British Fiction, 18001829

STAËL-HOLSTEIN, Anne Louise Germaine de. Corinna (1807)

Contemporary Reviews

Critical Review, 3rd ser. 12 (Nov 1807): 281–84.

During the winter of the year 1794, Oswald, the descendant of the house of Nelvil, one of the most illustrious families of Scottish nobility, left Edinburgh to repair to Italy, for the benefit of his health, which had been injured by a heavy calamity. A veil of mystery is drawn over the story of this young gentleman. The house of his father contained chambers which he shuddered to approach. He talks of the shades of the dead ‘hovering over those whom they love.’ He sighs much, shakes his head very much, crosses his arms frequently, takes no interest in his own immediate destiny; is amiably complaisant, melancholy, tall, handsome, rich, pale, and interesting. Our grosser judgements might have assigned to him a niche in the sanctuary of stupidity, had not Mad. de Stael told us positively, however appearances might be against him, that he was in reality a man of as much sense as feeling,—which, considering that he feels for every thing, is saying a great deal.

To keep alive the interest which all must have in such a character, a female partner is now necessary. But what female is deserving excellence like that of lord Nelvil? Women of ordinary materials would be incapable of duly appreciating the meaning of a mysterious nod, the due value of a tear apparently without reason, and of solving the problem or buttoning or unbuttoning the lappel of a coat hastily, or of drumming with a knife and fork against the table. Gross earthly females might even accompany these gesticulations with a, ‘Sir, are you mad or a fool? or by a fit of laughter. Nature must be new moulded, and accordingly she is new moulded with a vengeance—and this leads us to Corinna, who is introduced to us neither knitting, nor spinning, nor playing, nor reading, nor making tarts and custards, like our grandmothers; nor at chemical experiments, like our sisters. [281/282] She is ushered in with the ringing of all the bells at Rome, with explosions of cannon, and the universal exclamations of ‘Long live Corinna—let genius flourish—success to beauty!’ In short, Corinna, as his lordship is informed, ‘is the most celebrated woman of Italy—as a poetess, writer, and composer of extempore rhymes; one of the finest women in Rome;’ and certainly the most extraordinary woman in our limited acquaintance. She is to be crowned at the Capitol; and it is during this ceremony that lord Nelvil loves Corinna; and, stranger yet, that Corinna loves lord Nelvil! Her praises are announced at the coronation, in the capitol, by the prince of Castel-Forte. ‘Corinna,’ says the prince of Castel-Forte, ‘is the bond by which her friends are united together; she is the movement, the interest of our life; we are dependant upon her goodness; we are proud of her genius; we say to strangers—Look at her; she is the image of our beautiful Italy.’ After this panegyric from his highness, we were curious to hear the object on which it was bestowed, address the multitude. A subject is proposed by her admirers who throng the capitol: it is the glory and happiness of Italy. The substance of her extemporaneous effusion in verse might be reduced to one position, that the human, like the vegetable race, are exalted to a higher degree of elevation under a bright than under a clouded sky. Corinna, whom we believe to be no other than Mad. de Stael herself en militaire, had been in England and Italy. The latter is the ‘Empire of the Sun;’ and the human race has been often tributary ‘to her arms, her find arts, and her climate.’—‘Our serene sky and smiling climate inspired Ariosto.’—‘Are ye acquainted with that country where the orange trees flourish, fecundated with love by the rays of heaven?’ &c. In short, the praise of Italy by implication involves the dispraise of gloomy Britain. If the former be the land of genius and sensibility, the latter is the region of dulness and apathy. This might in some degree be excusable in a foreigner, who can only judge of countries and their characters from a superficial view. But when it is almost inferred, that unhappiness is a stranger to Italy, and that we have the exclusive privilege of being miserable, we cannot but suspect the author of having formed her opinions before her visit to either country.

