Your current location:home >family >been able to command a moment of his own time, while in text

been able to command a moment of his own time, while in

time:2023-12-01 14:01:26 Source: Originally writtenedit:family

core tips


"Our new Guests will make better sport: they are going to have their Comedy acted again [Comedy of THE EXCHANGE, much an entertainment with them]: Vanture [conceivable, not known] is to do the Count de Boursoufle (DE BLISTER or DE WINDBAG); you will not say this is a hit, any more than Madame du Chatelet's doing the Hon. Miss Piggery (LA COCHONNIERE), who ought to be fat and short." [L'ECHANGE, The Exchange, or WHEN SHALL I GET NARRIED? Farce in three acts: OEuvres, x. 167-222; used to be played at Cirey and elsewhere (see plenty of details upon it, exact or not quite so, IB. 7-9).]--Little De Staal then abruptly breaks off, to ask about her Correspondent's health, and her Correspondent's friend old President Henault's health; touches on those "grumblings and discords in the Army (TRACASSERIES DE L'ARMEE)," which are making such astir; how M. d'Argenson, our fine War-Minister, man of talent amid blockheads, will manage them; and suddenly exclaims: "O my queen, what curious animals men and women are! I laugh at their manoeuvres, the days when I have slept well; if I have missed sleep, I could kill them. These changes of temper prove that I do not break off kind. Let us mock other people, and let other people mock us; it is well done on both sides.--[Poor little De Staal: to what a posture have things come with you, in that fast-rotting Epoch, of Hypocrisies becoming all insolvent!]

been able to command a moment of his own time, while in

"WEDNESDAY, 16th. Our Ghosts do not show themselves by daylight. They appeared yesterday at ten in the evening; I do not think we shall see them sooner to-day: the one is engaged in writing high feats [SIECLE DE LOUIS XV., or what at last became such]; the other in commenting Newton. They will neither play nor walk: they are, in fact, equivalent to ZEROS in a society where their learned writings are of no significance.--[Pauses, without notice given: for some hours, perhaps days; then resuming:] Nay, worse still: their apparition to-night has produced a vehement declamation on one of our little social diversions here, the game of CAVAGNOLE: ["Kind of BIRIBI," it would appear; in the height of fashion then.] it was continued and maintained," on the part of Madame du Chatelet, you guess, "in a tone which is altogether unheard of in this place; and was endured," on the part of Serene Highness, "with a moderation not less surprising. But what is unendurable is my babble"-- And herewith our nimble little woman hops off again into the general field of things; and gossips largely, How are you, my queen, Whither are you going, Whither we; That the Maillebois people are away, and also the Villeneuves, if anybody knew them now; then how the Estillacs, to the number of four, are coming to-morrow; and Cousin Soquence, for all his hunting, can catch nothing; and it is a continual coming and going; and how Boursoufle is to be played, and a Dame Dufour is just come, who will do a character. Rubrics, vanished Shadows, nearly all those high Dames and Gentlemen; LA PAUVRE Saint-Pierre, "eaten with gout," who is she? "Still drags herself about, as well as she can; but not with me, for I never go by land, and she seems to have the hydrophobia, when I take to the water. [Thread of date is gone! I almost think we must have got to Saturday by this time:--or perhaps it is only Thursday, and Maillebois off prematurely, to be out of the way of the Farce? Little De Staal takes no notice; but continues gossiping rapidly:]

been able to command a moment of his own time, while in

"Yesterday Madame du Chatelet got into her third lodging: she could not any longer endure the one she had chosen. There was noise in it, smoke without fire:--privately meseems, a little the emblem of herself! As to noise, it was not by night that it incommoded her, she told me, but by day, when she was in the thick of her work: it deranges her ideas. She is busy reviewing her PRINCIPLES"-- NEWTON'S PRINCIPIA, no doubt, but De Staal will understand it only as PRINCIPES, Principles in general:--"it is an exercise she repeats every year, without which the Principles might get away, and perhaps go so far she would never find them again [You satirical little gypsy!]. Her head, like enough, is a kind of lock-up for them, rather than a birthplace, or natural home: and that is a case for watching carefully lest they get away. She prefers the high air of this occupation to every kind of amusement, and persists in not showing herself till after dark. Voltaire has produced some gallant verses [unknown to Editors] which help off a little the bad effect of such unusual behavior.

