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The Crayon Papers by Washington Irving

Part 2 out of 5

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avaricious, who flocked to it, not merely from the provinces, but from
neighboring countries. A stock exchange was established in a house in the
Rue Quincampoix, and became immediately the gathering place of
stock-jobbers. The exchange opened at seven o'clock, with the beat of drum
and sound of bell, and closed at night with the same signals. Guards were
stationed at each end of the street, to maintain order and exclude
carriages and horses. The whole street swarmed throughout the day like a
bee-hive. Bargains of all kinds were seized upon with avidity. Shares of
stock passed from hand to hand, mounting in value, one knew not why.
Fortunes were made in a moment, as if by magic; and every lucky bargain
prompted those around to a more desperate throw of the die. The fever went
on, increasing in intensity as the day declined; and when the drum beat,
and the bell rang, at night, to close the exchange, there were exclamations
of impatience and despair, as if the wheel of fortune had suddenly been
stopped when about to make its luckiest evolution.

To engulf all classes in this ruinous vortex, Law now split the shares of
fifty millions of stock each into one hundred shares; thus, as in the
splitting of lottery tickets, accommodating the venture to the humblest
purse. Society was thus stirred up to its very dregs, and adventurers of
the lowest order hurried to the stock market. All honest, industrious
pursuits, and modest gains, were now despised. Wealth was to be obtained
instantly, without labor and without stint. The upper classes were as base
in their venality as the lower. The highest and most powerful nobles,
abandoning all generous pursuits and lofty aims, engaged in the vile
scuffle for gam. They were even baser than the lower classes; for some of
them, who were members of the council of the regency, abused their station
and their influence, and promoted measures by which shares rose while in
their hands, and they made immense profits.

The Duke de Bourbon, the prince of Conti, the Dukes de la Force and D'Antin
were among the foremost of these illustrious stock-jobbers. They were
nicknamed the Mississippi Lords, and they smiled at the sneering title. In
fact, the usual distinctions of society had lost their consequence, under
the reign of this new passion. Bank, talent, military fame, no longer
inspired deference. All respect for others, all self-respect, were
forgotten in the mercenary struggle of the stock-market. Even prelates and
ecclesiastical corporations, forgetting their true objects of devotion,
mingled among the votaries of Mammon. They were not behind those who
wielded the civil power in fabricating ordinances suited to their
avaricious purposes. Theological decisions forthwith appeared, in which the
anathema launched by the Church against usury was conveniently construed as
not extending to the traffic in bank shares!

The Abbe Dubois entered into the mysteries of stockjobbing with all the
zeal of an apostle, and enriched himself by the spoils of the credulous;
and he continually drew large sums from Law, as considerations for his
political influence. Faithless to his country, in the course of his
gambling speculations he transferred to England a great amount of specie,
which had been paid into the royal treasury; thus contributing to the
subsequent dearth of the precious metals.

The female sex participated in this sordid frenzy. Princesses of the blood,
and ladies of the highest nobility, were among the most rapacious of
stock-jobbers. The regent seemed to have the riches of Croesus at his
command, and lavished money by hundreds of thousands upon his female
relatives and favorites, as well as upon his _roues_, the dissolute
companions of his debauches. "My son," writes the regent's mother, in her
correspondence, "gave me shares to the amount of two millions, which I
distributed among my household. The king also took several millions for his
own household. All the royal family have had them; all the children and
grandchildren of France, and the princes of the blood."

Luxury and extravagance kept pace with this sudden inflation of fancied
wealth. The hereditary palaces of nobles were pulled down, and rebuilt on a
scale of augmented splendor. Entertainments were given of incredible cost
and magnificence. Never before had been such display in houses, furniture,
equipages, and amusements. This was particularly the case among persons of
the lower ranks, who had suddenly become possessed of millions. Ludicrous
anecdotes are related of some of these upstarts. One, who had just launched
a splendid carriage, when about to use it for the first time, instead of
getting in at the door, mounted, through habitude, to his accustomed place
behind. Some ladies of quality, seeing a well-dressed woman covered with
diamonds, but whom nobody knew, alight from a very handsome carriage,
inquired who she was of the footman. He replied, with a sneer: "It is a
lady who has recently tumbled from a garret into this carriage." Mr. Law's
domestics were said to become in like manner suddenly enriched by the
crumbs that fell from his table. His coachman, having made his fortune,
retired from his service. Mr. Law requested him to procure a coachman in
his place. He appeared the next day with two, whom he pronounced equally
good, and told Mr. Law: "Take which of them you choose, and I will take the

Nor were these _novi homini_ treated with the distance and disdain
they would formerly have experienced from the haughty aristocracy of
France. The pride of the old noblesse had been stifled by the stronger
instinct of avarice. They rather sought the intimacy and confidence of
these lucky upstarts; and it has been observed that a nobleman would gladly
take his seat at the table of the fortunate lackey of yesterday, in hopes
of learning from him the secret of growing rich!

Law now went about with a countenance radiant with success and apparently
dispensing wealth on every side. "He is admirably skilled in all that
relates to finance," writes the Duchess of Orleans, the regent's mother,
"and has put the affairs of the state in such good order that all the
king's debts have been paid. He is so much run after that he has no repose
night or day. A duchess even kissed his hand publicly. If a duchess can do
this, what will other ladies do?"

Wherever he went, his path, we are told, was beset by a sordid throng, who
waited to see him pass, and sought to obtain the favor of a word, a nod, or
smile, as if a mere glance from him would bestow fortune. When at home, his
house was absolutely besieged by furious candidates for fortune. "They
forced the doors," says the Duke de St. Simon; "they scaled his windows
from the garden; they made their way into his cabinet down the chimney!"

The same venal court was paid by all classes to his family. The highest
ladies of the court vied with each other in meannesses to purchase the
lucrative friendship of Mrs. Law and her daughter. They waited upon them
with as much assiduity and adulation as if they had been princesses of the
blood. The regent one day expressed a desire that some duchess should
accompany his daughter to Genoa. "My lord," said some one present, "if you
would have a choice from among the duchesses, you need but send to Mrs.
Law's, you will find them all assembled there."

The wealth of Law rapidly increased with the expansion of the bubble. In
the course of a few months he purchased fourteen titled estates, paying for
them in paper; and the public hailed these sudden and vast acquisitions of
landed property as so many proofs of the soundness of his system. In one
instance he met with a shrewd bargainer, who had not the general faith in
his paper money. The President de Novion insisted on being paid for an
estate in hard coin. Law accordingly brought the amount, four hundred
thousand livres, in specie, saying, with a sarcastic smile, that he
preferred paying in money as its weight rendered it a mere encumbrance. As
it happened, the president could give no clear title to the land, and the
money had to be refunded. He paid it back _in paper_, which Law dared
not refuse, lest he should depreciate it in the market.

The course of illusory credit went on triumphantly for eighteen months. Law
had nearly fulfilled one of his promises, for the greater part of the
public debt had been paid off; but how paid? In bank shares, which had been
trumped up several hundred per cent above their value, and which were to
vanish like smoke in the hands of the holders.

One of the most striking attributes of Law was the imperturbable assurance
and self-possession with which he replied to every objection, and found a
solution for every problem. He had the dexterity of a juggler in evading
difficulties; and what was peculiar, made figures themselves, which are the
very elements of exact demonstration, the means to dazzle and bewilder.

Toward the latter end of 1719 the Mississippi scheme had reached its
highest point of glory. Half a million of strangers had crowded into Paris
in quest of fortune. The hotels and lodging-houses were overflowing;
lodgings were procured with excessive difficulty; granaries were turned
into bedrooms; provisions had risen enormously in price; splendid houses
were multiplying on every side; the streets were crowded with carriages;
above a thousand new equipages had been launched.

On the eleventh of December, Law obtained another prohibitory decree, for
the purpose of sweeping all the remaining specie in circulation into the
bank. By this it was forbidden to make any payment in silver above ten
livres, or in gold above three hundred.

The repeated decrees of this nature, the object of which was to depreciate
the value of gold, and increase the illusive credit of paper, began to
awaken doubts of a system which required such bolstering. Capitalists
gradually awoke from their bewilderment. Sound and able financiers
consulted together, and agreed to make common cause against this continual
expansion of a paper system. The shares of the bank and of the company
began to decline in value. Wary men took the alarm, and began to
_realize_, a word now first brought into use, to express the
conversion of _ideal_ property into something _real_.

The prince of Conti, one of the most prominent and grasping of the
Mississippi lords, was the first to give a blow to the credit of the bank.
There was a mixture of ingratitude in his conduct that characterized the
venal baseness of the times. He had received from time to time enormous
sums from Law, as the price of his influence and patronage. His avarice had
increased with every acquisition, until Law was compelled to refuse one of
his exactions. In revenge the prince immediately sent such an amount of
paper to the bank to be cashed that it required four wagons to bring away
the silver, and he had the meanness to loll out of the window of his hotel
and jest and exult as it was trundled into his portecochere.

This was the signal for other drains of like nature. The English and Dutch
merchants, who had purchased a great amount of bank paper at low prices,
cashed them at the bank, and carried the money out of the country. Other
strangers did the like, thus draining the kingdom of its specie, and
leaving paper in its place.

The regent, perceiving these symptoms of decay in the system, sought to
restore it to public confidence by conferring marks of confidence upon its

He accordingly resolved to make Law Comptroller General of the Finances of
France. There was a material obstacle in his way. Law was a Protestant, and
the regent, unscrupulous as he was himself, did not dare publicly to
outrage the severe edicts which Louis XIV., in his bigot days, had
fulminated against all heretics. Law soon let him know that there would be
no difficulty on that head. He was ready at any moment to abjure his
religion in the way of business. For decency's sake, however, it was judged
proper he should previously be convinced and converted. A ghostly
instructor was soon found, ready to accomplish his conversion in the
shortest possible time. This was the Abbe Tencin, a profligate creature of
the profligate Dubois, and like him working his way to ecclesiastical
promotion and temporal wealth, by the basest means.

Under the instructions of the Abbe Tencin, Law soon mastered the mysteries
and dogmas of the Catholic doctrine; and, after a brief course of ghostly
training, declared himself thoroughly convinced and converted. To avoid the
sneers and jests of the Parisian public the ceremony of abjuration took
place at Melun. Law made a pious present of one hundred thousand livres to
the Church of St. Roque, and the Abbe Tencin was rewarded for his edifying
labors by sundry shares and bank bills; which he shrewdly took care to
convert into cash, having as little faith in the system as in the piety of
his new convert. A more grave and moral community might have been outraged
by this scandalous farce; but the Parisians laughed at it with their usual
levity, and contented themselves with making it the subject of a number of
songs and epigrams.

Law now being orthodox in his faith, took out letters of naturalization,
and having thus surmounted the intervening obstacles, was elevated by the
regent to the post of comptroller-general. So accustomed had the community
become to all juggles and transmutations in this hero of finance, that no
one seemed shocked or astonished at his sudden elevation. On the contrary,
being now considered perfectly established in place and power, he became
more than ever the object of venal adoration. Men of rank and dignity
thronged his antechamber, waiting patiently their turn for an audience; and
titled dames demeaned themselves to take the front seats of the carriages
of his wife and daughter, as if they had been riding with princesses of the
blood royal. Law's head grew giddy with his elevation, and he began to
aspire after aristocratical distinction. There was to be a court ball, at
which several of the young noblemen were to dance in a ballet with the
youthful king. Law requested that his son might be admitted into the
ballet, and the regent consented. The young scions of nobility, however,
were indignant and scouted the "intruding upstart." Their more worldly
parents, fearful of displeasing the modern Midas, reprimanded them in vain.
The striplings had not yet imbibed the passion for gain, and still held to
their high blood. The son of the banker received slights and annoyances on
all sides, and the public applauded them for their spirit. A fit of illness
came opportunely to relieve the youth from an honor which would have cost
him a world of vexations and affronts.

In February, 1720, shortly after Law's installment in office, a decree came
out uniting the bank to the India Company, by which last name the whole
establishment was now known. The decree stated that as the bank was royal,
the king was bound to make good the value of its bills; that he committed
to the company the government of the bank for fifty years, and sold to it
fifty millions of stock belonging to him, for nine hundred millions; a
simple advance of eighteen hundred per cent. The decree further declared,
in the king's name, that he would never draw on the bank until the value of
his drafts had first been lodged in it by his receivers-general.

