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JULIUS AND MARY MOHL
M. C. M. SIMPSON
"Ah, pour moi, il n'y a de ruisseau qui vaille celui de la Rue du Bac"
KEGAN PAUL, TRENCH & CO., 1, PATERNOSTER SQUARE
Soon after the death of my dear old friend Madame Mohl, I wrote down a few reminiscences of her, which appeared in the form of an article in Macmillan's Magazine for September, 1883. Her relations and friends had given me all the assistance that was possible in so short a time; they were much pleased with the little sketch when it appeared, and they earnestly desired that it might be expanded, for much had been suppressed for want of space, and that it might be put into a less ephemeral form. Mr. Macmillan kindly gave me permission to do this. If, therefore, my readers remember to have seen some portions of this book before, I would refer them to the article and assure them that I have borrowed (without acknowledgment) only from myself. To those who knew and loved Madame Mohl, her salon, of which so much has been said, was of far less interest than herself. Kind as she was in inviting us to meet the people we wished to see and to know, it was her own personality that attracted us above all others. It was not the entertaining and instructive hours spent in company with so many distinguished people that we valued most; it was the occasions when we found her alone, when she did not “receive.” She would then pour out unrestrained her fund of anecdote of the days gone by, and give way to her irresistibly droll and peculiar views of life; always, however, in spite of occasional paradox, combining them with a high tone of morality which never degenerated into commonplace. In absence she never forgot her friends; she wrote to them continually; I have upwards of one hundred letters to myself; and as soon as it was known that I contemplated the present publication, many of her other friends were so kind as to send me letters and recollections. The difficulty has been in selection. Many of M. Mohl's letters have also been sent to me; they are full of interest, humour, and originality. Madame Mohl wrote as she spoke, without stopping to choose her words or to reflect on the effect she was producing. She wrote upon her knee, anywhere, even while she was talking, and she seldom read over her letters before she sent them. They do not pretend, therefore, to be like Horace Walpole's, highly finished models of style; but much of the raciness and perfect naturalness of her conversation will be found in them. The charm of manner, the cordial sympathy, the delightful way in which one saw the first gleam of a bright idea strike her mind in her expressive countenance, her merry laugh, can live only in our recollection. Even in her last years, when her mind was failing, if the right spring were touched the instrument would again give forth its melody; but these intervals were few. She was longing for rest, and we could not wish to keep her with us; yet all who loved her will never cease to feel the blank caused by the loss of the charming companion, and, above all, of the faithful, constant, and affectionate friend.