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Title: Recollections of Europe
Author: Cooper, James Fenimore, 1789-1851
Language: English
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COLLECTION OF ANCIENT AND MODERN BRITISH AUTHORS.

VOL. CLXXII.

RECOLLECTIONS OF EUROPE.

PRINTED BY J. SMITH, 16, RUE MONTMORENCY.



RECOLLECTIONS OF EUROPE.

BY J. FENIMORE COOPER, ESQ.

AUTHOR OF "THE PILOT," "THE SPY", etc.


PARIS, BAUDRY'S EUROPEAN LIBRARY,
RUE DU COQ, NEAR THE LOUVRE.


1837.



CONTENTS.


LETTER I.

Our Embarkation.--Leave-taking.--Our Abigail.--Bay of New York.--The
Hudson.--Ominous Prediction.--The Prophet falsified.--Enter the
Atlantic.--"Land-birds."--Our Master.--Officers of Packet-ships.--Loss
of "The Crisis."--The "Three Chimneys."--Calamities at Sea.
--Sailing-match.--View of the Eddystone.--The Don Quixote.--Comparative
Sailing.--Pilot-boats.--Coast of Dorsetshire.--The Needles.
--Lymington.--Southampton Water.--The Custom-house.


LETTER II.

Controversy at Cowes.--Custom-house Civility.--English Costume.--Fashion
in America.--Quadrilles in New York.--Cowes.--Nautical Gallantry.
English Beauty.--Isle of Wight Butter.--English Scenery.--M'Adamized
Roads.--Old Village Church.--Rural Interment.--Pauper's
Grave.--Carisbrooke Cattle.--Southampton.--Waiter at the Vine.--English
Costume.--Affinity with England.--Netley Abbey.--Southampton Cockneys.


LETTER III.

Road to London.--Royal Pastime.--Cockney Coachman.--Winchester Assizes.
--Approach to London.--The Parks.--Piccadilly.--Street Excursion.
--Strangers in London.--Americans in England.--Westminster Abbey.
--Gothic Decorations.--Westminster Hall.--Inquisitive Barber.--Pasta and
Malibran.--Drury-lane Theatre.--A Pickpocket.--A Fellow-traveller.
--English Gentlemen.--A Radical.--Encampment of Gipsies.--National
Distinctions.--Antiquities.--National Peculiarities.


LETTER IV.

Quit England.--Approach to France.--Havre.--Our Reception there.--Female
Commissionnaire.--Clamour of Drums.--Port of Havre.--Projected
Enterprize.--American Enterprize.--Steam-boat
Excursion.--Honfleur.--Rouen.--French Exaction.--American
Porters.--Rouen Cathedral.--Our Cicerone.--A Diligence.--Picturesque
Road.--European Peasantry.--Aspect of the Country.--Church at
Louviers.--Village near Vernon.--Rosny.--Mantes.--Bourbon Magnificence.
--Approach to Paris--Enter Paris.


LETTER V.

Paris in August 1826.--Montmartre.--The Octroi.--View of Paris.
--Montmorency.--Royal Residences.--Duke of Bordeaux.--Horse-racing.
--The Dauphine.--Popular feeling in Paris.--Royal Equipage.--Gardes du
Corps.--Policy of Napoleon.--Centralization.


LETTER VI.

Letters of Introduction.--European Etiquette.--Diplomatic
Entertainments.--Ladies in Coffee-houses.--French Hospitality.--Mr.
Canning at Paris.--Parisian Hotels.--French Lady at
Washington.--Receptions in Paris and in New York.--Mode of
Announcement.--Republican Affectation.--Hotel Monaco.--Dinner given to
Mr. Canning.--Diplomatic Etiquette.--European Ambassadors.--Prime
Minister of France.--Mr. Canning.--Count Pozzo di Borgo.--Precedency at
Dinner.--American Etiquette.--A French Dinner.--Servants.--Catholic
Fasting.--Conversation with Canning.--English Prejudice against
Americans.


LETTER VII.

English Jurisprudence.--English Justice.--Justice in
France.--Continental Jurisprudence.--Juries.--Legal Injustice.--The Bar
in France.--Precedence of the Law.


LETTER VIII.

Army of France.--Military Display.--Fête of the Trocadero.--Royal
Review.--Royal Ordinance.--Dissatisfaction.--Hostile
Demonstration.--Dispersion of Rioters.--French Cavalry.--Learned
Coachman.--Use of Cavalry.--Cavalry Operations.--The
Conscription.--National Defence.--Napoleon's Marshals.--Marshal
Soult--Disaffection of the Army.


LETTER IX

Royal Dinner.--Magnificence and Comfort.--Salle de Diane.--Prince de
Condé.--Duke of Orleans.--The Dinner-table.--The Dauphin.--Sires de
Coucy.--The Dauphine.--Ancient Usages--M. de Talleyrand.--Charles X.
--Panoramic Procession.--Droll Effect.--The Dinner.--M. de Talleyrand's
Office.--The Duchesse de Berri.--The Catastrophe.--An Aristocratic
Quarrel.


LETTER X.

Road to Versailles.--Origin of Versailles.--The present Chateau.--The
two Trianons.--La Petite Suisse.--Royal Pastime.--Gardens of Versailles.
--The State Apartments.--Marie Antoinette's Chamber.--Death of Louis XV.
--Oeil de Boeuf.--The Theatre and Chapel.--A
Quarry.--Caverns.--Compiègne.--Chateau de Pierre-font.--Influence of
Monarchy.--Orangery at Versailles.


LETTER XI.

Laws of Intercourse.--Americans in Europe.--Americans and English.
--Visiting in America.--Etiquette of Visits.--Presentations at Foreign
Courts.--Royal Receptions.--American Pride.--Pay of the President.
--American Diplomatist.


LETTER XII.

Sir Walter Scott in Paris.--Conversation with him.--Copyright in
America.--Miss Scott.--French Compliments.--Sir Walter Scott's Person
and Manners.--Ignorance as to America.--French Commerce.--French
Translations.--American Luxury.


LETTER XIII.

French Manufactures.--Sèvres China.--Tapestry of the Gobelins.--Paper
for Hangings.--The Savonnerie.--French Carpets.--American Carpets.
--Transfer of old Pictures from Wood to Canvass.--Coronation Coach.
--The Arts in France--in America.--American Prejudice.


LETTER XIV.

False Notions.--Continental Manners.--People of Paris.--Parisian Women.
--French Beauty.--Men of France.--French Soldiers.


LETTER XV.

Perversion of Institutions.--The French Academy.--Laplace.--Astronomy.
--Theatres of Paris.--Immoral Plot.--Artificial Feelings.--French
Tragedy.--Literary Mania.--The American Press.--American
Newspapers.--French Journals--Publishing Manoeuvres.--Madame Malibran.


LETTER XVI.

Environs of Paris.--Village of St. Ouen.--Our House there.--Life on the
River.--Parisian Cockneys.--A pretty Grisette.--Voyage across the
Seine.--A rash Adventurer.--Village Fête.--Montmorency.--View near
Paris.


LETTER XVII.

Rural Drives.--French Peasantry.--View of Montmartre.--The Boulevards.
--The Abattoirs.--Search for Lodgings.--A queer Breakfast.--Royal
Progresses and Magnificence.--French Carriages and Horses.--Modes of
Conveyance.--Drunkenness.--French Criminal Justice.--Marvellous Stories
of the Police.


LETTER XVIII.

Personal Intercourse.--Parisian Society and Hospitality.--Influence of
Money.--Fiacres.--M. de Lameth.--Strife of Courtesy.--Standard of
Delicacy.--French Dinners.--Mode of Visiting.--The Chancellor of France.
--The Marquis de Marbois.--Political Côteries.--Paris Lodgings.--A
French Party.--An English Party.--A splendid Ball.--Effects of good
Breeding.--Characteristic Traits.--Influence of a Court.


LETTER XIX.

Garden of the Tuileries.--The French Parliament.--Parliamentary
Speakers.--The Tribune.--Royal Initiative.--The Charter.--Mongrel
Government.--Ministerial Responsibility.--Elections in
France.--Doctrinaires.--Differences of Opinion.--Controversy.


LETTER XX.

Excursion with Lafayette.--Vincennes.--The Donjon.--Lagrange.--The
Towers.--Interior of the House--the General's Apartments.--the Cabinet.
--Lafayette's Title.--Church of the Chateau.--Ruins of Vivier.--Roman
Remains.--American Curiosity.--The Table at Lagrange.--Swindling.


LETTER XXI.

Insecurity of the Bourbons.--Distrust of Americans.--Literary Visitor.
--The Templars.--Presents and Invitations.--A Spy.--American Virtue.
--Inconsistency.--Social Freedom in America.--French Mannerists.
--National Distinctions.--A lively Reaction.


LETTER XXII.

Animal Magnetism.--Somnambules.--Magnetised Patients.--My own
Examination.--A Prediction.--Ventriloquism.--Force of the Imagination.


LETTER XXIII.

Preparations for Departure.--My Consulate.--Leave
Paris.--Picardy.--Cressy.--Montreuil.--Gate of Calais.--Port of
Calais.--Magical Words.



PREFACE.


It may seem to be late in the day to give an account of the more ordinary
characteristics of Europe. But the mass of all nations can form their
opinions of others through the medium of testimony only; and as no two
travellers see precisely the same things, or, when seen, view them with
precisely the same eyes, this is a species of writing, after all, that is
not likely to pall, or cease to be useful. The changes that are constantly
going on everywhere, call for as constant repetitions of the descriptions;
and although the pictures may not always be drawn and coloured equally
well, so long as they are taken in good faith, they will not be without
their value.

It is not a very difficult task to make what is commonly called an
amusing book of travels. Any one who will tell, with a reasonable degree
of graphic effect, what he has seen, will not fail to carry the reader
with him; for the interest we all feel in personal adventure is, of
itself, success. But it is much more difficult to give an honest and a
discriminating summary of what one has seen. The mind so naturally turns
to exceptions, that an observer has great need of self-distrust, of the
powers of analysis, and, most of all, of a knowledge of the world, to be
what the lawyers call a safe witness.

I have no excuse of haste, or of a want of time, to offer for the defect
of these volumes. All I ask is, that they may be viewed as no more than
they profess to be. They are the _gleanings of a harvest already
gathered_, thrown together in a desultory manner, and without the
slightest, or, at least, very small pretensions, to any of those
arithmetical and statistical accounts that properly belong to works of a
graver character. They contain the passing remarks of one who has
certainly seen something of the world, whether it has been to his
advantage or not, who had reasonably good opportunities to examine what
he saw, and who is not conscious of being, in the slightest degree,
influenced "by fear, favour, or the hope of reward." His _compte rendu_
must pass for what it is worth.



FRANCE.


LETTER I.

Our Embarkation.--Leave-taking.--Our Abigail.--Bay of New York.
--The Hudson.--Ominous Prediction.--The Prophet falsified.--Enter the
Atlantic.--"Land-birds."--Our Master.--Officers of Packet-ships.
--Loss of "The Crisis."--The "Three Chimneys."--Calamities at Sea.
--Sailing-match.--View of the Eddystone.--The Don Quixote.
--Comparative Sailing.--Pilot-boats.--Coast of Dorsetshire.--The Needles.
--Lymington.--Southampton Water.--The Custom-house.


TO CAPTAIN SHUBRICK, U.S.N.

MY DEAR SHUBRICK,

"Passengers by the Liverpool, London and Havre packets are informed that a
steam-boat will leave the White Hall Wharf precisely at eleven, A.M.
to-morrow, June 1st." If to this notice be added the year 1826, you have
the very hour and place of our embarkation. We were nominally of the
London party, it being our intention, however, to land at Cowes, from
which place we proposed crossing the Channel to Havre. The reason for
making this variation from the direct route, was the superior comfort of
the London ship; that of the French line for the 1st June, though a good
vessel and well commanded, being actually the least commodious packet that
plied between the two hemispheres.

We were punctual to the hour, and found one of the smaller steamers
crowded with those who, like ourselves, were bound to the "old world," and
the friends who had come to take the last look at them. We had our
leave-takings, too, which are sufficiently painful when it is known that
years must intervene before there is another meeting. As is always done by
good Manhattanese, the town house had been given up on the 1st of May,
since which time we had resided at an hotel. The furniture had been
principally sold at auction, and the entire month had passed in what I
believed to be very ample preparations. It may be questioned if there is
any such thing as being completely prepared for so material a change; at
all events, we found a dozen essentials neglected at the last moment, and
as many oversights to be repaired in the same instant.

On quitting the hotel, some fifty or a hundred volumes and pamphlets lay
on the floor of my bed-room. Luckily, you were to sail on a cruise in a
day or two, and as you promised not only to give them a berth, but to read
them one and all, they were transferred forthwith to the Lexington. They
were a dear gift, if you kept your word! John was sent with a note, with
orders to be at the wharf in half an hour. I have not seen him since. Then
Abigail was to be discharged. We had long debated whether this excellent
woman should, or should not, be taken. She was an American, and like most
of her countrywomen who will consent to serve in a household, a most
valuable domestic. She wished much to go, but, on the other side, was the
conviction, that a woman who had never been at sea would be useless during
the passage; and then we were told so many fine things of the European
servants, that the odds were unfortunately against her. The principal
objection, however, was her forms of speech. Foreign servants would of
themselves be a great aid in acquiring the different languages; and poor
Abigail, at the best, spoke that least desirable of all corruptions of the
English tongue, the country dialect of New England. Her New England morals
and New England sense; in this instance, were put in the balance against
her "bens," "_an_-gels," "doozes," "nawthings," "noans," and even her
"virtooes," (in a family of children, no immaterial considerations,) and
the latter prevailed. We had occasion to regret this decision. A few years
later I met in Florence an Italian family of high rank, which had brought
with them from Philadelphia two female domestics, whom they prized above
all the other servants of a large establishment. Italy was not good enough
for them, however; and, after resisting a great deal of persuasion, they
were sent back. What was Florence or Rome to Philadelphia! But then these
people spoke good English--better, perhaps, than common English
nursery-maids, the greatest of their abuses in orthoepy being merely to
teach a child to call its mother a "mare."

It was a flat calm, and the packets were all dropping down the bay with
the ebb. The day was lovely, and the view of the harbour, which _has_ so
many, while it _wants_ so many, of the elements of first-rate scenery, was
rarely finer. All estuaries are most beautiful viewed in the calm; but
this is peculiarly true of the Bay of New York--neither the colour of the
water, nor its depth, nor the height of the surrounding land, being
favourable to the grander efforts of Nature. There is little that is
sublime in either the Hudson, or its mouth; but there is the very extreme
of landscape beauty.

Experience will teach every one, that without returning to scenes that
have made early impressions, after long absences, and many occasions to
examine similar objects elsewhere, our means of comparison are of no
great value. My acquaintance with the Hudson has been long and very
intimate; for to say that I have gone up and down its waters a hundred
times, would be literally much within the truth. During that journey
whose observations and events are about to fill these volumes, I
retained a lively impression of its scenery, and, on returning to the
country, its current was ascended with a little apprehension that an eye
which had got to be practised in the lights and shades of the Alps and
Appenines might prove too fastidious for our own river. What is usually
termed the grandeur of the highlands was certainly much impaired; but
other parts of the scenery gained in proportion; and, on the whole, I
found the passage between New York and Albany to be even finer than it
had been painted by memory. I should think there can be little doubt
that, if not positively the most beautiful river, the Hudson possesses
some of the most beautiful river-scenery, of the known world.

Our ship was named after this noble stream. We got on board of her off
Bedlow's, and dropped quietly down as far as the quarantine ground before
we were met by the flood. Here we came to, to wait for a wind, more
passengers, and that important personage, whom man-of-war's men term the
master, and landsmen the captain. In the course of the afternoon we had
all assembled, and began to reconnoitre each other, and to attend to our
comforts.

To get accustomed to the smell of the ship, with its confined air, and
especially to get all their little comforts about them in smooth water, is
a good beginning for your novices. If to this be added moderation in food,
and especially in drink; as much exercise as one can obtain; refraining
from reading and writing until accustomed to one's situation, and paying
great attention to the use of aperients; I believe all is said that an old
traveller, and an old sailor too, can communicate on a subject so
important to those who are unaccustomed to the sea. Can your experience
suggest anything more?

We lay that night at the quarantine ground; but early on the morning of
the 2nd, all hands were called to heave-up. The wind came in puffs over
the heights of Staten, and there was every prospect of our being able to
get to sea in two or three hours. We hove short, and sheeted home, and
hoisted the three topsails; but the anchor hung, and the people were
ordered to get their breakfasts, leaving the ship to tug at her
ground-tackle with a view to loosen her hold of the bottom.

Everything was now in motion. The little Don Quixote, the Havre ship just
mentioned, was laying through the narrows, with a fresh breeze from the
south-west. The Liverpool ship was out of sight, and six or seven sails
were turning down with the ebb, under every stitch of canvass that would
draw. One fine vessel tacked directly on our quarter. As she passed quite
near our stern, some one cried from her deck:--"A good run to you,
Mr. ----." After thanking this well-wisher, I inquired his name. He gave me
that of an Englishman, who resided in Cuba, whither he was bound. "How
long do you mean to be absent?" "Five years." "You will never come back."
With this raven-like prediction we parted; the wind sweeping his vessel
beyond the reach of the voice.

These words, "You will never come back!" were literally the last that I
heard on quitting my country. They were uttered in a prophetic tone, and
under circumstances that were of a nature to produce an impression. I
thought of them often, when standing on the western verge of Europe, and
following the course of the sun toward the land in which I was born; I
remembered them from the peaks of the Alps, when the subtle mind,
outstripping the senses, would make its mysterious flight westward across
seas and oceans, to recur to the past, and to conjecture the future; and
when the allotted five years were up, and found us still wanderers, I
really began to think, what probably every man thinks, in some moment of
weakness, that this call from the passing ship was meant to prepare me for
the future. The result proved in my case, however, as it has probably
proved in those of most men, that Providence did not consider me of
sufficient importance to give me audible information of what was about to
happen. So strong was this impression to the last, notwithstanding, that
on our return, when the vessel passed the spot where the evil-omened
prediction was uttered, I caught myself muttering involuntarily, "---- is
a false prophet; I _have_ come back!"

We got our anchor as soon as the people were ready, and, the wind drawing
fresh through the narrows, were not long turning into lower bay. The ship
was deep, and had not a sufficient spread of canvass for a summer passage,
but she was well commanded, and exceedingly comfortable.

The wind became light in the lower bay. The Liverpool ship had got to sea
the evening before, and the Don Quixote was passing the Hook, just as we
opened the mouth of the Raritan. A light English bark was making a fair
wind of it, by laying out across the swash; and it now became questionable
whether the ebb would last long enough to sweep us round the south-west
spit, a _détour_ that our heavier draught rendered necessary.

By paying great attention to the ship, however, the pilot, who was of the
dilatory school, succeeded about 3 P.M. in getting us round that awkward
but very necessary buoy, which makes so many foul winds of fair ones, when
the ship's bead was laid to the eastward, with square yards. In half an
hour the vessel had "slapped" past the low sandy spit of land that you
have so often regarded with philosophical eyes, and we fairly entered the
Atlantic, at a point where nothing but water lay between us and the Rock
of Lisbon. We discharged the pilot on the bar.

