Mr. Muntz visited the continental capital, times he is only regarded, taken altogether, famous for the enormous beards of its male as a curiosity--as a person worthy of being inhabitants, where the hair, in fact, is gain- studied, but too respectable to be laughed at. ing such an ascendency, is encroaching so But, when he addresses the House on any on the nobler features of the face, that, ere great political question, be becomes of more long, it will leave but the eyes ungarnished, importance, because he certainly represents so that a man will literally look like an owl -not in name only, but in opinion,-the in a bush. Well, here, one would have men of Birmingham,” who may be consithought, Mr. Muntz might have expected dered themselves as the representatives of to be at home-to pass unnoticed among large masses of the industrial population, the hirsute monsters who abound. But, no. who must sooner or later take an important What was the fact ? You heard him spok- share in electoral affairs. In such speeches en of only as "the Englishman with the Mr. Muntz is eminently English. He allies beard!” This was the sole name by which himself to no party, nor does he openly he was known. And the most singular part avow allegiance to any leader ; but he of the matter is, that this propensity for speaks his conviction, the result of thought outré dress appears to run in the family, and observation, with no other view than Occasionally, you may see in London, and the common good. He would give an inoften in Birmingham, three living things, dependent support to any statesman whom walking abreast in the street, that make he believed to be working, not for party, you think involuntarily of a certain establish- but for the nation. At the same time it ment in the Regent's Park. They belong must be understood, that he has fixed and to no order known to naturalists, yet are most decided political opinions. He is an evidently of the same species. The largest ultra-Radical if he is anything, but holds of the three is as we have described him himself at liberty to take a wholly indeThere is then a second, with not quite such pendent course. a large club, and not quite such loose dress, His speeches are brief, but pregnant. He not quite so elephantine a stride; and on fires off his short sentences in quick volleysthe other side, there is a third, a young so quick, that it is with difficulty he is unspecimen of the species, not fully developed, derstood, as his deep bass voice is heard but rapidly approaching the hirsute state. from the recesses of his beard, like a bear They naturally excite great interest in the growling from a bush. But he is clearpassers-by, who, at first somewhat alarmed headed ; his language is simple, but most by this fierce-looking trio, soon become re- forcible. He uses Saxon idioms and Saxassured when they discover that they are on words. He speaks like a man who has singularly mild in their habits, and that thoroughly made up his mind, and wishes to there is an orderly effect produced by their declare it without circumlocution. He all striding simultaneously, and rapping does not reason, but delivers conclusions. their clubs on the ground in exact time. Short, continuous, but emphatic, he talks This at once removes all idea of wildness or on till he comes suddenly to a stop, and ferocity, and wholly dissipates fear. sits down abruptly, as he rose. A speech

Seriously, Mr: Muntz is a man of some from him sounds like the spring of a clock what more than the average proportion of running down. When speaking in public, common sense, and with a force of charac- his voice is gruff, harsh, and toneless : ter which adds weight to his public acts and when conversing in private, it becomes more sayings. In the House of Commons, where soft, almost melodious; and then the conmen have become accustomed to his eccen- trast between his manners, and his unique tricities of dress and manner, he is much costume and air, is most amusing. You respected, and is always listened to with at- think of the transformed Prince in the tention. He is a man of prejudices and Fairy Tale, when he speaks to Beauty in fixed ideas, but they are not of an offensive the Rose Garden. In the House, Mr. character. They very seldom clash with Muntz usually sits apart, never speaking to the other prejudices prevailing in that assem- any one. bly, because they are on a subject which is too seldom discussed there. Mr. Muntz is a disciple of the Birmingham Currency Doc- Mr. Blewitt is undoubtedly an oddity, tors, and occasionally startles and amuses but one of a puzzling order. He is not the House by blurting out in his curt, frank wilfully an oddity, like a Sibthorp, a fashion, their peculiar doctrines. At such | Borthwick, or a Muntz; nor does he pro