The bank, it was said, had by this time issued notes to the amount of one
thousand millions; being more paper than all the banks of Europe were able
to circulate. To aid its credit, the receivers of the revenue were directed
to take bank notes of the sub-receivers. All payments, also, of one hundred
livres and upward were ordered to be made in banknotes. These compulsory
measures for a short time gave a false credit to the bank, which proceeded
to discount merchants' notes, to lend money on jewels, plate, and other
valuables, as well as on mortgages.

Still further to force on the system an edict next appeared, forbidding any
individual, or any corporate body, civil or religious, to hold in
possession more than five hundred livres in current coin; that is to say,
about seven louis d'ors: the value of the louis-d'or in paper being, at the
time, seventy-two livres. All the gold and silver they might have above
this pittance was to be brought to the royal bank and exchanged either for
shares or bills.

As confiscation was the penalty of disobedience to this decree, and
informers were assured a share of the forfeitures, a bounty was in a manner
held out to domestic spies and traitors; and the most odious scrutiny was
awakened into the pecuniary affairs of families and individuals. The very
confidence between friends and relatives was unpaired, and all the domestic
ties and virtues of society were threatened, until a general sentiment of
indignation broke forth, that compelled the regent to rescind the odious
decree. Lord Stairs, the British embassador, speaking of the system of
espionage encouraged by this edict, observed that it was impossible to
doubt that Law was a thorough Catholic, since he had thus established the
_inquisition_, after having already proved _transubstantiation_,
by changing specie into paper.

Equal abuses had taken place under the colonizing project. In his thousand
expedients to amass capital, Law had sold parcels of land in Mississippi,
at the rate of three thousand livres for a league square. Many capitalists
had purchased estates large enough to constitute almost a principality; the
only evil was, Law had sold a property which he could not deliver. The
agents of police, who aided in recruiting the ranks of the colonists, had
been guilty of scandalous impositions. Under pretense of taking up
mendicants and vagabonds, they had scoured the streets at night, seizing
upon honest mechanics, or their sons, and hurrying them to their
crimping-houses, for the sole purpose of extorting money from them as a
ransom. The populace was roused to indignation by these abuses. The
officers of police were mobbed in the exercise of their odious functions,
and several of them were killed; which put an end to this flagrant abuse of

In March, a most extraordinary decree of the council fixed the price of
shares of the India Company at nine thousand livres each. All
ecclesiastical communities and hospitals were now prohibited from investing
money at interest, in anything but India stock. With all these props and
stays, the system continued to totter. How could it be otherwise, under a
despotic government that could alter the value of property at every moment?
The very compulsory measures that were adopted to establish the credit of
the bank hastened its fall; plainly showing there was a want of solid

Law caused pamphlets to be published, setting forth, in eloquent language,
the vast profits that must accrue to holders of the stock, and the
impossibility of the king's ever doing it any harm. On the very back of
these assertions came forth an edict of the king, dated the 22d of May,
wherein, under pretense of having reduced the value of his coin, it was
declared necessary to reduce the value of his bank-notes one-half, and of
the India shares from nine thousand to five thousand livres.

This decree came like a clap of thunder upon shareholders. They found
one-half of the pretended value of the paper in their hands annihilated in
an instant; and what certainty had they with respect to the other half? The
rich considered themselves ruined; those in humbler circumstances looked
forward to abject beggary.

The parliament seized the occasion to stand forth as the protector of the
public, and refused to register the decree. It gained the credit of
compelling the regent to retrace his step, though it is more probable he
yielded to the universal burst of public astonishment and reprobation. On
the 27th of May the edict was revoked, and bank bills were restored to
their previous value. But the fatal blow had been struck; the delusion was
at an end. Government itself had lost all public confidence, equally with
the bank it had engendered, and which its own arbitrary acts had brought
into discredit. "All Paris," says the regent's mother, in her letters, "has
been mourning at the cursed decree which Law has persuaded my son to make.
I have received anonymous letters stating that I have nothing to fear on my
own account, but that my son shall be pursued with fire and sword."

The regent now endeavored to avert the odium of his ruinous schemes from
himself. He affected to have suddenly lost confidence in Law, and, on the
29th of May, discharged bin from his employ as comptroller-general, and
stationed a Swiss guard of sixteen men in his house. He even refused to see
him, when, on the following day, he applied at the portal of the Palais
Royal for admission; but having played off this farce before the public, he
admitted him secretly the same night, by a private door, and continued as
before to co-operate with him in his financial schemes.

On the first of June the regent issued a decree, permitting persons to have
as much money as they pleased in their possession. Few, however, were in a
state to benefit by this permission. There was a run upon the bank, but a
royal ordinance immediately suspended payment, until further orders. To
relieve the public mind, a city stock was created, of twenty-five millions,
bearing an interest of two and a half per cent, for which bank notes were
taken in exchange. The bank notes thus withdrawn from circulation were
publicly burned before the Hotel de Ville. The public, however, had lost
confidence in everything and everybody, and suspected fraud and collusion
in those who pretended to burn the bills.

A general confusion now took place hi the financial world. Families who had
lived in opulence found themselves suddenly reduced to indigence. Schemers
who had been reveling in the delusion of princely fortune found their
estates vanishing into thin air. Those who had any property remaining
sought to secure it against reverses. Cautious persons found there was no
safety for property in a country where the coin was continually shifting in
value, and where a despotism was exercised over public securities, and even
over the private purses of individuals. They began to send their effects
into other countries; when lo! on the 20th of June a royal edict commanded
them to bring back their effects, under penalty of forfeiting twice their
value; and forbade them, under like penalty, from investing their money in
foreign stocks. This was soon followed by another decree, forbidding any
one to retain precious stones in his possession, or to sell them to
foreigners; all must be deposited in the bank, in exchange for depreciating

Execrations were now poured out on all sides against Law, and menaces of
vengeance. What a contrast, in a short time, to the venal incense that was
offered up to him! "This person," writes the regent's mother, "who was
formerly worshiped as a god, is now not sure of his life. It is astonishing
how greatly terrified he is. He is as a dead man; he is pale as a sheet,
and it is said he can never get over it. My son is not dismayed, though he
is threatened on all sides; and is very much amused with Law's terrors."

About the middle of July the last grand attempt was made by Law and the
regent to keep up the system and provide for the immense emission of paper.
A decree was fabricated, giving the India Company the entire monopoly of
commerce, on condition that it would, in the course of a year, reimburse
six hundred millions of livres of its bills, at the rate of fifty millions
per month.

On the 17th this decree was sent to parliament to be registered. It at once
raised a storm of opposition in that assembly, and a vehement discussion
took place. While that was going on a disastrous scene was passing out of

The calamitous effects of the system had reached the humblest concerns of
human life. Provisions had risen to an enormous price; paper money was
refused at all the shops; the people had not wherewithal to buy bread. It
had been found absolutely indispensable to relax a little from the
suspension of specie payments, and to allow small sums to be scantily
exchanged for paper. The doors of the bank and the neighboring streets were
immediately thronged with a famishing multitude, seeking cash for bank
notes of ten livres. So great was the press and struggle that several
persons were stifled and crushed to death. The mob carried three of the
bodies to the courtyard of the Palais Royal. Some cried for the regent to
come forth and behold the effect of his system; others demanded the death
of Law, the impostor, who had brought this misery and rum upon the nation.

The moment was critical, the popular fury was rising to a tempest, when Le
Blanc, the Secretary of State, stepped forth. He had previously sent for
the military, and now only sought to gain tune. Singling out six or seven
stout fellows, who seemed to be the ringleaders of the mob: "My good
fellows," said he, calmly, "carry away these bodies and place them in some
church, and then come back quickly to me for your pay." They immediately
obeyed; a kind of funeral procession was formed; the arrival of troops
dispersed those who lingered behind; and Paris was probably saved from an

About ten o'clock in the morning, all being quiet, Law ventured to go in
his carriage to the Palais Royal. He was saluted with cries and curses, as
he passed along the streets; and he reached the Palais Royal in a terrible
fright. The regent amused himself with his fears, but retained him with
him, and sent off his carriage, which was assailed by the mob, pelted with
stones, and the glasses shivered. The news of this outrage was communicated
to parliament in the midst of a furious discussion of the decree for the
commercial monopoly. The first president, who had been absent for a short
time, re-entered, and communicated the tidings in a whimsical couplet:

"Messieurs, Messieurs! bonne nouvelle!
Le carrosse de Law est reduite en carrelle!"

"Gentlemen, Gentlemen! good news!
The carriage of Law is shivered to atoms!"

The members sprang up with joy; "And Law!" exclaimed they, "has he been
torn to pieces?" The president was ignorant of the result of the tumult;
whereupon the debate was cut short, the decree rejected, and the house
adjourned; the members hurrying to learn the particulars. Such was the
levity with which public affairs were treated at that dissolute and
disastrous period.

On the following day there was an ordinance from the king, prohibiting all
popular assemblages; and troops were stationed at various points, and in
all public places. The regiment of guards was ordered to hold itself in
readiness; and the musketeers to be at their hotels, with their horses
ready saddled. A number of small offices were opened, where people might
cash small notes, though with great delay and difficulty. An edict was also
issued declaring that whoever should refuse to take bank notes in the
course of trade should forfeit double the amount!

The continued and vehement opposition of parliament to the whole delusive
system of finance had been a constant source of annoyance to the regent;
but this obstinate rejection of his last grand expedient of a commercial
monopoly was not to be tolerated. He determined to punish that intractable
body. The Abbe Dubois and Law suggested a simple mode; it was to suppress
the parliament altogether, being, as they observed, so far from useful that
it was a constant impediment to the march of public affairs. The regent was
half inclined to listen to their advice; but upon calmer consideration, and
the advice of friends, he adopted a more moderate course. On the 20th of
July, early in the morning, all the doors of the parliament-house were
taken possession of by troops. Others were sent to surround the house of
the first president, and others to the houses of the various members; who
were all at first in great alarm, until an order from the king was put into
their hands, to render themselves at Pontoise, in the course of two days,
to which place the parliament was thus suddenly and arbitrarily

This despotic act, says Voltaire, would at any other time have caused an
insurrection; but one half of the Parisians were occupied by their ruin,
and the other half by their fancied riches, which were soon to vanish. The
president and members of parliament acquiesced in the mandate without a
murmur; they even went as if on a party of pleasure, and made every
preparation to lead a joyous life in their exile. The musketeers, who held
possession of the vacated parliament-house, a gay corps of fashionable
young fellows, amused themselves with making songs and pasquinades, at the
expense of the exiled legislators; and at length, to pass away time, formed
themselves into a mock parliament; elected their presidents, kings,
ministers, and advocates; took their seats in due form, arraigned a cat at
their bar, in place of the Sieur Law, and, after giving it a "fair trial,"
condemned it to be hanged. In this manner public affairs and public
institutions were lightly turned to jest.

As to the exiled parliament, it lived gayly and luxuriously at Pontoise, at
the public expense; for the regent had furnished funds, as usual, with a
lavish hand. The first president had the mansion of the Duke de Bouillon
put at his disposal, already furnished, with a vast and delightful garden
on the borders of a river. There he kept open house to all the members of
parliament. Several tables were spread every day, all furnished luxuriously
and splendidly; the most exquisite wines and liqueurs, the choicest fruits
and refreshments, of all kinds, abounded. A number of small chariots for
one and two horses were always at hand, for such ladies and old gentlemen
as wished to take an airing after dinner, and card and billiard tables for
such as chose to amuse themselves in that way until supper. The sister and
the daughter of the first president did the honors of the house, and he
himself presided there with an air of great ease, hospitality, and
magnificence. It became a party of pleasure to drive from Paris to
Pontoise, which was six leagues distant, and partake of the amusements and
festivities of the place. Business was openly slighted; nothing was thought
of but amusement. The regent and his government were laughed at, and made
the subjects of continual pleasantries; while the enormous expenses
incurred by this idle and lavish course of life more than doubled the
liberal sums provided. This was the way in which the parliament resented
their exile.