From the time that Corinna and lord Nelvil become acquainted, all is tumult; despair for no reason, hope with equal reason; and from this first acquaintance the book becomes partly a guide to the public places, and ruins of the Capitol; partly a thermometer, marking all that passes in the thoughts and pracordia of these two original lovers. [282/283]

After a short acquaintance, each fall in love with the mind of the other, and from the connection of their two minds some most curious remarks arise in every page. Each is in possession of a secret which must not be divulged to the other until some distant time. Here we most childishly left the thread of the plot, to pry into these mysteries—but like the letters which are received on April day, the superscription excited a curiosity which was miserably disappointed by finding the interior a blank. The secret of his lordship is so little worth keeping that we shall divulge it without demanding silence of our friends. His father suspected that he was about to marry a Madame d’Arbigny, and died in this suspicion. This event never came to pass, and therefore the many convulsive sobs, and prelusive agonies, with which the story is ushered into the world, might have been spared. It was the wish of his father that he should have married a Miss Lucilia Edgermond, who turns out to be the sister-in-law of Corinna herself. In the persons of these two ladies the characters of English and Italian females are painted: and however we may be surprized at a Corinna, we must be equally disgusted at the vapid stupidity of a Lucilia. The residence of Corinna in a small town of Northumberland, affords the author an opportunity of lashing the stern and rigid housewifes, and their fox-hunting mates, of our country towns, with some sarcasm, and not without justice. It is a subject with which we are not displeased. Hypocrisy, prudery, and stupidity, should be assailed wherever they may be found.

In this dreary abode, deprived of the use of her tongue by the arbitrary authority of a step-mother, and despairing of a sight of the sun, for which she languished, we are not suprized to find a sprightly Italian female dispirited and discontented. On returning to Italy, she regains her spirits, and assumes her proper character, which, according to the estimation of Mad. de Stael, entitles her to rank the first of woman-kind. Her subsequent acquaintance with our countryman tends only to embitter the lives of both. They meet but to sigh; and the ‘windy suspiration of forced Oh!’ becomes so frequent as to lose all interest.

The real interest commences at the 16th book, with the departure, absence, and subsequent perfidy, of this windy swain. In England he recommences an acquaintance with Lucilia, which ends in marriage, and the marriage in mutual coldness. Under pretence of restoring his health, he visits Italy in company with his wife and daughter. Corinna’s health is declining; and her amusement consists in educating the child of her rival sister, and in instructing lady [283/284] Nelvil in the arts by which she may gain the esteem of her lord. To effect this union it is evident that the life of Corinna must be sacrificed. But as her life was wonderful, her death is a pageant. There was in Corinna a trait of character which strongly reminds us of deputy Birch, it was a propensity to rhapsodise on all occasions, in all companies, and on all subjects. In point of rhyme the pastry-cook is infinitely beneath her, his reason however, we will not hesitate to place by the side of the Italian syren. In the Capitol, in her letters, on arms, on arts, on nothing, Corinna must harangue. She sports even with death itself, by bidding a poetical farewel to the citizens of Rome assembled to behold their sun before it had entirely sunk in the west. And as she is introduced to us with drums beating and colours flying so she marches off the stage when ‘a dreadful wind began to howl through the houses, when the rain beat violently against the window sashes, and thunder heard in the middle of January aggravated the unpleasant spectacle of bad weather, by a sentiment of horror.’ Such is the day on which Corinna accompanied by Lucilia, entered a crowded hall, to spout her own verses on her own death; or, what is more voluptuous yet, to hear them chaunted by a young damsel adorned with wreaths of flowers.

After having epitomised this work, indisputably with some severity, it might be expected, that our judgment condemns it altogether. Very far from it. We perceived in many passages, too numerous to extract, the genius of Mad. de Stael, which we admire, and the feeling which we esteem. She has suffered from a succession of reverses originating in these troublous times; and her sufferings have thrown a tinge of melancholy over her mind and writings, which we hope a better fortune may obliterate. Our chief objection attaches to the principles which appear to have themselves engrossed her wholly; that women are degraded by the laws of society from their natural rank; and that thought, feeling, genius, and taste, are almost exclusively confined to certain happy climates, beyond which all is sterility, apathy and methodism. To her style many serious objections might be made; and more particularly to that superabundance of epithets with which the substantives are overlaid, to the detriment of sense, the annihilation of feeling, and the protraction of the subject. This latter charge becomes serious, when we consider that a master of language could have compressed the story, with all the episodes and reasonings which are here dilated to three volumes, into one third of the space.

Notes: Format: 3 vols; no price. Publisher: Tipper.

Flowers of Literature (1807): liii-liv.

Madame de Stael, a veteran in this kind of literature, has produced another novel, called Corinna. She fixes the scene in Italy; and her principal aim seems to be to describe the remains of art in Rome, by the introduction of fictitious characters as visitors. The most prominent of theses cha-[liii/liv]racters, are a Scotch nobleman and an Italian heroine; but as the story is evidently subordinate to the object of describing the antiquities, it is needless to expatiate upon it. We need merely say, that this novel displays a correct knowledge of human nature, and that it is not so exceptionable on the score of morality, as the former productions of the same author.

