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he died because he was no longer an object fulfil their end. A distinct idea of the perof curiosity.”
son is in each case represented. But the There are deficiencies in this biography. reader shall judge. Dates are wanted; many facts are unregis “ Sophie ARNOULD.-On the 14th of tered; the close is hurried. But in point February, 1744, at Paris, in the very room of effect is it not an admirable piece of wri- in which the Admiral de Coligny was asting? Do you not carry away from it a sassinated, a little girl was born, who might distinct idea of Beaumarchais, the man, serve as a representative of the most frivoand of his position as a writer ? Did you lous and licentious portion of French soever carry away so distinct an idea of any ciety at the close of the eighteenth century; man from an ordinary biographical diction- this child was Sophie Arnould. Her wit ary? This is the point we direct attention more than her beauty, the freedom of her to, because the excellence of Janin's arti- conversation more than her wit, have been cle is precisely the excellence needed by the cause of the celebrity of this dissolute our compilers of biographies: whereas the woman. Sophie Arnould was the daughfaults of Janin's article are such as our wri- ter of a man who let furnished lodgings, ters are not likely to fall into.
and she was early accustomed to see all The publication which is now taking kinds of people and hear all kinds of conplace of a 'Biographical Dictionary' on an versation. She was, however, sent to a immense scale, by the Society for the Dif. convent, and even there her powerful, clear, fusion of Useful Knowledge, leads us to lay and fresh voice caused her to be remarked greater stress on the graphic power of Jules among the other fine voices. One Holy Janin than we should otherwise deem ne- Thursday, at the Val-de-Grâce, young Socessary. That 'Biographical Dictionary'|phie sang so well that the Princess of Mois very useful ; but not half so useful as it dena asked to see her. In those days it might be. Valuable as a work of reference was still the fashion, although decreasing for any particular fact, it is almost useless daily, for gre: ladies to pass a few days in for any other purpose; praiseworthy enough retirement in a convent after the saturnalia in its industry, it seems to have relied sole of the carnival. This was the reason of ly upon its exactness. But we believe this the Princess of Modena's being at the Valto be a misconception, not only of the na- de-Grâce. No sooner had she left this dull ture of biography, but also of the wants of retreat and returned to court, than she anthe public. The superficial exactness of nounced that she had heard in the convent dates and facts should be sustained by the the most beautiful voice in the world, and greater excellences of distinct conception as fine voices were not more common in and graphic execution. A man's life is not the days of Louis XV. than in our own, made up of its events alone. It was his in- there was a general desire to hear the young dividuality that gave those events their sig-pensionnaire. She was fetched from the nificance; it is his individuality, therefore, convent, and found herself suddenly transthat should above all things be distinctly ported into the royal chapel of Versailles, conceived. In many cases, we are aware, at one end of which, by the side of the this is not possible; the materials with king of France, Madame de Pompadour which to paint such a picture are not at occupied the gilded seat of Madame de hand. In many cases, however, it is very Maintenon. The still trembling girl sung possible and highly desirable.
a solo passage from one of the psalms, and Doubtless many persons will object to the royal chapel was entranced. Louis Janin's Memoirs as being superficial, de- XVth's court went to divine service as to ficient in information, deficient in method. the opera. The chapel was like every other Granted. We do not praise them for their part of the palace-a place of diversion; information, we do not pass over their care- the preacher in his pulpit, the officiating lessness; we only insist on their graphic minister at the altar, and singer in the choir, power.
were discussed as Lekain and Malle ConJanin's Memoir of Sophie Arnould is not tat were discussed at the theatre. The less characteristic. In it, as in Beaumar- success of this splendid voice at Versailles chais, there are the same evidences of care- may therefore be imagined. Louis XV. lessness, but also the same talent. Both was as much delighted as he had been by these memoirs seem to have been written the Devin de Village. Madame de Pomoff with scarcely a thought, with scarcely padour, who was burthened with all the
But careless as they are they ennuis of an agreeable despotism, exclaim
ed, when speakin; of young Sophic-'Il yl was in those days called a salon, that is, a a là dequoi faire une princesse. And cer- sort of newspaper party, as powerful as a tainly no princess could have been more printed newspaper is in our days. To her cheaply created. There was no longer drawing-room, therefore, as to a rendezany thought of sending her back to the vous of dissipation and licentiousness, both convent or the chapel. Now that she had nobles and wits flocked; for the good unsung in the profane chapel of Versailles, derstanding which existed between men of the next step for her was the boards of the rank and literary men at that period, is opera; there lay henceforth her fame and worthy of remark: the nobles to talk with fortune: thus had Madame de Pompadour and flatter the philosophers, the philosodecided. Sophie Arnould, therefore, made phers to doubt respecting the nobles. Imher debut at the opera, and at once felt the prudent as both classes were, they did not importance of her new position; she al- see that at no distant period the noble ways remembered having seen Madame