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influence, with a plausible pretext for depreciating them, and may blind others to the real merit and noble purpose of his undertaking. We are jealous of M. Bunsen's reputation. Germany at this time can ill afford any lessening of the moral and intellectual weight of such a man on behalf of popular enlightenment and religious freedom. His high social position, his antecedents, and his being a simple unfettered layman, qualify him in no ordinary degree for mediating between the hard material unbelief and the rigid uncompromising orthodoxy, which threaten for the present to divide his country between them ; while his genial spirit, his comprehensive views, his wide and ready sympathy with all that is good and generous, must commend much of what he writes—could he only abridge its volume and simplify its expression—to the cordial acceptance of the popular mind. It would be a public misfortune, if any hasty assertions and unguarded statements, inviting hostile and unscrupulous criticism, should weaken the impression and limit the circulation of a book which, though it may not in its present form fully satisfy the demands of the scientific, nor fully meet the wants of the less instructed, is still conceived in the true spirit of religious earnestness, and is sent out bravely and honestly in the right direction.
ART. VII.-THE MEMOIRS OF ST. SIMON.
Mémoires complets et authentiques du Duc de Saint-Simon sur le
Siècle de Louis XIV et la Régence, collationnés sur le manuscrit original par M. Chéruel, et précéilés d'une Notice par M. SainteBeuve, de l'Académie Française. Paris, 1856-7. Hachette et Cie.
The Memoirs of St. Simon were first published in a complete shape after an almost exact interval of a century had elapsed since the period to which the record of his times was brought down by the author. They end with the year 1723, and the first edition was published in 1829. After the death of St. Simon, they passed out of the hands of his family, and were kept under the control of the government, from a fear of indiscreet revelations. Privileged persons were, however, suffered to have access to the manuscripts; and the Duke of Choiseul, when minister, lent some of the volumes to Madame du Deffand, who wrote to Horace Walpole in extreme delight at the stores of
amusement and gossip she found in these unknown memoirs. In and after 1784, portions began to get into print, and small compilations or mutilated extracts were published at intervals; and at last, in 1829, the whole memoirs were given to the world. Since that time the interest they have excited has gone on steadily increasing; and several fresh editions have appeared, each aiming at greater correctness of text and greater convenience of reference. A new edition is now in course of publication at Paris, adorned with every luxury of type and paper, most carefully edited by M. Chéruel, and preceded by a notice of St. Simon written by M. Sainte-Beuve. No one can wonder that Frenchmen should recur with unwearied eagerness to a writer who paints the inner life of the great era of the French monarchy, who has so many national qualities in an eminent degree, whose wit, causticity, and felicity of expression are so peculiarly French, and who has left so many exquisite portraits of French men and women. In England, however, the number of persons who read through these memoirs will always be very small; and there will probably never be an Englishman who can say, as M. Sainte-Beuve says, that he has read them through ten times. Fortunately there is no book in which it is so easy to dip: we are amused, and can understand what we read, if we open any part of any volume of this long series. All that we require, in order to do this with pleasure and profit, is to know the general outline of St. Simon's life, the general cast of his character, and the more prominent faults and excellencies of his memoirs. We shall attempt in the following pages to lay before our readers a brief sketch of what a cursory and irregular reader of St. Simon might be glad to know beforehand.
Louis de Saint-Simon was born in 1675, and was the only son of Claude first Duke of Saint-Simon. His father had risen through the personal favour of Louis XIII.; and he is said to have owed this favour to an ingenious device, by which he enabled the monarch to pass from one horse to another without touching the ground. When the Duke of Orleans forced his brother to make Puylaurens a "duke and peer," the king comforted himself by conferring a similar distinction on his chief equerry; and it was thus that the father gained the dignity which it was the great business of the son's life to uphold. After the death of Louis XIII., the Duke of Saint-Simon lived retired and forgotten in the country. His son was born to him when he was far advanced in years, and the boy grew up in an almost complete isolation from persons of his own rank. His mother, who was of the family of Laubepine Chateauneuf, had no near relations who could be of assistance to her son; and
she often strove to impress the boy with a notion of the difficult task that lay before him in life,—the task of upholding his nominal position without great estates or high connections. She strove to give him the best education in her power; but he confesses that his taste for study and for science was too small to permit her endeavours to be very effective. For history, however, he felt a real relish ; and it was his admiration for the
1 old chroniclers of France that determined him, at the early age of nineteen, to attempt to emulate their fame, and himself write the memoirs of his own time.
He entered the army when he was sixteen ; and being required, like all the young nobles of his day, to join one of the two regiments of musketeers, he was placed in that of the “Greys," as the captain, Maupertuis, was an old friend of his father. His family had great difficulty in providing the proper outfit and equipage for the young soldier; and their embarrassment was increased by the roguery of a steward, who chose this unlucky time to decamp with fifty-thousand francs. St. Simon served with credit at the siege of Namur and the battle of Neerwinde. He rose to the rank of captain, and commanded a regiment called by his name; but he never got any further. He was not in the line of promotion. He went to court, as every young officer and nobleman went, as a matter of course, but he was never in favour: he came there backed by no support from influential families; he did not make his way there by rendering any service to Madame de Maintenon. He felt the depressing hopelessness of his position; and the consolation to which he had recourse was that of writing his beloved memoirs, noting every little fact that could form a part of them, practising his powers of observation, learning to look on men and things with that penetration, and to paint them with that fidelity, which had attracted him in the pages of Froissart, Joinville, and Ville-Ilardouin. The world has profited by the bitter inortifications to which the young Vidame de Chartres, as he was called during his father's lifetime, must have found himself subjected. Had he been noticed, flattered, and promoted, he would have been much too busy and contented to have given us these voluminous and cynical memoirs.
