Part 2 out of 3
coming out in a sort of a hurry: - she was almost upon me before I
saw her; so I gave a spring to once side to let her pass. - She had
done the same, and on the same side too; so we ran our heads
together: she instantly got to the other side to get out: I was
just as unfortunate as she had been, for I had sprung to that side,
and opposed her passage again. - We both flew together to the other
side, and then back, - and so on: - it was ridiculous: we both
blush'd intolerably: so I did at last the thing I should have done
at first; - I stood stock-still, and the Marquisina had no more
difficulty. I had no power to go into the room, till I had made
her so much reparation as to wait and follow her with my eye to the
end of the passage. She look'd back twice, and walk'd along it
rather sideways, as if she would make room for any one coming up
stairs to pass her. - No, said I - that's a vile translation: the
Marquisina has a right to the best apology I can make her, and that
opening is left for me to do it in; - so I ran and begg'd pardon
for the embarrassment I had given her, saying it was my intention
to have made her way. She answered, she was guided by the same
intention towards me; - so we reciprocally thank'd each other. She
was at the top of the stairs; and seeing no CICISBEO near her, I
begg'd to hand her to her coach; - so we went down the stairs,
stopping at every third step to talk of the concert and the
adventure. - Upon my word, Madame, said I, when I had handed her
in, I made six different efforts to let you go out. - And I made
six efforts, replied she, to let you enter. - I wish to heaven you
would make a seventh, said I. - With all my heart, said she, making
room. - Life is too short to be long about the forms of it, - so I
instantly stepp'd in, and she carried me home with her. - And what
became of the concert, St. Cecilia, who I suppose was at it, knows
more than I.
I will only add, that the connexion which arose out of the
translation gave me more pleasure than any one I had the honour to
make in Italy.
THE DWARF. PARIS.
I HAD never heard the remark made by any one in my life, except by
one; and who that was will probably come out in this chapter; so
that being pretty much unprepossessed, there must have been grounds
for what struck me the moment I cast my eyes over the parterre, -
and that was, the unaccountable sport of Nature in forming such
numbers of dwarfs. - No doubt she sports at certain times in almost
every corner of the world; but in Paris there is no end to her
amusements. - The goddess seems almost as merry as she is wise.
As I carried my idea out of the Opera Comique with me, I measured
every body I saw walking in the streets by it. - Melancholy
application! especially where the size was extremely little, - the
face extremely dark, - the eyes quick, - the nose long, - the teeth
white, - the jaw prominent, - to see so many miserables, by force
of accidents driven out of their own proper class into the very
verge of another, which it gives me pain to write down: - every
third man a pigmy! - some by rickety heads and hump backs; - others
by bandy legs; - a third set arrested by the hand of Nature in the
sixth and seventh years of their growth; - a fourth, in their
perfect and natural state like dwarf apple trees; from the first
rudiments and stamina of their existence, never meant to grow
A Medical Traveller might say, 'tis owing to undue bandages; - a
Splenetic one, to want of air; - and an Inquisitive Traveller, to
fortify the system, may measure the height of their houses, - the
narrowness of their streets, and in how few feet square in the
sixth and seventh stories such numbers of the bourgeoisie eat and
sleep together; but I remember Mr. Shandy the elder, who accounted
for nothing like any body else, in speaking one evening of these
matters, averred that children, like other animals, might be
increased almost to any size, provided they came right into the
world; but the misery was, the citizens of were Paris so coop'd up,
that they had not actually room enough to get them. - I do not call
it getting anything, said he; - 'tis getting nothing. - Nay,
continued he, rising in his argument, 'tis getting worse than
nothing, when all you have got after twenty or five and twenty
years of the tenderest care and most nutritious aliment bestowed
upon it, shall not at last be as high as my leg. Now, Mr. Shandy
being very short, there could be nothing more said of it.
As this is not a work of reasoning, I leave the solution as I found
it, and content myself with the truth only of the remark, which is
verified in every lane and by-lane of Paris. I was walking down
that which leads from the Carousal to the Palais Royal, and
observing a little boy in some distress at the side of the gutter
which ran down the middle of it, I took hold of his hand and help'd
him over. Upon turning up his face to look at him after, I
perceived he was about forty. - Never mind, said I, some good body
will do as much for me when I am ninety.
I feel some little principles within me which incline me to be
merciful towards this poor blighted part of my species, who have
neither size nor strength to get on in the world. - I cannot bear
to see one of them trod upon; and had scarce got seated beside my
old French officer, ere the disgust was exercised, by seeing the
very thing happen under the box we sat in.
At the end of the orchestra, and betwixt that and the first side
box, there is a small esplanade left, where, when the house is
full, numbers of all ranks take sanctuary. Though you stand, as in
the parterre, you pay the same price as in the orchestra. A poor
defenceless being of this order had got thrust somehow or other
into this luckless place; - the night was hot, and he was
surrounded by beings two feet and a half higher than himself. The
dwarf suffered inexpressibly on all sides; but the thing which
incommoded him most, was a tall corpulent German, near seven feet
high, who stood directly betwixt him and all possibility of his
seeing either the stage or the actors. The poor dwarf did all he
could to get a peep at what was going forwards, by seeking for some
little opening betwixt the German's arm and his body, trying first
on one side, then the other; but the German stood square in the
most unaccommodating posture that can be imagined: - the dwarf
might as well have been placed at the bottom of the deepest draw-
well in Paris; so he civilly reached up his hand to the German's
sleeve, and told him his distress. - The German turn'd his head
back, looked down upon him as Goliah did upon David, - and
unfeelingly resumed his posture.
I was just then taking a pinch of snuff out of my monk's little
horn box. - And how would thy meek and courteous spirit, my dear
monk! so temper'd to BEAR AND FORBEAR! - how sweetly would it have
lent an ear to this poor soul's complaint!
The old French officer, seeing me lift up my eyes with an emotion,
as I made the apostrophe, took the liberty to ask me what was the
matter? - I told him the story in three words; and added, how
inhuman it was.
By this time the dwarf was driven to extremes, and in his first
transports, which are generally unreasonable, had told the German
he would cut off his long queue with his knife. - The German look'd
back coolly, and told him he was welcome, if he could reach it.
An injury sharpen'd by an insult, be it to whom it will, makes
every man of sentiment a party: I could have leap'd out of the box
to have redressed it. - The old French officer did it with much
less confusion; for leaning a little over, and nodding to a
sentinel, and pointing at the same time with his finger at the
distress, - the sentinel made his way to it. - There was no
occasion to tell the grievance, - the thing told himself; so
thrusting back the German instantly with his musket, - he took the
poor dwarf by the hand, and placed him before him. - This is noble!
said I, clapping my hands together. - And yet you would not permit
this, said the old officer, in England.
- In England, dear Sir, said I, WE SIT ALL AT OUR EASE.
The old French officer would have set me at unity with myself, in
case I had been at variance, - by saying it was a BON MOT; - and,
as a BON MOT is always worth something at Paris, he offered me a
pinch of snuff.
THE ROSE. PARIS.
IT WAS now my turn to ask the old French officer "What was the
matter?" for a cry of "HAUSSEZ LES MAINS, MONSIEUR L'ABBE!" re-
echoed from a dozen different parts of the parterre, was as
unintelligible to me, as my apostrophe to the monk had been to him.
He told me it was some poor Abbe in one of the upper loges, who, he
supposed, had got planted perdu behind a couple of grisettes in
order to see the opera, and that the parterre espying him, were
insisting upon his holding up both his hands during the
representation. - And can it be supposed, said I, that an
ecclesiastic would pick the grisettes' pockets? The old French
officer smiled, and whispering in my ear, opened a door of
knowledge which I had no idea of.
Good God! said I, turning pale with astonishment - is it possible,
that a people so smit with sentiment should at the same time be so
unclean, and so unlike themselves, - QUELLE GROSSIERTE! added I.
The French officer told me, it was an illiberal sarcasm at the
church, which had begun in the theatre about the time the Tartuffe
was given in it by Moliere: but like other remains of Gothic
manners, was declining. - Every nation, continued he, have their
refinements and GROSSIERTES, in which they take the lead, and lose
it of one another by turns: - that he had been in most countries,
but never in one where he found not some delicacies, which others
seemed to want. LE POUR ET LE CONTRE SE TROUVENT EN CHAQUE NATION;
there is a balance, said he, of good and bad everywhere; and
nothing but the knowing it is so, can emancipate one half of the
world from the prepossession which it holds against the other: -
that the advantage of travel, as it regarded the SCAVOIR VIVRE, was
by seeing a great deal both of men and manners; it taught us mutual
toleration; and mutual toleration, concluded he, making me a bow,
taught us mutual love.
The old French officer delivered this with an air of such candour
and good sense, as coincided with my first favourable impressions
of his character: - I thought I loved the man; but I fear I mistook
the object; - 'twas my own way of thinking - the difference was, I
could not have expressed it half so well.
It is alike troublesome to both the rider and his beast, - if the
latter goes pricking up his ears, and starting all the way at every
object which he never saw before. - I have as little torment of
this kind as any creature alive; and yet I honestly confess, that
many a thing gave me pain, and that I blush'd at many a word the
first month, - which I found inconsequent and perfectly innocent
Madame do Rambouliet, after an acquaintance of about six weeks with
her, had done me the honour to take me in her coach about two
leagues out of town. - Of all women, Madame de Rambouliet is the
most correct; and I never wish to see one of more virtues and
purity of heart. - In our return back, Madame de Rambouliet desired
me to pull the cord. - I asked her if she wanted anything - RIEN
QUE POUR PISSER, said Madame de Rambouliet.
Grieve not, gentle traveller, to let Madame de Rambouliet p-ss on.
- And, ye fair mystic nymphs! go each one PLUCK YOUR ROSE, and
scatter them in your path, - for Madame de Rambouliet did no more.
- I handed Madame de Rambouliet out of the coach; and had I been
the priest of the chaste Castalia, I could not have served at her
fountain with a more respectful decorum.
THE FILLE DE CHAMBRE. PARIS.
WHAT the old French officer had delivered upon travelling, bringing
Polonius's advice to his son upon the same subject into my head, -
and that bringing in Hamlet, and Hamlet the rest of Shakespeare's
works, I stopp'd at the Quai de Conti in my return home, to
purchase the whole set.
The bookseller said he had not a set in the world. COMMENT! said
I, taking one up out of a set which lay upon the counter betwixt
us. - He said they were sent him only to be got bound, and were to
be sent back to Versailles in the morning to the Count de B-.
- And does the Count de B-, said I, read Shakespeare? C'EST UN
ESPRIT FORT, replied the bookseller. - He loves English books! and
what is more to his honour, Monsieur, he loves the English too.