Notes: From ‘Introduction: Novellists [sic]’.

Monthly Review, 2nd ser. 54 (Oct 1807): 152–59.

Invention is tortured for expedients to confer Novelty on the species of composition called Novels; and it requires no small portion of genius to accomplish this object in any degree, so prodigiously multiplied at the present day are the works which come under this description. Madame de Staël has attempted something out of the beaten track; and it would indicate in us a deficiency both of judgment and of taste, if we did not ascribe considerable merit to her performance, though in some respects its defects are not inferior to its excellencies. Regarded merely as a novel, it cannot rank very high; and in the construction of a love story, Mad. de Staël is inferior, if we may judge from this specimen, to many of our British lady-writers: but for accuracy of information and depth of reflection on the antiquities, arts, language, literature, music, climate, and manners of the people of Italy, she is not surpassed by any author who has undertaken to write on these subjects. As her publication has a double title, so it may be said to include a double object. Most of the incidents which immediately relate to Corinna partake of the romance of passion; and in conducting love adventures, unnatural incidents and glaring improbabilities occur; but in the descriptions of Italy, this lady shines in the character of an enlightened traveller, and the English reader will peruse her details with much satisfaction. The delineation of Corinna is in many points original; and the idea of blending Love and Literature is not common: yet the effect will not be generally pleasing. In the compound character of a Cicerone and a lover, if it be not absolutely incongruous, each function embarrasses the other in the representation and will require a combination of taste rarely to be found in readers. They who are merely interested in affairs of the heart will consider details concerning monuments, statues, pictures, and the remains of antient [152/153] magnificence, as tedious interruptions of the narrative; while the antiquary and the virtuoso will be indignant that able critiques on the unrivalled productions of Italy should be interwoven with a sickly love-tale. Such, however, being the nature of the performance, we must regard it in a twofold point of view; first attending to the story, and secondly to the literary matter with which the fair writer has chosen to enrich it.

Oswald, alias Lord Nelvil, the hero of the novel, is represented to be ‘as melancholy as a gentleman’. Notwithstanding that the star of his ascendant smiled with every auspicious omen at his birth, his descent being illustrious, his person handsome, his mind cultivated, and his fortune independent, yet, like Lady Macbeth, he was troubled ‘with thick coming fancies,’ which impaired his health, and rendered him disgusted with life at the usually happy period of twenty-five. The faculty, being of opinion that travelling would be the best specific for dissipating those morbid humours which fed his disease, advised him to exchange the bleak climate of Scotland for the genial sun of southern skies, and proposed the tour of Italy. In his travels, though, for reasons which are at first kept from us, he is still the knight of the sorrowful countenance, yet by sea and by land he displays the greatest magnanimity and generosity; and wherever he goes, his virtues excite admiration. At Inspruck [sic], he picks up a travelling companion in the Count d’Erfeuil, a French emigrant; who, like many of his countrymen, had supported the loss of a large fortune with vivacious fortitude, and had prudently availed himself of his talents to procure an humble yet proud independence. As the Count was going to Rome, the courteous Oswald proposed to be his conductor; and this sprightly Frenchman tries in vain to dissipate the habitual melancholy of the young North Briton: who, in passing through the Marche of Ancona, and the Ecclesiastical States, derives no benefit either from his companion or from the change of scenery.

The severity, however, of Oswald’s grief seems to relax on his entering the gates of Rome; where he finds the streets crouded with mountebanks and puppet-shows, and where on the next morning he is awakened by the explosion of cannon and the ringing of bells. On inquiring the cause of these signals of festivity, he is informed that CORINNA, the most celebrated woman of Italy, as a poet, as a writer, and as a composer of those extemporary rhimes called Improvisatore by the Italians, was to be crowned that morning in the Capitol. The travellers hasten from their hotel, in order to be present at this spectacle. Corinna at last arrives, habited like a Sybille du [153/154] Dominiquin, and drawn by four white horses in a car fashioned after a classic model. In an instant, she so electrifies the imagination of our sorrowful hero, that he falls desperately in love with her; and Cupid, being in one of his sweetest tempers, takes his aim at both hearts, making the passion not less ardent than reciprocal. Corinna, too sublime for the idea of vulgar courtship, invites Oswald to a scientific survey of the treasures of Italy, and offers to be his Cicerone. This captivating proposal is instantly accepted; and the lovers commence the tour of churches, pictures, tombs, obelisks, and statues; paying due honours to the illustrious dead, whom Corinna celebrates in her improvisatore effusions. Oswald, however, though deeply enamoured of this combination of radiant beauty and splendid genius, cannot altogether shake off his melancholy; and love and sorrow struggle for the empire of his heart. Corinna sooths, flatters, and entertains him. Mutual declarations of attachment produce mutual confidence; and, as both have a secret, it is agreed that the irrevocable promise shall not be interchanged till the history of both has been faithfully disclosed.

