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THE AMERICAN QUARTERLY REVIEW.

No. XVII.

MARCH, 1831.

_Philadelphia:_
CAREY & LEA.

SOLD IN PHILADELPHIA BY E. L. CAREY & A. HART.
NEW-YORK, BY G. & C. & H. CARVILL.

_LONDON:_--R. J. KENNETT, 59 GREAT QUEEN STREET.
_PARIS:_--A. & W. GALIGNANI, RUE VIVIENNE.




AMERICAN QUARTERLY REVIEW.

No. XVII.

MARCH, 1831.




ART. I.--_France in 1829-30._ By LADY MORGAN. _Author of_ "_France in
1816_," "_Italy_," _&c. &c. &c._ 2 vols. J. & J. Harper: New-York.


It was that solemn hour of the night, when, in the words of the poet,
"creation sleeps;"--a silence as of the dead reigned amid the streets
and alleys of the great city of Dublin, interrupted, ever and anon, only
by the solitary voice of the watchman, announcing the time, and the
prospects of fair or foul weather for the ensuing day. Even the noise of
carriages returning from revels and festive scenes of various kinds, was
no longer heard--

"The diligence of trades and noiseful gain,
And luxury more late, asleep were laid:
All was the night's:"

All! save the inhabitants of one mansion, situated in Kildare street,
who were still invading nature's rest. Why were they alone up and
stirring? Why were they debarred from taking their needful repose, and
obliged to employ the time which should have been devoted to it, in
active occupation? The reason is easily understood. Early in the
morning, the master and mistress were to set off on a trip to Paris, and
there was no small quantity of "packing up" yet to be done. Trunks
innumerable lay scattered about a romantically furnished bed-chamber;
some were partly filled with different articles of female habiliment;
others seemed to be appropriated to literary purposes, and books without
number, and of all descriptions, were lying around them--here was a pile
of novels, amongst which, the titles of "The Novice of St. Dominick,"
"Ida of Athens," "The Wild Irish Girl," &c. &c. could be
discerned--there was a heap of "Travels," composed of "Italy," "France
in 1816," and others:--a couple of volumes, entitled "Life and Times of
Salvator Rosa," were reposing in graceful dignity on the open lid of a
portmanteau. Several maids were exerting all their activity to get every
thing properly arranged; all was bustle and preparation.

Adjoining the chamber was a boudoir, furnished likewise in the most
romantic manner, in which sat a lady of even a more romantic appearance
than that of either of the apartments. How shall we describe her? She
certainly (we must tell the truth, and shame you know whom) did not seem
to be of that delightful age, in which a due regard to veracity would
allow us to apply to her the line of the poet, "Le printemps dans sa
fleur sur son visage est peint." Her cheeks, to be sure, were deeply
tinged with a roseate hue, but it was not that with which nature loves
to paint the face of spring; the colour proved too palpably, that it had
been placed there by the exercise of those "curious arts" with which the
sex are enabled to revive dim charms, "and triumph in the bloom of
fifty-five." Her dress was romantic in the extreme. Of the unity of
_time_, at all events, it was in direct violation, for its "gay rainbow
colours," and modish arrangement, were out of all keeping with her
matronly age. One would easily have inferred from it that she was fully
impressed with the conviction, that the years which had glided over her
head, were not of the old-fashioned kind that contain twelve months, or
at least, that she did not consider the lapse of time as at all
calculated to impair the attractions of her physiognomy, however
prejudicial its effect might be upon the faces of the rest of the female
part of the creation. In her countenance there was such an expression of
blended affectation and self-complacency, that it was impossible to look
upon it without feeling an inclination to smile. She was sitting near a
prettily ornamented writing-desk, surmounted by a mirror (in which, by
the way, she always found her greatest admirer), with her head reclining
on her open hand, her elbow resting on a volume which bore on its back
the appropriate title of "The Book of the Boudoir," and her eyes
directed, we need hardly say where,--for who does not love to be
admired? Her _reflections_ were suddenly disturbed by a knock at the
door, which she answered by an "Entrez!" "_Ah, Sir Charles, c'est
vous_," she lisped, as the door opened, and a person in male attire
entered, "_eh bien_, is every thing _prêt_ for our _voyage_?" "Yes, my
dear"--we presume, from this appellation, that the gentleman was her
_caro sposo_, as she might say,--"or at least every thing will be ready
shortly; but let me essay again to dissuade you from this foolish
expedition"--"_de grâce_, Sir Charles, _ayez pitié de moi_; do not
pester me with your _bétises_; I am determined to _faire une autre
visite_ to my _cher_ Paris, so that all you may say will be _tout à
fait inutile_." "Well," sighed the _caro sposo_, "just as you please,"
and he returned to direct the "packing up," while she began to revel in
the anticipations of triumphs, both personal and intellectual, which she
intended to gain in the fashionable and literary capital of the world.
Alas! "oft expectation fails, and most oft there where most it
promises."

