Page images
PDF
EPUB

money; and, helpless and awkward as I have ever been, I no longer enjoyed the indispensable comfort of a servant. My condition seemed as destitute of hope, as it was devoid of pleasure: I was separated for an indefinite, which appeared an infinite, term from my native country; and I had lost all connection with my Catholic friends. I have since reflected with surprise, that as the Romish clergy of every part of Europe maintain a close correspondence with each other, they never attempted, by letters or messages, to rescue me from the hands of the heretics, or at least to confirm my zeal and constancy in the profession of the faith. Such was my first introduction to Lausanne; a place where I spent nearly five years with pleasure and profit, which I afterwards revisited without compulsion, and which I have finally selected as the most grateful retreat for the decline of my life.

But it is the peculiar felicity of youth that the most unpleasing objects and events seldom make a deep or lasting impression; it forgets the past, enjoys the present, and anticipates the future. At the flexible age of sixteen I soon learned to endure, and gradually to adopt, the new forms of arbitrary manners: the real hardships of my situation were alienated by time. Had I been sent abroad in a more splendid style, such as the fortune and bounty of my father might have supplied, I might have returned home with the same stock of language and science which our countrymen usually import from the continent. An exile and a prisoner as I was, their example betrayed me into some irregularities of wine, of play, and of idle excursions; but I soon felt the impossibility of associating with them on equal terms; and after the departure of my first acquaintances, I held a cold and civil correspondence with their successors. This seclusion from English society was attended with the most solid benefits. In the Pays de Vaud the French language is used with less imperfection than in most

of the distant provinces of France: in Pavilliard's family necessity compelled me to listen and to speak; and if I was at first disheartened by the apparent slowness, in a few months I was astonished by the rapidity of my progress. My pronunciation was formed by the constant repetition of the same sounds; the variety of words and idioms, the rules of grammar, and distinctions of genders, were impressed in my memory; ease and freedom were obtained by practice, correctness and elegance by labour; and before I was recalled home, French, in which I spontaneously thought, was more familiar than English to my ear, my tongue, and my pen. The first effect of this opening knowledge was the revival of my love of reading, which had been chilled at Oxford; and I soon turned over, without much choice, almost all the French books in my tutor's library. Even these amusements were productive of real advantage: my taste and judgment were now somewhat riper. I was introduced to a new mode of style and literature; by the comparison of manners and opinions, my views were enlarged, my prejudices were corrected; and a copious voluntary abstract of the 'Histoire de l'Eglise et de l'Empire,' by le Suer, may be placed in a middle line between my childish and my manly studies. As soon as I was able to converse with the natives, I began to feel some satisfaction in their company; my awkward timidity was polished and emboldened, and I frequented, for the first time, assemblies of men and women. The acquaintance of the Pavilliards prepared me by degrees for more elegant society. I was received with kindness and indulgence in the best families of Lausanne; and it was in one of these that I formed an intimate and lasting connection with Mr Deyverdun, a young man of an amiable temper and excellent understanding. In the arts of fencing and dancing small indeed was my proficiency; and some months were idly wasted in the riding-school. My unfitness to bodily exercise reconciled me to a seden

tary life; and the horse, the favourite of my countrymen, never contributed to the pleasures of my youth.

My obligations to the lessons of Mr Pavilliard gratitude will not suffer me to forget; he was endowed with a clear head and a warm heart; his innate benevolence had assuaged the spirit of the church; he was rational, because he was moderate; in the course of his studies he had acquired a just though superficial knowledge of most branches of literature; by long practice he was skilled in the arts of teaching; and he laboured with assiduous patience to know the character, gain the affection, and open the mind, of his English pupil.* As soon as we began to under

* Extract of a Letter from M. PAVILLIARD to
EDWARD GIBBON, Esq.

A Lausanne, ce 25 Juillet 1753. MONSIEUR de Gibbon se porte très bien par la grace de Dieu, et il me paroit qu'il ne se trouve pas mal de notre maison; j'ai même lieu de penser qu'il prend de l'attachement pour moi, ce dont je suis charmé et que je travaillerai à augmenter, parcequ'il aura plus de confiance en moi, dans ce que je me propose de lui dire.

Je n'ai point encore entrepris de lui parler sur les matières de religion, parceque je n'entends pas assez la langue Angloise pour soutenir une longue conversation en cette langue, quoique je lise les auteurs Anglois avec assez de facilité; et Monsieur de Gibbon n'entend pas assez de François, mais il y fait beaucoup de progrès.