de would be crushed like glass by the wit, and Pompadour sitting like a queen in the gal-that, in his turn, the wit would lose much lery of the chapel at Versailles, and be- of his power and be seriously compromised lieved that nothing was therefore impossi- by a life of fellowship with the noble. They ble to herself. Her first appearance took therefore all clustered round Sophie Arplace on the 15th of December, 1757, and nould; amongst the most illustrious were she was at once applauded, admired, and D'Alembert, the chief of the encyclopædia proclaimed one of the queens of that frivo- writers; Diderot, the fiery revolutionist, lous and witty period. A year later Sophie whose words would, at another bar, have Arnould was all-powerful on that beautiful been as powerful as Mirabeau's; Helsestage, the rendezvous of the high society tius, the mystical dreamer; Mably, the bomof these days,—the same theatre which bastic historian; Duclos, l'homme droit et Voltaire celebrated in such fine poetry. adroit; and J. J. Rousseau himself, the She thus, in twenty-two years, created all the awkward and eloquent misanthrope. And great lyrical dramas, and especially three to these men, whose names were European, characters in which she was inimitable: these ardent prophets of the coming reroThelaïre, in ‘Castor and Pollux;' Ephise, lution, Sophie Arnould talked as with her in ‘Dardanus;' and Iphigénie, in 'Iphigé- equals; she seemed to say, 'We conspire nie en Aulide.' Her singing was full of together.' Those very men who, jestingly passion; her acting full of energy. Gar- overthrew the most ancient monarchy of rick said of her, on seeing her play, ' Voilà the universe, became the flatterers and bunotre maitre à tous.' She was, in fact, all- morers of Sophie Arnould; there was not powerful on the stage: her voice, look, a writer of the period without his bit of gesture, and smile were irresistible. But flattery for the goddess; not one poet who the triumph of this woman did not stop did not devote a few lines to her. Dorat, there: another one awaited her. After a poet of note in those days; Marmontel, amusing all this grand society on the stage, who really was a great man; Rulhière, she was still expected to amuse outside the admired for the verses he had written; Fatheatre by all sorts of sallies and bon mots, vart, the Scribe of Louis XVth's reign, full of wit, but often worthy of Billingsgate celebrated the beautiful, glorious, willy, In the chaotic state of French society at amorous, gallant, sceptical, sneering, madthat period, it happened that persons con- cap, unfaithful, complex Sophie Arnould. nected with the theatre, actresses especially, Thus surrounded, caressed, celebrated, and had usurped an important place. As no- applauded, on the stage and in the drawing body was any longer in their proper posi- room, how could this woman's head escape tion, neither noblemen, writers, nor artists, being turned? She felt that to reign in confusion had been carried to such an ex- peace in this world of irony and calumny, tent that more than one very important of wit and sarcasm, of licentiousness and drawing room in all respects was governed, disorder, she must carry irony and calumny, directed, and regulated by either very su- wit and sarcasm, licentiousness and disorperior or very inferior women. It was der to a greater extent than any one else, thus that Sophie Arnould at once found and she did so; and by this means she atherself an important personage both in tracted the universal admiration of town town and country. She had lovers, and and court. Around Sophie Arnould every many of them; some among the highest one listened anxiously; what she was going nobility; and she consequently held what to say, and what virtue she was going to
attack? what fame she was going to de- over her door, 'Ite missa est; allez vous stroy ? With her there was no means of en, la messe est dite;' a profane allusion, avoiding odium or ridicule; she spared no which may be thus translated :- Depart one; she respected no one-herself less all members of French society, who are than anybody; she carried audacity to the daily proscribed, made fugitives, or execugreatest extent it could be carried. Had a ted. You have decked me out to love me; writer of that period been as bold as Sophie depart, we are quits. I allowed myself to Arnould, he would have been sent to rot in be loved by you; I made you laugh by my the Bastile. Hands were clapped round wit; I made you partakers in my licentiousthis woman; her witticisms were laughed ness; I corrupted you, and you corruptat before uttered; and she talked like a ed me. Depart! you are conquered by the clever spoiled child, who, by talking a great people whose daughters you have dishonordeal, sometimes says very clever things : ed, and I am the daughter of the people. the rest goes for nothing. Such was the Thus a time always comes when vice restyle of this woman's success: she became venges itself on vice, corruption on corrupin her old age sharp, cutting, ill-natured, tion; and this is not one of the least interand cruel. The mots of Mademoiselle Ar-esting sights to a moralist.' nould have been preserved, like those of all Sophie Arnould died in 1802, forgotgreat people, and even occupy a considera- ten, sad, and wondering at what had come ble place amongst the ana. Unfortunately, to pass. She had witnessed the fall of anthe witty things which were repeated and cient French society under skepticism and said in the best houses in Paris, could not the nobles, and she now witnessed the rise now be repeated in a tap room. Here are of a new society, born of belief and the some, however, which are exquisite. She sovereign will of a child of the people named said one day to a very pretty but silly wo- Bonaparte; and the poor woman could not man, who was complaining of having too understand why the church and not the opmany admirers, 'Oh! my dear, it is so easy era, the sword