her genius, and the warmth of his friendship for her, formed the
strongest spell that held her in subjection to the fascinations of
brilliant society and town life. The early feeling which prompted the
infant wish for "a cottage too low for a clock" was still fresh in her
bosom. The country, with its green pastures and still waters, still
retained its charms for her. "I have naturally," she writes, "but a
small appetite for grandeur, which is always satisfied, even to
indigestion, before I leave town; and I require a long abstinence to
get any relish for it again." After the death of her friend, she
carried into execution the resolution she had long cherished, of
passing a portion of her time in retirement in the country. With this
view, she possessed herself of a little secluded spot, which had
acquired the name of "Cowslip Green," near Bristol.

Still, however, her sensibility to kindness would not let her withhold
herself entirely from her London friends; her annual visits to Mrs.
Garrick brought her back into contact with the world and its crowded

From her earliest acquaintance with society, she had seen with sorrow
the levity of manners, the indifference to religion, and the total
disregard of the Sabbath, which prevailed in its higher circles. Not
content with holding herself uncontaminated, she felt it to be her
duty to make an effort for a reformation, and with this end she
published "Thoughts on the Importance of the Manners of the Great to
General Society." To appreciate the value of the effort, we must
remember that these "Thoughts" were not the animadversions of a
recluse, but of one who was flattered, admired, and courted, by the
very people whom she was about to reprove; that the step might
probably exclude her from those circles in which she had hitherto been
so caressed. But the happiness of her friends was dearer to her than
their favor. That the probable consequences did not ensue, does not
diminish her merit. This work and the one which speedily followed it,
"An Essay on the Religion of the Fashionable World," were popular
beyond hope, and the wish of Bishop Porteus, "that it might be placed
in the hands of every person of condition," was almost realized. It is
unnecessary to dwell on these works; they are too well known; they
established her reputation as a great moral writer, possessing a
masterly command of language, and devoting a keen wit and a lively
fancy to the best and noblest of purposes.--After giving one extract
from the most vigorous of her poems, "Slavery," written to aid the
efforts which Clarkson and Wilberforce were making in behalf of the
African slave, and in which she heartily sympathized, we will pass on
to new scenes, in which Miss More's benevolent spirit exhibits itself
in a yet more active manner.

  "O thou sad spirit, whose preposterous yoke
  The great deliverer, death, at length has broke!
  Released from misery, and escaped from care,
  Go, meet that mercy man denies thee here.
  And if some notions, vague and undefined,
  Of future terrors, have assailed thy mind;
  If such thy masters have presumed to teach--
  As terrors only they are prone to preach;
  For, should they paint eternal mercy's reign,
  Where were the oppressor's rod, the captive's chain?--
  If, then, thy troubled soul has learned to dread
  The dark unknown thy trembling footsteps tread,
  On Him who made thee what thou art depend;
  He who withholds the means accepts the end.
  Thy mental night thy Savior will not blame;
  He died for those who never heard his name.
  Nor thine the reckoning dire of light abused,
  Knowledge disgraced, and liberty misused:
  On thee no awful judge incensed shall sit,
  For parts perverted or dishonored wit.
  When ignorance will be found the safest plea,
  How many learned and wise shall envy thee!"

In withdrawing herself from general society, Miss More had cherished
the hope of devoting herself to meditation and literary leisure. But
there was no rest for her but in the consciousness of being useful. In
the course of her rambles in the neighborhood of her residence, she
was shocked to find the same vices, against which she had lifted up
her voice in high places, existing in the peasant's cottage, in a
different form, but heightened by ignorance, both mental and
spiritual. Though in a feeble state of health, she could not withhold
herself from the attempt to effect a reformation.

In this she had no coadjutors but her sisters, who, having acquired a
competency, had retired from school-keeping, and had, with her, a
common home. Provision was made by law for the support of clergymen;
but the vicar of Cheddar received his fifty pounds a year, and resided
at Oxford; and the rector of Axbridge "was intoxicated about six times
a week, and was very frequently prevented from preaching by two black
eyes, honestly acquired by fighting."

She commenced operations by seeking to establish a school at Cheddar.
Some of the obstacles she encountered may be best related in her own
words. "I was told we should meet with great opposition, if I did not
try to propitiate the chief despot of the village, who is very rich
and very brutal; so I ventured to the den of this monster, in a
country as savage as himself. He begged I would not think of bringing
any religion into the country; it made the poor lazy and useless. In
vain I represented to him that they would be more industrious, as they
were better principled; and that I had no selfish views in what I was
doing. He gave me to understand that he knew the world too well to
believe either the one or the other. I was almost discouraged from
more visits; but I found that friends must be secured at all events;
for, if these rich savages set their faces against us, I saw that
nothing but hostilities would ensue: so I made eleven more of these
agreeable visits; and, as I improved in the art of canvassing, had
better success. Miss W. would have been shocked, had she seen the
petty tyrants whose insolence I stroked and tamed, the ugly children I
praised, the pointers and spaniels I caressed, the cider I commended,
and the wine I swallowed. After these irresistible flatteries, I
inquired of each if he could recommend me to a house, and said that I
had a little plan which I hoped would secure their orchards from being
robbed, their rabbits from being shot, their game from being stolen,
and which might lower the poor rates. If effect be the best proof of
eloquence, then mine was good speech, for I gained in time the hearty
concurrence of the whole people, and their promise to discourage or
favor the poor as they were attentive or negligent in sending their
children. Perhaps the hearts of some of these rich brutes may be
touched; they are as ignorant as the beasts that perish, intoxicated
every day before dinner, and plunged in such vices as make me begin to
think London a virtuous place." The vicarage house, which had not been
occupied for a hundred years, was hired for a school-house; "the
vicar," she says, "who lives a long way off, is repairing the house
for me; and, as he is but ninety-four years old, he insists on my
taking a lease, and is as rigorous about the rent as if I were taking
it for an assembly-room."

The prejudices of the poor were more difficult to be overcome than
those of the rich. Some thought that her design was to make money, by
sending of their children for slaves; others, that, if she instructed
them for seven years, she would acquire such a control as to be able
to send them beyond seas. But she persisted, and her success was great
beyond expectation. In a short time, she had at Cheddar near three
hundred children, under the charge of a discreet matron, whom she
hired for the purpose.

Encouraged by this success, she extended her field of operations, and
established schools at several other villages. The nearest of these
was six miles from her home; the labor and fatigue of superintending
the whole was therefore very great. But she declined an assistant for
reasons stated in a letter to Mr. Wilberforce, who had offered to seek
for one. "An ordinary person would be of no use; one of a superior
cast, who might be able to enter into my views, and further them,
would occasion an expense equal to the support of one or two more
schools. It will be time enough to think of your scheme when I am
quite laid by. This hot weather makes me suffer terribly; yet I have
now and then a good day, and on Sunday was enabled to open the school.
It was an affecting sight. Several of the grown-up lads had been tried
at the last assizes; three were children of a person lately condemned
to be hanged; many thieves; all ignorant, profane, and vicious, beyond
belief. Of this banditti I have enlisted one hundred and seventy; and
when the clergyman, a hard man, who is also a magistrate, saw these
creatures kneeling round us, whom he had seldom seen but to commit or
to punish in some way, he burst into tears."

Her plan was not limited to intellectual and spiritual instruction.
The children were taught to sew, to spin, and to knit. Nor were her
labors confined to the advancement of the well-being of the young; she
sought to introduce branches of manufacture, suitable to the strength
and sex of the women, and she arranged with master manufacturers to
buy the products of their labor. She sought to establish habits of
economy by getting up associations, in which each contributed a
portion of her earnings, on condition of receiving a support in case
she should be disabled from labor. This was a work of difficulty.
Though the subscription was only three half-pence per week, yet many
could not raise even this: such were privately assisted. Other
inducements, besides considerations of providence, must be held out
to the improvident. "An anniversary feast of tea was held, at which
some of the clergy and better sort of people were present. The
patronesses waited on the women, who sat and enjoyed their dignity.
The journal and state of affairs was read. A collateral advantage
resulted from this. The women, who used to plead that they could not
go to church because they had no clothes, now went. The necessity of
going to church in procession on the anniversary, raised an honest
ambition to get something decent to wear, and the churches on Sunday
were filled with very clean-looking women."

Similar machinery was brought into exercise to advance the cause of
her schools. Two years after the first attempt, we find this apology
for not sooner writing to a friend: "I have been too busy in preparing
for a grand celebration, distinguished by the pompous name of _Mendip
Feast_; the range of hills you remember in this country, on the top of
which we yesterday gave a dinner of beef, and plum pudding, and cider,
to our schools. There were not six hundred children, for I would not
admit the _new_ schools, telling them they must be good for a year or
two, to be entitled to so great a thing as a dinner. Curiosity had
drawn a great multitude, for a country so thinly peopled; one wondered
whence five thousand people--for that was the calculation--could come.
We all parted with the most perfect peace, having fed about nine
hundred people for less than a _fine_ dinner for twenty, costs."

It would require a large volume to speak of all Miss More's labors in
behalf of erring and suffering humanity. At one time, we find her
engaged, in the most harassing and embarrassing situations, spending
days and nights with armed Bow Street officers in searching the vilest
haunts for a young heiress, who had been trepanned away from school at
the age of fourteen. The details of another of her attempts to
alleviate suffering, exhibit so strikingly the genuine liberality of
her heart and conduct, as to be worth relating. She was one day
informed that a woman, who called every day for stuff to feed a pig,
was, with her husband and children, perishing with hunger. She lost no
time in endeavoring to rescue this miserable family, and soon
discovered that the woman was possessed of more than ordinary talent.
She produced several scraps of poetry, which evinced much genius. It
occurred to Miss More that this talent might be made the means of
exciting a general interest in her behalf, and raising a fund to set
her up in some creditable way of earning a subsistence. She
accordingly took a great deal of pains in instructing her in writing,
spelling, and composition; and, while the object of her charity was
preparing, under her inspection, a small collection of poems, she was
employed in writing to all her friends of rank and fortune, bespeaking
subscriptions. Mrs. Montagu cautioned her not to let her own generous
nature deceive her as to the character and temper of her beneficiary.
"It has sometimes happened to me," she writes, "that, by an endeavor
to encourage talents and cherish virtue, by driving from them the
terrifying spectre of pale poverty, I have introduced a legion of
little demons: vanity, luxury, idleness, and pride, have entered the
cottage the moment poverty vanished. However, I am sure despair is
never a good counsellor."

For thirteen months, Miss More's time was largely occupied in the
woman's service, and the result of her efforts was the realization of
a sum exceeding three thousand dollars, which was invested for the
woman's benefit under the trusteeship of Mrs. Montagu and Miss More.
The result is made known in a letter from the latter to the former. "I
am come to the postscript, without having found courage to tell you,
what I am sure you will hear with pain; at least it gives _me_
infinite pain to write it. I mean the open and notorious ingratitude
of our milk-woman. There is hardly a species of slander the poor,
unhappy creature does not propagate against me, because I have called
her a _milk-woman_, and because I have placed the money in the funds,
instead of letting her spend it. I confess my weakness; it goes to my
heart, not for my own sake, but for the sake of our common nature. So
much for my _inward_ feelings; as to my _active_ resentment, I am
trying to get a place for her husband, and am endeavoring to increase
the sum I have raised for her. Do not let this harden _your_ heart or
mine against any future object. 'Do good for its own sake' is a
beautiful maxim." The milk-woman presently put her slanders into a
printed shape; and Mrs. Montagu, on reading the libel, found one thing
Miss More's letter had not prepared her for. Here is her comment:
"Mrs. Yeardsley's conceit that _you can envy her talents_ gives me
comfort, for, as it convinces me she is mad, I build upon it a hope
that she is not guilty in the All-seeing Eye." The last allusion which
Miss More herself makes to the behavior of "Lactilla" is on the
occasion of a second publication of hers, in which the generous
patroness was again, after a lapse of two years, maligned and insulted
with a cool bitterness that may well be called diabolical, and is in
these words, addressing Horace Walpole: "Do, dear sir, join me in
sincere compassion, without one atom of resentment. If I wanted to
punish an enemy, it should be by fastening on him the trouble of
constantly hating somebody." Mrs. Montagu and Miss More resisted with
exemplary patience the woman's violent importunities to be put in
possession of the principal, as well as interest, of her little
fortune, fearing that it would be consumed in those vices to which it
was apparent she was addicted. At length, they gave over the trust to
a respectable lawyer, who transferred it to a merchant of Bristol; and
he was soon harassed into the relinquishment of the whole concern.

In the year 1792, affairs wore a very gloomy and threatening aspect in
England. French revolutionary and atheistical principles seemed to be
spreading wide their destructive influence. Indefatigable pains were
taken, not only to agitate and mislead, but to corrupt and poison, the
minds of the populace. At this crisis, letters poured in upon Miss
More, from persons of eminence, earnestly calling upon her to produce
some little tract which might serve to counteract these pernicious
efforts. The intimate knowledge she had shown of human nature, and the
lively and clear style of her writings, which made them attractive,
pointed her out as the proper person for such an effort. Though she
declined an open attempt to stem the mighty torrent, which she
thought a work beyond her powers, she yet felt it to be her duty to
try them in secret, and, in a few hours, composed the dialogue of
"Village Politics, by Will Chip." The more completely to keep the
author unknown, it was sent to a new publisher. In a few days, every
post from London brought her a present of this admirable little tract,
with urgent entreaties that she would use every possible means of
disseminating it, as the strongest antidote that could be administered
to the prevailing poison. It flew with a rapidity almost incredible
into the remotest parts of the kingdom. Government distributed many
thousands. Numerous patriotic associations printed large editions; and
in London only, many hundred thousands were distributed.

Internal evidence betrayed the secret of the authorship; and, when the
truth came out, innumerable were the thanks and congratulations which
bore cordial testimony to the merit of a performance, by which the
tact and intelligence of a single female had turned the tide of
misguided opinion. Many affirmed that it contributed essentially to
prevent a revolution; so true was the touch, and so masterly the
delineation, which brought out, in all its relief, the ludicrous and
monstrous cheat, whereby appetite, selfishness, and animal force, were
attempted to be imposed under the form of liberty, equality, and
imprescriptible right.

The success of "Village Politics" encouraged Miss More to venture on a
more extensive undertaking. The institution of Sunday schools, which
had enabled multitudes to read, threatened to be a curse instead of a
blessing; for, while no healthy food was furnished for their minds,
the friends of infidelity and vice carried their exertions so far as
to load asses with their pernicious pamphlets, and to get them
dropped, not only in cottages and in the highways, but into mines and
coal-pits. Sermons and catechisms were already furnished in abundance;
but the enemy made use of the alluring vehicles of novels, tales, and
songs, and she thought it right to meet them with their own weapons.

She therefore determined to produce three tracts every month, written
in a lively manner, under the name of the "Cheap Repository." The
success surpassed her most sanguine expectations. Two millions were
sold in the first year--a circumstance, perhaps, new in the annals of
printing. But this very success, she tells us, threatened to be her
ruin; for, in order to supplant the trash, it was necessary to
undersell it, thus incurring a certain loss. This, however, was met by
a subscription on the part of the friends of good order and morals.

The exertion which it required to produce these tracts, to organize
her plan, and to conduct a correspondence with the committees formed
in various parts of the kingdom, materially undermined her health. She
continued them, however, for three years. "It has been," she writes,
"no small support to me, that my plan met with the warm protection of
so many excellent persons. They would have me believe that a very
formidable riot among the colliers was prevented by my ballad of 'The
Riot.' The plan was settled; they were resolved to work no more; to
attack the mills first, and afterwards the gentry. A gentleman gained
their confidence, and a few hundreds were distributed, and sung with
the effect, they say, mentioned above--a fresh proof by what weak
instruments evils are now and then prevented. The leading tract for
the next month is the bad economy of the poor. You, my dear madam,
will smile to see your friend figuring away in the new character of a
cook furnishing receipts for cheap dishes. It is not, indeed; a very
brilliant career; but I feel that the value of a thing lies so much
more in its usefulness than its splendor, that I think I should derive
more gratification from being able to lower the price of bread, than
from having written the Iliad."

That Miss More's efforts in behalf of virtue should be opposed by
those against whom they were aimed, will not surprise us. But she
was attacked from a quarter whence she had a right to expect sympathy
and support. The nature of the attack will be learned from a letter
written some years afterwards: "I will say, in a few words, that
two Jacobin and infidel curates, poor and ambitious, formed the
design of attracting notice and getting preferment by attacking some
charity schools--which, with no small labor, I have carried on in
this country for near twenty years--as seminaries of vice, sedition,
and disaffection. At this distance of time,--for it is now ended in
their disgrace and shame,--it will make you smile when I tell you a
few of the charges brought against me, viz., that I hired two men
to assassinate one of these clergymen; that I was actually taken
up for seditious practices; that I was with Hadfield in his attack
on the king's life. At the same time they declared--mark the
consistency--that I was in the pay of the government, and the grand
instigator of the war, by my mischievous pamphlets. That wicked men
should invent this, is not so strange as that they should have found
magazines, reviews, and pamphleteers, to support them. My declared
resolution never to defend myself certainly encouraged them to go on.
How thankful am I that I kept that resolution! though the grief and
astonishment excited by the combination against me nearly cost me my

There is not space to go at large into an account of this persecution,
which was continued for several years. The most inveterate of her
enemies was the curate of her own parish, who was named Bere, and the
most distressing result to herself was being obliged to discontinue
the school at that place. But, whilst laboring so earnestly for the
poor and the humble, Miss More was still mindful of the wants of the
higher classes, and, in the midst of her anxiety and distress, which
very seriously affected her health, she found time to compose the
"Strictures on Female Education," for their benefit. All her practical
admonitions, and all her delineations of female excellence, were
afterwards brought together in the character of Lucilla, in the novel
of "Coelebs in Search of a Wife," who is a true representative of
feminine excellence within the legitimate range of allotted duties.
She did not venture on publishing this work without much anxious
hesitation. "I wrote it," she says, "to amuse the languor of disease.
I thought there were already good books enough in the world for good
people, but that there was a large class of readers, whose wants had
not been attended to--the subscribers to the circulating library. A
little to raise the tone of that mart of mischief, and to counteract
its corruptions, I thought an object worth attempting." It was
published without her name, and though many at once recognized the
style, she herself did not acknowledge it till it had passed through
many editions. It excited such immediate and universal attention,
that, in a few days after its first appearance, she received notice to
prepare for a second edition; and shortly afterwards she was followed
to Dawlish, whither she had gone to try the effect of repose and the
sea air, in restoring her health, by the eleventh edition.

Her works at an early period were duly estimated in the United
States, and of the "Coelebs" thirty editions had been issued
before the author's death. It is not a little creditable to the
public taste, that a work so full of plain and practical truth
should be so well received. In "Coelebs," as well as in some of her
smaller productions, Miss More evinces her power of invention, and
gives proof that, had she chosen to employ fiction as the vehicle
of instruction, her imagination would have afforded her abundant
resources; but habit and the bias of her mind led her in another
course: a certain substantiality of purpose, a serious devotion to
decided and direct beneficence, an active and almost restless
principle of philanthropy, were the great distinctions of her

When the education of the Princess Charlotte became a subject of
serious attention and inquiry, the advice and assistance of Miss More
were requested by the queen. Bishop Porteus strenuously advised that
the education should be intrusted to her; but, when the latter
required that the _entire_ direction should be given to her charge,
this was thought, by those in power, to be too great a confidence.
They were willing to engage her in a subordinate capacity; but this
she declined, and so the negotiation ended. Her ideas on the subject
were given to the world under the title of "Hints for forming the
Character of a Young Princess"--a book which subsequently was a great
favorite with her for whose benefit it was intended, and doubtless
contributed to the formation of those virtues and principles which
made her death so much lamented.

In the country Miss More had hoped to find retirement. But Barley
Wood--a place to which she had removed, about one mile from Cowslip
Green--was any thing but a hermitage. "Though," she says, "I neither
return visits nor give invitations, except when quite confined by
sickness, I think I never saw more people, known and unknown, in my
gayest days. I never had so many cares and duties imposed upon me as
now in sickness and old age. I know not how to help it. If my guests
are old, I see them out of respect, and in the hope of receiving some
good; if young, I hope I may do them a little good; if they come from
a distance, I feel as if I ought to see them on that account; if near
home, my neighbors would be jealous of my seeing strangers, and
excluding them." Her epistolary labors were enormous. She laid it down
as a rule never to refuse or delay answering any application for
epistolary advice, enduring the incessant interruptions with
indefatigable kindness.

In spite, however, of all the interruptions of company and of
sickness; for, as she tells us, "From early infancy to late old age,
her life was a successive scene of visitation and restoration," she
found time and strength to compose a series of works on "Morals,"--the
last of the three being produced in the seventy-fifth year of her

In 1828, Miss More was subjected to the severest trial, perhaps, of
her life. After the death of her sister Martha, who had been the
manager of the domestic economy of the sisterhood, affairs at Barley
Wood got into sad confusion. Dishonest and dissolute servants wasted
her substance. After trying in vain to correct the evil by mild
remonstrance, she sank quietly under what seemed inevitable, and
determined to take the infliction as a chastisement to which it was
her duty to submit. At length, however, her friends interposed, and
represented to her the danger of her appearing as the patroness of
vice, and thereby lessening the influence of her writings. It was
determined that her establishment should be broken up. At a bleak
season of the year, on a cold and inclement day, after a long
confinement to her chamber, she removed to Clifton. From her apartment
she was attended by several of the principal gentlemen of the
neighborhood, who had come to protect her from the approach of any
thing that might discompose her. She descended the stairs with a
placid countenance, and walked silently for a few minutes round the
lower room, the walls of which were covered with the portraits of her
old and dear friends, who had successively gone before her. As she was
helped into the carriage, she cast one pensive, parting look upon her
bowers, saying, "I am driven, like Eve, out of paradise; but not, like
Eve, by angels." From the shock of the discovery of the misconduct of
her servants, Miss More never recovered. After her removal to Clifton,
her health was in a very precarious state. To her friends and admirers
it was painful to see her great and brilliant talents descending to
the level of mere ordinary persons; but the good, the kind, the
beneficent qualities of her mind suffered no diminution or abatement.
So long as her intellectual faculties remained but moderately
impaired, her wonted cheerfulness and playfulness of disposition did
not forsake her; and no impatient or querulous expressions escaped her
lips, even in moments of painful suffering. Thus free from the
infirmities of temper, which often render old age unamiable and
unhappy, she was also spared many of the bodily infirmities which
often accompany length of years. To the very last her eye was not dim;
she could read with ease, and without spectacles, the smallest print.
Her bearing was almost unimpaired, and, until very near the close of
her life, her features were not wrinkled or uncomely. Her death-bed
was attended with few of the pains and infirmities which are almost
inseparable from sinking nature. She looked serene, and her breathing
was as gentle as that of an infant in sleep. Her pulse waxed fainter
and fainter, and her spirit passed quietly away on the 7th of
September, 1833.


Anna Letitia Barbauld, a name long dear to the admirers of genius and
the lovers of virtue, was born at the village of Kibworth Harcourt, in
Leicestershire, on June 20th, 1743. She was the eldest child and only
daughter of John Aikin, D.D., and Jane, his wife, daughter of the Rev.
John Jennings, of Kibworth, and descended by her mother from the
ancient family of Wingate, of Harlington, in Bedfordshire.

That quickness of apprehension by which she was eminently distinguished,
manifested itself from early infancy. Her mother writes thus respecting
her in a letter which is still preserved: "I once, indeed, knew a
little girl who was as eager to learn as her instructors could be to
teach her; and who, at two years old, could read sentences and little
stories in her wise book, roundly, without spelling, and, in half a year
more, could read as well as most women; but I never knew such another,
and, I believe, never shall."

Her education was entirely domestic, and principally conducted by her
excellent mother, a lady whose manners were polished by the early
introduction to good company which her family connections had procured
her; whilst her mind had been cultivated, and her principles formed,
partly by the instructions of religious and enlightened parents, and
partly by the society of the Rev. Dr. Doddridge, who was for some
years domesticated under the parental roof.

In the middle of the last century, a strong prejudice still existed in
England against imparting to females any degree of classical learning;
and the father of Miss Aikin, proud as he justly was of her uncommon
capacity, long refused to gratify her earnest desire of being
initiated in this kind of knowledge. At length, however, she in some
degree overcame his scruples; and, with his assistance, she enabled
herself to read the Latin authors with pleasure and advantage; nor did
she rest satisfied without gaining some acquaintance with the Greek.

The obscure village of Kibworth was unable to afford her a suitable
companion of her own sex: her brother, the late Dr. Aikin, was more
than three years her junior; and as her father was, at this period,
the master of a school for boys, it might have been apprehended that
conformity of pursuits, as well as age, would tend too nearly to
assimilate her with the youth of the ruder sex, by whom she was
surrounded. But the vigilance of her mother effectually obviated this
danger, by instilling into her a double portion of bashfulness and
maidenly reserve; and she was accustomed to ascribe an uneasy sense of
constraint in mixed society, which she could never entirely shake off,
to the strictness and seclusion in which it had thus become her fate
to be educated.

Her recollections of childhood and early youth were, in fact, not
associated with much of the pleasure and gayety usually attendant
upon that period of life; but it must be regarded as a circumstance
favorable, rather than otherwise, to the unfolding of her genius, to
be left thus to find, or make, in solitude, her own objects of
interest or pursuit. The love of rural nature sank deep in her heart.
Her vivid fancy excited itself to color, animate, and diversify, all
the objects which surrounded her; the few but choice authors of her
father's library, which she read and re-read, had leisure to make
their full impression,--to mould her sentiments, and to form her
taste. The spirit of devotion, early inculcated upon her as a duty,
opened to her, by degrees, an exhaustless source of tender and sublime
delight; and while yet a child, she was surprised to find herself a

Just at the period when longer seclusion might have proved seriously
injurious to her spirits, an invitation given to her learned and
exemplary father to undertake the office of classical tutor to a
highly respectable academy at Warrington, in Lancashire, was the
fortunate means of transplanting her to a more varied and animating
scene. This removal took place in 1758, when Miss Aikin had just
attained the age of fifteen; and the fifteen succeeding years, passed
by her at Warrington, comprehended probably the happiest, as well as
the most brilliant, portion of her existence. She was at this time
possessed of great beauty, distinct traces of which she retained to
the latest period of her life. Her person was slender, her complexion
fair, with the bloom of perfect health: her features were regular and
elegant; and her light blue eyes beamed with the light of wit and

A solitary education had not produced on her its most frequent ill
effects, pride and self-importance; the reserve of her manners
proceeded solely from bashfulness, for her temper inclined her
strongly to friendship, and to social pleasures; and her active
imagination, which represented all objects tinged with hues
"unborrowed of the sun," served as a charm against that disgust with
common characters and daily incidents, which so frequently renders the
conscious possessor of superior talents at once unamiable and

Nor was she now in want of congenial associates. Warrington academy
included among its tutors names eminent both in science and
literature; with several of these, and especially with Dr. Priestley
and Dr. Canfield and their families, she formed sincere and lasting
friendships. The elder and more accomplished among the students
composed an agreeable part of the same society; and its animation was
increased by a mixture of young ladies, either residents in the town,
or occasional visitors, several of whom were equally distinguished for
personal charms, for amiable manners, and cultivated minds. The rising
institution, which flourished for several years in high reputation,
diffused a classic air over all connected with it. Miss Aikin, as was
natural, took a warm interest in its success; and no academic has ever
celebrated his _alma mater_ in nobler strains, or with a more filial
affection, than she has manifested in that portion of her early and
beautiful poem, "The Invitation," where her theme is this "nursery of
men for future years."

About the close of the year 1771, her brother, after several years of
absence, returned to establish himself in his profession at
Warrington--an event equally welcome to her feelings and propitious to
her literary progress. In him she possessed a friend with discernment
to recognize the stamp of genius in her productions, and anticipate
their fame, combined with zeal and courage sufficient to vanquish her
reluctance to appear before the public in the character of an author.
By his persuasion and assistance, her poems were selected, revised,
and arranged for publication; and when all these preparations were
completed, finding that she still hesitated and lingered,--like the
parent bird, who pushes off its young to their first flight, he
procured the paper, and set the press to work on his own authority.
The result more than justified his confidence of her success; four
editions of the work were called for within the year of publication,
1773; compliments and congratulations poured in from all quarters; and
even the periodical critics greeted her muse with nearly unmixed

She was not permitted to repose upon her laurels. Her brother, who
possessed all the activity and spirit of literary enterprise, in which
she was deficient, now urged her to collect her prose pieces, and to
join him in forming a small volume, which appeared also in the year
1773, under the title of "Miscellaneous Pieces in Prose, by J. and
A. L. Aikin." These likewise met with much notice and admiration, and
have been several times reprinted. The authors did not think proper to
distinguish their respective contributions, and several of the pieces
have, in consequence, been generally misappropriated. The fragment of
"Sir Bertrand," in particular, though alien from the character of
that brilliant and airy imagination which was never conversant with
terror, and rarely with pity, has been repeatedly ascribed to Mrs.
Barbauld, even in print.

Having thus laid the foundation of a lasting reputation in literature,
Miss Aikin might have been expected to proceed with vigor in rearing
the superstructure; and the world awaited with impatience the result
of her further efforts. But an event, the most important of her life,
was about to subject her to new influences, new duties, to alter her
station, her course of life, and to modify even the bent of her mind.
This event was her marriage, which took place in May, 1774.

Her husband, the Rev. Rochemont Barbauld, was a dissenting minister,
descended from a family of French Protestants, who had taken refuge in
England in the reign of Louis XIV. Mr. Barbauld was educated in the
academy at Warrington, and, at the time of his marriage, had been
recently appointed to the charge of a dissenting congregation at
Palgrave, in Suffolk, near Diss, in Norfolk, where he had announced
his intention of opening a boarding-school for boys. This undertaking
proved speedily successful--a result which must in great part be
attributed, first to the reputation, and afterwards to the active
exertions, of Mrs. Barbauld. She particularly superintended the
departments of geography and English composition, which latter she
taught by a method then unusual, but which has since been brought much
into practice. Her plan, according to the statement of Mr. William
Taylor, of Norwich, one of her first pupils, was, to read a fable, a
short story, or a moral essay, aloud, and then to send them back into
the school-room to write it out on slates in their own words. Each
exercise was separately examined by her: the faults of grammar were
obliterated, the vulgarisms were chastised, the idle epithets were
cancelled, and a distinct reason was always assigned for every
correction, so that the arts of inditing and criticising were in some
degree learnt together. Mrs. Barbauld also instructed the pupils in
the art of declamation; and the pleasing accomplishments of good
reading and graceful speaking have probably never been taught with
more assiduity or with better success than by herself. After a few
years thus devoted, Mrs. Barbauld was solicited to receive several
little boys as her own peculiar pupils; and among this number may be
mentioned Lord Denman, the present Chief Justice of England, and the
celebrated Sir William Gell. It was for the use of these, her almost
infant scholars, that she composed her "Hymns in Prose for Children."

In 1775, Mrs. Barbauld published a small volume entitled "Devotional
Pieces, compiled from the Psalms of David, with Thoughts on the
Devotional Taste, and on Sects and Establishments." About the same
time, she wrote that admirable little volume, "Early Lessons," a
publication which has ever since been a standard work, and,
though frequently imitated, yet remains unrivalled amidst all its

This little volume was written for the use of one of her nephews, who
had been adopted by Mr. Barbauld and herself, in consequence of their
having no child of their own. In the present day, when parents are in
possession of the labors of many clever persons for aiding the task of
early instruction, it is difficult to form a correct estimate of the
value of Mrs. Barbauld's "Early Lessons." At the time of its first
appearance, as at present, there was a multitude of books professedly
written for children, but few adapted to the comprehension of a child
of very tender age, that were not at the same time injurious from
their folly or puerility.

It would seem that the value of a book which was not only free
from these objections, but calculated to impress upon the mind of
the child just ideas and noble principles, could not fail to be
appreciated by every parent and teacher; but there are those who
maintain that the reformation begun by Mrs. Barbauld is an evil. It
would seem that, in putting "Mother Goose's Melodies," "Jack the
Giant-Killer," and other works of the kind, into the hands of
children, as soon as they begin to read, we are likely to distort
their minds by grotesque representations, which may exert a lasting
and pernicious influence on their understandings; that we set about
teaching what is false, and what we must immediately seek to
unteach; that we inculcate the idea upon the young mind that books
are vehicles of fiction and incongruity, and not of truth and reason.

If the works alluded to produce any effects, they must be of this
nature; and on some minds they have probably had a fatal influence.
Yet such is the prejudice engendered by early associations, that many
grave persons, whose first reading was of the kind we have mentioned,
lament the repudiation of "Mother Goose" and her kindred train, and
deem it a mistake to use books in their place founded on the idea of
Mrs. Barbauld's works--that truth is the proper aliment of the infant
mind, as well calculated to stimulate the faculties as fiction, and
that its exhibition is the only safe and honest mode of dealing with
those whose education is intrusted to our care.

