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WHEN a man can contest the point by dint of equipage, and carry on all floundering before him with half a dozen lackies and a couple of cooks 't is very well in such a place as Paris he may drive in at which end of a street he will.
A poor prince who is weak in cavalry, and whose whole infantry does not exceed a single man, had best quit the field; and signalize himself in the cabinet, if he can get up into it I say up into it for there is no descending perpendicular amongst 'em with a "Me voici, mes enfans" here I am whatever many may think.
I own my first sensations, as soon as I was left solitary and alone in my own chamber in the hotel, were far from being so flattering as I had prefigured them. I walked up gravely to the window in my dusty black coat, and looking through the glass saw all the world in yellow, blue, and green, running at the ring of pleasure. The old with broken lances, and in helmets which had lost their vizards the young in armour bright which shone like gold, beplumed with each gay feather of the east all all tilting at it like fascinated knights in tournaments of yore for fame and love
Alas, poor Yorick! cried I, what art thou doing here? On the very first onset of all this glittering clatter thou art reduced to an atom seek seek some winding alley, with a tourniquet at the end of it, where chariot never rolled or flambeau shot its rays there thou mayest solace thy soul in converse sweet with some kind grisset of a barber's wife, and get into such coteries !
May I perish! if I do, said I, pulling out a letter which I had to present to Madame de R***. I'll wait upon this lady, the very first thing I do. So I called La Fleur to go seek me a barber directly and come back and brush my coat.
WHEN the barber came, he absolutely refused to have any thing to do with my wig: 't was either above or below his art: I had nothing to do, but to take one ready made of his own recommendation.
But I fear, friend! said I, this buckle won't stand. You may immerge it, replied he, into the ocean, and it will stand
What a great scale is every thing upon in this city! thought I The utmost stretch of an English periwig-maker's ideas could have gone no further than to have "dipped it into a pail of water." What difference! 't is like time to eternity.
I confess I do hate all cold conceptions, as I do the puny ideas which engender them; and am generally so struck with the great works of nature, that for my own part, if I could help it, I never would make a comparison less than a mountain at least. All that can be said against the French sublime in this instance of it, is this that the grandeur is more in the word; and less in the thing. No doubt the ocean fills the mind with vast ideas; but Paris being so far inland, it was not likely I should run post a hundred miles out of it, to try the experiment-the Parisian barber meant nothing.
The pail of water standing beside the great deep, makes certainly but a sorry figure in speech but 't will be said it has one advantage 't is in the next room, and the truth of the buckle may be tried in it, without more ado, in a single moment.
In honest truth, and upon a more candid revision of the matter, The French expression professes more than it performs.
I think I can see the precise and distinguishing marks of national characters more in these nonsensical minutiae, than in the most important matters of state; where great men of all nations talk and stalk so much alike, that I would not give nine-pence to chuse amongst them.
I was so long in getting from under my barber's hands, that it was too late to think of going with my letter to Madame R*** that night: but when a man is once dressed at all points for going out, his reflections turn to little account; so taking down the name of the Hτtel de Modene, where I lodged, I walked forth without any determination where to go I shall consider of that, said I, as I walk along.
HAIL ye small sweet courtesies of life, for smooth do ye make the road of it! like grace and beauty which beget inclinations to love at first sight: 't is ye who open this door and let the stranger in.
Pray, Madame, said I, have the goodness to tell me which way I must turn to go to the Opera comique: Most willingly, Monsieur, said she, laying aside her work
I had given a cast with my eye into half a dozen shops as I came along in search of a face not likely to be disordered by such an interruption; till at last, this hitting my fancy, I had walked in.
She was working a pair of ruffles as she sat in a low chair on the far side of the shop facing the door.
Tres volontiers; most willingly, said she, laying her work down upon a chair next her, and rising up from the low chair she was sitting in, with so chearful a movement and so chearful a look, that had I been laying out fifty louis d'ors with her, I should have said "This woman is grateful."
You must turn, Monsieur, said she, going with me to the door of the shop, and pointing the way down the street I was to take you must turn first to your left hand mais prenez garde there are two turns; and be so good as to take the second then go down a little way and you'll see a church, and when you are past it, give yourself the trouble to turn directly to the right, and that will lead you to the foot of the Pont Neuf, which you must cross and there any one will do himself the pleasure to shew you
She repeated her instructions three times over to me, with the same good-natur'd patience the third time as the first; and if tones and mamners have a meaning, which certainly they have, unless to hearts which shut them out she seemed really interested, that I should not lose myself.