By this time the wind had entirely left us, the flood was making strong,
and there was a prospect of our being compelled to anchor. The bark was
nearly hull-down in the offing, and the top-gallant-sails of the Don
Quixote were just settling into the water. All this was very provoking,
for there might be a good breeze to seaward, while we had it calm inshore.
The suspense was short, for a fresh-looking line along the sea to the
southward gave notice of the approach of wind; the yards were braced
forward, and in half an hour we were standing east southerly, with strong
headway. About sunset we passed the light vessel which then lay moored
several leagues from land, in the open ocean,--an experiment that has
since failed. The highlands of Navesink disappeared with the day.

The other passengers were driven below before evening. The first mate, a
straight-forward Kennebunk man, gave me a wink, (he had detected my
sea-education by a single expression, that of "send it an end," while
mounting the side of the ship,) and said, "A clear quarter-deck! a good
time to take a walk, sir." I had it all to myself, sure enough, for the
first two or three days, after which our land-birds came crawling up, one
by one; but long before the end of the passage nothing short of a
double-reefed-topsail breeze could send the greater part of them below.
There was one man, however, who, the mate affirmed wore the heel of a
spare topmast smooth, by seating himself on it, as the precise spot where
the motion of the ship excited the least nausea. I got into my berth at
nine; but hearing a movement overhead about midnight, I turned out again,
with a sense of uneasiness I had rarely before experienced at sea. The
responsibility of a large family acted, in some measure, like the
responsibility of command. The captain was at his post, shortening sail,
for it blew fresher: there was some rain; and thunder and lightning were
at work in the heavens in the direction of the adjacent continent: the air
was full of wild, unnatural lucidity, as if the frequent flashes left a
sort of twilight behind them; and objects were discernible at a distance
of two or three leagues. We had been busy in the first watch, as the omens
denoted easterly weather; the English bark was struggling along the
troubled waters, already quite a league on our lee quarter.

I remained on deck half an hour, watching the movements of the master. He
was a mild, reasoning Connecticut man, whose manner of ministering to the
wants of the female passengers had given me already a good opinion of his
kindness and forethought, while it left some doubts of his ability to
manage the rude elements of drunkenness and insubordination which existed
among the crew, quite one half of whom were Europeans. He was now on deck
in a southwester,[1] giving his orders in a way effectually to shake all
that was left of the "horrors" out of the ship's company. I went below,
satisfied that we were in good hands; and before the end of the passage, I
was at a loss to say whether Nature had most fitted this truly worthy man
to be a ship-master or a child's nurse, for he really appeared to me to be
equally skilful in both capacities.

[Footnote 1: Doric--_south_-wester.]

Such a temperament is admirably suited to the command of a packet--a
station in which so many different dispositions, habits and prejudices are
to be soothed, at the same time that a proper regard is to be had to the
safety of their persons. If any proof is wanting that the characters of
seamen in general have been formed under adverse circumstances, and
without sufficient attention, or, indeed, any attention to their real
interests, it is afforded in the fact, that the officers of the
packet-ships, men usually trained like other mariners, so easily adapt
their habits to their new situation, and become more mild, reflecting and
humane. It is very rare to hear a complaint against an officer of one of
these vessels; yet it is not easy to appreciate the embarrassments they
have frequently to encounter from whimsical, irritable, ignorant, and
exacting passengers. As a rule, the eastern men of this country make the
best packet-officers. They are less accustomed to sail with foreigners
than those who have been trained in the other ports, but acquire habits of
thought and justice by commanding their countrymen; for, of all the seamen
of the known world, I take it the most subordinate, the least troublesome,
and the easiest to govern, so long as he is not oppressed is the native
American. This, indeed, is true, both ashore and afloat, for very obvious
reasons: they who are accustomed to reason themselves, being the most
likely to submit to reasonable regulations; and they who are habituated to
plenty, are the least likely to be injured by prosperity, which causes
quite as much trouble in this world as adversity. It is this prosperity,
too suddenly acquired, which spoils most of the labouring Europeans who
emigrate; while they seldom acquire the real, frank independence of
feeling which characterizes the natives. They adopt an insolent and rude
manner as its substitute, mistaking the shadow for the substance. This
opinion of the American seamen is precisely the converse of what is
generally believed in Europe, however, and more particularly in England;
for, following out the one-sided political theories in which they have
been nurtured, disorganization, in the minds of the inhabitants of the old
world, is inseparable from popular institutions.

The early part of the season of 1826 was remarkable for the quantities of
ice that had drifted from the north into the track of European and
American ships. The Crisis, a London packet, had been missing nearly three
months when we sailed. She was known to have been full of passengers, and
the worst fears were felt for her safety; ten years have since elapsed,
and no vestige of this unhappy ship has ever been found!

Our master prudently decided that safety was of much more importance than
speed, and he kept the Hudson well to the southward. Instead of crossing
the banks, we were as low as 40°, when in their meridian; and although we
had some of the usual signs, in distant piles of fog, and exceedingly
chilly and disagreeable weather, for a day or two, we saw no ice. About
the 15th, the wind got round to the southward and eastward, and we began
to fall off, more than we wished even, to the northward.

All the charts for the last fifty years have three rocks laid down to the
westward of Ireland, which are known as the "Three Chimneys." Most
American mariners have little faith in their existence, and yet, I fancy,
no seaman draws near the spot where they are said to be, without keeping a
good look-out for the danger. The master of the Hudson once carried a
lieutenant of the English navy, as a passenger, who assured him that he
had actually seen these "Three Chimneys." He may have been mistaken, and
he may not. Our course lay far to the southward of them; but the wind
gradually hauled ahead, in such a way as to bring us as near as might be
to the very spot where they ought to appear, if properly laid down. The
look-outs of a merchant-ship are of no great value, except in serious
cases, and I passed nearly a whole night on deck, quite as much incited by
my precious charge, as by curiosity, in order to ascertain all that eyes
could ascertain under the circumstances. No signs of these rocks, however,
were seen from the Hudson.

It is surprising in the present state of commerce, and with the vast
interests which are at stake, that any facts affecting the ordinary
navigation between the two hemispheres should be left in doubt. There is
a shoal, and I believe a reef, laid down near the tail of the great
bank, whose existence is still uncertain. Seamen respect this danger
more than that of the "Three Chimneys," for it lies very much in the
track of ships between Liverpool and New York; still, while tacking, or
giving it a berth, they do not know whether they are not losing a wind
for a groundless apprehension! Our own government would do well to
employ a light cruiser, or two, in ascertaining just these facts (many
more might he added to the list), during the summer months. Our own
brief naval history is pregnant with instances of the calamities that
befall ships. No man can say when, or how, the Insurgente, the
Pickering, the Wasp, the Epervier, the Lynx, and the Hornet disappeared.
We know that they are gone; and of all the brave spirits they held, not
one has been left to relate the histories of the different disasters. We
have some plausible conjectures concerning the manner in which the two
latter were wrecked; but an impenetrable mystery conceals the fate of
the four others. They may have run on unknown reefs. These reefs may be
constantly heaving up from the depths of the ocean, by subterranean
efforts; for a marine rock is merely the summit of a submarine
mountain.[2]

[Footnote 2: There is a touching incident connected with the fortunes of
two young officers of the navy, that is not generally known. When the
Essex frigate was captured in the Pacific, by the Phoebe and Cherub, two
of the officers of the former were left in the ship, in order to make
certain affidavits that were necessary to the condemnation. The remainder
were paroled and returned to America. After a considerable interval, some
uneasiness was felt at the protracted absence of those who had been left
in the Essex. On inquiry it was found, that, after accompanying the ship
to Rio Janeiro, they had been exchanged, according to agreement, and
suffered to go where they pleased. After some delay, they took passage in
a Swedish brig bound to Norway, as the only means which offered to get to
Europe, whence they intended to return home. About this time great
interest was also felt for the sloop Wasp. She had sailed for the mouth of
the British Channel, where she fell in with and took the Reindeer,
carrying her prisoners into France. Shortly after she had an action with
and took the Avon, but was compelled to abandon her prize by others of the
enemy's cruisers, one of which (the Castilian) actually came up with her
and gave her a broad-side. About twenty days after the latter action she
took a merchant-brig, near the Western Islands, and sent her into
Philadelphia. This was the last that had been heard of her. Months and
even years went by, and no farther intelligence was obtained. All this
time, too, the gentlemen of the Essex were missing. Government ordered
inquiries to be made in Sweden for the master of the brig in which they
had embarked; he was absent on a long voyage, and a weary period elapsed
before he could be found. When this did happen, he was required to give an
account of his passengers. By producing his logbook and proper receipts,
he proved that he had fallen in with the Wasp, near the line, about a
fortnight after she had taken the merchant-brig named, when the young
officers in question availed themselves of the occasion to return to their
flag. Since that time, a period of twenty-one years, the Wasp has not been
heard of.]

We were eighteen days out, when, early one morning, we made an American
ship, on our weather quarter. Both vessels had everything set that would
draw, and were going about five knots, close on the wind. The stranger
made a signal to speak us, and, on the Hudson's main-topsail being laid to
the mast, he came down under our stern, and ranged up alongside to
leeward. He proved to be a ship called the "London Packet," from
Charlestown, bound to Havre, and his chronometer having stopped, he wanted
to get the longitude.

When we had given him our meridian, a trial of sailing commenced, which
continued without intermission for three entire days. During this time, we
had the wind from all quarters, and of every degree of force, from the
lightest air to a double-reefed-topsail breeze. We were never a mile
separated, and frequently we were for hours within a cable's length of
each other. One night the two ships nearly got foul, in a very light air.
The result showed, that they sailed as nearly alike, one being deep and
the other light, as might well happen to two vessels. On the third day,
both ships being under reefed topsails, with the wind at east, and in
thick weather, after holding her own with us for two watches, the London
Packet edged a little off the wind, while the Hudson still hugged it, and
we soon lost sight of our consort in the mist.

We were ten days longer struggling with adverse winds. During this time
the ship made all possible traverses, our vigilant master resorting to
every expedient of an experienced seaman to get to the eastward. We were
driven up as high as fifty-four, where we fell into the track of the St.
Lawrence traders. The sea seemed covered with them, and I believe we made
more than a hundred, most of which were brigs. All these we passed without
difficulty. At length a stiff breeze came from the south-west, and we laid
our course for the mouth of the British Channel under studding-sails.

On the 28th we got bottom in about sixty fathoms water. The 29th was thick
weather, with a very light, but a fair wind; we were now quite sensibly
within the influence of the tides. Towards evening the horizon brightened
a little, and we made the Bill of Portland, resembling a faint bluish
cloud. It was soon obscured, and most of the landsmen were incredulous
about its having been seen at all. In the course of the night, however, we
got a good view of the Eddystone.

Going on deck early on the morning of the 30th, a glorious view
presented itself. The day was fine, clear, and exhilarating, and the
wind was blowing fresh from the westward Ninety-seven sail, which had
come into the Channel, like ourselves, during the thick weather, were in
plain sight. The majority were English, but we recognized the build of
half the maritime nations of Christendom in the brilliant fleet.
Everybody was busy, and the blue waters were glittering with canvass. A
frigate was in the midst of us, walking through the crowd like a giant
stepping among pigmies. Our own good vessel left everything behind her
also, with the exception of two or three other bright-sided ships, which
happened to be as fast as herself.

I found the master busy with the glass; and, as soon as he caught my
eye, he made a sign for me to come forward. "Look at that ship directly
ahead of us!" The vessel alluded to led the fleet, being nearly
hull-down to the eastward. It was the Don Quixote, which had left the
port of New York one month before, about the same distance in our
advance. "Now look here, inshore of us," added the master: "it is an
American; but I cannot make her out." "Look again: she has a new cloth
in her main-top-gallant sail." This was true enough, and by that sign,
the vessel was our late competitor, the London Packet!

As respects the Don Quixote, we had made a journey of some five thousand
miles, and not varied our distance, on arriving, a league. There was
probably some accident in this; for the Don Quixote had the reputation of
a fast ship, while the Hudson was merely a pretty fair sailer. We had
probably got the best of the winds. But a hard and close trial of three
days had shown that neither the Hudson nor the London Packet, in their
present trims, could go ahead of the other in any wind. And yet here,
after a separation of ten days, during which time our ship had tacked and
wore fifty times, had calms, foul winds and fair, and had run fully a
thousand miles, there was not a league's difference between the two
vessels!

I have related these circumstances, because I think they are connected
with causes that have a great influence on the success of American
navigation. On passing several of the British ships to-day, I observed
that their officers were below, or at least out of sight; and in one
instance, a vessel of a very fair mould, and with every appearance of a
good sailer, actually lay with some of her light sails aback, long enough
to permit us to come up with and pass her. The Hudson probably went with
this wind some fifteen or twenty miles farther than this loiterer; while I
much question if she could have gone as far, had the latter been well
attended to. The secret is to be found in the fact, that so large a
portion of American ship-masters are also ship-owners, as to have erected
a standard of activity and vigilance, below which few are permitted to
fall. These men work for themselves, and, like all their countrymen, are
looking out for something more than a mere support.

About noon we got a Cowes pilot. He brought no news, but told us the
English vessel I have just named was sixty days from Leghorn, and that she
had been once a privateer. We were just thirty from New York.

We had distant glimpses of the land all day, and several of the passengers
determined to make their way to the shore in the pilot-boat. These Channel
craft are sloops of about thirty or forty tons, and are rather picturesque
and pretty boats, more especially when under low sail. They are usually
fitted to take passengers, frequently earning more in this way than by
their pilotage. They have the long sliding bowsprit, a short lower mast,
very long cross-trees, with a taunt topmast, and, though not so "wicked"
to the eye, I think them prettier objects at sea than our own schooners.
The party from the Hudson had scarcely got on board their new vessel when
it fell calm, and the master and myself paid them a visit. They looked
like a set of smugglers waiting for the darkness to run in. On our return
we rowed round the ship. One cannot approach a vessel at sea, in this
manner, without being struck with the boldness of the experiment which
launched such massive and complicated fabrics on the ocean. The pure water
is a medium almost as transparent as the atmosphere, and the very keel is
seen, usually so near the surface, in consequence of refraction, as to
give us but a very indifferent opinion of the security of the whole
machine. I do not remember ever looking at my own vessel, when at sea,
from a boat, without wondering at my own folly in seeking such a home.

In the afternoon the breeze sprang up again, and we soon lost sight of our
friends, who were hauling in for the still distant land. All that
afternoon and night we had a fresh and a favourable wind. The next day I
went on deck, while the people were washing the ship. It was Sunday, and
there was a flat calm. The entire scene admirably suited a day of rest.
The Channel was like a mirror, unruffled by a breath of air, and some
twenty or thirty vessels lay scattered about the view, with their sails
festooned and drooping, thrown into as many picturesque positions by the
eddying waters. Our own ship had got close in with the land; so near,
indeed, as to render a horse or a man on the shore distinctly visible. We
were on the coast of Dorsetshire. A range of low cliffs lay directly abeam
of us, and, as the land rose to a ridge behind them, we had a distinct
view of a fair expanse of nearly houseless fields. We had left America
verdant and smiling, but we found England brown and parched, there having
been a long continuance of dry easterly winds.

The cliffs terminated suddenly, a little way ahead of the ship, and the
land retired inward, with a wide sweep, forming a large, though not a very
deep bay, that was bounded by rather low shores. It was under these very
cliffs, on which we were looking with so much pleasure and security, and
at so short a distance, that the well-known and terrible wreck of an
Indiaman occurred, when the master, with his two daughters, and hundreds
of other lives, were lost. The pilot pointed out the precise spot where
that ill-fated vessel went to pieces. But the sea in its anger, and the
sea at rest, are very different powers. The place had no terrors for us.

Ahead of us, near twenty miles distant, lay a high hazy bluff, that was
just visible. This was the western extremity of the Isle of Wight, and the
end of our passage in the Hudson. A sloop of war was pointing her head in
towards this bluff, and all the vessels in sight now began to take new
forms, varying and increasing the picturesque character of the view. We
soon got a light air ourselves, and succeeded in laying the ship's head
off shore, towards which we had been gradually drifting nearer than was
desirable. The wind came fresh and fair about ten, when we directed our
course towards the distant bluff. Everything was again in motion. The
cliffs behind us gradually sunk, as those before us rose, and lost their
indistinctness; the blue of the latter soon became grey, and, ere long,
white as chalk, this being the material of which they are, in truth,
composed.

We saw a small whale (it might have been a large grampus) floundering
ahead of us, and acting as an extra pilot, for he appeared to be steering,
like ourselves, for the Needles. These Needles are fragments of the chalk
cliffs, that have been pointed and rendered picturesque by the action of
the weather, and our course lay directly past them. They form a line from
the extremity of the Isle of Wight, and are awkwardly placed for vessels
that come this way in thick weather, or in the dark. The sloop of war got
round them first, and we were not far behind her. When fairly within the
Needles the ship was embayed, our course now lying between Hampshire and
the Isle of Wight, through a channel of no great width. The country was
not particularly beautiful, and still looked parched; though we got a
distant view of one pretty town, Lymington, in Hampshire. This place, in
the distance, appeared not unlike a large New England village, though
there was less glare to the houses. The cliffs, however, were very fine,
without being of any extraordinary elevation. Though much inferior to the
shores of the Mediterranean, they as much surpass anything I remember to
have seen on our own coast, between Cape Anne and Cape Florida; which, for
its extent, a part of India, perhaps, excepted, is, I take it, just the
flattest, and tamest, and least interesting coast in the entire world.

The master pointed out a mass of dark herbage on a distant height, which
resembled a copse of wood that had been studiously clipped into square
forms at its different angles. It was visible only for a few moments,
through a vista in the hills. This was Carisbrooke Castle, buried in ivy.

There was another little castle, on a low point of land, which was erected
by Henry VIII. as a part of a system of marine defence. It would scarcely
serve to scale the guns of a modern twenty-four-pounder frigate, judging
of its means of resistance and annoyance by the eye. These things are
by-gones for England, a country that has little need of marine batteries.

About three, we reached a broad basin, the land retiring on each side of
us. The estuary to the northward is called Southampton Water, the town of
that name being seated on its margin. The opening in the Isle of Wight is
little more than a very wide mouth to a very diminutive river or creek,
and Cowes, divided into East and West, lines its shores. The anchorage in
the arm of the sea off this little haven was well filled with vessels,
chiefly the yachts of amateur seamen, and the port itself contained little
more than pilot-boats and crafts of a smaller size. The Hudson brought up
among the former. Hauling up the forecourse of a merchant-ship is like
lifting the curtain again on the drama of the land. These vessels rarely
furl this sail; and they who have not experienced it, cannot imagine what
a change it produces on those who have lived a month or six weeks beneath
its shadow. The sound of the chain running out was very grateful, and I
believe, though well satisfied with the ship as such, that everybody was
glad to get a nearer view of our great mother earth.

It was Sunday, but we were soon visited by boats from the town. Some came
to carry us ashore, others to see that we carried nothing off with us. At
first, the officer of the customs manifested a desire to make us all go
without the smallest article of dress, or anything belonging to our most
ordinary comforts; but he listened to remonstrances, and we were
eventually allowed to depart with our night-bags. As the Hudson was to
sail immediately for London, all our effects were sent within the hour to
the custom-house. At 3 P.M. July 2nd, 1826, we put foot in Europe, after a
passage of thirty-one days from the quarantine ground.



LETTER II.