The success of the school at Palgrave remained unimpaired; but the
unceasing call for mental exertion, on the part of the conductors,
which its duties required, so much injured their health, that, after
eleven years of unremitting labor, an interval of complete relaxation
became necessary; and Mrs. Barbauld accompanied her husband, in the
autumn of 1785, to Switzerland, and afterwards to the south of France.
In the following year they returned to England, and, early in 1787,
took up their residence in Hampstead, where, for several years, Mr.
Barbauld received a few pupils.

In 1790, Mrs. Barbauld published an eloquent and indignant address to
the successful opposers of the repeal of the corporation and test
acts. In the following year was written her poetical epistle to Mr.
Wilberforce, on the rejection of the bill for abolishing the slave
trade. In 1792, she published "Remarks on Mr. Gilbert Wakefield's
Inquiry into the Expediency and Propriety of Public or Social
Worship;" and in 1793, she produced a work of a kind very unusual for
a female--a sermon, entitled "The Sins of Government Sins of the
Nation." In all these works Mrs. Barbauld showed those powers of mind,
that ardent love for civil and religious liberty, and that genuine
and practical piety, by which her life was distinguished, and for
which her memory will long be held in reverence. In particular, her
"Remarks on Mr. Wakefield's Inquiry" may be noticed as being one of
the best and most eloquent, and yet sober, appeals in favor of public
worship that has ever appeared.

Our youthful readers will be pleased to learn that Mrs. Barbauld wrote
some of the articles in that entertaining work by her brother, Dr.
Aikin, entitled "Evenings at Home." These contributions were
fourteen in number. It would be useless to distinguish them here,
or to say more concerning them than that they are equal in merit to
the other parts of the volumes. These papers, trifling in amount,
but not in value, comprise all that Mrs. Barbauld published from
1793 to 1795, when she superintended an edition of Akenside's
"Pleasures of Imagination," to which she prefixed a critical essay.
In 1797, she brought out an edition of Collins's "Odes," with a
similar introduction. These essays are written with elegance, and
display much taste and critical acuteness.

Mr. Barbauld became, in 1802, pastor of a Unitarian congregation at
Newington Green, and at this time he changed his residence to Stoke
Newington. The chief inducement to this removal was the desire felt by
Mrs. Barbauld and her brother to pass the remainder of their lives in
each other's society. This wish was gratified during twenty years, and
was interrupted only by death. In 1804, she published a selection of
the papers contained in the Spectator, Guardian, Tatler and
Freeholder, with a preliminary essay, in which is given an instructive
account of the state of society at the time the papers originally
appeared, and of the objects at which they aimed. This essay has been
much admired for its elegance and acuteness. In the same year, Mrs.
Barbauld prepared for publication a selection from the correspondence
of Richardson, the novelist, prefixing a biographical notice of him,
and a critical examination of his works.

About this time, Mrs. Barbauld's husband, to whom she had been united
for more than thirty years, fell into a state of nervous weakness, and
at last died, in November, 1808. From the dejection occasioned by this
loss, Mrs. Barbauld sought relief in literary occupation, and
undertook the task of editing a collection of the British novelists,
which was published in 1810. To these volumes she contributed an
introductory essay, and furnished biographical and critical notices of
the life and writings of each author; these were written with her
usual taste and judgment. In the next year, she composed and published
the longest and most highly-finished of her poems, entitled "Eighteen
Hundred and Eleven." The time at which this poem appeared was by many
persons looked upon with gloomy forebodings, and the matters of which
it treats were considered as indicative of the waning fortunes of
Great Britain. It was perhaps owing to the spirit of melancholy
prediction by which it is pervaded, that the poem was not received by
the public as it deserved. It is written throughout with great power
and in harmonious language; its descriptions are characterized by deep
feeling and truth, and its warnings are conveyed with an earnestness
which is the best evidence of the sincerity of the author.

The unfair construction applied to her motives in writing this poem
probably prevented Mrs. Barbauld from appearing again as an author.
Her efforts were confined to the humble task of administering to the
gratification of a circle of private friends. Although arrived at
years which are assigned as the natural limit of human life, her fancy
was still bright, and she continued to give evidence by occasional
compositions of the unimpaired energy of her mind. Her spirits were
greatly tried, during the latter years of her life, by the loss of her
brother, who died in 1822, and of several cherished companions of her
early days, who quickly followed. Her constitution, naturally
excellent, slowly gave way under an asthmatic complaint, and on the
9th of March, 1825, after only a few days of serious illness, she
died, in the eighty-second year of her age.

In domestic and social life, Mrs. Barbauld was characterized by strong
sense, deep feeling, high moral principle, and a rational but ardent
piety. She passed through a lengthened term of years, free from the
annoyance of personal enmities, and rich in the esteem and affection
of all with whom she was connected. The cause of rational education is
more indebted to her than to any individual of modern times, inasmuch
as she was the leader in that reformation which has resulted in
substituting the use of truth and reason for folly and fiction, in
books for the nursery. She has also shown that a talent for writing
for youth is not incompatible with powers of the highest order. Her
epistle to Mr. Wilberforce is full of lofty sentiment, and, at the
same time, is most felicitously executed. We give a specimen of her
writing in a lighter vein, which has been justly celebrated for its
truth and humor.


  "The muses are turned gossips; they have lost
  The buskined step, and clear, high-sounding phrase,--
  Language of gods. Come, then, domestic muse,
  In slip-shod measure, loosely prattling on
  Of farm, or orchard, pleasant curds and cream,
  Or drowning flies, or shoes lost in the mire,
  By little whimpering boy, with rueful face;
  Come, muse, and sing the dreaded washing-day.
  Ye who beneath the yoke of wedlock bend
  With bowed soul, full well ye ken the day
  Which week, smooth gliding after week, brings on
  Too soon; for to that day nor peace belongs,
  Nor comfort. Ere the first gray streak of dawn,
  The red-armed washers come and chase repose;
  Nor pleasant smile, nor quaint device of mirth,
  E'er visited that day: the very cat,
  From the wet kitchen scared, and reeking hearth,
  Visits the parlor--an unwonted guest.
  The silent breakfast meal is soon despatched,
  Uninterrupted save by anxious looks
  Cast at the lowering sky, if sky should lower.
  From that last evil, O, preserve us, heavens!
  For, should the skies pour down, adieu to all
  Remains of quiet: then expect to hear
  Of sad disasters--dirt and gravel stains
  Hard to efface, and loaded lines at once
  Snapped short, and linen-horse by dog thrown down,
  And all the petty miseries of life.
  Saints have been calm while stretched upon the rack,
  And Guatimozin smiled on burning coals;
  But never yet did housewife notable
  Greet with a smile a rainy washing-day.
  But grant the welkin fair; require not, thou
  Who call'st thyself perchance the master there,
  Or study swept, or nicely-dusted coat,
  Or usual 'tendance; ask not, indiscreet,
  Thy stockings mended, though the yawning rents
  Gape wide as Erebus; nor hope to find
  Some snug recess impervious! should'st thou try
  Th' accustomed garden walks, thine eye shall rue
  The budding fragrance of thy tender shrubs,
  Myrtle or rose, all crushed beneath the weight
  Of coarse checked apron, with impatient hand
  Twitched off when showers impend; or crossing lines
  Shall mar thy musings, as the cold, wet sheet
  Flaps in thy face abrupt. Woe to the friend
  Whose evil stars have urged him forth to claim,
  On such a day, the hospitable rites!
  Looks blank at best, and stinted courtesy,
  Shall he receive. Vainly he feeds his hopes
  With dinner of roast chickens, savory pie,
  Or tart, or pudding: pudding he nor tart
  That day shall eat; nor, though the husband try,
  Mending what can't be helped, to kindle mirth
  From cheer deficient, shall his consort's brow,
  Clear up propitious;--the unlucky guest
  In silence dines, and early shrinks away.
  I well remember, when a child, the awe
  This day struck into me; for then the maids--
  I scarce knew why--looked cross, and drove me from them;
  Nor soft caress could I obtain, nor hope
  Usual indulgences--jelly or creams,
  Relic of costly suppers, and set by
  For me, their petted one; or buttered toast,
  When butter was forbid; or thrilling tale
  Of ghost, or witch, or murder: so I went
  And sheltered me beside the parlor fire:
  There my dear grandmother, eldest of forms,
  Tended the little ones, and watched from harm,
  Anxiously fond, though oft her spectacles
  With elfin cunning hid, and oft the pins
  Drawn from her ravelled stockings, might have soured
  One less indulgent.
  At intervals my mother's voice was heard,
  Urging despatch: briskly the work went on,
  All hands employed to wash, to rinse, to wring,
  To fold, and starch, and clap, and iron, and plait.
  Then would I sit me down, and ponder much
  Why washings were. Sometimes through hollow bowl
  Of pipe amused we blew, and sent aloft
  The floating bubbles; little dreaming then
  To see, Montgolfier, thy silken ball
  Ride buoyant through the clouds--so near approach
  The sports of children and the toils of men.
  Earth, air, and sky, and ocean, hath its bubbles,
  And verse is one of them--this most of all."


This celebrated writer, whose maiden name was Stephanie Felicité
Ducrest de St. Aubin, has left a voluminous memoir of her life and
times, written at the age of eighty, which is interesting for the
portraits of celebrated characters, in which it abounds, as well as
the delineations it affords of her education, her feelings, and her
experience. Of this we have made the following abstract, generally in
her own words, which will present the leading incidents of her
eventful career:--

"I was born," says she, "on the 25th of January, 1746, on a little
estate in Burgundy, near Autun, called Champcéri. I was born so small
and so weakly that they would not venture to put me in clothes; and, a
few moments after my birth, I was on the point of losing my life. I
had been placed in a down pillow, of which, to keep me warm, the two
sides were folded over me and fastened with a pin; and, thus wrapped
up, I was laid upon an arm-chair in the room. The judge of the
district, who was almost blind, came to pay his visit of compliment to
my father; and as, in his country fashion, he separated his huge flaps
to sit down, some one saw that he was going to place himself in the
arm-chair where I was. Luckily, he was prevented from sitting down,
and I escaped being crushed to death.

"I experienced in my childhood a series of unfortunate accidents. At
eighteen months old, I fell into a pond, out of which I was extricated
with great difficulty: at the age of five, I had a fall, and received
a severe wound on the head: as a great deal of blood flowed from it,
it was thought unnecessary to bleed me; but a deposit, formed in the
head, burst at the ear after forty days, and, contrary to expectation,
I was saved. A short time afterwards, I fell into the kitchen fire:
this accident did not injure my face, but there are to this day two
marks of it on my body. Thus often was endangered, in its earliest
years, that life which was afterwards to prove so checkered.

"My father sold the estate of Champcéri when I was two years old. He
had a house at Cosne, to which he removed, and passed three years
there. The recollection of that house, of its superb garden, and
beautiful terrace, upon the Loire, and of the chateau of Mienne, a
league from Cosne, where we went so often, remains indelibly engraved
on my memory. Passing by that road, thirty-five years after, I
instantly recognized the chateau, though I was but five years old when
we quitted Cosne. My father purchased the marquisate of St. Aubin, an
estate most desirable from its situation, its extent, and its titular
and seigniorial rights. I have never thought, without a feeling of
tenderness, of this spot, once so dear to me, in which six years of
innocence and happiness glided away.

"When we were once fixed at St. Aubin, my education began to be
attended to. Mademoiselle Urgon, the village schoolmistress, taught me
to read. Having an excellent memory, I learnt with great facility; and
at the end of six or seven months, I read with ease. I was brought up
with a brother fifteen months younger than myself, of whom I was
exceedingly fond; with the exception of the hour set apart for
reading, we were allowed to play together all day long. We passed part
of the day in the court-yard, or in the garden; and in the evening we
played in the drawing-room.

"I was six years old when my brother was sent to Paris, to the famous
academy of M. Bertrand, the most virtuous and best instructor of his
time. It was he who invented the method of learning to spell in six
weeks, by means of boxes full of counters. Two or three months after
the departure of my brother, my mother made a journey to Paris, and
took me with her.

"I was not much pleased with Paris, and, for the first few days of my
stay there, I regretted St. Aubin bitterly. I had two teeth pulled
out; my clothes pinched me terribly; my feet were imprisoned in tight
shoes, with which it was impossible for me to walk; I had a multitude
of curl papers put on my head; and I wore a hoop, for the first time
in my life. In order to get rid of my country attitudes, I had an iron
collar put on my neck, and, as I squinted a little at times, I was
obliged to put on goggles as soon as I woke in the morning; and these
I wore four hours. I was, moreover, not a little surprised when they
talked of giving me a master to teach me what I thought I knew well
enough already--to _walk_. Beside all this, I was forbidden to run, to
leap, or ask questions.

"All these painful constraints made such an impression on me, that I
have never forgotten them. I have since faithfully depicted them in a
little comedy called 'The Dove.' But a great ceremony, and the fine
entertainments which followed it, soon made me forget my little
griefs. I had only been privately christened; I was now baptized in
public; my aunt, Madame de Bellevau, was my godmother, and M. Bouret,
the farmer-general, my godfather. I received some splendid presents;
and I had, besides, plenty of sweetmeats and playthings, and I soon
recovered my good-humor. I was taken also to the opera, which
delighted me beyond measure.

"My father had the utmost affection for me, but he did not interfere
with my education in any point but one; he wished to make me a woman
of firm mind, and I was born with numberless little antipathies. I had
a horror of all insects, particularly of spiders and toads. I was also
afraid of mice, and he made me feed and bring up one. I loved my
father to excess, and he had such an influence over me, that I never
dared to disobey him. He would frequently oblige me to catch spiders
with my fingers, and to hold toads in my hands, and, at such times,
though I felt as if the blood had forsaken my veins, I was forced to
obey. These trials proved clearly to me that toads are not venomous;
but they powerfully contributed to weaken my nerves, and have only
augmented the antipathies which they were intended to remove. They
have, however, served to give me a habit of self-command, which of
itself is a great benefit.

"So passed several years. Mademoiselle de Mars, a young woman from
Brittany, had now the sole direction of my studies, and she gave me
also lessons in singing, and on the harpsichord. I became attached to
her from the first, and passed nearly all my time with her. I made
great progress in my music, and we rehearsed a great many little plays
for our amusement. Much applause was bestowed upon my performances,
except by Mademoiselle de Mars, who generally only praised me for what
belonged to my heart or character. I led a charming life: in the
morning I played on the harpsichord; afterwards I studied my parts;
then I took my lesson in dancing and fencing, and then read till
dinner. After dinner, we read pious books, and afterwards spent our
time in amusements and walking.

"I will here give the history of what a woman never forgets--the first
passion she inspires. I was but a child of eleven years and nine
months, and very small of my age; besides, I had a face and features
so delicate, that those who saw me for the first time never supposed
me older than eight or nine, at furthest; yet a young man of eighteen
became desperately in love with me--the son of Dr. Pinot, one of the
first physicians at the baths of Bourbon-Lancey. He had performed
parts in our plays for two years.

"None of us suspected his folly, and certainly I had not the slightest
idea of it; when, one morning, after a rehearsal, the young man came
up to me, and, seizing the moment when I was standing separate from
the other actors in the side scene, and with an air of wildness in
his looks, gave me a note, begging me, in a low tone, to read it, and
let no one see it. I took the note, though much surprised, and he left
me. Mademoiselle de Mars soon after joined me. I put the note in my
pocket, and we went up stairs to our room. I hesitated about showing
her my note, as I had been charged so strongly to show it to no one;
but to keep a secret with the friend I loved so dearly weighed heavily
upon my conscience; at the same time, my curiosity was extreme.

"At last, Mademoiselle de Mars left me. I ran into my cabinet, locked
the door, and read the note, which contained a serious declaration of
love. My first movement was to be excessively shocked that the son of
a physician--a person of no rank--should presume to talk of love to
me. I went immediately and showed the note to my friend, who desired
me to carry it to my mother, which I did. The young man was
reprimanded by his father, as he deserved to be; and he felt so much
chagrin on the occasion, that he enlisted in the army, and left the
place. I afterwards heard of him as having obtained his discharge, and
that he was married and happy, and an excellent young man.

"Two months after this romantic flight, we went to Paris. I confess,
to my shame, that I quitted Burgundy without regret; for childhood
loves and requires change. At Paris we found my aunt, the Countess de
Bellevau, and after a short time we took up our abode with her. At her
house I saw the celebrated author M. Marmontel. He came to read her
his 'Tales.' I was present at the reading of one, called, I think,
'The Self-styled Philosopher,' in which a fat president's wife,
begrimmed with snuff, leads about in triumph this pretended sage, with
a rose-colored ribbon. Though but twelve years old, I thought this
story dull and absurd, and I thought rightly. The author was far from
supposing that the little girl then before him would one day write a
critique on these tales, which should throw him into transports of

"At the close of the winter, we went to a country-house of my aunt's,
which had a delightful garden close to the forest of Vincennes. My
brother, my two cousins, and myself, performed little pieces, and we
had many little _fêtes_ at which my brother and myself sung duets. He
was by no means as remarkable a child as I was: he was shy, awkward,
and of an inconceivable simplicity: he had requested my father in vain
to let him use a gun; he was always told that he must first acquire a
knowledge of fencing, for which he had not the slightest taste: he
therefore adopted the following expedient: he loaded a gun, shut
himself up in his room, and, in order to fire without making a noise,
he bethought him of thrusting the barrel of the gun under the mattress
of the bed. He then fired in this prudent manner, set fire to the bed,
and was himself knocked down by the rebound. The family hastily
assembled, and discovered with surprise this singular invention. The
next summer we spent at Passy, and in October returned to Paris.

"When I was fourteen years old, my father left us for St. Domingo. On
his return, he was taken prisoner by the English, with all he
possessed. He was conducted to Lanceston, a seaport town in England,
where he found many French prisoners of war, and, among others, a
young man, whose handsome face, talents, and accomplishments, inspired
him with the most lively interest: this was the Comte de Genlis, who,
in returning from Pondicherry, where he had commanded a regiment
during five years, had been carried to Canton, in China. Here he
passed five months, and was thence taken to Lanceston.

"The Comte de Genlis had served in the navy from the age of fourteen;
he had covered himself with glory in the famous action of M. d'Aché;
he was then a lieutenant, and scarcely twenty. Out of twenty-two
officers, he was the only one who survived: all the others were
killed. M. de Genlis was covered with wounds, of which one remained
open for eight years and a half. This combat gained him the rank of
captain, and the cross of St. Louis. M. d'Aché took off his own to
give it to him, on board of the vessel, the very day of the action,
saying that he was sure the court would not disavow what he had done.
The Comte de Genlis conducted himself with equal valor at Pondicherry.
As soon as he returned to France, his uncle, M. de Puisieux, made him
quit the navy, and enter into the land service, with the rank of
colonel of grenadiers.

"While he was at Lanceston, he became very intimate with my father,
who always carried a box, on which was my portrait in the act of
playing the harp: this picture struck M. de Genlis, who made many
inquiries about me, and believed all that was said by my father, who
thought me faultless.

"The English had left my father my portrait, my letters, and those of
my mother, which spoke of nothing but my successes and my talents. The
count read these, and they made a profound impression upon him. His
uncle, who was then minister for foreign affairs, soon obtained his
liberty, and he promised to do all in his power to obtain that of my
father. As soon as he arrived in Paris, he waited on my mother, to
deliver some letters from my father; at the same time, he earnestly
solicited his exchange, and in three weeks my father arrived in Paris.
Not long after, being seized with a malignant fever, he died in the
flower of his age. I experienced at his loss the most profound grief I
had ever felt.

"I will now speak of an old friend of my father's--the Baron d'Andlau.
He came often to visit us; he was more than sixty, generous and kind.
He discovered the greatest friendship for me, and I was so much the
more touched with these marks of his affection, that I attributed them
to the remembrance he had preserved of my father. But, at last, he
made me understand his real sentiments by the most singular
declaration of love that was ever made. He sent me, by his valet, a
huge packet, containing his genealogy at full length, which he
entreated me to examine with attention; but all my application in this
way rendered me by no means favorable to his hopes. The same day, he
came solemnly to demand my heart and hand, and was extremely surprised
to find that his superb parchments had produced so little effect upon
my mind. My mother, however, desired me to reflect upon his proposal,
stating that he was rich and of high birth; but I firmly persisted in
my refusal, and there was no more said upon the subject. He did not
discontinue his visits, but paid attention only to my mother, and to
such good purpose, that, eighteen months after, he married her; and I
was much better pleased to have him for a father-in-law than a

"Not long after this event, my destiny was fixed for life. I was
secretly married to M. de Genlis. He was then twenty-seven, and,
having neither father nor mother, could dispose of himself as he
pleased. Eight days after my marriage, we went to live with my aunt,
Madame de Sercey, who lived in the Rue de Rohan. Here our marriage was
published, and it formed the subject of public conversation for
several days. We then took up our residence at the chateau of Genlis,
belonging to my brother-in-law, the Marquis de Genlis, where our time
passed in a succession of _fêtes_ and entertainments.

"My brother passed six weeks with us at this time. He had just been
received into the engineers, and had undergone his examination in
Bezout, with the utmost credit to himself: in fact, he showed a
decided genius for mathematics. I was transported with joy at seeing
him again: he was handsome and ingenuous, and he had a sort of
childish gayety, which suited me exactly. M. de Genlis made him a
present of every thing which could be useful to him in a garrison in
which he was to remain a long time. He went to Mézières: we promised
to write regularly to each other, and we kept our word.

"On the 4th of September, when I was nineteen years of age, my little
Caroline was born, beautiful as an angel. How many sentiments, till
then unknown, sprung up in my breast with the blessing of being a
mother! Six weeks after, I was presented at court by Madame Puisieux.
She obliged me to wear a great deal of rouge and powder, two things
which I detested; I wore a high ruff, and a large hoop and train. My
presentation went off well, and the day was well chosen, as there were
a great many ladies at this levee. Louis XV. spoke a good deal to
Madame de Puisieux, and said many flattering things about me. Though
no longer young, he appeared to me to be very handsome: his eyes were
of a deep blue, 'royal blue eyes,' as the Prince of Conti said; and
his look was the most imposing that can be imagined.

"In speaking he had a laconic manner, and a particular brevity of
expression, in which, however, there was nothing harsh or disobliging;
in short, there was about his whole person something majestic and
royal, which completely distinguished him from all other men. A
handsome exterior in a king is by no means a matter of indifference;
the people and the great bulk of the nation can see but by stealth, as
it were, the great potentates of the earth; they regard them with
eager curiosity; the impression they receive from that examination is
indelible, and exercises the greatest influence over all their
sentiments. A noble air, a frank expression of countenance, a serene
aspect, an agreeable smile, mild and polished manners, are precious
gifts to princes, which education may confer but to a certain degree.

"About this time, I wrote a little novel, called the 'Dangers of
Celebrity,' the manuscript of which I afterwards lost. We soon
returned to Genlis, and I recommenced my pursuits with fresh ardor. I
was very happy at Genlis, especially after my brother-in-law's
marriage to a most charming woman. The only property which M. de
Genlis then had was the estate of Sissy, five leagues from Genlis: it
was worth ten thousand francs a year, which was equal to twenty
thousand now: we did not spend five thousand out of this, so that we
were completely at our ease: and M. de Genlis, who was full of
goodness and humanity, did a vast deal of good in the village: my
brother-in-law and his wife were also extremely generous, and were, in
return, adored by the peasants.

"We passed the next winter at Paris. I was then twenty. I went
once a week to dine with my aunt, Madame de Montesson, or with my
grandmother, the Marchioness de la Haie. I saw this year, 1766, the
Abbé Delille, who had just published his beautiful translation of
Virgil's 'Georgies.' He was at that time twenty-seven years of age.
He visited me several times; he was then engaged with his translation
of the 'Æneid.' I thought him ingenuous and amiable; he had a face of
certain intelligent ugliness, which it was amusing to examine. At
this time, he recited verses in a manner that was quite charming, and
which belonged exclusively to himself.

"I went, in the spring, to the Isle Adam, in the Seine, where the
Prince of Conti resided. He was the only one of the princes of the
blood who had a taste for literature and the sciences, or who could
speak in public. He was the most magnificent of our princes. Each lady
that visited him had a carriage and horses at her command, and was at
liberty to ask parties to dine daily in her own apartments. Ceremony
was reserved for the evening, but during the day you enjoyed perfect
liberty. We remained here, in the midst of the most charming society,
six weeks.

"I passed the next winter at Paris, in a round of dissipation; private
balls, dinners, suppers, occupied most of my time. I amused myself
also at home by performing with my friends little operas and comedies,
which were always terminated by a concert, which was led by the famous
Cramer. It was at this time that I wrote my first historical novel,
founded on an anecdote in the life of Tamerlane. I read also, with
inexpressible delight, some of the works of Pascal, Bossuet, and
Massillon. The latter entirely entranced me. The majestic flow of his
eloquence, and the sweetness and harmony of his language, have
something about them which is truly divine. I also read with
admiration the 'Natural History' of M. de Buffon: the perfection of
his style enchanted me, and I studied it intensely.

"J. J. Rousseau being now in Paris, I had a great desire to see so
celebrated a man. I must confess that nothing ever appeared to me so
odd and fantastical as his figure and appearance, which I merely
considered as a masquerade. His coat, his _marron_-colored stockings,
his little round wig, his whole costume, his manners and deportment,
were to me perfectly ludicrous. Yet I never knew a literary character
more agreeable, or with less affectation. His eyes were small, and,
though deep set, were very piercing. He had a most agreeable smile,
full of mildness and finesse. He talked admirably of music. I found
afterwards that he was filled with caprice and morbid sensibility. He
never accepted favors, and was offended by any offers of pecuniary

"I must mention an extraordinary individual whom I constantly saw at
M. de Puisieux's--the Abbé Raynal. Never did there exist a man of
talent so insupportably obstinate, so disputatious, or so unamiable in
society. I likewise saw the young prince of Sweden, Gustavus III. He
was agreeable and accomplished.

"For her own private interest, my aunt, Madame de Montesson, was
extremely desirous that I should enter the Palais Royal, as lady of
honor. M. de Genlis cared little about it, and declared that he would
not consent to let me have the place, unless he was attached to the
court himself. He therefore asked and obtained the post of captain of
the guards of the Duke of Chartres, a station worth six thousand
francs, while mine, was worth four. The society of the Palais Royal
was then the most brilliant and witty in Paris. There was also no want
of books, and I made constant additions to my knowledge of French
literature and history. I served also as the secretary of the Duchess
of Chartres. I continued to write comedies, and cultivated music with
the same ardor as before. I was constantly in the habit of making
extracts, in small paper books, of conversations with persons that
were entertaining and instructive. I had made, when I left the Palais
Royal, a selection of poetry, of one thousand verses, of various
authors, some being of very ancient date.

"One day, when I was in the Garden of Plants, I had the good fortune
to meet M. de Buffon, who received me with great cordiality and
simplicity. I afterwards met him frequently, and we spoke of nothing
but literature.

"In 1774, Louis XV. died, and the unfortunate Louis XVI. mounted the
throne. In the course of a journey which I took on account of ill
health the next year, I went to Ferney to visit M. de Voltaire. All
the busts and portraits I have seen of him are exceedingly like him;
but no artist has fully expressed the eyes. They were the liveliest I
ever saw; but they also had something indescribably soft and tender in
their expression. His laugh and bitter smile greatly altered the
expression of his face. When neither religion nor his enemies were
spoken of, his conversation was simple and pleasing; but when he was
opposed in the least, his manner became warm and bitter.

"About this time, I wrote many little comedies for my daughters to
perform, which were very successful. I received complimentary letters
from M. d'Alembert and M. de Marmontel. Some time afterwards, I had
rather an intimate acquaintance with M. Gibbon, author of the 'Decline
and Fall of the Roman Empire.' M. de Voltaire came to Paris soon after
this period. I went to see him, but found him quite broken down and
dejected. He died in 1778.

"The time I passed at the Palais Royal was at once the most brilliant
and unhappy part of my life; I was in the zenith of my talents, and at
the age when a woman joins to the freshness and graces of youth all
the accomplishments which habits of intercourse with the world can
bestow. I was admired, praised, flattered, and courted. Every
Saturday, I had a concert; every Tuesday, a pleasant circle of
acquaintances met at my house, and another day was set apart for
conversation parties; in short, I was constantly occupied either in
society, reading, or forming plans of works, since completed. I was
generally beloved in the great world. So much for the brilliant side
of my situation. But the malignity and hypocrisy of several persons
belonging to the Palais Royal; the constantly renewed vexations; the
unlooked-for calumnies, and the pretended reconciliations of which I
have been so frequently the dupe; the injustice and the slanders;--all
caused me the bitterest grief, which I was forced to conceal, for my
situation obliged me to appear continually in society.

"The Duke of Chartres was very desirous to succeed to the place of
grand admiral, then held by his father-in-law, the Duke of Penthièvre:
to promote this object he proposed making a cruise at sea. He was to
embark at Toulon, and persuaded the Duchess of Chartres to accompany
him so far; and I even inspired her with a desire to see Italy. In
going there, the duchess only took with her the young Countess of
Rully, M. de Genlis, an esquire, and myself, two waiting maids, a
valet, and three footmen. We passed through all the southern
provinces, only stopping to attend the charming _fêtes_, which were
every where given to the prince and princess. Our journey passed off
gayly and without accident, and we had some curious personal
adventures. The duchess met with the utmost admiration throughout
Italy for the dignity and sweetness of her manners.

"At Venice we saw the famous entertainment of the Bucentaur, or
wedding the Adriatic; but the city that I saw with the most enthusiasm
was Rome. My emotion was so great on entering it that I embraced all
in the carriage. I made many excursions, visited the Coliseum, and
went daily to wonder and pray at St. Peter's. At Naples we were
presented at court, and splendid _fêtes_ were given to the Duchess of

"After our return, I recommenced my little plays with the same success
as before. Indeed, I was prevailed upon to publish them for the
benefit of the Chevalier de Quiessat, who had been fined and
imprisoned. M. de Genlis undertook the editorship of the works, which
made a large octavo volume. The Duke and Duchess of Chartres gave a
hundred Louis for two copies. The Prince of Conde paid fifty Louis for
one copy, and the Count de Jardini, with whom I was unacquainted, paid
three thousand francs for one. The net profits of the work were forty
thousand francs, which effected the liberation of M. Quiessat.

"When I published my first volume of the '_Théâtre d' Education_,'
there was every where felt for me a sort of enthusiasm; many persons
sought my acquaintance, and among others M. de la Harpe. It was
immediately translated into all the European languages. All the
journalists praised my work excessively; in short, no one ever entered
on a literary career with more honor and glory.

"The Duchess of Chartres having become the mother of two infant
princesses, I cultivated my talents with new ardor, in the prospect of
benefiting them. I had determined to educate them within a convent.
Accordingly a pavilion, called 'Belle Chasse,' was erected in Paris
for our residence, communicating with the convent by a long arbor
covered with vines. My establishment was really charming. The
furniture was extremely simple: it was to be mine after the education
of the children was completed. The usual salary of the governess was
six thousand francs; the duke offered me twelve thousand; which,
however, I refused. I conducted the mansion of 'Belle Chasse' and the
education of the princes and princesses with great ceremony, and
gained the reputation of being a _good housewife_--a kind of praise so
reluctantly accorded to those women who love reading and cultivate
literature and the fine arts.

"During the first eighteen months of my residence at 'Belle Chasse,' I
published successively the other volumes of my 'Theatre of Education.'
I led a delicious life at 'Belle Chasse,' and received every Saturday
my acquaintances from six to half past nine, and my intimate friends
from eight till ten in the evening. I had obtained permission to have
my mother and children with me; and the inexpressible satisfaction of
attending to my mother's comforts was my sweetest occupation.

"The extreme beauty of my eldest daughter, her talents, her charming
disposition, and my place as lady of honor, which remained vacant for
her, caused her hand to be sought by a great number of persons. She
was a good musician; she drew figures in a fine style; she painted
admirably in all styles; and I never knew any one who danced so well
as she did. She was only fourteen. I at last determined upon marrying
her. The choice of M. de Genlis fell upon a Belgian, the Marquis of
Becelaer de Lawoestine: he was an only son, and of high birth, and
would eventually inherit the title of grandee. M. de Genlis gave him
his place of captain of the guards, and my furnished apartments at the
Palais Royal, all of which formed a very comfortable establishment for
the young couple. A week before the marriage, the Duke and Duchess of
Chartres sent me magnificent bracelets and a superb aigrette of
diamonds for my daughter.