I will not suppose it was the woman's beauty, notwithstanding she was the handsomest Grisset, I think, I ever saw, which had much to do with the sense I had of her courtesy; only I remember, when I told her how much I was obliged to her, that I looked very full in her eyes, and that I repeated my thanks as often as she had done her instructions.
I had not got ten paces from the door, before I found I had forgot every tittle of what she had said so looking back, and seeing her still standing in the door of the shop as if to look whether I went right or not I returned back, to ask her whether the first turn was to my right or left for that I had absolutely forgot. Is it possible? said she, half laughing. 'Tis very possible, replied I, when a man is thinking more of a woman, than of her good advice.
As this was the real truth she took it, as every woman takes a matter of right, with a slight courtesy.
Attendez, said she, laying her hand upon my arm to detain me, whilst she called a lad out of the back-shop to get ready a parcel of gloves. I am just going to send him, said she, with a packet into that quarter, and if you will have the complaisance to step in, it will be ready in a moment, and he shall attend you to the place. So I walk'd in with her to the far side of the shop, and taking up the ruffle in my hand which she laid upon the chair, as if I had a mind to sit, she sat down herself in her low chair, and I instantly sat myself down beside her.
He will be ready, Monsieur, said she, in a moment And in that moment, replied I, most willingly would I say something very civil to you for all these courtesies. Any one may do a casual act of good-nature, but a continuation of them shews it is a part of the temperature; and certainly, added I, if it is the same blood which comes from the heart, which descends to the extremes (touching her wrist), I am sure you must have one of the best pulses of any woman in the world Feel it, said she, holding out her arm. So laying down my hat, I took hold of her fingers in one hand, and applied the two fore-fingers of my other to the artery
Would to heaven! my dear Eugenius,1 thou hadst passed by, and beheld me sitting in my black coat, and in my lack-a-day-sical manner, counting the throbs of it, one by one, with as much true devotion as if I had been watching the critical ebb or flow of her fever How wouldst thou have laugh'd and moralized upon my new profession! And thou shouldst have laugh'd and moralized on -Trust me, my dear Eugenius, I should have said, "there are worse occupations in this world than feeling a woman's pulse." But a Grisset's! thou wouldst have said and in an open shop! Yorick
So much the better: for when my views are direct, Eugenius, I care not if all the world saw me feel it.
1 Sterne's name for John Hall (afterwards Stevenson), a neighbour and Sterne's boon companion in Yorkshire. Hall, who was the author of Crazy Tales, is the Eugenius of the continuation of The Sentimental Journey, which was published in two volumes the year after Sterne's death under the title of Yorick's Sentimental Journey Continued by Eugenius.
I HAD counted twenty pulsations, and was going on fast towards the fortieth, when her husband coming unexpected from a back parlour into the shop, put me a little out of my reckoning. 'T was nobody but her husband, she said so I began a fresh score Monsieur is so good, quoth she, as he pass'd by us, as to give himself the trouble of feeling my pulse The husband took off his hat, and making me a bow, said, I did him too much honour and having said that, he put on his hat and walk'd out.
Good God! said I to myself, as he went out and can this man be the husband of this woman!
Let it not torment the few who know what must have been the grounds of this exclamation, if I explain it to those who do not.
In London a shopkeeper and a shopkeeper's wife seem to be one bone and one flesh: in the several endowments of mind and body, sometimes the one, sometimes the other has it, so as in general to be upon a par, and to tally with each other as nearly as a man and wife need to do.
In Paris, there are scarce two orders of beings more different: for the legislative and executive powers of the shop not resting in the husband, he seldom comes there in some dark and dismal room behind, he sits commerceless in his thrum night-cap, the same rough son of Nature that Nature left him.
The genius of a people where nothing but the monarchy is salique, having ceded this department, with sundry others, totally to the women by a continual higgling with customers of all ranks and sizes from morning to night, like so many rough pebbles shook long together in a bag, by amicable collisions, they have worn down their asperities and sharp angles, and not only become round and smooth, but will receive, some of them, a polish like a brilliant Monsieur le Mari is little better than the stone under your foot
Surely surely, man! it is not good for thee to sit alone thou wast made for social intercourse and gentle greetings, and this improvement of our natures from it, I appeal to, as my evidence.