voke criticism and even ill-will, by austere conscientious man, not yet metamorphosed conceit and a habit of meddling, like some into a man of the world,” and taking a whom we could name. Mr. Blewitt ap- simple, straightforward view of public pears to be quite unconscious what those affairs, regulated by moral considerations, perculiarities are which have entitled him rather than by those of political expediency to be included in this unenviable category, He has, too, a sort of mother-wit, which, in and, if he is an object of ridicule, it is cer- a man more favored by nature, would easily tainly by no voluntary act of his own. be mistaken for insight; and has often Yet, for some years after he entered blurted out, in his strange way, truths parliament, his rising to speak in the which, if set forth with the pompous garHouse was the signal for a burst of laugh- niture of eloquent language, would have ter, repeated at each brief sentence he was secured for their originator a reputation able to make audible. So unfavorable, in- for more than ordinary sense. When deed, was invariably his reception, that at speaking elsewhere than in the House of last he seemed to regard the attempt to be Commons, Mr. Blewitt acquits himself a speaking member as an entirely hopeless very well, delivering himself with fluency, one, and for the last three or four years he and even with a certain force; but against has condemned himself to a silence which laughter he cannot hold up—the derisive is evidently far from agreeable to him. shouts of the House of Commons annihilate

The ridicule he has excited has been him. He is, moreover, a good writer ; exmost unfair, and disproportioned to his de- pressing himself, if not with elegance, at serts, because, in laughing at some peculi- least with clearness and vigor. arities of person and manner, those who It is also something to set off against have made him their butt have overlooked Mr. Blewitt's mishaps in the House, that his claims on their forbearance, at least, if he should have represented for ten years not on their respect. No doubt it is diffi- in successive parliaments so important a cult to see and hear Mr. Blewitt when ex- constituency as that of the Monmouth dishibiting as a speaker, without finding one's trict of boroughs. In Monmouthshire he risible muscles strongly stimulated. Not is a man of some consequence, and he is Liston's happiest touches in Tony Lump- lineally descended from the last of the kin could be more powerfully expressive of ancient kings of Wales. But these, and utter simplicity, than one of Mr. other claims on local respect, weigh but Blewitt's imploring appeals,-in plaintive little with the House of Commons. tones, and with aggrieved astonishment in his aspect,-to know what it was that the House were laughing at; and, of course, the more he asked, and the longer he Mr. John Collett, the member for Ath. talked in this comical fashion, the more lone in the parliament which was dissolved rude and irrepressible was the outbreak of in 1847, has only himself to thank if ever merriment, until at last the hapless object he was laughed at in the House. Although of this vulgar and senseless ridicule would not the most intellectual looking of men, he sit down in a sort of stupid despair,-re- is yet not so unfortunate as Mr. Blewitt in maining silent, perhaps for many days or provoking laughter by personal peculiarieven weeks, till at last, perhaps, his patri- ties; yet the latter is certainly the superior otism could no longer be repressed, and he of the two, both in ability and common again mustered courage to speak, only to sense. Mr. Collett provokes and justifies be again the subject of a similar boisterous criticism, and even ridicule, by his own and undignified farce. But those who pretension-by the oblivious pertinacity laughed thus were often much more absurd with which he meddles in affairs altogether than he, for they overlooked what he was above his standing as a legislator, and, saying in his odd mode of saying it. Be- apparently, even beyond his entire comprecause he looked and spoke like a “natural,” hension. Nothing less will content him they assumed that he must be one ; and as than to be a great Reformer—not a follower he was himself perfectly conscious that he of others, but himself a leader; and he had something to say which was the result is equally ambitious in his choice of the of thinking and conviction, it was only the objects of his revolutionary ardor. The more inexplicable to him that they never Church, especially, is marked out by him would let him say it. In point of fact, Mr. for destruction : he shuts his eyes, and Blewitt is really an upright, consistent, rushes at it, as if sheer will would batter it




down. It is highly amusing to see the course of action, and, by so doing, he often utter unconsciousness of his own deficiencies throws all things in the legislature into with which he “runs-a-muck” at men or confusion. One service, however, and one institutions. It is as if there were but one alone, such men as Mr. Colleit, whatever man right in the country, and that man may be their opinions, are capable of renJohn Collett. For he is too important a dering. They act as magnifying reflectors man to act regularly under others, who might of absurdity, and serve to deter others from compound with his oddities for his votes. pursuing their fixed ideas with the same No, he must have his own independent extravagant pertinacity.