"I was the first governess of princes, in France, who adopted the
custom of teaching children the living languages by talking with them.
I gave my young princesses an English maid-servant, and another who
understood Italian thoroughly, so that, at the age of five, they
understood three languages, and spoke English and French perfectly
well. I bethought myself of placing a young English girl of their own
age with them. Accordingly the Duke of Chartres wrote to London to beg
a person of the name of Forth to send him one. He succeeded in
accomplishing my wish: the little girl was sent, and was remarkable
for her graceful manners, her mildness, and her beauty. Her name was
Nancy Syms; I called her Pamela; and, as she did not know a word of
French, she contributed greatly to familiarize the little princesses
with the English language.

"My tranquillity was now disturbed by a melancholy event--the illness
and death of the eldest of the princesses, Mademoiselle d'Orleans. The
princess who remained took the name of Orleans; she was then five
years old. No words can describe her grief at the death of her sister;
her affliction lasted more than two years. Often, when in my room,
and appearing to play, she turned her back to me and wept.

"The duke was sedulously engaged in endeavoring to find a tutor for
his sons. The eldest, the Duke of Valois,[4] was then eight years old.
He consulted me on the selection of a fit person. I proposed several,
among others M. de Schomberg; but, none of them meeting his favor, I
said, with a laugh, 'Well, then, what do you think of me?' 'Why not?'
replied he, seriously: 'the thing is decided; you must be their
tutor.' I confess that the manner of the duke impressed me deeply with
the thought of doing something so glorious to myself, and so
unprecedented in the history of education. The arrangement was
accordingly made, and it was agreed that I should be the absolute
mistress of their education. The Duke of Chartres offered me twenty
thousand francs, which I refused; and that I _gratuitously_ educated
three princes is an undisputed fact. The Duchess of Chartres was
delighted with the plan; and I may truly say it was generally approved

"About this time, I published '_Adèle et Théodore_.' This work at once
insured the suffrages of the public, and the irreconcilable hatred of
all the so-called philosophers and their partisans.

"Having chosen M. Lebrun as under-governor for the young princes, I
gave him private instructions relative to their education. He kept a
daily journal of their studies and behavior, which I commented upon in
the evening. I thought this journal would be interesting to the duke
and duchess; but they always refused to read it, saying that they
confided entirely in me. I found some very bad habits in my pupils.
When I read history to them, the Duke of Valois yawned and stretched
himself, sometimes lying down on the sofa, and putting his feet upon
the table. I reproved him for this in such a manner that he felt no
resentment. As soon as the sense of the thing was clearly presented to
him, he listened with attention.

"Every Saturday we received company at 'Belle Chasse.' I established
this rule to form the princes in politeness, and to accustom them to
the habit of listening to conversation. When Mademoiselle Orleans was
seven years old, she played on the harp in a surprising manner. I can
truly say, that I never knew a single defect in this princess. She
possessed all the virtues. The Duke of Montpensier, the second son,
had a feeling and generous heart, a natural elegance of person, and
something romantic about his face, disposition, and manners. The
youngest of the three princes, the Count of Beaujolais, was equally
charming in face, talent, and disposition. Even his faults were
amiable. We thought that he resembled Henry IV. To continue the
portraits of 'Belle Chasse,' I must speak of Pamela. She had a
beautiful face; she never told a single falsehood; she ran like
Atalanta, but her mind was lazy to a degree; she had no memory, and
was very volatile.

"The Duke of Orleans purchased St. Leu, a charming residence, where we
passed eight months of the year. There was a fine garden, in which my
pupils dug with their own hands. The gardener was a German, and only
spoke to them in German; in our walks we spoke English, and we supped
in Italian. I invented little games, and dramatic pieces for
representation, and we performed historic pictures. In the winter, at
Paris, I continued to make every moment useful. I had a turning
machine put in my chamber, and all the children learned to turn. We
also made morocco portfolios, baskets, artificial flowers, and the
Duke of Valois and the Duke of Montpensier made a table with drawers
for a poor woman of St. Leu.

"Upon the death of his father, the old Duke of Orleans, the Duke of
Chartres took the title of Orleans, and my eldest pupil that of

"Amidst all my engagements, I continued my private studies with
ardor, and soon published my '_Veilléss du Chateau_.' I also wrote my
'Palace of Truth,' and the 'Two Reputations,' at this time. The
former work was translated, in the course of a year, into all the
European languages. My first work upon religion, which I wrote for
my pupils, completed the degree of horror in which I was held by
the philosophers. It was entitled 'Religion considered as the only
Basis of Happiness and true Philosophy.' While writing this work, I
experienced the greatest misfortune of my life. My eldest daughter
died, at the age of twenty-one. She expired with the calmness and
piety of an angel. Being unable to find any relief from my affliction,
I set about finishing my work on religion; and, on looking at the
place where I left off, I found it was the chapter 'On Christian

"Grief had so great an effect upon me, that my physicians directed me
to go to Spa. Thither the duke and duchess and my pupils accompanied
me. This took place in July, 1787.

"It was now becoming the fashion to ridicule the monarchy, and
preparations were making for the revolution. I was of no party but
that of religion. I desired to see the reformation of certain abuses,
and I saw with joy the demolition of the Bastile. It is impossible to
give an idea of the sight; this redoubtable fortress was covered with
men, women, and children, all working with unequalled ardor.

"As soon as the Duke of Chartres had attained his seventeenth year,
the Duke of Orleans informed me that his education was at an end; but
the Duke of Chartres was so attached to me that he said he would come
daily till he was eighteen, to take his lessons as usual. He never
failed to do this, which was admirable in a young prince who had now
become his own master.

"During my residence at 'Belle Chasse,' my second daughter, Pulchérie,
married the Viscount de Valence. She was seventeen years old,
beautiful and accomplished. Soon after this event, M. de Genlis came
into possession of the property of the Maréchale d'Etrée. On finding
himself suddenly possessed of one hundred thousand francs a year, he
urged me to quit 'Belle Chasse,' and reside with him. But I could not
support the idea that any one else should finish the education of my
pupils, and carry from me all the honors. I have since bitterly
repented this failure in my duty. M. de Genlis now took the name of
Marquis de Sillery.

"Having always felt an extreme desire of travelling in England, I
separated from my pupils for the first time. My journey was marked by
many distinctions. I received proofs of esteem from many distinguished
persons--Fox, Sheridan, Burke, Miss Burney, &c. The Prince of Wales
invited me to an entertainment, and was full of attention to me. I
passed three days at the country-house of the celebrated Mr. Burke;
here I met Sir Joshua Reynolds. I dined with the queen at Windsor.
Lord Mansfield, the celebrated English judge, came to see me, and gave
me a beautiful moss-rose tree. Horace Walpole invited me to breakfast
in his Gothic priory. After having visited Wales, I returned at length
to France. I arrived at St. Leu, after an absence of six weeks, to the
great joy of my pupils, as well as my own.

"A short time after, the marriage of Mademoiselle d'Orleans with the
Duke of Angoulême was resolved on. An interview took place between
them at Versailles, and the marriage was publicly talked of. The
revolution, which suddenly burst upon us at this time, overthrew all
our plans and projects.

"I was soon called upon to feel the most heart-rending sorrow at the
death of my mother, whom I tended during three whole days and nights,
without ever going to bed, or leaving her for a moment. My pupils
wished, of their own accord, to be present at the funeral, for they
truly loved her, and joined most sincerely and affectionately in grief
for her loss.

"It now became obvious that a melancholy change had taken place in
the conduct of the Duchess of Orleans to me, after twenty years of
the warmest and closest intimacy. In consequence of this, I determined
on retiring from her household altogether. My feelings were still
more aggravated by the want of any specific charge, or any explanation
on the part of the duchess. I wrote a letter to the duke, asking
leave to resign my place; but this he would not grant, promising to
arrange affairs in a few days. In the interval, Mademoiselle, seeing
me sorrowful and dejected, perceived the plan I had in view. One day,
she swooned away in the garden, and the consequence was, a promise
from me, 'that I would not leave her of my own free will.' I then
wrote a long explanatory letter to the duchess, using all possible
arguments to induce her to restore me to her confidence. This she
did not do, but consented to meet me as usual, and to allow her
family to suppose the 'difference' between us adjusted: at the same
time, she desired that not a word should pass between us relative
to our misunderstanding.

"I was meditating, one morning, upon this painful position of affairs,
when the door opened, and the duchess appeared. She rushed in, bid me
be quiet, drew a paper from her pocket, which she read in a loud voice
and with great rapidity. The purport of this was, that I must withdraw
immediately, and that in a private manner, to prevent unnecessary
affliction to Mademoiselle; if I did not do so, there was no public
exposure I might not dread, and she would never see me again in the
course of her life. After some expostulations with the duchess, who, I
saw, was influenced by my enemies, I promised to do as she required.
Before I left, I wrote three letters to Mademoiselle d'Orleans, to be
given to her at different periods of the day. The duke felt the most
profound chagrin, and, attributing all these troubles to the counsels
of Madame de Chastelleux, desired her to seek some other abode. The
consequence was, the duchess made a demand to be separated from her

"After my departure, I received letters from the duke, begging me to
return to his daughter, as he felt assured that her death would be the
consequence of my continued absence. I accordingly returned, and found
my dear pupil in a state that pierced me to the heart. My solicitude
soon restored her to health, but my tranquillity was forever lost. The
cause of the sudden dislike of the duchess was evidently the
difference of our political opinions. I never in my life interfered in
political affairs, but I have at all times been monarchical, as all my
works demonstrate. It is also true that I have always detested
despotism, _lettres de cachets_, and arbitrary imprisonment.

"After the flight of the king to Varennes, and his forced return to
Paris, I was burning with a desire to leave France, and the duke at
last gave me leave. The physicians ordered Mademoiselle to go to
England, to take the Bath waters. We accordingly went there, and staid
at that place two months. We then travelled through the English
counties, visited the caverns of Derbyshire and the Isle of Wight.

"The close of my stay in England was imbittered by the most mournful
anticipations, for party spirit gave me every reason to fear the
efforts and enemies of the house of Orleans, and I received anonymous
letters of the most alarming nature. Among others was one which
threatened to set fire to our house at night. In September, 1792,
while we were at Bury, in Suffolk, I learned by the French papers that
a powerful party were desirous of bringing the king and queen to
judgment. Immediately after the massacres in the prisons in the same
month, I received a singular letter from the Duke of Orleans, telling
me to return to France immediately with his daughter. I answered him
that I would not do so, as it was absurd to choose such a period for
her return.

"My well-founded fears increasing daily, I met with several alarming
adventures, which proved that I was an object of suspicion in France.
In November, the Duke of Orleans again sent for his daughter. Upon
this, I determined to take Mademoiselle back to France, deliver her up
into her father's hands, give up my place as governess, and return
immediately to London. We set out on our return, in November, for
Dover. We had a stormy passage across the channel, landed, and
proceeded rapidly to our residence in Paris. Here I found the Duke of
Orleans, M. de Sillery, and some others. I delivered up Mademoiselle
to her father, and told him my plan. The duke took me apart, and said,
in a dejected manner, that, in consequence of my not returning when he
sent the first time, his daughter, now fifteen, came under the new
law, which placed her among the emigrants; that the matter was not
entirely arranged, but that his daughter must go to Tournay, in
Belgium, for a short time. He urged me so vehemently to go with her,
that I consented.

"The same evening, M. Sillery took us to the theatre to dispel our
melancholy ideas. At the play was Lord Edward Fitzgerald, who became
violently in love with Pamela, from her resemblance to a former
object of his affection. The next day, finding myself alone with the
duke, whose manner struck me as very alarming, I spoke some words to
him, upon which he said, surlily, _that he had declared in favor of
the Jacobins_. I remonstrated with him in vain. In the evening, I had
a long conversation with M. de Sillery, and entreated him, with tears
in my eyes, to leave France. But all my arguments were unavailing, and
I left the next morning for Tournay, with the most mournful presages.

"At the first post-house we found Lord Edward Fitzgerald, whose love
for Pamela made him follow us to Tournay. We had scarcely reached the
place, when he asked the hand of Pamela in marriage. I showed him the
papers proving her to be the daughter of a man of high birth, of the
name of Seymour. After having obtained the consent of his mother, the
Duchess of Leinster, to the marriage, it was concluded; and in two
days the new-married couple set out for England. I felt great joy in
seeing the fortunes of this beloved child so honorably secured.

"Meanwhile, three weeks had elapsed without hearing from the duke.
At last news came of the horrible catastrophe of the king's death.
The Duke of Chartres, who joined us at Tournay, showed me a letter
from his father, which began thus: 'My heart is oppressed with
sorrow; but, for the interests of France and of liberty, I have
thought it my duty...!' &c. My unfortunate husband wrote at the same
time, and sent me copies of his opinion at the king's trial. This
was thus expressed: 'I do not vote for death, first because the king
does not merit it; secondly, because we have no right to sit as his
judges; and, lastly, because I consider his condemnation as the
greatest political fault that can be committed.' The letter concluded
thus: 'I am perfectly sure, then, in pronouncing this opinion, I have
signed my death-warrant.'

"Seeing that Belgium was about to fall into the hands of the
Austrians, and that it would be impossible for us to fly either to
France or to foreign countries, I had the most anxious desire to be
recalled to my country. Hence I strongly solicited my return; and I
was informed, in March, 1793, that the Duke of Orleans was to obtain
the recall of Mademoiselle, but that mine would be delayed. Whilst one
day sitting in my room, M. Crépin, an army commissary, whom I had
previously known, entered the room, and told me that the Austrians
would be in Tournay the next day. Seeing my distress at this
intelligence, he offered me an asylum at a farm of his near
Valenciennes, so secluded that I might stay there for months in
safety. I joyfully accepted his proposal, and we left Tournay in a few
days. Circumstances, however, did not allow us to take advantage of
this kind offer. We were surrounded by danger; troops marching in
disorder, soldiers making a tumultuous noise, filled us with terror.
We stopped a short time at St. Amand, where arrests were constantly
made, and all proved to me that the system of proscription was

"Having providentially escaped from St. Amand, I immediately set off
for Switzerland. After travelling seven days, we reached Schafhausen.
My satisfaction on reaching a neutral territory was great. The Duke
of Chartres joined us here. We soon after went to Zug, and took a
small house, in a secluded situation, on the banks of the lake, not
far from the town. Here I wrote to the Duchess of Orleans,--for the
duke was in prison,--and entreated her to send me orders respecting
Mademoiselle d'Orleans as soon as possible; but I received no answer.

"We should have remained longer at Zug, but we became known, and the
magistrates were reproached for having given us refuge; we were
therefore obliged to consult as to our future destination. We formed a
thousand romantic projects, and abandoned them as fast as made. The
Duke of Chartres insisted upon continuing with us, which made it
impossible for us to remain unknown. I finally determined to write to
M. de Montesquiou, who lived at Bremgarten, who was himself a refugee,
and possessed great influence in Switzerland. I described to him the
condition of my unfortunate pupils, and begged him to allow them an
asylum in the convent, near the town. M. de Montesquiou wrote me a
most polite and obliging answer, and took upon himself to get
Mademoiselle d'Orleans and myself into this convent, called St.
Claire. The Duke of Chartres resolved to make a pedestrian tour
through Switzerland, where he was taken for a German. How often, since
my misfortunes, have I congratulated myself on the education I had
given him,--on the languages I had taught him,--on having accustomed
him to despise effeminacy, and habituate himself to fatigue! All that
he was indebted for to the chance of birth and fortune he had lost;
and nothing now remained to him but what he held from nature and from

"We entered the convent under feigned names. Mine was Madame Lenox,
aunt of Mademoiselle Stuart, my sister's daughter. The duke then left
us, and, after his journey through Switzerland, he entered the college
of the Grisons incognito, as professor of mathematics. In this quiet
of the convent, the health of Mademoiselle was nearly restored. While
here came news of a horrid catastrophe, on November 9th, 1793, and I
became ill.... I concealed from Mademoiselle the death of her
unfortunate father, but dressed her in mourning, as if for the queen
of France.[6]

"About this time, a violent dispute arose between the inhabitants
of Bremgarten: two parties were formed, and an order was obtained,
by people hostile to M. de Montesquiou, that all the French should
leave the place. Hearing that the Princess of Conti, the aunt of
Mademoiselle d'Orleans, was residing in Switzerland, Mademoiselle,
at my urgent request, wrote to her to ask permission to join her.
She received a very kind letter, saying that the princess would
receive her niece. On the day before the carriage was sent to take
her from me, my emotion was excessive. I determined to spare both
of us the pain of this cruel separation. I accordingly shut myself
in my room, at the arrival of the Countess de Pont, who was to take
away my interesting charge, telling the servant to say that I had
gone to some distance.

"As the moment arrived for the departure, Mademoiselle d'Orleans came
along my passage, and stopped before the door. I heard her sighs and
lamentations.... I heard the carriage roll away; and one must feel a
mother's love, to conceive the emotions that overpowered me. I heard
from her the next day, and I also wrote her my last letter of advice.
Her departure rendered the spot she had left completely hateful to me,
and I most anxiously wished to leave the place. I had, besides, been
cruelly persecuted since my residence there. I was often attacked in
the most absurd manner in the newspapers. One of them stated that I,
loaded with favors by the court of France, had been concerned in all
the intrigues of the revolution. Not knowing how to get passports I at
last thought of writing to Dr. Hoze, a skilful physician, who lived at
Bremgarten. He kindly sent me both passports and a servant to
accompany me. I departed, promising the nuns to return and spend the
remainder of my life with them. We travelled night and day, till we
arrived at Utrecht. From this place, I got into a wretched post-wagon,
with a man who was going to Hamburg. We reached that place July 23d,
1794. Hearing of an inn kept by a person of the name of Plock, I went
there, and had the fortune not to meet with any emigrants. Here I
staid nine months, in complete incognito, and in very agreeable
society. It was here that I enjoyed the first consolation I received
since my misfortunes--here that I learned several most important
events--the fall of Robespierre, and the peace concluded with Russia.

"I now went to board with M. de Valence at his country-house, five
leagues from Hamburg. At this place I wrote my '_Précis de Conduite_,'
which produced such a powerful effect in my favor. I soon left for
Berlin, in Prussia. I took lodgings with Mademoiselle Bocquet, who
kept a boarding-school. Here I made several charming acquaintances;
but my cruel fortunes still triumphed. I was informed that great
exertions were making to get me out of the kingdom. It had been
rumored that the Abbé Sièyes, whom I had never even seen, had made me
a visit. The king said he 'would not banish me from his library, but
that he would not allow me to remain in his territories.' Accordingly
a police officer came with an order for me to leave the kingdom in two
hours. This was a real thunderbolt. Leaving all my effects behind me,
I got into a carriage and drove away. We were obliged to travel to the
frontiers without stopping, except for meals. Three weeks after I
reached Hamburg, I received my baggage and manuscripts from Berlin.
During my stay here, I saw Pamela and her husband. I soon perceived
that Lord Edward had imbibed opinions dangerous to his own government,
and feared that he was about to engage in some desperate enterprise.

"I now went to Holstein, and took up my abode with M. Peterson, in a
delightful thatched cottage. The family was charming, and the rural
style of living just what I liked. I assisted in churning the butter,
and fed on the most delicious red partridges. I here performed a
literary labor that greatly fatigued me. In the morning, I wrote the
'_Petits Emigrés_,' and in the evening, I occupied myself with the
'_Voeux Téméraires_.' Beside this, I wrote all the fables of '_Herbier

"I learned by the newspapers that Lord Edward Fitzgerald was arrested
in consequence of intrigues in Ireland.[7] I found also that my
brother had perished at sea. I became now seriously ill, was attacked
with fever, and recovered only as by a miracle. The king of Prussia,
Frederic William II., having died in 1797, his son, the prince royal,
authorized me to return to Berlin, where 'I should always find peace
and repose.' Though still weak, I set out, arrived there in safety,
and was received with delight by Mademoiselle Bocquet. She had
prepared for me a charming apartment, fitted up with all the attention
of kind friendship."

We have thus far presented an abridgment of Madame de Genlis's own
narrative: we must now hasten to the conclusion. Under the consulship
of Bonaparte, who had a favorable opinion of her talents, she returned
to Paris, and became one of his admirers and panegyrists. After the
restoration of the Bourbons, she wrote in defence of monarchy and

Her pen seemed inexhaustible, and she continued at intervals to pour
forth its productions upon the public. She had passed her eightieth
year when her "Memoirs" were written. She lived to witness the
astonishing events of July, 1830, and to see her former pupil raised
to the throne under the title of Louis Philippe. She died December
31st, 1830, aged 84 years.

The character of Madame de Genlis is not without marks of weakness,
and she has been charged even with gross departures from the path of
rectitude. On this point, however, the proof is not clear. Her
"Memoirs" display a degree of vanity only to be palliated by the
customs of her sex in France; and her opinions on public affairs
appear to have fluctuated with her fortunes. Yet, as a writer,
particularly of works of fiction, which blend instruction with
amusement, and have especially in view the inculcation of just
sentiments, she has had few equals. Her "Palace of Truth," and "Tales
of the Castle," are among the most captivating, yet useful books of
the kind, that were ever penned. Some of her works are exceptionable
in respect to their tendency; yet, on the whole, we are bound to
assign to her the credit of an excellent heart, and a high order of
genius. Her works have been published in eighty-four volumes,

  [4] Now Louis Philippe, king of France. See note, p. 212 [ed: Footnote

  [5] The Duke of Chartres, afterwards Duke of Orleans, and now Louis
      Philippe, king of the French, was born at Paris, October 6th,
      1773. His education has been described in the preceding pages.
      In 1791, he served in the army, and subsequently held various
      military stations, in which he displayed great gallantry. In
      1793, having expressed his horror at the excesses of the
      revolution, a decree of arrest was levelled against him. To
      escape this, he went to Switzerland, where he met his sister and
      Madame de Genlis, as related. During his wanderings over this
      country, he had to contend with fatigue, poverty, and
      persecution. He travelled from place to place, often alone, and
      destitute of money.

      After the death of his father, Switzerland no longer became a
      safe place for him, and he went to Hamburg, to escape to
      America. But here his funds failed him, and he spent some time
      in travelling in Norway and Lapland, proceeding even to the
      North Cape. In September, 1796, he embarked for America, where
      he was joined by his brothers, the Duke of Montpensier and Count
      Beaujolais. They travelled through the country, though often
      distressed for the want of money. After various wanderings, they
      reached England. The Duke of Montpensier died in 1807; and the
      Count Beaujolais soon after. In November, 1809, Louis Philippe
      was married, at Palermo, to the Princess Amelia, daughter of the
      king of Sicily. On the restoration of the Bourbons in 1815, he
      returned to Paris, and inherited a large part of the immense
      wealth of his father. In 1830, he was elevated to the throne.
      His family presents a model of union, good morals, and domestic
      virtue, and he is himself one of the ablest of living
      sovereigns. If his character is in any considerable degree owing
      to his education,--and we cannot doubt that it is,--it furnishes
      an imperishable monument to the honor of Madame de Genlis.

  [6] The position of Madame de Genlis does not permit her to do justice
      to the character of the Duke of Orleans, which is one of the
      most infamous in history. He was born in 1747, and was descended
      from the Duke of Orleans, only brother of Louis XIV. In his
      youth he was distinguished for his licentiousness, and during
      the revolution he acquired an unfortunate notoriety. He joined
      the Jacobins, and coöperated with Robespierre, Marat, and
      Danton. He renounced his royal titles, and assumed that of M.
      Egalité. He voted for the death of his relative, Louis XVI., and
      was present at his execution. But the storm he had assisted to
      raise was now directed against him. He was included in the
      general proscription of the Bourbons, and was guillotined
      November 6th, 1793. His wife, who sustained an excellent
      character, returned to Paris after the restoration, and died in

  [7] Lord Edward Fitzgerald was the son of the Duke of Leinster, and
      born in Ireland, October 15th, 1763. He was educated for the
      military profession, and served in the American war with credit.
      He was an ardent lover of liberty, and deeply felt the wrongs
      done to his native country by the British government. He hailed
      the French revolution as the dawn of universal freedom: in 1792
      he went to Paris, and participated in the intoxication of that
      eventful era. After his marriage to Pamela, he went to Ireland,
      and became one of the leaders in the rebellion of 1798. He
      became obnoxious to the government, and was arrested while
      concealed in a house in Dublin. He was at the time in bed: he
      resisted fiercely, and wounded two of the officers, one of them
      mortally. He received a pistol ball in his shoulder, and, being
      confined in Newgate, died June 4th, 1798.

      He was a man of remarkable elevation and singleness of mind, and
      was greatly endeared to his friends. The letters written by
      different members of his family, at the time of his arrest and
      during his confinement in prison, published by his biographer,
      Moore, are among the most touching that were ever penned. Their
      attachment to their unfortunate relation amounted almost to

      His wife, who had three children at the time of his death, seems
      to have been a fit partner for so noble a spirit. The letters
      above alluded to depict her character as one of extraordinary
      elevation and loveliness. Some doubt about her parentage has
      existed; but, as we have given the statement of Madame de Genlis
      upon the subject, it does not seem necessary to say more. She
      returned to France, and her remains are deposited in the
      cemetery of Mont Martre, at Paris.


M. Tascher, a native of France, having resigned his commission in the
cavalry, retired to an estate in the Island of St. Domingo. In the
year 1763, he, together with his wife, made a visit to a sister in
Martinico, and there, on the 23d of June, a daughter, Josephine, was
born. On the return of her parents to St. Domingo, she was left with
her aunt, and there are no traces of future intercourse with them.
Often, in after years, did Josephine revert to the unmingled happiness
and peaceful enjoyments of her childhood. The advantages for education
enjoyed by Mademoiselle Tascher were superior to what would be
supposed by those who have only known the French colonies at a
subsequent period. The proprietors were many of them highly
accomplished gentlemen, born and educated in France, who had retired
to their estates in the New World, as a retreat from which to watch
the progress of those events which were beginning to disturb the quiet
of the Old.

[Illustration: JOSEPHINE.]

Josephine, naturally amiable and gentle in disposition, with manners
which combined ease and elegance with dignity, possessed a natural
aptitude for acquiring feminine accomplishments. She played,
especially on the harp, and sung with exquisite feeling. Her dancing
is said to have been perfect. An eye-witness describes her light form,
rising scarcely above the middle size, as seeming in its faultless
symmetry to float rather than to move--the very personation of Grace.
She was mistress of the pencil and of the needle. Flowers were her
passion; she early cultivated a knowledge of botany. To the _empress_
Josephine Europe is indebted for a knowledge of the Camelia. She read
delightfully; the tones of her voice fascinated. "The first applause
of the French people," said Napoleon, "sounded to my ear sweet as the
voice of Josephine."

The companion of her infancy was a mulatto girl, some years older than
herself,--her foster-sister, Euphemia,--who never afterwards quitted
her patroness, shared in her amusements, and was the companion of her
rambles. In one of these an incident occurred, which exercised a
lasting influence over her imagination. The particulars were, long
afterwards, thus related by herself:--

"One day, some time before my first marriage, while taking my usual
walk, I observed a number of negro girls assembled round an old woman,
who was telling their fortune. I stopped to listen to her. The
sorceress, on seeing me, uttered a loud shriek, and grasped my hand. I
laughed at her grimaces, and allowed her to proceed, saying, 'So you
discover something extraordinary in my destiny?' 'I do.' 'Do you
discover traces of happiness, or misfortune?' 'Of misfortune,
certainly; but of happiness also.' 'You take care not to commit
yourself, my worthy sibyl; your oracles are not the most clear.' 'I
am not permitted to make them more so,' said the woman, raising her
eyes in a mysterious manner towards heaven. My curiosity was now
awakened, and I said to her, 'But tell me, what read you in futurity
concerning me?' 'What do I read? You will not believe me if I tell
you.' 'Yes, indeed, I assure you. Come, good woman, what am I to hope
or fear?' 'You insist; listen then. You will soon be married; the
union will not be happy; you will become a widow, and then--you will
become queen of France! You will enjoy many years of happiness, but
you will be killed in a popular commotion.' The old woman then burst
from the crowd, and hurried away as fast as her limbs, enfeebled by
age, would permit. I forbade the bystanders to laugh at the prophetess
for her ridiculous prediction, and took the occasion to caution the
young negro women against giving credit to such pretenders.
Henceforth, I thought of the affair only to laugh at it. But
afterwards, when my husband had perished on the scaffold, in spite of
my better judgment, this prediction forcibly recurred to my mind; and,
though I was myself then in prison, the transaction daily assumed a
less improbable character, and I ended by regarding the fulfilment as
almost a matter of course."

Nothing at the time seemed less likely than the fulfilment of the
prediction. Miss Tascher seemed destined to become the wife of some
creole youth, and to pass a tranquil and indolent life on some
neighboring plantation. It so chanced, however, that the young
Vicompte Alexander de Beauharnais, "who," in Josephine's words,
"had embraced the new ideas with all the ardor of a very lively
imagination," after serving with distinction in the war of the
American revolution, came to Martinico to prove his title to some
estates which had fallen by inheritance to himself and his brother.
These estates were held on lease by Josephine's uncle, and an
acquaintance between the young people naturally followed. They
became mutually attached; but his relatives, who were opposed to the
match, interposed obstacles which Josephine surmounted with a
gentleness and address hardly to be expected in a girl of sixteen. In
1794, writing to her children, Josephine says, "If to my union with
your father I have been indebted for all my happiness, I dare to
think and say, that to my own character I owe our union, so many
were the obstacles which opposed us. Yet, without any effort of
talents, I effected their removal. I found in my own heart the
means of gaining the affection of my husband's relations; patience
and goodness will ever in the end conciliate the good-will of

On their arrival in France, in 1779, the youthful pair are said to
have created a sensation in society. The manners and accomplishments
of Josephine excited admiration in the most polished court in Europe;
and the attentions of Marie Antoinette made an impression on her
grateful heart which endured through a life, the incidents of which
were in such seeming opposition to the interests of the Bourbons. Much
of their time, however, was spent on the vicompte's estates in
Brittany; and here were born Eugene, afterwards viceroy of Italy, and
Hortense, afterwards queen of Holland.

Every thing gave promise of enduring happiness. But the misconduct of
the vicompte destroyed it. Josephine at first complained with
gentleness, and sought by increased fondness to win back the waning
affections of her husband. Finding this unavailing, she infused into
her reproaches a degree of bitterness which alienated completely the
affections she was so anxious to gain. A separation was the
consequence, and Josephine returned with her children to Martinico.

After an absence of several years, she once again sailed for France,
and in circumstances far from affluent. An incident which occurred on
the voyage was thus related to the ladies of her court. She had
indulged a wish they had expressed to see her jewels. They were spread
upon a spacious table, which was covered with them. The brilliancy,
the size, and the quantity, of the jewels composing the different
sets, were dazzling to the eye. Here were collected the choicest gems
of Europe, for all its nations had been eager to heap presents upon
the wife of Napoleon. After she had permitted the ladies to examine at
leisure these treasures, which almost realized the tales of the
"Arabian Nights," Josephine said to them, "During the first dawn of my
elevation, I delighted in these trifles. I grew by degrees so tired of
them, that I no longer wear any, except when I am compelled to do so
by my station in the world. Trust to me, ladies, and do not envy a
splendor which does not constitute happiness. You will be surprised
when I tell you that I felt more pleasure at receiving a pair of old
shoes, than at being presented with all the diamonds now spread before
you." The ladies smiled at what they considered a mere pleasantry; but
Josephine repeated the remark with such earnestness as to induce them
to ask for the story. "Accompanied by Hortense, I embarked at
Martinico for France. Being separated from my husband, my pecuniary
resources were not very flourishing; the expense of my return to
France, which the state of my affairs rendered necessary, had nearly
drained my purse, and I found great difficulty in providing the
indispensable requisites for the voyage. Hortense, who was a smart,
lively girl, became a great favorite with the sailors; she entertained
them by imitating the songs and dances of the negroes. No sooner did
she observe me engaged, than she slipped upon deck, and repeated her
little exercises to the renewed delight of all. An old quarter-master
was particularly attentive to her, and, whenever he found a moment's
leisure, he devoted it to his _little friend_, who became much
attached to him. This constant dancing and skipping soon destroyed my
daughter's slight shoes. Knowing that she had no other pair, and
fearing that I should forbid her going upon deck, if I should discover
this defect in her attire, she concealed it. Her bleeding feet one day
attracted my notice. I asked, in alarm, if she had hurt herself. 'No,
mamma.' 'But your feet are bleeding.' 'It really is nothing.' I
insisted upon seeing what was the matter, and found that the shoes
were in tatters, and her foot dreadfully torn by a nail. The voyage
was not half performed, and there seemed no possibility of procuring a
new pair before reaching France. I was quite overcome at the idea of
Hortense's sorrow at being compelled to remain shut up in my little
cabin, and to the injury to her health. My tears found a free vent.
At this moment our friend the quarter-master appeared. With honest
bluntness he asked the cause of our grief. Hortense, sobbing all the
while, told him that she could no longer go on deck, because she had
no shoes. 'Is that all?' said he; 'I have an old pair somewhere in my
chest; I will bring them; you, madam, can cut them to shape, and I
will sew them as well as I can. On board ship, you must put up with
many things. It is not the place to be too nice and particular.' He
did not wait for my reply, but went in quest of his shoes, which he
brought to us with an air of exultation, and offered them to Hortense,
who received them with eager delight. We set to work with zeal, and
Hortense enjoyed the delight of furnishing the evening's diversion to
the crew. I repeat that no present was ever received by me with more
pleasure than this pair of old, coarse, leather shoes."