During all this time the system was getting more and more involved. The
stock exchange had some time previously been removed to the Place Vendome;
but the tumult and noise becoming intolerable to the residents of that
polite quarter, and especially to the chancellor, whose hotel was there,
the Prince and Princess Carignan, both deep gamblers in Mississippi stock,
offered the extensive garden of the Hotel de Soissons as a rallying-place
for the worshipers of Mammon. The offer was accepted. A number of barracks
were immediately erected in the garden, as offices for the stock-brokers,
and an order was obtained from the regent, under pretext of police
regulations, that no bargain should be valid unless concluded in these
barracks. The rent of them immediately mounted to a hundred livres a month
for each, and the whole yielded these noble proprietors an ignoble revenue
of half a million of livres.

The mania for gain, however, was now at an end. A universal panic
succeeded. "_Sauve qui peut!_" was the watchword. Every one was
anxious to exchange falling paper for something of intrinsic and permanent
value. Since money was not to be had, jewels, precious stones, plate,
porcelain, trinkets of gold and silver, all commanded any price in paper.
Land was bought at fifty years' purchase, and he esteemed himself happy who
could get it even at this price. Monopolies now became the rage among the
noble holders of paper. The Duke de la Force bought up nearly all the
tallow, grease, and soap; others the coffee and spices; others hay and
oats. Foreign exchanges were almost impracticable. The debts of Dutch and
English merchants were paid in this fictitious money, all the coin of the
realm having disappeared. All the relations of debtor and creditor were
confounded. With one thousand crowns one might pay a debt of eighteen
thousand livres!

The regent's mother, who once exulted in the affluence of bank paper, now
wrote in a very different tone: "I have often wished," said she in her
letters, "that these bank-notes were in the depths of the infernal regions.
They have given my son more trouble than relief. Nobody in France has a
penny.... My son was once popular, but since the arrival of this cursed
Law, he is hated more and more. Not a week passes, without my receiving
letters filled with frightful threats, and speaking of him as a tyrant. I
have just received one threatening him with poison. When I showed it to
him, he did nothing but laugh."

In the meantime, Law was dismayed by the increasing troubles, and terrified
at the tempest he had raised. He was not a man of real courage; and fearing
for his personal safety, from popular tumult, or the despair of ruined
individuals, he again took refuge in the palace of the regent. The latter,
as usual, amused himself with his terrors, and turned every new disaster
into a jest; but he too began to think of his own security.

In pursuing the schemes of Law, he had no doubt calculated to carry through
his term of government with ease and splendor; and to enrich himself, his
connections, and his favorites; and had hoped that the catastrophe of the
system would not take place until after the expiration of the regency.

He now saw his mistake; that it was impossible much longer to prevent an
explosion; and he determined at once to get Law out of the way, and then to
charge him with the whole tissue of delusions of this paper alchemy. He
accordingly took occasion of the recall of parliament in December, 1720, to
suggest to Law the policy of his avoiding an encounter with that hostile
and exasperated body. Law needed no urging to the measure. His only desire
was to escape from Paris and its tempestuous populace. Two days before the
return of parliament he took his sudden and secret departure. He traveled
in a chaise bearing the arms of the regent, and was escorted by a kind of
safeguard of servants in the duke's livery. His first place of refuge was
an estate of the regent's, about six leagues from Paris, from whence he
pushed forward to Bruxelles.

As soon as Law was fairly out of the way, the Duke of Orleans summoned a
council of the regency, and informed them that they were assembled to
deliberate on the state of the finances, and the affairs of the India
Company. Accordingly La Houssaye, comptroller-general, rendered a perfectly
clear statement, by which it appeared that there were bank bills in
circulation to the amount of two milliards, seven hundred millions of
livres, without any evidence that this enormous sum had been emitted in
virtue of any ordinance from the general assembly of the India Company,
which alone had the right to authorize such emissions.

The council was astonished at this disclosure, and looked to the regent for
explanation. Pushed to the extreme, the regent avowed that Law had emitted
bills to the amount of twelve hundred millions beyond what had been fixed
by ordinances, and in contradiction to express prohibitions; that the thing
being done, he, the regent, had legalized or rather covered the
transaction, by decrees ordering such emissions, which decrees he had

A stormy scene ensued between the regent and the Duke de Bourbon, little to
the credit of either, both having been deeply implicated in the cabalistic
operations of the system. In fact, the several members of the council had
been among the most venal "beneficiaries" of the scheme, and had interests
at stake which they were anxious to secure. From all the circumstances of
the case, I am inclined to think that others were more to blame than Law,
for the disastrous effects of his financial projects. His bank, had it been
confined to its original limits, and left to the control of its own
internal regulations, might have gone on prosperously, and been of great
benefit to the nation. It was an institution fitted for a free country; but
unfortunately it was subjected to the control of a despotic government,
that could, at its pleasure, alter the value of the specie within its
vaults, and compel the most extravagant expansions of its paper
circulation. The vital principle of a bank is security in the regularity of
its operations, and the immediate convertibility of its paper into coin;
and what confidence could be reposed in an institution or its paper
promises, when the sovereign could at any moment centuple those promises in
the market, and seize upon all the money in the bank? The compulsory
measures used, likewise, to force bank-notes into currency, against the
judgment of the public, was fatal to the system; for credit must be free
and uncontrolled as the common air. The regent was the evil spirit of the
system, that forced Law on to an expansion of his paper currency far beyond
what he had ever dreamed of. He it was that in a manner compelled the
unlucky projector to devise all kinds of collateral companies and
monopolies, by which to raise funds to meet the constantly and enormously
increasing emissions of shares and notes. Law was but like a poor conjurer
in the hands of a potent spirit that he has evoked, and that obliges him to
go on, desperately and ruinously, with his conjurations. He only thought at
the outset to raise the wind, but the regent compelled him to raise the

The investigation of the affairs of the company by the council resulted in
nothing beneficial to the public. The princes and nobles who had enriched
themselves by all kinds of juggles and extortions, escaped unpunished, and
retained the greater part of their spoils. Many of the "suddenly rich," who
had risen from obscurity to a giddy height of imaginary prosperity, and had
indulged in all kinds of vulgar and ridiculous excesses, awoke as out of a
dream, in their original poverty, now made more galling and humiliating by
their transient elevation.

The weight of the evil, however, fell on more valuable classes of society;
honest tradesmen and artisans, who had been seduced away from the safe
pursuits of industry, to the specious chances of speculation. Thousands of
meritorious families also, once opulent, had been reduced to indigence, by
a too great confidence in government. There was a general derangement in
the finances, that long exerted a baneful influence over the national
prosperity; but the most disastrous effects of the system were upon the
morals and manners of the nation. The faith of engagements, the sanctity of
promises in affairs of business, were at an end. Every expedient to grasp
present profit, or to evade present difficulty, was tolerated. While such
deplorable laxity of principle was generated in the busy classes, the
chivalry of France had soiled their pennons; and honor and glory, so long
the idols of the Gallic nobility, had been tumbled to the earth, and
trampled in the dirt of the stock-market.

As to Law, the originator of the system, he appears eventually to have
profited but little by his schemes. "He was a quack," says Voltaire, "to
whom the state was given to be cured, but who poisoned it with his drugs,
and who poisoned himself." The effects which he left behind in France were
sold at a low price and the proceeds dissipated. His landed estates were
confiscated. He carried away with him barely enough to maintain himself,
his wife, and daughter, with decency. The chief relic of his immense
fortune was a great diamond, which he was often obliged to pawn. He was in
England in 1721, and was presented to George the First. He returned shortly
afterward to the continent; shifting about from place to place, and died in
Venice, in 1729. His wife and daughter, accustomed to live with the
prodigality of princesses, could not conform to their altered fortunes, but
dissipated the scanty means left to them, and sank into abject poverty. "I
saw his wife," says Voltaire, "at Bruxelles, as much humiliated as she had
been haughty and triumphant in Paris." An elder brother of Law remained in
France, and was protected by the Duchess of Bourbon. His descendants have
acquitted themselves honorably, in various public employments; and one of
them is the Marquis Lauriston, some time lieutenant-general and peer of

* * * * *



"I have heard of spirits walking with aerial bodies, and have been
wondered at by others; but I must only wonder at myself, for if they
be not mad, I'me come to my own buriall."--SHIRLEY's _Witty Fairie

Everybody has heard of the fate of Don Juan, the famous libertine of
Seville, who for his sins against the fair sex and other minor peccadilloes
was hurried away to the infernal regions. His story has been illustrated in
play, in pantomime, and farce, on every stage in Christendom; until at
length it has been rendered the theme of the operas, and embalmed to
endless duration in the glorious music of Mozart. I well recollect the
effect of this story upon my feelings in my boyish days, though represented
in grotesque pantomime; the awe with which I contemplated the monumental
statue on horseback of the murdered commander, gleaming by pale moonlight
in the convent cemetery; how my heart quaked as he bowed his marble head,
and accepted the impious invitation of Don Juan: how each footfall of the
statue smote upon my heart, as I heard it approach, step by step, through
the echoing corridor, and beheld it enter, and advance, a moving figure of
stone, to the supper table! But then the convivial scene in the
charnel-house, where Don Juan returned the visit of the statue; was offered
a banquet of skulls and bones, and on refusing to partake, was hurled into
a yawning gulf, under a tremendous shower of fire! These were accumulated
horrors enough to shake the nerves of the most pantomime-loving schoolboy.
Many have supposed the story of Don Juan a mere fable. I myself thought so
once; but "seeing is believing." I have since beheld the very scene where
it took place, and now to indulge any doubt on the subject would be

I was one night perambulating the streets of Seville, in company with a
Spanish friend, a curious investigator of the popular traditions and other
good-for-nothing lore of the city, and who was kind enough to imagine he
had met, in me, with a congenial spirit. In the course of our rambles we
were passing by a heavy, dark gateway, opening into the courtyard of a
convent, when he laid his hand upon my arm: "Stop!" said he, "this is the
convent of San Francisco; there is a story connected with it which I am
sure must be known to you. You cannot but have heard of Don Juan and the
marble statue."

"Undoubtedly," replied I, "it has been familiar to me from childhood."

"Well, then, it was in the cemetery of this very convent that the events
took place."

"Why, you do not mean to say that the story is founded on fact?"

"Undoubtedly it is. The circumstances of the case are said to have occurred
during the reign of Alfonso XI. Don Juan was of the noble family of
Tenorio, one of the most illustrious houses of Andalusia. His father, Don
Diego Tenorio, was a favorite of the king, and his family ranked among the
_deintecuatros_, or magistrates, of the city. Presuming on his high
descent and powerful connections, Don Juan set no bounds to his excesses:
no female, high or low, was sacred from his pursuit: and he soon became the
scandal of Seville. One of his most daring outrages was, to penetrate by
night into the palace of Don Gonzalo de Ulloa, commander of the order of
Calatrava, and attempt to carry off his daughter. The household was
alarmed; a scuffle in the dark took place; Don Juan escaped, but the
unfortunate commander was found weltering in his blood, and expired without
being able to name his murderer. Suspicions attached to Don Juan; he did
not stop to meet the investigations of justice, and the vengeance of the
powerful family of Ulloa, but fled from Seville, and took refuge with his
uncle, Don Pedro Tenorio, at that time embassador at the court of Naples.
Here he remained until the agitation occasioned by the murder of Don
Gonzalo had time to subside; and the scandal which the affair might cause
to both the families of Ulloa and Tenorio had induced them to hush it up.
Don Juan, however, continued his libertine career at Naples, until at
length his excesses forfeited the protection of his uncle, the embassador,
and obliged him again to flee. He had made his way back to Seville,
trusting that his past misdeeds were forgotten, or rather trusting to his
dare-devil spirit and the power of his family to carry him through all

"It was shortly after his return, and while in the height of his arrogance,
that on visiting this very convent of Francisco, he beheld on a monument
the equestrian statue of the murdered commander, who had been buried within
the walls of this sacred edifice, where the family of Ulloa had a chapel.
It was on this occasion that Don Juan, in a moment of impious levity,
invited the statue to the banquet, the awful catastrophe of which has given
such celebrity to his story."

"And pray how much of this story," said I, "is believed in Seville?"

