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But while we cordially agree with M. Arnault in censuring this disgraceful traffic, we cannot think that his own course is altogether blameless; for, as we have hinted, three at least of his volumes are mere catchpennies; and under the title of his Souvenirs—he had inveigled us into the purchase of a mass of old newspaper criticisms on departed plays, stale anecdotes from all the Biographies Modernes, and tedious accounts of his travels, extracted from road-books and local Guides. We have also to complain, that he has, in another particular, imitated the objects of his censure-by publishing not a complete work, but merely livraisons of a work, of which the extent and expense are indefinite. This is another trick of the Parisian trade, against which we warn our readers. One is content to give a dozen francs for a couple of volumes of Le Vasseur, or of the Duchess of Abrantes, or of Louis XVIII., or even of M. Arnault, but when you have bought them you find these two to be only the preludes to two more: well, you are unwilling to have an incomplete book, however worthless--you buy the second livraison; then comes another and another, and you are still tempted to throw good money after bad, as the saying is, till at last you find yourself involved to the extent of eight, ten, or twelve volumes, really not worth binding. We therefore earnestly press upon our readers the prudence of suspending their purchases of such works till they shall be completed a course which, if generally adopted, would have two excellent effects: it would oblige the Parisian publishers to let us have the whole work at once; and it would force the authors or editors to compress their information into reasonable compass. Eight or ten, or a dozen volumes, and an expense of two or three pounds, would be abridged to two volumes and a cost of ten shillings, not only without any sacrifice, but even with improvement, of the merit of the works. Now for M. Arnault personally.
We remember hearing Madame de Stael say, in her epigrammatic way, · L'Etranger est la postérité contemporaine :' this mot we believe she borrowed from Desmoulins--for, rich as she was in bon-mots, she frequently condescended to borrow-particularly chez l'etranger; but whether the phrase be hers or his Corinne's or Camille's -it gives M. Arnault but a short prospect of posthumous fame ; for we verily believe that, beyond the exterior Boulevard of Paris, he is scarcely remembered as an author, and that tains a minute description of Sir W. Scott and his house, which shows that the writer never conversed with the one nor entered the other; and as to the Chroniques,' &c., they are--what English reader would have believed such impudence to be possible ? they are, without exception, paltry scraps of fiction, translated from the London Annuals of the last three or four years. The Gem'- The Bijou? — The Forget Me Not,' &c. &c. In short, the whole affair is a stupid lie.
We are sorry,
none of his works ever passed the Rhine, the Alps, the Pyrenees, or the Channel. Accordingly, his personal and literary story will be soon told. He was born in 1766, his father, and subsequently he himself, had purchased offices in the household of the French princes -Arnault's being in that of Monsieur, afterwards Louis XVIII. Arnault's liberal spirit confesses this with evident reluctance, and describes his office by studied periphrases. His duty was, he says, 'to supply, for six weeks in the year, the place of the Comte d'Avaray, who was about Monsieur what the Duke of Liancourt was about the king.'-p. 164. This lucid explanation, ignotum per ignotius, is all that M. Arnault affords us: though he is minute enough upon other points, he leaves his reader quite in the dark as to what his official duties and title were. however, to be obliged to confess our mortifying suspicion that he was neither more nor less than a kind of valet; and still more sorry to say, that the art with which he distigures this fact gives no favourable impression of his candour. Who would not believe, from his expressions, that he and M. d'Avaray performed, in each other's absence, the same duties to Monsieur, that the Duke de Liancourt performed for the king-and that he and M. d'Avaray were equals, or, at worst, that he was M. d'Avaray's deputy ? Now, if we are not misinformed, it was no such thing : the Duke de Liancourt was Grand Maître de la garderobe du Roi, (grand master of the wardrobe,) and Messrs. Le Comte de Crénay and Le Marquis d'Avaray were maîtres de la garderobe de Monsieur, and relieved each other in the tour of duty-while poor little Arnault was, as we have heard and believe, in the very subordinate station of valet de la garderobe; and if he ever replaced M. d'Avaray in his absence, it must have been as a corporal replaces a captain in the command of a company, when all the other officers happen to be out of the way. Ofie, M. Arnault !