From Fraser's Magazine.



The daily and weekly newspapers of Eng- from Hugh, count de Bassigny, and of land and France are conducted with won- Boulogne sur Marne, and from the ancient derful ability, energy, and enterprise ; but Counts of Langres, of whom Raynier, count events succeed each other with such marvel- de Choiseul, was the first vassal in 1060. lous rapidity, and such is the passion for Raynier was the parent stock of all the minute detail on the part of readers, that branches of the house of Choiseul, at one public writers have no space left to moral- time numbering nearly twenty, the greater ize; and even though such space remained part of which branches are now, however, to them, it is by no means clear that the extinct. Though the family has produced man of business or the man of pleasure three marshals of France, numerous lieuwould attend to a matutinal lecture on tenant-generals, major-generals, plenipomorality, or listen to a serious voice speak- ; tentiaries, ambassadors, bishops, and couning from the best public instructor lying on sellors of state, yet it has, during the last the morning breakfast-table. A weekly century and a half, been chiefly remarkable print is, doubtless, in a more favorable po- for the advantageous marriages which its sition to speak seriously; but such lectures members contracted with rich heiresses. must not be too often repeated, or the heb- | Thus they gained the seigneurie of Beurdomadal journal would incur the suspicion rey; the marquisate of Montigny, brought of heaviness, and be eschewed like colocynth to them by Françoise de Barillon Morangis, or assafoetida. Multiply interesting details dame de Montigny; thus they also gained as much as you like in daily and weekly the barony of Beaupré in Champagne by a newspapers; but if you go back to history, marriage with Anne de Saint Amadour ; or seek to extract a moral from events, read- and thus, in the last generation, they gained ers cry, “ Fi, donc ! leave that to the pul- the heiress, Malle. de Catel; and, in the pit!" and buy and read a more amusing present, Malle. Sebastiani. print.

The most remarkable man of the family, Columns and columns have been written in modern times, was the relative, not the and printed on the Praslin tragedy in all grandfather, as the Observer newspaper the daily papers ; but few journals that we would have it, of the late infamous duke, have seen have sought to go deep into the who was Minister of Foreign Affairs, of matter except the Spectator, and he has War, of Marine, and Colonel of the Swiss been rebuked and taken to task for his pains Guards under Louis XIV., and from whom by some of his contemporaries.

the title descended to the father of the Little remark has been made by our murderer. This man was, in effect, princiweekly contemporaries, however, on the pal minister of France without ever being family from which the monster duke de- publicly invested with the title, and may scended, though that family is remarkable be said to have governed the kingdom till in many respects. The house of Choiseul 1770, when he was disgraced and exiled. is called by all French heralds great, illus- The disgrace and the exile were the most trious, and powerful, deriving its origin' remarkable events in his life, though he

sixth year.