Who is this lady? Had she lived in the days of Juvenal, it might have
been supposed that he had her in his eye, when he drew, in his sixth
satire, the picture of the "greatest of all plagues"--had her existence
been cast in the time of the prince of French comic writers, she would
undoubtedly have been presumed to be the prototype of the heroine in one
of his most exquisite comedies; we need hardly say, therefore, that she
is, in the words of Boileau, "_une précieuse_,

"Reste de ces esprits jadis si renommés
Que d'un coup de son art Molière a diffamés."

Pity, then, kind reader, pity the lot of the unfortunate gentleman whom
we have just introduced to your acquaintance. A further account of this
dame may prove not unacceptable.

Her father was an honest actor, accustomed to afford great delight to
those deities who inhabit the one shilling galleries of English and
Irish theatres, and to receive, himself, vast gratification from
worshipping at the shrine of Bacchus. The daughter having given early
indications of quickness and pertness, came to be considered quite a
genius by her family and friends, whose natural partiality soon induced
her to entertain the same opinion. Determined, accordingly, not to hide
her light under a bushel, she made her appearance before the world as an
authoress, from which it may very reasonably be inferred that she had
not yet attained the years of discretion. Her _début_, of course, was as
a wanderer in the realms of imagination, alias, a novel-writer, and in
this capacity she continued to make the public stare for a series of
years. We say stare, for we can find no more appropriate word for
expressing the feelings which her fictions are calculated to excite.
With plots of almost incomprehensible absurdity, they combine a style
more inflated than any balloon in which Madame Blanchard ever sailed
through the regions of air--a language, or rather jargon, composed of
the pickings of nearly every idiom that ever did live, or is at present
in existence, and sentiments which would be often of a highly
mischievous tendency, if they were not rendered ridiculous by the manner
in which they are expressed. The singularity of these productions
excited a good deal of sensation, and, if we believe her own words, she
was placed by them "in a _definite_ rank among authors, and in no
undistinguished circle of society." In some of the principal journals,
however, the lady was severely taken to task, at the same time that she
was counselled to obtain for herself a partner in weal and wo, by which
she might be brought down from her foolish vagaries, to the sober
realities of domestic duty. Wonderful to relate, she followed the advice
of those whom her vanity must have taught her to consider as her
bitterest foes, namely critics,--and as

"Nought but a genius can a genius fit,
A wit herself, Amelia weds a wit."

This wit was a regular knight of the pestle and mortar--a physician,
whose pills and draughts had acquired for him the enviable right of
placing that dignified appellation, Sir, before his Christian name, by
which our authoress became entitled to be addressed as "Your Ladyship,"
as much as if she had married an Earl or a Marquis. Oh! how delighted
the ci-devant plain "Miss" must have been at hearing the servants say to
her, "Yes, my lady,"--"No, my lady."--The year in which the ceremony was
performed that gave her a lord and master, we cannot precisely
ascertain; but as the happy pair favoured the capital of France with
their presence in 1816, it may not be unreasonable to suppose, that they
went there to spend the honeymoon. Miraculous as are the changes which
matrimony sometimes operates, it was powerless in its influence upon her
Ladyship's propensities, and, consequently, not very long after
returning to her "_maison bijou_" in Dublin, she put forth a quarto!
with the magnificent title of "France." There are phenomena in the
physical world, in the moral world, in the intellectual world, but this
book was a phenomenon that beat them all. It was absolutely wonderful
how so much ignorance, nonsense, vanity, and folly, could be compressed
within the compass even of a quarto. All the sense that could be
discerned in it, was contained in four or five essays, upon Love, Law
and Physic, and Politics, contributed by Sir the husband. Being anxious
that "France" should have a companion, she subsequently made an
expedition to the land of the Dilettanti, in company with the dear man
who had made her, "she _trusts_, a respectable, and she is _sure_, a
happy mistress of a family," and forthwith "Italy" appeared to sustain
her well-earned reputation for qualities, which she has the singular
felicity of possessing without exciting envy.



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