There is something very interesting in the unbroken friendship of these two men of genius, and its constancy elevates both in my estimation. They are not more unlike than are their respective works, both of which, though so dissimilar, are admirable in their way. The mobility and extreme excitability of the French, render such men as Monsieur Thiers extremely dangerous to monarchical power. His genius, his eloquence, and his boldness, furnish him with the means of exciting the enthusiasm of his countrymen as surely as a torch applied to gunpowder produces an explosion. In England these qualities, however elevated, would fail to produce similar results; for enthusiasm is there little known, and, when it comes forth, satisfies itself with a brief manifestation, and swiftly resigns itself to the prudent jurisdiction of reason. Napoleon himself, with all the glory associated with his name—a glory that intoxicated the French—would have failed to inebriate the sober-minded English.
Through my acquaintance with the Baron de Cailleux, who is at the head of the Musee, I obtained permission to take Lord John Russell, Mr. Rogers, and Mr. Luttrell, to the galleries of the Louvre yesterday, it being a day on which the public are excluded. The Baron received us, did the honours of the Musee with all the intelligence and urbanity that distinguish him, and made as favourable an impression on my countrymen as they seemed to have produced on him.
Rogers has a pure taste in the fine arts, and has cultivated it con amore; Luttrell brings to the study a practised eye and a matured judgment; but Lord John, nurtured from infancy in dwellings, the walls of which glow with the chefs-d’oeuvre of the old masters and the best works of the modern ones, possesses an exquisite tact in recognizing at a glance the finest points in a picture, and reasons on them with all the savoir of a connoisseur and the feeling of an amateur.
It is a pleasant thing to view collections of art with those fully capable of appreciating them, and I enjoyed this satisfaction yesterday. The Baron de Cailleux evinced no little pleasure in conducting my companions from one masterpiece to another, and two or three hours passed away rapidly in the interesting study.
The Marquis and Marquise de B——, Comte V——, and some others, dined here yesterday. The Marquise de B—— is very clever, has agreeable manners, knows the world thoroughly, and neither under nor overvalues it. A constant friction with society, while it smoothes down asperities and polishes manners, is apt to impair if not destroy much of the originality and raciness peculiar to clever people. To suit themselves to the ordinary level of society, they become either insipid or satirical; they mix too much water, or apply cayenne pepper to the wine of their conversation: hence that mind which, apart from the artificial atmosphere of the busy world, might have grown into strength and beauty, becomes like some poor child nurtured in the unhealthy precincts of a dense and crowded city,—diseased, stunted, rickety, and incapable of distinguishing itself from its fellows.