The motive of Josephine in returning to France was to be near her
husband, who was a prominent actor in the scenes of the French
revolution. Knowing the warmth of his political feelings, she
trembled for his safety; her past resentment vanished. She sought a
reconciliation, which he most cordially desired.

Passing onward in our story, we find Madame de Beauharnais a widow and
a prisoner. Her husband, after filling the offices of president of the
Convention, and general-in-chief of the army of the Rhine, had, during
the reign of terror, perished on the scaffold. On the same day on
which this event was communicated to her, she received an intimation
to prepare herself for death. But she had found a new source of
strength. Her mind, in reverting to past scenes dwelt upon the almost
forgotten prophecy of the negress. Her imagination was excited; it
began to appear less and less absurd to her, and finally terminated in
her almost certain belief. The following relation was made by herself
at Navarre:--

"The jailer came one morning to the room occupied by the Duchess
d'Aiguillon, two other ladies, and myself, and said that he came to
remove my bed, which was to be given to another prisoner. 'Why give it
away?' said the duchess eagerly: 'is, then, Madame de Beauharnais to
have a better?' 'No, no; she will not need one at all,' said the
wretch, with an atrocious smile; 'she is to be taken to a new
lodging, and thence to the guillotine.' On hearing this, my companions
shrieked aloud. I endeavored to console them. At length, wearied
with their continued lamentations, I told them their grief was
quite unreasonable; that not only I should not die, but that I should
be queen of France. 'Why do you not at once name the persons of your
household?' said Madame d'Aiguillon, with an air of resentment.
'Very true; I had quite forgotten it. Well, my dear, you shall be lady
of honor; you may rely upon my promise.' The tears of the ladies
now flowed afresh, for my composure made them think that my reason was
affected. I assure you, however, that there was no affectation of
courage on my part; I felt a conviction that the oracle would be
fulfilled. Madame d'Aiguillon grew faint, and I led her towards the
window, which I threw open, that she might breathe the fresh air;
I suddenly caught sight of a poor woman who was making signs to us.
She was laying hold of her gown at every moment--a sign which we were
at a loss to understand. At length I cried out to her,' _Robe_.' She
nodded in assent, and then, picking up a stone, held it up with
her other hand. '_Pierre_,' I cried out. Her joy was unbounded when
we understood her; and, bringing the gown close to the stone, she
made quick and repeated signs of cutting her throat, and began to
dance and clap her hands. This strange pantomime excited an emotion
in our minds which it is impossible to describe, as we ventured to
hope that it gave us the announcement of _Robespierre's_ death.

"Whilst we were in this state of suspense, we heard a great noise in
the passage, and the formidable voice of the keeper, who, giving a
kick to his dog, said to the animal, 'Get out of the way, you d--d
brute of a Robespierre.' This energetic phraseology proved to us that
France was rid of her tyrant. In fact, our companions in misfortune
came in soon afterwards, and gave us the details of the important
event. My hammock was brought back to me, and I never enjoyed a
quieter night. I fell asleep, after saying to my friends, 'You see
that I am not guillotined; I shall yet be queen of France!'"

Notwithstanding this confidence, Josephine had devoted a portion of
her last day to writing a last farewell to her children. Here are
extracts from it: "My children, your father is dead, and your mother
is about to follow him; but as, before that final stroke, the
assassins leave me a few moments to myself, I wish to employ them in
writing to you. Socrates, when condemned, philosophized with his
disciples; a mother, on the point of undergoing a similar fate, may
discourse with her children. My last sigh will be for you, and I wish
to make my last words a lasting lesson. Time was, when I gave you
lessons in a more pleasing way; but the present will not be the less
useful, that it is given at so serious a moment. I have the weakness
to water it with my tears; I shall soon have the courage to seal it
with my blood. * * * I am about to die as your father died, a victim
of the fury he always opposed, but to which he fell a sacrifice. I
leave life without hatred of France and its assassins; but I am
penetrated with sorrow for the misfortunes of my country. Honor my
memory in sharing my sentiments. I leave for your inheritance the
glory of your father, and the name of your mother, whom some who have
been unfortunate will bear in remembrance." In more prosperous days,
the poor and the distressed had ever found Josephine's heart and hand
open for their relief. She was now herself obliged to rely upon the
benevolence of others for her own subsistence, and of the services she
then received, she ever retained a grateful recollection. She had been
most affected by the attentions of Madame Dumoulin, and felt great
delight, in after years, in adverting to the subject. At this period
of general scarcity, this benevolent lady every day entertained at her
table a party of those whose means were more limited. Madame de
Beauharnais was a regular guest. Bread was at this time so scarce as
to be a subject of legal enactment, restricting the quantity allowed
to each person to two ounces. Guests at the houses of the most
opulent, even, were expected to bring their own bread. Aware that
Madame de Beauharnais was in more distressed circumstances than the
rest, Madame Dumoulin dispensed with this practice in her favor,
thereby justifying the expression of the latter, that she received
_her daily bread_ from her.

Tallien, Barras, and those who succeeded to power, on the fall of the
terrorists, being themselves not destitute of refinement, were
desirous that society should emerge from the state of barbarism into
which it had fallen. Madame Tallien, distinguished for grace, beauty,
and brilliancy of wit, exerted all her charms to diffuse a taste for
the courtesies and amenities of civilized life, and thus to soften the
sanguinary spirit which had led to so many atrocities. Calling to her
assistance her intimate friend, Madame de Beauharnais, the task was
soon, to some extent, accomplished. Private individuals did not yet
dare to make any show of wealth by receiving company habitually at
their own houses. Public balls, and public concerts at the Hotels
Thelusson and Richelieu, were the fashion. Here persons of all
opinions, of all castes, intermingled, and laughed and danced together
in the utmost harmony. The influence of Madame Tallien was at this
time very great, and under her protection many an _emigré_ returned,
and many a royalist emerged from the hiding-place to figure in these
gay scenes. Most of them submitted with a good grace to the new order
of things. It sometimes chanced, however, that curiosity or ennui
would lead thither some who could not so readily lay aside feelings
and habits acquired under the old _régime_, and scenes would occur not
a little amusing to the philosophic observer, who, had he possessed
the gift of second sight, would have been doubly amused. One of these
is thus related by a contemporary. Madame de D. was one evening
persuaded, by the old Marquis d'Hautefort, so far to lay aside her
prejudices as to accompany him, with her daughter, to a ball at
Thelusson's. The party arrived late. The room was crowded. By dint of
elbowing and entreaties, they reached the centre. To find two seats
together was impossible, and Madame de D., who was not of a timid
nature, looked about on all sides to find at least one. Her eyes
encountered a young and charming face, surrounded by a profusion of
light hair, looking slyly forth from a pair of large, dark-blue eyes,
and exhibiting altogether the image of the most graceful of sylphs.
This young lady was conducted back to her seat by M. de T., which
proved that she danced well; for none other were invited to be his
partners. The graceful creature, after courtesying, with a blush, to
the Vestris of the ball-rooms, sat down by the side of a female, who
appeared to be her elder sister, and whose elegant dress excited the
notice and envy of all the women at the ball. "Who are those persons?"
said Madame de D. "What, is it possible that you do not know the
Viscountess Beauharnais?" said the marquis. "It is she and her
daughter. There is a vacant place by her; come and sit down; you may
renew your acquaintance with her." Madame de D., without making any
reply, gave such a tug at the arm of the marquis as to draw him,
whether he would or not, into one of the little saloons. "Are you
mad?" said she to him. "A pretty place, truly, by the side of Madame
Beauharnais! Ernestine would of course have been obliged to make
acquaintance with her daughter. Marquis, you must have lost your

In the month of May, 1795, Napoleon Bonaparte came to Paris. His
energies and talents had already attracted the notice of some of the
leading men, especially of Barras, who had witnessed his conduct at
Toulon. Upon the establishment of the Directory, he was appointed
general-in-chief of the army of the interior, and commandant of Paris.
In this latter capacity he had his first particular interview with
Josephine. It had been his duty to disarm the citizens, and he had
thus become possessed of the sword of Viscount Beauharnais. Eugene,
who had a reverential admiration of his father, wished to obtain so
precious a relic. Though not yet fourteen, he presented himself at the
levee of the commander-in-chief, and solicited the restoration of his
father's sword. His frank and gallant bearing pleased the general, who
immediately granted the request.

The next day, Madame Beauharnais called at the head-quarters, to thank
the general for his condescension to her son. They had before met at
the table of Barras; but a disappointed, and, in some degree,
disgraced officer was not likely to attract the regards of one already
looked upon as among the most distinguished ladies in France. But the
circumstances of their present interview served to infuse a particular
interest into their previous acquaintance. Bonaparte returned the
visit. He became a suitor in his turn. Josephine, besides her intimacy
with Madame Tallien, herself exerted great influence over those in
power, and could do much to secure the position of the young soldier.
Ambition, as well as love, being his prompters, Bonaparte was not the
man to fail, gifted, as he appears to have been, from Josephine's own
confession, with unequalled powers of persuasion. The nuptials were
celebrated March 9th, 1796, and twelve days after, Bonaparte left
Paris to take the command of the army of Italy--an appointment which
Barras had promised, as it were, as a dowry for Josephine.

Amidst the exciting, and, one would think, all-absorbing events of
that wonderful campaign, Josephine was always in the thoughts of the
youthful conqueror. His constant letters breathe the most romantic
passion, couched in the most ardent language. By some accident, the
glass of a miniature of his bride, which he constantly wore about his
person, was broken; how he knew not. This simple occurrence he
conceived to be a prognostication of the death of the original, and
enjoyed no peace of mind, until a courier, despatched express,
returned with tidings of her safety.

The campaign finished, Josephine joined her husband at the head-quarters
at Montebello, where a crowd of princes, nobles, and ambassadors,
had assembled to settle with the conqueror the terms of peace. Add
to these a crowd of young and gallant Frenchmen, the officers of the
army, flushed with victory, and we have a picture of a court as
brilliant as can well be conceived. All vied in assiduous attention
to her who was beloved and honored by the general. All was joy and
festivity. The most magnificent entertainments were varied by
excursions among the enchanting scenery around. For all this Josephine
was indebted to her husband, and it was all enjoyed in his company. In
after life, she often reverted to this as the happiest period of her
existence. Of her conduct in this new position, Bonaparte himself
remarked, "I conquer provinces, Josephine gains hearts."

When the expedition to Egypt was determined upon, a new armament was
to be organized, and great difficulties to be overcome. While her
husband passed the day, and frequently great part of the night, in his
cabinet, or at the Luxemburg, in wringing from the Directory reluctant
consent to his measures, Josephine, in the saloon, was equally active
in attaching new or confirming old adherents. Never were those
conciliating manners for which she was so celebrated more successfully
employed, than in the dawn of her husband's fortunes. Not a few were
thus won to a standard which they were destined to display over so
many prostrate capitals of Europe. Under her auspices, too, were
formed some unions, more in consonance with her own gentle nature.
"Habit," said the empress, long afterwards, "has rendered the practice
familiar; but there is only one occasion on which I should voluntarily
say, _I will_; namely, when I would say, _I will_ that all around me
be happy."

The greater portion of the time of her husband's absence in the East
was passed by her at Malmaison, an estate which she purchased, about
twelve miles from Paris. Here she occupied herself in the education of
her daughter, in the improvement of the grounds, and in watching over
and securing the interests of her husband. To this end it was
necessary that she should see much company; but she received none to
her intimacy, except a few of her ancient female friends.

Leading a life above reproach, there were about her concealed enemies,
who watched in order to misrepresent every action; of these the most
active were her own brothers and sisters-in-law, who, needy and
rapacious, and totally dependent on their brother, viewed with jealous
alarm any influence which threatened the exclusive dominion they
wished to maintain over his mind. In the Syrian camp there were found
creatures base enough to be the instruments of conveying their
slanders to their destination. A repetition of these produced at
length some effect on the jealous temper of the husband, as was
obvious from the altered tone of his letters, which had hitherto been
full of the most tender and confiding affection. On his return,
however, an explanation took place, which left not a shade of
suspicion on his mind; nor was the union ever afterwards disturbed
from the same cause.

The crisis which Bonaparte had foreseen at length arrived; the people
demanded the overthrow of the weak and tyrannical government. During
the 19th of Brumaire, Josephine remained at home, in the most anxious
inquietude, relieved, indeed, from time to time, by her husband's
attention in despatching notes of what was passing at St. Cloud. When
night, however, and at last morning, came, without sight, or even
tidings, of him, she was in a condition bordering on distraction. In
this state, she had retired to bed, when, at length, about four in the
morning, the _Consul_ entered the apartment. A lively conversation
ensued, and Bonaparte gayly announced that the fate of thirty
millions of people bad passed into his hands, by the remark, "Good
night--to-morrow we sleep in the Luxemburg."

The palace of the Luxemburg was soon found "_trop étroit_,"--too
confined,--and the consuls removed their residence to the Tuileries,
the ancient palace of the kings, now disguised by the title of the
"governmental palace." To the wife of the "first consul" a portion of
the former royal apartments was assigned, and here, soon after the
installation, she made her first essay in the grand observances of
empire. On the evening of her first levee, the drawing-rooms were
crowded, at an early hour, by a most brilliant assembly, and so
numerous, that the doors of her private apartments were thrown open.
Madame Bonaparte was announced, and entered, conducted by M. de
Talleyrand, then minister for foreign affairs. A momentary feeling of
disappointment may have crossed the minds of those who had looked for
magnificence and state. Josephine was attired with the utmost
simplicity, in a robe of white muslin: her hair, without decoration of
any kind, and merely retained by a plain comb, fell in tresses upon
her neck, in the most becoming negligence; a collar of pearls
harmonized with and completed this unpretending costume. A spontaneous
murmur of admiration followed her entrance: such were the grace and
dignity of her deportment, that, in the absence of all the external
attributes of rank, a stranger would have fixed upon the principal
personage in the circle, as readily as if radiant with diamonds and
stars of every order. Making the tour of the apartments, the
ambassadors from foreign powers were first introduced to her. When
these were nearly completed, the first consul entered, but without
being announced, dressed in a plain uniform, with a sash of
tri-colored silk. In this simplicity there were both good taste and
sound policy. The occasion was not a royal levee; it was merely the
first magistrate and his wife receiving the congratulations of their

Josephine was at this time thirty-six years old; but she yet retained
those personal advantages which usually belong only to more youthful
years. The surpassing elegance and taste displayed in the mysteries of
the toilet were doubtless not without their influence in prolonging
the empire of beauty; but nature had been originally bountiful. Her
stature was exactly that perfection which is neither too tall for
female delicacy, nor so diminutive as to detract from dignity. Her
person was faultlessly symmetrical, and the lightness and elasticity
of its action gave an aërial character to her graceful carriage. Her
features were small and finely modelled, of a Grecian cast. The
habitual character of her countenance was a placid sweetness. "Never,"
says a very honest admirer, "did any woman better justify the saying,
'The eyes are the mirror of the soul.'" Josephine's were of a deep
blue, clear and brilliant, usually lying half concealed under their
long and silky eyelashes. The winning tenderness of her mild, subdued
glance had a power which could tranquillize Napoleon in his darkest
moods. Her hair was "glossy chestnut brown," harmonizing delightfully
with a clear and transparent complexion, and neck of almost dazzling
whiteness. Her voice has already been mentioned; it constituted one of
her most pleasing attractions, and rendered her conversation the most
captivating that can easily be conceived.

On the 7th of May, 1800, the first consul took leave of his wife, on
his departure for Italy. "Courage," said he, "my good Josephine! I
shall not forget thee, nor will my absence be long." To both promises
he was faithful. On the 2d of July, less than two months after he left
Paris, he again slept at the Tuileries, having, in that brief space,
broken the strength of the mighty armies which opposed him, wrested
Italy, which the Austrians had reconquered during his absence in the
East, again from their power, and thus laid deep the foundations of
his future empire. During this brilliant campaign, Josephine's
absorbing enjoyment was to read the letters from Italy. These, in the
handwriting of the consul, or dictated to his secretary, arrived
almost daily at Malmaison, where she had resided, superintending the
improvements. At this period, too, she began a collection of rare
animals; to which the power or conquests of her husband, or a grateful
remembrance of her own kindness, brought her accessions from all
quarters of the globe.

The first consul now had leisure to enjoy the tranquillity which he
had restored. The _jours de congé_, or _holydays_, on which, retiring
to Malmaison, he threw off the cares of state, now came round more
frequently. His visitors, on these occasions, were, besides the chief
officers of state and of the army, the persons most distinguished for
talent and for birth, the historic names of the olden time mingling
with the new men of the revolution. Josephine received her visitors
with elegance and grace, and with a simplicity which placed every one
perfectly at his ease. The amusements were of the simplest kind. The
favorite was the familiar, schoolboy game of "prison-bars." Bonaparte,
in the selection of partisans, always chose Josephine, never suffering
her to be in any camp but his own. When by chance she was taken
prisoner, he seemed uneasy till she was released, making all exertions
for that purpose, though a bad runner himself, often coming down, in
mid career, plump upon the grass. Up again, however, he started, but
usually so convulsed with laughter that he could not move, and the
affair generally ended in his own captivity.

But Josephine did not neglect the higher duties of her station. From
the moment she had the power, her endeavors were used to alleviate the
misfortunes of those whom the revolution had driven into exile, and a
considerable portion of her income was devoted to their support. To
the general act of amnesty, which the consul had issued on his access
to power, there were many exceptions. To smooth the difficulties which
lay in the way of the return of such, Josephine's influence and
exertions were seldom denied, and rarely unsuccessful. "Josephine," as
her husband remarked, "will not take a refusal; but, it must be
confessed, she rarely undertakes a cause that has not propriety, at
least, on its side."

In May, 1804, destiny was fulfilled in the prediction of which
Josephine had professed so long to believe. On the 18th of that month,
the Senate, headed by the ex-second consul, proceeded in state to her
apartments, and saluted her as Empress of the French. She received
their congratulations with emotion, but with her accustomed benignity
and grace. The succeeding night was passed by her in tears. "To be the
wife of the _first consul_, fulfilled her utmost ambition."
Presentiments of evil now filled her bosom. The ambition of founding a
new dynasty had found a place in the breast of the _consul_: would not
this increase in strength in that of the _emperor_? The hopes of
establishing it in his own line were now little likely to be realized,
and the enemies of Josephine had already hinted at a divorce. What
impression these might have made had been effaced for the time by the
grant of power to Bonaparte to name his successor in the consulship,
and by the birth of a son to Louis, who had married Hortense, but
especially by his undiminished affection for his wife. He now had the
inducement of seeking, by new family ties, to secure the stability of
his throne. But such thoughts did not permanently disturb the repose
of Josephine. Impressions were readily made, and as quickly effaced;
and she possessed the true secret of happiness--the art of postponing
imaginary evil, and of enjoying the real good of the moment.

In her new situation Josephine found another source of sorrow. The
state and ceremony of the consulship had sadly marred the pleasures of
domestic intercourse. But now she found herself alone, above the
kindly glow of equal affections--a wretched condition for one "whose
first desire was to be loved." She sought, however, by increased
kindness, to lessen the distance between herself and her old friends
and companions. Nothing could be more amiable than the reception
which she gave to those who came to take the oaths of fidelity on
receiving appointments in her household. She took care to remove all
ostentatious ceremony, talked to them on familiar topics, and sought
to make the whole pass as an agreement between two friends to love
each other. This condescension extended even to her humble domestics,
yet never degenerated into undignified familiarity or absence of
self-possession, as the following little incident will show. On the
first occasion of her leaving St. Cloud for a distant excursion as
empress, she traversed a whole suit of apartments to give directions
to a very subaltern person of the household. The grand steward
ventured to remonstrate on her thus compromising her dignity. The
empress gayly replied, "You are quite right, my good sir; such neglect
of etiquette would be altogether inexcusable in a princess trained
from birth to the restraints of a throne; but have the goodness to
recollect that I have enjoyed the felicity of living so many years as
a private individual, and do not take it amiss if I sometimes venture
to speak kindly to my servants without an interpreter."

The frequent excursions made by the court formed a principal class of
events in Josephine's life as empress; they constituted those
alternations which gave her most pleasure. When such journeys were in
contemplation, none knew the hour of departure, or even the route--a
secrecy adopted to guard against conspiracies. "We set out at such an
hour," generally an early one, Napoleon would carelessly say, as he
retired for the night. By the appointed hour every preparation was
made, and the imperial travellers departed.

Sometimes Josephine travelled alone; and, on such occasions, every
thing was arranged beforehand, including the replies she was to make
to the addresses made to her, and the presents she was to bestow. Even
the most minute thing was set down in a huge manuscript volume, which
Josephine diligently conned previous to every ceremony. But if any
thing chanced to escape her memory in this multiplicity of details,
her unpremeditated answers or arrangements were always delivered with
so much eloquence and propriety, or marked with such perfect kindness,
that all parties were satisfied. Sometimes, however, a little mistake
occurred, as, for example, on departing from Rheims, Josephine
presented the mayoress with a medalion of malakite, set with diamonds,
using the expression, "It is the emblem of hope." Some days after, on
seeing this absurdity in one of the journals, she could not believe
that she had used it, and despatched a courier instantly to Napoleon,
fearing his displeasure above all things. This occasioned the famous
order that no journalist should report any speech of the emperor or
empress, unless the same had previously appeared in the "_Moniteur_."
But Josephine usually adhered with scrupulous exactness to her written
instructions. "He has said it, and it must be right," was the constant
remark with which she silenced all suggestions of change. On these
excursions, every thing like vain etiquette was laid aside: every
thing passed as if among a party of equals, on an excursion of
pleasure, each being bound to supply a modicum to the common fund of
enjoyment; the empress studying opportunities of showing those
attentions which cost so little, and yet go so far in winning a way to
the heart.

Charlemagne had received the holy unction from the hands of the head
of the Catholic church. Napoleon aspired to the same distinction, but
with this difference,--instead of going to Rome to receive it, the
pope was brought to Paris to administer it. He suffered much from the
climate of France, which was too severe for his delicate health. The
solicitude of the empress to provide for his comfort was extreme. The
orders of the emperor had provided every thing that could be deemed
necessary; but the observant delicacy of the empress supplied many
wants which might else have been overlooked. Every day she sent to
inquire after his welfare, frequently visited, and sometimes
corresponded with him. The following letter, addressed to him, does
equal credit to her head and to her heart:--


  "Whatever experience of human change the knowledge of our religion
  may have taught, your holiness will view, doubtless, not without
  astonishment, an obscure woman ready to receive from your hands
  the first among the crowns of Europe. In an event so far beyond
  the ordinary course, she recognizes and blesses the work of the
  Almighty, without daring to inquire into his purposes. But, holy
  father, I should be ungrateful, even while I magnified the power
  of God, if I poured not out my soul into the paternal bosom of him
  who has been chosen to represent his providence--if I confided not
  to you my secret thoughts. The first and chief of these is the
  conviction of my own weakness and incapacity. Of myself I can do
  nothing, or, to speak more correctly, the little I can do is
  derived from that extraordinary man with whom my lot is cast.
  * * * How many are the difficulties which surround the station to
  which he has raised me! I do not speak of the corruption, which,
  in the midst of greatness, has tainted the purest minds; I can
  rely upon my own, so far as, in this respect, not to fear
  elevation. But from a height whence all other dignities appear
  mean, how shall I distinguish real poverty? Ah, truly do I feel
  that, in becoming empress of the French, I ought also to become to
  them as a mother. But of what avail are intentions? Deeds are what
  the people have a right to demand of me, and your holiness, who so
  well replies to the respectful love of your subjects by continual
  acts of justice and benevolence, more than any other sovereign, is
  qualified to instruct me. O, then, holy father, may you, with the
  sacred unctions poured upon my head, not only awaken me to the
  truth of these precepts which my heart acknowledges, but also
  confirm the resolution of applying them to practice!"

On the 2d of December, 1804, Napoleon placed the imperial crown upon
the head of Josephine, as she knelt before him on the platform of the
throne in the cathedral of Notre Dame. Her appearance at this moment
was most touching; tears of deep emotion fell from her eyes; she
remained for a space kneeling, with hands crossed upon her bosom,
then, slowly and gracefully rising, fixed upon her husband a look of
gratitude and tenderness. Napoleon returned the glance. It was a
silent but conscious interchange of the hopes, the promises, and the
memories, of years.

In the spring of the following year, at Milan, Josephine received from
her husband the crown of the ancient Lombard sovereigns. The
festivities which followed were interrupted by a summons to put down a
new combination against France. She resolved to accompany the emperor
on his return to Paris, though suffering most severely from the
rapidity of the journey. At each change of horses, it was necessary to
throw water on the smoking wheels; yet Napoleon kept calling from the
carriage, "On, on! We do not move!"

On his departure for the splendid campaign of Austerlitz, Josephine
was appointed regent of the empire. The victory, decisive of the fate
of Austria, was productive of renewed pleasure to the empress, by the
marriage of her Eugene with the princess royal of Bavaria. Joyfully
obeying the mandate which was to restore her for a time to the society
of those she loved, the empress left Paris for Munich, where the
marriage was celebrated. This union proved a most happy one; and the
domestic felicity of her son--now made viceroy of Italy--constituted,
both in her prosperous and adverse fortunes, a cause of rejoicing to
Josephine. Her daughter, Hortense, soon after became queen of Holland.
Could grandeur command or insure happiness, Josephine had subsequently
never known misfortune. Every wish, save one, was gratified. She found
herself on the most splendid of European thrones, beloved by the
wonderful man who had placed her there, adored by the French nation,
and respected even by enemies. Her children occupied stations second
only to herself, with the prospect, either directly or in their issue,
of succeeding to empire when death should relax the giant grasp which
now swayed the sceptre.

All these brilliant prospects were closed to her by the death, in
1807, of her grandson, the prince royal of Holland. This boy had
gained, in an astonishing manner, upon the affections and hopes of his
uncle, and there seems to be no reason for discrediting the belief of
the emperor's intention to adopt him as his successor. Napoleon was
strongly affected by the loss of his little favorite, and was often
heard to exclaim, amidst the labors of his cabinet, "To whom shall I
leave all this?"

To Josephine this loss was irremediable: hers was a grief not less
acute, yet greater, than a mother's sorrow; for, while she grieved for
a beloved child, she trembled to think of the consequences to

But for two years longer she enjoyed such happiness as Damocles may be
supposed to have felt with the sword suspended over his head. The
final blow was not struck till 1809. On the 26th of October of that
year, Napoleon, having once more reduced Austria to sue for peace,
arrived most unexpectedly at Fontainbleau. The court was at St. Cloud,
and there were none to receive him. A courier was despatched to inform
Josephine, who instantly obeyed the summons. During the succeeding
night, it is supposed that Napoleon first opened to her the subject of
a separation; for from the morning of the 27th, it was evident that
they lived in a state of constant restraint and mutual observation;
Napoleon scarcely venturing to look upon Josephine, save when he was
not observed; while she hung upon every glance, and trembled at every
word, at the same time that both endeavored to be composed and natural
in their demeanor before the courtiers. But these are quicksighted to
detect any change of condition in their superiors; nor was it one of
the least of Josephine's troubles to be exposed to their ingratitude.
"In what self-restraint," said she, "did I pass the period during
which, though no longer his wife, I was obliged to appear so to all
eyes! Ah, what looks are those which courtiers suffer to fall upon a
repudiated wife!" The circumstance which, more than others, excited
suspicion, was the shutting up, by the emperor's commands, of the
private access between their apartments. Formerly, their intercourse
had thus been free, even amid the restraints of a court. Napoleon
would surprise Josephine in her _boudoir_, and she would steal upon
his moments of relaxation in his cabinet. But now all was reversed;
the former never entered, but knocked when he would speak to the
latter, who hardly dared to obey the signal, the sound of which caused
such violent palpitations of the heart, that she had to support
herself against the wall as she tottered towards the little door, on
the other side of which Napoleon waited her approach. At these
conferences he sought to persuade her of the political necessity and
advantages of a separation--a measure which he at first rather hinted
at than disclosed as a matter determined upon.

But it was not the less fixed, and on the 30th of November, after
dinner, the emperor ordered his attendants to withdraw. Of what
passed at this interview Josephine has been the chronicler. "I
watched," says she, "in the changing expression of his countenance
that struggle which was in his soul. At length his features settled
into stern resolve. I saw that my hour was come. His whole frame
trembled; he approached, and I felt a shuddering horror come over me.
He took my hand, placed it upon his heart, gazed upon me for a moment,
then pronounced these fearful words: 'Josephine! my excellent
Josephine! thou knowest if I have loved thee! To thee, to thee alone,
do I owe the only moments of happiness which I have enjoyed in this
world. Josephine! my destiny overmasters my will. My dearest
affections must be silent before the interests of France. Say no
more.' I had still strength sufficient to reply, 'I was prepared for
this, but the blow is not the less mortal.' More I could not utter. I
became unconscious of every thing, and, on returning to my senses,
found I had been carried to my chamber."

During the interval between the private announcement of the divorce
and the 16th of December, the most splendid public rejoicings took
place on the anniversary of the coronation, and in commemoration of
the victories of the German campaign. At all these, Josephine appeared
in the pomp and circumstance of station, and even with a smiling
countenance, while her heart was breaking.

On the 15th of December, the council of state were first officially
informed of the intended separation. On the 16th, the whole imperial
family assembled in the grand saloon at the Tuileries. Napoleon's was
the only countenance which betrayed emotion. He stood motionless as a
statue, his arms crossed upon his breast, without uttering a single
word. The members of his family were seated around, showing in their
expression a satisfaction that one was to be removed who had so long
held influence, gently exerted as it had been, over their brother. In
the centre of the apartment was an arm-chair, and before it a little
table, with a writing apparatus of gold. A door opened, and Josephine,
pale, but calm, appeared, leaning on the arm of her daughter. Both
were dressed in the simplest manner. All rose on her entrance. She
moved slowly, and with wonted grace, to the seat prepared for her,
and, her head supported on her hand, listened to the reading of the
act of separation. Behind her chair stood Hortense, whose sobs were
audible; and a little farther on, towards Napoleon, Eugene, trembling,
as if incapable of supporting himself. It had required all a mother's
influence to prevent him, on the first announcement of that mother's
wrongs, from abandoning the service of the wrong-doer; that influence
had done more; it had persuaded him not only to witness her own
renouncement of the crown, but to be present at the coronation of her

Josephine heard with composure--the tears coursing each other down her
cheeks--the words which placed an eternal barrier between affection
and its object. This painful duty over, pressing for an instant the
handkerchief to her eyes, she rose, and, in a voice but slightly
tremulous, pronounced the oath of acceptance; then, sitting down, she
took the pen and signed. The mother and daughter now retired,
followed by Eugene, who appears to have suffered the most severely of
the three; for he had no sooner reached the ante-chamber, than he fell
lifeless on the floor.

The emperor returned to his cabinet, silent and sad. He threw himself
on a sofa in a state of complete prostration. Thus he remained for
some minutes, his head resting on his hand; and, when he rose, his
features were distorted. Orders had previously been given to proceed
to Trianon. When the carriages were announced, he took his hat, and
proceeded by the private staircase to the apartment of Josephine. She
was alone. At the noise caused by the entrance of the emperor, she
rose quickly, and threw herself, sobbing, on his neck: he held her to
his breast, and embraced her several times; but, overcome by her
emotions, she fainted. As soon as she exhibited signs of returning
sensation, the emperor, wishing to avoid the renewal of a scene of
grief which he could not calm, placing her in the arms of an officer
who had attended him, and who relates the occurrence, he withdrew
rapidly to his carriage. Josephine immediately perceived his absence,
and her sobs and moans increased. Her female attendants, who had come
in, placed her on a couch. In her agony, she seized the hands of the
officer, and besought him to tell the emperor not to forget her, and
to assure him that her attachment would survive all contingencies. It
was with difficulty that she suffered him to leave her, as if his
absence severed the last link by which she still held to the emperor.