You speak this so civilly, said I, that it is enough to oblige an
Englishman to lay out a louis d'or or two at your shop. - The
bookseller made a bow, and was going to say something, when a young
decent girl about twenty, who by her air and dress seemed to be
FILLE DE CHAMBRE to some devout woman of fashion, come into the
shop and asked for LES EGAREMENTS DU COEUR ET DE L'ESPRIT: the
bookseller gave her the book directly; she pulled out a little
green satin purse run round with a riband of the same colour, and
putting her finger and thumb into it, she took out the money and
paid for it. As I had nothing more to stay me in the shop, we both
walk'd out at the door together.
- And what have you to do, my dear, said I, with THE WANDERINGS OF
THE HEART, who scarce know yet you have one? nor, till love has
first told you it, or some faithless shepherd has made it ache,
canst thou ever be sure it is so. - LE DIEU M'EN GARDE! said the
girl. - With reason, said I, for if it is a good one, 'tis pity it
should be stolen; 'tis a little treasure to thee, and gives a
better air to your face, than if it was dress'd out with pearls.
The young girl listened with a submissive attention, holding her
satin purse by its riband in her hand all the time. - 'Tis a very
small one, said I, taking hold of the bottom of it - she held it
towards me - and there is very little in it, my dear, said I; but
be but as good as thou art handsome, and heaven will fill it. I
had a parcel of crowns in my hand to pay for Shakespeare; and, as
she had let go the purse entirely, I put a single one in; and,
tying up the riband in a bow-knot, returned it to her.
The young girl made me more a humble courtesy than a low one: -
'twas one of those quiet, thankful sinkings, where the spirit bows
itself down, - the body does no more than tell it. I never gave a
girl a crown in my life which gave me half the pleasure.
My advice, my dear, would not have been worth a pin to you, said I,
if I had not given this along with it: but now, when you see the
crown, you'll remember it; - so don't, my dear, lay it out in
Upon my word, Sir, said the girl, earnestly, I am incapable; - in
saying which, as is usual in little bargains of honour, she gave me
her hand: - EN VERITE, MONSIEUR, JE METTRAI CET ARGENT EPART, said
When a virtuous convention is made betwixt man and woman, it
sanctifies their most private walks: so, notwithstanding it was
dusky, yet as both our roads lay the same way, we made no scruple
of walking along the Quai de Conti together.
She made me a second courtesy in setting off, and before we got
twenty yards from the door, as if she had not done enough before,
she made a sort of a little stop to tell me again - she thank'd me.
It was a small tribute, I told her, which I could not avoid paying
to virtue, and would not be mistaken in the person I had been
rendering it to for the world; - but I see innocence, my dear, in
your face, - and foul befall the man who ever lays a snare in its
The girl seem'd affected some way or other with what I said; - she
gave a low sigh: - I found I was not empowered to enquire at all
after it, - so said nothing more till I got to the corner of the
Rue de Nevers, where, we were to part.
- But is this the way, my dear, said I, to the Hotel de Modene?
She told me it was; - or that I might go by the Rue de Gueneguault,
which was the next turn. - Then I'll go, my dear, by the Rue de
Gueneguault, said I, for two reasons; first, I shall please myself,
and next, I shall give you the protection of my company as far on
your way as I can. The girl was sensible I was civil - and said,
she wished the Hotel de Modene was in the Rue de St. Pierre. - You
live there? said I. - She told me she was FILLE DE CHAMBRE to
Madame R-. - Good God! said I, 'tis the very lady for whom I have
brought a letter from Amiens. - The girl told me that Madame R-,
she believed, expected a stranger with a letter, and was impatient
to see him: - so I desired the girl to present my compliments to
Madame R-, and say, I would certainly wait upon her in the morning.
We stood still at the corner of the Rue de Nevers whilst this
pass'd. - We then stopped a moment whilst she disposed of her
EGAREMENTS DU COEUR &c. more commodiously than carrying them in her
hand - they were two volumes: so I held the second for her whilst
she put the first into her pocket; and then she held her pocket,
and I put in the other after it.
'Tis sweet to feel by what fine spun threads our affections are
We set off afresh, and as she took her third step, the girl put her
hand within my arm. - I was just bidding her, - but she did it of
herself, with that undeliberating simplicity, which show'd it was
out of her head that she had never seen me before. For my own
part, I felt the conviction of consanguinity so strongly, that I
could not help turning half round to look in her face, and see if I
could trace out any thing in it of a family likeness. - Tut! said
I, are we not all relations?
When we arrived at the turning up of the Rue de Gueneguault, I
stopp'd to bid her adieu for good and all: the girl would thank me
again for my company and kindness. - She bid me adieu twice. - I
repeated it as often; and so cordial was the parting between us,
that had it happened any where else, I'm not sure but I should have
signed it with a kiss of charity, as warm and holy as an apostle.
But in Paris, as none kiss each other but the men, - I did, what
amounted to the same thing -
- I bid God bless her.
THE PASSPORT. PARIS.
WHEN I got home to my hotel, La Fleur told me I had been enquired
after by the Lieutenant de Police. - The deuce take it! said I, - I
know the reason. It is time the reader should know it, for in the
order of things in which it happened, it was omitted: not that it
was out of my head; but that had I told it then it might have been
forgotten now; - and now is the time I want it.
I had left London with so much precipitation, that it never enter'd
my mind that we were at war with France; and had reached Dover, and
looked through my glass at the hills beyond Boulogne, before the
idea presented itself; and with this in its train, that there was
no getting there without a passport. Go but to the end of a
street, I have a mortal aversion for returning back no wiser than I
set out; and as this was one of the greatest efforts I had ever
made for knowledge, I could less bear the thoughts of it: so
hearing the Count de - had hired the packet, I begg'd he would take
me in his suite. The Count had some little knowledge of me, so
made little or no difficulty, - only said, his inclination to serve
me could reach no farther than Calais, as he was to return by way
of Brussels to Paris; however, when I had once pass'd there, I
might get to Paris without interruption; but that in Paris I must
make friends and shift for myself. - Let me get to Paris, Monsieur
le Count, said I, - and I shall do very well. So I embark'd, and
never thought more of the matter.
When La Fleur told me the Lieutenant de Police had been enquiring
after me, - the thing instantly recurred; - and by the time La
Fleur had well told me, the master of the hotel came into my room
to tell me the same thing, with this addition to it, that my
passport had been particularly asked after: the master of the hotel
concluded with saying, He hoped I had one. - Not I, faith! said I.
The master of the hotel retired three steps from me, as from an
infected person, as I declared this; - and poor La Fleur advanced
three steps towards me, and with that sort of movement which a good
soul makes to succour a distress'd one: - the fellow won my heart
by it; and from that single trait I knew his character as
perfectly, and could rely upon it as firmly, as if he had served me
with fidelity for seven years.
MON SEIGNEUR! cried the master of the hotel; but recollecting
himself as he made the exclamation, he instantly changed the tone
of it. - If Monsieur, said he, has not a passport (APPAREMMENT) in
all likelihood he has friends in Paris who can procure him one. -
Not that I know of, quoth I, with an air of indifference. - Then
CERTES, replied he, you'll be sent to the Bastile or the Chatelet
AU MOINS. - Poo! said I, the King of France is a good natur'd soul:
- he'll hurt nobody. - CELA N'EMPECHE PAS, said he - you will
certainly be sent to the Bastile to-morrow morning. - But I've
taken your lodgings for a month, answer'd I, and I'll not quit them
a day before the time for all the kings of France in the world. La
Fleur whispered in my ear, That nobody could oppose the king of
PARDI! said my host, CES MESSIEURS ANGLOIS SONT DES GENS TRES
EXTRAORDINAIRES; - and, having both said and sworn it, - he went
THE PASSPORT. THE HOTEL AT PARIS.
I COULD not find in my heart to torture La Fleur's with a serious
look upon the subject of my embarrassment, which was the reason I
had treated it so cavalierly: and to show him how light it lay upon
my mind, I dropt the subject entirely; and whilst he waited upon me
at supper, talk'd to him with more than usual gaiety about Paris,
and of the Opera Comique. - La Fleur had been there himself, and
had followed me through the streets as far as the bookseller's
shop; but seeing me come out with the young FILLE DE CHAMBRE, and
that we walk'd down the Quai de Conti together, La Fleur deem'd it
unnecessary to follow me a step further; - so making his own
reflections upon it, he took a shorter cut, - and got to the hotel
in time to be inform'd of the affair of the police against my
As soon as the honest creature had taken away, and gone down to sup
himself, I then began to think a little seriously about my
- And here, I know, Eugenius, thou wilt smile at the remembrance of
a short dialogue which passed betwixt us the moment I was going to
set out: - I must tell it here.
Eugenius, knowing that I was as little subject to be overburden'd
with money as thought, had drawn me aside to interrogate me how
much I had taken care for. Upon telling him the exact sum,
Eugenius shook his head, and said it would not do; so pull'd out
his purse in order to empty it into mine. - I've enough in
conscience, Eugenius, said I. - Indeed, Yorick, you have not,
replied Eugenius; I know France and Italy better than you. - But
you don't consider, Eugenius, said I, refusing his offer, that
before I have been three days in Paris, I shall take care to say or
do something or other for which I shall get clapp'd up into the
Bastile, and that I shall live there a couple of months entirely at
the king of France's expense. - I beg pardon, said Eugenius drily:
really I had forgot that resource.
Now the event I treated gaily came seriously to my door.
Is it folly, or nonchalance, or philosophy, or pertinacity - or
what is it in me, that, after all, when La Fleur had gone down
stairs, and I was quite alone, I could not bring down my mind to
think of it otherwise than I had then spoken of it to Eugenius?
- And as for the Bastile; the terror is in the word. - Make the
most of it you can, said I to myself, the Bastile is but another
word for a tower; - and a tower is but another word for a house you
can't get out of. - Mercy on the gouty! for they are in it twice a
year. - But with nine livres a day, and pen and ink, and paper, and
patience, albeit a man can't get out, he may do very well within, -
at least for a mouth or six weeks; at the end of which, if he is a
harmless fellow, his innocence appears, and he comes out a better
and wiser man than he went in.
I had some occasion (I forget what) to step into the court-yard, as
I settled this account; and remember I walk'd down stairs in no
small triumph with the conceit of my reasoning. - Beshrew the
sombre pencil! said I, vauntingly - for I envy not its powers,
which paints the evils of life with so hard and deadly a colouring.
The mind sits terrified at the objects she has magnified herself,
and blackened: reduce them to their proper size and hue, she
overlooks them. - 'Tis true, said I, correcting the proposition, -
the Bastile is not an evil to be despised; - but strip it of its
towers - fill up the fosse, - unbarricade the doors - call it
simply a confinement, and suppose 'tis some tyrant of a distemper -
and not of a man, which holds you in it, - the evil vanishes, and
you bear the other half without complaint.
