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of age (the editor says, fifteen); mounting the rostrum, he delivered an address extempore to his pupils, that amazed and confounded the illiterate monks, and made him the idol of the community. During the five years of his gradation. he obtained a bourse of 200 livres (81. 6s. 8d.) in the college of St. Catherine of Toulouse: at the same time he annually gained two or three prizes of the academies of Toulouse and Montalban, and obtained the office of assistant in the former. Elated with his extraordinary success, he introduced himself to Voltaire, who answered him in the most friendly manner, presenting him with a copy of his works, and inviting him to settle in Paris. This determined his fate disgusted with the priestly state, and flattered with the hope of ministerial protection by Voltaire, he immediately visited his mother, in order to take her advice, who, with more ambition than piety, boldly recommended his instant departure for Paris, and commissioned him to offer her homage to Voltaire, by assuring him that she had committed to memory two stanzas on hope in the Henriade.
Hitherto we have only glanced at our hero in the pursuit of his studies; but nearly one half his time and of this work are occupied with pompous descriptions of the incessant ebbings and flowings of the milk of human kindness,' which continually displayed itself in his floods of tears, his groans, sighs, sobs, quakings, convulsive throes, cold perspirations, forebodings, swoonings, and all the strange emotions with which every reader of his Tales must have long since been sickened. We are now to consider him in another character: the tender attachments of his mother, his fair villager, the curate's niece, the muleteer's daughter, the crowning with laurels for prizepoems, &c. are all forgotten. Marmontel makes his debut at Paris in his twenty-third year, is congratulated by Voltaire, but disappointed of a place by the disgrace of the minister Orri, and commences his literary career as an author by profession. On his journey to Paris he translated part of Pope's Rape of the Lock.' This translation being well received, introduced him to the fashionable world; and in 1746 he gained a prize from the academy. By the advice and with the instruction of Voltaire, he devoted himself to the study of the theatre, through whose influence he had obtained a free admission. Two years afterwards he produced his Dionysius the Tyrant on the theatre, with the most complete success; and he relates with no little self-complaisance, that the Merope of Voltaire was the first, and Dionysius the second piece, the merit of which induced the audience to call for the author to make his appearance on the stage. Indeed we are not much surprised that the very weak and superficial APP. Vol. 4.
mind of Marmontel should, after this most ridiculous stageexhibition, be quite bewildered, and we accordingly find him abandoned to every excess that can arise from vanity and avarice. With the long details of his amours with Mlle. Navarre, mistress to the marechal de Saxe, the actress Clairon, Mlle. Verrieres, another mistress of the above-mentioned warrior, Mlle. S-, &c. &c. we shall not sully our pages, but extract the only reflections that occurred to his mind after the description of this indiscriminate licentiousness.
Here, my children, I throw a veil over my deplorable follies. Although I was then very young, and that the time be now long past, it is not in a state of intoxication and delirium that I wish to appear before you.-Ah! my children, what folly is there like that of a young man who believes in the fidelity of a woman, already celebrated for her weakness, and whom the attractions of pleasure have caused to lose sight of modesty !-I then perceived how much the sentiment of self-love and wounded vanity entered into the vexations and chagrins of an amour.'
There is no doubt that vanity is the parent of licentiousness, but it is something more criminal that stimulates the profligate to the recital of their debaucheries.