Henceforward, the life of Josephine, passed either at Malmaison
or Navarre, offers but few incidents. The emperor would not suffer
any change to be made in the regal state to which she had been
accustomed at the Tuileries. Her household was on a scale of
imperial magnificence. She continued to receive the visits, almost
the homage, of the members of the court of Napoleon and Maria Louisa;
for it was quickly discovered, that, however unpleasant to her new
rival, such visits were recommendations to the emperor's favor. The
apartments in which the empress received her guests were elegant, the
furniture being covered with needle-work, wrought by the empress and
her ladies; but the residence altogether was small--an inconvenience
increased through Josephine's veneration of every thing that had
been Napoleon's. The apartment he had occupied remained exactly as
he had left it; she would not suffer a chair to be moved, and,
indeed, very rarely permitted any person to enter, keeping the key
herself, and dusting the articles with her own hands. On the table
was a volume of history, with the page doubled down where he had
finished reading; beside it lay a pen, with the ink dried upon the
point, and a map of the world, on which he was accustomed to point
out his plans to those in his confidence, and which still showed on
its surface many marks of his impatience. These Josephine would
allow to be touched on no account. By the wall stood his camp-bed,
without curtains; above hung his arms; on different pieces of
furniture lay different articles of apparel, just as Napoleon had
flung them from him.

It was long before the harassed feelings of Josephine were
sufficiently calmed to take any interest in common affairs. So severe
had been her sufferings, that it was six months before her sight
recovered from the effects of inflammation and swelling of the eyes.
The first circumstance which produced something like a change for the
better, was her removal to Navarre, the repairing of which became at
once a source of amusement and a means of benevolence. This once royal
residence had suffered from the revolution, and was nearly in a state
of dilapidation. The restoration of the buildings and grounds
furnished employment to great numbers of people; and Josephine, in
addition to the pleasures of planting and agriculture, enjoyed the
delight--to her more dear--of spreading comfort and fertility over a
region where before reigned extreme misery.

Her life at Navarre was now more agreeable to her, because free from
the restraints of etiquette. Though constantly surrounded by the pomp
of a court, her courtiers were for the most part old and valued
friends, with whom she lived rather in society, than as mistress and
dependants. She exhausted every means to render their retreat
agreeable to them--a retreat, however, recompensed by salaries equal
to those of the imperial court, and which conciliated Napoleon's
approval. Benevolence and kindliness of feeling were the leading
traits of Josephine's character; besides distributing, by the hands of
competent and pious persons, a large portion of her limited revenues
in relieving distress wherever it occurred, she kept constantly about
her a number of young ladies, orphans of ancient houses, now fallen
into decay, to whom she not only gave an accomplished education, but
watched over their establishment in life with parental solicitude.

The first event of importance which broke in upon the tranquillity of
Josephine's life, was the birth of the king of Rome. It happened that
the whole household were at Evreux, at a grand entertainment, when the
news reached that place. The party returned immediately to the palace,
where Josephine had remained. "I confess," says a youthful member of
the party, "that my boundless affection for Josephine caused me
violent sorrow, when I thought that she who occupied her place was now
completely happy. Knowing but imperfectly the grandeur of soul which
characterized the empress, her absolute devotion to the happiness of
the emperor, I imagined there must still remain in her so much of the
woman as would excite bitter regret at not having been the mother of a
son so ardently desired. I judged like a frivolous person, who had
never known cares beyond those of a ball. On arriving at the palace, I
learned how to appreciate one who had been so long the cherished
companion, and always the true friend, of Napoleon. I beheld every
face beaming with joy, and Josephine's more radiant than any. No
sooner had the party entered than she eagerly asked for details. 'How
happy,' said she, 'the emperor must be! I rejoice that my painful
sacrifice has proved so useful for France. One thing only makes me
sad; not having been informed of his happiness by the emperor himself;
but then he had so many orders to give, so many congratulations to
receive. Yes, ladies, there must be a _fête_ to celebrate this event;
the whole city of Evreux must come to rejoice with us; I can never
have too many people on this occasion.'"

[Illustration: MARIA LOUISA.]

The emperor's omission seems to have greatly pained Josephine; for the
same night she wrote him a delicate and touching letter, from which
these are extracts:--

"Sire,--Amid the numerous felicitations which you receive from every
corner of Europe, can the feeble voice of a woman reach your ear, and
will you deign to listen to her who has so often consoled your
sorrows, and sweetened your pains, now that she speaks to you only of
that happiness in which all your wishes are fulfilled? Having ceased
to be your wife, dare I felicitate you on becoming a father? Yes,
sire, without hesitation; for my soul renders justice to yours, as you
know mine. Though separated, we are united by a sympathy which
survives all events. I should have desired to learn the birth of the
king of Rome from yourself, and not from the cannons of Evreux; but I
know that your first attentions are due to the public authorities, to
your own family, and especially to the fortunate princess who has
realized your dearest hopes. She cannot be more devoted to you than I;
but she has been enabled to contribute more towards your happiness, by
securing that of France. Not till you have ceased to watch by her bed,
not till you are weary of embracing your son, will you take the pen to
converse with your best friend. I wait."

The next day, Eugene arrived, charged with a message from the emperor:
"Tell your mother," said he, "that I am certain she will rejoice more
than any one at my good fortune. I would have written to her already,
had I not been completely absorbed in looking at my son. I tear myself
from him only to attend to the most indispensable duties. This evening
I will discharge the sweetest of all--I will write to Josephine."
Accordingly, about eleven o'clock the same evening, the folding-doors
were opened in great form, and the announcement, "From the emperor,"
ushered in one of his own pages, bearer of a letter from Napoleon. The
empress retired to read this ardently-desired epistle; and on her
return it was easy to see that she had been weeping. The curiosity of
her court was gratified by hearing various portions of the letter,
which concluded in these words: "This infant, in concert with _our
Eugene_, will constitute my happiness, and that of France." "Is it
possible," said Josephine, "to be more amiable? or could any thing be
better calculated to soothe whatever might be painful in my thoughts
at this moment, did I not so ardently love the emperor? This uniting
of my son with his own is worthy of him, who, when he wills, is the
most delightful man in the world."

From their separation, the correspondence between Napoleon and
Josephine continued undiminished in respect and affection. Notes from
the emperor arrived weekly, and he never returned from any journey or
long absence without seeing the "illustrious solitary." No sooner had
he alighted, than a messenger, usually his own confidential attendant,
was despatched to Malmaison: "Tell the empress I am well, and desire
to hear that she is happy." In every thing Napoleon continued to
evince for her the most confiding tenderness. All the private griefs
in which Josephine had shared, and the sorrows to which she had
ministered, were still disclosed to her. He gave a further proof of it
by allowing her frequently to see his son--a communication which the
jealous temper of Maria Louisa would have sought to prevent, had it
not been secretly managed. Josephine had so far complied with the
wishes of the emperor as to attempt an intercourse with her successor.
"But the latter," to use Josephine's own words, "rejected the proposal
in a manner which prevented me from renewing it. I am sorry for it;
her presence would have given me no uneasiness, and I might have
bestowed good counsel as to the best means of pleasing the emperor."

The personal intercourse between Napoleon and Josephine was conducted
with the most decorous attention to appearances. It ended in one
hurried and distressful interview after the return of Napoleon from
his disastrous Russian campaign. But in the midst of the tremendous
struggle that followed, Napoleon found leisure to think of her. His
letters to her were more frequent and more affectionate than ever,
while hers, written by every opportunity, were perused, under all
circumstances, with a promptitude which showed clearly the pleasure or
the consolation that was expected: in fact, it was observed that
letters from Malmaison or Navarre were always torn rather than broken
open, and read, whatever else might be retarded.

On the approach of the allies to Paris, Josephine retired from
Malmaison to Navarre. Her only pleasure, during the period of painful
uncertainty which followed, was to shut herself up alone, and read
the letters she had last received from the emperor. A letter from him
at last put an end to all uncertainty; it announced his fall and his
retirement to Elba. The perusal of it overwhelmed her with grief and
consternation; but, recovering herself, she exclaimed, with
impassioned energy, "I must not remain here: my presence is necessary
to the emperor. The duty is, indeed, more Maria Louisa's than mine;
but the emperor is alone, forsaken. I, at least, will not abandon
him." Tears came to her relief. She became more composed, and added,
"I may, however, interfere with his arrangements. I will remain here
till I hear from the allied sovereigns. They will respect her who was
the wife of Napoleon." Nor was she deceived. The Emperor Alexander
sent assurances of his friendship, and the other allies united in a
request that she would return to Malmaison. Here every thing was
maintained on its former footing. Her court, elegant as ever, was
frequented by the most distinguished personages of Europe. Among the
earliest visitors was Alexander. Josephine received him with her
wonted grace, and expressed how much she felt on the occasion.
"Madam," replied Alexander, "I burned with the desire of beholding
you. Since I entered France, I have never heard your name pronounced
but with benedictions. In the cottage and in the palace I have
collected accounts of your goodness; and I do myself a pleasure in
thus presenting to your majesty the universal homage of which I am the
bearer." The king of Prussia also visited her, and she received
attentions even from the Bourbons. Her children were protected, and
Eugene was offered his rank as marshal of France; but he declined it.

The health of Josephine, which had been undermined by previous
sufferings, sunk entirely under these new and agitating emotions. On
the 4th of May, 1814, she became, for the first time, decidedly ill.
The Emperor Alexander was unremitting in his attentions to her, and to
him her last words were addressed. "I shall die regretted. I have
always desired the happiness of France; I did all in my power to
contribute to it; I can say with truth, that the first wife of
Napoleon never caused a single tear to flow." She then sunk into a
gentle slumber, from which she never awoke.

The funeral procession, which was headed by representatives of the
sovereigns of Russia and Prussia, and was composed of princes,
marshals, and generals, the most celebrated in Europe, was closed by
two thousand _poor_, who had voluntarily come to pay their last
tribute to the memory of their benefactor and friend. The spot where
her remains are buried is marked by a monument of white marble,
bearing this simple, yet touching inscription:--



Jeanne Josephe Marie Antoinette, of Lorraine, archduchess of Austria,
the unfortunate queen of Louis XVI. of France, was the daughter of
Francis I. and Maria Theresa, and was born at Vienna, in 1755. She was
educated with the utmost care, and nature had bestowed upon her the
highest beauty of person. Her accomplishments, talents, grace, virtue,
and uncommon loveliness, fitted her for the queen of a gallant nation;
and as such she would have been honored in France, had she lived
before oppression had roused the people to madness. Her mother, in a
letter to her future husband, after alluding to the care with which
she had formed her mind, says, "Your bride, dear dauphin, is separated
from me. As she has ever been my delight, so she will be your
happiness. For this purpose, I have enjoined upon her, as among her
highest duties, the most tender attachment to your person, the
greatest attention to every thing that can please or make you happy.
Above all things, I have recommended to her humility towards God,
because I am convinced that it is impossible for us to secure the
happiness of the subjects confided to us without love to Him who
destroys the sceptres and the thrones of kings according to his

The marriage took place at Versailles, May 16th, 1770, and was
celebrated with uncommon splendor; but, immediately after the
ceremony, a thunder-storm of unparalleled violence broke over the
palace of Versailles, darkened the surrounding scenery, and struck
terror into the hearts of the people for miles around. On May 30th,
the festivities at Paris were saddened by a most terrible accident; a
number of citizens being crushed to death in the Rue Royale, by some
mismanagement on the part of the proper authorities. Fifty-three
persons were found dead, and three hundred more were dangerously


The magnanimity of Marie Antoinette displayed itself soon after her
elevation to the throne, on the death of Louis XV. An officer of the
body-guard, who had given her offence on some former occasion,
expressed his intention of resigning his commission; but the queen
forbade him. "Remain," said she; "forget the past. Far be it from the
queen of France to revenge the injuries of the dauphiness." She
devoted herself to the interests of her people with an assiduity
unparalleled in a sovereign of her age; yet, becoming obnoxious to the
court party, her character was assailed in every shape and quarter;
she was accused of setting on foot conspiracies which never existed,
and of entertaining views which never entered her mind. She was termed
the _Austrian_, and it was openly asserted, as well as privately
insinuated, that her heart was estranged from the country of her
husband, and her mind solely occupied with the interests of her
native land.

In her conduct, there was matter for gentle reproof, but none for
malevolent accusation. A gayety which sometimes degenerated into
levity, a passion for fashionable novelties, and an undisguised
contempt for court formalities, instead of being regarded as the
foibles and imprudences of a young and innocent mind, were construed
into evidences of the existence of loose principles, unbridled
extravagance, and hatred for the nation. She was likewise charged with
pettishness under reproof; and we can readily conceive how a female of
so high a rank, conscious of the purity of her intentions, and
perpetually assailed by reckless cavillers, assumed, in reply to the
unworthy insinuations of her enemies, the tone which her virtue and
her birth appeared to warrant. The affair of the diamond necklace
created an extraordinary sensation. A jeweller at Paris demanded
payment for a necklace so costly that the finances of a queen would
hardly warrant its purchase. The result of an examination was the
proof of the queen's integrity.

On the 6th October, 1789, the mob broke into the palace of Versailles,
murdered some of the bodyguards, and threatened the queen in the most
frightful language. At midnight, she received a letter from a friendly
clergyman, advising her to seek safety in flight, as her life would be
sacrificed early the next morning. She resolved to remain, and
destroyed the warning letter. She heard the footsteps of the ruffian
rabble; she thought her time had come, but her life was saved. The
progress of the ruffians was arrested at the very door of her
chamber, where her faithful guardsmen laid down their lives to secure
for their queen a retreat to the chamber of the king. The king and
queen showed themselves, with their children, in the balcony. The mass
of heads beneath for a moment ceased to be agitated; but it was only
for a moment. Silence was broken by a thousand tongues--"No
children--no children! The queen! the queen alone!"

This was a trying moment; but Antoinette had firmness for the crisis.
Putting her son and daughter into her husband's arms, she advanced
alone into the balcony. A spectacle like this filled the fierce people
with admiration, and thundering sounds of "_Vive la Reine!_" succeeded
to the imprecations of the preceding moment. Such is the fickleness of
a mob! The march to Paris was a succession of terrors! The heads of
the two faithful guardsmen, elevated on pikes, met the eyes of the
poor queen as she looked from her carriage windows.

The fate of Antoinette darkened rapidly. With the king, she fled to
Varennes--with him was brought back to Paris. Her courage did not fail
in the scene of the Legislative Assembly, before which body she was
present with her husband, heard his deposition pronounced, and then
went into the Temple, where he was imprisoned. Here, where the light
of heaven faintly fell through grated windows, surrounded by her
family, she appeared to feel entire resignation to the will of Him on
whom the happiness of the humblest individual depends. When she heard
the condemnation of the king from the lips of the royal victim, she
had the firmness to congratulate him on the speedy delivery from
trouble that awaited him. Her eternal separation from her son did not
shake her firmness, and, with a heart apparently unbroken, she was
consigned to the loathsome depths of a dungeon, August 5th, 1793.

The accusations brought against the unhappy queen, on her trial, were
all unfounded, and merely advanced because her enemies had still
respect enough for justice to mimic its forms in their guilty court.
She was charged with having squandered the public money, and with
leaguing in secret with the common enemies of France. The clearness of
her innocence, the falsehood and frivolity of the witnesses, the
eloquence of the defenders, and her own noble bearing, were of no
avail: Marie Antoinette was doomed to die upon the scaffold.

The expression of her countenance, as she passed to the place of
execution, awed the bloodthirsty populace; but the once matchless
beauty of that noble countenance was gone forever. One unacquainted
with the ravages of grief could not believe that the haggard and
forsaken being whom they led to sacrifice, was the same young queen,
who, a short time before, held in thrall the chivalry of France, by
her exquisite loveliness, her winning grace, and sportive gayety.
Antoinette cast back a long, last look at the Tuileries--a look which
told of sorrowful remembrance and of agonizing emotion; then, with an
air of dignified resignation, she ascended the scaffold. "My God,"
cried she, as she kneeled on that fatal platform, "enlighten and
affect my executioner! Adieu, my children, my beloved ones: I am
going to your father!" Thus she perished, in her thirty-eighth year,
October 16th, 1793.

In the gayety of youth and the sunshine of prosperity, Marie
Antoinette had exhibited some foibles amid many virtues. In the
beginning of her trials, she displayed, as well as those around her,
serious mistakes of judgment; but in the dark hour of adversity, she
exhibited a spectacle of truth, firmness, and dignity, hardly less
than sublime. When confined with her family in the prison of the
Temple, with only a glimmering ray of light stealing through the iron
bars, she displayed the utmost calmness, cheered all around with her
counsel and example, and taught them to disregard privation, sickness,
and suffering.

When her husband told her that he was condemned to the scaffold, she
congratulated him upon the speedy termination of an existence so
painful, and the unperishing reward that should crown it. Before the
Revolutionary Tribunal she was unabashed, and, when accused of a
horrid crime, she put her traducers to shame by exclaiming, "I appeal
to every mother here whether such an act be possible!" In solitude,
and in the depths of a damp and loathsome dungeon, where she was
confined for weeks, she was still serene and uncomplaining. In parting
with her son; in taking a last adieu of the palace which had witnessed
her triumphs; in facing the scaffold, and the wretches around it; and
in bidding a final farewell to life,--Marie Antoinette evinced that
patient, deep, and touching heroism which a woman and a Christian
alone can display.


When, in May, 1793, Robespierre and the Mountain effected the final
overthrow of the Girondists--the moderate party of the French
revolutionists--M. Roland, who had recently resigned his office in the
ministry, was forced to flee, and his wife was thrown into prison. To
solace the sad hours of her captivity, she began to write her own
Memoirs. "I propose to myself," she says, "to employ the leisure hours
of my captivity in relating the history of my life, from my infancy to
the present time. Thus to retrace the steps of one's career is to live
a second time; and what better can a prisoner do than, by a happy
fiction, or by interesting recollections, to transport herself from
her prison?"

Her Memoirs are dated at the "Prison of St. Pelagie, August 9th,
1793," and she thus commences: "Daughter of an artist, wife of a
philosopher, who, when a minister of state, remained a man of virtue;
now a prisoner, destined, perhaps, to a violent and unexpected
death,--I have known happiness and adversity; I have learned what
glory is, and have suffered injustice. Born in an humble condition,
but of respectable parents, I passed my youth in the bosom of the
arts, and amidst the delights of study; knowing no superiority but
that of merit, no grandeur but that of virtue."

Her father, Gratien Philipon, was an engraver. During the early years
of Manon's life, he was well off, employing many workmen under him.
His wife possessed little of what is called knowledge, but she had a
discerning judgment and a gentle and affectionate disposition. By her
example, as well as by the course of education which her disposition
led her to pursue, she formed in her daughter the same gentle,
feminine spirit which she herself possessed.

"The wisdom and kindness of my mother," says Madame Roland, "quickly
acquired over my gentle and tender character an ascendency which was
used only for my good. It was so great that, in those slight,
inevitable differences between reason which governs and childhood
which resists, she had need to resort to no other punishment than to
call me, coldly, _Mademoiselle_, and to regard me with a severe
countenance. I feel, even now, the impression made on me by her look,
which at other times was so tender and caressing. I hear, almost with
shivering, the word _mademoiselle_ substituted for the sweet name of
_daughter_, or the tender appellation of _Manon_. Yes, Manon; it was
thus they called me: I am sorry for the lovers of romances, the name
is not noble; it suits not a dignified heroine; but, nevertheless, it
was mine, and it is a history that I am writing. But the most
fastidious would have been reconciled to the name, had they heard my
mother pronounce it, or had they seen her who bore it. No expression
wanted grace, when accompanied by the affectionate tone of my mother;
when her touching voice penetrated my soul, did it teach me to
resemble her? Lively without being ever rompish, and naturally
retiring, I asked only to be occupied, and seized with quickness the
ideas which were presented to me. This disposition was so well taken
advantage of, that I do not remember learning to read: I have heard
that I did so before I was four years old, and that, after that time,
nothing more was required than to supply me with books."

Her passion for these was subjected to little guidance or control; she
read whatever chance threw in her way; they were, for the most part,
of a serious character--Locke, Pascal, Burlamaque, Montesquieu;
relieved, however, by works on history, the poems of Voltaire, Don
Quixote, and some of the popular romances; but, as these were few in
number, she was compelled to read them often, and thus acquired a
habit of thought. When she was nine years old, Plutarch's Lives fell
in her way, and more delighted her than any romance or fairy tale. The
book became her bosom companion; and from that moment, she says, "she
dated the ideas and impressions which made her a republican without
her knowing that she was becoming one."

"But this child, who was accustomed to read serious books, could
explain the circles of the celestial sphere, could use the pencil and
the graver, and at eight years old was the best dancer in a party of
girls older than herself, assembled for a family festival. The same
child was often called to the kitchen to prepare an omelette, wash
herbs, or to skim the pot. This mixture of grave studies, agreeable
exercise, and domestic cares, ordered and regulated by the wisdom of
my mother, rendered me fit for all circumstances, seemed to
anticipate the vicissitudes of my fortune, and has aided me in bearing
them. I feel nowhere out of place; I can prepare my soup with as much
ease as Philopemon cut wood, though no one seeing me would deem that
such a task was fitted for me."

The study of Plutarch and the ancient historians was not, perhaps,
favorable to the happiness of Mademoiselle Philipon. She regretted
that her lot had not been cast in a free state, which she had
persuaded herself was the only nursery of virtue, generosity, and
wisdom. She contrasted the state of society, as she saw it around her,
with the ideal state of its existence in ancient Greece and Rome. She
had once paid a visit of eight days to Versailles, and witnessed the
routine of the court. How different were the weak and dissolute actors
upon that tinsel and tawdry stage from the heroes and philosophers
with whom she was wont, in imagination, to associate! She "sorrowfully
compared the Asiatic luxury, the insolent pomp, with the abject misery
of the degraded people, who ran after the idols of their own creating,
and stupidly applauded the brilliant shows for which they paid out of
their own absolute necessaries." Sometimes she was taken to visit
certain ladies who called themselves noble, and who, looking upon her
as an inferior, sent her to dine with the servants. But their airs of
condescending kindness were even yet more offensive, and made her
bosom swell with indignant emotion. She acknowledges that this feeling
made her hail the revolution with greater transport.

The daughter of a prosperous tradesman, she had many suitors of her
own rank; but she had formed to herself a _beau ideal_ of wedded life
which none but a man of education could satisfy; they were all
rejected. A physician proposed; more refinement and knowledge was to
be expected in the learned professions; she hesitated, but he also was
rejected. In the mean time, her father's habits began to change; he
became a speculator, fond of pleasure and careless of his business.
His speculations failed, and his customers left him. Her mother
witnessed the approach of poverty with anxiety; she feared for her
daughter alone, for her own health was so feeble, that she could look
only for a short term of life. She wished to see her daughter's
happiness made as secure as possible, and tried to persuade her to
accept the addresses of a young jeweller who had health and a good
character to recommend him; but Manon wished to find in her husband a
companion and a guide.

Her mother died; and intense grief overwhelmed the daughter, both body
and mind. It was long before she could be roused to any exertion from
that melancholy "which made her a burden to herself and others." At
this moment, the "Nouvelle Heloise" was placed in her hands; it
excited her attention, and called her thoughts from her loss. "I was
twenty-one," she says, "and Rousseau made the same impression on me as
Plutarch had done when I was eight. Plutarch had disposed me to
republicanism; he had awakened the energy and pride which are its
characteristics; he inspired me with a true enthusiasm for public
virtue and freedom. Rousseau showed me domestic happiness, and the
ineffable felicity I was capable of tasting." She now returned to her
studies. Her friends, among whom she numbered some literary men,
finding that she committed her reflections to writing, predicted that
she would become an author. But she was not ambitious of public
distinction; she had adopted the sentiment of Rousseau, that the
"dignity of woman is in being unknown; her glory, in the esteem of her
husband; her pleasures, in the happiness of her family." "I saw," says
Madame Roland, "that an authoress loses more than she gains. My chief
object was my own happiness, and I never knew the public interfere
with that for any one without spoiling it; there is nothing more
delightful than to be appreciated by those with whom one lives, and
nothing so empty as the admiration of those whom we are never to

In her school-girl days, Manon had formed a friendship with a girl of
her own age, named Sophia, and the intercourse was still kept up by
letters. Sophia felt the highest admiration for her friend, and often
spoke of it. Among those who, through her, became acquainted with
Manon's character was M. Roland, a man whose great simplicity of
character and strict integrity had gained for him universal esteem and
confidence. His family was not of the ancient nobles, but of official
dignity. He was fond of study, and laborious in the pursuit of
knowledge. He had long sought for an introduction to Mademoiselle
Philipon, and Sophia at length gave him a letter of introduction.
"This letter," she writes, "will be given you by the philosopher I
have often mentioned, M. Roland, an enlightened and excellent man, who
can only be reproached for his great admiration of the ancients at
the expense of the moderns, whom he despises, and his weakness in
liking to talk too much about himself."

M. Roland's appearance was not calculated to make a favorable
impression upon a young woman; his manners were cold and stiff; he was
careless in his dress, and he had passed the meridian of life. But
Mademoiselle Philipon discerned and appreciated his excellence, and
received him to her friendship and confidence. For five years, this
intercourse between them continued, before he disclosed to her the
sentiments of love which had been making a slow, but deeply-rooted,
growth in his heart. His proposal of marriage was not distasteful to
her; but she was proud, and did not like to encounter the opposition
which the match with a girl of humble birth would meet with from his
family. Roland persisted in his addresses, and she at length referred
him to her father. Philipon did not like the terms of his letter, and
returned a rude answer, rejecting the proffered alliance.

The result, though anticipated by Manon, was a great disappointment to
her, and the manner in which her father had conducted, shocked her
feelings. She had a great cause for anxiety in his general management;
his affairs were fast approaching utter ruin; extreme poverty was
before her; she resolved to secure her own independence, and purchased
an annuity of about one hundred and twenty dollars. With this she
hired a room in a convent, and lived upon the simplest food, which she
prepared for herself: her wants were strictly limited by her means.

Six months elapsed, and M. Roland once more presented himself to her
at the convent. He renewed his offer, and it was accepted. "I
reflected deeply," says Madame Roland, "on what I ought to do. I could
not conceal from myself that a younger man would not have delayed, for
several months, entreating me to change my resolution, and I confess
this circumstance had deprived my feelings of every illusion. I
considered, on the other hand, that this deliberation was an assurance
that I was appreciated; and that, if he had overcome his pride, which
shrunk from the disagreeable circumstances that accompanied his
marrying me, I was the more secure of an esteem I could not fail to
preserve. In short, if marriage was, as I thought, an austere union,
an association in which the woman usually burdens herself with the
happiness of two individuals, it were better that I should exert my
abilities and my courage in so honorable a task, than in the solitude
in which I lived."

Such were the feelings with which she married. She was then twenty-six
years old. She discharged with fidelity the duties she assumed. She
was her husband's friend and companion, and soon became absolutely
necessary to him. With him she visited England and Switzerland, and
finally they took up their abode at the family mansion near Lyons. She
had one child, a daughter; and to educate her, and make her husband
and those about her happy, was apparently to be the whole scope of her
life. At this period, she writes to a friend, "Seated in my chimney
corner, at eleven before noon, after a peaceful night and my morning
tasks,--my husband at his desk, and my little girl knitting,--I am
conversing with the former, and overlooking the work of the letter;
enjoying the happiness of being warmly sheltered in the bosom of my
dear little family, and writing to a friend, while the snow is falling
on so many poor wretches overwhelmed by sorrow and penury. I grieve
over their fate. I repose on my own, and make no account of those
family annoyances, which appeared formerly to tarnish my felicity."

The revolution came to disturb this peaceful existence. At first she
hailed it with joy; but fears soon arose. "Is the question," she says,
"to be whether we have one tyrant or a hundred?" She attached herself
zealously to that party which advocated liberty without anarchy. The
confusion of the times proved destructive to the manufacturing
interests of Lyons; twenty thousand workmen were thrown out of
employment, and were without means of support. M. Roland was selected
to proceed to Paris to make known the distresses to the National
Assembly, and to solicit relief.

The Girondists held opinions most in consonance with her own; her
house at Paris soon became the rendezvous of that party; and her
talents, beauty, and enthusiasm, insensibly procured for her a great
influence in their councils. A late historian thus speaks of her:
"Roland was known for his clever writings on manufactures and
mechanics. This man, of austere life, inflexible principles, and cold,
repulsive manners, yielded, without being aware, to the superior
ascendency of his wife. She was young and beautiful. Nourished in
seclusion by philosophical and republican sentiments, she had
conceived ideas superior to her sex, and had erected a strict
religion from the then reigning opinions. Living in intimate
friendship with her husband, she wrote for him, communicated her
vivacity and ardor, not only to him, but to all the Girondists, who,
enthusiastic in the cause of liberty and philosophy, adored beauty and
talent, and their own opinions in her." But she carefully guarded
against appearing to exert influence. Present at the councils held at
her own house, she sat apart, and, apparently engaged in needle-work
or in writing, took no part in the public deliberations; but her
opinions were freely expressed in private to the leaders of the party,
who eagerly engaged with her in discussion.

The flight of the king filled her with alarm; his arrest and
return to Paris excited new hopes; she looked for safety only in his
dethronement, and in the establishment of a republican form of
government; but for this she hardly dared hope. "It would be a
folly, an absurdity, almost a horror," she writes to a friend at this
time, "to replace the king on the throne. To bring Louis XVI. to
trial, would doubtless be the greatest and most just of measures;
but we are incapable of adopting it."

At the end of seven months, Roland's mission terminated, and he
returned to Lyons. But Madame Roland could no longer be happy in the
quiet, domestic circle; her discontent thus expresses itself in a
letter to a friend, but, unwittingly perhaps, does not assign it to
the true cause: "I see with regret that my husband is cast back on
silence and obscurity. He is habituated to public life; his energy and
activity injure his health when not exercised according to his
inclinations; in addition, I had hoped for great advantages for my
child in a residence at Paris. Occupied there by her education, I
should have excited and developed some sort of talent. The recluse
life I lead here makes me tremble for her. From the moment that my
husband has no occupation but his desks, I must remain near to amuse
him, according to a duty and a habit which may not be eluded. This
existence is exactly opposite to that suitable for a child of ten. My
heart is saddened by this opposition of duties. I find myself fallen
into the nullity of a provincial life, where no exterior circumstances
supply that which I cannot do myself. If I believed my husband were
satisfied, hope would embellish the prospect. However, our destiny is
fixed, and I must try to render it as happy as I can."

But the truth was, that her life at Paris had opened a new prospect to
Madame Roland, and excited new desires in her bosom. Her activity and
enthusiasm longed to employ themselves upon a grand theatre, and she
panted to become great, as Plutarch's heroes were great, and to go
down to posterity as one of the founders of her country's freedom.

She was soon restored to the wished-for scene of action. In December,
1792, her husband was appointed minister of the interior. She relates
with great good-humor the surprise which her husband's plain,
citizen-like costume excited at court. The master of ceremonies
pointed him out to Dumoriez with an angry and agitated mien,
exclaiming, "Ah, sir, no buckles to his shoes!" "Ah, sir," replied
Dumoriez, with mock gravity, "all is lost!"

Two measures, which the liberal party deemed essential, were presented
to the king by the ministry, but were rejected by him. The party urged
the ministers, as a body, to remonstrate; but a majority declined.
Madame Roland insisted that her husband should individually present a
remonstrance, which she prepared for him; it was couched in bold and
menacing language, and rather calculated to irritate than to persuade
the king. Roland read it to the king in full council; he listened
patiently to his minister's rebuke, but the next day dismissed him
from his office.

Satisfied with having discharged their duty to liberty, Roland and his
wife felt no regret at the loss of office. They ceased to meddle with
politics, and led a retired life, with the fearful anticipation that
the intervention of foreign troops would soon put an end to all their
hopes of constitutional freedom. Her appearance and manners at this
period of her life are thus described by one who visited her: "Her
eyes, her figure, and hair, were of remarkable beauty; her delicate
complexion had a freshness and color, which, joined to her reserved
yet ingenuous appearance, imparted a singular air of youth. She spoke
well, and without affectation; wit, good sense, propriety of
expression, keen reasoning, natural grace, all flowing without effort
from her rosy lips. Her husband resembled a Quaker, and she looked
like his daughter. Her child flitted about her with ringlets down to
her waist. She spoke of public affairs only, and I perceived that my
moderation inspired pity. Her mind was excited, but her heart remained
gentle. Although the monarchy was not yet overturned, she did not
conceal that symptoms of anarchy began to appear, and she declared
herself ready to resist them to death. I remember the calm and
resolute tone in which she declared that she was ready, if need were,
to place her head on the block. I confess that the image of that
charming head delivered over to the axe of the executioner made an
ineffaceable impression; for party excesses had not yet accustomed us
to such frightful ideas."

The fomenters of disturbance and the friends of anarchy were the party
of the _Mountain_, at the head of which were Robespierre, Danton,
Marat, &c. To this party the known moderation of Madame Roland made
her peculiarly obnoxious. When, after the suspension of the royal
authority, consequent on the events of the 10th of August, it was
proposed in the National Convention to recall Roland to the ministry,
one of the party exclaimed, "We had better invite madame; she is the
real minister." He was reinstated in his office, and maintained for a
short time an unflinching struggle with the anarchists; but his
efforts were not supported by others; and, wearied out, he tendered
his resignation. The Mountain urged its acceptance, but the only
charges against him were complaints of his feebleness, and of his
being governed by his wife. The Girondists yet held the ascendency in
the Convention, and his resignation was not accepted. At the entreaty
of his friends, he consented to remain, and wrote thus to the
Convention: "Since I am calumniated, since I am threatened by dangers,
and since the Convention appear to desire it, I remain. It is too
glorious that my alliance with courage and virtue is the only reproach
made against me."