I was interrupted in the heyday of this soliloquy, with a voice
which I took to be of a child, which complained "it could not get
out." - I look'd up and down the passage, and seeing neither man,
woman, nor child, I went out without farther attention.
In my return back through the passage, I heard the same words
repeated twice over; and, looking up, I saw it was a starling hung
in a little cage. - "I can't get out, - I can't get out," said the
I stood looking at the bird: and to every person who came through
the passage it ran fluttering to the side towards which they
approach'd it, with the same lamentation of its captivity. "I
can't get out," said the starling. - God help thee! said I, but
I'll let thee out, cost what it will; so I turned about the cage to
get to the door: it was twisted and double twisted so fast with
wire, there was no getting it open without pulling the cage to
pieces. - I took both hands to it.
The bird flew to the place where I was attempting his deliverance,
and thrusting his head through the trellis pressed his breast
against it as if impatient. - I fear, poor creature! said I, I
cannot set thee at liberty. - "No," said the starling, - "I can't
get out - I can't get out," said the starling.
I vow I never had my affections more tenderly awakened; nor do I
remember an incident in my life, where the dissipated spirits, to
which my reason had been a bubble, were so suddenly call'd home.
Mechanical as the notes were, yet so true in tune to nature were
they chanted, that in one moment they overthrew all my systematic
reasonings upon the Bastile; and I heavily walked upstairs,
unsaying every word I had said in going down them.
Disguise thyself as thou wilt, still, Slavery! said I, - still thou
art a bitter draught! and though thousands in all ages have been
made to drink of thee, thou art no less bitter on that account. -
'Tis thou, thrice sweet and gracious goddess, addressing myself to
Liberty, whom all in public or in private worship, whose taste is
grateful, and ever will be so, till Nature herself shall change. -
No TINT of words can spot thy snowy mantle, or chymic power turn
thy sceptre into iron: - with thee to smile upon him as he eats his
crust, the swain is happier than his monarch, from whose court thou
art exiled! - Gracious Heaven! cried I, kneeling down upon the last
step but one in my ascent, grant me but health, thou great Bestower
of it, and give me but this fair goddess as my companion, - and
shower down thy mitres, if it seems good unto thy divine
providence, upon those heads which are aching for them!
THE CAPTIVE. PARIS.
THE bird in his cage pursued me into my room; I sat down close to
my table, and leaning my head upon my hand, I began to figure to
myself the miseries of confinement. I was in a right frame for it,
and so I gave full scope to my imagination.
I was going to begin with the millions of my fellow-creatures born
to no inheritance but slavery: but finding, however affecting the
picture was, that I could not bring it near me, and that the
multitude of sad groups in it did but distract me. -
- I took a single captive, and having first shut him up in his
dungeon, I then look'd through the twilight of his grated door to
take his picture.
I beheld his body half-wasted away with long expectation and
confinement, and felt what kind of sickness of the heart it was
which arises from hope deferr'd. Upon looking nearer I saw him
pale and feverish: in thirty years the western breeze had not once
fann'd his blood; - he had seen no sun, no moon, in all that time -
nor had the voice of friend or kinsman breathed through his
lattice. - His children -
But here my heart began to bleed - and I was forced to go on with
another part of the portrait.
He was sitting upon the ground upon a little straw, in the furthest
corner of his dungeon, which was alternately his chair and bed: a
little calendar of small sticks were laid at the head, notch'd all
over with the dismal days and nights he had passed there; - he had
one of these little sticks in his hand, and, with a rusty nail he
was etching another day of misery to add to the heap. As I
darkened the little light he had, he lifted up a hopeless eye
towards the door, then cast it down, - shook his head, and went on
with his work of affliction. I heard his chains upon his legs, as
he turned his body to lay his little stick upon the bundle. - He
gave a deep sigh. - I saw the iron enter into his soul! - I burst
into tears. - I could not sustain the picture of confinement which
my fancy had drawn. - I started up from my chair, and calling La
Fleur: I bid him bespeak me a remise, and have it ready at the door
of the hotel by nine in the morning.
I'll go directly, said I, myself to Monsieur le Duc de Choiseul.
La Fleur would have put me to bed; but - not willing he should see
anything upon my cheek which would cost the honest fellow a heart-
ache, - I told him I would go to bed by myself, - and bid him go do
THE STARLING. ROAD TO VERSAILLES.
I GOT into my remise the hour I proposed: La Fleur got up behind,
and I bid the coachman make the best of his way to Versailles.
As there was nothing in this road, or rather nothing which I look
for in travelling, I cannot fill up the blank better than with a
short history of this self-same bird, which became the subject of
the last chapter.
Whilst the Honourable Mr. - was waiting for a wind at Dover, it had
been caught upon the cliffs, before it could well fly, by an
English lad who was his groom; who, not caring to destroy it, had
taken it in his breast into the packet; - and, by course of feeding
it, and taking it once under his protection, in a day or two grew
fond of it, and got it safe along with him to Paris.
At Paris the lad had laid out a livre in a little cage for the
starling, and as he had little to do better the five months his
master staid there, he taught it, in his mother's tongue, the four
simple words - (and no more) - to which I own'd myself so much its
Upon his master's going on for Italy, the lad had given it to the
master of the hotel. But his little song for liberty being in an
UNKNOWN language at Paris, the bird had little or no store set by
him: so La Fleur bought both him and his cage for me for a bottle
In my return from Italy I brought him with me to the country in
whose language he had learned his notes; and telling the story of
him to Lord A-, Lord A- begg'd the bird of me; - in a week Lord A-
gave him to Lord B-; Lord B- made a present of him to Lord C-; and
Lord C-'s gentleman sold him to Lord D-'s for a shilling; Lord D-
gave him to Lord E-; and so on - half round the alphabet. From
that rank he pass'd into the lower house, and pass'd the hands of
as many commoners. But as all these wanted to GET IN, and my bird
wanted to GET OUT, he had almost as little store set by him in
London as in Paris.
It is impossible but many of my readers must have heard of him; and
if any by mere chance have ever seen him, I beg leave to inform
them, that that bird was my bird, or some vile copy set up to
I have nothing farther to add upon him, but that from that time to
this I have borne this poor starling as the crest to my arms. -
[Picture which cannot be reproduced]
- And let the herald's officers twist his neck about if they dare.
THE ADDRESS. VERSAILLES.
I SHOULD not like to have my enemy take a view of my mind when I am
going to ask protection of any man; for which reason I generally
endeavour to protect myself; but this going to Monsieur le Duc de
C- was an act of compulsion; had it been an act of choice, I should
have done it, I suppose, like other people.
How many mean plans of dirty address, as I went along, did my
servile heart form! I deserved the Bastile for every one of them.
Then nothing would serve me when I got within sight of Versailles,
but putting words and sentences together, and conceiving attitudes
and tones to wreath myself into Monsieur le Duc de C-'s good
graces. - This will do, said I. - Just as well, retorted I again,
as a coat carried up to him by an adventurous tailor, without
taking his measure. Fool! continued I, - see Monsieur le Duc's
face first; - observe what character is written in it; - take
notice in what posture he stands to hear you; - mark the turns and
expressions of his body and limbs; - and for the tone, - the first
sound which comes from his lips will give it you; and from all
these together you'll compound an address at once upon the spot,
which cannot disgust the Duke; - the ingredients are his own, and
most likely to go down.
Well! said I, I wish it well over. - Coward again! as if man to man
was not equal throughout the whole surface of the globe; and if in
the field - why not face to face in the cabinet too? And trust me,
Yorick, whenever it is not so, man is false to himself and betrays
his own succours ten times where nature does it once. Go to the
Duc de C- with the Bastile in thy looks; - my life for it, thou
wilt be sent back to Paris in half an hour with an escort.
I believe so, said I. - Then I'll go to the Duke, by heaven! with
all the gaiety and debonairness in the world. -
- And there you are wrong again, replied I. - A heart at ease,
Yorick, flies into no extremes - 'tis ever on its centre. - Well!
well! cried I, as the coachman turn'd in at the gates, I find I
shall do very well: and by the time he had wheel'd round the court,
and brought me up to the door, I found myself so much the better
for my own lecture, that I neither ascended the steps like a victim
to justice, who was to part with life upon the top most, - nor did
I mount them with a skip and a couple of strides, as I do when I
fly up, Eliza! to thee to meet it.
As I entered the door of the saloon I was met by a person, who
possibly might be the MAITRE D'HOTEL, but had more the air of one
of the under secretaries, who told me the Duc de C- was busy. - I
am utterly ignorant, said I, of the forms of obtaining an audience,
being an absolute stranger, and what is worse in the present
conjuncture of affairs, being an Englishman too. - He replied, that
did not increase the difficulty. - I made him a slight bow, and
told him, I had something of importance to say to Monsieur le Duc.
The secretary look'd towards the stairs, as if he was about to
leave me to carry up this account to some one. - But I must not
mislead you, said I, - for what I have to say is of no manner of
importance to Monsieur le Duc de C- - but of great importance to
myself. - C'EST UNE AUTRE AFFAIRE, replied he. - Not at all, said
I, to a man of gallantry. - But pray, good sir, continued I, when
can a stranger hope to have access? - In not less than two hours,
said he, looking at his watch. The number of equipages in the
court-yard seemed to justify the calculation, that I could have no
nearer a prospect; - and as walking backwards and forwards in the
saloon, without a soul to commune with, was for the time as bad as
being in the Bastile itself, I instantly went back to my remise,
and bid the coachman drive me to the CORDON BLEU, which was the
I think there is a fatality in it; - I seldom go to the place I set
LE PATISSIER. VERSAILLES.
BEFORE I had got half way down the street I changed my mind: as I
am at Versailles, thought I, I might as well take a view of the
town; so I pull'd the cord, and ordered the coachman to drive round
some of the principal streets. - I suppose the town is not very
large, said I. - The coachman begg'd pardon for setting me right,
and told me it was very superb, and that numbers of the first dukes
and marquises and counts had hotels. - The Count de B-, of whom the
bookseller at the Quai de Conti had spoke so handsomely the night
before, came instantly into my mind. - And why should I not go,
thought I, to the Count de B-, who has so high an idea of English
books and English men - and tell him my story? so I changed my mind
a second time. - In truth it was the third; for I had intended that
day for Madame de R-, in the Rue St. Pierre, and had devoutly sent
her word by her FILLE DE CHAMBRE that I would assuredly wait upon
her; - but I am governed by circumstances; - I cannot govern them:
so seeing a man standing with a basket on the other side of the
street, as if he had something to sell, I bid La Fleur go up to
him, and enquire for the Count's hotel.