Devoted to each other, and availing themselves of the free manners of Italy, the lovers travel in the same carriage from Rome to Naples, visiting together the crater of Vesuvius; and, in a hermitage on this celebrated mountain, the hero ventures on a disclosure of the source of his affliction. The secret, however, for which we have so long waited, and from the development of which we expect a surprising event, is almost ludicrously insignificant; and when Corinna, in the farther progress of their journey, reveals the mystery of her birth, we see no adequate reason why these ardent lovers should not seal their vows at the altar. At Venice, however, when every thing seems ripe for the vulgar catastrophe which generally terminates the adventures of a novel, Lord Nelvil quits his Corinna, and returns to Scotland; and after a series of unnatural events, he yields to the solicitation of others, abandons the faithful Corinna, and marries her sister Lucilia.

—Corinna, worn down with grief, visits England and Scotland in disguise: but, though she often sees Lord Nelvil, she never discovers herself to him, and returns without an interview to Florence. Some years having elapsed, Oswald goes to Italy with his wife, and arrives just in time to witness the termination of the sorrows of Corinna: who, exhibited on a kind of public stage, and hearing her farewell rhapsody to her beloved Italy chaunted by a young damsel, for ever closes her weeping eyes. [154/155]

Such, in brief, are the outlines of this singular tale. To a certain point, the incidents are suited to the characters; but Madame de Staël grew embarrassed with these high flown lovers; and if, when they were on the top of Vesuvius, she could have had the resolution to have made them follow the example of Empedocles, the termination would have been more tragic and less disappointing.

We have already said that the travelled notices, with which this romantic narrative is interspersed, form a distinct feature of the work; and of its merit in this particular we shall afford some specimens. We begin with Rome; on which city Madame de Staël’s remarks are judicious:

‘Every thing is common, every thing is prosaic in the exterior of most of our European cities, and Rome more than any other, presents the mournful appearance of misery and degradation; but all at once, a broken column, a half destroyed bas relief, stones united by the indestructible means of the ancient architects, remind us, that there is in man an eternal power, a spark of divinity, and that we must not omit to excite it in ourselves, and to re-animate it in others. This Forum, whose extent is so limited, and which has been the scene of so many surprizing things, is a striking proof of the moral dignity of man. When the world, in the later periods of Rome, was under the dominion of rulers without glory, we find whole ages when history could scarce preserve a few facts, and this Forum, a little spot, the centre of a village, then very circumscribed, and whose inhabitants were in continual contests all around for their territory, yet has not this Forum, by the recollections that it calls back, occupied the greatest geniuses of all ages? Honor then, eternal honor be to a brave and free people, since they thus engage the attention of posterity—

‘Raphael has said, that modern Rome was almost entirely built with the ruins of the ancient city; and, it is certain that we cannot take a single step, without stumbling upon some remains of antiquity. We perceive the eternal walls, as Pliny expresses it, through the works of the latter ages; almost all the edifices at Rome bear historical traces; we may see in them, as it were, the phisiognomy of past ages. From the time of the Etruscans, to our days, from these people, more ancient than the Romans themselves, and who resembled the Egyptians by the solidity of their labours, and the intricacy of their designs, from this people to the Chevalier Bernini, that mannered artist, like all the Italian poets of the 17th century, we may observe the human mind at Rome, in the different characters of the arts, the edifices, and the ruins. The middle age, and the brilliant days of the Medicis, re-appear to our eyes in their works, and this study of the past in objects present before our eyes, penetrates us with the genius of the time. It has been thought, that Rome had formerly something mysterious even in its name, which was known only to the adepts; it would seem that it is still necessary to be initiated in the secret of this city. It is not merely an assemblage of habitations; [155/156] it is in fact, the history of the world, figured by various emblems, and represented in various forms.’