Je suis fort content de la politesse et de la douceur de caractère de Monsieur votre fils, et je me flatte que je pourrai toujours vous parler de lui avec éloge; il s'applique beaucoup à la lecture.

[TRANSLATION.]

Lausanne, 25th July 1753.

MR GIBBON, by the grace of God, is in good health, and apparently feels himself not uncomfortable in our house.

I

T

stand each other, he gently led me, from a blind and undistinguished love of reading, into the path of instruction. I consented with pleasure that a portion of

have even reason to think that he has imbibed some regard for me, which gives me great pleasure; and I will labour to encrease it, in order to inspire him with more confidence in what I purpose to say to him.

I have not yet addressed him on the subject of religion, because I do not understand the English language sufficiently to sustain a long conversation in it, although I can read English authors with tolerable facility; neither does Mr Gibbon yet understand enough of French, in which however he is making a rapid progress.

I am much satisfied with the politeness and gentleness of your son's character; and I flatter myself that I shall be always able to speak of him with approbation; he applies much to reading.

From M. PAVILLIARD to EDWARD GIBBON, Esq.

A Lausanne, ce 13 Août 1753.

MONSIEUR de Gibbon se porte bien par la grace de Dieu; je l'aime, et je me suis extrèmement attaché à lui parcequ'il est doux et tranquille. Pour ce qui regarde ses sentimens, quoique je ne lui aye encore rien dit là-dessus, j'ai lieu d'espérer qu'il ouvrira les yeux à la vérité. Je le pense ainsi, parcequ' étant dans mon cabinet, il a choisi deux livres de controversie qu'il a pris dans sa chambre, et qu'il les lit. Il m'a chargé de vous offrir ses très humbles respects, et de vous demander la permission de le laisser monter au manege: cet exercise pourroit contribuer à donner de la force à son corps, c'est l'idée qu'il en a.

[TRANSLATION.]

Lausanne, 13th August 1753.

MR GIBBON enjoys good health, by the grace of God. I love, and am extremely attached to him, because he is gentle and tranquil. As regards his opinions, although I have not

the morning hours should be consecrated to a plan of modern history and geography, and to the critical

yet addressed him on the subject, I have reason to hope that he will open his eyes to the truth. I am led to think so by his selection of two books of controversy from my library, which he has taken into his own chamber to read. He has charged me to offer you his humble respects, and to request you to allow him to attend the riding-school, as he thinks the exercise will increase his bodily strength.

From M. PAVILLIARD to EDWARD GIBBON, Esq.

MONSIEUR,

A Lausanne, ce 31 Octobre 1753.

Depuis ma lettre du 15me Août, je recus le 18me du même mois la lettre que vous m'avez fait l'honneur de m'écrire en datte du 24e Juillet. Je l'ai lue avec attention: permettez moi de vous marquer les réflexions que j'y ai fait.

Vous souhaitez que je tienne Monsieur votre fils à la maison attaché à ses études, et qu'il sorte peu. Vous êtes père, par là même, Monsieur, vous avez droit de prescrire la manière dont vous voulez qu'on le conduise. Sans doute vous ne prenez ce parti, que parceque vous croyez qu'on reussira mieux par cette voie, à le ramener des prejugés auxquels il s'est livré. Mais je vous prie de considérer que Monsieur votre fils est d'un caractère sérieux, qu'il se plait à refléchir, qu'étant dans sa chambre occupé à lire, il suivra ses idées, et il s'y attachera toujours plus, parceque personne ne le contredira: d'ailleurs regardant comme une peine l'obligation qu'on lui impose, il sera toujours moins porté à écouter favorablement ce que je lui dirai: il envisagera tous mes discours, comme venant d'un homme qui est dans des idées qu'il désapprouve, et qui veut, cependant, les lui faire recevoir, parcequ'il est paié pour cela.

Je crois, Monsieur, qu'il seroit plus à propos de le distraire un peu, de l'égaier un peu, pour lui faire passer ce qu'il a de trop sombre dans le caractère: en voyant bonne compagnie, il appercevroit qu'on pense juste sur bien de sujets : il s'accoutumeroit à être contredit quelquefois, et à céder aussi dans l'occasion, il examineroit avec plus de soin et

« PreviousContinue »