La Fleur returned a little pale; and told me it was a Chevalier de
St. Louis selling pates. - It is impossible, La Fleur, said I. - La
Fleur could no more account for the phenomenon than myself; but
persisted in his story: he had seen the croix set in gold, with its
red riband, he said, tied to his buttonhole - and had looked into
the basket and seen the pates which the Chevalier was selling; so
could not be mistaken in that.
Such a reverse in man's life awakens a better principle than
curiosity: I could not help looking for some time at him as I sat
in the remise: - the more I look'd at him, his croix, and his
basket, the stronger they wove themselves into my brain. - I got
out of the remise, and went towards him.
He was begirt with a clean linen apron which fell below his knees,
and with a sort of a bib that went half way up his breast; upon the
top of this, but a little below the hem, hung his croix. His
basket of little pates was covered over with a white damask napkin;
another of the same kind was spread at the bottom; and there was a
look of PROPRETE and neatness throughout, that one might have
bought his pates of him, as much from appetite as sentiment.
He made an offer of them to neither; but stood still with them at
the corner of an hotel, for those to buy who chose it without
He was about forty-eight; - of a sedate look, something approaching
to gravity. I did not wonder. - I went up rather to the basket
than him, and having lifted up the napkin, and taking one of his
pates into my hand, - I begg'd he would explain the appearance
which affected me.
He told me in a few words, that the best part of his life had
passed in the service, in which, after spending a small patrimony,
he had obtained a company and the croix with it; but that, at the
conclusion of the last peace, his regiment being reformed, and the
whole corps, with those of some other regiments, left without any
provision, he found himself in a wide world without friends,
without a livre, - and indeed, said he, without anything but this,
- (pointing, as he said it, to his croix). - The poor Chevalier won
my pity, and he finished the scene with winning my esteem too.
The king, he said, was the most generous of princes, but his
generosity could neither relieve nor reward everyone, and it was
only his misfortune to be amongst the number. He had a little
wife, he said, whom he loved, who did the PATISSERIE; and added, he
felt no dishonour in defending her and himself from want in this
way - unless Providence had offer'd him a better.
It would be wicked to withhold a pleasure from the good, in passing
over what happen'd to this poor Chevalier of St. Louis about nine
It seems he usually took his stand near the iron gates which lead
up to the palace, and as his croix had caught the eyes of numbers,
numbers had made the same enquiry which I had done. - He had told
them the same story, and always with so much modesty and good
sense, that it had reach'd at last the king's ears; - who, hearing
the Chevalier had been a gallant officer, and respected by the
whole regiment as a man of honour and integrity, - he broke up his
little trade by a pension of fifteen hundred livres a year.
As I have told this to please the reader, I beg he will allow me to
relate another, out of its order, to please myself: - the two
stories reflect light upon each other, - and 'tis a pity they
should be parted.
THE SWORD. RENNES.
WHEN states and empires have their periods of declension, and feel
in their turns what distress and poverty is, - I stop not to tell
the causes which gradually brought the house d'E-, in Brittany,
into decay. The Marquis d'E- had fought up against his condition
with great firmness; wishing to preserve, and still show to the
world, some little fragments of what his ancestors had been; -
their indiscretions had put it out of his power. There was enough
left for the little exigencies of OBSCURITY. - But he had two boys
who looked up to him for LIGHT; - he thought they deserved it. He
had tried his sword - it could not open the way, - the MOUNTING was
too expensive, - and simple economy was not a match for it: - there
was no resource but commerce.
In any other province in France, save Brittany, this was smiting
the root for ever of the little tree his pride and affection wish'd
to see re-blossom. - But in Brittany, there being a provision for
this, he avail'd himself of it; and, taking an occasion when the
states were assembled at Rennes, the Marquis, attended with his two
boys, entered the court; and having pleaded the right of an ancient
law of the duchy, which, though seldom claim'd, he said, was no
less in force, he took his sword from his side: - Here, said he,
take it; and be trusty guardians of it, till better times put me in
condition to reclaim it.
The president accepted the Marquis's sword: he staid a few minutes
to see it deposited in the archives of his house - and departed.
The Marquis and his whole family embarked the next clay for
Martinico, and in about nineteen or twenty years of successful
application to business, with some unlook'd for bequests from
distant branches of his house, return home to reclaim his nobility,
and to support it.
It was an incident of good fortune which will never happen to any
traveller but a Sentimental one, that I should be at Rennes at the
very time of this solemn requisition: I call it solemn; - it was so
The Marquis entered the court with his whole family: he supported
his lady, - his eldest son supported his sister, and his youngest
was at the other extreme of the line next his mother; - he put his
handkerchief to his face twice. -
- There was a dead silence. When the Marquis had approached within
six paces of the tribunal, he gave the Marchioness to his youngest
son, and advancing three steps before his family, - he reclaim'd
his sword. His sword was given him, and the moment he got it into
his hand he drew it almost out of the scabbard: - 'twas the shining
face of a friend he had once given up - he look'd attentively along
it, beginning at the hilt, as if to see whether it was the same, -
when, observing a little rust which it had contracted near the
point, he brought it near his eye, and bending his head down over
it, - I think - I saw a tear fall upon the place. I could not be
deceived by what followed.
"I shall find," said he, "some OTHER WAY to get it off."
When the Marquis had said this, he returned his sword into its
scabbard, made a bow to the guardians of it, - and, with his wife
and daughter, and his two sons following him, walk'd out.
O, how I envied him his feelings!
THE PASSPORT. VERSAILLES.
I FOUND no difficulty in getting admittance to Monsieur le Count de
B-. The set of Shakespeares was laid upon the table, and he was
tumbling them over. I walk'd up close to the table, and giving
first such a look at the books as to make him conceive I knew what
they were, - I told him I had come without any one to present me,
knowing I should meet with a friend in his apartment, who, I
trusted, would do it for me: - it is my countryman, the great
Shakespeare, said I, pointing to his works - ET AYEZ LA BOUTE, MON
CHER AMI, apostrophizing his spirit, added I, DE ME FAIRE CET
The Count smiled at the singularity of the introduction; and seeing
I look'd a little pale and sickly, insisted upon my taking an arm-
chair; so I sat down; and to save him conjectures upon a visit so
out of all rule, I told him simply of the incident in the
bookseller's shop, and how that had impelled me rather to go to him
with the story of a little embarrassment I was under, than to any
other man in France. - And what is your embarrassment? let me hear
it, said the Count. So I told him the story just as I have told it
- And the master of my hotel, said I, as I concluded it, will needs
have it, Monsieur le Count, that I shall be sent to the Bastile; -
but I have no apprehensions, continued I; - for, in falling into
the hands of the most polish'd people in the world, and being
conscious I was a true man, and not come to spy the nakedness of
the land, I scarce thought I lay at their mercy. - It does not suit
the gallantry of the French, Monsieur le Count, said I, to show it
An animated blush came into the Count de B-'s cheeks as I spoke
this. - NE CRAIGNEZ RIEN - Don't fear, said he. - Indeed, I don't,
replied I again. - Besides, continued I, a little sportingly, I
have come laughing all the way from London to Paris, and I do not
think Monsieur le Duc de Choiseul is such an enemy to mirth as to
send me back crying for my pains.
- My application to you, Monsieur le Count de B- (making him a low
bow), is to desire he will not.
The Count heard me with great good nature, or I had not said half
as much, - and once or twice said, - C'EST BIEN DIT. So I rested
my cause there - and determined to say no more about it.
The Count led the discourse: we talk'd of indifferent things, - of
books, and politics, and men; - and then of women. - God bless them
all! said I, after much discourse about them - there is not a man
upon earth who loves them so much as I do: after all the foibles I
have seen, and all the satires I have read against them, still I
love them; being firmly persuaded that a man, who has not a sort of
affection for the whole sex, is incapable of ever loving a single
one as he ought.
EH BIEN! MONSIEUR L'ANGLOIS, said the Count, gaily; - you are not
come to spy the nakedness of the land; - I believe you; - NI
ENCORE, I dare say, THAT of our women! - But permit me to
conjecture, - if, PAR HAZARD, they fell into your way, that the
prospect would not affect you.
I have something within me which cannot bear the shock of the least
indecent insinuation: in the sportability of chit-chat I have often
endeavoured to conquer it, and with infinite pain have hazarded a
thousand things to a dozen of the sex together, - the least of
which I could not venture to a single one to gain heaven.
Excuse me, Monsieur le Count, said I; - as for the nakedness of
your land, if I saw it, I should cast my eyes over it with tears in
them; - and for that of your women (blushing at the idea he had
excited in me) I am so evangelical in this, and have such a fellow-
feeling for whatever is weak about them, that I would cover it with
a garment if I knew how to throw it on: - But I could wish,
continued I, to spy the nakedness of their hearts, and through the
different disguises of customs, climates, and religion, find out
what is good in them to fashion my own by: - and therefore am I
It is for this reason, Monsieur le Count, continued I, that I have
not seen the Palais Royal, - nor the Luxembourg, - nor the Facade
of the Louvre, - nor have attempted to swell the catalogues we have
of pictures, statues, and churches. - I conceive every fair being
as a temple, and would rather enter in, and see the original
drawings and loose sketches hung up in it, than the Transfiguration
of Raphael itself.
The thirst of this, continued I, as impatient as that which
inflames the breast of the connoisseur, has led me from my own home
into France, - and from France will lead me through Italy; - 'tis a
quiet journey of the heart in pursuit of Nature, and those
affections which arise out of her, which make us love each other, -
and the world, better than we do.
The Count said a great many civil things to me upon the occasion;
and added very politely, how much he stood obliged to Shakespeare
for making me known to him. - But A PROPOS, said he; - Shakespeare
is full of great things; - he forgot a small punctilio of
announcing your name: - it puts you under a necessity of doing it
THE PASSPORT. VERSAILLES.
THERE is not a more perplexing affair in life to me, than to set
about telling any one who I am, - for there is scarce any body I
cannot give a better account of than myself; and I have often
wished I could do it in a single word, - and have an end of it. It
was the only time and occasion in my life I could accomplish this
to any purpose; - for Shakespeare lying upon the table, and
recollecting I was in his books, I took up Hamlet, and turning
immediately to the grave-diggers' scene in the fifth act, I laid my
finger upon Yorick, and advancing the book to the Count, with my
finger all the way over the name, - ME VOICI! said I.