And how does it beat, Monsieur? said she. With all the benignity, said I, looking quietly in her eyes, that I expected She was going to say something civil in return but the lad came into the shop with the gloves A propos, said I, I want a couple of pair myself.
There are certain combined looks of simple subtlety where whim, and sense, and seriousness, and nonsense, are so blended, that all the languages of Babel set loose together could not express them they are communicated and caught so instantaneously, that you can scarce say which party is the infector. I leave it to your men of words to swell pages about it it is enough in the present to say again, the gloves would not do; so folding our hands within our arms, we both loll'd upon the counter it was narrow, and there was just room for the parcel to lay between us.
The beautiful Grisset look'd sometimes at the gloves, then side-ways to the window, then at the gloves and then at me. I was not disposed to break silence I follow'd her example: so I look'd at the gloves, then to the window, then at the gloves, and then at her and so on alternately.
I found I lost considerably in every attack she had a quick black eye, and shot through two such long and silken eye-lashes with such penetration, that she look'd into my very heart and reins It may seem strange, but I could actually feel she did
It is no matter, said I, taking up a couple of the pairs next me, and putting them into my pocket.
I was sensible the beautiful Grisset had not ask'd above a single livre above the price I wish'd she had ask'd a livre more, and was puzzling my brains how to bring the matter about Do you think, my dear Sir, said she, mistaking my embarrassment, that I could ask a sous too much of a stranger and of a stranger whose politeness, more than his want of gloves, has done me the honour to lay himself at my mercy? Men croyez capable? Faith! not I, said I; and if you were, you are welcome So counting the money into her hand, and with a lower bow than one generally makes to a shopkeeper's wife, I went out, and her lad with his parcel followed me.
THERE was nobody in the box I was let into but a kindly old French officer. I love the character, not only because I honour the man whose manners are softened by a profession which makes bad men worse; but that I once knew one for he is no more and why should I not rescue one page from violation by writing his name in it, and telling the world it was Captain Tobias Shandy,1 the dearest of my flock and friends, whose philanthropy I never think of at this long distance from his death but my eyes gush out with tears. For his sake, I have a predilection for the whole corps of veterans; and so I strode over the two back rows of benches, and placed myself beside him.
The old officer was reading attentively a small pamphlet, it might be the book of the opera, with a large pair of spectacles. As soon as I sat down, he took his spectacles off, and putting them into a shagreen case, return'd them and the book into his pocket together. I half rose up, and made him a bow.
Translate this into any civilized language in the world the sense is this:
"Here's a poor stranger come into the box he seems as if he knew nobody; and is never likely, was he to be seven years in Paris, if every man he comes near keeps his spectacles upon his nose 't is shutting the door of conversation absolutely in his face and using him worse than a German."
The French officer might as well have said it all aloud: and if he had, I should in course have put the bow I made him into French too, and told him, "I was sensible of his attention, and return'd him a thousand thanks for it."
There is not a secret so aiding to the progress of sociality, as to get master of this short hand, and be quick in rendering the several turns of looks and limbs, with all their inflections and delineations, into plain words. For my own part, by long habitude, I do it so mechanically, that when I walk the streets of London, I go translating all the way; and have more than once stood behind in the circle, where not three words have been said, and have brought off twenty different dialogues with me, which I could have fairly wrote down and sworn to.
I was going one evening to Martini's concert at Milan, and was just entering the door of the hall, when the Marquisina di F*** was coming out in a sort of a hurry she was almost upon me before I saw her; so I gave a spring to one side to let her pass She had done the same, and on the same side too: so we ran our heads together: she instantly got to the other side to get out: I was just as unfortunate as she had been; for I had sprung to that side, and opposed her passage again We both flew together to the other side, and then back and so on it was ridiculous; we both blush'd intolerably; so I did at last the thing I should have done at first I stood stock still, and the Marquisina had no more difficulty. I had no power to go into the room, till I had made her so much reparation as to wait and follow her with my eye to the end of the passage She look'd back twice, and walk'd along it rather sideways, as if she would make room for any one coming up stairs to pass her No, said I that's a vile translation: the Marquisina has a right to the best apology I can make her; and that opening is left for me to do it in so I ran and begg'd pardon for the embarrassment I had given her, saying it was my intention to have made her way. She answered, she was guided by the same intention towards me so we reciprocally thank'd each other. She was at the top of the stairs; and seeing no chichesbee near her, I begg'd to hand her to her coach so we went down the stairs, stopping at every third step to talk of the concert and the adventure Upon my word, Madame, said I, when I had handed her in, I made six different efforts to let you go out And I made six efforts, replied she, to let you enter I wish to heaven you would make a seventh, said I With all my heart, said she, making room Life is too short to be long about the forms of it so I instantly stepp'd in, and she carried me home with her And what became of the concert, St. Cecilia, who, I suppose, was at it, knows more than I.
