This habit of indiscriminate praise is almost as faulty as that of general censure, and is, in my opinion, more injurious to the praised than the censure is to the abused, because people are prone to indulge a greater degree of sympathy towards those attacked than towards those who are commended. No one said “Amen” to the praises heaped on some really deserving people by ——, but several put in a palliating “pourtant” to the ill-natured remarks made by ——, whose habit of abusing all who chance to be named is quite as remarkable as the other’s habit of praising. I would prefer being attacked by —— to being lauded by ——, for the extravagance of the eulogiums of the latter would excite more ill-will towards me than the censures of the other, as the self-love of the listeners disposes them to feel more kindly to the one they can pity, than to the person they are disposed to envy.
I never look at dear, good Madame C—–, without thinking how soon we may,—nay, we must lose her. At her very advanced age we cannot hope that she will be long spared to us; yet her freshness of heart and wonderful vivacity of mind would almost cheat one into a hope of her long continuing amongst us.
She drove out with me yesterday to the Bois de Boulogne, and, when remarking how verdant and beautiful all around was looking, exclaimed, “Ah! why is no second spring allowed to us? I hear,” continued she, “people say they would not like to renew their youth, but I cannot believe them. There are times—would you believe it?—that I forget my age, and feel so young in imagination that I can scarcely bring myself to think this heart, which is still so youthful, can appertain to the same frame to which is attached this faded and wrinkled face,” and she raised her hand to her cheek. “Ah! my dear friend, it is a sad, sad thing to mark this fearful change, and I never look in my mirror without being shocked. The feelings ought to change with the person, and the heart should become as insensible as the face becomes withered.”
“The change in the face is so gradual, too,” continued Madame C——. “We see ourselves after thirty-five, each day looking a little less well (we are loath to think it ugly), and we attribute it not to the true cause, the approach of that enemy to beauty—age,—but to some temporary indisposition, a bad night’s rest, or an unbecoming cap. We thus go on cheating ourselves, but not cheating others, until some day when the light falls more clearly on our faces, and the fearful truth stands revealed. Wrinkles have usurped the place of dimples; horrid lines, traced by Time, have encircled the eyelids; the eyes, too, no longer bright and pellucid, become dim; the lips dry and colourless, the teeth yellow, and the cheeks pale and faded, as a dried rose-leaf long pressed in a hortus siccus.”
“Alas, alas! who can help thinking of all this when one sees the trees opening into their rich foliage, the earth putting forth its bright verdure, and the flowers budding into bloom, while we resemble the hoar and dreary winter, and scarcely retain a trace of the genial summer we once knew.”