Now, whether the idea of poor Yorick's skull was put out of the
Count's mind by the reality of my own, or by what magic he could
drop a period of seven or eight hundred years, makes nothing in
this account; - 'tis certain the French conceive better than they
combine; - I wonder at nothing in this world, and the less at this;
inasmuch as one of the first of our own Church, for whose candour
and paternal sentiments I have the highest veneration, fell into
the same mistake in the very same case: - "He could not bear," he
said, "to look into the sermons wrote by the King of Denmark's
jester." Good, my Lord said I; but there are two Yoricks. The
Yorick your Lordship thinks of, has been dead and buried eight
hundred years ago; he flourished in Horwendillus's court; - the
other Yorick is myself, who have flourished, my Lord, in no court.
- He shook his head. Good God! said I, you might as well confound
Alexander the Great with Alexander the Coppersmith, my lord! -
"'Twas all one," he replied. -
- If Alexander, King of Macedon, could have translated your
Lordship, said I, I'm sure your Lordship would not have said so.
The poor Count de B- fell but into the same ERROR.
- ET, MONSIEUR, EST-IL YORICK? cried the Count. - JE LE SUIS, said
I. - VOUS? - MOI, - MOI QUI AI L'HONNEUR DE VOUS PARLER, MONSIEUR
LE COMTE. - MON DIEU! said he, embracing me, - VOUS ETES YORICK!
The Count instantly put the Shakespeare into his pocket, and left
me alone in his room.
THE PASSPORT. VERSAILLES.
I COULD not conceive why the Count de B- had gone so abruptly out
of the room, any more than I could conceive why he had put the
Shakespeare into his pocket. -
MYSTERIES WHICH MUST EXPLAIN THEMSELVES ARE NOT WORTH THE LOSS OF
TIME WHICH A CONJECTURE ABOUT THEM TAKES UP: 'twas better to read
Shakespeare; so taking up "MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING," I transported
myself instantly from the chair I sat in to Messina in Sicily, and
got so busy with Don Pedro, and Benedict, and Beatrice, that I
thought not of Versailles, the Count, or the passport.
Sweet pliability of man's spirit, that can at once surrender itself
to illusions, which cheat expectation and sorrow of their weary
moments! - Long, - long since had ye number'd out my days, had I
not trod so great a part of them upon this enchanted ground. When
my way is too rough for my feet, or too steep for my strength, I
get off it, to some smooth velvet path, which Fancy has scattered
over with rosebuds of delights; and having taken a few turns in it,
come back strengthened and refresh'd. - When evils press sore upon
me, and there is no retreat from them in this world, then I take a
new course; - I leave it, - and as I have a clearer idea of the
Elysian fields than I have of heaven, I force myself, like AEneas,
into them. - I see him meet the pensive shade of his forsaken Dido,
and wish to recognise it; - I see the injured spirit wave her head,
and turn off silent from the author of her miseries and dishonours;
- I lose the feelings for myself in hers, and in those affections
which were wont to make me mourn for her when I was at school.
SURELY THIS IS NOT WALKING IN A VAIN SHADOW - NOR DOES MAN DISQUIET
HIMSELF in vain BY IT: -he oftener does so in trusting the issue of
his commotions to reason only. - I can safely say for myself, I was
never able to conquer any one single bad sensation in my heart so
decisively, as beating up as fast as I could for some kindly and
gentle sensation to fight it upon its own ground
When I had got to the end of the third act the Count de B- entered,
with my passport in his hand. Monsieur le Duc de C-, said the
Count, is as good a prophet, I dare say, as he is a statesman. UN
HOMME QUI RIT, said the Duke, NE SERA JAMAIS DANGEREUX. - Had it
been for any one but the king's jester, added the Count, I could
not have got it these two hours. - PARDONNEZ MOI, Monsieur le
Count, said I - I am not the king's jester. - But you are Yorick? -
Yes. - ET VOUS PLAISANTEZ? - I answered, Indeed I did jest, - but
was not paid for it; - 'twas entirely at my own expense.
We have no jester at court, Monsieur le Count, said I; the last we
had was in the licentious reign of Charles II.; - since which time
our manners have been so gradually refining, that our court at
present is so full of patriots, who wish for NOTHING but the
honours and wealth of their country; - and our ladies are all so
chaste, so spotless, so good, so devout, - there is nothing for a
jester to make a jest of. -
VOILA UN PERSIFLAGE! cried the Count.
THE PASSPORT. VERSAILLES.
AS the passport was directed to all lieutenant-governors,
governors, and commandants of cities, generals of armies,
justiciaries, and all officers of justice, to let Mr. Yorick the
king's jester, and his baggage, travel quietly along, I own the
triumph of obtaining the passport was not a little tarnish'd by the
figure I cut in it. - But there is nothing unmix'd in this world;
and some of the gravest of our divines have carried it so far as to
affirm, that enjoyment itself was attended even with a sigh, - and
that the greatest THEY KNEW OF terminated, IN A GENERAL WAY, in
little better than a convulsion.
I remember the grave and learned Bevoriskius, in his Commentary
upon the Generations from Adam, very naturally breaks off in the
middle of a note to give an account to the world of a couple of
sparrows upon the out-edge of his window, which had incommoded him
all the time he wrote, and at last had entirely taken him off from
- 'Tis strange! writes Bevoriskius; but the facts are certain, for
I have had the curiosity to mark them down one by one with my pen;
- but the cock sparrow, during the little time that I could have
finished the other half of this note, has actually interrupted me
with the reiteration of his caresses three-and-twenty times and a
How merciful, adds Bevoriskius, is heaven to his creatures!
Ill fated Yorick! that the gravest of thy brethren should be able
to write that to the world, which stains thy face with crimson to
copy, even in thy study.
But this is nothing to my travels. - So I twice, - twice beg pardon
AND how do you find the French? said the Count de B-, after he had
given me the passport.
The reader may suppose, that after so obliging a proof of courtesy,
I could not be at a loss to say something handsome to the enquiry.
- MAIS PASSE, POUR CELA. - Speak frankly, said he: do you find all
the urbanity in the French which the world give us the honour of? -
I had found every thing, I said, which confirmed it. - VRAIMENT,
said the Count, LES FRANCOIS SONT POLIS. - To an excess, replied I.
The Count took notice of the word EXCES; and would have it I meant
more than I said. I defended myself a long time as well as I could
against it. - He insisted I had a reserve, and that I would speak
my opinion frankly.
I believe, Monsieur le Count, said I, that man has a certain
compass, as well as an instrument; and that the social and other
calls have occasion by turns for every key in him; so that if you
begin a note too high or too low, there must be a want either in
the upper or under part, to fill up the system of harmony. - The
Count de B- did not understand music, so desired me to explain it
some other way. A polish'd nation, my dear Count, said I, makes
every one its debtor: and besides, Urbanity itself, like the fair
sex, has so many charms, it goes against the heart to say it can do
ill; and yet, I believe, there is but a certain line of perfection,
that man, take him altogether, is empower'd to arrive at: - if he
gets beyond, he rather exchanges qualities than gets them. I must
not presume to say how far this has affected the French in the
subject we are speaking of; - but, should it ever be the case of
the English, in the progress of their refinements, to arrive at the
same polish which distinguishes the French, if we did not lose the
POLITESSE DU COEUR, which inclines men more to humane actions than
courteous ones, - we should at least lose that distinct variety and
originality of character, which distinguishes them, not only from
each other, but from all the world besides.
I had a few of King William's shillings, as smooth as glass, in my
pocket; and foreseeing they would be of use in the illustration of
my hypothesis, I had got them into my hand when I had proceeded so
See, Monsieur le Count, said I, rising up, and laying them before
him upon the table, - by jingling and rubbing one against another
for seventy years together in one body's pocket or another's, they
are become so much alike, you can scarce distinguish one shilling
The English, like ancient medals, kept more apart, and passing but
few people's hands, preserve the first sharpnesses which the fine
hand of Nature has given them; - they are not so pleasant to feel,
- but in return the legend is so visible, that at the first look
you see whose image and superscription they bear. - But the French,
Monsieur le Count, added I (wishing to soften what I had said),
have so many excellences, they can the better spare this; - they
are a loyal, a gallant, a generous, an ingenious, and good temper'd
people as is under heaven; - if they have a fault - they are too
MON DIEU! cried the Count, rising out of his chair.
MAIS VOUS PLAISANTEZ, said he, correcting his exclamation. - I laid
my hand upon my breast, and with earnest gravity assured him it was
my most settled opinion.
The Count said he was mortified he could not stay to hear my
reasons, being engaged to go that moment to dine with the Duc de C-
But if it is not too far to come to Versailles to eat your soup
with me, I beg, before you leave France, I may have the pleasure of
knowing you retract your opinion, - or, in what manner you support
it. - But, if you do support it, Monsieur Anglois, said he, you
must do it with all your powers, because you have the whole world
against you. - I promised the Count I would do myself the honour of
dining with him before I set out for Italy; - so took my leave.
THE TEMPTATION. PARIS.
WHEN I alighted at the hotel, the porter told me a young woman with
a bandbox had been that moment enquiring for me. - I do not know,
said the porter, whether she is gone away or not. I took the key
of my chamber of him, and went upstairs; and when I had got within
ten steps of the top of the landing before my door, I met her
coming easily down.
It was the fair FILLE DE CHAMBRE I had walked along the Quai de
Conti with; Madame de R- had sent her upon some commission to a
MARCHANDE DES MODES within a step or two of the Hotel de Modene;
and as I had fail'd in waiting upon her, had bid her enquire if I
had left Paris; and if so, whether I had not left a letter
addressed to her.
As the fair FILLE DE CHAMBRE was so near my door, she returned
back, and went into the room with me for a moment or two whilst I
wrote a card.
It was a fine still evening in the latter end of the month of May,
- the crimson window curtains (which were of the same colour as
those of the bed) were drawn close: - the sun was setting, and
reflected through them so warm a tint into the fair FILLE DE
CHAMBRE'S face, - I thought she blush'd; - the idea of it made me
blush myself: - we were quite alone; and that superinduced a second
blush before the first could get off.
There is a sort of a pleasing half guilty blush, where the blood is
more in fault than the man: - 'tis sent impetuous from the heart,
and virtue flies after it, - not to call it back, but to make the
sensation of it more delicious to the nerves: -'tis associated. -
But I'll not describe it; - I felt something at first within me
which was not in strict unison with the lesson of virtue I had
given her the night before. - I sought five minutes for a card; - I
knew I had not one. - I took up a pen. - I laid it down again; - my
hand trembled: - the devil was in me.
I know as well as any one he is an adversary, whom, if we resist,
he will fly from us; - but I seldom resist him at all; from a
terror, though I may conquer, I may still get a hurt in the combat;
- so I give up the triumph for security; and, instead of thinking
to make him fly, I generally fly myself.