I will only add, that the connection which arose out of the translation, gave me more pleasure than any one I had the honour to make in Italy.
1 The Uncle Toby of Tristam Shandy.
I HAD never heard the remark made by any one in my life, except by one; and who that was will probably come out in this chapter; so that being pretty much unprepossessed, there must have been grounds for what struck me the moment I cast my eyes over the parterre and that was, the unaccountable sport of nature in forming such numbers of dwarfs No doubt, she sports at certain times in almost every corner of the world; but in Paris, there is no end to her amusements The goddess seems almost as merry as she is wise.
As I carried my idea out of the opιra comique with me, I measured every body I saw walking in the streets by it Melancholy application! especially where the size was extremely little the face extremely dark the eyes quick the nose long-the teeth white the jaw prominent to see so many miserables, by force of accidents driven out of their own proper class into the very verge of another, which it gives me pain to write down every third man a pigmy!-some by ricketty heads and hump backs-others by bandy legs a third set arrested by the hand of Nature in the sixth and seventh years of their growth a fourth, in their perfect and natural state like dwarf apple-trees; from the first rudiments and stamina of their existence, never meant to grow higher.
A medical traveller might say, 't is owing to undue bandages a splenetic one, to want of air and an inquisitive traveller, to fortify the system, may measure the height of their houses the narrowness of their streets, and in how few feet square in the sixth and seventh stories such numbers of the Bourgeoisie eat and sleep together; but I remember, Mr. Shandy the elder, who accounted for nothing like any body else, in speaking one evening of these matters, averred, that children, like other animals, might be increased almost to any size, provided they came right into the world; but the misery was, the citizens of Paris were so coop'd up, that they had not actually room enough to get them
I did not call it getting any thing, said he 'tis getting nothing Nay, continued he, rising in his argument, 'tis getting worse than nothing, when all you have got, after twenty or five-and-twenty years of the tenderest care and most nutritious aliment bestowed upon it, shall not at last be as high as my leg. Now, Mr. Shandy being very short, there could be nothing more said of it.
As this is not a work of reasoning, I leave the solution as I found it, and content myself with the truth only of the remark, which is verified in every lane and by-lane of Paris. I was walking down that which leads from the Carousal to the Palais Royal, and observing a little boy in some distress at the side of the gutter, which ran down the middle of it, I took hold of his hand, and help'd him over. Upon turning up his face to look at him after, I perceived he was about forty Never mind, said I; some good body will do as much for me, when I am ninety.
I feel some little principles within me, which incline me to be merciful towards this poor blighted part of my species, who have neither size or strength to get on in the world I cannot bear to see one of them trod upon; and had scarce got seated beside my old French officer, ere the disgust was exercised, by seeing the very thing happen under the box we sat in.
At the end of the orchestra, and betwixt that and the first side-box, there is a small esplanade left, where, when the house is full, numbers of all ranks take sanctuary. Though you stand, as in the parterre, you pay the same price as in the orchestra. A poor defenceless being of this order had got thrust, somehow or other, into this luckless place the night was hot, and he was surrounded by beings two feet and a half higher than himself. The dwarf suffered inexpressibly on all sides; but the thing which incommoded him most, was a tall corpulent German, near seven feet high, who stood directly betwixt him and all possibility of his seeing either the stage or the actors. The poor dwarf did all he could to get a peep at what was going forwards by seeking for some little opening betwixt the German's arm and his body, trying first one side, then the other; but the German stood square in the most unaccommodating posture that can be imagined the dwarf might as well have been placed at the bottom of the deepest draw-well in Paris; so he civilly reach'd up his hand to the German's sleeve, and told him his distress The German turn'd his head back, look'd down upon him as Goliah did upon David and unfeelingly resumed his posture.