of Bonaparte and not the wit for you to get rid of them! you have only of Sophie Arnould, were employed in this to speak !' Being one day found by a man resurrection of society." of rank, her lover, but himself dissipated Another value of memoirs such as the and faithless, tete-à-tête with a Knight of foregoing is that they are pages of history Malta, "Of what do you complain ?' said as well as pages of biography. Not only is she; 'the knight wages war against infi- the person vividly presented to you, but the dels.' One of her companions, who posses- age in which he lived is brought into view. sed a harsh and vulgar voice, was hissed on Read the Baron de Valcknaer's 'Memoires the stage. “This is strange,' said Sophie; de Madame de Sévigné.' It is an ample 'that lady certainly has the voice of the biography; in the course of which all the people.' She said, on showing a snuff-box history of the period—all the celebrated on which were painted Sully and Choiseul, persons of the period—are passed in review. Here is the receipt and here the expense.' | Many critics object to this mode of writing To a young man who said in her presence, biograahy, as encroaching too largely on 'L'esprit court les rues,' she replied, “C'est the province of history; but the objection un bruit que les sots font courir.' She is not valid. The celebrated persons, whose jested thus all her life upon the most serious lives men are curious to read, were in a subjects; and even when this society, of great measure the creatures of their age; which she had been both slave and mistress, in this respect it is impossible to understand was broken up,—when the France of the their actions or appreciate their motives, nobles of 1740 had become the France of without a distinct view of the spirit of their 1793,—when all this gay world of which times; and by such a view we do not mean she had been the plaything, and which had a dissertation, but a picture. been hers, was scattered here and there, in The two most important qualities of a prisons, in exile, and on the scaffold,—this biography are represented in the two foreungrateful girl never ceased laughing. She going specimens by Jules Janin. Add to bought at Luzarches, at no great distance them the necessary dates, and a few of the from the château of Champlâtreux, a pres- omitted facts, which would supply the wants bytery, the curé of which was a wanderer of those who consulted them merely for and fugitive, and established herself in this reference on such points, and you
have sacred house, there quietly to end a life of perfect biographies,
A. G. passions and riotousness. She even wrote
FEAST OF THE POETS FOR SEPTEMBER 1844.
From Tait's Magazine.
And she had a chapel in her house, and there she
went each day; BALLADS AND SONGS.
She had an ancient chaplain, too_his hair was
silver gray : THE ANCIENT GENTLEWOMAN.*
Amidst her household did she kneel, upon the She was a good old soul as you did ever see :
cushioned floor, Her father was an admiral, a brave old boy was he, And many a stranger there would pray, who ne'er Who fought upon the salt, salt sea, and many a had prayed before. scar he bore ;
She was a stately gentlewoman, of form erect and But he rests within the family vault, and he will
proud ; fight no more.
And though her heart was warm and kind, her She was an ancient gentlewoman, of lineage high
voice was stern and loud : and bold;
She leaned upon an oaken staff, her face was long And they said she had a great huge chest filled to
and thin; the brim with gold;
And many a straggting hair appeared upon her For there her rents she did lay by, that were paid
maiden chin. most punctually,
And when she paced along the ball, she was a And at her girdle, all the day, she bore about the
goodly sight key.
And much the wondering rustics stared, she was And her chambers they were richly deck't, with so richly dight; velvet, and with pall;
For such a hoop and farthingale, they ne'er had And many a portrait, dark and grim, in armor clad seen before, the wall;
And a long train of rustling silk behind her swept And lovely ladies, too, attired in silken sheen the floor. were there,
God rest that ancient gentlewoman! for she hath With poodle dogs upon their knees, and powder
passed away, in their hair.
And the old hall where once she ruled, is falling And rusty armor hung around, that her greatsires
She sleeps within the neighboring church, beMixed with the spoils of sylvan war, with spear,
neath the chancel floor; and bow, and horn :
God rest that ancient gentlewoman! we'll see And paved with marble was the hall; and by the
her like no more. chimney there
S. R. W. She sat, and listened to the poor within an oaken chair.
GALATEA. Her rivers they were filled with fish, her pastures
[A Classical Ballad.] swarmed with kine, And in her cellars there was store of old and gen
I. erous wine :
Hast heard the ancient story, But though she cheered her neighbors' hearts, she The worthy old Greek theme drank no other thing,
Of lovely Galatea This good old country gentlewoman, but water And ugly Polypheme? from the spring.
It is a tale of sadness,
As many tales there be : And she kept a table always spread, by night as well as day,
Attend and I will tell it,
As it was told to me. And not a stranger ever thence was fasting sent
There lived a heathen giant away :
In ancient SicilyAnd her fame went through the country round,
A son of boist'rous Neptune, and much beloved was she,
That rules the stormy seaFor such an ancient gentlewoman no one did ever
A huge unsightly monster;
Beneath his shaggy hair, * In our August Number, the fine ballad of the Mistress of (So ancient Virgil sayeth,) Greyling Grange was, by mistake, ascribed to Mrs. Gordon, One big round eye did stare. author of “The Fortunes of the Falconers ;" while we really owe it to the ed pen of a different lady, the author
His trunk was like a huge tree of “ The Ancient Gentlewoman,” given above.
Deep buried in a moss;