Madame Roland has herself offered an apology for her interference in
the business of her husband. In the early days of their marriage, she
had acted as his amanuensis, and had faithfully copied what he wrote.
But the dryness of his style did not suit her taste, and she began to
amend his writings. At length, having a perfect agreement in views and
opinions with her husband, he entirely yielded up to her the pen. "I
could not express any thing," she says, "that regarded reason or
justice, which he was not capable of realizing or maintaining with his
conduct; while I expressed better than he could whatever he had done
or promised to do. Without my intervention, Roland had been an equally
good agent; his activity and knowledge, as well as his probity, were
all his own; but he produced a greater sensation through me, since I
put into his writings that mixture of energy and gentleness, of
authority and persuasion, which is peculiar to a woman of a warm heart
and a clear head. I wrote with delight such pieces as I thought would
be useful, and I took greater pleasure in them than I should have done
had I been their acknowledged author."

Roland continued his struggle against the Mountain, who were daily
gaining strength. Although in a minority in the Convention, they were
all powerful with the mob; and the knowledge of this, together with
their menaces, induced some of the more timid Girondists to vote for
their savage measures. Of the frightful state of affairs at Paris,
Madame Roland thus writes to a friend: "We are under the knife of
Robespierre and Marat. These men agitate the people, and endeavor to
turn them against the Assembly and Council; they have a little army,
which they pay with money stolen from the Tuileries." Again she
writes, "Danton leads all; Robespierre is his puppet; Marat holds his
torch and dagger; this ferocious tribune reigns, and we are his slaves
until the moment when we shall become his victims. You are aware of my
enthusiasm for the revolution; well, I am ashamed of it; it is
deformed by monsters, and become hideous. It is degrading to remain,
but we are not allowed to quit Paris; they shut us up to murder us
when occasion serves."

At length, disheartened by his unavailing efforts to stem the tide of
anarchy, Roland again resigned his office; and, satisfied that
remaining at Paris could be of no advantage to their country, he and
his wife began their preparations for retiring to the country. Her
illness caused a delay, and they were yet in Paris when the final
overthrow of the Girondists left them no hope for safety but in
flight. An order was issued by the Convention for the arrest of
Roland: his wife resolved to appeal in person to the Assembly in his
behalf. Veiled and alone, she hurried to the place of meeting. She was
not admitted: she sent in a letter, soliciting to be heard; but it
received no attention. Sadly she left the national palace, sought out
her husband, related to him her want of success, and then returned to
make another effort to be heard. The Convention was no longer sitting.
She returned home: her husband was in a place of security; and,
indifferent to her own fate, she resolved to await whatever might

At a late hour of the night she retired to rest, but was soon roused
by her servant, who announced to her that a party of soldiers had
come to arrest her. The sanguinary shouts of the mob saluted her as
she passed through the streets. "Shall I close the windows?" said an
officer who rode with her in the carriage. "No," replied she;
"innocence, however oppressed, will never assume the appearance of
guilt. I fear the eyes of no one, and will not hide myself." "You have
more firmness than most men," said the officer.

Her plans for prison life were at once arranged: she asked and
obtained a few books, Plutarch being of the number. The situation of
the poorer class of prisoners exciting her pity, she restricted
herself to the most abstemious diet, and distributed the money which
she thus saved among them.

At the end of about three weeks, a most cruel deception was practised
upon her. She was told that she was free, and left the prison; but, on
reaching home, she was again arrested, and carried to a new prison, in
which the lowest and most infamous criminals of both sexes were
confined. A few hours' reflection restored the equanimity which this
outrage had disturbed. "Had I not my books?" she says; "was I no
longer myself? I was almost angry at having felt disturbed, and
thought only of making use of my life, and employing my faculties with
that independence which a strong mind preserves even in chains, and
which disappoints one's most cruel enemies."

At first, she was confined in the midst of the most abandoned of her
sex; but, after a time, the wife of the jailer took compassion on her,
and removed her to a more retired apartment. Nor did this humane woman
stop here; she sought in every way to soften the rigors of
imprisonment. Jasmine was twined round the bars of her window; a
piano-forte was provided, with every comfort which her narrow quarters
would allow. A few friends were allowed to visit her: she learned that
her husband and child were in safety; she became almost happy. But her
quiet was soon disturbed. The visitor of the prison was angry at the
comforts which she enjoyed; equality must be preserved, and he ordered
her to be removed to a common cell.

At one period she meditated suicide. There was no accusation against
her, and she saw herself left behind in the daily drafts for the
guillotine. "Two months ago," she writes, "I aspired to the honor of
ascending the scaffold. Victims were still allowed to speak, and the
energy of great courage might have been of service to truth. Now all
is lost; to live is basely to submit to a ferocious rule." But her
purpose was changed when she found herself included in the act of
accusation against the chief Girondists. She expected to be examined
before the Revolutionary Tribunal, and hoped to do some good by
courageously speaking the truth.

On the 31st of October, 1792, she was transferred to the prison of the
Conciergerie, a yet more squalid place of confinement. Her examination
commenced the next day, and was continued for several days. The charge
against her was holding intercourse with the Girondists. Her defence,
which was written out, but not spoken, is eloquent and full of
feeling. She was, of course, declared guilty, and sentenced to be
executed within twenty-four hours.

Even during these few eventful days, she was not occupied entirely
with self. Many of her hours were devoted to the consolation of her
fellow-victims. She who was a prisoner with her thus speaks of her:
"Perfectly aware of the fate that awaited her, her tranquillity was
not disturbed. Though past the bloom of life, she was yet full of
attractions: tall, and of an elegant figure, her physiognomy was
animated; but sorrow and long imprisonment had left traces of
melancholy in her face that tempered her natural vivacity. Something
more than is usually found in the eyes of woman beamed in her large,
dark eyes, full of sweetness and expression. She often spoke to me at
the grate with the freedom and courage of a great man. This republican
language, falling from the lips of a pretty woman, for whom the
scaffold was prepared, was a miracle of the revolution. We gathered
attentively around her in a species of admiration and stupor. Her
conversation was serious, without being cold. She spoke with a purity,
a melody, and a measure, which rendered her language a sort of music,
of which the ear was never tired. Sometimes her sex had the mastery,
and we perceived that she had wept over the recollections of her
husband and daughter. The woman who attended her said to me one day,
'Before you she calls up all her courage; but in her room she
sometimes remains for hours leaning on the window, weeping.'"

She was led to execution on the 10th of November. On the way she
exerted herself to restore the failing fortitude of a fellow-sufferer,
and won from him, it is said, two smiles. On arriving at the place of
execution, she bowed to the statue of Liberty, saying, "O Liberty,
how many crimes are committed in thy name!" She bade her companion
ascend the scaffold first, that he might escape the pain of seeing her
die. To the last, she preserved her courage and dignity of manner.

The news of her death reached her husband at Rouen. He resolved not to
outlive her. He doubted whether to surrender himself to the
Revolutionary Tribunal, or to commit suicide. He decided on the latter
course, in order to save for his child his property, which by law
would be confiscated if he died by the judgment of a court. On the
15th of November, he was found dead on the road to Paris, four miles
from Rouen. In his pocket was found a paper, setting forth the reasons
for his death--"The blood that flows in torrents in my country
dictates my resolve; indignation caused me to quit my retreat. As soon
as I heard of the murder of my wife, I determined no longer to remain
on the earth tainted by crime."


The subject of this memoir, as celebrated in her own particular
department of literature as Shakspere or Molière were in theirs, would
have been very much surprised to find herself occupying a conspicuous
place in the "Lives of Celebrated Women." She made no pretensions to
authorship, and her "Letters," which have been esteemed models of
epistolary composition, are the unpremeditated and unrevised
outpourings of a mind rich in wit and good sense, and a heart filled
with the warmest affections, and were written without the slightest
idea that they would ever be read by any other persons than those to
whom they were addressed.

Maria de Robertin-Chantal, Baroness de Chantal and Bombilly, was
born on the 5th of February, 1626. Her father was the head of a
distinguished and noble family of Burgundy. Of his rough wit and
independence his daughter has preserved a specimen. When Schomberg
was transformed, by Louis XIII., from a minister of finance to a
field-marshal, Chantal wrote to him the following letter:--

  "My Lord,

  "Rank--black beard--intimacy.


meaning that he owed his advancement, not to his military exploits,
but to his rank, his having a black beard, like his master, and to his
intimacy with that master.

When Maria was about a year and a half old, the English made a descent
upon the Island of Rhé; and her father placed himself at the head of a
party of gentlemen who volunteered to assist in repelling them, in
which honorable service he lost his life. His widow survived him five
years. She was the daughter of a secretary of state, and her family,
that of De Coulanges, belonged to the class of nobility who owed that
distinction to civil services, and who were known as "nobles of the
robe," to distinguish them from those who could trace their descent
from the heroes of the crusades and the days of chivalry.

It seems to have been expected that the paternal grandmother would
have taken charge of the education of the little orphan. But she was
too much occupied with the affairs of the other world, and with
founding religious houses,--of which eighty-seven owed their existence
to her,--and Maria was left in the hands of her maternal relations.
The pious labors of the "Blessed Mother of Chantal" were acknowledged
by the head of the church, and her name now fills a place in the
calendar, among the saints. The guardianship of the young baroness
devolved on her uncle, Christophe de Coulanges, abbé de Livry.

Most men would have shrunk from the task of personally superintending
the education of a young girl, and would, in conformity to the
customs of the times, have consigned her to a convent, where she
would have been taught to read, to write, to dance, and to
embroider; and then her education would have been deemed complete.
It is no slight evidence of the good sense of her uncle that he
retained her in his own house. The decision was a fortunate one for
posterity; for her faculties, which the formal training of the
convent would have cramped, were called into exercise and expanded
by an unusual indulgence in the range of reading, and probably by a
familiar intercourse with the men of letters who sought her uncle's
society. Under his instructions she doubtless acquired a knowledge
of the Latin and Italian languages, and something of the Spanish.
All this, however, is to some extent matter of inference, for we
have no record of her early life. She tells us in her "Letters" that
she was brought up at court, and there she formed her manners and
her tastes--fortunately without the corruption of her morals.

From the accounts given by her witty and profligate cousin Bussy-Robertin,
we can obtain a tolerably correct idea of her appearance when she entered
as an actor upon the scene of life. She was somewhat tall for a woman; had
a good shape, a pleasing voice, a fine complexion, brilliant eyes, and a
profusion of light hair; but her eyes, though brilliant, were small,
and, together with the eyelashes, were of different tints: her lips,
though well colored, were too flat, and the end of her nose too
square. De Bussy tells us that she had more shape than grace, yet
danced well; she had also a taste for singing. He makes to her the
objection that she was too playful "for a woman of quality."

Not beautiful, but highly attractive, of cordial manners, and with a
lively sensibility, at one moment dissolved in tears, and at another
almost dying with laughter,--Mademoiselle de Robertin, then eighteen
years old, was married to the Marquis de Sévigné, of an ancient family
of Brittany. Her letters written during the first years of her
marriage are full of gayety; there is no trace of misfortune or
sorrow. But her husband was fond of pleasure, extravagant in his
expenses, heedless, and gay--a character not likely to escape the
contagion of that universal depravity of manners which prevailed at
the French court. His conduct threw a cloud over their happiness.
Madame de Sévigné bore her misfortunes with dignity and patience. In
spite of his misconduct, she loved him deeply; and his death, not long
afterwards, in a duel, caused her the most profound sorrow.

Her uncle, the abbé, resumed his former office of protector and
counsellor. He withdrew her from the contemplation of her grief, and
drew her attention to her duties, the chief and dearest of which was
the education of her two children, a son and a daughter. To this
object, and to rendering the life of her uncle happy, she resolved to
devote herself. Of her obligations to her uncle she thus speaks in a
letter written many years afterwards, on the occasion of his death: "I
am plunged in sorrow: ten days ago I saw my dear uncle die; and you
know what he was to his dear niece. He has conferred on me every
benefit in the world, either by giving me property of his own, or
preserving and augmenting that of my children. He drew me from the
abyss into which M. de Sévigné's death plunged me; he gained lawsuits;
he put my affairs in good order; he paid our debts; he has made the
estate on which my son lives the prettiest and most agreeable in the

Time restored to the young widow her lost gayety, and she was the
delight of the circles in which she was intimate. The Hôtel de
Rambouillet, at Paris, where she resided, was the resort of all who
were celebrated for wit or talent, and her presence was always hailed
with joy. _Euphuism_ was the fashion of the day, and in this _coterie_
it had reached the highest degree of perfection. Common appellations
were discarded; water became "_l'humeur celeste_," and a chaplet "_une
chaine spirituelle_." The use of names was banished, and each was
addressed as "ma chere" or "ma precieuse." "_Les Precieuses
Ridicules_" of Molière at length put an end to the affectation. Many
of the _coterie_ were present at its first representation, and were
obliged to swallow the vexation which the delight evinced by the
public at seeing them held up to ridicule, could not fail to excite.

The early education of her children being completed, their establishment
in life became a source of anxiety. Her son, when nineteen, joined the
expedition to Candia; concerning which Madame de Sévigné writes to
her cousin De Bussy, "I suppose you know that my son is gone to
Candia. He mentioned it to M. de Turenne, to Cardinal de Retz, and
to M. de la Rochefoucauld. These gentlemen so approved his design
that it was resolved on and made public before I knew any thing of it.
He is gone. I wept his departure bitterly, and am deeply afflicted.
I shall not have a moment's repose during the expedition. I see all
the dangers, and they destroy me; but I am not the mistress. On such
occasions mothers have no voice." She had reason for anxiety. Few of
the officers returned, but one of these was the Baron de Sévigné. A
commission was purchased for him in the army, and he served with
distinction during several campaigns; but his family had taken part
against the court during the wars of the Fronde, and were Jansenists,
so that he received no promotion, and at length left the army, and
settled into a quiet, well-behaved, country gentleman. Rejecting
many nice matches which his mother sought to make for him, he chose a
wife for himself, and his choice fortunately met her approbation.

Her daughter was presented at court, in 1663, and took part in the
brilliant _fêtes_ of the following year. The mother's heart was, no
doubt, gladdened by the declaration of the Count de Treville, a sort
of oracle in the great world, "_That_ beauty will set the world on
fire." Her marriage became a subject of the deepest anxiety, and it
was long before her mother was satisfied with any of those who
pretended to the hand of "_la plus jolie fille de France_." She at
length accepted the proposals of the twice-widowed Count de Grignan,
and the event is thus announced to her cousin: "I must tell you a
piece of news which will doubtless delight you. At length the
prettiest woman in France is about to marry, not the handsomest youth,
but the most excellent man in the kingdom. You have long known M. de
Grignan. All his wives are dead, to make room for your cousin, as well
as, through wonderful luck, his father and his son; so that, being
richer than he ever was, and being, through his birth, his position,
and his good qualities, such as we desire, we conclude at once. The
public appears satisfied, and that is much, for one is silly enough to
be greatly influenced by it."

By marrying her daughter to a courtier, Madame de Sévigné hoped to
secure her daughter's permanent residence near herself at Paris. The
count, however, was deputy-governor of Provence, and received orders,
soon after his marriage, to proceed to that distant province, where he
continued to reside, with the exception of occasional visits to Paris,
during the remainder of his mother-in-law's life. The mother and
daughter contrived to pass about half the time with each other, and,
in the intervals, to keep up a conversation by means of constant
epistolary correspondence, in which the former relates all the amusing
gossip which would have been subject of discourse had they been
together. To the mother's share of these conversations we are
delighted listeners. She speaks of events which in themselves are
trifling, and of persons of whom we never before heard; yet she is
never tedious. The vivacity of her intellect and the charms of her
style give an interest to every thought and act. The task of selecting
specimens is a difficult one; all is worthy of transcription; we will
take those which throw the most light upon her character and mode of
life. The following was written at an estate of her husband's, called
"The Rocks," situated on the sea-coast of Brittany, where she
delighted to pass her time: she had a love of the country, of nature,
and of simple pleasures--a rare taste for a Frenchwoman of that age.
Nothing pleased her more than the song of the nightingale, the
cuckoo, and the thrush, during the early spring; her writings are
filled with her passion for the birds and avenues of "Les Rochers."
The letter is addressed, not to her daughter, but to her cousin, De

"I write, my dear cousin, over and above the stipulated fortnight
communications, to advertise you that you will soon have the honor of
seeing Picard; and, as he is brother to the lackey of Madame de
Coulanges, I must tell you the reason why. You know that Madame the
Duchess de Chaulnes is at Vitré; she expects the duke there, in ten or
twelve days, with the states of Brittany. Well, and what then? say
you. I say that the duchess is expecting the duke with all the states,
and that meanwhile she is at Vitré all alone, dying with ennui. And
what, return you, has this to do with Picard? Why, look; she is dying
with ennui, and I am her only consolation; and so you may readily
conceive that I carry it with a high hand. A pretty roundabout way of
telling my story, I must confess; but it will bring us to the point.
Well, then, as I am her only consolation, it follows that, after I
have been to see her, she will come to see me, when, of course, I
shall wish her to find my garden in good order--those fine walks of
which you are so fond. Still you are at a loss to conceive whither
they are leading you now. Attend, then, if you please, to a little
suggestion by the way. You are aware that haymaking is going forward?
Well, I have no haymakers; I send into the neighboring fields to press
them into my service; there are none to be found; and so all my own
people are summoned to make hay instead. But do you know what
haymaking is? I will tell you. Haymaking is the prettiest thing in the
world. You play at turning the grass over in a meadow; and as soon as
you know how to do that, you know how to make hay. The whole house
went merrily to the task, all but Picard: he said he would not go;
that he was not engaged for such work; that it was none of his
business; and that he would sooner betake himself to Paris. Faith!
didn't I get angry? It was the hundredth disservice the silly fellow
had done me. I saw he had neither heart nor zeal; in short, the
measure of his offence was full. I took him at his word; was deaf as a
rock to all entreaties in his behalf; and he has set off. It is fit
that people should be treated as they deserve. If you see him, don't
welcome him; don't protect him; and don't blame me. Only look upon him
as, of all servants in the world, the one least addicted to haymaking,
and therefore the most unworthy of good treatment. This is the sum
total of the affair. As for me, I am fond of straightforward
histories, that contain not a word too much; that never go wandering
about, and beginning again from remote points; and, accordingly, I
think I may say, without vanity, that I hereby present you with a
model of an agreeable narration."

We will now go with her to Paris, and listen to a little of her gossip
with her daughter.

  "PARIS, _March 13th_.

  "Behold me, to the delight of my heart, all alone in my chamber,
  writing to you in tranquillity. Nothing gives me comfort like
  being seated thus. I dined to-day at Madame de Lavardin's, after
  having been to hear Bourdaloue, where I saw the mothers of the
  church; for so I call the Princesses de Conti and Longueville. All
  the world was at the sermon, and the sermon was worthy of all that
  heard it. I thought of you twenty times, and wished you as often
  beside me. You would have been enchanted to be a listener, and I
  should have been tenfold enchanted to see you listen. * * *

  "We have been to the fair, to see a great fright of a woman,
  bigger than Riberpré by a whole head. * * * And now, if you fancy
  all the maids of honor run mad, you will not fancy amiss. Eight
  days ago, Madame de Ludre, Coëtlogon, and little De Rouvroi were
  bitten by a puppy belonging to Théobon, and the puppy has died
  mad; so Ludre, Coëtlogon, and De Rouvroi set off this morning for
  the coast, to be dipped three times in the sea. 'Tis a dismal
  journey. Benserade is in despair about it. Théobon does not choose
  to go, though she had a little bite too. The queen, however,
  objects to her being in waiting till the issue of the adventure is
  known. Don't you think Ludre resembles Andromeda? For my part, I
  see her fastened to the rock, and Tréville coming, on a winged
  horse, to deliver her from the monster. * * * Ah, Bourdaloue! what
  divine truths you told us to-day about death! Madame de la Fayette
  heard him for the first time in her life, and was transported with
  admiration. She is enchanted with your remembrances. * * * A scene
  took place yesterday at Mademoiselle's, which I enjoyed extremely.
  In comes Madame de Gevres, full of her airs and graces. She looked
  as if she expected I should give her my poet; but, 'faith, I owed
  her an affront for her behavior the other day, so I didn't budge.
  Mademoiselle was in bed; Madame de Gevres was therefore obliged to
  go lower down; no very pleasant thing that! Mademoiselle calls for
  drink; somebody must present the napkin; Madame de Gevres begins
  to draw off the glove from her skinny hand; I gave a nudge to
  Madame d'Arpajou, who was above me; she understands me, draws off
  her glove, and, advancing a step with a very good grace, cuts
  short the duchess, and takes and presents the napkin. The duchess
  was quite confounded; she had made her way up, and got off her
  gloves, and all to see the napkin presented before her by Madame
  d'Arpajou! My dear, I am a wicked creature; I was in a state of
  delight; and indeed what could have been better done? Would any
  one but Madame de Gevres have thought of depriving Madame
  d'Arpajou of an honor which fell so naturally to her share,
  standing as she did by the bedside? It was as good as a cordial to
  Madame de Puisieux. Mademoiselle did not dare to lift up her eyes;
  and, as for myself, I had the most good-for-nothing face!"

Who this Mademoiselle was, Madame de Sévigné shall herself tell. The
following, one of the most curious of her letters, is addressed to her
cousin, De Coulanges: "I am going to tell you a thing, which, of all
things in the world, is the most astonishing, the most surprising, the
most marvellous, the most miraculous, the most triumphant, the most
bewildering, the most unheard-of, the most singular, the most
extraordinary, the most incredible, the most unexpected, the most
exalting, the most humbling, the most rare, the most common, the most
public, the most private,--till this moment,--the most brilliant, the
most enviable, in short, a thing of which no example is to be found in
past times; at least, nothing quite like it;--a thing which we do not
know how to believe in Paris; how, then, are you to believe it at
Lyons? a thing which makes all the world cry out, 'Lord, have mercy on
us!' a thing which has transported Madame de Rohan and Madame
d'Hauterive; a thing which is to be done on Sunday, and yet perhaps
will not be completed till Monday. I cannot expect you to guess it at
once. I give you a trial of three times; do you give it up? Well,
then, I must tell you. M. de Lauzun is to marry, next Sunday, at the
Louvre; guess whom. I give you four times to guess it; I give you six;
I give you a hundred. 'Truly,' cries Madame de Coulanges, 'it must be
a very difficult thing to guess; 'tis Madame de la Vallière.' 'No, it
isn't, madame.' ''Tis Mademoiselle de Retz, then.' 'No, it isn't,
madame; you are terribly provincial.' 'O, we are very stupid, no
doubt,' say you; ''tis Mademoiselle Colbert.' Farther off than ever.
'Well, then, it must be Mademoiselle de Crequi?' You are not a bit
nearer. Come, I see I must tell you at last. Well, M. de Lauzun
marries, next Sunday, at the Louvre, with the king's permission,
Mademoiselle--Mademoiselle de--Mademoiselle de--guess the name!--he
marries 'MADEMOISELLE,'--the _great_ Mademoiselle; Mademoiselle, the
daughter of the late Monsieur; Mademoiselle, granddaughter of Henry
the Fourth; Mademoiselle d'Eu, Mademoiselle de Dombes, Mademoiselle
de Montpensier, Mademoiselle d'Orleans, Mademoiselle, cousin of the
king, Mademoiselle, destined to the throne, Mademoiselle, the only
woman in France fit to marry Monsieur! Here's pretty news for your
_coteries_! Exclaim about it as much as you will; let it turn your
heads; say, we 'lie,' if you please; that it's a pretty joke; that
it's 'tiresome;' that we are a 'parcel of ninnies;' we give you leave;
we have done just the same to others. Adieu! The letters that come by
the post will show whether we have been speaking truth or not."

Once more with her to Paris, and listen to the graphic description
which she gives her daughter of the French court:--

  "PARIS, Wednesday, _July 24th, 1676_.

  "We have a change of the scene here, which will gratify you as
  much as it does all the world. I was at Versailles last Saturday
  with the Villarses. You know the queen's toilet, the mass, and the
  dinner? Well, there is no longer any need of suffocating ourselves
  in a crowd to get a glimpse of their majesties at table. At three,
  the king, the queen, monsieur, madame, mademoiselle, and every
  thing else which is royal, together with De Montespan and train,
  and all the courtiers, and all the ladies, all, in short, which
  constitutes the court of France, is assembled in that beautiful
  apartment of the king's which you remember. All is furnished
  divinely; all is magnificent. Such a thing as heat is unknown; you
  pass from one place to another without the slightest pressure. A
  game at _reversis_ gives the company a form and a settlement. The
  king and Madame de Montespan keep a bank together; different
  tables are kept by monsieur, the queen, Dangeau and party, &c.;
  every where you see heaps of _Louis d'ors_; they have no counters.
  I saw Dangeau play, and thought what fools we were beside him. He
  dreams of nothing but what concerns the game; he wins where others
  lose; he neglects nothing, and profits by every thing; never has
  his attention diverted; in short, his science bids defiance to
  chance. Two hundred thousand francs in ten days--a pretty
  memorandum to put down in his pocket-book! He was kind enough to
  say that I was partner with him, so that I got an excellent seat.
  I made my obeisance to the king, as you told me; and he returned
  it as if I had been young and handsome. The queen talked to me
  about my illness; the duke said a thousand pretty things, without
  minding a word he uttered. Maréchal de Lorges attacked me in the
  name of the Chevalier de Grignan; in short, all the company. You
  know what it is to get a word from every body you meet. Madame de
  Montespan talked to me of Bourbon, and asked me how I liked Vichi,
  and whether the place did me good. She said that Bourbon, instead
  of curing the pain in one of her knees, did mischief to both. Her
  size is reduced one half, and yet her complexion, her eyes, and
  her lips, are as fine as ever. She was dressed all in French
  point, her hair in a thousand ringlets, the two side ones hanging
  low on her cheeks, black ribbons on her head, pearls,--the same
  that belonged to Madame de l'Hopital,--the loveliest diamond
  ear-rings, three or four bodkins, nothing else on the head; in
  short, a triumphant beauty, worthy the admiration of all foreign
  ambassadors. She was accused of preventing the whole French nation
  from seeing the king; she has restored him, you see, to their
  eyes; and you cannot conceive the joy it has given all the world,
  and the splendor it has thrown upon the court. This charming
  confusion, without confusion, of all which is the most select,
  continues from three to six. If couriers arrive, the king retires
  a moment to read the despatches, and returns. There is always some
  music going on, to which he listens, and which has an excellent
  effect. He talks with such of the ladies as are accustomed to
  enjoy that honor. In short, they leave play at six; there is no
  trouble of counting, for there is no sort of counters; the pools
  consist of five or six Louis; the bigger one, of a thousand or
  twelve hundred. Talking is incessantly going on, and there is no
  end of _hearts_. 'How many hearts have you?' 'I have two;' 'I have
  three;' and Dangeau is delighted with all this chatter; he sees
  through the game; he draws his conclusions; he discovers which is
  the person he wants: truly he is your man for holding the cards.
  At six the carriages are at the door. The king is in one of them,
  with Madame de Montespan, Monsieur and Madame de Thianges, and
  honest D'Heudicourt, in a fool's paradise on the stool. You know
  how those open carriages are made; they do not sit face to face,
  but all looking the same way. The queen occupies another, with the
  princess; and the rest come flocking after, as it may happen.
  There are then gondolas on the canal; and music; and at ten they
  come back, and then there is a play; and twelve strikes, and they
  go to supper; and thus rolls round the Saturday."

And thus rolled round every day; and to support this wanton and
profligate expenditure of money, the people were ground to the dust
with taxes. Nothing can more strongly mark the general debasement of
sentiment, than that Madame de Sévigné, a woman whose character the
breath of slander had never ventured to asperse, should describe this
scene without one word of reprobation, but, on the contrary, should
conclude with a wish that this season of happiness at the court may

The following extract seems to show that she had a yearning for
something better in the midst of this idle dissipation--though the
terms in which she expresses herself are far from commendable: "I wish
I could be religious. I plague La Moresse--the abbé--about it every
day. I belong at present neither to God nor devil; and I find this
condition very uncomfortable; though, between you and me, I think it
the most natural in the world. One does not belong to the devil,
because one fears God, and has at bottom a principle of religion; but
then, on the other hand, one does not belong to God, because his laws
appear hard, and self-denial is not pleasant. Hence the great number
of the lukewarm, which does not surprise me at all; I enter perfectly
into their reasons; only God, you know, hates them, and that must not
be. But there lies the difficulty. Why must I torment you with these
rhapsodies? My dear child, _I ask your pardon_, as they say in these
parts. I rattle on in your company, and forget every thing else in the
pleasure of it. Don't make me any answer. Send me only news of your
health, with a spice of what you feel at Grignan, that I may know you
are happy; that is all. Love me. We have turned the phrase into
ridicule; but it is natural; it is good."

Perhaps she was led into these reflections by her admiration for the
beautiful Duchess de Longueville, who, from having been "the greatest
of sinners, became the greatest of saints:" a princess of the blood
royal,--a leader in all the dissolute scenes which characterized the
wars of the Fronde,--she voluntarily retired to a convent, where she
practised all those austerities, by which the pious Catholic believed
he might atone for past transgressions. Of the sincerity of her
conversion she gave repeated testimonies, and Madame de Sévigné ever
speaks of her with the greatest veneration and respect. That she had
too much good practical sense to be deceived by those who sought by
the excitement of religious rites to make up for the loss of the
excitements of pleasure, or who assumed the garb of religion in mere
compliance with the fashion which prevailed at court, under the rule
of Madame de Maintenon, is apparent from the light tone of the
following passage: "Madame de T. wears no rouge, and hides her person,
instead of displaying it. Under this disguise it is difficult to know
her again. I was sitting next her at dinner the other day, and a
servant brought her a glass of _vin de liqueur_; she turned to me, and
said, 'This man does not know that I am _dévote_.' This made us all
laugh, and she spoke very naturally of her changes, and of her good
intentions. She now minds what she says of her neighbors, and stops
short in her recitals, with a scream at her bad habits. There are bets
made that Madame d'H. will not be _dévote_ within a year, and that she
will resume her rouge. This rouge is the law and the prophets, and on
this rouge turns the whole of the Christian religion."

Tested by the morality of our day, Madame de Sévigné could not claim a
very exalted character: yet we are bound to mention one trait, which
honorably distinguishes her from her contemporaries. Louis XIV., for
the purpose of reducing the power of his nobles, systematically
encouraged them in the most boundless extravagance, of which he
himself set them the example. The natural consequence followed; they
became inextricably involved in debts, with so little idea of ever
paying them, that the conduct of the Cardinal de Retz, who sought to
atone for early excesses by retiring to the country, and husbanding
his resources for this purpose, excited universal wonder, and was too
extraordinary to be generally credited. Madame de Sévigné fully
appreciated the propriety of this conduct of De Retz, and bestows upon
it many commendations. When such were the sentiments of her mother, it
is not a little surprising to hear of a poor milliner, whose
necessities compelled her to undertake a journey of five hundred
miles, from Paris to Provence, to collect a debt from Madame de
Grignan, being dismissed without her money, and being told in
substance, if not in words, that she might thank her good fortune that
she did not make her exit through the window--a summary mode of
cancelling debts, often threatened, if not executed, when creditors
were importunate. Nor were Madame de Sévigné's mere professions. The
occasion arose which tried her principles. The extravagance of her
husband left her with estates encumbered with debts; the education
and maintenance of her children were expensive; her son's commission
in the army was purchased at a high price; her rents were not paid
with punctuality, and she was obliged to remit large debts to her
tenants. From all these causes, she found herself, at the age of
fifty-eight, involved in debts, which nothing but a retirement from
Paris, and the practice of a rigid economy, would enable her to pay.
She did not hesitate to withdraw herself from her beloved society in
Paris, and to retire to "The Rocks." The sacrifice was rendered more
complete by the fact that her daughter was at that time residing at
Paris. Her absence was felt bitterly by her friends, and she was at
once mortified and gratified by the offer of a loan of money to
facilitate her return. Madame de la Fayette wrote to make her the
proposition: "You must not, my dear, at any price whatever, pass the
winter in Brittany. You are old; 'The Rocks' are thickly wooded; colds
will destroy you; you will get weary; your mind will become sad, and
lose its tone: this is certain; and all the business in the world is
nothing in comparison. Do not speak of money nor of debts;" and then
follows the proposal. Madame de Sévigné declined the offer, being
unwilling to incur the obligation. Conceived with all possible
kindness, there was a sting in the letter which Madame de Sévigné
confesses to her daughter, that she felt. "You were, then, struck by
Madame de la Fayette's expression mingled with so much kindness.
Although I never allow myself to forget this truth, I confess I was
quite surprised; for as yet I feel no decay to remind me of it.
However, I often reflect and calculate, and find the conditions on
which we enjoy life very hard. It seems to me that I was dragged, in
spite of myself, to the fatal term when one must suffer old age. I see
it--am there. I should at least like to go no farther in the road of
decrepitude, pain, loss of memory, and disfigurement, which are at
hand to injure me. I hear a voice that says, 'Even against your will
you must go on; or, if you, refuse, you must die;' which is another
necessity from which nature shrinks. Such is the fate of those who go
a little too far. What is their resource? To think of the will of God,
and the universal law; and so restore reason to its place, and be
patient. Be you, then, patient, my dear child, and let not your
affection soften into such tears as reason must condemn."