been able to command a moment of his own time, while in

"SUNDAY, 27th. I told you on Thursday [no, you did n't; you only meant to tell] that our Spectres were going on the morrow, and that the Piece was to be played that evening: all this has been done. I cannot give you much of Boursoufle [done by one Vanture]. Mademoiselle Piggery [DE LA COCHONNIERE, Madame du Chatelet herself] executed so perfectly the extravagance of her part, that I own it gave me real pleasure. But Vanture only put his own fatuity into the character of Boursoufle, which wanted more: he played naturally in a Piece where all requires to be forced, like the subject of it."--What a pity none of us has read this fine Farce! "One Paris did the part of MUSCADIN (Little Coxcomb), which name represents his character: in short, it can be said the Farce was well given. The Author ennobled it by a Prologue for the Occasion; which he acted very well, along with Madame Dufour as BARBE (Governess Barbara),--who, but for this brilliant action, could not have put up with merely being Governess to Piggery. And, in fact, she disdained the simplicity of dress which her part required;--as did the chief actress," Du Chatelet herself (age now forty-one); "who, in playing PIGGERY, preferred the interests of her own face to those of the Piece, and made her entry in all the splendor and elegant equipments of a Court Lady,"--her "PRINCIPLES," though the key is turned upon them, not unlike jumping out of window, one would say! "She had a crow to pluck [MAILLE A PARTIR, "clasp to open," which is better] with Voltaire on this point: but she is sovereign, and he is slave. I am very sorry at their going, though I was worn out with doing her multifarious errands all the time she was here.

"WEDNESDAY, 30th. M. le President [Henault] has been asked hither; and he is to bring you, my Queen! Tried all I could to hinder; but they would not be put off. If your health and disposition do suit, it will be charming. In any case, I have got you a good apartment: it is the one that Madame du Chatelet had seized upon, after an exact review of all the Mansion. There will be a little less furniture than she had put in it; Madame had pillaged all her previous apartments to equip this one. We found about seven tables in it, for one item: she needs them of all sizes; immense, to spread out her papers upon; solid, to support her NECESSAIRE; slighter, for her nicknacks (POMPONS), for her jewels. And this fine arrangement did not save her from an accident like that of Philip II., when, after spending all the night in writing, he got his despatches drowned by the oversetting of an ink-bottle. The Lady did not pretend to imitate the moderation of that Prince; at any rate, he was only writing on affairs of state; and the thing they blotted, on this occasion, was Algebra, much more difficult to clean up again.

"This subject ought to be exhausted: one word more, and then it does end. The day after their departure, I receive a Letter of four pages, and a Note enclosed, which announces dreadful burly-burly: M. de Voltaire has mislaid his Farce, forgotten to get back the parts, and lost his Prologue: I am to find all that again [excessively tremulous about his Manuscripts, M. de Voltaire; of such value are they, of such danger to him; there is LA PUCELLE, for example,--enough to hang a man, were it surreptitiously launched forth in print!]--I am to send him the Prologue instantly, not by post, because they would copy it; to keep the parts for fear of the same accident, and to lock up the Piece 'under a hundred keys.' I should have thought one padlock sufficient for this treasure! I have duly executed his orders." [ Madame de Graffigny (Paris, 1820), pp. 283-291.]

And herewith EXPLICIT DE STAAL. Scene closes: EXEUNT OMNES; are off to Paris or Versailles again; to Luneville and the Court of Stanislaus again,--where also adventures await them, which will be heard of!

"Figure to yourself," says some other Eye-witness, "a lean Lady, with big arms and long legs; small head, and countenance losing itself in a cloudery of head-dress; cocked nose [RETROUSSE, say you? Very slightly, then; quite an unobjectionable nose!] and pair of small greenish eyes; complexion tawny, and mouth too big: this was the divine Emilie, whom Voltaire celebrates to the stars. Loaded to extravagance with ribbons, laces, face-patches, jewels and female ornaments; determined to be sumptuous in spite of Economics, and pretty in spite of Nature:" Pooh, it is an enemy's hand that paints! "And then by her side," continues he, "the thin long figure of Voltaire, that Anatomy of an Apollo, affecting worship of her," [From Rodenbeck (quoting somebody, whom I have surely seen in French; whom Rodenbeck tries to name, as he could have done, but curiously without success), i. 179.]--yes, that thin long Gentleman, with high red-heeled shoes, and the daintiest polite attitudes and paces; in superfine coat, laced hat under arm; nose and under-lip ever more like coalescing (owing to decay of teeth), but two eyes shining on you like carbuncles; and in the ringing voice, such touches of speech when you apply for it! Thus they at Sceaux and elsewhere; walking their Life-minuet, making their entrances and exits.