The fair FILLE DE CHAMBRE came close up to the bureau where I was
looking for a card - took up first the pen I cast down, then
offer'd to hold me the ink; she offer'd it so sweetly, I was going
to accept it; - but I durst not; - I have nothing, my dear, said I,
to write upon. - Write it, said she, simply, upon anything. -
I was just going to cry out, Then I will write it, fair girl! upon
thy lips. -
If I do, said I, I shall perish; - so I took her by the hand, and
led her to the door, and begg'd she would not forget the lesson I
had given her. - She said, indeed she would not; - and, as she
uttered it with some earnestness, she turn'd about, and gave me
both her hands, closed together, into mine; - it was impossible not
to compress them in that situation; - I wish'd to let them go; and
all the time I held them, I kept arguing within myself against it,
- and still I held them on. - In two minutes I found I had all the
battle to fight over again; - and I felt my legs and every limb
about me tremble at the idea.
The foot of the bed was within a yard and a half of the place where
we were standing. - I had still hold of her hands - and how it
happened I can give no account; but I neither ask'd her - nor drew
her - nor did I think of the bed; - but so it did happen, we both
I'll just show you, said the fair FILLE DE CHAMBRE, the little
purse I have been making to-day to hold your crown. So she put her
hand into her right pocket, which was next me, and felt for it some
time - then into the left. - "She had lost it." - I never bore
expectation more quietly; - it was in her right pocket at last; -
she pull'd it out; it was of green taffeta, lined with a little bit
of white quilted satin, and just big enough to hold the crown: she
put it into my hand; - it was pretty; and I held it ten minutes
with the back of my hand resting upon her lap - looking sometimes
at the purse, sometimes on one side of it.
A stitch or two had broke out in the gathers of my stock; the fair
FILLE DE CHAMBRE, without saying a word, took out her little
housewife, threaded a small needle, and sew'd it up. - I foresaw it
would hazard the glory of the day; and, as she pass'd her hand in
silence across and across my neck in the manoeuvre, I felt the
laurels shake which fancy had wreath'd about my head.
A strap had given way in her walk, and the buckle of her shoe was
just falling off. - See, said the FILLE DE CHAMBRE, holding up her
foot. - I could not, for my soul but fasten the buckle in return,
and putting in the strap, - and lifting up the other foot with it,
when I had done, to see both were right, - in doing it too
suddenly, it unavoidably threw the fair FILLE DE CHAMBRE off her
centre, - and then -
YES, - and then -. Ye whose clay-cold heads and luke-warm hearts
can argue down or mask your passions, tell me, what trespass is it
that man should have them? or how his spirit stands answerable to
the Father of spirits but for his conduct under them?
If Nature has so wove her web of kindness, that some threads of
love and desire are entangled with the piece, - must the whole web
be rent in drawing them out? - Whip me such stoics, great Governor
of Nature! said I to myself: - wherever thy providence shall place
me for the trials of my virtue; - whatever is my danger, - whatever
is my situation, - let me feel the movements which rise out of it,
and which belong to me as a man, - and, if I govern them as a good
one, I will trust the issues to thy justice; for thou hast made us,
and not we ourselves.
As I finished my address, I raised the fair FILLE DE CHAMBRE up by
the hand, and led her out of the room: - she stood by me till I
locked the door and put the key in my pocket, - and then, - the
victory being quite decisive - and not till then, I press'd my lips
to her cheek, and taking her by the hand again, led her safe to the
gate of the hotel.
THE MYSTERY. PARIS.
IF a man knows the heart, he will know it was impossible to go back
instantly to my chamber; - it was touching a cold key with a flat
third to it upon the close of a piece of music, which had call'd
forth my affections: - therefore, when I let go the hand of the
FILLE DE CHAMBRE, I remained at the gate of the hotel for some
time, looking at every one who pass'd by, - and forming conjectures
upon them, till my attention got fix'd upon a single object which
confounded all kind of reasoning upon him.
It was a tall figure of a philosophic, serious, adust look, which
passed and repass'd sedately along the street, making a turn of
about sixty paces on each side of the gate of the hotel; - the man
was about fifty-two - had a small cane under his arm - was dress'd
in a dark drab-colour'd coat, waistcoat, and breeches, which seem'd
to have seen some years service: - they were still clean, and there
was a little air of frugal PROPRETE throughout him. By his pulling
off his hat, and his attitude of accosting a good many in his way,
I saw he was asking charity: so I got a sous or two out of my
pocket ready to give him, as he took me in his turn. - He pass'd by
me without asking anything - and yet did not go five steps further
before he ask'd charity of a little woman. - I was much more likely
to have given of the two. - He had scarce done with the woman, when
he pull'd off his hat to another who was coming the same way. - An
ancient gentleman came slowly - and, after him, a young smart one.
- He let them both pass, and ask'd nothing. I stood observing him
half an hour, in which time he had made a dozen turns backwards and
forwards, and found that he invariably pursued the same plan.
There were two things very singular in this, which set my brain to
work, and to no purpose: - the first was, why the man should ONLY
tell his story to the sex; - and, secondly, - what kind of story it
was, and what species of eloquence it could be, which soften'd the
hearts of the women, which he knew 'twas to no purpose to practise
upon the men.
There were two other circumstances, which entangled this mystery; -
the one was, he told every woman what he had to say in her ear, and
in a way which had much more the air of a secret than a petition; -
the other was, it was always successful. - He never stopp'd a
woman, but she pull'd out her purse, and immediately gave him
I could form no system to explain the phenomenon.
I had got a riddle to amuse me for the rest of the evening; so I
walk'd upstairs to my chamber.
THE CASE OF CONSCIENCE. PARIS.
I WAS immediately followed up by the master of the hotel, who came
into my room to tell me I must provide lodgings elsewhere. - How
so, friend? said I. - He answered, I had had a young woman lock'd
up with me two hours that evening in my bedchamber, and 'twas
against the rules of his house. - Very well, said I, we'll all part
friends then, - for the girl is no worse, - and I am no worse, -
and you will be just as I found you. - It was enough, he said, to
overthrow the credit of his hotel. - VOYEZ VOUS, Monsieur, said he,
pointing to the foot of the bed we had been sitting upon. - I own
it had something of the appearance of an evidence; but my pride not
suffering me to enter into any detail of the case, I exhorted him
to let his soul sleep in peace, as I resolved to let mine do that
night, and that I would discharge what I owed him at breakfast.
I should not have minded, Monsieur, said he, if you had had twenty
girls - 'Tis a score more, replied I, interrupting him, than I ever
reckon'd upon - Provided, added he, it had been but in a morning. -
And does the difference of the time of the day at Paris make a
difference in the sin? - It made a difference, he said, in the
scandal. - I like a good distinction in my heart; and cannot say I
was intolerably out of temper with the man. - I own it is
necessary, resumed the master of the hotel, that a stranger at
Paris should have the opportunities presented to him of buying lace
and silk stockings and ruffles, ET TOUT CELA; - and 'tis nothing if
a woman comes with a band-box. - O, my conscience! said I, she had
one but I never look'd into it. - Then Monsieur, said he, has
bought nothing? - Not one earthly thing, replied I. - Because, said
he, I could recommend one to you who would use you EN CONSCIENCE. -
But I must see her this night, said I. - He made me a low bow, and
Now shall I triumph over this MAITRE D'HOTEL, cried I, - and what
then? Then I shall let him see I know he is a dirty fellow. - And
what then? What then? - I was too near myself to say it was for
the sake of others. - I had no good answer left; - there was more
of spleen than principle in my project, and I was sick of it before
In a few minutes the grisette came in with her box of lace. - I'll
buy nothing, however, said I, within myself.
The grisette would show me everything. - I was hard to please: she
would not seem to see it; she opened her little magazine, and laid
all her laces one after another before me; - unfolded and folded
them up again one by one with the most patient sweetness. - I might
buy, - or not; - she would let me have everything at my own price:
- the poor creature seem'd anxious to get a penny; and laid herself
out to win me, and not so much in a manner which seem'd artful, as
in one I felt simple and caressing.
If there is not a fund of honest gullibility in man, so much the
worse; - my heart relented, and I gave up my second resolution as
quietly as the first. - Why should I chastise one for the trespass
of another? If thou art tributary to this tyrant of an host,
thought I, looking up in her face, so much harder is thy bread.
If I had not had more than four louis d'ors in my purse, there was
no such thing as rising up and showing her the door, till I had
first laid three of them out in a pair of ruffles.
- The master of the hotel will share the profit with her; - no
matter, - then I have only paid as many a poor soul has PAID before
me, for an act he COULD not do, or think of.
THE RIDDLE. PARIS.
WHEN La Fleur came up to wait upon me at supper, he told me how
sorry the master of the hotel was for his affront to me in bidding
me change my lodgings.
A man who values a good night's rest will not lie down with enmity
in his heart, if he can help it. - So I bid La Fleur tell the
master of the hotel, that I was sorry on my side for the occasion I
had given him; - and you may tell him, if you will, La Fleur, added
I, that if the young woman should call again, I shall not see her.
This was a sacrifice not to him, but myself, having resolved, after
so narrow an escape, to run no more risks, but to leave Paris, if
it was possible, with all the virtue I enter'd it.
C'EST DEROGER E NOBLESSE, MONSIEUR, said La Fleur, making me a bow
down to the ground as he said it. - ET ENCORE, MONSIEUR, said he,
may change his sentiments; - and if (PAR HAZARD) he should like to
amuse himself, - I find no amusement in it, said I, interrupting
MON DIEU! said La Fleur, - and took away.
In an hour's time he came to put me to bed, and was more than
commonly officious: - something hung upon his lips to say to me, or
ask me, which he could not get off: I could not conceive what it
was, and indeed gave myself little trouble to find it out, as I had
another riddle so much more interesting upon my mind, which was
that of the man's asking charity before the door of the hotel. - I
would have given anything to have got to the bottom of it; and
that, not out of curiosity, - 'tis so low a principle of enquiry,
in general, I would not purchase the gratification of it with a
two-sous piece; - but a secret, I thought, which so soon and so
certainly soften'd the heart of every woman you came near, was a
secret at least equal to the philosopher's stone; had I both the
Indies, I would have given up one to have been master of it.
I toss'd and turn'd it almost all night long in my brains to no
manner of purpose; and when I awoke in the morning, I found my
spirits as much troubled with my dreams, as ever the King of
Babylon had been with his; and I will not hesitate to affirm, it
would have puzzled all the wise men of Paris as much as those of
Chaldea to have given its interpretation.
LE DIMANCHE. PARIS.
IT was Sunday; and when La Fleur came in, in the morning, with my
coffee and roll and butter, he had got himself so gallantly
array'd, I scarce knew him.