The subsequent passage will convey some idea of the nature of the Italian sky:

‘After having visited the churches and palaces, Corinna conducted Oswald to the Villa Mellini, a solitary garden, and without any other ornament than magnificent trees. We may see from this place, the Appenines at a distance; the transparency of the atmosphere colours these mountains, concentrates them, and paints them in a manner singularly picturesque. Oswald and Corinna remained in this place some time, in order to enjoy the charms of the atmosphere, and the tranquillity of nature. No person can have an idea of this singular tranquillity, unless they have lived in southern climates. We do not feel, in a hot day, the slightest breath of wind. The most slender stalks of grass are perfectly immoveable: the animals themselves partake of the indolence, inspired by the fine weather. In the south we do not hear the chirping of grasshoppers, nor the whistling of birds; nothing fatigues us with useless and transitory emotions:—all is a sleep [sic] until the moment, when a storm or the passions awaken that vehement nature, who then rises with impetuosity from her profound repose.

‘There are in the gardens at Rome, a great number of trees always green, which also add to the illusion made by the mildness of the climate during winter. Pines of a peculiar elegance of appearance, large and brushy towards the top, and close together, form as it were a kind of plain in the air; the effect of which is delightful, when we mount high enough in order to view it. The lower trees are placed beyond this vault of verdure. Two palm trees only are to be seen at Rome, and both are in the gardens of some monks: one of them, placed upon a height, serves as a point of view in the distance, and we have always a sentiment of pleasure, on perceiving and retracing, in the various perspectives to be seen at Rome, this deputy from Africa, this image of a climate still more sultry than that of Italy, and which awakens so many new sensations and ideas.’

This Lady’s account of the Italian character and language is not unworthy of notice:

‘The Italian is full of beauty, even when spoken by the populace. Alfieri said that he went to Florence, on a market day, with no other view than to learn pure Italian. Rome possesses the same advantages; and these two cities are perhaps the only ones in the world in which the people speak so correctly, that amusement may be obtained by listening to them in every corner of the streets. The kind of gaiety, which shines so conspicuous in comic authors, and at the opera buffa, is found very frequent even among men without education. During the continuance of the carnival, when exaggeration and caricature of every kind are licensed, the most comic scenes are frequently displayed by the different masks. Often the grotesque gravity assumed, appears singularly contrasted with the usual vivacity of the Italians; and it may be even said that their fantastic dresses inspired them with [156/157] a dignity not natural to them. At other times they display such an astonishing acquaintance with mythology, by the various disguises they assume, that a person is almost tempted to believe the ancient superstition still prevalent at Rome. Very frequently they ridicule and laugh at the different orders of society with a vein of wit and humour full of point and originality. The character of the nation shines more conspicuously in its sports and public festivals than in memorable actions and exploits. Such is the flexibility of the Italian language, and so happily is it adapted to express pleasurable emotions, that to render the meaning of words various and contrary, nothing more is necessary than to change the tone of the voice, or to employ terms only differing from each other in the termination. When spoken by children, it produces the most happy effect. The innocence peculiar to this period of life, and the equivocal meaning affixed to many Italian words and terms, form a striking contrast. In short, this language appears, so to speak, to proceed of itself, and always conveys to the heart more than is meant by the speaker.’—

‘A singular trait of the Italian character is, that the vivacity of their ideas never leads them to inconstancy, nor renders variety necessary. They are, in all cases, patient and persevering; their imagination embellishes whatever they possess; it employs their life without rendering it uneasy; they find every thing more magnificent, more striking, more beautiful than it is in reality; and whilst in others vanity consists in exhibiting their talents, the sanguine and vivacious disposition of the Italians makes them experience pleasure in the feeling of admiration.’

We often recognize, in the observations of Madame de Staël, a profundity of reflection combined with an acquaintance with the arts that is not very usual among women. The visit to the Vatican produces these remarks:

‘The religion of the Greeks was not, like the christian religion, the comfort of misfortune, the luxury of misery, or the future life to the dying. Its aim was glory and triumph, and it exalted man almost to divine honours. In this worship, which has proved so perishable, even beauty was connected with religious opinions, and if artists were called upon to paint base or savage passions, they spared human nature of the shame of them, by adding something of the brute to the figure, as in the case of fawns and centaurs; and to give to beauty the most sublime character, they alternately united in the statues of men and women the charms of both sexes (as in the warlike Minerva, or in Apollo leading the Muses) where strength and softness are blended together. It is a happy mixture of those two opposite qualities, without which neither of them would be perfect.