In 1749 Aristomene appeared, and so did the author a second time, on the stage: the following year he finished negligently' his Cleopatra; and in 1752 his Heraclide was totally damned. After this misfortune madame de Pompadour, the king's mistress, placed him in the capacity of secretary to her brother, and in time procured him the commission of editor of the Mercure de la France. By the aid of D'Alembert, Duclos, and the duke de Choiseul, he was elected a member of the French academy in 1763. During this time the author boasts of his being all things to all men.' He observes of himself, omnis Aristippum decuit color, et status et res: a procurer to every minister, the idol of the green-room virgins, the champion and flatterer of every lively prostitute, the sy cophant of every philosopher, the succedaneum of every cast-off mistress, the gourmand of every dainty, and the highpriest of debauchery, such was the tender, the pathetic author of the Contes Moraux'!!! We should have wished that he had extended the veil over more of his follies, not to say crimes, had it not been that the reading of these memoirs must unquestionably rouse the reflection of those few who may still admire his Tales, and to whose perusal we earnestly recommend this work. Of those Tales, his chief and everboasted work, which were originally published in the Mercure, it may be observed, that they are generally tender, sometimes pathetic, often feeble, not unfrequently inelegant, always de
stitute of simplicity, and never moral. Their gross immorality indeed must be evident to every reader, as the author is continually attempting to apologize for licentiousness, and torturing his imagination to bestow on it all the native loveliness of virtue. He also insidiously arraigns the dispensations of Providence, as in the Shepherdess of the Alps, the model of which was a miss Lolote, the mistress of lord Albemarle, then English ambassador, who died at Paris.
We pass over in silence the odious bestiality of M. de la Popliniere, and the dinners, or rather feasts of lewdness, at Pellétier's, to notice our author's account of the company at the literary or philosophical dinners of mesdames Tencin and Geoffrin. We shall translate, literally, the portraits, or rather the feeble indistinct shades, which he has given of some of the great men of France. We cannot however avoid premising that he has grossly traduced the amiable character of Montesquieu, in accusing him of that which was the characteristic of his other associates, vanity; and we sincerely hope that he has no less calumniated his female companions, in assuming as a fact their indiscriminate prostitution. The men he describes, were like himself, base, servile, placehunters. If these circumstances, whatever they may be at present, were true fifty years ago, it is not surprising that a horrible revolution should ensue.
• D'Alembert.—Of this society, the man the most animated, the most gay, the most amusing in his gaiety, was D'Alembert. After having passed his morning in the study of algebra, or in solving problems in dynamics or astronomy, he sallied out like a boy escaped from school, whose sole wish was to enjoy himself: and by the lively and pleasant turn which his mind then took, that mind, so luminous, so profound, and so solid, he made us forget the learned philosopher in the amiable man. The source of this enjoyment, so natural, was a pure mind, free from the control of passions, satisfied with itself, and every day enjoying some new truth which came to recompense and crown his labour; an exclusive privilege of the science of mathematics, and which no other kind of study is able fully to obtain.
Mairan. The serenity of Mairan, and his disposition, mild and gentle, owed its origin to the same causes and the same principle. Age had done for him what nature had done for D'Alem bert; it had tempered all the emotions of his mind: the warmth that remained was only displayed in vivacity; his mind, though a Gascon, was sedate, correct, and prudent; his way of thinking original; his wit free and acute. It is true the philosopher of Beziers was sometimes anxious concerning what passed in China; but when he had received news from thence, by some letter from his friend, father Parennin, joy gave new brilliancy to his conversation. O, my children! what souls like those that are not dis
turbed but with the movements of the ecliptic or the manners and arts of China! No vice degrades them; no regret wears them away; no passion grieves and torments them: they are free; they are in possession of that liberty which is the companion of joy, and without which no gaiety can be pure and lasting.
Maricaux-Marivaux also would willingly have been possessed ofthis cheerful temper, but he had something on his mind that occupied him without intermission, and that gave him an air of anxiety. As he had acquired by his works the reputation of a subtle and refin ed wit, he believed himself obliged never to lose sight of that character, and he was continually on the watch for ideas that would bear opposition or analysis, that he might make them play contrary parts, or submit them to the alembic. He agreed that such a thing was true till a certain point, or under certain circumstances; but there was always some restriction, always some distinction to make, that he only had been aware of. This laborious attention was difficult to himself, and often painful to others; but there sometimes resulted from it happy acute observations, and brilliant flashes of wit. Nevertheless, by the inquietude of his looks, it was obvious that he was in pain either for the success that he had met with or expected to meet with. There never was, I believe, self-love more delicate, more ticklish (chatouilleux), and more timid; but as he managed carefully that of others, his own was respected; and the only cause of regret was, that he could not prevail upon himself to be simple and natural.