Controversy at Cowes.--Custom-house Civility.--English Costume.--Fashion
in America.--Quadrilles in New York.--Cowes.--Nautical Gallantry.
English Beauty.--Isle of Wight Butter.--English Scenery.--M'Adamized
Roads.--Old Village Church.--Rural Interment.--Pauper's
Grave.--Carisbrooke Cattle.--Southampton.--Waiter at the Vine.--English
Costume.--Affinity with England.--Netley Abbey.--Southampton Cockneys.


TO MRS. POMEROY, COOPERSTOWN, NEW YORK.

We were no sooner on English ground, than we hurried to one of the two or
three small inns of West Cowes, or the principal quarter of the place, and
got rooms at the Fountain. Mr. and Mrs. ---- had preceded us, and were
already in possession of a parlour adjoining our own. On casting an eye
out at the street, I found them, one at each window of their own room,
already engaged in a lively discussion of the comparative merits of Cowes
and Philadelphia! This propensity to exaggerate the value of whatever is
our own, and to depreciate that which is our neighbour's, a principle that
is connected with the very ground-work of poor human nature, forms a
material portion of travelling equipage of nearly every one who quits the
scenes of his own youth, to visit those of other people. A comparison
between Cowes and Philadelphia is even more absurd than a comparison
between New York and London, and yet, in this instance, it answered the
purpose of raising a lively controversy between an American wife and a
European husband.

The consul at Cowes had been an old acquaintance at school some
five-and-twenty years before, and an inquiry was set on foot for his
residence. He was absent in France, but his deputy soon presented himself
with an offer of services. We wished for our trunks, and it was soon
arranged that there should be an immediate examination. Within an hour we
were summoned to the store-house, where an officer attended on behalf of
the customs. Everything was done in a very expeditious and civil manner,
not only for us, but for a few steerage passengers, and this, too, without
the least necessity for a _douceur_, the usual _passe-partout_ of England.
America sends no manufactures to Europe; and, a little smuggling in
tobacco excepted, there is probably less of the contraband in our
commercial connexion with England, than ever before occurred between two
nations that have so large a trade. This, however, is only in reference to
what goes eastward, for immense amounts of the smaller manufactured
articles of all Europe find their way, duty free, into the United States.
There is also a regular system of smuggling through the Canadas, I have
been told.

While the ladies were enjoying the negative luxury of being liberated from
a ship, at the Fountain Inn, I strolled about the place. You know that I
had twice visited England professionally before I was eighteen; and, on
one occasion, the ship I was in anchored off this very island, though not
at this precise spot. I now thought the people altered. There had
certainly been so many important changes in myself during the same period,
that it becomes me to speak with hesitation on this point: but even the
common class seemed less peculiar, less English, _less provincial_, if one
might use such an expression, as applied to so great a nation; in short,
more like the rest of the world than formerly. Twenty years before,
England was engaged in a war, by which she was, in a degree, isolated from
most of Christendom. This insulated condition, sustained by a
consciousness of wealth, knowledge, and power, had served to produce a
decided peculiarity of manners, and even of appearance. In the article of
dress I could not be mistaken. In 1806 I had seen all the lower classes of
the English clad in something like _costumes_. The Channel waterman wore
the short dowlas petticoat; the Thames waterman, a jacket and breeches of
velveteen, and a badge; the gentleman and gentlewoman, attire such as was
certainly to be seen in no other part of the Christian world, the English
colonies excepted. Something of this still remained, but it existed rather
as the exception than as the rule. I then felt, at every turn, that I was
in a foreign country; whereas, now, the idea did not obtrude itself,
unless I was brought in immediate contact with the people.

America, in my time, at least, has always had an active and swift
communication with the rest of the world. As a people, we are, beyond a
question, decidedly provincial; but our provincialism is not exactly one
of external appearance. The men are negligent of dress, for they are much
occupied, have few servants, and clothes are expensive; but the women
dress remarkably near the Parisian _modes_. We have not sufficient
confidence in ourselves to set fashions. All our departures from the
usages of the rest of mankind are results of circumstances, and not of
calculation,--unless, indeed, it be one that is pecuniary. Those whose
interest it is to produce changes cause fashions to travel fast, and there
is not so much difficulty, or more cost, in transporting anything from
Havre to New York, than there is in transporting the same thing from
Calais to London; and far less difficulty in causing a new _mode_ to be
introduced, since, as a young people, we are essentially imitative. An
example or two will better illustrate what I mean.

When I visited London, with a part of my family, in 1823, after passing
near two years on the continent of Europe, Mrs. ---- was compelled to
change her dress--at all times simple, but then, as a matter of course,
Parisian--in order not to be the subject of unpleasant observation. She
might have gone in a carriage attired as a Frenchwoman, for they who ride
in England are not much like those who walk; but to walk in the streets,
and look at objects, it was far pleasanter to seem English than to seem
French. Five years later, we took London on our way to America, and even
then something of the same necessity was felt. On reaching home, with
dresses fresh from Paris, the same party was only in the _mode_; with
_toilettes_ a little, and but very little, better arranged, it is true,
but in surprising conformity with those of all around them. On visiting
our own little retired mountain village, these Parisian-made dresses were
scarcely the subject of remark to any but to your _connoisseurs_. My
family struck me as being much less peculiar in the streets of C---- than
they had been, a few months before, in the streets of London. All this
must be explained by the activity of the intercourse between France and
America, and by the greater facility of the Americans in submitting to the
despotism of foreign fashions.

Another fact will show you another side of the subject. While at Paris, a
book of travels in America, written by an Englishman (Mr. Vigne), fell
into my hands. The writer, apparently a well-disposed and sensible man,
states that he was dancing _dos-à-dos_ in a _quadrille_, at New York, when
he found, by the embarrassment of the rest of the set, he had done
something wrong. Some one kindly told him that they no longer danced
_dos-à-dos_. In commenting on this trifling circumstance, the writer
ascribes the whole affair to the false delicacy of our women! Unable to
see the connexion between the cause and the effect, I pointed out the
paragraph to one of my family, who was then in the daily practice of
dancing, and that too in Paris itself, the very court of Terpsichore. She
laughed, and told me that the practice of dancing _dos-à-dos had gone out
at Paris a year or two before_, and that doubtless the newer _mode_ had
reached New York before it reached Mr. Vigne! These are trifles, but they
are the trifles that make up the sum of national peculiarities, ignorance
of which leads us into a thousand fruitless and absurd conjectures. In
this little anecdote we learn the great rapidity with which new fashions
penetrate American usages, and the greater ductility of American society
in visible and tangible things, at least; and the heedless manner with
which even those who write in a good spirit of America, jump to their
conclusions. Had Captain Hall, or Mrs. Trollope, encountered this unlucky
_quadrille_, they would probably have found some clever means of imputing
the _nez-à-nez_ tendencies of our dances to the spirit of democracy! The
latter, for instance, is greatly outraged by the practice of wearing hats
in Congress, and of placing the legs on tables; and, yet, both have been
practised in Parliament from time immemorial! She had never seen her own
Legislature, and having a set of theories cut and dried for Congress,
everything that struck her as novel was referred to one of her
preconceived notions. In this manner are books manufactured, and by such
means are nations made acquainted with each other!

Cowes resembles a toy-town. The houses are tiny; the streets, in the
main, are narrow, and not particularly straight, while everything is
neat as wax. Some new avenues, however, are well planned, and, long ere
this, are probably occupied; and there were several small marine villas
in or near the place. One was shown me that belonged to the Duke of
Norfolk. It had the outward appearance of a medium-sized American
country-house. The bluff King Hall caused another castle to be built
here also, which, I understood, was inhabited at the time by the family
of the Marquis of Anglesey, who was said to be its governor. A part of
the system of the English, government patronage is connected with these
useless castles and nominally fortified places. Salaries are attached to
the governments, and the situations are usually bestowed on military
men. This is a good or a bad regulation, as the patronage is used. In a
nation of extensive military operations it might prove a commendable and
a delicate way of rewarding services; but, as the tendency of mankind is
to defer to intrigue, and to augment power rather than to reward merit,
the probability is, that these places are rarely bestowed, except in the
way of political _quids pro quos_.

I was, with one striking exception, greatly disappointed in the general
appearance of the females that I met in the streets. While strolling in
the skirts of the town, I came across a group of girls and boys, in which
a laughable scene of nautical gallantry was going on. The boys, lads of
fourteen or fifteen, were young sailors, and among the girls, who were of
the same age and class, was one of bewitching beauty. There had been some
very palpable passages of coquetry between the two parties, when one of
the young sailors, a tight lad of thirteen or fourteen, rushed into the
bevy of petticoats, and, borne away by an ecstasy of admiration, but
certainly guided by an excellent taste, he seized the young Venus round
the neck, and dealt out some as hearty smacks as I remember to have heard.
The working of emotion in the face of the girl was a perfect study.
Confusion and shame came first; indignation followed; and, darting out
from among her companions, she dealt her robust young admirer such a
slap in the face, that it sounded like the report of a pocket-pistol.
The blow was well meant, and admirably administered. It left the mark of
every finger on the cheek of the sturdy little fellow. The lad clenched
his fist, seemed much disposed to retort in kind, and ended by telling
his beautiful antagonist that it was very fortunate for her she was not
a boy. But it was the face of the girl herself that drew my attention.
It was like a mirror which reflected every passing thought. When she
gave the blow, it was red with indignation. This feeling instantly gave
way to a kinder sentiment, and her colour softened to a flush of
surprise at the boldness of her own act. Then came a laugh, and a look
about her, as if to inquire if she had been very wrong; the whole
terminating in an expression of regret in the prettiest blue eyes in the
world, which might have satisfied any one that an offence occasioned by
her own sweet face was not unpardonable. The sweetness, the
ingenuousness, the spirit mingled with softness, exhibited in the
countenance of this girl, are, I think, all characteristic of the
English female countenance, when it has not been marble-ized by the
over-wrought polish of high breeding. Similar countenances occur in
America, though, I think, less frequently than here; and I believe them
to be quite peculiar to the Anglo-Saxon race. The workings of such a
countenance are like the play of lights and shades in a southern sky.

From the windows of the inn we had a very good view of a small
castellated dwelling that one of the King's architects had caused to be
erected for himself. The effect of gray towers seen over the tree-tops,
with glimpses of the lawn, visible through vistas in the copses, was
exceedingly pretty; though the indescribable influence of association
prevented us from paying that homage to turrets and walls of the
nineteenth, that we were ready so devotedly to pay to anything of the
thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.

We broke bread, for the first time in Europe, that evening, having made
an early and a hurried dinner on board the ship. The Isle of Wight is
celebrated for its butter, and yet we found it difficult to eat it! The
English, and many other European nations, put no salt in their table
butter; and we, who had been accustomed to the American usage, exclaimed
with one voice against its insipidity. A near relation of A----'s who
once served in the British army, used to relate an anecdote on the
subject of tastes, that is quite in point. A brother officer, who had
gone safely through the celebrated siege of Gibraltar, landed at
Portsmouth, on his return home. Among the other privations of his recent
service, he had been compelled to eat butter whose fragrance scented the
whole Rock. Before retiring for the night, he gave particular orders to
have hot rolls and Isle of Wight butter served for breakfast. The first
mouthful disappointed him, and of course the unlucky waiter suffered.
The latter protested that he had executed the order to the letter. "Then
take away your Isle of Wight butter," growled the officer, "and bring me
some that _has a taste_."

Like him of Gibraltar, we were ready to exclaim, "Take away your Isle of
Wight butter, and bring us some from the good ship Hudson," which, though
not quite as fragrant as that which had obtained its odour in a siege, was
not entirely without a taste. This little event, homely as it may appear,
is connected with the principle that influences the decisions of more than
half of those who visit foreign nations. Usages are condemned because they
are not our own; practices are denounced if their connexion with fitness
is not self-apparent to our inexperience; and men and things are judged by
rules that are of local origin and local application. The moral will be
complete when I add, that we, who were so fastidious about the butter at
Cowes, after an absence of nearly eight years from America, had the salt
regularly worked out of all we ate, for months after our return home,
protesting there was no such thing as good butter in America. Had Mrs. ----
introduced the Philadelphia butter, however, I think her husband must have
succumbed, for I believe it to be the best in the world, not even
excepting that of Leyden.

Towards evening, the Hudson having landed all her passengers, and the most
of those who were in the steerage, went round the eastern point of the
little port, on her way to London.

After taking an early breakfast, we all got into a carriage called a
sociable, which is very like a larger sort of American coaches and went to
Newport, the principal town in the island. The road ran between hedges,
and the scenery was strictly English. Small enclosures, copses, a sward
clipped close as velvet, and trees (of no great size or beauty, however,)
scattered in the fields, with an effect nearly equal to landscape
gardening, were the predominant features. The drought had less influence
on the verdure here than in Dorsetshire. The road was narrow and winding,
the very _beau idéal_ of a highway; for, in this particular, the general
rule obtains that what is agreeable is the least useful. Thanks to the
practical good sense and perseverance of Mr. McAdam, not only the road in
question, but nearly all the roads of Great Britain have been made, within
the last five-and-twenty years, to resemble in appearance, but really to
exceed in solidity and strength, the roads one formerly saw in the grounds
of private gentlemen. These roads are almost flat, and when they have been
properly constructed, the wheel rolls over them as if passing along a bed
of iron. Apart from the levels, which, of course, are not so rigidly
observed, there is not, any very sensible difference between the draught
on a really good McAdamized road and on a railroad. We have a few roads in
America that are nearly as good as most one meets with, but we have
nothing that deserves to be termed a real imitation of the system of Mr.
McAdam.

The distance to Newport was only four or five miles. The town itself, a
borough, but otherwise of little note, lies in a very sweet vale, and is
neat but plain, resembling, in all but its greater appearance of
antiquity and the greater size of its churches, one of our own
provincial towns of the same size. A---- and myself took a fly, and
went, by a very rural road, to Carisbrooke, a distance of about a mile,
in quest of lodgings. Carisbrooke is a mere village, but the whole
valley in this part of the island is so highly cultivated, and so many
pretty cottages meet the eye--not cottages of the poor, but cottages of
the rich--that it has an air of finish and high cultivation that we are
accustomed to see only in the immediate vicinity of large towns, and not
always even there.

On reaching the hamlet of Carisbrooke we found ourselves immediately
beneath the castle. There was a fine old village church, one of those
picturesque rustic edifices which abound in England, a building that time
had warped and twisted in such a way as to leave few parallel lines, or
straight edges, or even regular angles, in any part of it. They told us,
also, that the remains of a ruined priory were at hand. We had often
laughed since at the eagerness and delight with which we hurried off to
look at these venerable objects. It was soon decided, however, that it was
a pleasure too exquisite to be niggardly enjoyed alone, and the carriage
was sent back with orders to bring up the whole party.

While the fly--a Liliputian coach drawn by a single horse, a sort of
diminutive buggy--was absent, we went in quest of the priory. The people
were very civil, and quite readily pointed out the way. We found the ruin
in a farmyard. There was literally nothing but a very small fragment of a
blind wall, but with these materials we went to work with the imagination,
and soon completed the whole edifice. We might even have peopled it, had
not Carisbrooke, with its keep, its gateway, and its ivy-clad ramparts,
lain in full view, inviting us to something less ideal. The church,
too--the rude, old, hump-backed church was already opened, waiting to be
inspected.

The interior of this building was as ancient, in appearance, at least,
and quite as little in harmony with right lines and regular angles, as
its exterior. All the wood-work was of unpainted oak, a colour, however,
that was scarcely dark enough to be rich; a circumstance which, to
American eyes, at least--eyes on whose lenses paint is ever
present--gave it an unfinished look. Had we seen this old building five
years later, we might have thought differently. As for the English oak,
of which one has heard so much, it is no great matter: our own common
oaks are much prettier, and, did we understand their beauty, there would
not be a village church in America that, in this particular, would not
excel the finest English cathedral. I saw nothing in all Europe, of this
nature, that equalled the common oaken doors of the hall at C----, which
you know so well.

A movement in the church-yard called us out, and we became pained
witnesses of the interment of two of the "unhonoured dead." The air,
manner and conduct of these funerals made a deep impression on us both.
The dead were a woman and a child, but of different families. There were
three or four mourners belonging to each party. Both the bodies were
brought in the same horse-cart, and they were buried by the same
service. The coffins were of coarse wood, stained with black, in a way
to betray poverty. It was literally _le convoi du pauvre_. Deference to
their superiors, and the struggle to maintain appearances--for there was
a semblance of the pomp of woe, even in these extraordinary groups, of
which all were in deep mourning--contrasted strangely with the extreme
poverty of the parties, the niggardly administration of the sacred
offices, and the business-like manner of the whole _transaction_. The
mourners evidently struggled between natural grief and the bewilderment
of their situation. The clergyman was a good-looking young man, in a
dirty surplice. Most probably he was a curate. He read the service in a
strong voice, but without reverence, and as if he were doing it by the
job. In every way short measure was dealt out to the poor mourners. When
the solemn words of "dust to dust, ashes to ashes," were uttered, he
bowed hastily towards each grave--he stood between them--and the
assistants met his wholesale administration of the rites with a
wholesale sympathy.

The ceremony was no sooner over, than the clergyman and his clerk retired
into the church. One or two of the men cast wistful eyes towards the
graves, neither of which was half filled, and reluctantly followed. I
could scarcely believe my senses, and ventured to approach the door. Here
I met such a view as I had never before seen, and hope never to witness
again. On one side of me two men were filling the graves; on the opposite,
two others were actually paying the funeral fees. In one ear was the
hollow sound of the clod on the coffin; in the other the chinking of
silver on the altar! Yea, literally on the altar! We are certainly far
behind this great people in many essential particulars; our manners are
less formed; our civilization is less perfect; but, thanks to the spirit
which led our ancestors into the wilderness! such mockery of the Almighty
and his worship, such a mingling of God and Mammon, never yet disgraced
the temple within the wide reach of the American borders.

We were joined by the whole party before the sods were laid on the graves
of the poor; but some time after the silver had been given for the
consolations of religion. With melancholy reflections we mounted to the
castle. A---- had been educated in opinions peculiarly favourable to
England; but I saw, as we walked mournfully away from the spot, that one
fact like this did more to remove the film from her eyes, than volumes of
reading.

Carisbrooke has been too often described to need many words. Externally,
it is a pile of high battlemented wall, completely buried in ivy, forming
within a large area, that was once subdivided into courts, of which
however, there are, at present, scarcely any remains. We found an old
woman as warder, who occupied a room or two in a sort of cottage that had
been made out of the ruins. The part of the edifice which had been the
prison of Charles I. was a total ruin, resembling any ordinary house,
without roof, floors, or chimneys. The aperture of the window through
which he attempted to escape is still visible. It is in the outer wall,
against which the principal apartments had been erected. The whole work
stands on a high irregular ridge of a rocky hill, the keep being much the
most elevated. We ascended to the sort of bastion which its summit forms,
whence the view was charming. The whole vale, which contains Carisbrooke
and Newport, with a multitude of cottages, villas, farm-houses and
orchards, with meads, lawns and shrubberies, lay in full view, and we had
distant glimpses of the water. The setting of this sweet picture, or the
adjacent hills, was as naked and brown as the vale itself was crowded with
objects and verdant. The Isle of Wight, as a whole, did not strike me as
being either particularly fertile or particularly beautiful, while it
contains certain spots that are eminently both. I have sailed entirely
round it more than once, and, judging from the appearance of its coasts,
and from what was visible in this little excursion, I should think that it
had more than a usual amount of waste treeless land. The sea-views are
fine, as a matter of course, and the air is pure and bracing. It is
consequently much frequented in summer. It were better to call it the
"watering-place," than to call it the "garden" of England.