I was just then taking a pinch of snuff out of my monk's little horn box And how would thy meek and courteous spirit, my dear monk! so temper'd to bear and forbear! how sweetly would it have lent an ear to this poor soul's complaint!
The old French officer, seeing me lift up my eyes with an emotion, as I made the apostrophe, took the liberty to ask me what was the matter I told him the story in three words, and added, how inhuman it was.
By this time the dwarf was driven to extremes, and in his first transports, which are generally unreasonable, had told the German he would cut off his long queue with his knife. The German look'd back coolly, and told him he was welcome, if he could reach it.
An injury sharpen'd by an insult, be it to whom it will, makes every man of sentiment a party: I could have leap'd out of the box to have redressed it The old French officer did it with much less confusion; for leaning a little over, and nodding to a centinel, and pointing at the same time with his finger at the distress the centinel made his way to it.
There was no occasion to tell the grievance the thing told itself; so thrusting back the German instantly with his musket he took the poor dwarf by the hand, and placed him before him This is noble! said I, clapping my hands together And yet you would not permit this, said the old officer, in England.
In England, dear Sir, said I, we sit all at our ease.
The old French officer would have set me at unity with myself, in case I had been at variance, by saying it was a bon mot and as a bon mot is always worth something at Paris, he offered me a pinch of snuff.
IT was now my turn to ask the old French officer, "what was the matter?" for a cry of "Haussez les mains, Monsieur lAbbι," re-echoed from a dozen different parts of the parterre, was as unintelligible to me, as my apostrophe to the monk had been to him.
He told me, it was some poor Abbι in one of the upper loges, who he supposed had got planted perdu behind a couple of grissets, in order to see the opera, and that the parterre espying him, were insisting upon his holding up both his hands during the representation. And can it be supposed, said I, that an ecclesiastic would pick the grissets' pockets? The old French officer smiled, and whispering in my ear, opened a door of knowledge which I had no idea of.
Good God! said I, turning pale with astonishment is it possible, that a people so smit with sentiment should at the same time be so unclean, and so unlike themselves Quelle grossiertι! added I.
The French officer told me it was an illiberal sarcasm at the church, which had begun in the theatre about the time the Tartuffe1 was given in it, by Moliθre but, like other remains of Gothic manners, was declining Every nation, continued he, have their refinements and grossiertιs, in which they take the lead, and lose it of one another by turns that he had been in most countries, but never in one where he found not some delicacies, which others seemed to want. Le POUR et le CONTRE se trouvant en chaque nation; there is a balance, said he, of good and bad every where; and nothing but the knowing it is so, can emancipate one-half of the world from the prepossession which it holds against the other that the advantage of travel, as it regarded the sηavoir vivre, was by seeing a great deal both of men and manners; it taught us mutual toleration; and mutual toleration, concluded he, making me a bow, taught us mutual love.
The old French officer delivered this with an air of such candour and good sense, as coincided with my first favourable impressions of his character I thought I loved the man; but I fear I mistook the object 't was my own way of thinking the difference was, I could not have expressed it half so well.
It is alike troublesome to both the rider and his beast if the latter goes pricking up his ears, and starting all the way at every object which he never saw before I have as little torment of this kind as any creature alive; and yet I honestly confess, that many a thing gave me pain, and that I blush'd at many a word the first month -which I found inconsequent and perfectly innocent the second.
Madame de Rambouliet, after an acquaintance of about six weeks with her, had done me the honour to take me in her coach about two leagues out of town. Of all women, Madame de Rambouliet is the most correct; and I never wish to see one of more virtues and purity of heart In our return back, Madame de Rambouliet desired me to pull the cord I asked her if she wanted any thing
Rien que pisser, said Madame de Rambouliet.
Grieve not, gentle traveller, to let Madame de Rambouliet p-ss on And, ye fair mystic nymphs! go each one pluck your rose, and scatter them in your path -for Madame de Rambouliet did no more I handed Madame de Rambouliet out of the coach; and had I been the priest of the chaste CASTALIA,2 I could not have served at her fountain with a more respectful decorum.
1 Moliθres comedy of this name was first acted in 1664.
2 Castalia was a celebrated fountain on Mount Parnassus, in which the Pythia used to bathe. It was sacred to Apollo and the Muses.
