The warmth of impulse, the susceptibility to influence, that we owe not
merely these men's virtues but their vices. But the contradictions of
the self-righteous are an afflicting spectacle, over which we would fain
draw the veil: there is no room in a narrow nature for any flagrant
violation of its own ideals to be stuffed away unnoticed in a corner.
And now we come to one of the strangest self-contradictions in the
history of Mme. d'Albany, that is to say, of her lord and master
Alfieri. The revision and printing of Alfieri's works had been brought
to an end; but neither he nor the Countess seems to have contemplated a
return to Italy. The fact was that they were both of them retained by
money matters. A proportion of Mme. d'Albany's income consisted in the
pension which she received from the French Court; and the greater part
of Alfieri's income consisted in certain moneys made over to him by his
sister as the capital of his life pension, and which he had invested in
French funds. By the year 1791, the French Court and the French funds
had got to be very shaky; and those who depended upon them did not dare
go to any distance, lest on their return they should find nothing to
claim, or no one to claim from. Hence the necessity for Alfieri and the
Countess to remain in France, or, at least, hover about near it. Now,
whether the unsettled state of French affairs suggested to Mme.
d'Albany, and through her to Alfieri, that it would be wise to see what
sort of home, nay, perhaps,
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