We had come in quest of a house where the family might be left, for a few
days, while I went up to London. But the whole party was anxious to put
their feet in _bona fide_ old England before they crossed the Channel, and
the plan was changed to meet their wishes. We slept that night at Newport,
therefore, and returned in the morning to Cowes, early enough to get on
board a steam-boat for Southampton. This town lies several miles up an
estuary that receives one or two small streams. There are a few dwellings
on the banks of the latter, that are about the size and of the appearance
of the better sort of country-houses on the Hudson, although more
attention appears to have been generally paid to the grounds. There were
two more of Henry the Eighth's forts; and we caught a glimpse of a fine
ruined Gothic window in passing Netley Abbey.

We landed on the pier at Southampton about one, and found ourselves truly
in England. "Boat, sir, boat?" "Coach, sir, coach?" "London, sir,
London?"--"No; we have need of neither!"--"Thank'ee, sir--thank'ee, sir."
These few words, in one sense, are an epitome of England. They rang in our
ears for the first five minutes after landing. Pressing forward for a
livelihood, a multitude of conveniences, a choice of amusements, and a
trained, but a heartless and unmeaning civility. "No; I do not want a
boat." "Thank'ee, sir." You are just as much "thank'ee" if you do not
employ the man as if you did. You are thanked for condescending to give an
order, for declining, for listening. It is plain to see that such thanks
dwell only on the lips. And yet we so easily get to be sophisticated;
words can be so readily made to supplant things; deference, however
unmeaning, is usually so grateful, that one soon becomes accustomed to all
this, and even begins to complain that he is not imposed on.

We turned into the first clean-looking inn that offered. It was called the
Vine, and though a second-rate house, for Southampton even, we were
sufficiently well served. Everything was neat, and the waiter, an old man
with a powdered bead, was as methodical as a clock, and a most busy
servitor to human wants. He told me he had been twenty-eight years doing
exactly the same things daily, and in precisely the same place. Think of a
man crying "Coming, sir," and setting table, for a whole life, within an
area of forty feet square! Truly, this was not America.

The principal street in Southampton, though making a sweep, is a broad,
clean avenue, that is lined with houses having, with very few exceptions,
bow-windows, as far as an ancient gate, a part of the old defences of the
town. Here the High-street is divided into "Above-bar" and "Below-bar".
The former is much the most modern, and promises to be an exceedingly
pretty place when a little more advanced. "Below-bar" is neat and
agreeable too. The people appeared singularly well dressed, after New
York. The women, though less fashionably attired than our own, taking the
Paris modes for the criterion, were in beautiful English chintzes,
spotlessly neat, and the men all looked as if they had been born with
hat-brushes and clothes-brushes in their hands, and yet every one was in a
sort of seashore _costume_. I saw many men whom my nautical instinct
detected at once to be naval officers,--some of whom must have been
captains,--in round-abouts; but it was quite impossible to criticise
toilettes that were so faultlessly neat, and so perfectly well arranged.

We ordered dinner, and sallied forth in quest of lodgings. Southampton is
said to be peculiar for "long passages, bow-windows, and old maids." I can
vouch that it merits the two first distinctions. The season had scarcely
commenced, and we had little difficulty in obtaining rooms, the bow-window
and long passage included. These lodgings comprise one or more
drawing-rooms, the requisite number of bed-rooms, and the use of the
kitchen. The people of the house, ordinarily tradespeople, do the cooking
and furnish the necessary attendance. We engaged an extra servant, and
prepared to take possession that evening.

When we returned to the Vine, we found a visitor in this land of
strangers. Mrs. R----, of New York, a relative and an old friend, had
heard that Americans of our name were there, and she came doubting and
hoping to the Vine. We found that the windows of our own drawing-room
looked directly into those of hers. A few doors below us dwelt Mrs. L----,
a still nearer relative; and a few days later, we had _vis-à-vis_, Mrs.
M'A----, a sister of A----'s, on whom we all laid eyes for the first time
in our lives! Such little incidents recall to mind the close
consanguinity of the two nations; although for myself, I have always
felt as a stranger in England. This has not been so much from the want
of kindness and a community of opinion many subjects, as from a
consciousness, that in the whole of that great nation, there is not a
single individual with whom I could claim affinity. And yet, with a
slight exception, we are purely of English extraction. Our father was
the great-great-grandson of an Englishman. I once met with a man, (an
Englishman,) who bore so strong a resemblance to him, in stature, form,
walk, features and expression, that I actually took the trouble to
ascertain his name. He even had our own. I had no means of tracing the
matter any farther; but here was physical evidence to show the affinity
between the two people. On the other hand, A---- comes of the Huguenots.
She is purely American by every intermarriage, from the time of Louis
the Fourteenth down, and yet she found cousins in England at every turn,
and even a child of the same parents, who was as much of an Englishwoman
as she herself was an American.

We drank to the happiness of America, at dinner. That day, fifty years,
she declared herself a nation; that very day, and nearly at that hour,
two of the co-labourers in the great work we celebrated, departed in
company for the world of spirits!

A day or two was necessary to become familiarized to the novel objects
around us, and my departure for London was postponed. We profited by the
delay, to visit Netley Abbey, a ruin of some note, at no great distance
from Southampton. The road was circuitous, and we passed several pretty
country-houses, few of which exceeded in size or embellishments,
shrubbery excepted, similar dwellings at home. There was one, however,
of an architecture much more ancient than we had been accustomed to see,
it being, by all appearance, of the time of Elizabeth or James. It had
turrets and battlements, but was otherwise plain.

The abbey was a fine, without being a very imposing, ruin, standing in the
midst of a field of English neatness, prettily relieved by woods. The
window already mentioned formed the finest part. The effect of these ruins
on us proved the wonderful power of association. The greater force of the
past than of the future on the mind, can only be the result of
questionable causes. Our real concern with the future is incalculably the
greatest, and yet we are dreaming over our own graves, on the events and
scenes which throw a charm around the graves of those who have gone before
us! Had we seen Netley Abbey, just as far advanced towards completion, as
it was, in fact, advanced towards decay, our speculations would have been
limited by a few conjectures on its probable appearance; but gazing at it
as we did, we peopled its passages, imagined Benedictines stalking along
its galleries, and fancied that we heard the voices of the choir, pealing
among its arches.

Our fresh American feelings were strangely interrupted by the sounds of
junketing. A party of Southampton cockneys, (there are cockneys even in
New York,) having established themselves on the grass, in one of the
courts, were lighting a fire, and were deliberately proceeding to make
tea! "To tea, and ruins," the invitations most probably run. We
retreated into a little battery of the bluff King Hal, that was near by,
a work that sufficiently proved the state of nautical warfare in the
sixteenth century.



LETTER III.

Road to London.--Royal Pastime.--Cockney Coachman.--Winchester Assizes.
--Approach to London.--The Parks.--Piccadilly.--Street Excursion.
--Strangers in London.--Americans in England.--Westminster Abbey.
--Gothic Decorations.--Westminster Hall.--Inquisitive Barber.--Pasta
and Malibran.--Drury-lane Theatre.--A Pickpocket.--A Fellow-traveller.
--English Gentlemen.--A Radical.--Encampment of Gipsies.--National
Distinctions.--Antiquities.--National Peculiarities.


To R. COOPER, ESQ. COOPERSTOWN.

At a very early hour one of the London coaches stopped at the door. I had
secured a seat by the side of the coachman, and we went through the "bar"
at a round trot. The distance was about sixty miles, and I had paid a
guinea for my place. There were four or five other passengers, all on the
outside.

The road between Southampton and London is one of little interest; even
the highway itself is not as good as usual, for the first twenty or thirty
miles, being made chiefly of gravel, instead of broken stones. The soil
for a long distance was thirsty, and the verdure was nearly gone. England
feels a drought sooner than most countries, probably from the
circumstances of its vegetation being so little accustomed to the absence
of moisture, and to the comparative lightness of the dews. The winds,
until just before the arrival of the Hudson, had been blowing from the
eastward for several weeks, and in England this is usually a dry wind. The
roads were dusty, the hedges were brown, and the fields had nothing to
boast of over our own verdure. Indeed, it is unusual to see the grasses
of New York so much discoloured, so early in the season.

I soon established amicable relations with my companion on the box. He had
been ordered at the Vine to stop for an American, and he soon began to
converse about the new world. "Is America anywhere near Van Diemen's
Land?" was one of his first questions. I satisfied him on this head, and
he apologised for the mistake, by explaining that he had a sister settled
in Van Diemen's Land, and he had a natural desire to know something about
her welfare! We passed a house which had more the air of a considerable
place than any I had yet seen, though of far less architectural
pretensions than the miniature castle near Cowes. This, my companion
informed me, had once been occupied by George IV. when Prince of Wales.
"Here his Royal Highness enjoyed what I call the perfection of life, sir;
women, wine, and fox-hunting!" added the professor of the whip, with the
leer of a true amateur.

These coachmen are a class by themselves. They have no concern with
grooming the horses, and keep the reins for a certain number of relays.
They dress in a particular way, without being at all in livery or
uniform, like the continental postilions, talk in a particular way, and
act in a particular way. We changed this personage for another, about
half the distance between Southampton and London. His successor proved
to be even a still better specimen of his class. He was a thorough
cockney, and altogether the superior of his country colleague, he was
clearly the oracle of the boys, delivering his sentiments in the manner
of one accustomed to dictate to all in and about the stables. In
addition to this, there was an indescribable, but ludicrous salvo to his
dignity, in the way of surliness. Some one had engaged him to carry a
blackbird to town, and caused him to wait. On this subject he sang a
Jeremiad in the true cockney key. "He didn't want to _take_ the
_bla-a-a-ck-bud_; but if the man wanted to _send_ the _bla-a-a-ck-bud_,
why didn't he _bring_ the _bla-a-a-ck-bud_?" This is one of the hundred
dialects of the lower classes of the English. One of the horses of the
last team was restiff, and it became necessary to restrain him by an
additional curb before we ventured into the streets of London. I
intimated that I had known such horses completely subdued in America by
filling their ears with cotton. This suggestion evidently gave offence,
and he took occasion soon after to show it. He wrung the nose of the
horse with a cord, attaching its end below, in the manner of a severe
martingale. While going through this harsh process, which, by the way,
effectually subdued the animal, he had leisure to tell him that "he was
an _English_ horse, and not an _out-landish_ horse, and _he_ knew best
what was good for him," with a great deal more similar sound
nationality.

Winchester was the only town of any importance on the road. It is
pleasantly seated in a valley, is of no great size, is but meanly built,
though extremely neat, has a cathedral and a bishop, and is the shire-town
of Hampshire. The assizes were sitting, and Southampton was full of troops
that had been sent from Winchester, in order to comply with a custom which
forbids the military to remain near the courts of justice. England is full
of these political mystifications, and it is one of the reasons that she
is so much in arrears in many of the great essentials. In carrying out the
practice in this identical case, a serious private wrong was inflicted, in
order that, in form, an abstract and perfectly useless principle might be
maintained. The inns at Southampton were filled with troops, who were
billeted on the publicans, will ye, nill ye; and not only the masters of
the different houses, but travellers were subjected to a great
inconvenience, in order that this abstraction might not be violated. There
may be some small remuneration, but no one can suppose for a moment, that
the keeper of a genteel establishment of this nature wishes to see his
carriage-houses, gateways, and halls thronged with soldiers. Society
oppresses him to maintain appearances! At the present day the presence of
soldiers might be the means of sustaining justice, while there is not the
smallest probability that they would be used for contrary purposes, except
in cases in which this usage or law--for I believe there is a statue for
it--would not be in the least respected. This is not an age, nor is
England the country, in which a judge is to be overawed by the roll of a
drum. All sacrifices of common sense, and all recourse to plausible
political combinations, whether of individuals or of men, are uniformly
made at the expense of the majority. The day is certainly arrived when
absurdities like these should be done away with.

The weather was oppressively hot, nor do I remember to have suffered more
from the sun than during this little journey. Were I to indulge in the
traveller's propensity to refer everything to his own state of feeling,
you might be told what a sultry place England is in July. But I was too
old a sailor not to understand the cause. The sea is always more temperate
than the land, being cooler in summer and warmer in winter. After being
thirty days at sea, we all feel this truth, either in one way or the
other. I was quitting the coast, too, which is uniformly cooler than the
interior.

When some twelve or thirteen miles from town, the coachman pointed to a
wood enclosed by a wall, on our left. A rill trickled from the thicket,
and ran beneath the road. I was told that Virginia Water lay there, and
that the evening before a single footpad had robbed a coach in that
precise spot, or within a few hundred yards of the very place where the
King of England at the moment was amusing himself with the fishing-rod.
Highway robberies, however are now of exceedingly rare occurrence, that in
question being spoken of as the only one within the knowledge of my
informant for many years.

Our rate of travelling was much the same as that of one of our own better
sort of stages. The distance was not materially less than that between
Albany and C----n; the roads were not so hilly, and much better than our
own road; and yet, at the same season, we usually perform it in about the
same time that we went the distance between Southampton and London. The
scenery was tame, nor, with the exception of Winchester, was there a
single object of any interest visible until we got near London. We crossed
the Thames, a stream of trifling expanse, and at Kew we had a glimpse of
an old German-looking edifice in yellow bricks, with towers, turrets, and
battlements. This was one of the royal palaces. It stood on the opposite
side of the river, in the midst of tolerably extensive grounds. Here a
nearly incessant stream of vehicles commenced. I attempted to count the
stage-coaches, and got as high as thirty-three, when we met a line of
mail-coaches, that caused me to stop in despair. I think we met not less
than fifty within the last hour of our journey. There were seven belonging
to the mail in one group. They all leave London at the same hour, for
different parts of the kingdom.

At Hyde Park Corner I began to recall objects known in my early visits
to London. Apsley House had changed owners, and had become the property
of one whose great name was still in the germ, when I had last seen his
present dwelling. The Parks, a gateway or two excepted, were unchanged.
In the row of noble houses that line Piccadilly--in that
hospital-looking edifice, Devonshire House--in the dingy, mean,
irregular, and yet interesting front of St. James's--in Brookes's,
White's, the Thatched House, and various other historical _monuments_, I
saw no change. Buckingham House had disappeared, and an unintelligible
pile was rising on its ruins. A noble "_palazzo-non-finito_" stood at
the angle between the Green and St. James's Parks, and here and there I
discovered houses of better architecture than London was wont of old to
boast. One of the very best of these, I was told, was raised in honour
of Mercury, and probably out of his legitimate profits. It is called
Crockford's.

Our "_bla-a-a-ck-bud_" pulled up in the Strand, at the head of
Adam-street, Adelphi, and I descended from my seat at his side. An extra
shilling brought the glimmering of a surly smile athwart his
blubber-cheeks, and we parted in good-humour. My fellow-travellers were
all men of no very high class, but they had been civil, and were
sufficiently attentive to my wants, when they found I was a stranger, by
pointing out objects on the road, and explaining the usages of the inns.
One of them had been in America, and he boasted a little of his intimacy
with General This and Commodore That. At one time, too, he appeared
somewhat disposed to institute comparisons between the two countries, a
good deal at our expense, as you may suppose; but as I made no answers,
I soon heard him settling it with his companions, that, after all, it
was quite natural a man should not like to hear his own country abused;
and so he gave the matter up. With this exception, I had no cause of
complaint, but, on the contrary, good reason to be pleased.

I was set down at the Adam-street Hotel, a house much frequented by
Americans. The respectable woman who has so long kept it received me
with quiet civility, saw that I had a room, and promised me a dinner in
a few minutes. While the latter was preparing, having got rid of the
dust, I went out into the streets. The lamps were just lighted, and I
went swiftly along the Strand, recalling objects at every step. In this
manner I passed, at a rapid pace, Somerset House, St. Clement's-le-Dane,
St. Mary-le-Strand, Temple-bar, Bridge-street, Ludgate-hill, pausing
only before St. Paul's. Along the whole of this line I saw but little
change. A grand bridge, Waterloo, with a noble approach to it, had been
thrown across the river just above Somerset House, but nearly everything
else remained unaltered. I believe my manner, and the eagerness with
which I gazed at long-remembered objects, attracted attention; for I
soon observed I was dogged around the church by a suspicious-looking
fellow. He either suspected me of evil, or, attracted by my want of a
London air, he meditated evil himself. Knowing my own innocence, I
determined to bring the matter to an issue. We were alone, in a retired
part of the place, and, first making sure that my watch, wallet, and
handkerchief had not already disappeared, I walked directly up to him,
and looked him intently in the face, as if to recognize his features. He
took the hint, and, turning on his heels, moved nimbly of. It is
surprising how soon an accustomed eye will distinguish a stranger in the
streets of a large town. On mentioning this circumstance next day
to ----, he said that the Londoners pretend to recognize a rustic air in
a countess, if she has been six months from town. Rusticity in such
cases, however, must merely mean a little behind the fashions.

I had suffered curiosity to draw me two miles from my dinner, and was as
glad to get back as just before I had been to run away from it. Still
the past, with the recollections which crowded on the mind, bringing
with them a flood of all sorts of associations, prevented me from
getting into a coach, which would, in a measure, have excluded objects
from my sight. I went to bed that night with the strange sensation of
being again in London, after an interval of twenty years.

The next day I set about the business which had brought me to the
English capital. Most of our passengers were in town, and we met, as a
matter of course. I had calls from three or four Americans established
here, some in one capacity, and some in others; for our country has long
been giving back its increase to England, in the shape of admirals,
generals, judges, artists, writers and _notion-mongers_. But what is all
this compared to the constant accessions of Europeans among ourselves?
Eight years later, on returning home, I found New York, in feeling,
opinions, desires, (apart from profit,) and I might almost say, in
population, a foreign rather than American town.

I had passed months in London when a boy, and yet had no knowledge of
Westminster Abbey! I cannot account for this oversight, for I was a great
devotee of Gothic architecture, of which, by the way, I knew nothing,
except through the prints; and I could not reproach myself with a want of
proper curiosity on such subjects, for I had devoted as much time to their
examination as my duty to the ship would at all allow. Still, all I could
recall of the abbey was an indistinct image of two towers, with a glimpse
in at a great door. Now that I was master of my own movements, one of my
first acts was to hurry to the venerable church.

Westminster Abbey is built in the form of a cross, as is, I believe,
invariably the case with every Catholic church of any pretension. At its
northern end are two towers, and at its southern is the celebrated chapel
of Henry VII. This chapel is an addition, which, allowing for a vast
difference in the scale, resembles, in its general appearance, a school,
or vestry-room, attached to the end of one of our own churches. A Gothic
church is, indeed, seldom complete without such a chapel. It is not an
easy matter to impress an American with a proper idea of European
architecture. Even while the edifice is before his eyes, he is very apt to
form an erroneous opinion of its comparative magnitude. The proportions
aid deception in the first place, and absence uniformly exaggerates the
beauty and extent of familiar objects. None but those who have disciplined
the eye, and who have accustomed themselves to measure proportions by
rules more definite than those of the fancy, should trust to their
judgments in descriptions of this sort.