"The whole of it by the populace; with whom it has been a favorite
tradition since time immemorial, and who crowd to the theaters to see it
represented in dramas written long since by Tyrso de Molina, and another of
our popular writers. Many in our higher ranks also, accustomed from
childhood to this story, would feel somewhat indignant at hearing it
treated with contempt. An attempt has been made to explain the whole, by
asserting that, to put an end to the extravagances of Don Juan, and to
pacify the family of Ulloa, without exposing the delinquent to the
degrading penalties of justice, he was decoyed into this convent under a
false pretext, and either plunged into a perpetual dungeon, or privately
hurried out of existence; while the story of the statue was circulated by
the monks, to account for his sudden disappearance. The populace, however,
are not to be cajoled out of a ghost story by any of these plausible
explanations; and the marble statue still strides the stage, and Don Juan
is still plunged into the infernal regions, as an awful warning to all
rake-helly youngsters, in like case offending."

While my companion was relating these anecdotes, we had entered the
gateway, traversed the exterior courtyard of the convent, and made our way
into a great interior court; partly surrounded by cloisters and
dormitories, partly by chapels, and having a large fountain in the center.
The pile had evidently once been extensive and magnificent; but it was for
the greater part in ruins. By the light of the stars, and of twinkling
lamps placed here and there in the chapels and corridors, I could see that
many of the columns and arches were broken; the walls were rent and riven;
white burned beams and rafters showed the destructive effects of fire. The
whole place had a desolate air; the night breeze rustled through grass and
weeds flaunting out of the crevices of the walls, or from the shattered
columns; the bat flitted about the vaulted passages, and the owl hooted
from the ruined belfry. Never was any scene more completely fitted for a
ghost story.

While I was indulging in picturings of the fancy, proper to such a place,
the deep chant of the monks from the convent church came swelling upon the
ear. "It is the vesper service," said my companion; "follow me."

Leading the way across the court of the cloisters, and through one or two
ruined passages, he reached the distant portal of the church, and pushing
open a wicket, cut in the folding doors, we found ourselves in the deep
arched vestibule of the sacred edifice. To our left was the choir, forming
one end of the church, and having a low vaulted ceiling, which gave it the
look of a cavern. About this were ranged the monks, seated on stools, and
chanting from immense books placed on music-stands, and having the notes
scored in such gigantic characters as to be legible from every part of the
choir. A few lights on these music-stands dimly illumined the choir,
gleamed on the shaven heads of the monks and threw their shadows on the
walls. They were gross, blue-bearded, bullet-headed men, with bass voices,
of deep metallic tone, that reverberated out of the cavernous choir.

To our right extended the great body of the church. It was spacious and
lofty; some of the side chapels had gilded grates, and were decorated with
images and paintings, representing the sufferings of our Saviour. Aloft was
a great painting by Murillo, but too much in the dark to be distinguished.
The gloom of the whole church was but faintly relieved by the reflected
light from the choir, and the glimmering here and there of a votive lamp
before the shrine of a saint.

As my eye roamed about the shadowy pile, it was struck with the dimly seen
figure of a man on horseback, near a distant altar. I touched my companion,
and pointed to it: "The specter statue!" said I.

"No," replied he; "it is the statue of the blessed St. Iago; the statue of
the commander was in the cemetery of the convent, and was destroyed at the
tune of the conflagration. But," added he, "as I see you take a proper
interest in these kind of stories, come with me to the other end of the
church, where our whisperings will not disturb these holy fathers at their
devotions, and I will tell you another story that has been current for some
generations in our city, by which you will find that Don Juan is not the
only libertine that has been the object of supernatural castigation in

I accordingly followed him with noiseless tread to the further part of the
church, where we took our seats on the steps of an altar, opposite to the
suspicious-looking figure on horseback, and there, in a low, mysterious
voice, he related to me the following narration:

"There was once in Seville a gay young fellow, Don Manuel de Manara by
name, who, having come to a great estate by the death of his father, gave
the reins to his passions, and plunged into all kinds of dissipation. Like
Don Juan, whom he seemed to have taken for a model, he became famous for
his enterprises among the fair sex, and was the cause of doors being barred
and windows grated with more than usual strictness. All in vain. No balcony
was too high for him to scale; no bolt nor bar was proof against his
efforts; and his very name was a word of terror to all the jealous husbands
and cautious fathers of Seville. His exploits extended to country as well
as city; and in the village dependent on his castle, scarce a rural beauty
was safe from his arts and enterprises.

"As he was one day ranging the streets of Seville, with several of his
dissolute companions, he beheld a procession about to enter the gate of a
convent. In the center was a young female arrayed in the dress of a bride;
it was a novice, who, having accomplished her year of probation, was about
to take the black veil, and consecrate herself to heaven. The companions of
Don Manuel drew back, out of respect to the sacred pageant; but he pressed
forward, with his usual impetuosity, to gain a near view of the novice. He
almost jostled her, in passing through the portal of the church, when, on
her turning round, he beheld the countenance of a beautiful village girl,
who had been the object of his ardent pursuit, but who had been spirited
secretly out of his reach by her relatives. She recognized him at the same
moment, and fainted; but was borne within the grate of the chapel. It was
supposed the agitation of the ceremony and the heat of the throng had
overcome her. After some time, the curtain which hung within the grate was
drawn up: there stood the novice, pale and trembling, surrounded by the
abbess and the nuns. The ceremony proceeded; the crown of flowers was taken
from her head; she was shorn of her silken tresses, received the black
veil, and went passively through the remainder of the ceremony.

"Don Manuel de Manara, on the contrary, was roused to fury at the sight of
this sacrifice. His passion, which had almost faded away in the absence of
the object, now glowed with tenfold ardor, being inflamed by the
difficulties placed in his way, and piqued by the measures which had been
taken to defeat him. Never had the object of his pursuit appeared so lovely
and desirable as when within the grate of the convent; and he swore to have
her, in defiance of heaven and earth. By dint of bribing a female servant
of the convent he contrived to convey letters to her, pleading his passion
in the most eloquent and seductive terms. How successful they were is only
matter of conjecture; certain it is, he undertook one night to scale the
garden wall of the convent, either to carry off the nun or gain admission
to her cell. Just as he was mounting the wall he was suddenly plucked back,
and a stranger, muffled in a cloak, stood before him.

"'Rash man, forbear!' cried he: 'is it not enough to have violated all
human ties? Wouldst thou steal a bride from heaven!'

"The sword of Don Manuel had been drawn on the instant, and, furious at
this interruption, he passed it through the body of the stranger, who fell
dead at his feet. Hearing approaching footsteps, he fled the fatal spot,
and mounting his horse, which was at hand, retreated to his estate in the
country, at no great distance from Seville. Here he remained throughout the
next day, full of horror and remorse; dreading lest he should be known as
the murderer of the deceased, and fearing each moment the arrival of the
officers of justice.

"The day passed, however, without molestation; and, as the evening
approached, unable any longer to endure this state of uncertainty and
apprehension, he ventured back to Seville. Irresistibly his footsteps took
the direction of the convent; but he paused and hovered at a distance from
the scene of blood. Several persons were gathered round the place, one of
whom was busy nailing something against the convent wall. After a while
they dispersed, and one passed near to Don Manuel. The latter addressed
him, with a hesitating voice.

"'Senor,' said he, 'may I ask the reason of yonder throng?'

"'A cavalier,' replied the other, 'has been murdered.'

"'Murdered!' echoed Don Manuel; 'and can you tell me his name?'

"'Don Manuel de Manara,' replied the stranger, and passed on.

"Don Manuel was startled at this mention of his own name; especially when
applied to the murdered man. He ventured, when it was entirely deserted, to
approach the fatal spot. A small cross had been nailed against the wall, as
is customary in Spain, to mark the place where a murder has been committed;
and just below it, he read, by the twinkling light of a lamp: 'Here was
murdered Don Manuel de Manara. Pray to God for his soul!'

"Still more confounded and perplexed by this inscription, he wandered about
the streets until the night was far advanced, and all was still and lonely.
As he entered the principal square, the light of torches suddenly broke on
him, and he beheld a grand funeral procession moving across it. There was a
great train of priests, and many persons of dignified appearance, in
ancient Spanish dresses, attending as mourners, none of whom he knew.
Accosting a servant who followed in the train, he demanded the name of the

"'Don Manuel de Manara,' was the reply; and it went cold to his heart. He
looked, and indeed beheld the armorial bearings of his family emblazoned on
the funeral escutcheons. Yet not one of his family was to be seen among the
mourners. The mystery was more and more incomprehensible.

"He followed the procession as it moved on to the cathedral. The bier was
deposited before the high altar; the funeral service was commenced, and the
grand organ began to peal through the vaulted aisles.

"Again the youth ventured to question this awful pageant. 'Father,' said
he, with trembling voice, to one of the priests, 'who is this you are about
to inter?'

"'Don Manuel de Manara!' replied the priest.

"'Father,' cried Don Manuel, impatiently, 'you are deceived. This is some
imposture. Know that Don Manuel de Manara la alive and well, and now stands
before you. _I_ am Don Manuel de Manara!'

"'Avaunt, rash youth!' cried the priest; 'know that Don Manuel de Manara is
dead!--is dead!--is dead!--and we are all souls from purgatory, his
deceased relatives and ancestors, and others that have been aided by masses
of his family, who are permitted to come here and pray for the repose of
his soul!'

"Don Manuel cast round a fearful glance upon the assemblage, in antiquated
Spanish garbs, and recognized in their pale and ghastly countenances the
portraits of many an ancestor that hung in the family picture-gallery. He
now lost all self-command, rushed up to the bier, and beheld the
counterpart of himself, but in the fixed and livid lineaments of death.
Just at that moment the whole choir burst forth with a 'Requiescat in
pace,' that shook the vaults of the cathedral. Don Manuel sank senseless on
the pavement. He was found there early the next morning by the sacristan,
and conveyed to his home. When sufficiently recovered, he sent for a friar
and made a full confession of all that had happened.

"'My son,' said the friar, 'all this is a miracle and a mystery, intended
for thy conversion and salvation. The corpse thou hast seen was a token
that thou hadst died to sin and the world; take warning by it, and
henceforth live to righteousness and heaven!'

"Don Manuel did take warning by it. Guided by the counsels of the worthy
friar, he disposed of all his temporal affairs; dedicated the greater part
of his wealth to pious uses, especially to the performance of masses for
souls in purgatory; and finally, entering a convent, became one of the most
zealous and exemplary monks in Seville."

* * * * *

While my companion was relating this story, my eyes wandered, from time to
time, about the dusky church. Methought the burly countenances of the monks
in their distant choir assumed a pallid, ghastly hue, and their deep
metallic voices had a sepulchral sound. By the time the story was ended,
they had ended their chant; and, extinguishing their lights, glided one by
one, like shadows, through a small door in the side of the choir. A deeper
gloom prevailed over the church; the figure opposite me on horseback grew
more and more spectral; and I almost expected to see it bow its head.

"It is time to be off," said my companion, "unless we intend to sup with
the statue."

"I have no relish for such fare or such company," replied I; and, following
my companion, we groped our way through the mouldering cloisters. As we
passed by the ruined cemetery, keeping up a casual conversation, by way of
dispelling the loneliness of the scene, I called to mind the words of the

"--The tombs
And monumental caves of death look cold,
And shoot a chillness to my trembling heart!
Give me thy hand, and let me hear thy voice;
Nay, speak--and let me hear thy voice;
My own affrights me with its echoes."

There wanted nothing but the marble statue of the commander striding along
the echoing cloisters to complete the haunted scene.

Since that time I never fail to attend the theater whenever the story of
Don Juan is represented, whether in pantomime or opera. In the sepulchral
scene, I feel myself quite at home; and when the statue makes his
appearance, I greet him as an old acquaintance. When the audience applaud,
I look round upon them with a degree of compassion. "Poor souls!" I say to
myself, "they think they are pleased; they think they enjoy this piece, and
yet they consider the whole as a fiction! How much more would they enjoy
it, if like me they knew it to be true--_and had seen the very

* * * * *



It has long been a matter of discussion and controversy among the pious and
the learned, as to the situation of the terrestrial paradise from whence
our first parents were exiled. This question has been put to rest by
certain of the faithful in Holland, who have decided in favor of the
village of Broek, about six miles from Amsterdam. It may not, they observe,
correspond in all respects to the description of the Garden of Eden, handed
down from days of yore, but it comes nearer to their ideas of a perfect
paradise than any other place on earth.