‘Corinna, in continuing her observations, kept Oswald some time before the statues which are represented as sleeping before the tombs, and which shew the art of sculpture in the most agreeable point of view. She made him remark, that those statues which are supposed to represent some curve in the motion which is suspended, produce a sort of astonishment that is sometimes painful; but those that are either supposed to be sleeping, or to express complete repose, pre-[157/158]sent an image of eternal tranquillity, which is wonderfully like the effect that a southern climate produces on man. It appears that the fine arts are the peaceable spectators of nature, and that even that genius which agitates the soul in a northern climate, would, under a more favourable sky, only give an additional harmony.

‘Oswald and Corinna then passed into the hall where the sculptured forms of animals and reptiles are assembled, and the statue of Tiberius was found to be placed among them by accident. It was without any intention that such a disposition of them was made. These marble figures appeared spontaneously to range themselves about their master. Another hall contained the melancholy and gloomy monuments of the Egyptians; of that nation whose statues were more like mummies than men, and which by its institutions of silence, stiffness, and servility, appeared, as far as possible, to have made life resemble death. The Egyptians excelled much more in the art of imitating animals than men. It was the empire of the soul which appeared to be inaccessible to them.

‘The porticoes of the Museum next appear, where at each step one sees a new chef d’œuvre. Vases, altars, and ornaments of every kind, surround the Apollo, the Laocoon, and the Muses. It is there that one learns to relish Homer and Sophocles. It is there that the mind receives a knowledge of antiquity which cannot be acquired elsewhere. It is in vain that we trust to the reading of history to comprehend the genius of the different nations. What is seen excites in us many more ideas than what is read, and external objects cause a strong emotion, which gives to the study of the past the same interest and life that is found in the observation of men who live, and actions which are done in our own time.

‘In the midst of those magnificent porticoes, the repositories of so many wonders, there are perennial fountains, which softly remind us of the hours that were past in the same tranquillity two thousand years ago, when the artists who executed those chef d’œuvres were in being. The most melancholy impression, however, which is experienced at the museum of the Vatican, is in contemplating the broken parts of the statues which are there collected: the mutilated trunk of Hercules, heads separated from the bodies, and a foot of Jupiter, which supposes a statue greater and more perfect than any thing we know. One thinks that one sees the field of battle when Time has fought against Genius, and those mutilated limbs attest its victory and our losses.’

Speaking in the character of Corinna, the author gives a flattering representation of the Catholic Religion, when compared with Protestantism:

‘Our religion, (says she,) like that of the ancients, encourages the arts, inspires poets, and makes a part, so to speak, of all the enjoyments of our life; while that of yours, established in a country where reason predominates over imagination, has acquired a character of moral austerity, from which it cannot be separated. Ours speaks in the name of love, yours in the name of duty. Your principles are liberal, our dogmas are absolute; yet nevertheless, in their application, our orthodox despotism accommodates itself to particular cir-[158/159]cumstances, while your religious liberty causes its laws to be respected without any exception.

‘It is true our faith imposes the most severe mortifications on those who have embraced the monastic life: this state, voluntarily chosen, is a mysterious union between man and the divinity; but in Italy the religion of the people is an habitual source of delightful and affecting emotions. Love, hope, and faith, are enjoined as the principal duties of this religion; and the performance of these duties constitutes happiness. Far then from our priests interdicting the pure sentiment of joy, they inculcate that this sentiment expresses our gratitude towards the Creator for the benefits which he has conferred on us. What they require of us consists in the observation of practices proving our respect for the public ordinances of our religion, and our desire of pleasing God in charity toward the unfortunate and repentance for our sins. But they never refuse us absolution when we zealously solicit it; and the attachments of the heart inspire here an indulgent piety more than in other countries.’

In reply, however, it is observed by Oswald, ‘That tenets which wound the reason also cool the passions; and that striking simplicity in divine worship affects the soul more profoundly than the most splendid ceremonies.’

These extracts will not discredit Madame de Staël as a writer, though they do not appear to the best advantage in their English dress; the translation being not only incorrect, but debased by aukward and vulgar expressions: such as Madame D—‘tolled (instead of rung) her bell’—‘he had an itch for her company’—‘to visit her along with me’—‘no one save him’—‘they are talking but I dare say they will soon be done’ —‘do you think they mean to stop long at table to day?’ cum multis aliis.

Notes: Format: 3 vols 12mo; Price 1l. Boards. Publisher: Tipper.

Print | Close

© 2004 Project Director: Professor Peter Garside;
Research Associates: Dr Jacqueline Belanger, Dr Sharon Ragaz;
Database/Website Developer: Dr Anthony Mandal