Westminster itself is not large, however, in comparison with St. Paul's,
and an ordinary parish church, called St. Margaret's, which must be, I
think, quite as large as Trinity, New York, and stands within a hundred
yards of the abbey, is but a pigmy compared with Westminster. I took a
position in St. Margaret's church-yard, at a point where the whole of the
eastern side of the edifice might be seen, and for the first time in my
life gazed upon a truly Gothic structure of any magnitude. It was near
sunset, and the light was peculiarly suited to the sombre architecture.
The material was a grey stone, that time had rendered dull, and which had
broad shades of black about its angles and faces. That of the chapel was
fresher, and of a warmer tint; a change well suited to the greater
delicacy of the ornaments.

The principal building is in the severer style of the Gothic, without,
however, being one of its best specimens. It is comparatively plain, nor
are the proportions faultless. The towers are twins, are far from being
high, and to me they have since seemed to have a crowded appearance, or to
be too near each other; a defect that sensibly lessens the grandeur of the
north front. A few feet, more or less, in such a case, may carry the
architect too much without, or too much within, the just proportions. I
lay claim to very little science on the subject, but I have frequently
observed since, that, to my own eye, (and the uninitiated can have no
other criterion,) these towers, as seen from the parks, above the tops of
the trees, have a contracted and pinched air.

But while the abbey church itself is as plain as almost any similar
edifice I remember, its great extent, and the noble windows and doors,
rendered it to me deeply impressive. On the other hand, the chapel is an
exquisite specimen of the most elaborated ornaments of the style. All
sorts of monstrosities have, at one period or another, been pressed into
the service of the Gothic, such as lizards, toads, frogs, serpents,
dragons, spitfires, and salamanders. There is, I believe, some typical
connexion between these offensive objects and the different sins. When
well carved, properly placed, and not viewed too near, their effect is far
from bad. They help to give the edifice its fretted appearance, or a look
resembling that of lace. Various other features, which have been taken
from familiar objects, such as parts of castellated buildings,
portcullises, and armorial bearings, help to make up the sum of the
detail. On Henry the Seventh's chapel, toads, lizards, and the whole group
of metaphorical sins are sufficiently numerous, without being offensively
apparent; while miniature portcullises, escutcheons, and other ornaments,
give the whole the rich and imaginative--almost fairy-like aspect,--which
forms the distinctive feature of the most ornamented portions of the
order. You have seen ivory work-boxes from the East, that were cut and
carved in a way to render them so very complicated, delicate, and
beautiful, that they please us without conveying any fixed forms to the
mind. It would be no great departure from literal truth, were I to bid you
fancy one of these boxes swelled to the dimensions of a church, the
material changed to stone, and, after a due allowance for a difference in
form, for the painted windows, and for the emblems, were I to add, that
such a box would probably give you the best idea of a highly-wrought
Gothic edifice, that any comparison of the sort can furnish.

I stood gazing at the pile, until I felt the sensation we term "a
creeping of the blood." I know that Westminster, though remarkable for
its chapel, was, by no means, a first-rate specimen of its own style of
architecture; and, at that moment, a journey through Europe promised to
be a gradation of enjoyments, each more exquisite than the other. All
the architecture of America united, would not assemble a tithe of the
grandeur, the fanciful, or of the beautiful, (a few imitations of
Grecian temples excepted,) that were to be seen in this single edifice.
If I were to enumerate the strong and excited feelings which are
awakened by viewing novel objects, I should place this short visit to
the abbey as giving birth in me to sensation No. 1. The emotion of a
first landing in Europe had long passed; our recent "land-fall" had been
like any other "land-fall," merely pleasant; and I even looked upon St.
Paul's as an old and a rather familiar friend. This was absolutely my
introduction to the Gothic, and it has proved to be an acquaintance
pregnant of more satisfaction than any other it has been my good fortune
to make since youth.

It was too late to enter the church, and I turned away towards the
adjoining public buildings. The English kings had a palace at Westminster,
in the times of the Plantagenets. It was the ancient usage to assemble the
parliament, which was little more than a _lit de justice_ previously to
the struggle which terminated in the commonwealth, in the royal residence,
and, in this manner, Westminster Palace became, permanently, the place for
holding the meetings of these bodies. The buildings, ancient and modern,
form a cluster on the banks of the river, and are separated from the abbey
by a street. I believe their site was once an island.

Westminster Hall was built as the banqueting room of the palace. There is
no uniformity in the architecture of the pile, which is exceedingly
complicated and confused. My examination, at this time, was too hurried
for details; and I shall refer you to a later visit to England for a
description. A vacant space at the abbey end of the palace is called Old
Palace-yard, which sufficiently indicates the locality of the ancient
royal residence; and a similar, but larger space or square, at the
entrance to the hall, is known as New Palace-yard. Two sides of the latter
are filled with the buildings of the pile; namely, the courts of law, the
principal part of the hall, and certain houses that are occupied by some
of the minor functionaries of the establishment, with buildings to contain
records, etc. The latter are mean, and altogether unworthy of the
neighbourhood. They were plastered on the exterior, and observing a hole
in the mortar, I approached and found to my surprise, that here, in the
heart of the English capital, as a part of the legislative and judicial
structures, in plain view, and on the most frequented square of the
vicinity, were houses actually built of wood, and covered with lath and
mortar!

The next morning I sent for a hair-dresser. As he entered the room I made
him a sign, without speaking, to cut my hair. I was reading the morning
paper, and my operator had got half through with his job, without a
syllable being exchanged between us, when the man of the comb suddenly
demanded, "What is the reason, sir, that the Americans think everything in
their own country so much better than it is everywhere else?" You will
suppose that the _brusquerie_, as well as the purport of this
interrogatory, occasioned some surprise. How he knew I was an American at
all I am unable to say, but the fellow had been fidgeting the whole time
to break out upon me with this question.

I mention the anecdote, in order to show you how lively and general the
feeling of jealousy has got to be among our transatlantic kinsmen. There
will be a better occasion to speak of this hereafter.

London was empty. The fashionable streets were actually without a soul,
for minutes at a time; and, without seeing it, I could not have believed
that a town which, at certain times, is so crowded as actually to render
crossing its streets hazardous, was ever so like a mere wilderness of
houses. During these recesses in dissipation and fashion, I believe that
the meanest residents disappear for a few months.

Our fellow-traveller, Mr. L----, however, was in London, and we passed a
day or two in company. As he is a votary of music, he took me to hear
Madame Pasta. I was nearly as much struck with the extent and magnificence
of the Opera-house, as I had been with the architecture of the Abbey. The
brilliant manner in which it was lighted, in particular, excited my
admiration, for want of light is a decided and a prominent fault of all
scenic exhibitions at home, whether they are made in public or in private.
Madame Pasta played _Semiramide_ "How do you like her?" demanded L----, at
the close of the first act. "Extremely; I scarce know which to praise the
most, the command and the range of her voice, or her powers as a mere
actress. But, don't you think her exceedingly like the _Signorina?_" The
present Madame Malibran was then singing in New York, under the name of
Signorina Garcia. L---- laughed, and told me the remark was well enough,
but I had not put the question in exactly the proper form. "Do you not
think the Signorina exceedingly like Madame Pasta?" would have been
better. I had got the matter wrong end foremost.

L---- reminded me of our having amused ourselves on the passage with the
nasal tones of the chorus at New York. He now directed my attention to
the same peculiarity here. In this particular I saw no difference; nor
should there be any, for I believe nearly all who are on the American
stage, in any character, are foreigners, and chiefly English.

The next day we went to old Drury, where we found a countryman, and
townsman, Mr. Stephen Price, in the chair of Sheridan. The season was
over, but we were shown the whole of the interior. It is also a
magnificent structure in extent and internal embellishment, though a
very plain brick pile externally. It must have eight or ten times the
cubic contents of the largest American theatre. The rival building,
Covent Garden, is within a few hundred feet of it, and has much more of
architectural pretension, though neither can lay claim to much. The
taste of the latter is very well, but it is built of that penny-saving
material, stuccoed bricks.

We dined with Mr. Price, and on the table was some of our own
justly-celebrated Madeira. L----, who is an oracle on these subjects,
pronounced it injured. He was told it was so lately arrived from New York,
that there had not been time to affect it. This fact, coupled with others
that have since come to my knowledge, induce me to believe that the change
of tastes, which is so often remarked in liquors, fruits, and other
eatables, is as much wrought on ourselves, as in the much-abused viands.
Those delicate organs which are necessary to this particular sense may
readily undergo modifications by the varieties of temperature. We know
that taste and its sister sense, smelling, are both temporarily destroyed
by colds. The voice is signally affected by temperature. In cold climates
it is clear and soft; in warm, harsh and deep. All these facts would serve
to sustain the probability of the theory that a large portion of the
strictures that are lavished on the products of different countries,
should be lavished on our own capricious organs. _Au reste_, the
consequence is much the same, let the cause be what it will.

Mr. M----, an Englishman, who has many business concerns with America,
came in while we were still at table, and I quitted the house in his
company. It was still broad daylight. As we were walking together, arm and
arm, my companion suddenly placed a hand behind him, and said, "My fine
fellow, you are there, are you?" A lad of about seventeen had a hand in
one of his pockets, feeling for his handkerchief. The case was perfectly
clear, for Mr. M---- had him still in his gripe when I saw them. Instead
of showing apprehension or shame, the fellow began to bluster and
threaten. My companion, after a word or two of advice, hurried me from the
spot. On expressing the surprise I felt at his permitting such a hardened
rogue to go at large, he said that our wisest course was to get away. The
lad was evidently supported by a gang, and we might be beaten as well as
robbed, for our pains. Besides, the handkerchief was not actually taken,
attendance in the courts was both expensive and vexatious, and he would be
bound over to prosecute. In England, the complainant is compelled to
prosecute, which is, in effect, a premium on crime! We retain many of the
absurdities of the common law, and, among others, some which depend on a
distinction between the intention and the commission of the act; but I do
not know that any of our States are so unjust as to punish a citizen, in
this way, because he has already been the victim of a rogue.

After all, I am not so certain our law is much better; but I believe more
of the _onus_ of obtaining justice falls on the injured party here than it
does with us: still we are both too much under the dominion of the common
law.

The next day I was looking at a bronze statue of Achilles, at Hyde Park
Corner, which had been erected in honour of the Duke of Wellington. The
place, like every other fashionable haunt at that season, was
comparatively deserted. Still, there might have been fifty persons in
sight. "Stop him! stop him!" cried a man, who was chasing another directly
towards me. The chase, to use nautical terms, began to lighten ship by
throwing overboard first one article and then another. As these objects
were cast in different directions, he probably hoped that his pursuer,
like Atalantis, might stop to pick them up. The last that appeared in the
air was a hat, when, finding himself hemmed in between three of us, the
thief suffered himself to be taken. A young man had been sleeping on the
grass, and this land-pirate had absolutely succeeded in getting his shoes,
his handkerchief, and his hat; but an attempt to _take off his cravat_ had
awoke the sleeper. In this case, the prisoner was marched off under sundry
severe threats of vengeance; for the _robbee_ was heated with the run, and
really looked so ridiculous that his anger was quite natural.

My business was now done, and I left London in a night-coach for
Southampton. The place of rendezvous was the White Horse Cellar, in
Piccadilly--a spot almost as celebrated for those who are _in transitu_,
as was the Isthmus of Suez of old. I took an inside seat this time, for
the convenience of a nap. At first, I had but a single fellow-traveller.
Venturing to ask him the names of one or two objects that we passed, and
fearing he might think my curiosity impertinent, I apologized for it, by
mentioning that I was a foreigner. "A foreigner!" he exclaimed; "why,
you speak English as well as I do myself!" I confess I had thought,
until that moment, that the advantage, in this particular, was
altogether on my side; but it seems I was mistaken. By way of relieving
his mind, however, I told him I was an American. "An American!" and he
seemed more puzzled than ever. After a few minutes of meditation on what
he had just heard, he civilly pointed to a bit of meadow through which
the Thames meanders, and good-naturedly told me it was Runnymeade. I
presume my manner denoted a proper interest, for he now took up the
subject of the English Barons, and entered into a long account of their
modern magnificence and wealth. This is a topic that a large class in
England, who only know their aristocracy by report, usually discuss with
great unction. They appear to have the same pride in the superiority of
their great families, that the American slave is known to feel in the
importance of his master. I say this seriously, and not with a view to
sneer, but to point out to you a state of feeling that, at first, struck
me as very extraordinary. I suppose that the feelings of both castes
depend on a very natural principle. The Englishman, however, as he is
better educated, has one respectable feature in his deference. He exults
with reason in the superiority of his betters over the betters of most
other people: in this particular he is fully borne out by the fact.
Subsequent observation has given me occasion to observe, that the
English gentleman, in appearance, attainments, manliness, and perhaps I
might add, principles, although this and deportment are points on which
I should speak with less confidence, stands at the head of his class in
Christendom. This should not be, nor would it be, were the gentlemen of
America equal to their fortunes, which, unhappily, they are not. Facts
have so far preceded opinions at home, as to leave but few minds capable
of keeping in their company. But this is a subject to which we may also
have occasion to return.

The coach stopped, and we took up a third inside. This man proved to be
a radical. He soon began to make side-hits at the "nobility and gentry,"
and, mingled with some biting truths, he uttered a vast deal of
nonsense. While he was in the midst of his denunciations, the coach
again stopped, and one of the outsides was driven into it by the night
air. He was evidently a gentleman, and the guard afterwards told me he
was a Captain Somebody, and a nephew of a Lord Something, to whose
country place he was going. The appearance of the captain checked the
radical for a little while; but, finding that the other was quiet, he
soon returned to the attack. The aristocrat was silent, and the admirer
of aristocracy evidently thought himself too good to enter into a
dispute with one of the mere people; for _to admire_ aristocracy was, in
his eyes, something like an _illustration_; but wincing under one of the
other's home-pushes, he said, "These opinions may do very well for this
gentleman," meaning me, who as yet had not uttered a syllable--"who is
an American; but I must say, I think them out of place in the mouth of
an Englishman." The radical regarded me a moment, and inquired if what
the other had just said was true. I answered that it was. He then began
an eulogium on America; which, like his Jeremiad on England, had a good
many truths blended with a great deal of nonsense. At length, he
unfortunately referred to me, to corroborate one of his most capital
errors. As this could not be done conscientiously, for his theory
depended on the material misconstruction of giving the whole legislative
power to Congress, I was obliged to explain the mistake into which he
had fallen. The captain and the _toady_ were both evidently pleased; nor
can I say, I was sorry the appeal had been made, for it had the effect
of silencing a commentator, who knew very little of his subject. The
captain manifested his satisfaction, by commencing a conversation, which
lasted until we all went to sleep. Both the captain and the radical
quitted us in the night.

Men like the one just described do the truth a great deal of harm. Their
knowledge does not extend to first principles, and they are always for
maintaining their positions by a citation of facts. One half of the latter
are imagined; and even that which is true is so enveloped with collateral
absurdities, that when pushed, they are invariably exposed. These are the
travellers who come among us Liberals, and go back Tories. Finding that
things fall short of the political Elysiums of their imaginations, they
fly into the opposite extreme, as a sort of _amende honorable_ to their
own folly and ignorance.

At the distance of a few miles from Winchester, we passed an encampment of
gipsies, by the way-side. They were better-looking than I had expected to
see them, though their faces were hardly perceptible in the grey of the
morning. They appeared well fed and very comfortably bivouacked. Why do
not these people appear in America? or, do they come, and get absorbed,
like all the rest, by the humane and popular tendencies of the country?
What a homage will it be to the institutions, if it be found that even a
gipsy cease to be a gipsy in such a country! Just as the sun rose, I got
out to our lodgings and went to bed.

After a sound sleep of two or three hours, I rose and went to the
drawing-room. A lady was in it, seated in a way to allow me to see no
more than a small part of her side-face. In that little, I saw the
countenance of your aunt's family. It was the sister whom we had never
seen, and who had hastened out of Hertfordshire to meet us. There are
obvious reasons why such a subject cannot be treated in this letter, but
the study of two sisters who had been educated, the one in England and
the other in America, who possessed so much in common, and yet, who were
separated by so much that was not in common, was to me a matter of
singular interest. It showed me, at a glance, the manner in which the
distinctive moral and physical features of nations are formed; the
points of resemblance being just sufficient to render the points of
difference more obvious.

A new and nearer route to Netley had been discovered during my absence,
and our unpractised Americans had done little else than admire ruins for
the past week. The European who comes to America plunges into the virgin
forest with wonder and delight; while the American who goes to Europe
finds his greatest pleasure, at first, in hunting up the memorials of the
past. Each is in quest of novelty, and is burning with the desire to gaze
at objects of which he has often read.

The steam-boat made but one or two voyages a week between Southampton
and Havre, and we were obliged to wait a day or two for the next trip.
The intervening time was passed in the manner just named. Every place of
any importance in England has some work or other written on the subject
of its history, its beauties, and its monuments. It is lucky to escape a
folio. Our works on Southampton, (which are of moderate dimensions,
however,) spoke of some Roman remains in the neighbourhood. The spot was
found, and, although the imagination was of greater use than common in
following the author's description, we stood on the spot with a species
of antiquarian awe.

Southampton had formerly been a port of some importance. Many of the
expeditions sent against France embarked here, and the town had once
been well fortified, for the warfare of the period. A good deal of the
old wall remains. All of this was industriously traced out; while the
bow-windows, long passages, and old maids, found no favour in our eyes.

One simple and touching memorial I well remember. There is a ferry
between the town and the grounds near Netley Abbey. A lady had caught a
cold, which terminated in death, in consequence of waiting on the shore,
during a storm, for the arrival of a boat. To protect others from a
similar calamity, she had ordered a very suitable defence against the
weather to be built on the fatal spot, and to be kept in repair for
ever. The structure is entirely of stone, small and exceedingly simple
and ingenious. The ground plan is that of a Greek cross. On this
foundation are reared four walls, which, of course, cross each other in
the centre at right angles. A little above the height of a man, the
whole is amply roofed. Let the wind blow which way it will, you perceive
there is always shelter. There is no external wall, and the diameter of
the whole does not exceed ten feet, if it be as much. This little work
is exceedingly English, and it is just as unlike anything American as
possible. It has its origin in benevolence, is original in the idea, and
it is picturesque. We might accomplish the benevolence, but it would be
of a more public character: the picturesque is a thing of which we
hardly know the meaning; and as for the originality, the dread of doing
anything different from his neighbour would effectually prevent an
American from erecting such a shelter; even charity with us being
subject to the control of the general voice. On the other hand, what a
clever expedient would have been devised, in the first instance, in
America, to get across the ferry without taking cold! All these little
peculiarities have an intimate connexion with national character and
national habits. The desire to be independent and original causes a
multitude of silly things to be invented here, while the apprehension of
doing anything different from those around them causes a multitude of
silly things to be _perpetuated_ in America; and yet we are children of
the same parents! When profit is in view, we have but one soul and that
is certainly inventive enough; but when money has been made, and is to
be spent, we really do not seem to know how to set about it, except by
routine.



LETTER IV.

Quit England.--Approach to France.--Havre.--Our Reception there.--Female
Commissionnaire.--Clamour of Drums.--Port of Havre.--Projected
Enterprize.--American Enterprize.--Steam-boat
Excursion.--Honfleur.--Rouen.--French Exaction.--American
Porters.--Rouen Cathedral.--Our Cicerone.--A Diligence.--Picturesque
Road.--European Peasantry.--Aspect of the Country.--Church at
Louviers.--Village near Vernon.--Rosny.--Mantes.--Bourbon Magnificence.
--Approach to Paris--Enter Paris.


