Page:EB1911 - Volume 25.djvu/774

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secret. A man less tyrannical or less mean-spirited than Napoleon would of course have let her alone, but Napoleon was Napoleon, and she perfectly well knew him. The reply to her letter was the condemnation of the whole edition of her book (ten thousand copies) as “not French,” and her own exile, not as before to a certain distance from Paris, but from France altogether. The act was unquestionably one of odious tyranny, but it is impossible not to ask why she had put herself within reach of it when her fortune enabled her to reside anywhere and to publish what she pleased. She retired once more to Coppet, where she was not at first interfered with, and she found consolation in a young officer of Swiss origin named Rocca, twenty-three years her junior, whom she married privately in 1811. The intimacy of their relations could escape no one at Coppet, but the fact of the marriage (which seems to have been happy enough) was not certainly known till after her death.

The operations of the imperial police in regard to Mme de Staël are rather obscure. She was at first left undisturbed, but by degrees the château itself became taboo, and her visitors found themselves punished heavily. Mathieu de Montmorency and Mme Récamier were exiled for the crime of seeing her; and she at last began to think of doing what she ought to have done years before and withdrawing herself entirely from Napoleon's sphere. In the complete subjection of the Continent which preceded the Russian War this was not so easy as it would have been earlier, and she remained at home during the winter of 1811, writing and planning. On the 23rd of May she left Coppet almost secretly, and journeyed by Bern, Innsbruck and Salzburg to Vienna. There she obtained an Austrian passport to the frontier, and after some fears and trouble, receiving a Russian passport in Galicia, she at last escaped from the dungeon of Napoleonic Europe.

She journeyed slowly through Russia and Finland to Sweden, making some stay at St Petersburg, spent the winter in Stockholm, and then set out for England. Here she received a brilliant reception and was much lionized during the season of 1813. She published De l'Allemagne in the autumn, was saddened by the death of her second son Albert, who had entered the Swedish army and fell in a duel brought on by gambling, undertook her Considérations sur la révolution française, and when Louis XVIII. had been restored returned to Paris. She was in Paris when the news of Napoleon's landing arrived and at once fled to Coppet, but a singular story, much discussed, is current of her having approved Napoleon's return. There is no direct evidence of it, but the conduct of her close ally Constant may be quoted in its support, and it is certain that she had no affection for the Bourbons. In October, after Waterloo, she set out for Italy, not only for the advantage of her own health but for that of her second husband, Rocca, who was dying of consumption. Her daughter married Duke Victor de Broglie on the 20th of February 1816, at Pisa, and became the wife and mother of French statesmen of distinction. The whole family returned to Coppet in June, and Byron now frequently visited Mme de Staël there. Despite her increasing ill-health she returned to Paris for the winter of 1816-1817, and her salon was much frequented. But she had already become confined to her room, if not to her bed. She died on the 14th of July, and Rocca survived her little more than six months.

Mme de Staël occupies a singular position in French literature. The men of her own time exalted her to the skies, and the most extravagant estimates of her (as “the greatest woman in literary history,” as the “foundress of the romantic movement,” as representing “ideas,” while her contemporary Chateaubriand only represented words, colours, and images, and so forth) are to be found in minor histories of literature. On the other hand, it is acknowledged that she was soon very little read. No other writer of such eminence is so rarely quoted; none is so entirely destitute of the tribute of new and splendid editions. The abundant documents in the hands of her descendants, the families of Broglie and Haussonville, have indeed furnished material for books and papers, but these are almost wholly on the social aspect of Mme de Staël, not on her literary merit. Nor, when the life and works are examined is the neglect without excuse. Her books are seen to be in large part merely clever reflections of other people's views or views current at the time. The sentimentality of her sentiment and the florid magniloquence of her style equally disgust the reader. But to state this alone would be in the highest degree unfair. Mme de Staël's faults are great; her style is of an age, not for all time; her ideas are mostly second-hand and frequently superficial. But nothing save a very great talent could have shown itself so receptive. Take away her assiduous frequentation of society, from the later philosophe coteries to the age of Byron — take away the influence of Constant and Schlegel and her other literary friends — and probably little of her will remain. But to have caught from all sides in this manner the floating notions of society and of individuals, to reflect them with such vigour and clearness, is not anybody's task. Her two best books, Corinne and De l'Allemagne, are in all probability almost wholly unoriginal, a little sentiment in the first and a little constitutionalism in the second being all that she can claim. But Corinne is still a very remarkable exposition of a certain kind of aestheticism, while De l'Allemagne is still perhaps the most remarkable account of one country, by a native and inhabitant of another, which exists in literature.

Baron Auguste de Staël (d. 1827) edited the complete works of his mother in seventeen volumes (Paris, 1820-1821), with a notice by Mme Necker de Saussure, and the edition was afterwards republished in a compacter form, and, supplemented by some Œuvres inédites, is still obtainable in three volumes, large 8vo (Didot). The Considérations and the Dix années d'exil had been published after Mme de Staël's death. Some Lettres inédites to H. Meister were published in 1903. There is no recent reissue of the whole, and the minor works have not been reprinted, but Corinne, Delphine and De l'Allemagne are easily accessible in cheap and separate forms. Of separate works on Mme de Staël, or rather on Coppet and its society, besides those of MM Caro and Othenin d'Haussonville, may be mentioned the capital work of A. Sorel in the Grands écrivains français. In English there are biographies by A. Stevens (London, 1880), and Lady Blennerhasset (1889).

(G. Sa.)

STAFF (O. Eng. staef, cf. Du. staf, Ger. Stab, &c; Icel. stafr meant also a written letter, and O. Eng. stafas, the letters of the alphabet; "stave," one of the thin pieces of wood of which a cask is made, is a doublet), a long stick or pole, used either as an aid in walking, as a weapon as in the old quarter-staff (q.v.) or as a symbol of dignity and office, e.g. the pastoral staff (q.v.). Further the word is applied to the pole on which a flag is hoisted and to various measuring surveying instruments. Probably from the early use of the word for the letters of the alphabet, "staff" and its doublet "stave" came to be used of a line, verse or stanza, and in musical notation (q.v.) of the horizontal lines on which notes are placed to indicate the pitch. A particular use, perhaps derived from the sense of an aid or help, is that of a body of assistants, particularly military.

The military staff organization of to-day, with its subdivision and specialization, is a modern product. Although generals have always provided themselves with aides-de-camp and orderlies, the only official corresponding to a modern staff officer in a 16th or 17th century army was the "sergeant-major-general" or "major-general," in whom was vested the responsibility of forming the army in battle array and also the command of the foot. In those days armies, large and small, were arrayed in deep formations and, occupying but a narrow front both in camp and in battle, were easily manageable by one man and his messengers. A little later, however, we find a "quarter-master-general" and his assistants charged with the duties of selecting camps, reconnoitring the country and collecting information generally. The quartermaster-general himself was sometimes used, as Marlborough used Cadogan (q.v.), not only as chief-of-staff and as quartermaster-general in the strict sense, but also as the general's authorized representative with detachments, advanced guards, &c. But there was no subdivision of functions in the modern sense. A staff was a group of officers attached temporarily to headquarters and available for any mission which the commander thought fit to give them, and in the highly centralized armies of those days these missions