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Tocqueville, M. Circourt, St.-Hilaire, and Corcelle breakfasted with us.
The conversation took the same turn as yesterday.
“May I venture,' said Lord Granville to Z., 'to ask whom of your opponents you feared the most?'
'Beyond all comparison,' answered Z., ‘Thicrs.' "Was not D.,' I asked, very formidable ?'
Certainly,' said Z. “But he had not the wit, or the entraînement of Thiers. His sentences were like his action. He had only one gesture, raising and sinking his right arm, and every time that right arm fell, it accompanied a sentence adding a link to a chain of argument, massive and well tempered, without a particle of dross, which coiled round his adversary like a boa constrictor.'
*And yet,' said M., ‘he was always languid and embarrassed at starting ; it took him ten minutes to get en train.'
· That defect,' said Lord Granville, 'belonged to many of our good speakers—to Charles Fox- to Lord Holland. Indeed Fox required the excitement of serious business to become fluent. He never made a tolerable afterdinner speech.'
Among the peculiarities of D.,' said M., “are his perfect tact and discretion in the tribune, and his awkwardness in ordinary life. In public and in private he is two different men.'
It is impossible,' said Tocqueville, 'to deny that D. was great in a deliberative body, but his real scene of action is the bar. He was only among the best
speakers in the Constituent Assembly. He is the greatest advocate at the bar.'
* Although,' said Mat the bar, where he represents only his client, one of the elements of his parliamentary success, his high moral character, does not assist him. Do you remember how, on the debate of the Roman expedition, he annihilated by one sentence Jules Favre who had ventured to assail him? injures,” he said, “ sont comme les corps pesants, dont la force dépend de la hauteur d'où ils tombent."
• One man,' said Z., ‘who enjoys a great European reputation, I could never think of as a serious adversary, that is Lamartine.
'He appeared to me to treat the sad realities of political life as materials out of which he could compose strange and picturesque scenes, or draw food for his imagination and his vanity. He seemed always to be saying to himself: "How will the future dramatist or poet, or painter, represent this event, and what will be my part in the picture, or in the poem, or on the
'Il cherchait toujours à poser.--He could give pleasure, he could give pain—he could amuse, and he could irritate,-but he seldom could persuade, and he never could convince. Even before the gate of the Hôtel de Ville, the most brilliant hour of his life, he owed his success rather to his tall figure, his fine features, attractive as well as commanding, his voice, his action-in short, to the assemblage of qualities which the Greeks called úróxplois, than to his eloquence.'
· Was not,' I said, “his contrast between the red flag and the tricolor eloquent?'
It was a fine bit of imagery,' said Z., and admirably adapted to the occasion. I do not deny to him the power of saying fine things—perhaps fine speeches, but he never made a good speech-a speech which it was difficult to answer.'
'If anyone,' he continued, 'ever takes the trouble to look into our Parliamentary debates, Lamartine will hold a higher comparative rank than he is really entitled to. Most of us were too busy to correct the reports for the “Moniteur.” Lamartine not only corrected them but inserted whole passages.'
"He inserted,' said M., not only passages but facts. Such as “ applaudissements," "vive émotion," "hilarité," often when the speech had been received in silence, or unattended to.'
I remember,' said Corcelle, "an insertion of that kind in the report of a speech which was never delivered. It was during the Restoration, when written speeches were read, and sometimes were sent to the “ Moniteur" in anticipation of their being read. Such had been the case with respect to the speech in question. The intended orator had inserted, like Lamartine, “vifs applaudissements," "profonde sensation, and other notices of the effect of his speech. The House adjourned unexpectedly before it was delivered, and he forgot to withdraw the report.'
Could a man like Lord Althorp,' I asked, “whom it
was painful to hear, hold his place as leader of a French Assembly?'
"Impossible,' said Tocqueville, unless he were a soldier. We tolerate from a man who has almost necessarily been deprived of a careful education much clumsiness and awkwardness of elocution. Soult did not speak much better than the Duke of Wellington, but he was listened to. He had, like the Duke, an air of command which imposed.'
Was there,' I said, ' any personal quarrel between Soult and Thiers?'
Certainly there was,' said Z., 'a little one. I will not say that Soult was in Spain a successful commander, or an agreeable colleague, or an obedient subordinate, but whenever things went wrong there, Soult was the man whom the Emperor sent thither to put them to rights. Great as Thiers may be as a military critic, I venture to put him below Napoleon.'
I have been reading,' I said, 'Falloux's reception speech, and was disappointed by it.'
In his speech and Brifault's,' said Circourt, you may compare the present declamatory style and that of thirty years ago. Brifault has, or attempts to have, the légèreté and the prettiness of the Restoration. Falloux is grandiose and emphatic, as we all are now.'
'Falloux,' said Z., 'made an excellent speech the first time that he addressed the Chamber of Deputies. The next time he was not so successful, and after that he ceased to be listened to.
* But in the Constituent Assembly, and indeed in the
Legislative, he acquired an ascendency. In those Assemblies, great moral qualities and a high social position were rarer than they were among the Deputies, and in the dangers of the country they were more wanted. Falloux possesses them all. He is honest and brave, and in his province employs liberally and usefully a large fortune.
"Were those the merits,' I asked, 'which opened to him the doors of the Academy?'
Certainly,' answered Z. •As a man of letters he is nothing, as a statesman not much. We elected him in honour of his courage and his honesty, and perhaps with some regard to his fortune. We are the only independent body left, and we value in a candidate no quality more than independence.'
'I am told,' I said, that Falloux is now an ultraLegitimist.'
That is not true,' said Z. He is a Legitimist, but a liberal one. He would tolerate no Government, whatever were its other claims, that was not constitutional.'
Your Academic ceremonies,' I said 'seem to me not very well imagined. There is something fade, almost ridiculous, in the literary minuet in which the récipiendaire and the receiver are trotted out to show their paces to each other and to the Academy. The new member extolling the predecessor of whom he is the unworthy successor, the old member lauding his new colleague to his face, and assuring him that he, too, is one of the ornaments of the Society'