WHAT the old French officer had delivered upon travelling, bringing Polonius's advice to his son1 upon the same subject into my head-and that bringing in Hamlet; and Hamlet the rest of Shakespeare's works, I stopp'd at the Quai de Conti in my return home, to purchase the whole set.
The bookseller said he had not a set in the world Comment! said I; taking one up out of a set which lay upon the counter betwixt us He said, they were sent him only to be got bound, and were to be sent back to Versailles in the morning to the Count de B****.
And does the Count de B****, said I, read Shakespeare? C'est un Esprit fort, replied the bookseller. He loves English books; and what is more to his honour, Monsieur, he loves the English too. You speak this so civilly, said I, that it is enough to oblige an Englishman to lay out a Louis d'or or two at your shop The bookseller made a bow, and was going to say something, when a young decent girl about twenty, who by her air and dress seemed to be fille de chambre to some devout woman of fashion, came into the shop and asked for Les Ιgarements du Coeur & de l'Esprit: the bookseller gave her the book directly; she pulled out a little green sattin purse, run round with ribband of the same colour, and putting her finger and thumb into it, she took out the money and paid for it. As I had nothing more to stay me in the shop, we both walk'd out of the door together.
And what have you to do, my dear, said I, with The Wanderings of the Heart, who scarce know yet you have one; nor, till love has first told you it, or some faithless shepherd has made it ache, canst thou ever be sure it is so? Le Dieu m'en garde! said the girl. With reason, said I for if it is a good one, 't is pity it should be stolen; 't is a little treasure to thee, and gives a better air to your face, than if it was dress'd out with pearls.
The young girl listened with a submissive attention, holding her sattin purse by its ribband in her hand all the time 'T is a very small one, said I, taking hold of the bottom of it she held it towards me and there is very little in it, my dear, said I; but be but as good as thou art handsome, and heaven will fill it: I had a parcel of crowns in my hand to pay for Shakespeare; and as she had let go the purse entirely, I put a single one in; and tying up the ribband in a bow-knot returned it to her.
The young girl made me more a humble courtesy than a low one 'twas one of those quiet, thankful sinkings, where the spirit bows itself down the body does no more than tell it. I never gave a girl a crown in my life which gave me half the pleasure.
My advice, my dear, would not have been worth a pin to you, said I, if I had not given this along with it: but now, when you see the crown, you'll remember it so don't, my dear, lay it out in ribbands.
Upon my word, Sir, said the girl, earnestly, I am incapable in saying which, as is usual in little bargains of honour, she gave me her hand En vιritι, Monsieur, je mettrai cet argent apart, said she.
When a virtuous convention is made betwixt man and woman, it sanctifies their most private walks; so notwithstanding it was dusky, yet as both our roads lay the same way, we made no scruple of walking along the Quai de Conti together.
She made me a second courtesy in setting off, and before we got twenty yards from the door, as if she had not done enough before, she made a sort of a little stop to tell me again she thank'd me.
It was a small tribute, I told her, which I could not avoid paying to virtue, and would not be mistaken in the person I had been rendering it to for the world but I see innocence, my dear, in your face and foul befal the man who ever lays a snare in its way!
The girl seem'd affected some way or other with what I said- she gave a low sigh I found I was not impowered to inquire at all after it so said nothing more till I got to the corner of the Rue de Nevers, where we were to part.
But is this the way, my dear, said I, to the Hotel de Modene? she told me it was or, that I might go by the Rue de Gueneguault, which was the next turn Then I'll go, my dear, by the Rue de Gueneguault, said I, for two reasons; first I shall please myself, and next I shall give you the protection of my company as far on your way as I can. The girl was sensible I was civil and said, she wish'd the Hotel de Modene was in the Rue de St. Pierre You live there? said I She told me she was fille de chambre to Madame R**** Good God! said I, 't is the very lady for whom I have brought a letter from Amiens The girl told me that Madame R****, she believed, expected a stranger with a letter, and was impatient to see him so I desired the girl to present my compliments to Madame R****, and say I would certainly wait upon her in the morning.
We stood still at the corner of the Rue de Nevers whilst this pass'd We then stopped a moment whilst she disposed of her Ιgarements du Coeur, &c., more commodiously than carrying them in her hand they were two volumes; so I held the second for her whilst she put the first into her pocket; and then she held her pocket, and I put in the other after it.