I had covenanted at Montreuil to give him a new hat with a silver
button and loop, and four louis d'ors, POUR S'ADONISER, when we got
to Paris; and the poor fellow, to do him justice, had done wonders
He had bought a bright, clean, good scarlet coat, and a pair of
breeches of the same. - They were not a crown worse, he said, for
the wearing. - I wish'd him hang'd for telling me. - They look'd so
fresh, that though I knew the thing could not be done, yet I would
rather have imposed upon my fancy with thinking I had bought them
new for the fellow, than that they had come out of the Rue de
This is a nicety which makes not the heart sore at Paris.
He had purchased, moreover, a handsome blue satin waistcoat,
fancifully enough embroidered: - this was indeed something the
worse for the service it had done, but 'twas clean scour'd; - the
gold had been touch'd up, and upon the whole was rather showy than
otherwise; - and as the blue was not violent, it suited with the
coat and breeches very well: he had squeez'd out of the money,
moreover, a new bag and a solitaire; and had insisted with the
FRIPIER upon a gold pair of garters to his breeches knees. - He had
purchased muslin ruffles, BIEN BRODEES, with four livres of his own
money; - and a pair of white silk stockings for five more; - and to
top all, nature had given him a handsome figure, without costing
him a sous.
He entered the room thus set off, with his hair dressed in the
first style, and with a handsome bouquet in his breast. - In a
word, there was that look of festivity in everything about him,
which at once put me in mind it was Sunday; - and, by combining
both together, it instantly struck me, that the favour he wish'd to
ask of me the night before, was to spend the day as every body in
Paris spent it besides. I had scarce made the conjecture, when La
Fleur, with infinite humility, but with a look of trust, as if I
should not refuse him, begg'd I would grant him the day, POUR FAIRE
LE GALANT VIS-E-VIS DE SA MAITRESSE.
Now it was the very thing I intended to do myself vis-e-vis Madame
de R-. - I had retained the remise on purpose for it, and it would
not have mortified my vanity to have had a servant so well dress'd
as La Fleur was, to have got up behind it: I never could have worse
But we must FEEL, not argue in these embarrassments. - The sons and
daughters of Service part with liberty, but not with nature, in
their contracts; they are flesh and blood, and have their little
vanities and wishes in the midst of the house of bondage, as well
as their task-masters; - no doubt, they have set their self-denials
at a price, - and their expectations are so unreasonable, that I
would often disappoint them, but that their condition puts it so
much in my power to do it.
BEHOLD, - BEHOLD, I AM THY SERVANT - disarms me at once of the
powers of a master. -
Thou shalt go, La Fleur! said I.
- And what mistress, La Fleur, said I, canst thou have picked up in
so little a time at Paris? La Fleur laid his hand upon his breast,
and said 'twas a PETITE DEMOISELLE, at Monsieur le Count de B-'s. -
La Fleur had a heart made for society; and, to speak the truth of
him, let as few occasions slip him as his master; - so that somehow
or other, - but how, - heaven knows, - he had connected himself
with the demoiselle upon the landing of the staircase, during the
time I was taken up with my passport; and as there was time enough
for me to win the Count to my interest, La Fleur had contrived to
make it do to win the maid to his. The family, it seems, was to be
at Paris that day, and he had made a party with her, and two or
three more of the Count's household, upon the boulevards.
Happy people! that once a week at least are sure to lay down all
your cares together, and dance and sing and sport away the weights
of grievance, which bow down the spirit of other nations to the
THE FRAGMENT. PARIS.
LA FLEUR had left me something to amuse myself with for the day
more than I had bargain'd for, or could have enter'd either into
his head or mine.
He had brought the little print of butter upon a currant leaf: and
as the morning was warm, and he had a good step to bring it, he had
begg'd a sheet of waste paper to put betwixt the currant leaf and
his hand. - As that was plate sufficient, I bade him lay it upon
the table as it was; and as I resolved to stay within all day, I
ordered him to call upon the TRAITEUR, to bespeak my dinner, and
leave me to breakfast by myself.
When I had finished the butter, I threw the currant-leaf out of the
window, and was going to do the same by the waste paper; - but
stopping to read a line first, and that drawing me on to a second
and third, - I thought it better worth; so I shut the window, and
drawing a chair up to it, I sat down to read it.
It was in the old French of Rabelais's time, and for aught I know
might have been wrote by him: - it was moreover in a Gothic letter,
and that so faded and gone off by damps and length of time, it cost
me infinite trouble to make anything of it. - I threw it down; and
then wrote a letter to Eugenius; - then I took it up again, and
embroiled my patience with it afresh; - and then to cure that, I
wrote a letter to Eliza. - Still it kept hold of me; and the
difficulty of understanding it increased but the desire.
I got my dinner; and after I had enlightened my mind with a bottle
of Burgundy; I at it again, - and, after two or three hours poring
upon it, with almost as deep attention as ever Gruter or Jacob Spon
did upon a nonsensical inscription, I thought I made sense of it;
but to make sure of it, the best way, I imagined, was to turn it
into English, and see how it would look then; - so I went on
leisurely, as a trifling man does, sometimes writing a sentence, -
then taking a turn or two, - and then looking how the world went,
out of the window; so that it was nine o'clock at night before I
had done it. - I then began and read it as follows.
THE FRAGMENT. PARIS.
- NOW, as the notary's wife disputed the point with the notary with
too much heat, - I wish, said the notary, (throwing down the
parchment) that there was another notary here only to set down and
attest all this. -
- And what would you do then, Monsieur? said she, rising hastily
up. - The notary's wife was a little fume of a woman, and the
notary thought it well to avoid a hurricane by a mild reply. - I
would go, answered he, to bed. - You may go to the devil, answer'd
the notary's wife.
Now there happening to be but one bed in the house, the other two
rooms being unfurnished, as is the custom at Paris, and the notary
not caring to lie in the same bed with a woman who had but that
moment sent him pell mell to the devil, went forth with his hat and
cane and short cloak, the night being very windy, and walk'd out,
ill at ease, towards the Pont Neuf.
Of all the bridges which ever were built, the whole world who have
pass'd over the Pont Neuf must own, that it is the noblest, - the
finest, - the grandest, - the lightest, - the longest, - the
broadest, that ever conjoin'd land and land together upon the face
of the terraqueous globe.
[BY THIS IT SEEMS AS IF THE AUTHOR OF THE FRAGMENT HAD NOT BEEN A
The worst fault which divines and the doctors of the Sorbonne can
allege against it is, that if there is but a capfull of wind in or
about Paris, 'tis more blasphemously SACRE DIEU'D there than in any
other aperture of the whole city, - and with reason good and
cogent, Messieurs; for it comes against you without crying GARDE
D'EAU, and with such unpremeditable puffs, that of the few who
cross it with their hats on, not one in fifty but hazards two
livres and a half, which is its full worth.
The poor notary, just as he was passing by the sentry,
instinctively clapp'd his cane to the side of it, but in raising it
up, the point of his cane catching hold of the loop of the
sentinel's hat, hoisted it over the spikes of the ballustrade clear
into the Seine. -
- 'TIS AN ILL WIND, said a boatman, who catched it, WHICH BLOWS
NOBODY ANY GOOD.
The sentry, being a Gascon, incontinently twirled up his whiskers,
and levell'd his arquebuss.
Arquebusses in those days went off with matches; and an old woman's
paper lantern at the end of the bridge happening to be blown out,
she had borrow'd the sentry's match to light it: - it gave a
moment's time for the Gascon's blood to run cool, and turn the
accident better to his advantage. - 'TIS AN ILL WIND, said he,
catching off the notary's castor, and legitimating the capture with
the boatman's adage.
The poor notary crossed the bridge, and passing along the Rue de
Dauphine into the fauxbourgs of St. Germain, lamented himself as he
walked along in this manner: -
Luckless man that I am! said the notary, to be the sport of
hurricanes all my days: - to be born to have the storm of ill
language levell'd against me and my profession wherever I go; to be
forced into marriage by the thunder of the church to a tempest of a
woman; - to be driven forth out of my house by domestic winds, and
despoil'd of my castor by pontific ones! - to be here, bareheaded,
in a windy night, at the mercy of the ebbs and flows of accidents!
- Where am I to lay my head? - Miserable man! what wind in the two-
and-thirty points of the whole compass can blow unto thee, as it
does to the rest of thy fellow-creatures, good?
As the notary was passing on by a dark passage, complaining in this
sort, a voice call'd out to a girl, to bid her run for the next
notary. - Now the notary being the next, and availing himself of
his situation, walk'd up the passage to the door, and passing
through an old sort of a saloon, was usher'd into a large chamber,
dismantled of everything but a long military pike, - a breastplate,
- a rusty old sword, and bandoleer, hung up, equidistant, in four
different places against the wall.
An old personage who had heretofore been a gentleman, and unless
decay of fortune taints the blood along with it, was a gentleman at
that time, lay supporting his head upon his hand in his bed; a
little table with a taper burning was set close beside it, and
close by the table was placed a chair: - the notary sat him down in
it; and pulling out his inkhorn and a sheet or two of paper which
he had in his pocket, he placed them before him; and dipping his
pen in his ink, and leaning his breast over the table, he disposed
everything to make the gentleman's last will and testament
Alas! MONSIEUR LE NOTAIRE, said the gentleman, raising himself up
a little, I have nothing to bequeath, which will pay the expense of
bequeathing, except the history of myself, which I could not die in
peace, unless I left it as a legacy to the world: the profits
arising out of it I bequeath to you for the pains of taking it from
me. - It is a story so uncommon, it must be read by all mankind; -
it will make the fortunes of your house. - The notary dipp'd his
pen into his inkhorn. - Almighty Director of every event in my
life! said the old gentleman, looking up earnestly, and raising his
hands towards heaven, - Thou, whose hand has led me on through such
a labyrinth of strange passages down into this scene of desolation,
assist the decaying memory of an old, infirm, and broken-hearted
man; - direct my tongue by the spirit of thy eternal truth, that
this stranger may set down nought but what is written in that BOOK,
from whose records, said he, clasping his hands together, I am to
be condemn'd or acquitted! - the notary held up the point of his
pen betwixt the taper and his eye. -
It is a story, MONSIEUR LE NOTAIRE, said the gentleman, which will
rouse up every affection in nature; - it will kill the humane, and
touch the heart of Cruelty herself with pity. -
- The notary was inflamed with a desire to begin, and put his pen a
third time into his ink-horn - and the old gentleman, turning a
little more towards the notary, began to dictate his story in these
- And where is the rest of it, La Fleur? said I, as he just then
enter'd the room.
THE FRAGMENT, AND THE BOUQUET. (1) PARIS.
WHEN La Fleur came up close to the table, and was made to
comprehend what I wanted, he told me there were only two other
sheets of it, which he had wrapped round the stalks of a bouquet to
keep it together, which he had presented to the demoiselle upon the
boulevards. - Then prithee, La Fleur, said I, step back to her to
the Count de B-'s hotel, and see if thou canst get it. - There is
no doubt of it, said La Fleur; - and away he flew.