This eulogium induced me to make some inquiries as to this favored spot in
the course of a sojourn at the city of Amsterdam, and the information I
procured fully justified the enthusiastic praises I had heard. The village
of Broek is situated in Waterland, in the midst of the greenest and richest
pastures of Holland, I may say, of Europe. These pastures are the source of
its wealth, for it is famous for its dairies, and for those oval cheeses
which regale and perfume the whole civilized world. The population consists
of about six hundred persons, comprising several families which have
inhabited the place since time immemorial, and have waxed rich on the
products of their meadows. They keep all their wealth among themselves,
intermarrying, and keeping all strangers at a wary distance. They are a
"hard money" people, and remarkable for turning the penny the right way. It
is said to have been an old rule, established by one of the primitive
financiers and legislators of Broek, that no one should leave the village
with more than six guilders in his pocket, or return with less than ten; a
shrewd regulation, well worthy the attention of modern political
economists, who are so anxious to fix the balance of trade.

What, however, renders Broek so perfect an elysium in the eyes of all true
Hollanders is the matchless height to which the spirit of cleanliness is
carried there. It amounts almost to a religion among the inhabitants, who
pass the greater part of their time rubbing and scrubbing, and painting and
varnishing; each housewife vies with her neighbor in her devotion to the
scrubbing-brush, as zealous Catholics do in their devotion to the cross;
and it is said a notable housewife of the place in days of yore is held in
pious remembrance, and almost canonized as a saint, for having died of pure
exhaustion and chagrin in an ineffectual attempt to scour a black man

These particulars awakened my ardent curiosity to see a place which I
pictured to myself the very fountain-head of certain hereditary habits and
customs prevalent among the descendants of the original Dutch settlers of
my native State. I accordingly lost no time in performing a pilgrimage to

Before I reached the place I beheld symptoms of the tranquil character of
its inhabitants. A little clump-built boat was in full sail along the lazy
bosom of a canal, but its sail consisted of the blades of two paddles stood
on end, while the navigator sat steering with a third paddle in the stern,
crouched down like a toad, with a slouched hat drawn over his eyes. I
presumed him to be some nautical lover on the way to his mistress. After
proceeding a little further I came in sight of the harbor or port of
destination of this drowsy navigator. This was the Broeken-Meer, an
artificial basin, or sheet of olive-green water, tranquil as a mill-pond.
On this the village of Broek is situated, and the borders are laboriously
decorated with flower-beds, box-trees clipped into all kinds of ingenious
shapes and fancies, and little "lust" houses, or pavilions.

I alighted outside of the village, for no horse nor vehicle is permitted to
enter its precincts, lest it should cause defilement of the well-scoured
pavements. Shaking the dust off my feet, therefore, I prepared to enter,
with due reverence and circumspection, this _sanctum sanctorum_ of
Dutch cleanliness. I entered by a narrow street, paved with yellow bricks,
laid edgewise, and so clean that one might eat from them. Indeed, they were
actually worn deep, not by the tread of feet, but by the friction of the

The houses were built of wood, and all appeared to have been freshly
painted, of green, yellow, and other bright colors. They were separated
from each other by gardens and orchards, and stood at some little distance
from the street, with wide areas or courtyards, paved in mosaic, with
variegated stones, polished by frequent rubbing. The areas were divided
from the street by curiously-wrought railings, or balustrades, of iron,
surmounted with brass and copper balls, scoured into dazzling effulgence.
The very trunks of the trees in front of the houses were by the same
process made to look as if they had been varnished. The porches, doors, and
window-frames of the houses were of exotic woods, curiously carved, and
polished like costly furniture. The front doors are never opened, excepting
on christenings, marriages, or funerals; on all ordinary occasions,
visitors enter by the back door. In former times, persons when admitted had
to put on slippers, but this Oriental ceremony is no longer insisted upon.

A poor devil Frenchman, who attended upon me as cicerone, boasted with some
degree of exultation of a triumph of his countrymen over the stern
regulations of the place. During the time that Holland was overrun by the
armies of the French republic, a French general, surrounded by his whole
etat major, who had come from Amsterdam to view the wonders of Broek,
applied for admission at one of these taboo'd portals. The reply was that
the owner never received any one who did not come introduced by some
friend. "Very well," said the general, "take my compliments to your master,
and tell him I will return here to-morrow with a company of soldiers,
'_pour parler raison avec mon ami Hollandais_.'" Terrified at the idea
of having a company of soldiers billeted upon him, the owner threw open his
house, entertained the general and his retinue with unwonted hospitality;
though it is said it cost the family a month's scrubbing and scouring to
restore all things to exact order, after this military invasion. My
vagabond informant seemed to consider this one of the greatest victories of
the republic.

I walked about the place in mute wonder and admiration. A dead stillness
prevailed around, like that in the deserted streets of Pompeii. No sign of
life was to be seen, excepting now and then a hand, and a long pipe, and an
occasional puff of smoke, out of the window of some "lusthaus" overhanging
a miniature canal; and on approaching a little nearer, the periphery in
profile of some robustious burgher.

Among the grand houses pointed out to me were those of Claes Bakker, and
Cornelius Bakker, richly carved and gilded, with flower gardens and clipped
shrubberies; and that of the Great Ditmus, who, my poor devil cicerone
informed me, in a whisper, was worth two millions; all these were mansions
shut up from the world, and only kept to be cleaned. After having been
conducted from one wonder to another of the village, I was ushered by my
guide into the grounds and gardens of Mynheer Broekker, another mighty
cheese-manufacturer, worth eighty thousand guilders a year. I had
repeatedly been struck with the similarity of all that I had seen in this
amphibious little village to the buildings and landscapes on Chinese
platters and tea-pots; but here I found the similarity complete; for I was
told that these gardens were modeled upon Van Bramm's description of those
of Yuen min Yuen, in China. Here were serpentine walks, with trellised
borders; winding canals, with fanciful Chinese bridges; flower-beds
resembling huge baskets, with the flower of "love lies bleeding" falling
over to the ground. But mostly had the fancy of Mynheer Broekker been
displayed about a stagnant little lake, on which a corpulent little pinnace
lay at anchor. On the border was a cottage within which were a wooden man
and woman seated at table, and a wooden dog beneath, all the size of life;
on pressing a spring, the woman commenced spinning, and the dog barked
furiously. On the lake were wooden swans, painted to the life; some
floating, others on the nest among the rushes; while a wooden sportsman,
crouched among the bushes, was preparing his gun to take deadly aim. In
another part of the garden was a dominie in his clerical robes, with wig,
pipe, and cocked hat; and mandarins with nodding heads, amid red lions,
green tigers, and blue hares. Last of all, the heathen deities, in wood and
plaster, male and female, naked and bare-faced as usual, and seeming to
stare with wonder at finding themselves in such strange company.

My shabby French guide, while he pointed out all these mechanical marvels
of the garden, was anxious to let me see that he had too polite a taste to
be pleased with them. At every new knick-knack he would screw down his
mouth, shrug up his shoulders, take a pinch of snuff, and exclaim: "_Ma
foi, Monsieur, ces Hollandais sont forts pour ces betises la_!"

To attempt to gain admission to any of these stately abodes was out of the
question, having no company of soldiers to enforce a solicitation. I was
fortunate enough, however, through the aid of my guide, to make my way into
the kitchen of the illustrious Ditmus, and I question whether the parlor
would have proved more worthy of observation. The cook, a little wiry,
hook-nosed woman, worn thin by incessant action and friction, was bustling
about among her kettles and saucepans, with the scullion at her heels, both
clattering in wooden shoes, which were as clean and white as the
milk-pails; rows of vessels, of brass and copper, regiments of pewter
dishes, and portly porringers, gave resplendent evidence of the intensity
of their cleanliness; the very trammels and hangers in the fireplace were
highly scoured, and the burnished face of the good Saint Nicholas shone
forth from the iron plate of the chimney back.

Among the decorations of the kitchen was a printed sheet of woodcuts,
representing the various holiday customs of Holland, with explanatory
rhymes. Here I was delighted to recognize the jollities of New Year's Day;
the festivities of Paaes and Pinkster, and all the other merry-makings
handed down in my native place from the earliest times of New Amsterdam,
and which had been such bright spots in the year in my childhood. I eagerly
made myself master of this precious document for a trifling consideration,
and bore it off as a memento of the place; though I question if, in so
doing, I did not carry off with me the whole current literature of Broek.

I must not omit to mention that this village is the paradise of cows as
well as men; indeed you would almost suppose the cow to be as much an
object of worship here as the bull was among the ancient Egyptians; and
well does she merit it, for she is in fact the patroness of the place. The
same scrupulous cleanliness, however, which pervades everything else, is
manifested in the treatment of this venerated animal. She is not permitted
to perambulate the place, but in winter, when she forsakes the rich
pasture, a well-built house is provided for her, well painted, and
maintained in the most perfect order. Her stall is of ample dimensions; the
floor is scrubbed and polished; her hide is daily curried and brushed and
sponged to her heart's content, and her tail is daintily tucked up to the
ceiling, and decorated with a ribbon!

On my way back through the village, I passed the house of the prediger, or
preacher; a very comfortable mansion, which led me to augur well of the
state of religion in the village. On inquiry, I was told that for a long
time the inhabitants lived in a great state of indifference as to religious
matters; it was in vain that their preachers endeavored to arouse their
thoughts as to a future state; the joys of heaven, as commonly depicted,
were but little to their taste. At length a dominie appeared among them who
struck out in a different vein. He depicted the New Jerusalem as a place
all smooth and level; with beautiful dykes, and ditches, and canals; and
houses all shining with paint and varnish, and glazed tiles; and where
there should never come horse, or ass, or cat, or dog, or anything that
could make noise or dirt; but there should be nothing but rubbing and
scrubbing, and washing and painting, and gilding and varnishing, for ever
and ever, amen! Since that time, the good housewives of Broek have all
turned their faces Zionward.

* * * * *



A Parisian hotel is a street set on end, the grand staircase forming the
highway, and every floor a separate habitation. Let me describe the one in
which I am lodged, which may serve as a specimen of its class. It is a huge
quadrangular pile of stone, built round a spacious paved court. The ground
floor is occupied by shops, magazines, and domestic offices. Then comes the
_entre-sol_, with low ceilings, short windows, and dwarf chambers;
then succeed a succession of floors, or stories, rising one above the
other, to the number of Mahomet's heavens. Each floor is like a distinct
mansion, complete in itself, with ante-chamber, saloons, dining and
sleeping rooms, kitchen and other conveniences for the accommodation of a
family. Some floors are divided into two or more suites of apartments. Each
apartment has its main door of entrance, opening upon the staircase, or
landing-places, and locked like a street door. Thus several families and
numerous single persons live under the same roof, totally independent of
each other, and may live so for years without holding more intercourse than
is kept up in other cities by residents in the same street.

Like the great world, this little microcosm has its gradations of rank and
style and importance. The _Premier_, or first floor, with its grand
saloons, lofty ceilings, and splendid furniture, is decidedly the
aristocratical part of the establishment. The second floor is scarcely less
aristocratical and magnificent; the other floors go on lessening in
splendor as they gain in altitude, and end with the attics, the region of
petty tailors, clerks, and sewing-girls. To make the filling up of the
mansion complete, every odd nook and corner is fitted up as a _joli petit
appartement a garcon_ (a pretty little bachelor's apartment), that is to
say, some little dark inconvenient nestling-place for a poor devil of a

The whole domain is shut up from the street by a great
_porte-cochere_, or portal, calculated for the admission of carriages.
This consists of two massy folding-doors, that swing heavily open upon a
spacious entrance, passing under the front of the edifice into the
courtyard. On one side is a spacious staircase leading to the upper
apartments. Immediately without the portal is the porter's lodge, a small
room with one or two bedrooms adjacent, for the accommodation of the
_concierge_, or porter and his family. This is one of the most
important functionaries of the hotel. He is, in fact, the Cerberus of the
establishment, and no one can pass in or out without his knowledge and
consent. The _porte-cochere_ in general is fastened by a sliding bolt,
from which a cord or wire passes into the porter's lodge. Whoever wishes to
go out must speak to the porter, who draws the bolt. A visitor from without
gives a single rap with the massive knocker; the bolt is immediately drawn,
as if by an invisible hand; the door stands ajar, the visitor pushes it
open, and enters. A face presents itself at the glass door of the porter's
little chamber; the stranger pronounces the name of the person he comes to
seek. If the person or family is of importance, occupying the first or
second floor, the porter sounds a bell once or twice, to give notice that a
visitor is at hand. The stranger in the meantime ascends the great
staircase, the highway common to all, and arrives at the outer door,
equivalent to a street door, of the suite of rooms inhabited by his

Beside this hangs a bell-cord, with which he rings for admittance.