To R. COOPER, ESQ., COOPERSTOWN.

On quitting England, we embarked from the very strand where Henry V.
embarked for the fruitless field of Agincourt. A fearful rumour had gone
abroad that the Camilla (the steam-boat) had been shorn of a wing, and
there were many rueful faces in the boat that took us off to the vessel.
In plainer speech, one of the boilers was out of order, and the passage
was to be made with just half the usual propelling power. At that
season, or indeed at any season, the only probable consequence was loss
of time. With a strong head-wind, it is true, the Camilla might have
been compelled to return; but this might also have happened with the use
of both the boilers.

Our adventurers did not see things in this light. The division of
employments, which produces prices so cheap and good, makes bad
travellers. Our boat's cargo embarked with fear and trembling, and "She
has but one boiler!" passed from mouth to mouth amid ominous faces. A
bachelor-looking personage, of about fifty, with his person well
swaddled in July, declared in a loud voice, that we were "all going on
board to be drowned." This startled A----, who, having full faith in my
nautical experience, asked what we were to think of it? It was a mere
question between ten hours and fifteen, and so I told her. The females,
who had just before been trembling with alarm, brightened at this, and
two or three of them civilly thanked me for the information they had
thus obtained incidentally!--"Boat, sir! boat!" "Thank 'ee, sir; thank
'ee, sir."

We found two or three parties on board of a higher condition than
common. Apprehension cast a shade over the cold marble-like polish of
even the English aristocrat; for if, as Mrs. Opie has well observed,
there is nothing "so like a lord in a passion as a commoner in a
passion," "your fear" is also a sad leveller. The boat was soon under
way, and gradually our cargo of mental apprehensions settled into the
usual dolorous physical suffering of landsmen in rough water. So much
for excessive civilization. The want of a boiler under similar
circumstances, would have excited no feeling whatever among a similar
number of Americans, nineteen in twenty of whom, thanks to their
rough-and-tumble habits, would know exactly what to think of it.

I was seated, during a part of the day, near a group of young men, who
were conversing with a lady of some three or four and twenty. They
expressed their surprise at meeting her on board. She told them it was a
sudden whim; that no one knew of her movements; she meant only to be gone
a fortnight, to take a run into Normandy. In the course of the
conversation I learned that she was single, and had a maid and a footman
with her. In this guise she might go where she pleased; whereas, had she
taken "an escort" in the American fashion, her character would have
suffered. This usage, however, is English rather than European. Single
women on the Continent, except in extraordinary cases, are obliged to
maintain far greater reserve even than with us; and there, single or
married, they cannot travel under the protection of any man who is not
very nearly connected with them, domestics and dependants excepted.

The debates about proceeding at all had detained us so long, and the
"one boiler" proved to be so powerless, that night set in, and we had
not yet made the coast of France. The breeze had been fresh, but it
lulled towards sunset, though not before we began to feel the influence
of the tides. About midnight, however, I heard some one exclaim, "Land!"
and we all hastened on deck, to take a first look at France.

The boat was running along beneath some cliffs. The moon was shining
bright, and her rays lighted up the chalky sides of the high coast,
giving them a ghostly hue. The towers of two lighthouses also glittered
on a headland near by. Presently a long sea-wall became visible, and,
rounding its end, we shot into smooth water. We entered the little port
of Havre between artificial works, on one of which stands a low,
massive, circular tower, that tradition attributes to no less a
personage than Julius Caesar.

What a change in so short a time! On the other side of the Channel,
beyond the usual demands for employment, which were made in a modest
way, and the eternal "Thank'ee, sir," there was a quiet in the people
that was not entirely free from a suspicion of surliness. Here every man
seemed to have two voices, both of which he used as if with no other
desire than to hear himself speak. Notwithstanding the hour, which was
past midnight, the quay was well lined, and a dozen officials poured on
board the boat to prevent our landing. Custom-house officers, gendarmes,
with enormous hats, and female commissionaires, were counteracting each
other at every turn. At length we were permitted to land, being ordered
up to a building near by. Here the females were taken into a separate
room, where their persons were examined by functionaries of their own
sex for contraband goods! This process has been described to me as being
to the last degree offensive and humiliating. My own person was
respected, I know not, why, for we were herded like sheep. As we were
without spot, at least so far as smuggling was concerned, we were soon
liberated. All our effects were left in the office, and we were turned
into the streets without even a rag but what we had on. This was an
inauspicious commencement for a country so polished; and yet, when one
comes to look at the causes, it is not easy to point out an alternative.
It was our own fault that we came so late.

The streets were empty, and the tall grey houses, narrow avenues, and
the unaccustomed objects, presented a strange spectacle by the placid
light of the moon. It appeared as if we had alighted in a different
planet. Though fatigued and sleepy, the whole party would involuntarily
stop to admire some novelty, and our march was straggling and irregular.
One house refused us after another, and it soon became seriously a
question whether the night was not to be passed in the open air. P----
was less than three years old, and as we had a regular gradation from
that age upward, our _début_ in France promised to be anything but
agreeable. The guide said his resources were exhausted, and hinted at
the impossibility of getting in. Nothing but the inns was open, and at
all these we were refused. At length I remembered that, in poring over
an English guide-book, purchased in New York, a certain Hôtel
d'Angleterre had been recommended as the best house in Havre.
"Savez-vous, mon ami, où est l'Hôtel d'Angleterre?"--"Ma fois, oui;
c'est tout près." This "ma fois, oui," was ominous, and the "c'est tout,
près," was more so still. Thither we went, however, and we were
received. Then commenced the process of climbing. We ascended several
stories, by a narrow crooked staircase, and were shown into rooms on the
fifth floor.

The floors were of waxed tiles, without carpets or mats, and the
furniture was tawdry. We got into our beds, which fatigue could scarcely
render it possible to endure, on account of the bugs. A more infernal
night I never passed, and I have often thought since, how hazardous it
is to trust to first impressions. This night, and one or two more passed
at Havre, and one other passed between Rouen and Paris, were among the
most uncomfortable I can remember; and yet if I were to name a country
in which one would be the most certain to get a good and a clean bed, I
think I should name France!

The next morning I arose and went down the ladder, for it was little
better, to the lower world. The servant wished to know if we intended to
use the _table d'hôte_, which he pronounced excellent. Curiosity induced
me to look at the appliances. It was a dark, dirty and crowded room, and
yet not without certain savoury smells. French cookery can even get the
better of French dirt. It was the only place about the house, the kitchen
excepted, where a tolerable smell was to be found, and I mounted to the
upper regions in self-defence.

An hour or two afterwards, the consul did me the favour to call. I
apologized for the necessity of causing him to clamber up so high. "It
is not a misfortune here," was the answer, "for the higher one is, the
purer is the atmosphere;" and he was right enough. It was not necessary
to explain that we were in an inferior house, and certainly everything
was extremely novel. At breakfast, however, there was a sensible
improvement. The linen was white as snow; we were served with silver
forks--it was a breakfast _à la fourchette_--spotlessly clean napkins,
excellent rolls, and delicious butter, to say nothing of _côtelettes_
that appeared to have been cooked by magic. Your aunt and myself looked
at each other with ludicrous satisfaction when we came to taste coffee,
which happened to be precisely at the same instant. It was the first
time either of us had ever tasted French coffee--it would scarcely be
exaggeration to say, that either of us had ever tasted coffee at all. I
have had many French cooks since; have lived years in the capital of
France itself, but I could never yet obtain a servant who understood the
secret of making _café au lait_, as it is made in most of the inns and
_cafés_ of that country. The discrepancy between the excellence of the
table and the abominations of the place struck them all, so forcibly,
that the rest of the party did little else but talk about it. As for
myself, I wished to do nothing but eat.

I had now another specimen of national manners. It was necessary to get
our luggage through the custom-house. The consul recommended a
_commissionnaire_ to help me. "You are not to be surprised," he said,
laughing, as he went away, "if I send you one in petticoats." In a few
minutes, sure enough, one of the _beau sexe_ presented herself. Her name
was Désirée, and an abler negotiator was never employed. She scolded,
coaxed, advised, wrangled, and uniformly triumphed. The officers were
more civil, by daylight, than we had found them under the influence of
the moon, and our business was soon effected.

W---- had brought with him a spy-glass. It was old and of little value,
but it was an heir-loom of the family. It came from the Hall at C----n,
and had become historical for its service in detecting deer, in the
lake, during the early years of the settlement. This glass had
disappeared. No inquiry could recover it. "Send for Désirée," said the
consul. Désirée came, received her orders, and in half an hour the glass
was restored. There was an oversight in not getting a passport, when we
were about to quit Havre. The office hours were over, and the steam-boat
could not wait. "Were is Désirée?" Désirée was made acquainted with the
difficulty, and the passport was obtained. "Désirée, où est Désirée?"
cried some one in the crowd, that had assembled to see the Camilla start
for England, the day after our arrival. "Here is an Englishman who is
too late to get his passport _viséd_," said this person to Désirée, so
near me that I heard it all; "the boat goes in ten minutes--what is to
be done?"--"_Ma foi_--it is too late!" "Try, _ma bonne_--it's a pity he
should lose his passage--_voici_." The Englishman gave his fee. Désirée
looked about her, and then taking the idler by the arm, she hurried him
through the crowd, this way and that way, ending by putting him aboard
without any passport at all. "It is too late to get one," she said; "and
they can but send you back." He passed undetected. France has a plenty
of these managing females, though Désirée is one of the cleverest of
them all. I understood this woman had passed a year or two in England,
expressly to fit herself for her present occupation, by learning the
language.

While engaged in taking our passages on board the steam-boat for Rouen,
some one called me by name, in English. The sound of the most familiar
words, in one's own language, soon get to be startling in a foreign
country. I remember, on returning to England, after an absence of five
years, that it was more than a week before I could persuade myself I was
not addressed whenever a passer-by spoke suddenly. On the present
occasion, I was called to by an old schoolboy acquaintance, Mr. H----r,
who was a consul in England, but who had taken a house on what is called
the _Côte_, a hill-side, just above Ingouville, a village at no great
distance from the town. We went out to his pretty little cottage, which
enjoyed a charming view. Indeed I should particularize this spot as the
one which gave me the first idea of one species of distinctive European
scenery. The houses cling to the declivity, rising above each other in a
way that might literally enable one to toss a stone into his neighbour's
chimney-top. They are of stone, but being whitewashed, and very
numerous, they give the whole mountain-side the appearance of a pretty
hamlet, scattered without order in the midst of gardens. Italy abounds
with such little scenes; nor are they unfrequent in France, especially
in the vicinity of towns; though whitened edifices are far from being
the prevailing taste of that country.

That evening we had an infernal clamour of drums in the principal street,
which happened to be our own. There might have been fifty, unaccompanied
by any wind instrument. The French do not use the fife, and when one is
treated to the drum, it is generally in large potions, and nothing but
drum. This is a relic of barbarism, and is quite unworthy of a musical
age. There is more or less of it in all the garrisoned towns of Europe.
You may imagine the satisfaction with which one listens to a hundred or
two of these plaintive instruments, beat between houses six or eight
stories high, in a narrow street, and with desperate perseverance! The
object is to recall the troops to their quarters.

Havre is a tide-harbour. In America, where there is, on an average, not
more than five feet of rise and fall to the water of the sea, such a
haven would, of course, be impracticable for large vessels. But the
majority of the ports on the British Channel are of this character, and
indeed a large portion of the harbours of Great Britain. Calais,
Boulogne, Havre, and Dieppe, are all inaccessible at low water. The
cliffs are broken by a large ravine, a creek makes up the gorge, or a
small stream flows outward into the sea, a basin is excavated, the
entrance is rendered safe by moles which project into deep water, and
the town is crowded around this semi-artificial port as well as
circumstances will allow. Such is, more or less, the history of them
all. Havre, however, is in some measure an exception. It stands on a
plain, that I should think had once been a marsh. The cliffs are near
it, seaward, and towards the interior there are fine receding hills,
leaving a sufficient site, notwithstanding, for a town of large
dimensions.

The port of Havre has been much improved of late years. Large basins have
been excavated, and formed into regular wet docks. They are nearly in the
centre of the town. The mole stretches out several hundred yards on that
side of the entrance of the port which is next the sea. Here signals are
regularly made to acquaint vessels in the offing with the precise number
of feet that can be brought into the port. These signals are changed at
the rise or fall of every foot, according to a graduated scale which is
near the signal pole. At dead low water the entrance to the harbour, and
the outer harbour itself, are merely beds of soft mud. Machines are kept
constantly at work to deepen them.

The ship from sea makes the lights, and judges of the state of the tide
by the signals. She rounds the Mole-Head at the distance of fifty or
sixty yards, and sails along a passage too narrow to admit another
vessel, at the same moment, into the harbour. Here she finds from
eighteen to twenty, or even twenty-four feet of water, according to
circumstances. She is hauled up to the gates of a dock, which are opened
at high water only. As the water falls, one gate is shut, and the
entrance to the dock becomes a lock: vessels can enter, therefore, as
long as there remains sufficient water in the outer harbour for a ship
to float. If caught outside, however, she must lie in the mud until the
ensuing tide.

Havre is the sea-port of Paris, and is rapidly increasing in importance.
There is a project for connecting the latter with the sea by a ship
channel. Such a project is hardly suited to the French impulses, which
imagine a thousand grand projects, but hardly ever convert any of them
to much practical good. The opinions of the people are formed on habits
of great saving, and it requires older calculations, greater familiarity
with risks, and more liberal notions of industry, and, possibly, more
capital than is commonly found in their enterprises, to induce the
people to encounter the extra charges of these improvements, when they
can have recourse to what, in their eyes, are simpler and safer means of
making money. The government employs men of science, who conceive well;
but their conceptions are but indifferently sustained by the average
practical intellect of the country. In this particular France is the
very converse of America.

The project of making a sea-port of Paris, is founded on a principle
that is radically wrong. It is easier to build a house on the sea-side,
than to carry the sea into the interior. But the political economy of
France, like that of nearly all the continental nations, is based on a
false principle, that of forcing improvements. The intellects of the
mass should first be acted on, and when the public mind is sufficiently
improved to benefit by innovations, the public sentiment might be
trusted to decide the questions of locality and usefulness. The French
system looks to a concentration of everything in Paris. The political
organization of the country favours such a scheme, and in a project of
this sort, the interests of all the northern and western departments
would be sacrificed to the interests of Paris. As for the departments
east and south of Paris, they would in no degree be benefited by making
a port of Paris, as goods would still have to be transshipped to reach
them. A system of canals and railroads is much wanted in France, and
most of all, a system of general instruction, to prepare the minds of
the operatives to profit by such advantages. When I say that we are
behind our facts in America, I do not mean in a physical, but in a moral
sense. All that is visible and tangible is led by opinion; in all that
is purely moral, the facts precede the notions of the people.

I found, at a later day, many droll theories broached in France, more
especially in the Chamber of Deputies, on the subject of our own great
success in the useful enterprises. As is usual, in such cases, any
reason but the true one was given. At the period of our arrival in
Europe, the plan of connecting the great lakes with the Atlantic had
just been completed, and the vast results were beginning to attract
attention in Europe. At first, it was thought, as a matter of course,
that engineers from the old world had been employed. This was disproved,
and it was shown that they who laid out the work, however skilful they
may have since become by practice, were at first little more than common
American surveyors. Then the trifling cost was a stumbling-block, for
labour was known to be far better paid in America than in Europe; and
lastly, the results created astonishment. Several deputies affirmed that
the cause of the great success was owing to the fact, that in America we
trusted such things to private competition, whereas, in France, the
government meddled with everything. But it was the state governments,
(which indeed alone possess the necessary means and authority,) that had
caused most of the American canals to be constructed. These political
economists knew too little of other systems to apply a clever saying of
their own--_Il y a de la Rochefoucald, et de la Rouchefoucald_. All
governments do not wither what they touch.

Some Americans have introduced steam-boats on the rivers of France, and
on the lakes of Switzerland and Italy. We embarked in one, after passing
two delectable nights at the Hôtel d'Angleterre. The boat was a
frail-looking thing, and so loaded with passengers, that it appeared
actually to stagger under its freight. The Seine has a wide mouth, and a
long ground-swell was setting in from the Channel. Our Parisian
cockneys, of whom there were several on board, stood aghast. "Nous voici
en pleine mer!" one muttered to the other, and the annals of that
eventful voyage are still related, I make no question, to admiring
auditors in the interior of France. The French make excellent seamen
when properly trained; but I think, on the whole, they are more
thoroughly landsmen than any people of my acquaintance, who possess a
coast. There has been too much sympathy with the army to permit the
mariners to receive a proper share of the public favour.

The boat shaped her course diagonally across the broad current, directly
for Honfleur. Here we first began to get an idea of the true points of
difference between our own scenery and that of the continent of Europe,
and chiefly of that of France. The general characteristics of England
are not essentially different from those of America, after allowing for
a much higher finish in the former, substituting hedges for fences, and
stripping the earth of its forests. These, you may think, are, in
themselves, grand points of difference, but they fall far short of those
which render the continent of Europe altogether of a different nature.
Of forest, there is vastly more in France than in England. But, with few
exceptions, the fields are not separated by enclosures. The houses are
of stone, or of wood, rough-cast. Honfleur, as we approached, had a grey
distinctness that is difficult to describe. The atmosphere seemed
visible, around the angles of the buildings, as in certain Flemish
pictures, bringing out the fine old sombre piles from the depth of the
view, in a way to leave little concealed, while nothing was meretricious
or gaudy. At first, though we found these hues imposing, and even
beautiful, we thought the view would have been gayer and more agreeable,
had the tints been livelier; but a little use taught us that our tastes
had been corrupted. On our return home every structure appeared flaring
and tawdry. Even those of stone had a recent and mushroom air, besides
being in colours equally ill suited to architecture or a landscape. The
only thing of the sort in America which appeared venerable and of a
suitable hue, after an absence of eight years, was our own family abode,
and this, the despoiler, paint, had not defiled for near forty years.

We discharged part of our cargo at Honfleur, but the boat was still
greatly crowded. Fatigue and ill health rendered standing painful to
A----, and all the benches were crowded. She approached a young girl of
about eighteen, who occupied _three chairs_. On one she was seated; on
another she had her feet; and the third held her _reticule_. Apologizing
for the liberty, A---- asked leave to put the _reticule_ on the second
chair, and to take the third for her own use. This request was refused!
The selfishness created by sophistication and a factitious state of
things renders such acts quite frequent, for it is more my wish to offer
you distinctive traits of character than exceptions. This case of
selfishness might have been a little stronger than usual, it is true,
but similar acts are of daily occurrence, _out of society_, in France.
_In society_, the utmost respect to the wants and feelings of others is
paid, vastly more than with us; while, with us, it is scarcely too
strong to say that such an instance of unfeeling selfishness could
scarcely have occurred at all. We may have occasion to inquire into the
causes of this difference in national manners hereafter.

The Seine narrows at Quilleboeuf, about thirty miles from Havre, to the
width of an ordinary European tide river. On a high bluff we passed a
ruin, called _Tancarville_, which was formerly a castle of the De
Montmorencies. This place was the cradle of one of William's barons; and
an English descendant, I believe, has been ennobled by the title of Earl
of Tankerville.