played an important part in the politics had no disposition whatever to be the victim and intrigues of the time in which he lived. of a royal caprice, nor yet to lose her chance Though neither a genius nor a statesman, yet of success by a mal-adroit answer, went he raised himself to a position of fortune and straightway to her relative, Etienne Franpower higher than any man since the time cois de Choiseul, then Count de Stainville, of Richelieu. His cleverness, his gaiety, his to whom she first communicated the conflippant and presumptuous tone and man- tents of, and subsequently confided, the ner, in which he was rivalled by the last royal missive. The count, expressing equal possessor of the title, the horrible murderer, surprise and gratification, insisted on a gained him a sort of unenviable renown in measured and well-reflected reply, which he society and at court Bitter, ironical, ma- was willing to indite, if time were given to lignant, and no mean master of satire, he him. He retired to his cabinet with the rendered himself formidable, not merely to original communication, but, instead of the occupants of place but to the numerous proceeding to answer it, instantly drove cloud of aspirants for office. So unami- with the letter in hand to the Pompadour. able and malignant was his character, that “Madame,” said he to the royal courtehe is said to have furnished to Gresset the san, you do me the cruel injustice of original of Cléon the Méchant, in the co-counting me among the number of your medy of that name. As this comedy was enemies, and of considering that I have first represented in 1745, the year of the entered into a plot to deprive you of the second Scotch rebellion, the Duke de Choi- good graces of the king; but, before you seul must have early attained his bad pre- condemn me outright, take and read this eminence, for he was then only in his twenty- letter."

His exterior, like that of the The letter read, he explained to the late duke, was neither handsome nor agree-marquise the manner in which he had be able. He was plain, like his late mon- come possessed of it,-exaggerating the strous namesake and kinsman, without being dangers to which his devotion exposed him. deformed; and wished, like him, also, to The Pompadour, astonished at her unjust be considered a man of gallantry. The suspicions, declared that her early prejuminister, like the monster who has lately dices were unfounded; that' the Count de cheated the guillotine of its due, was of Stainville had proved himself, instead of middle stature, but, unlike the late Duke an enemy, a generous and devoted friend; of Praslin, was distinguished by brilliant and that he would not find her ungrateful. eyes, an expressive countenance, and a The result was, that the unfortunate councertain dignity and elegance of manners, tess, the relative, Choiseul-Stainville, was which, notwithstanding the random free- exiled; that the feeble Louis flung himself dom of his tongue, caused some of his at the feet of the ancient favorite, asking vices to be overlooked. His arrows, shot pardon for his momentary infidelity; and here, there, and every where, did not even that the humble and virtuous man who spare Madame de Pompadour, the favorite. acted so gentlemanly a part, was sent, for In her regard he had gone even beyond the his reward, as ambassador to the court of mark which he usually allowed himself; Rome. It was at Rome Choiseul first stuand was at one time apprehensive that he died politics ; and, supported by the Pomhad compromised himself for ever, and padour, he soon obtained an ascendency closed the avenues to fame and power. 'A over Benedict XIV. It may be thought chance occasion, however, soon presented that this is romance got up for the occasion, itself

, by which he was enabled to repair his but “ truth is strange, stranger than ficfault. One of his relatives, the young and tion;" and the assiduous reader of French handsome Countess de Choiseul-Praslin, history need but refer to DuclosRègne de aspired to supplant the reigning favorite Louis XV.,* to the pages of Anquetil and in the affections of the king. Her well- of Lacretelle, to convince himself that we managed and wily arts had not merely have not exaggerated. attracted the attention, but made some “His birth was illustrious, his valor impression, on the monarch ; a correspond-well proven, his wit ready-pointed and ence took place between him and the practical,” says the eloquent Lacretelle. would-be mistress, and Louis ultimately To abuse the government, to sneer at relisent her a royal declaration of passion in gion, and to deceive the fair sex, were then due form. The countess, who was desirous of something more than fleeting favor, and

* Duclos, tom. vii., p. 348.

the great sources of renown. The Count croit qu'elle l'adore toujours. Mais j'en doute, elle de Stainville employed each method with prend trop de peine à le persuader.'*• success, but with a species of braggadocio and gasconade that shocked.