As Madame de Sévigné would not return to Paris, her friends heard with
pleasure that she had resolved to go to Grignan, the residence of her
daughter in Provence. Here the greater part of her remaining life was
spent, and the correspondence with her daughter entirely ceases from
this time. Madame de Sévigné died, after a sudden and short illness,
in April, 1696, at the age of seventy.

It may gratify some to know that the letters of Madame de Sévigné were
apparently written in haste, beginning the writing on the second page
of the paper, continuing to the third and fourth, and returning to the
first: she used neither sand nor blotting-paper. Speaking to her
daughter, Madame de S. says, "The princess is always saying that she
is going to write to you; she mends her pens; for her writing is a
great affair, and her letters a sort of embroidery; not done in a
moment. _We_ should never finish, were we to make fine twists and
twirls to our _D's_ and _L's_;" in allusion to the German and Italian
fashion of the day of making ornaments with their pens, called _lacs
d'amour_. The letters were sealed on both sides, and a piece of white
floss silk fastened it entirely round.

Of the English admirers of Madame de Sévigné, the most distinguished
and the most warm in the expression of their admiration are Horace
Walpole and Sir James Mackintosh, men of totally opposite turns of
mind; the former a professed wit, and himself a letter-writer, the
latter a grave lawyer and statesman. We conclude this memoir by giving
the character of Madame de Sévigné as drawn by the latter. "The great
charm of her character seems to me a _natural_ virtue. In what she
does, as well as in what she says, she is unforced and unstudied;
nobody, I think, had so much morality without constraint, and played
so much with amiable feelings without falling into vice. Her
ingenious, lively, social disposition gave the direction to her mental
power. She has so filled my heart with affectionate interest in her as
a living friend, that I can scarcely bring myself to think of her as a
writer, or as having a style; but she has become a celebrated, perhaps
an immortal writer, without expecting it: she is the only classical
writer who never conceived the possibility of acquiring fame. Without
a great force of style, she could not have communicated those
feelings. In what does that talent consist? It seems mainly to consist
in the power of working bold metaphors, and unexpected turns of
expression, out of the most familiar part of conversational


In December, 1542, Mary Stuart, daughter of James V. of Scotland, then
seven days old, succeeded to the throne of a kingdom rent by religious
and political factions, and suffering from the consequences of a
disastrous war with England.

The union of Scotland to England had ever been a favorite project with
English sovereigns, and the present seemed to Henry VIII. a favorable
opportunity for peaceably effecting it. He lost no time, therefore, in
proposing a match between the infant queen and his own son, Edward.
His proposal found little favor; the haughty nobles could not endure
to see their country become a mere province of England; and the queen
mother and her religious advisers feared for the security of the
Catholic religion. Henry might, however, have ultimately succeeded,
had he acted with prudence. But he sought to terrify the Scots into
submission; and those who succeeded to the government of England upon
his death, which happened soon after, persisted in the same policy. An
army was sent into Scotland, to ravage the country and pillage the
towns and villages. This mode of wooing did not suit the temper of the
Scots; and an end was soon put to all hopes by the negotiation of a
marriage treaty between the queen and Francis, the infant dauphin of
France. In pursuance of this treaty, Mary, then in her sixth year, was
sent to France to be educated. She was at first placed in a convent
with the king's daughters, where she made a rapid progress in all the
accomplishments they attempted to teach her. Here her enthusiastic
disposition was so strongly impressed with religious feelings, and she
evinced such a fondness for a cloistered life, that it was thought
proper to remove her to the gayer scenes of the court--a change which
cost her torrents of tears. The fashion for learning prevailed at
this time, and Mary profited by it. Her instructors were the most
eminent men of the time; Buchanan taught her Latin; Pasquier
instructed her in history; Ronsard, the most famous of the early
French poets, cultivated her taste for poetry: they found her not only
a willing but an able pupil. Other accomplishments were not neglected;
she sung, and played on the lute and the virginals; she rode on
horseback fearlessly, yet with feminine grace; her dancing was always
admired; and we are assured that in the Spanish minuet she was
equalled only by her aunt, the beautiful Anne of Este, and no lady of
the court could eclipse her in a galliarde. Her beauty and the
charming expression of her countenance were such, that, as a
contemporary asserts, "no one could look upon her without loving her."
When her mother came over to visit her in 1550, she burst into tears
of joy, and congratulated herself on her daughter's capacity and
loveliness. Soon after Mary's marriage to Francis, in 1558, Elizabeth
ascended the English throne; the pope, and the French and Spanish
courts, refused to acknowledge her; and Mary, undisputably the next
heir, was compelled by the commands of her father-in-law to assume the
title and arms of queen of England--a measure of unforeseen but fatal
consequences to her, as it added fresh fuel to the fires of envy,
jealousy, and hatred, which the personal advantages of Mary had
already excited in the bosom of her vain and vindictive rival.


In 1558, Francis and Mary were crowned king and queen of France.
Francis survived this event but a few months. He was far inferior to
his wife, both in personal and mental accomplishments; he was of
sickly constitution, and very reserved; but he had an affectionate and
kind disposition. He was not a man to call forth the deepest and most
passionate feelings of such a heart as Mary's; but she ever treated
him with tenderness and most respectful attention. She is described by
an eye-witness as a "sorrowful widow," and lamented her husband

The happiness of Mary's life was now at an end. She was a stranger in
the land of which she had so recently been crowned queen. In the queen
mother, the ambitious Catherine de Medicis, who now ruled France in
the name of her son Charles IX., Mary had an inveterate foe. In the
reign of Francis they had been rivals for power, when the charms of
the wife had triumphed over the authority of the mother. There was
another wound which had long rankled in the vindictive bosom of
Catherine. In the artlessness of youth, Mary had once boasted of her
own descent from a "hundred kings," which was supposed to reflect on
the mercantile lineage of the daughter of the Medicis. She now took
her revenge. By the most studied slights she sought to mortify Mary,
who first retired to Rheims. Here she was waited on by a deputation
from her own nobles, who invited her, in terms which amounted to a
command, to return to her native country.

A new cause of difficulty now occurred between Mary and Elizabeth. The
heads of the reformed religious party in Scotland, called the "Lords
of the Congregation," had negotiated a treaty with Elizabeth, one of
the terms of which was a renunciation, on the part of Mary, of all
claims to the crown of England forever. This Mary refused to ratify,
and replied to the crafty ministers of her rival with a spirit,
intelligence, and firmness, extraordinary in a girl of eighteen. At
the same time, she was courteous and gentle, and apologized for the
assumption of the title and arms of queen of England, which, at the
death of her husband, she had renounced. Attempts had been made to
excite the fears of her Protestant subjects, which she thus set at
rest: "I will be plain with you; the religion I profess I take to be
the most acceptable to God; and indeed I neither know nor desire any
other. I have been brought up in this religion, and who might credit
me in any thing if I should show myself light in this case? I am none
of those who change their religion every year; but I mean to constrain
none of my subjects, though I could wish they were all as I am; and I
trust they shall have no support to constrain me."

Having at length resolved to return home, Mary sent to demand of
Elizabeth a free passage; it was a mere point of courtesy and
etiquette, but it was refused. The English ambassador sought in vain
to justify his mistress's conduct; it arose from exasperated jealousy,
and was inexcusable and mean, as well as discourteous.

It was with grief almost amounting to despair that Mary left the
scenes of her early attachments, and of all her pleasures. Accustomed
to the refinement of the court of France, she reflected with a degree
of horror on the barbarism of her own country, and the turbulence of
the people. She stood upon the deck of the vessel which bore her,
gazing through her tears on the receding shores. "Farewell, France!"
she would exclaim from time to time; "farewell, beloved country, which
I shall never more behold!" When night came on, she caused a bed to be
spread on the deck, and wept herself to sleep.

By the favor of a thick fog, Mary escaped the fleet which Elizabeth
had sent out to intercept her, and landed at Leith. With sensations of
terror and sadness she entered her capital; and they may well be
excused. The poverty of the country formed a striking contrast with
the fertile plains of France. The weather was wet and "dolorous;" and
a serenade of bagpipes, with which the populace hailed her, seems to
have greatly disconcerted her polished attendants. But Mary herself
took every thing in good part, and, after a while, she so far
recovered her gayety, that the masques and dancing, the "fiddling" and
"uncomely skipping," gave great offence to John Knox and the rest of
the grave reformers, who inveighed against such practices from the
pulpit; and the former, with a violence and rudeness altogether
unmanly, personally upbraided her, so as to make her weep. In one
brought up in "joyousness," such austerity could not fail to excite
disgust, and a stronger clinging to the more kind and genial doctrines
of her own faith. But she made no retaliation; she sought, on the
contrary, to win the affection of all her subjects, and to introduce
happiness and prosperity, as well as a more refined civilization, into
her country. Her life for a few years was tranquil. She gave four or
five hours every day to state affairs; she was wont to have her
embroidery frame placed in the room where the council met, and while
she plied the needle, she joined in the discussions, displaying in her
own opinions and suggestions a vigor of mind and quickness which
astonished the statesmen around her. At other times she applied to
study. She brought a great many books with her to Scotland, and the
first artificial globes that had ever been seen there. She was fond of
music, and maintained a band of minstrels. Her other amusements were
hawking, hunting, dancing, and walking in the open air. She was fond
of gardening; she had brought from France a little sycamore plant,
which she planted in the gardens of Holyrood, and tended with care;
and from this parent stem arose the beautiful groves which are now met
with in Scotland. She excelled at the game of chess, and delighted in
the allegorical representations, so much in fashion in her day, by the
name of "masques."

Though Mary could not but feel some resentment at the injurious
treatment which she received from Elizabeth, yet she sought to
conciliate her, and there was a great exhibition of courtesy and
compliment, and "sisterly" affection, between them. Mary even
consulted Elizabeth about her marriage. But that sovereign, with a
littleness almost inconceivable, could not bear that others should
enjoy any happiness of which she herself was debarred, and her own
subjects could in no way more surely incur her displeasure than by
marriage. She now sought to delay that of Mary. She proposed to her a
most unworthy match, and, when this, as it was intended it should be,
was rejected, offered objections to all which were proposed by Mary.

At length, the suggestions of a powerful party seconding his own
ambitious wishes, Henry Darnley entered the lists to obtain her favor.
He was possessed of every external accomplishment, being remarkably
tall, handsome, agreeable, and "well instructed in all comely
exercises." His mother, "a very wise and discreet matron," Rizzio, and
others, familiar with the queen's tastes, instructed him in the best
methods of being agreeable to her. He affected a great degree of
refinement, and a fondness for music and poetry. The queen, deceived
and captivated, made choice of him for her husband--a choice which at
the time seemed most proper and eligible; for he was a Protestant, and
next heir, after herself, to the English throne. They were married in
1565. For a short time Mary thought herself happy. In the first
effusions of her passion, she lavished upon her husband every mark of
love, and of distinction, even to conferring upon him the title of
king of Scotland. But her tenderness and attentions were all thrown
away, and, instead of respect and gratitude, she met with brutality
and insolence. Violent, fickle, insolent, ungrateful, and addicted to
the lowest pleasures, he was incapable of all true sentiments of love
and tenderness. Love, for a time, blinded Mary's reason, and she made
excuses for his faults; but, as his true temper and character became
more known to her, she treated him with more reserve, and refused some
of his unreasonable demands. Irritated, Darnley sought for some one in
the confidence of the queen upon whom he might wreak his vengeance.

There was at the court a young Italian, named Rizzio, who has already
been mentioned as forwarding Darnley's suit. He had come to Scotland
in the train of the ambassador of Savoy: the three pages, or
songsters, who used to sing trios before Mary, wanted a bass, and
Rizzio was appointed. Being not only a scientific musician, but a good
penman, well acquainted with French and Italian, supple and
intelligent, Rizzio contrived to make himself generally useful, and
was, in 1564, appointed French secretary to the queen. Some designing
nobles, jealous of the favor enjoyed by this foreigner, and likewise
desirous of effecting a permanent breach between Darnley and the
queen, persuaded him that Rizzio was the author of the queen's
displeasure, and engaged him in a plot to murder him, which was thus
carried into execution. As Mary was sitting at supper, attended by
Rizzio, and a few other of the officials of her court, Darnley entered
by a private passage which communicated directly with his own
apartments, and, casting his arms fondly round her waist, seated
himself by her side. A minute had scarcely elapsed, when Ruthven, in
complete armor, rushed in. He had just risen from a sick bed; his
features were sunken, his voice hollow, and his whole appearance
haggard and terrible. Mary started up in affright, and bade him
begone; but ere the words were uttered, torches gleamed in the outer
room, a confused noise of voices and weapons was heard, and the other
conspirators rushed in. Ruthven now drew his dagger, and calling out
that their business was with Rizzio, endeavored to seize him; while
this miserable victim, springing behind the queen, clung by her gown,
and besought her protection. All was now uproar and confusion; the
tables and lights were thrown down. Mary earnestly entreated them to
have mercy, but in vain. Whilst one of the band held a pistol to her
breast, the victim, already wounded and bleeding, was torn from her
knees, and dragged through her bed-chamber to the door of the presence
chamber, where he was finally despatched. Fifty-six wounds were found
in the body, and the king's dagger was left sticking in it, to show,
as was afterwards alleged, that he had sanctioned the murder. Ruthven,
faint from sickness, and reeking from the scene of blood, staggered
into the queen's cabinet, where Mary still stood distracted, and in
terror of her life. Here he threw himself upon a seat, called for a
cup of wine, and plunged a new dagger into the heart of the queen, by
declaring that her husband had advised the whole. Mary was kept the
whole night locked up, alone, in the room in which this terrible scene
had been enacted. The next day Darnley visited her, and she, ignorant
of the extent of his guilt, employed all her eloquence to induce him
to desert the desperate men with whom he was leagued. He consented,
and they fled together to Dunbar.

A new actor must now be brought upon the stage--the ambitious,
dissolute, and daring Bothwell. He was the head of one of the most
ancient and powerful families in the kingdom, and, in all the plots
and intrigues, he had ever remained faithful to the interests of the
queen; it was natural, therefore, that he should stand high in her
favor. It was chiefly through his active exertions that she now
effected her escape; and she soon found herself at the head of a body
of men, chiefly his clansmen, sufficiently powerful to bring the
murderers of Rizzio to punishment. It is a striking instance of her
clemency, that only two persons were executed for this crime.

Three months after the murder, she gave birth to a son, afterwards
James I. of England; at whose christening Elizabeth stood godmother,
notwithstanding her envious and repining exclamation, that "the queen
of Scots should be mother of a fair son, while she was only a barren
stock." Even this joyous event could not dispel the melancholy of
Mary, who now suffered so much from the conduct of Darnley as often to
be seen in tears, and was frequently heard to wish herself dead. The
lords of her council urged a divorce, but she would not listen to
this. "I will that you do nothing," said she, "by which any spot may
be laid on my honor or conscience; but wait till God, of his goodness,
shall put a remedy to it." Finding the queen immovable on this point,
Bothwell, who had now conceived the ambitious project of succeeding
to his place, resolved to murder Darnley, who was just recovering from
the smallpox, and was lodged, for the benefit of fresh air, at a house
called the Kirk-of-field, near Edinburgh. His illness and lonely
situation touched the tender heart of Mary. She visited him
constantly, and bestowed on him the kindest attentions. She brought
her band of musicians to amuse him. She seldom left him during the
day, and usually passed the night in the house. But on Sunday, the 9th
of February, on taking leave of him for the night, she went to the
palace of Holyrood, to be present at the marriage of two of her
servants. While engaged in these festivities, the house in which her
husband slept was blown up, and his lifeless body was found in a
garden at some distance. Every thing pointed to Bothwell as the author
of this crime; but he, after a trial had before a jury composed of the
first noblemen of the kingdom, was acquitted.

Bothwell's next object was to marry the queen; and the steps he took
for this purpose were too extraordinary, and apparently unnecessary,
to have had her connivance. We are told that, as she was returning to
Edinburgh, she was met by Bothwell at the head of a large body of
retainers, who forcibly dispersed her small retinue, and carried her
to Dunbar Castle. He then procured the signatures of a large number of
the most distinguished of the nobles and ecclesiastics to a bond
recommending him to the queen as a most fit and proper husband, and
binding themselves to consider as a common enemy whoever should oppose
the marriage. Armed with this document, strengthened by a vote of the
council, Bothwell brought the queen to Edinburgh, and there the
marriage was solemnized.

The month which Mary passed with Bothwell after the marriage, was the
most miserable of her miserable life. He treated her with such
indignity, that a day did not pass in which "he did not cause her to
shed abundance of salt tears." Those very lords, who had recommended
the marriage, now made it a pretext for rebellion. Both parties took
up arms, and met at Carberry Hill. Mary here adopted an unexpected and
decisive step. She offered to the rebels to dismiss Bothwell, and
place herself in their hands, if they would be answerable for her
safety, and return to their allegiance. Her terms were accepted;
Bothwell was persuaded by her to leave the field. They never met
again; and thus in less than a month this union was virtually ended.

Mary was soon committed as a prisoner to Lochleven Castle, a fortress
in the midst of a lake, to the immediate custody of Lady Margaret
Douglas, a woman of harsh and unfeeling temper, and who had
personal motives for irritation against her. Cut off from all
intercourse with those in whom she had confidence, and harassed by
daily ill usage, her enemies trusted that her spirit would at
length be broken, and that she would submit to any terms which
should promise relief. Accordingly, after some weeks, she was visited
by a deputation of the rebels, who demanded her signature to a paper
declaring her own incapacity to govern, and abdicating the throne
in favor of her son. Upon her refusal to make this humiliating
declaration, Lindsay, the fiercest of the confederates, rudely
seized her hand with his own gauntleted palm, and, with threats of
instant death in case of non-compliance, compelled her to set her
signature to the deed; she, in a paroxysm of tears, calling on all
present to witness that she did so through her fear for her life, and
therefore that the act was not valid.

Bothwell, meanwhile, after wandering from place to place, now lurking
among his vassals, now seeking refuge with his friends, at length
fled, with a single ship, towards Norway. Falling in with a vessel of
that country, richly laden, he attacked it, but was himself taken, and
carried to Norway, where for ten years he languished in captivity;
till, by melancholy and despair deprived of reason, unpitied and
unassisted, he ended his wretched life in a dungeon. A declaration
addressed to the king of Denmark, in which he gives a succinct account
of all the transactions in which he was engaged in Scotland, is yet
preserved in the library of the king of Sweden. In it he completely
exonerates Mary from having the slightest concern in the murder of
Darnley; and again, before his death, when confessing his own share in
it, he solemnly acquits her of all pre-knowledge of the crime.

Mary now, in her distress, found assistance from an unexpected
quarter. Her misfortunes, and gentle resignation under them, excited
the pity and sympathy of the _little William Douglas_, a boy of
fifteen, a son of her jailer; and he resolved to undertake her
deliverance. The first attempt failed. The queen had succeeded in
leaving the castle in the disguise of a laundress, and was already
seated in the boat, to cross the lake, when she betrayed herself by
raising her hand. The beauty and extreme whiteness of that hand
discovered her at once, and she was carried back to her chamber in
tears and bitterness of heart. The next attempt was more successful,
and she reached Hamilton in safety. Many nobles of the highest
distinction hastened to offer their support, and, in three days after
leaving Lochleven, she was at the head of six thousand men, devoted to
her cause.

The other party made haste to assemble their forces. At their head was
Murray, a half-brother of the queen--a man whom she had loaded with
benefits and honors, and to whom she had twice granted life, when
condemned for treason. He now acted as regent, in the minority of the
infant prince, whom the confederates assumed to be king. The hostile
bands met at Langside. From a neighboring hill, Mary viewed a conflict
on which her fate depended. She beheld--with what anguish of heart may
be imagined--the fortune of the day turn against her; she saw her
faithful friends cut to pieces, taken prisoners, or flying before the
victorious Murray. When all was lost, her general, Lord Herries, came
up to her, seized her bridle, and turned her horse's head from the
dismal scene. With a few adherents she fled southwards; nor did she
repose till she reached Dundrennan, sixty miles from the field of
battle. There Mary, trusting in Elizabeth's recent professions of
friendship, took the fatal resolution of throwing herself upon the
compassion and protection of the English queen. As she approached the
boundary, her resolution faltered; the coming evils seemed to cast
their shadows before; but those which awaited her, if she remained,
were certain, and she crossed the small stream which formed the
parting line.

Mary was at this time in her twenty-sixth year; in the very prime of
existence, in the full bloom of beauty and health, when a dark pall
was spread over her life. Thenceforward her history presents one
painful picture of monotonous suffering on the one hand, and of
meanness, treachery, and cruelty, on the other. With relentless
cruelty, her rival kept her in perpetual bonds; the only changes were
from prison to prison, and from one harsh keeper to another; from the
gleam of delusive hope to the blackness of succeeding disappointment.

As soon as she entered England, Mary addressed a letter to Elizabeth,
in which she painted in glowing colors the wrongs she had endured, and
implored the sympathy and assistance of her "good sister." A generous
and magnanimous sovereign would not have hesitated as to the answer to
be made to such an appeal. But Elizabeth deliberated; she consulted
her counsel; the object of long years of hatred was in her power; one
whose very existence was an outrage upon her personal vanity; her
malicious feelings of envy and jealousy got the mastery, and Mary's
detention as a prisoner was resolved on. Still, however, a show of
decency was to be preserved. Noblemen of suitable rank were sent to
receive her, carrying with them letters from their sovereign filled
with prostituted expressions of condolence and sympathy. At the same
time, orders were given that Mary should not be allowed to leave the
kingdom. To Mary's demand of a formal interview, Elizabeth replied,
that the honor must, with whatever reluctance, be denied to her, lest
the imputation under which she labored of being accessory to the
murder of Darnley should bring a stain upon her own reputation; but
that, whenever she should clear herself of this, she should receive
assistance commensurate with her distress, and a reception suitable to
her dignity. By this pretence was Mary entangled in a treacherous
snare. Confiding in her professions of friendship, she agreed to
submit her cause to Elizabeth, and to produce to her such proofs as
would convince her of her innocence, and of the malice and falsehood
of her enemies. Elizabeth had now accomplished her end: she became the
umpire between Mary and her rebellious subjects, and had it wholly in
her power to protract and to involve the proceedings in endless mazes;
having, at the same time, a pretext for keeping Mary at a distance
from her court, and for withholding from her all assistance.

To save appearances, a conference was appointed to be held at York,
at which, in presence of her representatives, the several parties
should make known their causes of complaint. Murray appeared in
person, and accused Mary of participating in the murder of her
husband, and of other monstrous crimes; of all which were offered as
testimony certain letters purporting to have been written by her to
Bothwell. By her command, her commissioners repelled the accusation
with horror, and pronounced the letters to be base forgeries, and,
at the same time, accused Murray and his confederates of treason and
scandal against their sovereign. As was predetermined, the conference
ended without coming to any decision; and, as Murray was permitted
to return to Scotland, Mary required that she should be set at
liberty. In answer, it was intimated that if she would confirm the
forced abdication, and would renounce her throne and country, she
should be permitted to reside in quiet and privacy in England. "The
eyes of Europe," replied Mary, "are upon me; and, were I thus
tamely to yield to my adversaries, I should be pronouncing my own
condemnation. A thousand times rather would I submit to death than
inflict this stain upon my honor. The last words I speak shall be
those of the queen of Scotland." Refusing her liberty upon these
disgraceful terms, she remained a captive.

Great fears were entertained of the power of Mary's charms over those
who were suffered to approach her. "If I might give advice," writes
one of Elizabeth's statesmen, when on a visit to her, "there should
very few subjects of this land have access to a conference with this
lady; for, besides that she is a goodly personage,--and yet, in truth,
not comparable to our sovereign,--she hath withal an alluring grace, a
pretty Scotch speech, and a searching wit, clouded with mildness." The
advice contained in this letter was too acceptable not to be followed,
and every succeeding year found Mary reduced in society, in comforts,
and health. The latter, which had heretofore caused her no anxiety,
gradually gave way before want of exercise and the dampness of the
prisons in which she was confined; and she came to suffer from
constant pain in her side, rheumatism, and weakness of limbs--a state
of suffering and disease which was aggravated by the penuriousness of
Elizabeth, which would not permit to her even the accommodation which
that comparatively rude age afforded.

Her principal occupation was needle-work, and her amusement reading
and composition; she retained her early love of literature, and it was
now, next to her religious feelings and hopes, her best resource. The
unvarying mildness and saint-like patience with which Mary endured her
captivity are the more remarkable, if we remember that she was
disinclined to sedentary amusements, and by nature and habit fond of
walking, riding, gardening, and all exercises in the open air. Her
gentleness, therefore, under a restraint so heart-wearing, is a proof
of singular sweetness of temper and strength of mind, if not of a
clear and tranquil conscience.

But, if the situation of Mary was melancholy, that of her persecutor
was not to be envied. Plot succeeded plot, having for ostensible
object the relief of Mary. In fact, while she existed, Elizabeth was
stretched on the rack of fear and suspicion. In vain did she seek to
implicate Mary in these traitorous projects; Mary freely acknowledged
that she should seize with eagerness any means of deliverance from a
hateful captivity; but, as to being privy to any plot against the life
or throne of the queen, this she constantly and strenuously denied. At
last, a subservient Parliament were induced to pass a most infamous
law, which declared that not only the conspirators themselves, but
those in whose cause they conspired, however innocent, or ignorant of
their purpose, should equally suffer the penalties of treason.

Occasion was soon made for bringing Mary to trial under this law. The
arrival of the commissioners charged with the duty was a surprise to
her; a public trial was an indignity wholly unexpected, and she
protested against it. "I came," said she, "into the kingdom an
independent sovereign, to ask the queen's assistance, not to subject
myself to her authority. Nor is my spirit so broken by past
misfortunes, or intimidated by present dangers, as to stoop to any
thing unbecoming the dignity of a crowned head, or that will disgrace
the ancestors from whom I am descended, and the son to whom I shall
leave the throne. If I must be tried, princes only can be my peers.
Since my arrival in this country, I have been uniformly confined as a
prisoner. Its laws never afforded me any protection. Let them not be
perverted, in order to take away my life." But a second time was she
entrapped by the plausible argument that, by avoiding a trial, she was
an enemy to her own reputation. Solicitous for the vindication of her
honor, she submitted to an inquiry, the result of which had been
predetermined; for those who had made the law for an express purpose,
would not scruple to apply it. Notwithstanding a defence which was
characterized by the same vigor and dignity of mind, and the acuteness
of intellect which she had displayed when in possession of youth,
health, and power, a sentence universally acknowledged to be unjust
and iniquitous was pronounced against her.

The news of this outrage excited horror and indignation throughout
Europe, and at length roused James to attempt something in behalf of
his mother. He sent ambassadors to the various sovereigns of Europe,
calling upon them to join with him in this the common cause of
princes. He wrote to Elizabeth, threatening her with the vengeance
which, as a sovereign and as a son, he was bound in honor and in duty
to inflict. But Elizabeth was deaf to the reproaches and menaces by
which she was from all sides assailed. It is true that, when a servile
Parliament besought her to have the sentence executed, she, with an
affectation of clemency, besought them to spare her the pain of
imbruing her hands in the blood of a queen and near kinswoman, and to
consider if the public safety might not otherwise be provided for. But
her real meaning was well understood, and the lords and commons
repeated the request, without fear of offending by their importunity.

By her own command, Davison, the secretary, brought to her the
death-warrant, and she subscribed it with no relenting symptoms. She
was still, however, solicitous to preserve appearances, and let fall
intimations which might stimulate some of her officers to extricate
her from her dilemma. It was an honor to the nation that no assassin
could be found. Paulet, though harsh in temper, and brutal, at times,
in the discharge of what he conceived to be his duty, rejected with
disdain a proposal of this nature; declaring that, though the queen
might dispose of his life at her pleasure, he would not stain his
honor, or cover his memory with infamy. Upon which Elizabeth called
him a _dainty_ and _precise_ fellow, who promised much, but performed

At length the privy council determined to take upon themselves the
responsibility of sending off the warrant for the execution. On the
7th of February, 1587, the Earls of Kent and Shrewsbury, being
admitted to Mary's presence, informed her that their mistress,
Elizabeth, being overcome by the importunity of her subjects, had
given orders for her execution. She listened unmoved to the reading of
the warrant, and on its conclusion she bowed her head, and, making the
sign of the cross, thanked her gracious God that this welcome news had
at last come; declaring how happy she should be to leave a world where
she could be of no use, and had suffered such continued affliction.
After expressing her delight and her gratitude to God for the
privilege of sealing, by her death, the testimony she had so often
borne in behalf of her church, she went on to speak of her past
suffering. Born a queen, the daughter of a king, the cousin of the
queen of England, the granddaughter of Henry VII., once queen of
France, and now queen-dowager of that kingdom,--and yet what had all
this availed her? She then spoke of her love for England; of the
desire she had ever felt to obtain the friendship of its queen; of the
ignominy and injustice with which she had, notwithstanding, been
treated; imprisoned contrary to all faith and treaties; kept a captive
for nineteen years; and "at last," said she, laying her hand on the
New Testament, "condemned by a tribunal which had no power over me,
for a crime of which I here solemnly declare I am innocent. I have
neither invented, nor consented to, nor pursued, any conspiracy for
the death of the queen of England." The Earl of Kent here hastily
interrupted her, declaring that the Scriptures on which she had sworn
were false, and the Roman Catholic version. "It is the translation
which I believe," answered Mary. "Does your lordship think my oath
would be better, if I swore on your translation, which I disbelieve?"
She then requested to be allowed the services of her chaplain, whom
she had not for some time been permitted to see. But the request was
denied; the Earl of Kent, however, an intolerant bigot, after a long
theological discourse, offered her the services of his own Protestant
chaplain. Mary bore this stroke of cruelty with meekness, but declined
the proffered services. She inquired at what time she was to die.
"To-morrow, at eight," was the reply; and the earls then left the
room. On their departure, Mary called her women, and bade them hasten
supper, that she might have time to arrange her affairs. "Come, come,
Jane Kennedy," said she, "cease your weeping, and be busy. Did I not
warn you, my children, that it would come to this? and now, blessed be
God, it has come, and fear and sorrow are at an end. Weep not, but
rejoice rather that your poor mistress is so near the end of her
troubles. Dry your tears, then, and let us pray together." Some time
was spent in her devotions; she then supped with cheerfulness. She
next distributed various articles from her wardrobe among her
attendants, with a kind expression for each. She then wrote her last
will, which is still extant, and consists of four pages, closely
written, in a neat, firm hand. Not one person was forgotten who had
any claims on her gratitude or her remembrance. She also wrote several
letters; but these, it is said, are blotted with her tears. It was her
custom to have her women read to her, at night, a portion of the
"Lives of the Saints;" and this last night she would not omit it, but
made Jane Kennedy select a portion. She chose the life entitled the
"Good Thief," which treats of that beautiful and affecting example of
dying faith and divine compassion. "Alas!" said Mary, "he was indeed a
very great sinner, but not so great as I am. May my Savior, in memory
of His passion, have mercy on me, as he had on him!"

At the hour appointed, the sheriff entered her room, and proceeding to
the altar, where the queen was kneeling, informed her that all was
ready. She rose, and saying simply, "Let us go," proceeded towards the
door, on reaching which, her attendants were informed that they were
not to accompany her. A scene of the most distressing character now
took place; but they were at last torn from her, and locked up in
the apartment. Mary proceeded alone down the great staircase, at
the foot of which she was received by the two earls, who were
struck with the perfect tranquillity and unaffected grace with which
she met them. She was dressed in black satin, matronly but richly,
and with more studied care than she was commonly accustomed to
bestow. At the bottom of the staircase she was also met by her old
servant, Sir Andrew Melvil, waiting to take his last farewell.
Flinging himself on his knees, he bitterly lamented it should have
fallen to him to carry this heart-rending news to Scotland. "Weep
not," said she, "but rather rejoice, my good Melvil. Carry this
news with thee, that I die firm in my religion, true to Scotland,
true to France. May God, who can alone judge the thoughts and
actions of men, forgive those who have thirsted for my blood.
Remember me to my son; tell him I have done nothing that may
prejudice his kingdom." She then earnestly entreated that her women
might be permitted to be with her at her death; but the Earl of
Kent refused it, saying that they might be guilty of something
scandalous and superstitious, even to dipping their handkerchiefs in
her blood. But Mary plighted her word they should not offend in any
wise: "Surely, surely you will not deny me this last little
request; my poor girls wish only to see me die." As she said this,
a few tears were observed to fall, for the first time; and, after
some consultation, she was permitted to have two ladies and four
gentlemen beside her. Followed by these, she entered the great
hall, and seated herself on the raised platform, prepared for a
scaffold, with the same easy grace and dignity with which she would
have occupied her throne. The death-warrant was then read; but those
who were near could see, by the sweet and absent expression of her
countenance, that her thoughts were afar off.