'T is sweet to feel by what fine-spun threads our affections are drawn together.
We set off afresh, and as she took her third step, the girl put her hand within my arm I was just bidding her but she did it of herself with that undeliberating simplicity, which shew'd it was out of her head that she had never seen me before. For my own part, I felt the conviction of consanguinity so strongly, that I could not help turning half round to look in her face, and see if I could trace out any thing in it of a family likeness Tut! said I, are we not all relations?
When we arrived at the turning up of the Rue de Gueneguault, I stopp'd to bid her adieu for good and all: the girl would thank me again for my company and kindness She bid me adieu twice I repeated it as often; and so cordial was the parting between us, that had it happened any where else, I'm not sure but I should have signed it with a kiss of charity, as warm and holy as an apostle.
But in Paris, as none kiss each other but the men I did, what amounted to the same thing
I bid God bless her.
1 I Hamlet, Act L, Scene 3.
WHEN I got home to my hotel, La Fleur told me I had been enquired after by the Lieutenant de Police The duce take it! said I I know the reason. It is time the reader should know it, for in the order of things in which it happened, it was omitted; not that it was out of my head; but that, had I told it then, it might have been forgot now and now is the time I want it.
I had left London with so much precipitation, that it never enter'd my mind that we were at war with France; and had reached Dover, and looked through my glass at the hills beyond Boulogne, before the idea presented itself; and with this in its train, that there was no getting there without a passport. Go but to the end of a street, I have a mortal aversion for returning back no wiser than I set out; and as this was one of the greatest efforts I had ever made for knowledge, I could less bear the thoughts of it; so hearing the Count de **** had hired the packet, I begg'd he would take me in his suite. The Count had some little knowledge of me, so made little or no difficulty only said, his inclination to serve me could reach no farther than Calais, as he was to return by way of Brussels to Paris; however, when I had once pass'd there, I might get to Paris without interruption; but that in Paris I must make friends and shift for myself Let me get to Paris, Monsieur le Count, said I and I shall do very well. So I embark'd, and never thought more of the matter.
When La Fleur told me the Lieutenant de Police had been enquiring after me the thing instantly recurred and by the time La Fleur had well told me, the master of the hotel came into my room to tell me the same thing, with this addition to it, that my passport had been particularly asked after: the master of the hotel concluded with saying, He hoped I had one Not I, faith! said I.
The master of the hotel retired three steps from me, as from an infected person, as I declared this and poor La Fleur advanced three steps towards me, and with that sort of movement which a good soul makes to succour a distress'd one the fellow won my heart by it; and from that single trait, I knew his character as perfectly, and could rely upon it as firmly, as if he had served me with fidelity for seven years.
Mon seigneur! cried the master of the hotel but recollecting himself as he made the exclamation, he instantly changed the tone of it If Monsieur, said he, has not a passport, (apparemment) in all likelihood he has friends in Paris who can procure him one Not that I know of, quoth I, with an air of indifference. Then, certes, replied he, you'll be sent to the Bastile or the Chatelet, au moins. Poo! said I, the king of France is a good-natur'd soul he'll hurt nobody. Cela n'empκche pas, said he you will certainly be sent to the Bastile to-morrow morning But I've taken your lodgings for a month, answer'd I, and I'll not quit them a day before the time for all the kings of France in the world. La Fleur whispered in my ear, That nobody could oppose the king of France.
Pardi! said my host, ces Messieurs Anglois sont des gens trθs extraordinaires and having both said and sworn it he went out.
I COULD not find in my heart to torture La Fleur's with a serious look upon the subject of my embarrassment, which was the reason I had treated it so cavalierly; and to shew him how light it lay upon my mind, I dropt the subject entirely; and whilst he waited upon me at supper, talk'd to him with more than usual gaiety about Paris, and of the opιra comique. La Fleur had been there himself, and had followed me through the streets as far as the bookseller's shop; but seeing me come out with the young fille de chambre, and that we walk'd down the Quai de Conti together, La Fleur deem'd it unnecessary to follow me a step further so making his own reflections upon it, he took a shorter cut and got to the hotel in time to be inform'd of the affair of the police against my arrival.
As soon as the honest creature had taken away, and gone down to sup himself, I then began to think a little seriously about my situation.