• Chastelloux.The chevalier Chastelleux, whose wit was never clear, though it flowed in an abundant stream, and in whom the light and vapoury clouds that hung over his thoughts were from time to time pierced by a lively glimmering, enriched this society with a temper the most attractive, joined to uprightness the most amiable. Whether it was, that, distrusting the justness of his ideas, he sought to make himself sure, or whether he wished to purify those ideas in the crucible of discussion, he was fond of, and willingly engaged in dispute, but always with candour and like a gentleman; and as soon as the truth was manifest to him, whether it caine from himself or from others, he was satisfied. Never man made a better use of his wit, for the purpose of enjoying that of others a witticism that he heard uttered, an ingenious trait, a good story, delighted him; you might see him start with joy; and as the conversation grew more brilliant, the eyes and countenance of Chastelleux became animated; every successful sally flattered him as much as if it had been his own.
Saint Lambert. Saint Lambert, a man of nice though cold politeness, displayed in conversation that vein of elegant and fine humour, by which his writings are distinguished. Without being naturally gay, he was enlivened by the gaiety of others: and in a literary or philosophical discourse no one talked with more sound sense or more exquisite taste. This taste was that of the little court of Luneville, where he had lived, and of which he still retained the ton.
Helvetius.-Helvetius, possessed with the ambition of literary celebrity, used to come among us, his head not yet cool from the labour of the morning. To be the author of a book that might be distinguished in the age in which he lived, his first care had been to seek either some new truth to give to the world, or some bold and new thought to bring forward and to support. Now since new truths of importance have been infinitely scarce for the last two thousand years, he took for his thesis the paradox that he has developed in his book De l'Esprit. Whether therefore
he had forced himself to believe that of which he wished to persuade others, or whether he was still debating with himself against his own private doubts, and practising himself in getting the better of them, we amused ourselves in seeing the subjects which occupied him, or the difficulties about which he was labouring, brought forward on the tapis in his presence, and after letting him have the pleasure of hearing them discussed for some time, we induced him, almost without his being aware of it, to join in our discourses. On these occasions he gave himself up unreservedly and with warmth; as simple, as natural, as unaffected, in his familiar conversation, as he is systematical and sophistical in his works. Nothing less resembles the ingenuousness of his disposi tion and habits of life than the premeditated and factitious singu larity of his writings. This dissimilarity will always be found between the manners and opinions of those who labour to think of strange and extravagant things. There was not a better man: liberal, generous without ostentation, and beneficent because he was good, he contrived to calumniate all men of worth and even himself, by allowing to moral actions no other motive than that of interest; but setting aside his books, he was beloved, such as he was, and it will soon be seen how agreeable his house was to men of letters. The feelings of Helvetius were the direct contrary of what he has expressed in his writings.
Thomas.-A man still more infatuated with the love of fame, was Thomas; but he, with more consistency, looked for success only from the rare talent which he possessed of expressing his sentiments and ideas. His lofty eloquence never failed to give to common subjects an air of originality; to develope known truths in a new manner, to amplify them and to adorn them. His grave disposition was mild but collected; he was silent; the enjoyment he derived from conversation rarely drew a smile from him, and to that conversation he never contributed. It was even seldom that he gave his opinion on subjects that were congenial to him, unless it were in a small society where he was very intimate; it was there only that his brilliancy dazzled, that his fertility of resources astonished. He made one at our dinners, and it was only his literary merit and moral qualities that there procured him consideration. Tho. mas always sacrificed to truth, to virtue, to fame; never to the graces; and he lived in an age in which, without the favour and assistance of the graces, no brilliant reputation was to be attained in literature.
Mile. Lespinasse.-Apropos of the graces, let us turn to a person upon whom their every charm of wit and language was lavished; who was the only female that madame Geoffrin admitted to her