The Earl of Kent next solicited her to join with him and the
Protestant chaplain in their devotions. But she declined, and,
kneeling apart, repeated a part of the penitential Psalms, and
afterwards continued her prayers aloud in English. By this time, the
chaplain had concluded; there was a deep silence, so that every word
was heard. It was impossible for any one to behold her at this moment
without being deeply affected--on her knees, her hands clasped and
raised to heaven, an expression of adoration and divine serenity
lighting up her features, and upon her lips the words of forgiveness
to her persecutors. Having finished, she cheerfully suffered herself
to be undressed by her women, gently admonishing them not to distress
her by their lamentations; putting her finger on her lips, and bidding
them remember that she had promised for them. On seeing the
executioner approach to offer his assistance, she smiled, and
playfully said, "that she had neither been used to such grooms of the
chamber, nor to undress before so many people." When all was ready,
she kissed her women, and, giving them her last blessing, she knelt
down and groped her way to the block,--for her eyes were bound,--and
laid her neck upon it without the slightest mark of trembling or
hesitation. Her last words were, "Into thy hands I commend my spirit,
for thou hast redeemed me, O Lord God of truth." At two strokes, her
head was severed from her body, and the executioner, holding it up,
called aloud, "God save the queen!" "So let all Queen Elizabeth's
enemies perish!" was the prayer of the chaplain; but the spectators
were dissolved in tears, and one deep voice alone answered, "Amen!" It
came from the Earl of Kent. On removing the body, and the clothes and
mantle which lay beside it, Mary's favorite little dog, which had
followed its mistress unperceived, was found nestling under them. No
entreaty could prevail on it to quit the spot; and it remained lying
beside the corpse, and stained in the blood, till forcibly carried
away by the attendants.

Elizabeth affected to receive the news of the death of her rival with
surprise and grief; she even carried her artifice to so barbarous a
length, as to render Davison, the secretary, and the innocent
instrument of her cruelty and dissimulation, the victim of her
perfidy. Under pretence that he had orders not to let the warrant go
out of his office, he was degraded, fined, imprisoned, and utterly
ruined. By this sacrifice, she hoped to appease the king of Scots,
whom the death of his mother had filled with grief and resentment,
which yielded, however, at length, to the necessities of his
situation. Having affected to admit the excuses of Elizabeth, and
to be satisfied with the sacrifice of Davison, he stifled his
indignation, and continued the semblance of amity with the English
court. Thus the death and sufferings of Mary remained unavenged,
while Elizabeth was suffered to reap the advantages of her malignity.


This extraordinary woman, the daughter of Henry VIII. and Anne Boleyn,
was born in 1533. Being educated a Protestant, and having adopted the
principles of the reformation, she was looked upon with suspicion and
treated with harshness during the reign of her sister Mary. She
devoted herself, however, to study, and is thus described at this
period: "She was of admirable beauty, and well deserving a crown; of a
modest gravity, excellent wit, royal soul, happy memory, and
indefatigably given to the study of learning, insomuch as, before she
was seventeen years of age, she understood well the Latin, French, and
Italian tongues, and had an indifferent knowledge of the Greek.
Neither did she neglect music, so far as it became a princess, being
able to sing sweetly, and play handsomely on the lute."

On the death of Mary, in 1558, she was immediately proclaimed queen,
and was received in the metropolis with the loudest acclamations. She
consigned to oblivion all the affronts she had received during the
late reign, and prudently assumed the gracious demeanor of the common
sovereign of all her subjects. Philip of Spain soon made her proposals
of marriage; but she knew the aversion borne him by the nation too
well to think of accepting him.


She now proceeded to the arduous task of settling the religion of the
state. In comparison with the harsh and cruel measures of her
predecessor, her conduct was marked with moderation. Yet the Catholics
were made to feel the severest restraints upon their liberty of
thought and action. It was not long before she began that interference
in the affairs of Scotland which produced the most singular and
painful events in her reign. These we have sufficiently detailed in
the life of the unhappy Queen Mary.

The political history of Elizabeth would fill a volume. She soon
acquired great reputation for vigor and sagacity, and was regarded as
the head of the Protestant party in Europe. She took the part of the
revolted provinces of Holland against Spain in 1585, and three years
after, when threatened by what was called the "Invincible Armada," she
displayed a degree of energy and personal courage which would have
done credit to a sovereign of the other sex. She mingled largely in
the political affairs of the continent, and, in 1601, held a
conference with the celebrated Sully, with a view to the adjustment of
a new balance of European power. While thus directing her attention to
general politics, she did not neglect the internal affairs of her
kingdom. These were indeed conducted with great sagacity and wisdom,
and such was the state of prosperity among the people, that the "good
old days of Queen Bess" is still a proverb in England. Although thus
attentive to the concerns of government, Elizabeth devoted much time
and expense to dress, of which she was excessively fond; and she even
affected a love of literature and learning. The age in which she lived
is remarkable for the great men it produced--Shakspere, Bacon, Sidney,
Hooker, and Raleigh, whose works contributed so much to give vigor,
strength, and elegance, to the English tongue. Literature owes,
however, little to her; she was much more fond of displaying her own
acquirements than encouraging the learned. Whatever countenance
Shakspere received from royalty, he owed to his friends Essex and
Southampton; and Spenser, who has sung the praises of the queen in
"strains divine," died in neglect and poverty.

Elizabeth was fond of multiplying pictures of herself, and so far
encouraged painting. One of her most characteristic ordinances is a
proclamation forbidding all manner of persons from drawing, painting,
graving, &c., her majesty's person and visage, till some perfect
pattern should be prepared by a skilful limner, "for the consolation
of her majesty's loving subjects, who were grieved, and took great
offence, at the errors and deformities committed by sundry persons in
this respect." She was so little capable of judging of works of art,
that she would not allow a painter to put any shadows upon the face,
"because," as she said, "shade is an accident, and not in nature."

During her whole reign, Elizabeth was subjected to the influence of
favorites. The most celebrated of these are the Earls of Leicester and
of Essex. The first was a most weak and worthless man, contemned and
feared by the nobles, and odious to the people; yet, in spite of all
his vices and incapacity, he maintained his influence for nearly
thirty years. Her partiality for Essex seems to have been the dotage
of a vain old woman. She could not appreciate his fine qualities; she
would not make allowance for his faults; and he was too frank and
spirited to cringe at her footstool. "I owe her majesty," said he upon
an occasion when she had repaid some want of obsequiousness by a blow,
"the duty of an earl, but I will never serve her as a villain and a
slave!" Essex was too rash and unsuspecting to be a match for the cool
and wily ministers, whose interest it was to have him out of their
way, not only as the favorite of the present sovereign, but as likely
to be all powerful with her successor; and partly by their arts, and
partly by his own fiery temper, he was brought to the block in the
thirty-fourth year of his age. In the exasperation of offended power
and jealous self-will, the queen signed the warrant for his execution,
and pined away the remainder of her life in unavailing remorse. This
grief, with which she long struggled in secret, at length broke forth
superior to control. The occasion was as follows:--

The Countess of Nottingham, a near relation, but no friend, of Essex,
being on her death-bed, entreated to see the queen, declaring that she
had something to confess to her before she could die in peace. On her
majesty's arrival, the countess produced a ring, which she said the
Earl of Essex had sent to her, after his condemnation, with an earnest
request that she would deliver it to the queen, as a token by which he
implored her mercy; but that, in obedience to her husband, she
withheld it. Elizabeth at once recognized the ring as one which she
had herself presented to her favorite, with the tender promise, that
of whatsoever crimes his enemies might have accused him, or whatever
offences he might actually have committed against her, on his
returning to her that pledge, she would either pardon him, or admit
him, at least, to justify himself in her presence. It was in a moment
of pique at his supposed pride and obstinacy in refusing to ask her
forgiveness, that she had signed the death-warrant. She now learned
that he had been the victim, and herself the dupe, of the most
barbarous treachery. Transported with grief and rage, she shook the
dying countess in her bed; and, vehemently exclaiming, "God may
forgive, but I never will," she flung herself out of the chamber.

Returning to the palace, she surrendered herself without resistance to
the despair which had seized her heart on this fatal disclosure. She
refused medicine, and almost the means of sustenance; days and nights
she sat upon the floor, sleepless, her eyes fixed, and her finger
pressed upon her mouth, the silence only broken by her sighs, groans,
and ejaculations of anguish. Her sufferings were at length relieved by
her death, on the 24th of March, 1603. Her last words were strongly
characteristic. During her whole life, she had shown a perverse dread
of naming her successor; but it was necessary that the question should
be put to her in her last moments. She replied, "My seat has been the
seat of kings, and I will have no rascal to succeed me." Cecil, whom
the weakness of the dying lioness rendered bold, inquired what she
meant by the words, "that _no rascal_ should succeed her;" to which
she answered, "I will have a king to succeed me, and who should that
be but the king of Scots?"

The personal character of Elizabeth presents little that excites our
sympathy or respect. She was vain, jealous, and selfish, in the
extreme. She was capable of the deepest hypocrisy, and often practised
it. She sacrificed every thing to her despotic love of sway, her
pride, and her vanity, except the interests of her kingdom. These she
guarded with care, and, though a tyrannical and selfish monarch, she
must be ranked as among the best sovereigns of her time.


Isabella, queen of Castile, was born at Madrigal, in that kingdom, on
the 22d of April, 1451. Her father, John II., after an inglorious
reign of forty-eight years, died in 1454, lamenting that he had not
been born the son of a mechanic, instead of king of Castile. Isabella
had but a slender prospect of obtaining the crown during the early
part of her life. She had two brothers, Henry and Alfonso, the former
of whom acceded to the throne at the death of John. Isabella retired,
with her mother, to the little town of Arevalo, where she lived many
years in obscurity. Her mother, who appears to have been a woman of a
strong, religious turn of mind, bestowed great care on her education,
and inculcated the strictest lessons of piety upon her daughter, which
did not fail to exercise an important influence upon her future
career. On the birth of a daughter to her brother, Isabella was
removed from her retirement to the royal palace, by Henry, who, being
disliked by his subjects, feared the formation of a party adverse to
his interests. At the royal court, surrounded by all the pleasures and
seductions most dazzling to youth, she did not forget the early
lessons imbibed in her seclusion, and the blameless purity of her
conduct shone with additional lustre amid the scenes of levity and
licentiousness by which she was surrounded.

Before this event, she had been solicited in marriage by various
suitors, among whom was Ferdinand of Arragon, who afterward became her
husband. His first application, however, was unsuccessful. She was
next betrothed to his elder brother Carlos, while yet a mere child.
That prince dying before the marriage could be completed, she was
promised by her brother to Alfonso, king of Portugal. Isabella was
but thirteen at this time, and the disparity of their ages was such
that neither threats nor entreaties could induce her to consent to the
union. The selfish and unprincipled Henry, who looked upon his sister
only as an object of trade, next made an attempt to dispose of her for
the purpose of gaining over a powerful family in Castile, which gave
him great trouble by their opposition. He offered her in marriage to
Don Pedro Giron, grand master of the order of Calatrava. This man was
well known to be a most detestable character. He was a fierce and
turbulent leader of a faction, and his private life was stained with
almost every vice. Such a person, vastly inferior in birth, was
selected as the husband of the young and virtuous Isabella. The pope
granted a dispensation from the vow of celibacy, which the grand
master, as the companion of a religions order, had been obliged to
utter, and splendid preparations were immediately made for the

Isabella was at this time in her sixteenth year. When she understood
in what manner she was now to be sacrificed to the selfish policy of
her brother, and that, in case she proved reluctant, compulsory
measures were to be adopted, she was filled with the liveliest grief
and indignation. She confined herself in her apartment, abstaining
from all food and sleep for a day and a night, imploring Heaven, in
the most piteous manner, to save her from this dishonor, even at the
cost of her life. As she was bewailing her hard fate to her faithful
friend, Beatriz de Bobadilla, that high-spirited lady exclaimed, "God
will not permit it; neither will I;" and, drawing forth a dagger from
her bosom, she solemnly vowed to plunge it into the heart of the
master of Calatrava as soon as he appeared. The affair, happily, did
not come to so tragical a catastrophe. Her dreaded suitor was suddenly
carried off by sickness in the midst of his magnificent preparations.

Troubles now began to thicken around the weak and vicious Henry. His
subjects, disgusted with his administration, rose in arms against him.
Castile was afflicted with all the horrors of anarchy and civil war.
Isabella retired for shelter to a monastery at Avila. The confederated
nobles, who were in arms against the king, offered her the crown of
Castile, which she had the prudence and magnanimity to refuse. This
led to a negotiation with the king, and the civil war was closed by a
treaty between the parties, in which it was stipulated that Isabella
should be immediately recognized heir to the crown of Castile and
Leon. Her brother Alfonso had recently died, and Joanna, the daughter
of Henry, was believed by the people to be a supposititious offspring.
Isabella's prospects of a throne, having now assumed a certain
character, drew the attention of neighboring princes, who contended
with each other for the honor of her hand. She gave the preference to
Ferdinand of Arragon, and they were married in 1469. On the death of
Henry, in 1474, they were conjointly declared king and queen of
Castile. A party, however, existed in favor of Joanna, and Alfonso
IV., king of Portugal, entered Castile at the head of an army,
publicly espoused her, and assumed the regal title. His defeat at the
battle of Toro, in 1475, was fatal to his pretensions, and, by a peace
concluded in 1479, the right of Isabella and her husband was fully
acknowledged. In that year Ferdinand succeeded to the crown of
Arragon; and from that time the kingdoms of Castile and Arragon were
inseparably united, comprising the whole of Spain not possessed by the

Isabella, who was high spirited and jealous of her authority, governed
Castile as the real sovereign, and her husband had the policy to
concur, with apparent cordiality, in her measures. In 1481,
hostilities were commenced against the Moors of Grenada; and, after a
war of ten years, that kingdom was subdued by the arms of Ferdinand
and Isabella. By this event the whole of Spain was restored to the
Christian dominion; and, in honor of an achievement so auspicious, the
two sovereigns received the distinguishing title of "the Catholic." In
this war Isabella engaged with all the ardor of religions zeal; and
though Ferdinand joined in her plans with perfect harmony, yet he
seems to have acted in a secondary capacity. Soon after this, the Jews
were expelled from Spain--an act of bigotry and injustice certainly
countenanced by Isabella, but owing chiefly to the frantic religious
zeal of the inquisitor-general, Torquemada, her confessor, who, while
the king and queen were deliberating on the acceptance of an offer of
thirty thousand ducats made by the Jews to avert the threatened edict
of expulsion, suddenly burst into their presence, and, drawing forth a
crucifix from beneath his mantle, held it up, exclaiming, "Judas
Iscariot sold his Master for thirty pieces of silver. Your highnesses
would sell him anew for thirty thousand. Here he is; take him, and
barter him away." So saying, he threw the crucifix on the table, and
left the apartment. This bold stroke of priestly impudence was
completely successful. The sovereigns were overawed, and the edict was

A deed more glorious to the memory of Isabella was the generous
patronage she bestowed upon Columbus, and which was the sole means
that enabled that heroic adventurer to accomplish his great
undertaking of the discovery of the western world. After he had failed
in all his attempts in other quarters, he at length found a friend in
the queen, who, rejecting the advice of her narrow-minded and timid
counsellors, exclaimed, "I will assume the undertaking for my own
crown of Castile, and am ready to pawn my jewels to defray the
expenses of it, if the funds in the treasury shall be found
inadequate." Under her auspices Columbus achieved his great discovery;
and Isabella may be called the mother of the western world. She
continued a constant friend and protector of Columbus during her life;
and her death proved an overwhelming disaster to him.

During the war against the Moors, Isabella shared in most of the
campaigns, animating her husband and generals by her courage and
undaunted perseverance; providing for the support of the armies by her
forethought and economy; comforting them under their reverses by her
sweet and gracious speeches, and pious confidence in Heaven; and, by
her active humanity and her benevolent sympathy, extended to friend
and foe, softening, as far as possible, the miseries of war. She was
the first who appointed regular military surgeons to attend the
movements of the army, and be at hand on the field of battle. These
surgeons were paid out of her own revenues; and she also provided six
spacious tents, furnished with beds and all things requisite for the
sick and wounded, which were called the "Queen's Hospital." Thus to
the compassionate heart of a woman, directed by energy and judgment,
the civilized world was first indebted for an expedient which has
since saved so many lives, and accomplished so much towards
alleviating the frightful evils of war.

Isabella's confessor, the Dominican Torquemada, had, from the
beginning, earnestly labored to infuse into her young mind, to which
his situation gave him such ready access, the same spirit of
fanaticism that glowed in his own. Fortunately, this was in a great
degree counteracted by her sound understanding and natural kindness of
heart. But he is said to have extorted a promise that, "should she
ever come to the throne, she would devote herself to the extirpation
of heresy, for the glory of God and the extension of the Catholic
faith." The fulfilment of this promise being afterwards insisted on,
led to the establishment of the Inquisition in her dominions, the
darkest spot that exists upon her character. It was not till she had
endured the repeated importunities of the clergy, particularly of
those revered persons in whom she most confided, that she consented to
this measure.

It was under the auspices of Isabella that Cardinal Ximenes introduced
his famous reforms into the religious orders of Spain, and began the
work of correcting the horrible abuses which had crept into the
government of the convents. This attempt was strongly resisted, and
occasioned a general outcry of the clergy. The general of the
Franciscans waited on the queen, and remonstrated in high terms
against this interference with the privileges of his order; at the
same time reflecting severely on Cardinal Ximenes, and his influence
over her mind. Isabella listened to this turbulent friar with some
impatience; but, little accustomed to be dictated to in this style,
she at length rose from her seat, and desired him to remember who he
was, and to whom he spoke. "Madam," replied the monk, undauntedly, "I
remember that I am but ashes and dust, and that I speak to Queen
Isabella, who is but dust and ashes, like myself." She immediately
turned from him with a look of cool disdain. The next day he was
ordered to quit the kingdom; and Ximenes, supported by the royal
power, pursued his system of reformation.

Isabella was a patron of literature. The first printing press set up
in Spain was established at Burgos under her auspices; and all printed
books, and foreign and classical works, were imported free of duty.
Through her zeal and patronage, the University of Salamanca rose to
that eminence which it assumed among the learned institutions of that
period, and rivalled those of Pisa and Padua. She prepared the way for
that golden age of Spanish literature which immediately succeeded her.
Her own love of study is evinced by the fact, that, after she was
firmly seated on the throne, she applied herself to the task of
remedying the defects of her early education, by a diligent
application to books, amid all the cares of state. She mastered the
Latin language in less than a year's study.

Notwithstanding that Isabella adored her husband, she would never
suffer him to interfere with her authority as an independent
sovereign, and she was as jealous of her prerogative as Elizabeth of
England; except, indeed, where priestly intimidation was applied. Her
extreme deference for the ecclesiastics around her was a misfortune
for her people, but, consistently with the best points in her
character, it could not have been otherwise. She was humane, just, and
reasonable in all matters not influenced by the religious bigotry of
the age. She declared the American Indians free, and ordered the
instant return of several cargoes of them which had been sent to Spain
for slaves.

After a successful and glorious reign of thirty years, Isabella the
Catholic died, on the 26th of November, 1504, in the fifty-fourth year
of her age. Her last years were clouded with the deepest melancholy.
The insanity and misfortunes of her daughter Joanna, and the domestic
afflictions of her daughter Catherine of Arragon, lacerated her heart
with sorrow. She pined away in her lonely grandeur, till the deep and
long-protracted melancholy invaded her constitution, and settled into
a rapid and fatal decline.

The chief traits of Isabella's character may be gathered from the
preceding narrative, to which we subjoin the parallel drawn between
her and Elizabeth of England, by Mr. Prescott, whose "History" so ably
and satisfactorily unfolds the events of her reign.

"It is in these more amiable qualities of her sex, that Isabella's
superiority becomes most apparent over her illustrious namesake,
Elizabeth of England, whose history presents some features parallel to
her own. Both were disciplined in early life by the teachings of that
stern nurse of wisdom, adversity. Both were made to experience the
deepest humiliation at the hands of their nearest relative, who should
have cherished and protected them. Both succeeded in establishing
themselves on the throne, after the most precarious vicissitudes. Each
conducted her kingdom, through a long and triumphant reign, to a
height of glory which it never before reached. Both lived to see the
vanity of all earthly grandeur, and to fall the victims of an
inconsolable melancholy; and both left behind an illustrious name,
unrivalled in the annals of their country.

"But with these few circumstances of their history, the resemblance
ceases. Their characters afford scarcely a point of contact.
Elizabeth, inheriting a large share of the bold and bluff King Harry's
temperament, was haughty, arrogant, coarse, and irascible, while with
these fiercer qualities she mingled deep dissimulation and strange
irresolution. Isabella, on the other hand, tempered the dignity of
royal station with the most bland and courteous manners. Once
resolved, she was constant in her purposes; and her conduct in public
and private life was characterized by candor and integrity. Both may
be said to have shown that magnanimity which is implied by the
accomplishment of great objects in the face of great obstacles. But
Elizabeth was desperately selfish; she was incapable of forgiving, not
merely a real injury, but the slightest affront to her vanity; and she
was merciless in exacting retribution. Isabella, on the other hand,
lived only for others; was ready at all times to sacrifice self to
considerations of public duty; and, far from personal resentment,
showed the greatest condescension and kindness to those who had most
sensibly injured her; while her benevolent heart sought every means to
mitigate the authorized severities of the law, even towards the

"Both possessed rare fortitude. Isabella, indeed, was placed in
situations which demanded more frequent and higher displays of it than
her rival; but no one will doubt a full measure of this quality in the
daughter of Henry VIII. Elizabeth was better educated, and every way
more highly accomplished, than Isabella. But the latter knew enough to
maintain her station with dignity, and she encouraged learning by a
munificent patronage. The masculine powers and passions of Elizabeth
seemed to divorce her, in a great measure, from the peculiar
attributes of her sex; at least from those which constitute its
peculiar charm; for she had abundance of foibles; a coquetry and a
love of admiration which age could not chill; a levity most careless,
if not criminal; and a fondness for dress and tawdry magnificence of
ornament which was ridiculous or disgusting, according to the
different periods of life in which it was indulged. Isabella, on the
other hand, distinguished through life for decorum of manners, and
purity beyond the breath of calumny, was content with the legitimate
affection which she could inspire within the range of her domestic
circle. Far from a frivolous affectation of ornament or dress, she was
most simple in her own attire, and seemed to set no value on her
jewels, but as they could serve the necessities of the state; when
they could be no longer useful in this way, she gave them away to her

"Both were uncommonly sagacious in the selection of their ministers,
though Elizabeth was drawn into some errors, in this particular, by
her levity, as was Isabella by her religious feeling. It was this,
combined with her excessive humility, which led to the only grave
errors in the administration of the latter. Her rival fell into no
such errors; and she was a stranger to the amiable qualities which led
to them. Her conduct was certainly not controlled by religious
principle; and, though the bulwark of the Protestant faith, it might
be difficult to say whether she were at heart most a Protestant or a
Catholic. She viewed religion in its connection with the state,--in
other words, with herself; and she took measures for enforcing
conformity to her own views, not a whit less despotic, and scarcely
less sanguinary, than those countenanced for conscience' sake by her
more bigoted rival.

"This feature of bigotry, which has thrown a shade over Isabella's
otherwise beautiful character, might lead to a disparagement of her
intellectual power, compared with that of the English queen. To
estimate this aright, we must contemplate the results of their
respective reigns. Elizabeth found all the materials of prosperity at
hand, and availed herself of them most ably to build up a solid fabric
of national grandeur. Isabella created these materials. She saw the
faculties of her people locked up in a death-like lethargy, and she
breathed into them the breath of life, for those great and heroic
enterprises which terminated in such glorious consequences to the
monarchy. It is when viewed from the depressed position of her early
days, that the achievements of her reign seem scarcely leas than
miraculous. The masculine genius of the English queen stands out
relieved beyond its natural dimensions by its separation from the
softer qualities of her sex; while her rival, like some vast and
symmetrical edifice, loses, in appearance, somewhat of its actual
grandeur, from the perfect harmony of its proportions.

"The circumstances of their deaths, which were somewhat similar,
displayed the great dissimilarity of their characters. Both pined
amidst their royal state, a prey to incurable despondency, rather than
any marked bodily distemper. In Elizabeth it sprang from wounded
vanity; a sullen conviction that she had outlived the admiration on
which she had so long fed, and even the solace of friendship, and the
attachment of her subjects. Nor did she seek consolation where alone
it was to be found, in that sad hour. Isabella, on the other hand,
sank under a too acute sensibility to the sufferings of others. But,
amidst the gloom which gathered around her, she looked, with the eye
of faith, to the brighter prospects which unfolded of the future. And,
when she resigned her last breath, it was with the tears and universal
lamentations of her people. It is in this undying, unabated attachment
of the nation, indeed, that we see the most unequivocal testimony to
the virtues of Isabella. Her own subjects extol her as 'the most
brilliant exemplar of every virtue,' and mourn over the day of her
death as 'the last of the prosperity and happiness of the country;'
while those who had nearer access to her person are unbounded in their
admiration of those amiable qualities whose full power is revealed
only in the unrestrained intimacies of domestic life."


This interesting and extraordinary girl, surnamed the "Maid of
Orleans," from her heroic defence of that city, was born about the
year 1410, or '11, in the little hamlet of Domremy, near the Meuse,
and about three leagues south of Vaucouleurs, on the borders of
Champagne. Her parents were humble and honest peasants. The district
was remarkable for the devout simplicity of its inhabitants, as
well as for those romantic superstitions, which, in a rude age,
are so often allied with religion. It appears from the copious
depositions of witnesses from Domremy, examined at Joan's trial, that
she was unremitting in her prayers and other religious exercises, and
was strongly imbued, at a very early age, with the prevailing
superstitions of her native place.

During that period of anarchy in France, when the supreme power, which
had fallen from the hands of a monarch deprived of his reason, was
contended for by the rival houses of Orleans and Burgundy, the
conflicting parties carried on war more by murder and massacre than by
regular battles. When an army was wanted, both had recourse to the
English; and these conquering strangers made the unfortunate French
feel still deeper the horrors and ravages of war. At first, the
popular feeling was undecided; but when, on the death of Charles VI.,
the crown fell to a young prince, who adopted the Armagnac side,
whilst the house of Burgundy had sworn allegiance to a foreigner,
Henry V., as king of France,--then, indeed, the wishes and interests
of all the French were in favor of the Armagnacs, or the truly
patriotic party. Remote as was the village of Domremy, it was still
interested in the issue of the struggle. It was decidedly Armagnac,
and was strengthened in this sentiment by the rivalry of a neighboring
village, which adopted Burgundian colors.


Political and party interests were thus forced upon the enthusiastic
mind of Joan, and mingled with the pious legends she had caught from
the traditions of the virgin. A prophecy was current that a virgin
should rid France of her enemies, and this prophecy seems to have been
realized by its effect upon the mind of Joan. The girl, by her own
account, was about thirteen, when a supernatural vision first appeared
to her. She describes it as a great light, accompanied by a voice,
telling her to be devout and good, and promising her the protection of
Heaven. Joan responded by a vow of eternal chastity. From that time,
the voice or voices continued to haunt Joan, and to echo the
enthusiastic and restless wishes of her own heart. Her own simple
account was, that "voices" were her visitors and advisers, and that
they prompted her to quit her native place, take up arms, drive the
foe before her, and procure for the young king his coronation at
Rheims. These voices, however, had not influence enough to induce her
to set out upon the hazardous mission, until a band of Burgundians,
traversing and plundering the country, had compelled Joan, together
with her parents, to take refuge in a neighboring town: when they
returned to their village, after the departure of the marauders, they
found the church of Domremy in ashes.

Such incidents were well calculated to arouse the indignation and
excite the enthusiasm of Joan. Her "voices" returned, and incessantly
directed her to set out for Orleans, but to commence by making
application to De Baudricourt, commander at Vaucouleurs. Her parents,
who were acquainted with Joan's martial propensities, attempted to
force her into a marriage; but she contrived to avoid this by paying a
visit to an uncle, in whose company she made her appearance before the
governor of Vaucouleurs, in May, 1428. De Baudricourt at first refused
to see her, and, upon granting an interview, treated her pretensions
with contempt. She then returned to her uncle's abode, where she
continued to announce her project, and to insist that the prophecy
that "France, lost by a woman,--Isabel of Bavaria,--should be saved by
a virgin from the frontiers of Lorraine," alluded to her. She it was,
she asserted, who could save France, and not "either kings, or dukes,
nor yet the king of Scotland's daughter"--an expression which proves
how well-informed she was as to the political events and rumors of the

The fortunes of the dauphin Charles, at this time, had sunk to the
lowest ebb. Orleans, almost his last bulwark, was besieged and closely
pressed, and the loss of the battle of "Herrings" seemed to take away
all hope of saving the city from the English. In this crisis, when all
human support seemed unavailing, Baudricourt no longer despised the
supernatural aid promised by the damsel of Domremy, and gave
permission to John of Metz and Bertram of Poulengy, two gentlemen who
had become converts to the truth of her divine mission, to conduct
Joan of Arc to the dauphin. They purchased a horse for her, and, at
her own desire, furnished her with male habits, and other necessary
equipments. Thus provided, and accompanied by a respectable escort,
Joan set out for Vaucouleurs on the 13th February, 1429. Her progress
through regions attached to the Burgundian interest was perilous, but
she safely arrived at Fierbois, a place within five or six leagues of
Chinon, where the dauphin then held his court. At Fierbois was a
celebrated church dedicated to St. Catherine; and here she spent her
time in devotion, whilst a messenger was despatched to the dauphin to
announce her approach. She was commanded to proceed, and reached
Chinon on the eleventh day after her departure from Vaucouleurs.

Charles, though he desired, still feared, the proffered aid. After due
consultation, however, it was concluded to grant Joan's request, and
she received the rank of a military commander. A suit of armor was
made for her, and she sent to Fierbois for a sword which, she said,
would be found buried in a certain spot in the church. It was found
there, and conveyed to her. The circumstance became afterwards one of
the alleged proofs of her sorcery or imposture. Her having passed some
time at Fierbois among the ecclesiastics of the place, must have led,
in some way or other, to her knowledge of the deposit. Strong in the
conviction of her mission, it was Joan's desire to enter Orleans from
the north, and through all the fortifications of the English. Dunois,
however, and the other leaders at length overruled her, and induced
her to abandon the little company of pious companions which she had
raised, and to enter the beleaguered city by water, as the least
perilous path. She succeeded in carrying with her a convoy of
provisions to the besieged.

The entry of Joan of Arc into Orleans, at the end of April, was itself
a triumph. The hearts of the besieged were raised from despair to a
fanatical confidence of success; and the English, who in every
encounter had defeated the French, felt their courage paralyzed by the
coming of this simple girl. We cannot give the details of the
wonderful events that followed; it must suffice to say, that the
French were inspired with the utmost courage, and after a series of
great achievements, in which the wonderful maiden took the lead, the
siege was raised. Thus, in one week after her arrival, the beleaguered
city was relieved. The most incredible of her promises was now
fulfilled, and she henceforth received the title of "Maid of

The French now carried all before them, under the guidance of this
maiden leader; and, in three months after she came to the relief of
Charles, he was crowned at Rheims, which had surrendered to his arms.
After a series of successes, she was in one instance defeated, and
finally was captured in a sally against the enemy, May, 1430. She was
now handed over to the English partisans in France, brought to trial
on the charge of sorcery, and condemned to death. A pile of wood was
prepared in the market-place at Rouen, and, encircled by a body of
judges and ecclesiastics, she was then burned to death, and her ashes
thrown into the Seine. This took place in May, 1431. Thus perished one
of the most pure, lovely, and exalted beings that ever lived. In 1454,
a revision of her sentence took place, and a monument was erected to
her honor, on the spot where she had been inhumanly put to death.

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's Notes

The author's original spelling preserved, e.g. medalion, Shakspeare
and Shakspere.

Passages in italics indicated by _underscores_.

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