-a liberal should not be ashamed of his proper calling; an honest autobiographer ought not to involve his first step in life in studied obscurity; and above all, he should not, for the sake of a little paltry vanity, make an elaborate falsification of a fact.
In the winter of 1790, while he was still in the service of Monsieur, he produced his first and best-known work, the tragedy of · Marius à Minturnes.' The Revolution had already gotten possession of the stage, and the Roman names and republican sentiments which naturally entered into the subject, contributed, no doubt, to the short popularity of this piece. But this literary success was soon counterbalanced, and his prospects were sadly clouded by Monsieur's emigration, which left Arnault without office or salary; and as he had spent most of his patrimony in the purchase of this little place, the loss was very severe to him : indeed, he seems, as we shall see, never to have forgiven the innocent cause of his disaster, and throughout his whole book aims many poor sarcasms and revives many atrocious slanders against his old mas
Arnault admits that he was at first awkward in the performance of his service, but that Monsieur* to do him justice, never showed the least impatience of his maladresse :—but neither,' (complains the mortified ex-valet,)' did he show any satisfaction when by practice I had learned to do better. Indeed, he was a real idol, that never showed either dissatisfaction or pleasure at being better or worse served by its ministers. Once, and once only, he departed from the system of moderation he had prescribed to himself. One of his valets de chambre, named Duruflé, a literary man of some distinction and who had even obtained a prize from the Academy, having hurt the prince while drawing on his stocking, he exclaimed, “What a fool!” “ I did not think," replied the other, “ that one was a fool for not knowing how to put on Monsieur's stocking.” Wire le * One is a fool," rejoined the prince
, ,, who has not sense enough to ufroza so do properly what he undertakes to do."! —vol. i. p. 166.
! Pas si bête,' as honest Figaro says-Monsieur at least was no
many fool. Indeed, M. Arnault admits that he was a' garçon d'esprit ;' and though he evidently has a spite against him, and endeavours by a hundred little sneers and some very calumnious insinuations to lower his character, the foregoing anecdote is the most serious offence which he specifically alleges. We guess, however, that this offence may have been more serious in Arnault's eyes than it appears at first sight, as there is reason to suspect that it was Arnault himself, not Duruflė, who received the reprimand.
M. Arnault's politics were not as yet, he tells us, very decided ; though it is evident that he was on the liberal side; but the massacres of September gave a pretty strong hint, that Paris was no Jonger an eligible residence for any person—however liberal his sentiments might be—who had been in the service of the royal family;* accordingly, on the 5th September, 1792, M. Arnault left Paris, and after many difficulties escaped from Boulogne to England. He spent about six weeks in London; and as the most he can say of his acquaintance with our language is, that he knew quelque mots d'Anglais, we are not surprised to find that he has little to say about us, and that, in saying that little, he has made some ridiculous mistakes,—such as designating Ancient Pistol in Henry V. as Le Vieux Pistol,—but we cannot so easily forgive
* A small but curious proof of the virulent fanaticism with which everything that had any connexion, however slight, with royalty, was persecuted in those days, has fallen under our notice as we are writing this article. Having had occasion to cou. sult the Almanach Royal for 1790, we happened to procure a copy handsomely bound -but the red morocco and gilding had not prevented the prudence of some former owner from cutting out from the title on the back of the volume, the word 'Royal'!
him one or two deliberate misrepresentations--as when he tells us that he saw, in the same play, the French scene, between Catherine and her attendant, acted at Drury Lane in all the grossness of the original language. Now, Drury Lane theatre was pulled down in 1791, and not re-opened till 1794; as, however, he might have seen the Drury Lane company at the Opera House, we forgive that inaccuracy: but he adds, that he was very much surprised at hearing in an English playhouse an entire scene which he perfectly understood !' This is a fact about which there could be no mistake: he might have forgotten the name of a play, or of the theatre, or of the actors, but there could be no mistake when he recollects the extraordinary occurrence of a whole French scene, and a scene so very remarkable. Now, we think we may assert that this cannot be true: Henry V.' was indeed played at the Haymarket in the autumn of 1792; but as to the French scene, M. Arnault most certainly did not see it.