The first Duke of St. Simon died in 1693; and in 1694 the young duke was urged by Madame de St. Simon to marry. Her son was willing to follow her advice; but said, that nothing would tempt him to a misalliance, and yet that he must have money. He therefore requested time to look about him; and his choice soon settled on the Duke of Beauvilliers. It was this nobleman whom, he expressly tells us, he wished to marry, through the medium of one of the duke's daughters. The duke
was not only of a high and widely-connected family, but of a remarkably pious, upright, and noble character ; and St. Simon was attracted to him as much by his high qualities as by the advantages which the alliance promised. He accordingly unfolded his wishes to the duke; who was astonished at his frankness, and explained to him that his eldest daughter was only fifteen, his second was deformed, and his third was only twelve; and that the eldest had a strong wish to become a nun. St. Simon explained that it was not the young lady, but her parents, who had attracted him; and that he would make a marriagecontract on any terms the duke wished. The eldest daughter was, however, firm; and St. Simon then asked for the little girl of twelve. The duchess was much struck with the “prodigious ardour” with which St. Simon desired to enter her family; but she could not help refusing; and so St. Simon had to look elsewhere. He fixed on the Marshal de Lorges. This commander was the nephew of Turenne, and had enriched himself by a marriage with the daughter of one of Colbert's favourites. His honesty and frankness had captivated St. Simon, who had served under him. St. Simon saw that the whole army loved him, that he enjoyed general esteem, that he lived magnificently, and that he had an elder brother of great distinction, with whom he was on excellent terms. He further saw that madame la maréchale was exactly the wife he should have wished for himself, as she had got her husband made a duke, received the best company in her house, and lived happily with all her family. This excellent couple accepted the young duke, and proceeded to discuss which of their two marriageable daughters they should give him. They decided on the eldest; and St. Simon tells us, that when he saw the two young ladies, he much preferred his intended bride. He was married in 1695, a few months before he had completed his twenty-first year.
However unromantic may have been the manner in which he won this lady, no marriage could have been more fortunate, and no wife could have been a more faithful and valuable friend to him. The language which St. Simon employs in referring to this excellent woman, and the passages in which he records the influence exerted by her at many critical moments of his life, are among the most charming and touching parts of the meinoirs. He does not often speak directly of her, he is too noble and right-minded to obtrude the merits of his wife on his readers; but he lets us see by many slight touches how great a treasure he had found in her. When he first introduces her to us, he slightly sketches her portrait; but he maintains the reserve of a gentleman, and speaks of her with equal grace and dignity. “She was,” he says, "a blonde, with a perfect complexion and figure, a most agreeable expression, an air extremely noble and modest, and with something almost majestic about her from her manifest virtue and natural sweetness. As she became my wife, I will abstain from saying more of her, -except that she has infinitely surpassed all that I was promised I should find in her, all the reports I heard of her, all that I myself hoped she might be.” Ten years after his marriage, there was some reason to suppose that St. Simon would receive an offer of the embassy to Rome. He hesitated whether to accept it or not, as he was not sure whether his fortune would bear the expense; and he and Madame de St. Simon consulted three ministers on the subject. They advised St. Simon to go ; and after telling us that he consented at last to adopt their advice, he proceeds to say: "I cannot here refuse myself the pleasure of recording what each of those three ministers said separately to me of a lady who was then only twenty-seven years of age. They advised me, and they all advised me earnestly, to have no secret from my wife in all the affairs of my embassy ; to have her with me at my table while I read and answered despatches, and to consult her on every thing with deference." What follows shows that both husband and wife had qualities that were good guarantees for conjugal happiness,—the husband generosity, the wife discretion." I have rarely,” St. Simon continues, “ heard any advice with so keen a pleasure; and I think it an equal merit in her to have deserved such a thing to be said of her, and ever afterwards to have lived as if she had not known it had been said ; and yet she did know it, both from me, and afterwards from those who had spoken to me” She appears throughout the memoirs as the guardian and good angel of her husband; smoothing away the difficulties into which his morose and haughty temper threatened repeatedly to plunge him, and making the life of a court endurable to one who had few of the qualities requisite to place him among the leaders of the court circle, and fewer still of those requisite to make him contented with a secondary position.
St. Simon needed a supporter ever ready at his side ; for he made his position at Versailles, already a precarious and disagreeable one, much worse by abruptly quitting the army; a step which the king seems to have considered almost a personal affront. St. Simon was offended by the promotion of junior officers to the rank of brigadier. Unfortunately for himself, St. Simon was thus thrown entirely into the vapid and barren life of the court, without the exchange to excitement and activity which occasional service would have offered him. This enforced leisure was perhaps fortunate for posterity,