When the family or person inquired for is of less importance, or lives in
some remote part of the mansion less easy to be apprised, no signal is
given. The applicant pronounces the name at the porter's door, and is told,
_"Montez au troisieme, au quatrieme; sonnez a la porte a droite ou a
gauche."_ ("Ascend to the third or fourth story; ring the bell on the
right or left hand door"); as the case may be.

The porter and his wife act as domestics to such of the inmates of the
mansion as do not keep servants; making their beds, arranging their rooms,
lighting their fires, and doing other menial offices, for which they
receive a monthly stipend. They are also in confidential intercourse with
the servants of the other inmates, and, having an eye on all the incomers
and outgoers, are thus enabled, by hook and by crook, to learn the secrets
and domestic history of every member of the little territory within the

The porter's lodge is accordingly a great scene of gossip, where all the
private affairs of this interior neighborhood are discussed. The courtyard,
also, is an assembling place in the evenings for the servants of the
different families, and a sisterhood of sewing girls from the entre-sols
and the attics, to play at various games, and dance to the music of their
own songs, and the echoes of their feet, at which assemblages the porter's
daughter takes the lead; a fresh, pretty, buxom girl, generally called
"_La Petite_," though almost as tall as a grenadier. These little
evening gatherings, so characteristic of this gay country, are countenanced
by the various families of the mansion, who often look down from their
windows and balconies, on moonlight evenings, and enjoy the simple revels
of their domestics. I must observe, however, that the hotel I am describing
is rather a quiet, retired one, where most of the inmates are permanent
residents from year to year, so that there is more of the spirit of
neighborhood than in the bustling, fashionable hotels in the gay parts of
Paris, which are continually changing their inhabitants.


I often amuse myself by watching from my window (which, by the bye, is
tolerably elevated) the movements of the teeming little world below me; and
as I am on sociable terms with the porter and his wife, I gather from them,
as they light my fire, or serve my breakfast, anecdotes of all my fellow
lodgers. I have been somewhat curious in studying a little antique
Frenchman, who occupies one of the _jolie chambres a garcon_ already
mentioned. He is one of those superannuated veterans who flourished before
the revolution, and have weathered all the storms of Paris, in consequence,
very probably, of being fortunately too insignificant to attract attention.
He has a small income, which he manages with the skill of a French
economist; appropriating so much for his lodgings, so much for his meals;
so much for his visits to St. Cloud and Versailles, and so much for his
seat at the theater. He has resided in the hotel for years, and always in
the same chamber, which he furnishes at his own expense. The decorations of
the room mark his various ages. There are some gallant pictures which he
hung up in his younger days; with a portrait of a lady of rank, whom he
speaks tenderly of, dressed in the old French taste; and a pretty opera
dancer, pirouetting in a hoop petticoat, who lately died at a good old age.
In a corner of this picture is stuck a prescription for rheumatism, and
below it stands an easy-chair. He has a small parrot at the window, to
amuse him when within doors, and a pug dog to accompany him in his daily
peregrinations. While I am writing he is crossing the court to go out. He
is attired in his best coat, of sky-blue, and is doubtless bound for the
Tuileries. His hair is dressed in the old style, with powdered ear-locks
and a pig-tail. His little dog trips after him, sometimes on four legs,
sometimes on three, and looking as if his leather small-clothes were too
tight for him. Now the old gentleman stops to have a word with an old crony
who lives in the entre-sol, and is just returning from his promenade. Now
they take a pinch of snuff together; now they pull out huge red cotton
handkerchiefs (those "flags of abomination," as they have well been called)
and blow their noses most sonorously. Now they turn to make remarks upon
their two little dogs, who are exchanging the morning's salutation; now
they part, and my old gentleman stops to have a passing word with the
porter's wife; and now he sallies forth, and is fairly launched upon the
town for the day.

No man is so methodical as a complete idler, and none so scrupulous in
measuring and portioning out his time as he whose time is worth nothing.
The old gentleman in question has his exact hour for rising, and for
shaving himself by a small mirror hung against his casement. He sallies
forth at a certain hour every morning to take his cup of coffee and his
roll at a certain cafe, where he reads the papers. He has been a regular
admirer of the lady who presides at the bar, and always stops to have a
little _badinage_ with her _en passant_. He has his regular walks
on the Boulevards and in the Palais Royal, where he sets his watch by the
petard fired off by the sun at midday. He has his daily resort in the
Garden of the Tuileries, to meet with a knot of veteran idlers like
himself, who talk on pretty much the same subjects whenever they meet. He
has been present at all the sights and shows and rejoicings of Paris for
the last fifty years; has witnessed the great events of the revolution; the
guillotining of the king and queen; the coronation of Bonaparte; the
capture of Paris, and the restoration of the Bourbons. All these he speaks
of with the coolness of a theatrical critic; and I question whether he has
not been gratified by each in its turn; not from any inherent love of
tumult, but from that insatiable appetite for spectacle which prevails
among the inhabitants of this metropolis. I have been amused with a farce,
in which one of these systematic old triflers is represented. He sings a
song detailing his whole day's round of insignificant occupations, and goes
to bed delighted with the idea that his next day will be an exact
repetition of the same routine:

"Je me couche le soir,
Enchante de pouvoir
Recommencer mon train
Le lendemain

* * * * *


In another part of the hotel a handsome suite of rooms is occupied by an
old English gentleman, of great probity, some understanding, and very
considerable crustiness, who has come to France to live economically. He
has a very fair property, but his wife, being of that blessed kind compared
in Scripture to the fruitful vine, has overwhelmed him with a family of
buxom daughters, who hang clustering about him, ready to be gathered by any
hand. He is seldom to be seen in public without one hanging on each arm,
and smiling on all the world, while his own mouth is drawn down at each
corner like a mastiff's with internal growling at everything about him. He
adheres rigidly to English fashion in dress, and trudges about in long
gaiters and broad-brimmed hat; while his daughters almost overshadow him
with feathers, flowers, and French bonnets.

He contrives to keep up an atmosphere of English habits, opinions, and
prejudices, and to carry a semblance of London into the very heart of
Paris. His mornings are spent at Galignani's news-room, where he forms one
of a knot of inveterate quidnuncs, who read the same articles over a dozen
times in a dozen different papers. He generally dines in company with some
of his own countrymen, and they have what is called a "comfortable sitting"
after dinner, in the English fashion, drinking wine, discussing the news of
the London papers, and canvassing the French character, the French
metropolis, and the French revolution, ending with a unanimous admission of
English courage, English morality, English cookery, English wealth, the
magnitude of London, and the ingratitude of the French.

His evenings are chiefly spent at a club of his countrymen, where the
London papers are taken. Sometimes his daughters entice him to the
theaters, but not often. He abuses French tragedy, as all fustian and
bombast, Talma as a ranter, and Duchesnois as a mere termagant. It is true
his ear is not sufficiently familiar with the language to understand French
verse, and he generally goes to sleep during the performance. The wit of
the French comedy is flat and pointless to him. He would not give one of
Munden's wry faces or Liston's inexpressible looks for the whole of it.

He will not admit that Paris has any advantage over London. The Seine is a
muddy rivulet in comparison with the Thames; the West End of London
surpasses the finest parts of the French capital; and on some one's
observing that there was a very thick fog out of doors: "Pish!" said he,
crustily, "it's nothing to the fogs we have in London."

He has infinite trouble in bringing his table into anything like conformity
to English rule. With his liquors, it is true, he is tolerably successful.
He procures London porter, and a stock of port and sherry, at considerable
expense; for he observes that he cannot stand those cursed thin French
wines, they dilute his blood so much as to give him the rheumatism. As to
their white wines, he stigmatizes them as mere substitutes for cider; and
as to claret, why, "it would be port if it could." He has continual
quarrels with his French cook, whom he renders wretched by insisting on his
conforming to Mrs. Glass; for it is easier to convert a Frenchman from his
religion than his cookery. The poor fellow, by dint of repeated efforts,
once brought himself to serve up _ros bif_ sufficiently raw to suit
what he considered the cannibal taste of his master; but then he could not
refrain, at the last moment, adding some exquisite sauce, that put the old
gentleman in a fury.

He detests wood-fires, and has procured a quantity of coal; but not having
a grate, he is obliged to burn it on the hearth. Here he sits poking and
stirring the fire with one end of a tongs, while the room is as murky as a
smithy; railing at French chimneys, French masons, and French architects;
giving a poke at the end of every sentence, as though he were stirring up
the very bowels of the delinquents he is anathematizing. He lives in a
state militant with inanimate objects around him; gets into high dudgeon
with doors and casements, because they will not come under English law, and
has implacable feuds with sundry refractory pieces of furniture. Among
these is one in particular with which he is sure to have a high quarrel
every tune he goes to dress. It is a _commode_, one of those smooth,
polished, plausible pieces of French furniture that have the perversity of
five hundred devils. Each drawer has a will of its own, will open or not,
just as the whim takes it, and sets lock and key at defiance. Sometimes a
drawer will refuse to yield to either persuasion or force, and will part
with both handles rather than yield; another will come out in the most coy
and coquettish manner imaginable; elbowing along, zig-zag; one corner
retreating as the other advances; making a thousand difficulties and
objections at every move; until the old gentleman, out of all patience,
gives a sudden jerk, and brings drawer and contents into the middle of the
floor. His hostility to this unlucky piece of furniture increases every
day, as if incensed that it does not grow better. He is like the fretful
invalid who cursed his bed, that the longer he lay the harder it grew. The
only benefit he has derived from the quarrel is that it has furnished him
with a crusty joke, which he utters on all occasions. He swears that a
French _commode_ is the most _incommodious_ thing in existence,
and that although the nation cannot make a joint-stool that will stand
steady, yet they are always talking of everything's being

His servants understand his humor, and avail themselves of it. He was one
day disturbed by a pertinacious rattling and shaking at one of the doors,
and bawled out in an angry tone to know the cause of the disturbance.
"Sir," said the footman, testily, "it's this confounded French lock!" "Ah!"
said the old gentleman, pacified by this hit at the nation, "I thought
there was something French at the bottom of it!"

* * * * *


As I am a mere looker on in Europe, and hold myself as much as possible
aloof from its quarrels and prejudices, I feel something like one
overlooking a game, who, without any great skill of his own, can
occasionally perceive the blunders of much abler players. This neutrality
of feeling enables me to enjoy the contrasts of character presented in this
time of general peace, when the various peoples of Europe, who have so long
been sundered by wars, are brought together and placed side by side in this
great gathering-place of nations. No greater contrast, however, is
exhibited than that of the French and English. The peace has deluged this
gay capital with English visitors of all ranks and conditions. They throng
every place of curiosity and amusement; fill the public gardens, the
galleries, the cafes, saloons, theaters; always herding together, never
associating with the French. The two nations are like two threads of
different colors, tangled together but never blended.

In fact they present a continual antithesis, and seem to value themselves
upon being unlike each other; yet each have their peculiar merits, which
should entitle them to each other's esteem. The French intellect is quick
and active. It flashes its way into a subject with the rapidity of
lightning; seizes upon remote conclusions with a sudden bound, and its
deductions are almost intuitive. The English intellect is less rapid, but
more persevering; less sudden, but more sure in its deductions. The
quickness and mobility of the French enable them to find enjoyment in the
multiplicity of sensations. They speak and act more from immediate
impressions than from reflection and meditation. They are therefore more
social and communicative; more fond of society, and of places of public
resort and amusement. An Englishman is more reflective in his habits. He
lives in the world of his own thoughts, and seems more self-existent and
self-dependent. He loves the quiet of his own apartment; even when abroad,
he in a manner makes a little solitude around him by his silence and
reserve; he moves about shy and solitary, and, as it were, buttoned up,
body and soul.