There is, as everybody knows, such a scene in the printed play, but everybody equally well knows that it never was acted in niodern times. These are small matters, but as tests of veracity they are just as good as more serious affairs; and we confess that we are compelled by a variety of such circumstances to repeat our doubts of M. Arnault's general accuracy,
M. Arnault's emigration may have been mainly decided by the influence of fear, or, as he expresses it, by his horror of blood,' but we see cause to surmise that there was a little of another kind of prudence in it. The advance of the allies into France made it probable, in September, 1792, that the royal cause was about to triumph,—and in that case a little tour to London would have been an irresistible claim to restoration, if not to promotion, in the royal household: we are led to this suspicion by M. Ar. nault's avowal, that ! after the retreat of the Prussians, the successes of the French, and après le train que prenaient les choses, the prolongation of his visit to England had no longer any reasonable motive, but might even be seriously injurious.'-- vol. i. p. 393. and so he returned to France; where, unfortunately, the reign of blood was not only not passed, but had taken a course wider, deeper, better organized, and more demoniacal, than even the mob massacres of September.
Two or three anecdotes relative to those days of terror we think worth preserving: the first is truly characteristic of a French savant
" I have made,' said La Grange, a statement of the mortality in Paris during the years 1793 and 1794, and on comparing them with the preceding years, I do not find that the establishment of the Revolu
tionary Tribunal made any great difference. Deduct from the number of the victims those who would have died from old age, sickness, or accident, and you will find that the influence of this tribunal on the mortality of the capital is reduced to almost nothing.'--vol. iv. p. 316.
Now, this calculation of the bonhomme La Grange (as Arnault strangely calls him) is not more atrocious in morals than erroneous in statistics as discreditable to the mathematician as to the man. In the first place, the population of Paris had been so enormously diminished-every one who could possibly quit that hell upon earth having done so—that if the mortality in the diminished numbers had only equalled the natural mortality of former years, it would have proved a vast increase on the proportionable number of deaths. Again, begging the philosopher's pardon, we think that, even if the number of deaths had been the same, some little difference might be suggested between dying in one's bed, and being mangled on a scaffold, And again, did not this learned gentleman see that his calculation supposes that the guillotine was peculiarly active with those who were the least possible of being guilty of any offence-the old and the ailing? But above all, since his calculation was founded on the returns of the mortality, what was the use of the calculation at all? If the returns were accurate, they must have specified how many were executed. Why then does he not tell us that number? Why proceed with circuitous trouble to produce a vague result, instead of the certainty which he must have possessed, and which he chooses to conceal ? This was the same savant who, when Napoleon, who liked that folks should believe in a God, (vol. iv. p, 317,) asked him what he thought of God, replied, “A pretty theory-it explains a great many things.' • Zolie hypothèse!' (the philosopher lisped), elle explique bien de sozes.' La Grange's science seems to us quite on a par with the feeling of one Artaud, who, a few days after the execution of Camille Desmoulins, said, with a sentimental sigh, One cannot mow the harvest without cutting down some flowers.'-(ib.)
M. Arnault, by his intimacy with the infamous Chenier and some other notorious Jacobins, fell under the inputation of having belonged to that party; and an attempted defence of Chenier in these volumes seems to give additional countenance to that opinion; but, to do him justice, we must express our belief that such suspicions were groundless ; at least we may confidently say that of the three greatest infamies of that period--the murders of the innocent and patriot-king, of the innocent and heroic queen, of the innocent and angelic Elizabeth—he now :speaks with proper feeling; and with regard to that one of these illustrious victims against whom the most violent acharnement of the Jacobins had