Above Quilleboeuf the river becomes exceedingly pretty. It is crooked, a
charm in itself, has many willowy islands, and here and there a grey
venerable town is seated in the opening of the high hills which contract
the view, with crumbling towers, and walls that did good service in the
times of the old English and French wars. There were fewer seats than
might have been expected, though we passed three or four. One near the
waterside, of some size, was in the ancient French style, with avenues
cut in formal lines, mutilated statues, precise and treeless terraces,
and other elaborated monstrosities. These places are not entirely
without a pretension to magnificence; but, considered in reference to
what is desirable in landscape gardening, they are the very _laid idéal_
of deformity. After winding our way for eight or ten hours amid such
scenes, the towers of Rouen came in view. They had a dark ebony-coloured
look, which did great violence to our Manhattanese notions, but which
harmonized gloriously with a bluish sky, the grey walls beneath, and a
background of hanging fields.

Rouen is a sea-port; vessels of two hundred, or two hundred and fifty
tons burden, lying at its quays. Here is also a custom-house, and our
baggage was again opened for examination. This was done amid a great
deal of noise and confusion, and yet so cursorily as to be of no real
service. At Havre, landing as we did in the night, and committing all to
Désirée the next day, I escaped collision with subordinates. But, not
having a servant, I was now compelled to look after our effects in
person. W---- protested that we had fallen among barbarians; what
between brawls, contests for the trunks, cries, oaths, and snatching,
the scene was equally provoking and comic.

Without schooling, without training of any sort, little checked by
morals, pressed upon by society, with nearly every necessary of life
highly taxed, and yet entirely loosened from the deference of feudal
manners, the Frenchmen of this class have, in general, become what they
who wish to ride upon their fellow mortals love to represent them as
being, truculent, violent, greedy of gain, and but too much disposed to
exaction. There is great _bonhomie_ and many touches of chivalry in the
national character; but it is asking too much to suppose that men who
are placed in the situation I have named, should not exhibit some of the
most unpleasant traits of human infirmity. Our trunks were put into a
handbarrow, and wheeled by two men a few hundred yards, the whole
occupying half an hour of time. For this service ten francs were
demanded. I offered five, or double what would have been required by a
drayman in New York, a place where labour is proverbially dear. This was
disdainfully refused, and I was threatened with the law. Of the latter I
knew nothing; but, determined not to be bullied into what I felt
persuaded was an imposition, I threw down the five francs and walked
away. These fellows kept prowling about the hotel the whole day,
alternately wheedling and menacing, without success. Towards night one
of them appeared, and returned the five francs, saying, that he gave me
his services for nothing. I thanked him, and put the money in my pocket.
This fit of dignity lasted about five minutes, when, as _finale_, I
received a proposal to pay the money again, and bring the matter to a
close, which was done accordingly.

An Englishman of the same class would have done his work in silence,
with a respect approaching to servility, and with a system that any
little _contretems_ would derange. He would ask enough, take his money
with a "thank 'ee, sir," and go off looking as surly as if he were
dissatisfied. An American would do his work silently, but independently
as to manner--but a fact will best illustrate the conduct of the
American. The day after we landed at New-York, I returned to the ship
for the light articles. They made a troublesome load, and filled a
horse-cart. "What do you think I _ought_ to get for carrying this load,
'sqire?" asked the cartman, as he looked at the baskets, umbrellas,
band-boxes, valises, secretaries, trunks, etc. etc.; "it is quite two
miles to Carroll Place." "It is, indeed; what is your fare?" "Only
thirty-seven and a half cents;" (about two francs;) "and it is justly
worth seventy-five, there is so much trumpery." "I will give you a
dollar." "No more need be said, sir; you shall have everything safe." I
was so much struck with this straight-forward manner of proceeding, after
all I had undergone in Europe, that I made a note of it the same day.

The Hôtel de l'Europe, at Rouen, was not a first-rate inn, for France,
but it effectually removed the disagreeable impression left by the Hôtel
d'Angleterre, at Havre. We were well lodged, well fed, and otherwise
well treated. After ordering dinner, all of a suitable age hurried off
to the cathedral.

Rouen is an old, and by no means a well-built town. Some improvements
along the river are on a large scale, and promise well; but the heart of
the city is composed principally of houses of wooden frames, with the
interstices filled in with cement. Work of this kind is very common in
all the northern provincial towns of France. It gives a place a
singular, and not altogether an unpicturesque air; the short dark studs
that time has imbrowned, forming a sort of visible ribs to the houses.

When we reached the little square in front of the cathedral, verily
Henry the Seventh's chapel sunk into insignificance. I can only compare
the effect of the chiselling on the quaint Gothic of this edifice, to
that of an enormous skreen of dark lace, thrown into the form of a
church. This was the first building of the kind that my companions had
ever seen; and they had, insomuch, the advantage over me, as I had, in a
degree, taken off the edge of wonder by the visit already mentioned to
Westminster. The first look at this pile was one of inextricable
details. It was not difficult to distinguish the vast and magnificent
doors, and the beautiful oriel windows, buried as they were in ornament;
but an examination was absolutely necessary to trace the little towers,
pinnacles, and the crowds of pointed arches, amid such a scene of
architectural confusion. "It is worth crossing the Atlantic, were it
only to see this!" was the common feeling among us.

It was some time before we discovered that divers dwellings had actually
been built between the buttresses of the church, for their comparative
diminutiveness, quaint style, and close incorporation with the pile,
caused us to think them, at first, a part of the edifice itself. This
desecration of the Gothic is of very frequent occurrence on the
continent of Europe, taking its rise in the straitened limits of
fortified towns, the cupidity of churchmen, and the general indifference
to knowledge, and, consequently, to taste, which depressed the ages that
immediately followed the construction of most of these cathedrals.

We were less struck by the interior, than by the exterior of this
building. It is vast, has some fine windows, and is purely Gothic; but
after the richness of the external details, the aisles and the choir
appeared rather plain. It possessed, however, in some of its monuments,
subjects of great interest to those who had never stood over a grave of
more than two centuries, and rarely even over one of half that age. Among
other objects of this nature, is the heart of Coeur de Lion, for the
church was commenced in the reign of one of his predecessors; Normandy at
that time belonging to the English kings, and claiming to be the
depository of the "lion heart."

Rouen has many more memorials of the past. We visited the square in
which Joan of Arc was burned; a small irregular area in front of her
prison; the prison itself, and the hall in which she had been condemned.
All these edifices are Gothic, quaint, and some of them sufficiently
dilapidated.

I had forgotten to relate, in its place, a fact, as an offset to the
truculent garrulity of the porters. We were shown round the cathedral by
a respectable-looking old man in a red scarf, a cocked hat, and a
livery, one of the officers of the place. He was respectful, modest, and
well instructed in his tale. The tone of this good old cicerone was so
much superior to anything I had seen in England--in America such a
functionary is nearly unknown--that, under the influence of our national
manners, I had awkward doubts as to the propriety of offering him money.
At length the five francs rescued from the cupidity of the
half-civilized peasants of _la basse Normandie_ were put into his hand.
A look of indecision caused me to repent the indiscretion. I thought his
feelings had been wounded. "Est-ce que monsieur compte me présenter tout
ceci?" I told him I hoped he would do me the favour to accept it. I had
only given _more_ than was usual, and the honesty of the worthy cicerone
hesitated about taking it. To know when to pay, and what to pay, is a
useful attainment of the experienced traveller.

Paris lay before us, and, although Rouen is a venerable and historical
town, we were impatient to reach the French capital. A carriage was
procured, and, on the afternoon of the second day, we proceeded.

After quitting Rouen the road runs, for several miles, at the foot of
high hills, and immediately on the banks of the Seine. At length we were
compelled to climb the mountain which terminates near the city, and
offers one of the noblest views in France, from a point called St.
Catherine's Hill. We did not obtain so fine a prospect from the road,
but the view far surpassed anything we had yet seen in Europe. Putting
my head out of the window, when about half way up the ascent, I saw an
object booming down upon us, at the rate of six or eight miles the hour,
that resembled in magnitude at least a moving house. It was a diligence,
and being the first we had met, it caused a general sensation in our
party. Our heads were in each other's way, and finding it impossible to
get a good view in any other manner, we fairly alighted in the highway,
old and young, to look at the monster unincumbered. Our admiration and
eagerness caused as much amusement to the travellers it held, as their
extraordinary equipage gave rise to among us; and two merrier parties
did not encounter each other on the public road that day.

A proper diligence is formed of a chariot-body, and two coach-bodies
placed one before the other, the first in front. These are all on a
large scale, and the wheels and train are in proportion. On the roof
(the three bodies are closely united) is a cabriolet, or covered seat,
and baggage is frequently piled there, many feet in height. A large
leathern apron covers the latter. An ordinary load of hay, though wider,
is scarcely of more bulk than one of these vehicles, which sometimes
carries twenty-five or thirty passengers, and two or three tons of
luggage. The usual team is composed of five horses, two of which go on
the pole, and three on the lead, the latter turning their heads
outwards, as W---- remarked, so as to resemble a spread eagle.
Notwithstanding the weight, these carriages usually go down a hill
faster than when travelling on the plain. A bar of wood is brought, by
means of a winch that is controlled by a person called the _conducteur_,
one who has charge of both ship and cargo, to bear on the hind wheels,
with a greater or less force, according to circumstances, so that all
the pressure is taken off the wheel horses. A similar invention has
latterly been applied to railroad cars. I have since gone over this
very road with ten horses, two on the wheel, and eight in two lines on
the lead. On that occasion, we came down this very hill, at the rate of
nine miles the hour.

After amusing ourselves with the spectacle of the diligence, we found the
scenery too beautiful to re-enter the carriage immediately, and we walked
to the top of the mountain. The view from the summit was truly admirable.
The Seine comes winding its way through a broad rich valley, from the
southward, having just before run east, and, a league or two beyond due
west, our own Susquehanna being less crooked. The stream was not broad,
but its numerous isles, willowy banks, and verdant meadows, formed a line
for the eye to follow. Rouen in the distance, with its ebony towers,
fantastic roofs, and straggling suburbs, lines its shores, at a curvature
where the stream swept away west again, bearing craft of the sea on its
bosom. These dark old towers have a sombre, mysterious air, which
harmonizes admirably with the recollections that crowd the mind at such a
moment! Scarce an isolated dwelling was to be seen, but the dense
population is compressed into villages and _bourgs_, that dot the view,
looking brown and teeming, like the nests of wasps. Some of these places
have still remains of walls, and most of them are so compact and well
defined that they appear more like vast castles than like the villages of
England or America. All are grey, sombre, and without glare, rising from
the background of pale verdure, so many appropriate _bas reliefs_.

The road was strewed with peasants of both sexes, wending their way
homeward, from the market of Rouen. One, a tawny woman, with no other
protection for her head than a high but perfectly clean cap, was going
past us, driving an ass, with the panniers loaded with manure. We were
about six miles from the town, and the poor beast, after staggering some
eight or ten miles to the market in the morning, was staggering back
with this heavy freight, at even. I asked the woman, who, under the
circumstances, could not be a resident of one of the neighbouring
villages, the name of a considerable _bourg_ that lay about a gun-shot
distant, in plain view, on the other side of the river. "Monsieur, je ne
saurais pas vous dire, parce que, voyez-vous, je ne suis pas de ce
pays-là," was the answer!

Knowledge is the parent of knowledge. He who possesses most of the
information of his age will not quietly submit to neglect its current
acquisitions, but will go on improving as long as means and
opportunities offer; while he who finds himself ignorant of most things,
is only too apt to shrink from a labour which becomes Herculean. In this
manner ambition is stifled, the mind gets to be inactive, and finally
sinks into unresisting apathy. Such is the case with a large portion of
the European peasantry. The multitude of objects that surround them
becomes a reason of indifference; and they pass, from day to day, for a
whole life, in full view of a town, without sufficient curiosity in its
history to inquire its name, or, if told by accident, sufficient
interest to remember it. We see this principle exemplified daily in
cities. One seldom thinks of asking the name of a passer-by, though he
may be seen constantly; whereas, in the country, such objects being
comparatively rare, the stranger is not often permitted to appear
without some question touching his character.[3]

[Footnote 3: When in London, two years later, I saw a gentleman of rather
striking appearance pass my door for two months, five or six times of a
morning. Remembering the apathy of the Norman peasant, I at length asked
who it was--"Sir Francis Burdett," was the answer.]

I once inquired of a servant girl, at a French inn, who might be the
owner of a chateau near by, the gate of which was within a hundred feet
of the house we were in. She was unable to say, urging, as an apology,
that she had only been six weeks in her present place! This, too, was in
a small country hamlet. I think every one must have remarked, _coeteris
paribus_, how much more activity and curiosity of mind is displayed by a
countryman who first visits a town, than by the dweller in a city who
first visits the country. The first wishes to learn everything, since be
has been accustomed to understand everything he has hitherto seen; while
the last, accustomed to a crowd of objects, usually regards most of the
novel things he now sees for the first time with indifference.

The road, for the rest of the afternoon, led us over hills and plains,
from one reach of the river to another, for we crossed the latter
repeatedly before reaching Paris. The appearance of the country was
extraordinary in our eyes. Isolated houses were rare, but villages
dotted the whole expanse. No obtrusive colours; but the eye had
frequently to search against the hill-side, or in the valley, and, first
detecting a mass, it gradually took in the picturesque angles, roofs,
towers, and walls of the little _bourg_. Not a fence, or visible
boundary of any sort, to mark the limits of possessions. Not a hoof in
the fields grazing, and occasionally, a sweep of mountain-land resembled
a pattern-card, with its stripes of green and yellow, and other hues,
the narrow fields of the small proprietors. The play of light and shade
on these gay upland patches though not strictly in conformity with the
laws of taste, certainly was attractive. When they fell entirely into
shadow, the harvest being over, and their gaudy colours lessened, they
resembled the melancholy and wasted vestiges of a festival.

At Louviers we dined, and there we found a new object of wonder in the
church. It was of the Gothic of the _bourgs_, less elaborated and more
rudely wrought than that of the larger towns, but quaint, and, the
population considered, vast. Ugly dragons thrust out their grinning
heads at us from the buttresses. The most agreeable monstrosities
imaginable were crawling along the grey old stones. After passing this
place, the scenery lost a good deal of the pastoral appearance which
renders Normandy rather remarkable in France, and took still more of the
starched pattern-card look, just mentioned. Still it was sombre, the
villages were to be extracted by the eye from their setting of fields,
and here and there one of those "silent fingers pointing to the skies"
raised itself into the air, like a needle, to prick the consciences of
the thoughtless. The dusky hues of all the villages contrasted oddly,
and not unpleasantly, with the carnival colours of the grains.

We slept at Vernon, and, before retiring for the night, passed half an
hour in a fruitless attempt to carry by storm a large old circular tower,
that is imputed to the inexhaustible industry of Caesar. This was the
third of his reputed works that we had seen since landing in France. In
this part of Europe, Caesar has the credit of everything for which no one
else is willing to apply, as is the case with Virgil at Naples.

It was a sensation to rise in the morning with the rational prospect of
seeing Paris, for the first time in one's life, before night. In my
catalogue it stands numbered as sensation the 5th; Westminster, the
night arrival in France, and the Cathedral of Rouen, giving birth to
numbers 1, 2, and 4. Though accustomed to the tattoo, and the evening
bugle of a man-of-war, the drums of Havre had the honour of number 3.
Alas! how soon we cease to feel those agreeable excitements at all, even
a drum coming in time to pall on the ear!

Near Vernon we passed a village, which gave us the first idea of one
feature in the old _régime_. The place was grey, sombre, and
picturesque, as usual, in the distance; but crowded, dirty,
inconvenient, and mean, when the eye got too near. Just without the
limits of its nuisances stood the chateau, a regular pile of hewn stone,
with formal _allées_, abundance of windows, extensive stables, and
broken vases. The ancient _seigneur_ probably retained no more of this
ancient possession than its name, while some Monsieur Le Blanc, or
Monsieur Le Noir, filled his place in the house, and "personne dans la
seigneurie."

A few leagues farther brought us to an eminence, whence we got a
beautiful glimpse of the sweeping river, and of a wide expanse of
fertile country less formally striped and more picturesque than the
preceding. Another grey castellated town lay on the verge of the river,
with towers that seemed even darker than ever. How different was all
this from the glare of our own objects! As we wound round the brow of
the height, extensive park-grounds, a village more modern, less
picturesque, and less dirty than common, with a large chateau in red
bricks, was brought in sight, in the valley. This was Rosny, the place
that gave his hereditary title to the celebrated Sully, as Baron and
Marquis de Rosny; Sully, a man, who, like Bacon, almost deserves the
character so justly given of the latter by Pope, that of "The wisest,
greatest, _meanest_, of mankind." The house and grounds were now the
property of Madame, as it is the etiquette to term the Duchesse de
Berri. The town in the distance, with the dark towers, was Mantes, a
place well known in the history of Normandy. We breakfasted at Le Cheval
Blanc. The church drew us all out, but it was less monstrous than that
of Louviers, and, as a cathedral, unworthy to be named with those of the
larger places.

The next stage brought us to St. Germain-en-Laye, or to the verge of the
circle of low mountains that surround the plains of Paris. Here we got
within the influence of royal magnificence and the capital. The
Bourbons, down to the period of the revolution, were indeed kings, and
they have left physical and moral impressions of their dynasty of seven
hundred years, that will require as long a period to eradicate. Nearly
every foot of the entire semi-circle of hills to the west of Paris is
historical, and garnished by palaces, pavilions, forests, parks,
aqueducts, gardens, or chases. A carriage terrace, of a mile in length,
and on a most magnificent scale in other respects, overlooks the river,
at an elevation of several hundred feet above its bed. The palace
itself, a quaint old edifice of the time of Francis I, who seems to have
had an architecture not unlike that of Elizabeth of England, has long
been abandoned as a royal abode. I believe its last royal occupant was
the dethroned James II. It is said to have been deserted by its owners,
because it commands a distant view of that silent monitor, the sombre
beautiful spire of St. Denis, whose walls shadow the vaults of the
Bourbons; they who sat on a throne not choosing to be thus constantly
reminded of the time when they must descend to the common fate and
crumbling equality of the grave.

An aqueduct, worthy of the Romans, gave an imposing idea of the scale on
which these royal works were conducted. It appeared, at the distance of
a league or two, a vast succession of arches, displaying a broader range
of masonry than I had ever before seen. So many years had passed since I
was last in Europe, that I gazed in wonder at its vastness.

From St. Germain we plunged into the valley, and took our way towards
Paris, by a broad paved avenue, that was bordered with trees. The road
now began to show an approach to a capital, being crowded with all sorts
of uncouth-looking vehicles, used as public conveyances. Still it was on
a Lilliputian scale as compared to London, and semi-barbarous even as
compared to one of our towns. Marly-la-Machine was passed; an hydraulic
invention to force water up the mountains to supply the different
princely dwellings of the neighbourhood. Then came a house of no great
pretension, buried in trees, at the foot of the bill. This was the
celebrated consular abode, Malmaison. After this we mounted to a hamlet,
and the road stretched away before us, with the river between, to the
unfinished Arc de l'Étoile, or the barrier of the capital. The evening
was soft, and there had been a passing shower. As the mist drove away, a
mass rose like a glittering beacon, beyond the nearest hill, proclaiming
Paris. It was the dome of the Hotel of the Invalids!