The French are great optimists; they seize upon every good as it flies, and
revel in the passing pleasure. The Englishman is too apt to neglect the
present good, in preparing against the possible evil. However adversities
may lower, let the sun shine but for a moment, and forth sallies the
mercurial Frenchman, in holiday dress and holiday spirits, gay as a
butterfly, as though his sunshine were perpetual; but let the sun beam
never so brightly, so there be but a cloud in the horizon, the wary
Englishman ventures forth distrustfully, with his umbrella in his hand.

The Frenchman has a wonderful facility at turning small things to
advantage. No one can be gay and luxurious on smaller means; no one
requires less expense to be happy. He practices a kind of gilding in his
style of living, and hammers out every guinea into gold leaf. The
Englishman, on the contrary, is expensive in his habits, and expensive in
his enjoyments. He values everything, whether useful or ornamental, by what
it costs. He has no satisfaction in show, unless it be solid and complete.
Everything goes with him by the square foot. Whatever display he makes, the
depth is sure to equal the surface.

The Frenchman's habitation, like himself, is open, cheerful, bustling, and
noisy. He lives in a part of a great hotel, with wide portal, paved court,
a spacious dirty stone staircase, and a family on every floor. All is
clatter and chatter. He is good-humored and talkative with his servants,
sociable with his neighbors, and complaisant to all the world. Anybody has
access to himself and his apartments; his very bedroom is open to visitors,
whatever may be its state of confusion; and all this not from any
peculiarly hospitable feeling, but from that communicative habit which
predominates over his character.

The Englishman, on the contrary, ensconces himself in a snug brick mansion,
which he has all to himself; locks the front door; puts broken bottles
along his walls, and spring guns and man-traps in his gardens; shrouds
himself with trees and window-curtains; exults in his quiet and privacy,
and seems disposed to keep out noise, daylight, and company. His house,
like himself, has a reserved, inhospitable exterior; yet whoever gains
admittance is apt to find a warm heart and warm fireside within.

The French excel in wit, the English in humor; the French have gayer fancy,
the English richer imagination. The former are full of sensibility; easily
moved, and prone to sudden and great excitement; but their excitement is
not durable; the English are more phlegmatic; not so readily affected, but
capable of being aroused to great enthusiasm. The faults of these opposite
temperaments are that the vivacity of the French is apt to sparkle up and
be frothy, the gravity of the English to settle down and grow muddy. When
the two characters can be fixed in a medium, the French kept from
effervescence and the English from stagnation, both will be found

This contrast of character may also be noticed in the great concerns of the
two nations. The ardent Frenchman is all for military renown; he fights for
glory, that is to say, for success in arms. For, provided the national flag
is victorious, he cares little about the expense, the injustice, or the
inutility of the war. It is wonderful how the poorest Frenchman will revel
on a triumphant bulletin; a great victory is meat and drink to him; and at
the sight of a military sovereign, bringing home captured cannon and
captured standards, he throws up his greasy cap in the air, and is ready to
jump out of his wooden shoes for joy.

John Bull, on the contrary, is a reasoning, considerate person. If he does
wrong, it is in the most rational way imaginable. He fights because the
good of the world requires it. He is a moral person, and makes war upon his
neighbor for the maintenance of peace and good order, and sound principles.
He is a money-making personage, and fights for the prosperity of commerce
and manufactures. Thus the two nations have been fighting, time out of
mind, for glory and good. The French, in pursuit of glory, have had their
capital twice taken; and John, in pursuit of good, has run himself over
head and ears in debt.

* * * * *


I have sometimes fancied I could discover national characteristics in
national edifices. In the Chateau of the Tuileries, for instance, I
perceive the same jumble of contrarieties that marks the French character;
the same whimsical mixture of the great and the little; the splendid and
the paltry, the sublime and the grotesque. On visiting this famous pile,
the first thing that strikes both eye and ear is military display. The
courts glitter with steel-clad soldiery, and resound with the tramp of
horse, the roll of drum, and the bray of trumpet. Dismounted guardsmen
patrol its arcades, with loaded carbines, jingling spears, and clanking
sabers. Gigantic grenadiers are posted about its staircases; young officers
of the guards loll from the balconies, or lounge in groups upon the
terraces; and the gleam of bayonet from window to window, shows that
sentinels are pacing up and down the corridors and ante-chambers. The first
floor is brilliant with the splendors of a court. French taste has tasked
itself in adorning the sumptuous suites of apartments; nor are the gilded
chapel and the splendid theater forgotten, where piety and pleasure are
next-door neighbors, and harmonize together with perfect French

Mingled up with all this regal and military magnificence is a world of
whimsical and make-shift detail. A great part of the huge edifice is cut up
into little chambers and nestling-places for retainers of the court,
dependents on retainers, and hangers-on of dependents. Some are squeezed
into narrow entre-sols, those low, dark, intermediate slices of apartments
between floors, the inhabitants of which seem shoved in edgewise, like
books between narrow shelves; others are perched like swallows, under the
eaves; the high roofs, too, which are as tall and steep as a French cocked
hat, have rows of little dormant windows, tier above tier, just large
enough to admit light and air for some dormitory, and to enable its
occupant to peep out at the sky. Even to the very ridge of the roof may be
seen here and there one of these air-holes, with a stove pipe beside it, to
carry off the smoke from the handful of fuel with which its weazen-faced
tenant simmers his _demi-tasse_ of coffee.

On approaching the palace from the Pont Royal, you take in at a glance all
the various strata of inhabitants; the garreteer in the roof; the retainer
in the entre-sol; the courtiers at the casements of the royal apartments;
while on the ground-floor a steam of savory odors and a score or two of
cooks, in white caps, bobbing their heads about the windows, betray that
scientific and all-important laboratory, the Royal Kitchen.

Go into the grand ante-chamber of the royal apartments on Sunday and see
the mixture of Old and New France; the old emigres, returned with the
Bourbons; little withered, spindle-shanked old noblemen, clad in court
dresses, that figured in these saloons before the revolution, and have been
carefully treasured up during their exile; with the solitaires and _ailes
de pigeon_ of former days; and the court swords strutting out behind,
like pins stuck through dry beetles. See them haunting the scenes of their
former splendor, in hopes of a restitution of estates, like ghosts haunting
the vicinity of buried treasure; while around them you see the Young
France, that have grown up in the fighting school of Napoleon; all equipped
_en militaire_; tall, hardy, frank, vigorous, sunburned,
fierce-whiskered; with tramping boots, towering crests, and glittering

It is incredible the number of ancient and hereditary feeders on royalty
said to be housed in this establishment. Indeed all the royal palaces
abound with noble families returned from exile, and who have
nestling-places allotted them while they await the restoration of their
estates, or the much-talked-of law indemnity. Some of them have fine
quarters, but poor living. Some families have but five or six hundred
francs a year, and all their retinue consists of a servant-woman. With all
this, they maintain their old aristocratical hauteur, look down with vast
contempt upon the opulent families which have risen since the revolution;
stigmatize them all as _parvenues_ or upstarts, and refuse to visit

In regarding the exterior of the Tuileries, with all its outward signs of
internal populousness, I have often thought what a rare sight it would be
to see it suddenly unroofed, and all its nooks and corners laid open to the
day. It would be like turning up the stump of an old tree, and dislodging
the world of grubs, and ants, and beetles lodged beneath. Indeed there is a
scandalous anecdote current that in the time of one of the petty plots,
when petards were exploded under the windows of the Tuileries, the police
made a sudden investigation of the palace at four o'clock in the morning;
when a scene of the most whimsical confusion ensued. Hosts of supernumerary
inhabitants were found foisted into the huge edifice; every rat-hole had
its occupant; and places which had been considered as tenanted only by
spiders were found crowded with a surreptitious population. It is added
that many ludicrous accidents occurred; great scampering and slamming of
doors, and whisking away in nightgowns and slippers; and several persons,
who were found by accident in their neighbors' chambers, evinced
indubitable astonishment at the circumstance.

As I have fancied I could read the French character in the national palace
of the Tuileries, so I have pictured to myself some of the traits of John
Bull in his royal abode of Windsor Castle. The Tuileries, outwardly a
peaceful palace, is in effect a swaggering military hold; while the old
castle, on the contrary, in spite of its bullying look, is completely under
petticoat government. Every corner and nook is built up into some snug,
cozy nestling place, some "procreant cradle," not tenanted by meager
expectants or whiskered warriors, but by sleek placemen; knowing realizers
of present pay and present pudding; who seem placed there not to kill and
destroy, but to breed and multiply. Nursery maids and children shine with
rosy faces at the windows, and swarm about the courts and terraces. The
very soldiers have a pacific look, and when off duty may be seen loitering
about the place with the nursery-maids; not making love to them in the gay
gallant style of the French soldiery, but with infinite bonhomie aiding
them to take care of the broods of children.

Though the old castle is in decay, everything about it thrives; the very
crevices of the walls are tenanted by swallows, rooks, and pigeons, all
sure of quiet lodgment; the ivy strikes its roots deep in the fissures, and
flourishes about the mouldering tower. [Footnote: The above sketch was
written before the thorough repairs and magnificent additions that have
been made of late years to Windsor Castle.] Thus it is with honest John;
according to his own account, he is ever going to ruin, yet everything that
lives on him thrives and waxes fat. He would fain be a soldier, and swagger
like his neighbors; but his domestic, quiet-loving, uxorious nature
continually gets the upper hand; and though he may mount his helmet and
gird on his sword, yet he is apt to sink into the plodding, painstaking
father of a family; with a troop of children at his heels, and his
womenkind hanging on each arm.


I have spoken heretofore with some levity of the contrast that exists
between the English and French character; but it deserves more serious
consideration. They are the two great nations of modern times most
diametrically opposed, and most worthy of each other's rivalry; essentially
distinct in their characters, excelling in opposite qualities, and
reflecting luster on each other by their very opposition. In nothing is
this contrast more strikingly evinced than in their military conduct. For
ages have they been contending, and for ages have they crowded each other's
history with acts of splendid heroism. Take the Battle of Waterloo, for
instance, the last and most memorable trial of their rival prowess. Nothing
could surpass the brilliant daring on the one side, and the steadfast
enduring on the other. The French cavalry broke like waves on the compact
squares of English infantry. They were seen galloping round those serried
walls of men, seeking in vain for an entrance; tossing their arms in the
air, in the heat of their enthusiasm, and braving the whole front of
battle. The British troops, on the other hand, forbidden to move or fire,
stood firm and enduring. Their columns were ripped up by cannonry; whole
rows were swept down at a shot; the survivors closed their ranks, and stood
firm. In this way many columns stood through the pelting of the iron
tempest without firing a shot; without any action to stir their blood or
excite their spirits. Death thinned their ranks, but could not shake their

A beautiful instance of the quick and generous impulses to which the French
are prone, is given in the case of a French cavalier, in the hottest of the
action, charging furiously upon a British officer, but perceiving in the
moment of assault that his adversary had lost his sword-arm, dropping the
point of his saber, and courteously riding on. Peace be with that generous
warrior, whatever were his fate! If he went down in the storm of battle,
with the foundering fortunes of his chieftain, may the turf of Waterloo
grow green above his grave! and happier far would be the fate of such a
spirit, to sink amid the tempest, unconscious of defeat, than to survive
and mourn over the blighted laurels of his country.

In this way the two armies fought through a long and bloody day. The French
with enthusiastic valor, the English with cool, inflexible courage, until
Fate, as if to leave the question of superiority still undecided between
two such adversaries, brought up the Prussians to decide the fortunes of
the field.

It was several years afterward that I visited the field of Waterloo. The
plowshare had been busy with its oblivious labors, and the frequent harvest
had nearly obliterated the vestiges of war. Still the blackened ruins of
Hoguemont stood, a monumental pile, to mark the violence of this vehement
struggle. Its broken walls, pierced by bullets, and shattered by
explosions, showed the deadly strife that had taken place within; when Gaul
and Briton, hemmed in between narrow walls, hand to hand and foot to foot,
fought from garden to courtyard, from courtyard to chamber, with intense
and concentrated rivalship. Columns of smoke turned from this vortex of
battle as from a volcano: "it was," said my guide, "like a little hell upon
earth." Not far off, two or three broad spots of rank, unwholesome green
still marked the places where these rival warriors, after their fierce and
fitful struggle, slept quietly together in the lap of their common mother
earth. Over all the rest of the field peace had resumed its sway. The
thoughtless whistle of the peasant floated on the air, instead of the
trumpet's clangor; the team slowly labored up the hillside, once shaken by
the hoofs of rushing squadrons; and wide fields of corn waved peacefully
over the soldiers' graves, as summer seas dimple over the place where many
a tall ship lies buried.