In a very little time the poor fellow came back quite out of
breath, with deeper marks of disappointment in his looks than could
arise from the simple irreparability of the fragment. JUSTE CIEL!
in less than two minutes that the poor fellow had taken his last
tender farewell of her - his faithless mistress had given his GAGE
D'AMOUR to one of the Count's footmen, - the footman to a young
sempstress, - and the sempstress to a fiddler, with my fragment at
the end of it. - Our misfortunes were involved together: - I gave a
sigh, - and La Fleur echoed it back again to my ear.
- How perfidious! cried La Fleur. - How unlucky! said I.
- I should not have been mortified, Monsieur, quoth La Fleur, if
she had lost it. - Nor I, La Fleur, said I, had I found it.
Whether I did or no will be seen hereafter.
THE ACT OF CHARITY. PARIS.
THE man who either disdains or fears to walk up a dark entry may be
an excellent good man, and fit for a hundred things, but he will
not do to make a good Sentimental Traveller. - I count little of
the many things I see pass at broad noonday, in large and open
streets. - Nature is shy, and hates to act before spectators; but
in such an unobserved corner you sometimes see a single short scene
of hers worth all the sentiments of a dozen French plays compounded
together, - and yet they are absolutely fine; - and whenever I have
a more brilliant affair upon my hands than common, as they suit a
preacher just as well as a hero, I generally make my sermon out of
'em; - and for the text, - "Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia
and Pamphylia," - is as good as any one in the Bible.
There is a long dark passage issuing out from the Opera Comique
into a narrow street; 'tis trod by a few who humbly wait for a
FIACRE, (2) or wish to get off quietly o'foot when the opera is
done. At the end of it, towards the theatre, 'tis lighted by a
small candle, the light of which is almost lost before you get
half-way down, but near the door - 'tis more for ornament than use:
you see it as a fixed star of the least magnitude; it burns, - but
does little good to the world, that we know of.
In returning along this passage, I discerned, as I approached
within five or six paces of the door, two ladies standing arm-in-
arm with their backs against the wall, waiting, as I imagined, for
a FIACRE; - as they were next the door, I thought they had a prior
right; so edged myself up within a yard or little more of them, and
quietly took my stand. - I was in black, and scarce seen.
The lady next me was a tall lean figure of a woman, of about
thirty-six; the other of the same size and make, of about forty:
there was no mark of wife or widow in any one part of either of
them; - they seem'd to be two upright vestal sisters, unsapped by
caresses, unbroke in upon by tender salutations. - I could have
wish'd to have made them happy: - their happiness was destin'd that
night, to come from another quarter.
A low voice, with a good turn of expression, and sweet cadence at
the end of it, begg'd for a twelve-sous piece betwixt them, for the
love of heaven. I thought it singular that a beggar should fix the
quota of an alms - and that the sum should be twelve times as much
as what is usually given in the dark. - They both seemed astonished
at it as much as myself. - Twelve sous! said one. - A twelve-sous
piece! said the other, - and made no reply.
The poor man said, he knew not how to ask less of ladies of their
rank; and bow'd down his head to the ground.
Poo! said they, - we have no money.
The beggar remained silent for a moment or two, and renew'd his
- Do not, my fair young ladies, said he, stop your good ears
against me. - Upon my word, honest man! said the younger, we have
no change. - Then God bless you, said the poor man, and multiply
those joys which you can give to others without change! - I
observed the elder sister put her hand into her pocket. - I'll see,
said she, if I have a sous. A sous! give twelve, said the
supplicant; Nature has been bountiful to you, be bountiful to a
- I would friend, with all my heart, said the younger, if I had it.
My fair charitable! said he, addressing himself to the elder, -
what is it but your goodness and humanity which makes your bright
eyes so sweet, that they outshine the morning even in this dark
passage? and what was it which made the Marquis de Santerre and his
brother say so much of you both as they just passed by?
The two ladies seemed much affected; and impulsively, at the same
time they both put their hands into their pocket, and each took out
a twelve-sous piece.
The contest betwixt them and the poor supplicant was no more; - it
was continued betwixt themselves, which of the two should give the
twelve-sous piece in charity; - and, to end the dispute, they both
gave it together, and the man went away.
THE RIDDLE EXPLAINED. PARIS.
I STEPPED hastily after him: it was the very man whose success in
asking charity of the women before the door of the hotel had so
puzzled me; - and I found at once his secret, or at least the basis
of it: - 'twas flattery.
Delicious essence! how refreshing art thou to Nature! how strongly
are all its powers and all its weaknesses on thy side! how sweetly
dost thou mix with the blood, and help it through the most
difficult and tortuous passages to the heart!
The poor man, as he was not straiten'd for time, had given it here
in a larger dose: 'tis certain he had a way of bringing it into a
less form, for the many sudden cases he had to do with in the
streets: but how he contrived to correct, sweeten, concentre, and
qualify it, - I vex not my spirit with the enquiry; - it is enough
the beggar gained two twelve-sous pieces - and they can best tell
the rest, who have gained much greater matters by it.
WE get forwards in the world, not so much by doing services, as
receiving them; you take a withering twig, and put it in the
ground; and then you water it, because you have planted it.
Monsieur le Count de B-, merely because he had done me one kindness
in the affair of my passport, would go on and do me another, the
few days he was at Paris, in making me known to a few people of
rank; and they were to present me to others, and so on.
I had got master of my SECRET just in time to turn these honours to
some little account; otherwise, as is commonly the case, I should
have dined or supp'd a single time or two round, and then, by
TRANSLATING French looks and attitudes into plain English, I should
presently have seen, that I had hold of the COUVERT (3) of some
more entertaining guest; and in course should have resigned all my
places one after another, merely upon the principle that I could
not keep them. - As it was, things did not go much amiss.
I had the honour of being introduced to the old Marquis de B-: in
days of yore he had signalized himself by some small feats of
chivalry in the COUR D'AMOUR, and had dress'd himself out to the
idea of tilts and tournaments ever since. - The Marquis de B-
wish'd to have it thought the affair was somewhere else than in his
brain. "He could like to take a trip to England," and asked much
of the English ladies. - Stay where you are, I beseech you,
Monsieur le Marquis, said I. - LES MESSIEURS ANGLOIS can scarce get
a kind look from them as it is. - The Marquis invited me to supper.
Monsieur P-, the farmer-general, was just as inquisitive about our
taxes. They were very considerable, he heard. - If we knew but how
to collect them, said I, making him a low bow.
I could never have been invited to Mons. P-'s concerts upon any
I had been misrepresented to Madame de Q- as an ESPRIT. - Madame de
Q- was an ESPRIT herself: she burnt with impatience to see me, and
hear me talk. I had not taken my seat, before I saw she did not
care a sous whether I had any wit or no; - I was let in, to be
convinced she had. I call heaven to witness I never once opened
the door of my lips.
Madame de V- vow'd to every creature she met - "She had never had a
more improving conversation with a man in her life."
There are three epochas in the empire of a French woman. - She is
coquette, - then deist, -then DEVOTE: the empire during these is
never lost, - she only changes her subjects when thirty-five years
and more have unpeopled her dominion of the slaves of love, she re-
peoples it with slaves of infidelity, - and then with the slaves of
Madame de V- was vibrating betwixt the first of those epochas: the
colour of the rose was fading fast away; - she ought to have been a
deist five years before the time I had the honour to pay my first
She placed me upon the same sofa with her, for the sake of
disputing the point of religion more closely. - In short Madame de
V- told me she believed nothing. - I told Madame de V- it might be
her principle, but I was sure it could not be her interest to level
the outworks, without which I could not conceive how such a citadel
as hers could be defended; - that there was not a more dangerous
thing in the world than for a beauty to be a deist; - that it was a
debt I owed my creed not to conceal it from her; - that I had not
been five minutes sat upon the sofa beside her, but I had begun to
form designs; - and what is it, but the sentiments of religion, and
the persuasion they had excited in her breast, which could have
check'd them as they rose up?
We are not adamant, said I, taking hold of her hand; - and there is
need of all restraints, till age in her own time steals in and lays
them on us. - But my dear lady, said I, kissing her hand, - 'tis
too - too soon.
I declare I had the credit all over Paris of unperverting Madame de
V-. - She affirmed to Monsieur D- and the Abbe M-, that in one half
hour I had said more for revealed religion, than all their
Encyclopaedia had said against it. - I was listed directly into
Madame de V-'s COTERIE; - and she put off the epocha of deism for
I remember it was in this COTERIE, in the middle of a discourse, in
which I was showing the necessity of a FIRST cause, when the young
Count de Faineant took me by the hand to the farthest corner of the
room, to tell me my SOLITAIRE was pinn'd too straight about my
neck. - It should be PLUS BADINANT, said the Count, looking down
upon his own; - but a word, Monsieur Yorick, TO THE WISE -
And FROM THE WISE, Monsieur le Count, replied I, making him a bow,
- IS ENOUGH.
The Count de Faineant embraced me with more ardour than ever I was
embraced by mortal man.
For three weeks together I was of every man's opinion I met. -
PARDI! CE MONSIEUR YORICK A AUTANT D'ESPRIT QUE NOUS AUTRES. - IL
RAISONNE BIEN, said another. - C'EST UN BON ENFANT, said a third. -
And at this price I could have eaten and drank and been merry all
the days of my life at Paris; but 'twas a dishonest RECKONING; - I
grew ashamed of it. - It was the gain of a slave; - every sentiment
of honour revolted against it; - the higher I got, the more was I
forced upon my BEGGARLY SYSTEM; - the better the COTERIE, - the
more children of Art; - I languish'd for those of Nature: and one
night, after a most vile prostitution of myself to half a dozen
different people, I grew sick, - went to bed; - order'd La Fleur to
get me horses in the morning to set out for Italy.
I NEVER felt what the distress of plenty was in any one shape till
now, - to travel it through the Bourbonnois, the sweetest part of
France, - in the heyday of the vintage, when Nature is pouring her
abundance into every one's lap, and every eye is lifted up, - a
journey, through each step of which Music beats time to LABOUR, and
all her children are rejoicing as they carry in their clusters: to
pass through this with my affections flying out, and kindling at
every group before me, - and every one of them was pregnant with
Just heaven! - it would fill up twenty volumes; - and alas! I have
but a few small pages left of this to crowd it into, - and half of
these must be taken up with the poor Maria my friend, Mr. Shandy,
met with near Moulines.
The story he had told of that disordered maid affected me not a
little in the reading; but when I got within the neighbourhood
where she lived, it returned so strong into the mind, that I could
not resist an impulse which prompted me to go half a league out of