And here, I know, Eugenius, thou wilt smile at the remembrance of a short dialogue which pass'd bewixt us the moment I was going to set out I must tell it here.
Eugenius, knowing that I was as little subject to be overburthen'd with money as thought, had drawn me aside to interrogate me how much I had taken care for; upon telling him the exact sum, Eugenius shook his head, and said it would not do; so pull'd out his purse in order to empty it into mine. I've enough in conscience, Eugenius, said I. Indeed, Yorick, you have not, replied Eugenius I know France and Italy better than you But you don't consider, Eugenius, said I, refusing his offer, that before I have been three days in Paris, I shall take care to say or do something or other for which I shall get clapp'd up into the Bastile, and that I shall live there a couple of months entirely at the king of France's expence. I beg pardon, said Eugenius, drily: really I had forgot that resource.
Now the event I treated gaily came seriously to my door.
Is it folly, or nonchalance, or philosophy, or pertinacity or what is it in me, that, after all, when La Fleur had gone down stairs, and I was quite alone, I could not bring down my mind to think of it otherwise than I had then spoken of it to Eugenius?
And as for the Bastile; the terror is in the word Make the most of it you can, said I to myself, the Bastile is but another word for a tower and a tower is but another word for a house you can't get out of Mercy on the gouty! for they are in it twice a year but with nine livres a day, and pen and ink and paper and patience, albeit a man can't get out, he may do very well within at least for a month or six weeks; at the end of which, if he is a harmless fellow, his innocence appears, and he comes out a better and wiser man than he went in.
I had some occasion (I forgot what) to step into the court-yard, as I settled this account; and remember I walk'd down stairs in no small triumph with the conceit of my reasoning Beshrew the sombre pencil! said I vauntingly for I envy not its power, which paints the evils of life with so hard and deadly a colouring. The mind sits terrified at the objects she has magnified herself, and blackened: reduce them to their proper size and hue, she overlooks them 'T is true, said I, correcting the proposition the Bastile is not an evil to be despised But strip it of its towers fill up the fossι unbarricade the doors call it simply a confinement, and suppose 't is some tyrant of a distemper and not of a man, which holds you in it the evil vanishes, and you bear the other half without complaint.
I was interrupted in the hey-day of this soliloquy, with a voice which I took to be of a child, which complained " it could not get out." I look'd up and down the passage, and seeing neither man, woman, or child, I went out without further attention.
In my return back through the passage, I heard the same words repeated twice over; and -looking up, I saw it was a starling hung in a little cage "I can't get out I can't get out," said the starling.
I stood looking at the bird: and to every person who came through the passage it ran fluttering to the side towards which they approach'd it, with the same lamentation of its captivity "I can't get out," said the starling God help thee! said I but I'll let thee out, cost what it will; so I turned about the cage to get to the door; it was twisted and double twisted so fast with wire, there was no getting it open without pulling the cage to pieces I took both hands to it.
The bird flew to the place where I was attempting his deliverance, and thrusting his head through the trellis, pressed his breast against it, as if impatient I fear, poor creature! said I, I cannot set thee at liberty "No," said the starling "I can't get out can't get out," said the starling.
I vow I never had my affections more tenderly awakened; or do I remember an incident in my life, where the dissipated spirits, to which my reason had been a bubble, were so suddenly call'd home. Mechanical as the notes were, yet so true in tune to nature were they chaunted, that in one moment they overthrew all my systematic reasonings upon the Bastile; and I heavily walk'd up stairs, unsaying every word I had said in going down them.
Disguise thyself as thou wilt, still, Slavery! said I still thou art a bitter draught! and though thousands in all ages have been made to drink of thee, thou art no less bitter on that account. 'T is thou, thrice sweet and gracious goddess, addressing myself to LIBERTY, whom all in public or in private worship, whose taste is grateful, and ever will be so, till NATURE herself shall change no tint of words can spot thy snowy mantle, or chymic power turn thy sceptre into iron with thee to smile upon him as he eats his crust, the swain is happier than his monarch, from whose court thou art exiled Gracious heaven! cried I, kneeling down upon the last step but one in my ascent, grant me but health, thou great Bestower of it, and give me but this fair goddess as my companion and shower down thy mitres, if it seems good unto thy divine providence, upon those heads which are aching for them.
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