* * * * *

To the foregoing desultory notes on the French military character, let me
append a few traits which I picked up verbally in one of the French
provinces. They may have already appeared in print, but I have never met
with them.

At the breaking out of the revolution, when so many of the old families
emigrated, a descendant of the great Turenne, by the name of De Latour
D'Auvergne, refused to accompany his relations, and entered into the
Republican army. He served in all the campaigns of the revolution,
distinguished himself by his valor, his accomplishments, and his generous
spirit, and might have risen to fortune, and to the highest honors. He
refused, however, all rank in the army, above that of captain, and would
receive no recompense for his achievements but a sword of honor. Napoleon,
in testimony of his merits, gave him the title of Premier Grenadier de
France (First Grenadier of France), which was the only title he would ever
bear. He was killed in Germany, in 1809 or '10. To honor his memory, his
place was always retained in his regiment, as if he still occupied it; and
whenever the regiment was mustered, and the name of De Latour D'Auvergne
was called out, the reply was, "Dead on the field of honor!"

* * * * *


Paris presented a singular aspect just after the downfall of Napoleon, and
the restoration of the Bourbons. It was filled with a restless, roaming
population; a dark, sallow race, with fierce mustaches, black cravats, and
feverish, menacing looks; men suddenly thrown out of employ by the return
of peace; officers cut short in their career, and cast loose with scanty
means, many of them in utter indigence, upon the world; the broken elements
of armies. They haunted the places of public resort, like restless, unhappy
spirits, taking no pleasure; hanging about, like lowering clouds that
linger after a storm, and giving a singular air of gloom to this otherwise
gay metropolis.

The vaunted courtesy of the old school, the smooth urbanity that prevailed
in former days of settled government and long-established aristocracy, had
disappeared amid the savage republicanism of the revolution and the
military furor of the empire; recent reverses had stung the national vanity
to the quick; and English travelers, who crowded to Paris on the return of
peace, expecting to meet with a gay, good-humored, complaisant populace,
such as existed in the time of the "Sentimental Journey," were surprised at
finding them irritable and fractious, quick at fancying affronts, and not
unapt to offer insults. They accordingly inveighed with heat and bitterness
at the rudeness they experienced in the French metropolis; yet what better
had they to expect? Had Charles II. been reinstated in his kingdom by the
valor of French troops; had he been wheeled triumphantly to London over the
trampled bodies and trampled standards of England's bravest sons; had a
French general dictated to the English capital, and a French army been
quartered in Hyde Park; had Paris poured forth its motley population, and
the wealthy bourgeoise of every French trading town swarmed to London;
crowding its squares; filling its streets with their equipages; thronging
its fashionable hotels, and places of amusements; elbowing its impoverished
nobility out of their palaces and opera-boxes, and looking down on the
humiliated inhabitants as a conquered people; in such a reverse of the
case, what degree of courtesy would the populace of London have been apt to
exercise toward their visitors? [Footnote: The above remarks were suggested
by a conversation with the late Mr. Canning, whom the author met in Paris,
and who expressed himself in the most liberal way concerning the
magnanimity of the French on the occupation of their capital by strangers.]

On the contrary, I have always admired the degree of magnanimity exhibited
by the French on the occupation of their capital by the English. When we
consider the military ambition of this nation, its love of glory; the
splendid height to which its renown in arms had recently been carried, and
with these, the tremendous reverses it had just undergone; its armies
shattered, annihilated; its capital captured, garrisoned, and overrun, and
that too by its ancient rival, the English, toward whom it had cherished
for centuries a jealous and almost religious hostility; could we have
wondered if the tiger spirit of this fiery people had broken out in bloody
feuds and deadly quarrels; and that they had sought to rid themselves in
any way of their invaders? But it is cowardly nations only, those who dare
not wield the sword, that revenge themselves with the lurking dagger. There
were no assassinations in Paris. The French had fought valiantly,
desperately, in the field; but, when valor was no longer of avail, they
submitted like gallant men to a fate they could not withstand. Some
instances of insult from the populace were experienced by their English
visitors; some personal rencontres, which led to duels, did take place; but
these smacked of open and honorable hostility. No instances of lurking and
perfidious revenge occurred, and the British soldier patroled the streets
of Paris safe from treacherous assault.

If the English met with harshness and repulse in social intercourse, it was
in some degree a proof that the people are more sincere than has been
represented. The emigrants who had just returned were not yet reinstated.
Society was constituted of those who had flourished under the late regime;
the newly ennobled, the recently enriched, who felt their prosperity and
their consequence endangered by this change of things. The broken-down
officer, who saw his glory tarnished, his fortune ruined, his occupation
gone, could not be expected to look with complacency upon the authors of
his downfall. The English visitor, flushed with health, and wealth, and
victory, could little enter into the feelings of the blighted warrior,
scarred with a hundred battles, an exile from the camp, broken in
constitution by the wars, impoverished by the peace, and cast back, a needy
stranger in the splendid but captured metropolis of his country.

"Oh! who can tell what heroes feel,
When all but life and honor's lost!"

And here let me notice the conduct of the French soldiery on the
dismemberment of the army of the Loire, when two hundred thousand men were
suddenly thrown out of employ; men who had been brought up to the camp, and
scarce knew any other home. Few in civil, peaceful life, are aware of the
severe trial to the feelings that takes place on the dissolution of a
regiment. There is a fraternity in arms. The community of dangers,
hardships, enjoyments; the participation in battles and victories; the
companionship in adventures, at a time of life when men's feelings are most
fresh, susceptible, and ardent, all these bind the members of a regiment
strongly together. To them the regiment is friends, family, home. They
identify themselves with its fortunes, its glories, its disgraces. Imagine
this romantic tie suddenly dissolved; the regiment broken up; the
occupation of its members gone; their military pride mortified; the career
of glory closed behind them; that of obscurity, dependence, want, neglect,
perhaps beggary, before them. Such was the case with the soldiers of the
army of the Loire. They were sent off in squads, with officers, to the
principal towns where they were to be disarmed and discharged. In this way
they passed through the country with arms in their hands, often exposed to
slights and scoffs, to hunger and various hardships and privations; but
they conducted themselves magnanimously, without any of those outbreaks of
violence and wrong that so often attend the dismemberment of armies.

* * * * *

The few years that have elapsed since the time above alluded to, have
already had their effect. The proud and angry spirits which then roamed
about Paris unemployed begins to recover its old channels, though worn
deeper by recent torrents. The natural urbanity of the French begins to
find its way, like oil, to the surface, though there still remains a degree
of roughness and bluntness of manner, partly real, and partly affected, by
such as imagine it to indicate force and frankness. The events of the last
thirty years have rendered the French a more reflecting people. They have
acquired greater independence of mind and strength of judgment, together
with a portion of that prudence which results from experiencing the
dangerous consequences of excesses. However that period may have been
stained by crimes, and filled with extravagances, the French have certainly
come out of it a greater nation than before. One of their own philosophers
observes that in one or two generations the nation will probably combine
the ease and elegance of the old character with force and solidity. They
were light, he says, before the revolution; then wild and savage; they have
become more thoughtful and reflective. It is only old Frenchmen, nowadays,
that are gay and trivial; the young are very serious personages.

* * * * *

P.S.--In the course of a morning's walk, about the time the above remarks
were written, I observed the Duke of Wellington, who was on a brief visit
to Paris. He was alone, simply attired in a blue frock; with an umbrella
under his arm, and his hat drawn over his eyes, and sauntering across the
Place Vendome, close by the Column of Napoleon. He gave a glance up at the
column as he passed, and continued his loitering way up the Rue de la Paix;
stopping occasionally to gaze in at the shop-windows; elbowed now and then
by other gazers, who little suspected that the quiet, lounging individual
they were jostling so unceremoniously was the conqueror who had twice
entered their capital victoriously; had controlled the destinies of the
nation, and eclipsed the glory of the military idol, at the base of whose
column he was thus negligently sauntering.

Some years afterward I was at an evening's entertainment given by the duke
at Apsley House, to William IV. The duke had manifested his admiration of
his great adversary, by having portraits of him in different parts of the
house. At the bottom of the grand staircase stood the colossal statue of
the emperor, by Canova. It was of marble, in the antique style, with one
arm partly extended, holding a figure of victory. Over this arm the ladies,
in tripping upstairs to the ball, had thrown their shawls. It was a
singular office for the statue of Napoleon to perform in the mansion of the
Duke of Wellington!

"Imperial Caesar dead, and turned to clay," etc., etc.

* * * * *



_To the Editor of the Knickerbocker:_

Sir--Permit me through the pages of your magazine to call the attention of
the public to the learned and elegant researches in Europe of one of our
countrymen, Mr. R. H. Wilde, of Georgia, formerly a member of the House of
Representatives. After leaving Congress, Mr. Wilde a few years since spent
about eighteen months in traveling through different parts of Europe, until
he became stationary for a time in Tuscany. Here he occupied himself with
researches concerning the private life of Tasso, whose mysterious and
romantic love for the Princess Leonora, his madness and imprisonment, had
recently become the theme of a literary controversy, not yet ended; curious
in itself, and rendered still more curious by some alleged manuscripts of
the poet's, brought forward by Count Alberti. Mr. Wilde entered into the
investigation with the enthusiasm of a poet, and the patience and accuracy
of a case-hunter; and has produced a work now in the press, in which the
"vexed questions" concerning Tasso are most ably discussed, and lights
thrown upon them by his letters, and by various of his sonnets, which last
are rendered into English with rare felicity. While Mr. Wilde was occupied
upon this work, he became acquainted with Signer Carlo Liverati, an artist
of considerable merit, and especially well versed in the antiquities of
Florence. This gentleman mentioned incidentally one day, in the course of
conversation, that there once and probably still existed in the "Bargello,"
anciently both the prison, and the palace of the republic, an authentic
portrait of Dante. It was believed to be in fresco, on a wall which
afterward, by some strange neglect or inadvertency, had been covered with
whitewash. Signor Liverati mentioned the circumstance merely to deplore the
loss of so precious a portrait, and to regret the almost utter hopelessness
of its recovery.

As Mr. Wilde had not as yet imbibed that enthusiastic admiration for Dante
which possesses all Italians, by whom the poet is almost worshiped, this
conversation made but a slight impression on him at the time. Subsequently,
however, his researches concerning Tasso being ended, he began to amuse his
leisure hours with attempts to translate some specimens of Italian lyric
poetry, and to compose very short biographical sketches of the authors. In
these specimens, which as yet exist only in manuscript, he has shown the
same critical knowledge of the Italian language, and admirable command of
the English, that characterize his translations of Tasso. He had not
advanced far in these exercises, when the obscure and contradictory
accounts of many incidents in the life of Dante caused him much
embarrassment, and sorely piqued his curiosity. About the same time he
received, through the courtesy of Don Neri dei Principi Corsini, what he
had long most fervently desired, a permission from the grandduke to pursue
his investigations in the secret archives of Florence, with power to obtain
copies therefrom. This was a rich and almost unwrought mine of literary
research; for to Italians themselves, as well as to foreigners, their
archives, for the most part, have been long inaccessible. For two years Mr.
Wilde devoted himself with indefatigable ardor to explore the records of
the republic during the time of Dante. These being written in barbarous
Latin and semi-Gothic characters, on parchment more or less discolored and
mutilated, with ink sometimes faded, were rendered still more illegible by
the arbitrary abbreviations of the notaries. They require, in fact, an
especial study; few even of the officers employed in the "Archivio delle
Riformagione" can read them currently and correctly.

Mr. Wilde however persevered in his laborious task with a patience severely
tried, but invincible. Being without an index, each file, each book,
required to be examined page by page, to ascertain whether any particular

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