A French prelate, who had lived long in The scandalous chronicles of the time in the society of those ladies, thus speaks of sinuate, if they do not assert, that Choiseul them in reference to the remarks of Walbecame the lover of the Pompadour ; and pole : that it was by these means he substituted

« The Duchess of Choiseul was as Mr. Wal. his own firm will for the caprices of a weak woman, and the feeble resolves of an indo-pole painted her, and deserves all he has said of

her. The exterior of Madame de Grammont would lent king. Society allowed that he was a appear to justify his remarks. She was stout and brilliant man, if not a first-rate genius; and strong-built in person, with a high color, small a brilliant man has always been highly ap- and lively eyes, and a harsh voice. Her address preciated in France. In his personal de- and demeanor appeared, at first, repulsive ; but the meanor he was apparently frank, unreserv- qualities of her mind widely differed from the reed, and liberal ; and kindly to those who presentation made of them to Mr. Walpole.” stood by him, or were willing to become his

Madame du Deffand, who was in the dependants. But, like all his race before habit of playfully calling the duchess Grandand since, he sought a rich heiress to wife; and in obtaining one of the greatest matches, the 5th of May, 1766, “ Elle a été char

mamma, says, in a letter to Walpole of in point of wealth, in the kingdom, he

mante. And, in another letter of the 4th was enabled, by adding his lady's dowry to of January, 1787, she gives her portrait, his own fortune, and the emoluments which he derived from his many employments, to

from which we make the following ex

tract:vie with the wealthiest in the land. The virtues, the modesty, the cultivated under

" You ask of me your portrait, but you don't standing, and lofty character, of the Coun- know the difficulty of limning it. Every one will tess of Choiseul, recall the attributes and take it for the portrait of an unassuming being, virtues of Fanny Sebastiani, the unfortu- for mortals are not disposed to believe in virtues nate and lately murdered duchess,

they do not themselves possess. There is not an

inhabitant of the skies who surpasses you in virscarcely, however, more unfortunate or less unhappy than her predecessor. The

tues, though they have surpassed you by their in

tentions and their motives. You are as pure, as Duchess of Choiseul of that day had no just, as charitable, as it is possible to be. If you children; but we should have thought that become as good a Christian as you are a woman, the graces and quiet repose of such a wo- you will be a perfect saint. Meanwhile, be conman, the charms of her mind added to her ient to be the example and model of women, feminine beauty and tenderness, would Nature has endowed you with such warmth and have captivated the heart of any man not passion, that people conclude, if you were not absolutely a brute or a demon. Horace ment, you could not be so perfect as you are, and

also endowed rith the soundest sense and judgWalpole, an exact and critical observer, this is the reason why they forgive your virtues. and one not prone to flatter women, thus So many virtues and so many excellences inspire speaks, in a letter to Gray, of the Duchess respect and admiration, but this is not what you de Choiseul, née du Chatel,-

wish ; your modesty, which is extreme, looks not

to distinction; you do all that in you lies to make “She has beautiful eyes, and is a perfect little all the world believe that you are not above them.” model in wax. Her modesty and hesitation are compensated by the sweetest of voices and the Such was the woman whom the Choiseul happiest enunciation. Oh, it is the prettiest, the of two generations ago daily crucified by most amiable, the most kindly, little person, qui such a preference as Henry III. exhibited soit jamais sortie d'un auf enchanté! so correct in towards Marguerite de Valois, “ qu'il her expressions and in her thoughts of a dispo- amait,” says Duclos, “plus que fraternellesition so kindly and so obliging. loves her, except her husband, who prefers to her ment."! For his sister, this monarch inhis own sister, the Duchess of Grammont, a species stituted the order of the St. Esprit. of Amazon, of a proud and haughty spirit, equal

From Rome the Count de Choiseully arbitrary in her likings and her dislikes, and who Stainville was sent to Vienna, where he inis herself detested.

sinuated himself into the good graces of “ Madame de Choiseul, who is dotingly fond of her husband, is the martyr of this preference, to * Euvres de Lord Orford, tom. V., p. 365. which she submits with a good grace. L'on Duclos, Morceaux Historiques, tom. ix., p. 65.

« VorigeDoorgaan »