Though Paris possesses better points of view from its immediate vicinity
than most capitals, it is little seen from any of its ordinary
approaches until fairly entered. We descended to the river by a gentle
declivity. The chateau and grounds of Neuilly, a private possession of
the Duke of Orleans, lay on our left; the Bois de Boulogne, the carriage
promenade of the capital, on our right. We passed one of those
abortions, a _magnificent_ village, (Neuilly,) and ascended gently
towards the unfinished Arch of the Star. Bending around this imposing
memorial of--Heaven knows what! for it has had as many destinations as
France has had governors--we entered the iron gate of the barrier, and
found ourselves within the walls of Paris.

We were in the Avenue de Neuilly. The Champs Elysées, without verdure, a
grove divided by the broad approach, and moderately peopled by a
well-dressed crowd, lay on each side. In front, at the distance of a
mile, was a mass of foliage that looked more like a rich copse in park
than an embellishment of a town garden; and above this, again, peered
the pointed roofs of two or three large and high members of some vast
structure, sombre in colour and quaint in form. They were the pavilions
of the Tuileries.[4] A line of hotels became visible through trees and
shrubbery on the left, and on the right we soon got evidence that we
were again near the river. We had just left it behind us, and after a
_détour_ of several leagues, here it was again flowing in our front,
cutting in twain the capital.

[Footnote 4: Tuileries is derived from _Tuile_, or tile; the site of the
present gardens having been a tile-yard.]

Objects now grew confused, for they came fast. We entered and crossed a
paved area, that lay between the Seine, the Champs Elysées, the garden
of the Tuileries, and two little palaces of extraordinary beauty of
architecture. This was the place where Louis XVI. and his unfortunate
wife were beheaded. Passing between the two edifices last named, we came
upon the Boulevards, and plunged at once into the street-gaiety and
movement of this remarkable town.



LETTER V.

Paris in August 1826.--Montmartre.--The Octroi.--View of Paris.
--Montmorency.--Royal Residences.--Duke of Bordeaux.--Horse-racing.
--The Dauphine.--Popular feeling in Paris.--Royal Equipage.--Gardes du
Corps.--Policy of Napoleon.--Centralization.


To R COOPER, ESQ., COOPERSTOWN.

We were not a fortnight in Paris before we were quietly established, _en
bourgeois_, in the Faubourg St. Germain. Then followed the long and
wearying toil of sight-seeing. Happily, our time was not limited, and we
took months for that which is usually performed in a few days. This
labour is connected with objects that description has already rendered
familiar, and I shall say nothing of them, except as they may
incidentally belong to such parts of my subject as I believe worthy to
be noticed.

Paris was empty in the month of August 1826. The court was at St. Cloud;
the Duchesse de Berri at her favourite Dieppe; and the fashionable world
was scattered abroad over the face of Europe. Our own minister was at
the baths of Aix, in Savoy.

One of the first things was to obtain precise and accurate ideas of the
position and _entourage_ of the place. In addition to those enjoyed from
its towers, there are noble views of Paris from Montmartre and Père
Lachaise. The former has the best look-out, and thither we proceeded.
This little mountain is entirely isolated, forming no part of the
exterior circle of heights which environ the town. It lies north of the
walls, which cross its base. The ascent is so steep as to require a
winding road, and the summit, a table of a hundred acres, is crowned by
a crowded village, a church, and divers windmills. There was formerly a
convent or two, and small country-houses still cling to its sides,
buried in the shrubbery that clothe their terraces.

We were fortunate in our sky, which was well veiled in clouds, and
occasionally darkened by mists. A bright sun may suit particular scenes,
and peculiar moods of the mind, but every connoisseur in the beauties of
nature will allow that, as a rule, clouds, and very frequently a partial
obscurity, greatly aid a landscape. This is yet more true of a
bird's-eye view of a grey old mass of walls, which give up their
confused and dusky objects all the better for the absence of glare. I
love to study a place teeming with historical recollections, under this
light; leaving the sites of memorable scenes to issue, one by one, out
of the grey mass of gloom, as time gives up its facts from the obscurity
of ages.

Unlike English and American towns, Paris has scarcely any suburbs. Those
parts which are called its Faubourgs are, in truth, integral parts of
the city; and, with the exception of a few clusters of winehouses and
_guinguettes_, which have collected near its gates to escape the city
duties, the continuity of houses ceases suddenly with the _barrières_,
and, at the distance of half a mile from the latter, one is as
effectually in the country, so far as the eye is concerned, as if a
hundred leagues in the provinces. The unfenced meadows, vineyards,
lucerne, oats, wheat, and vegetables, in many places, literally reach
the walls. These walls are not intended for defence, but are merely a
financial _enceinte_, created for offensive operations against the
pockets of the inhabitants. Every town in France that has two thousand
inhabitants is entitled to set up an _octroi_ on its articles of
consumption, and something like four millions of dollars are taken
annually at the gates of Paris, in duties on this internal trade. It is
merely the old expedient to tax the poor, by laying impositions on food
and necessaries.

From the windmills of Montmartre, the day we ascended, the eye took in
the whole vast capital at a glance. The domes sprung up through the
mist, like starling balloons; and here and there the meandering stream
threw back a gleam of silvery light. Enormous roofs denoted the sites of
the palaces, churches, or theatres. The summits of columns, the crosses
of the minor churches, and the pyramids of pavilion tops, seemed
struggling to rear their heads from out the plain of edifices. A better
idea of the vastness of the principal structures was obtained here in
one hour, than could be got from the streets in a twelvemonth. Taking
the roofs of the palace, for instance, the eye followed its field of
slate and lead through a parallelogram for quite a mile. The sheet of
the French opera resembled a blue pond, and the aisles of Notre Dame and
St. Eustache, with their slender ribs and massive buttresses, towered so
much above the lofty houses around them, as to seem to stand on their
ridges. The church of St. Geneviève, the Pantheon of the revolution,
faced us on the swelling land of the opposite side of the town, but
surrounded still with crowded lines of dwellings; the Observatory
limiting equally the view, and the vast field of houses in that
direction.

Owing to the state of the atmosphere, and the varying light, the picture
before us was not that simply of a town, but, from the multiplicity and
variety of its objects, it was a vast and magnificent view. I have
frequently looked at Paris since from the same spot, or from its church
towers, when the strong sunlight reduced it to the appearance of confused
glittering piles, on which the eye almost refused to dwell; but, in a
clouded day, all the peculiarities stand out sombre and distinct,
resembling the grey accessories of the ordinary French landscape.

From the town we turned to the heights which surround it. East and
south-east, after crossing the Seine, the country lay in the waste-like
unfenced fields which characterize the scenery of this part of Europe.
Roads stretched away in the direction of Orleans, marked by the usual
lines of clipped and branchless trees. More to the west commence the
abrupt heights, which, washed by the river, enclose nearly half the wide
plain, like an amphitheatre. This has been the favourite region of the
kings of France, from the time of Louis XIII. down to the present day.
The palaces of Versailles, St. Germain, St. Cloud, and Meudon, all lie
in this direction, within short distances of the capital; and the royal
forests, avenues, and chases intersect it in every direction, as
mentioned before.

Farther north, the hills rise to be low mountains, though a wide and
perfectly level plain spreads itself between the town and their bases,
varying in breadth from two to four leagues. On the whole of this
expanse of cultivated fields, there was hardly such a thing as an
isolated house. Though not literally true, this fact was so nearly so as
to render the effect oddly peculiar, when one stood on the eastern
extremity of Montmartre, where, by turning southward, he looked down
upon the affluence and heard the din of a vast capital, and by turning
northward, he beheld a country with all the appliances of rural life,
and dotted by grey villages. Two places, however, were in sight, in this
direction, that might aspire to be termed towns. One was St. Denis, from
time immemorial the burying-place of the French kings; and the other was
Montmorency, the _bourg_ which gives its name to, or receives it from,
the illustrious family that is so styled; for I am unable to say which
is the fact. The church spire of the former is one of the most beautiful
objects in view from Montmartre, the church itself, which was desecrated
in the revolution, having been restored by Napoleon. St. Denis is
celebrated, in the Catholic annals, by the fact of the martyr, from whom
the name is derived, having walked after decapitation, with his head
under his arm, all the way from Paris to this very spot.

Montmorency is a town of no great size or importance, but lying on the
side of a respectable mountain, in a way to give the spectator more than
a profile, it appears to be larger than it actually is. This place is
scarcely distinguishable from Paris, under the ordinary light; but on a
day like that which we had chosen, it stood out in fine relief from the
surrounding fields, even the grey mass of its church being plainly
visible. If Paris is so beautiful and striking when seen from the
surrounding heights, there are many singularly fine pictures in the
bosom of the place itself. We rarely crossed the Pont Royal, during the
first month or two of our residence, without stopping the carriage to
gaze at the two remarkable views it offers. One is up the reach of the
Seine which stretches through the heart of the town, separated by the
island; and the other, in an opposite direction, looks down the reach by
which the stream flows into the meadows, on its way to the sea. The
first is a look into the avenues of a large town, the eye resting on the
quaint outlines and endless mazes of walls, towers, and roofs; while the
last is a prospect, in which the front of the picture is a collection of
some of the finest objects of a high state of civilization, and the
background a beautiful termination of wooded and decorated heights.

At first, one who is accustomed to the forms and movements of a sea-port
feels a little disappointment at seeing a river that bears nothing but
dingy barges loaded with charcoal and wine-casks. The magnificence of
the quays seems disproportioned to the trifling character of the
commerce they are destined to receive. But familiarity with the town
soon changes all these notions, and while we admit that Paris is
altogether secondary, so far as trade is concerned, we come to feel the
magnificence of her public works, and to find something that is pleasing
and picturesque, even in her huge and unwieldy wood and coal barges.
Trade is a good thing in its way, but its agents rarely contribute to
the taste, learning, manners, or morals of a nation.

The sight of the different interesting objects that encircle Paris
stimulated our curiosity to nearer views, and we proceeded immediately
to visit the environs. These little excursions occupied more than a
month, and they not only made us familiar with the adjacent country,
but, by compelling us to pass out at nearly every one of the twenty or
thirty different gates or barriers, as they are called, with a large
portion of the town also. This capital has been too often described to
render any further account of the principal objects necessary, and in
speaking of it, I shall endeavour to confine my remarks to things that I
think may still interest you by their novelty.

The royal residences in Paris at this time are, strictly speaking, but
two,--the Tuileries and the Palais Royal. The Louvre is connected with
the first, and it has no finished apartments that are occupied by any of
princely rank, most of its better rooms being unfinished, and are
occupied as cabinets or museums. A small palace, called the Elysée
Bourbon, is fitted up as a residence for the heir presumptive, the Duc
de Bordeaux; but, though it contains his princely toys, such as
miniature batteries of artillery, etc., he is much too young to maintain
a separate establishment. This little scion of royalty only completed
his seventh year not long after our arrival in France; on which occasion
one of those silly ceremonies, which some of the present age appear to
think inseparable from sound principles, was observed. The child was
solemnly and formally transferred from the care of the women to that of
the men. Up to this period, Madame la Vicomtesse de Gontaut-Biron had
been his governess, and she now resigned her charge into the hands of
the Baron de Damas, who had lately been Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Madame de Gontaut was raised to the rank of Duchess on the occasion. The
boy himself is said to have passed from the hands of the one party to
those of the other, in presence of the whole court, _absolutely naked_.
Some such absurdity was observed at the reception of Marie Antoinette,
it being a part of regal etiquette that a royal bride, on entering
France, should leave her old wardrobe, even to the last garment, behind
her. You will be amused to hear that there are people in Europe who
still attach great importance to a rigid adherence to all the old
etiquette at similar ceremonies. These are the men who believe it to be
essential that judges and advocates should wear wigs, in an age when,
their use being rejected by the rest of the world, their presence cannot
fail, if it excite any feeling, to excite that of inconvenience and
absurdity. There is such a thing as leaving society too naked, I admit;
but a _chemise_, at least, could not have injured the little Duke of
Bordeaux at this ceremony. Whenever a usage that is poetical in itself,
and which awakens a sentiment without doing violence to decency, or
comfort, or common sense, can be preserved, I would rigidly adhere to
it, if it were only for antiquity's sake; but, surely, it would be far
more rational for judges to wear false beards, because formerly Bacon
and Coke did not shave their chins, than it is for a magistrate to
appear on the bench with a cumbrous, hot, and inconvenient cloud of
powdered flax, or whatever may be the material on his poll, because our
ancestors, a century or two since, were so silly as to violate nature in
the same extraordinary manner.

Speaking of the Duke of Bordeaux, reminds me of an odd, and, indeed, in
some degree a painful scene, of which I was accidentally a witness, a
short time before the ceremony just mentioned. The _émigrés_ have
brought back with them into France a taste for horse-racing, and,
supported by a few of the English who are here, there are regular races,
spring and autumn, in the Champs de Mars. The course is one of the
finest imaginable, being more than a mile in circumference, and
surrounded by mounds of earth, raised expressly with that object, which
permit the spectators to overlook the entire field. The result is a
species of amphitheatric arena, in which any of the dramatic
exhibitions, that are so pleasing to this spectacle-loving nation, may
be enacted. Pavilions are permanently erected at the starting-post, and
one or two of these are usually fitted up for the use of the court,
whenever it is the pleasure of the royal family to attend, as was the
case at the time the little occurrence I am about to relate took place.

On this occasion Charles X. came in royal state, from St. Cloud,
accompanied by detachments of his guards, many carriages, several of
which were drawn by eight horses, and a cloud of mounted footmen. Most
of the dignitaries of the kingdom were present, in the different
pavilions, or stands, and nearly or quite all the ministers, together
with the whole diplomatic corps. There could not have been less than a
hundred thousand spectators on the mounds.

The racing itself was no great matter, being neither within time nor
well contested. The horses were all French, the trial being intended for
the encouragement of the French breeders, and the sports were yet too
recent to have produced much influence on the stock of the country.
During the heats, accompanied by a young American friend, I had strolled
among the royal equipages, in order to examine their magnificence, and
returning towards the course, we came out unexpectedly at a little open
space, immediately at one end of the pavilion in which the royal family
was seated. There were not a dozen people near us, and one of these was
a sturdy Englishman, evidently a tradesman, who betrayed a keen and a
truly national desire to get a look at the king. The head of a little
girl was just visible above the side of the pavilion, and my companion,
who, by a singular accident, not long before, had been thrown into
company with _les enfans de France_, as the royal children are called,
informed me that it was Mademoiselle d'Artois, the sister of the heir
presumptive. He had given me a favourable account of the children, whom
he represented as both lively and intelligent, and I changed my position
a little, to get a better look of the face of this little personage, who
was not twenty feet from the spot where we stood. My movement attracted
her attention; and, after looking down a moment into the small area in
which we were enclosed, she disappeared. Presently a lady looked over
the balustrade, and our Englishman seemed to be on tenter-hooks. Some
thirty or forty French gathered round us immediately, and I presume it
was thought none but loyal subjects could manifest so much desire to
gaze at the family, especially as one or two of the French clapped the
little princess, whose head now appeared and disappeared again, as if
she were earnestly pressing something on the attention of those within
the pavilion. In a moment the form of a pale and sickly-looking boy was
seen, the little girl, who was a year or two older, keeping her place at
his side. The boy was raised on the knee of a melancholy-looking and
rather hard-featured female of fifty, who removed his straw hat in order
to salute us. "These are the Dauphine and the Duc de Bordeaux,"
whispered my companion, who knew the person of the former by sight. The
Dauphine looked anxiously, and I thought mournfully, at the little
cluster we formed directly before her, as if waiting to observe in what
manner her nephew would be received. Of course my friend and myself, who
were in the foreground, stood uncovered; as gentlemen we could not do
less, nor as _foreign_ gentlemen could we very well do more. Not a
Frenchman, however, even touched his hat! On the other hand, the
Englishman straddled his legs, gave a wide sweep with his beaver, and
uttered as hearty a hurrah as if he had been cheering a member of
parliament who gave gin in his beer. The effect of this single,
unaccompanied, unanswered cheer, was both ludicrous and painful. The
poor fellow himself seemed startled at hearing his own voice amid so
profound a stillness, and checking his zeal as unexpectedly as he had
commenced its exhibition, he looked furiously around him and walked
surlily away. The Dauphine followed him with her eyes. There was no
mistaking his gaitered limbs, dogged mien, and florid countenance; be
clearly was not French, and those that were, as clearly turned his
enthusiasm into ridicule. I felt sorry for her, as, with a saddened
face, she set down the boy, and withdrew her own head within the
covering of the pavilion. The little Mademoiselle d'Artois kept her
bright looks, in a sort of wonder, on us, until the circumspection of
those around her, gave her a hint to disappear.

This was the first direct and near view I got of the true state of
popular feeling in Paris towards the reigning family. According to the
journals in the interest of the court, enthusiasm was invariably
exhibited whenever any of their princes appeared in public; but the
journals in every country, our own dear and shrewd republic not
excepted, are very unsafe guides for those who desire truth.

I am told that the style of this court has been materially altered, and
perhaps improved, by the impetuous character of Napoleon. The king
rarely appears in public with less than eight horses, which are usually
in a foam. His liveries are not showy, neither are the carriages as neat
and elegant as one would expect. The former are blue and white, with a
few slight ornaments of white and red lace, and the vehicles are showy,
large and even magnificent, but, I think, without good taste. You will
be surprised to hear that he drives with what in America we call "Dutch
collars." Six of the horses are held in hand, and the leaders are
managed by a postilion. There is always one or more empty carriages,
according to the number of the royal personages present, equipped in
every respect like those which are filled, and which are held in reserve
against accidents; a provision, by the way, that is not at all
unreasonable in those who scamper over the broken pavements, in and
about Paris, as fast as leg can be put to the ground.

Notwithstanding the present magnificence of the court, royalty is shorn
of much of its splendour in France, since the days of Louis XVI. Then a
city of a hundred thousand souls (Versailles) was a mere dependant of
the crown; lodgings for many hundred _abbés_, it is said, were provided
in the palace alone, and a simple representation at the palace opera
cost a fortune.

It is not an easy matter to come at the real cost of the kingly office
in this country, all the expenditures of the European governments being
mystified in such a way, as to require a very intimate knowledge of the
details to give a perfectly clear account of them. But, so far as I have
been able to ascertain, the charges that arise from this feature of the
system do not fall much short, if indeed they do any, of eight millions
of dollars annually. Out of this sum, however, the king pays the extra
allowances of his guards, the war office taking the same view of all
classes of soldiers, after distinguishing between foot and cavalry. You
will get an idea of the luxury of royalty by a short account of the
_gardes du corps_. These troops are all officers, the privates having
the rank and receiving the pay of lieutenants. Their duty, as the name
implies, is to have the royal person in their especial care, and there
is always a guard of them in an ante-chamber of the royal apartments.
They are heavy cavalry, and when they mount guard in the palaces, their
arm is a carabine. A party of them always appear near the carriage of
the king, or indeed near that of any of the reigning branch of the
family. There are said to be four regiments or companies of them, of
four hundred men each; but it strikes me the number must be exaggerated.
I should think, however, that there are fully a thousand of them. In
addition to these selected troops, there are three hundred Swiss, of the
Swiss and royal guards; of the latter, including all arms, there must be
many thousands. These are the troops that usually mount guard in and
about all the palaces. The annual budget of France appears in the
estimates at about a _milliard_, or a thousand millions of francs; but
the usual mystifications are resorted to, and the truth will give the
annual central expenses of the country at not less, I think, than two
hundred millions of dollars. This sum, however, covers many items of
expenditure, that we are accustomed to consider purely local. The
clergy, for instance, are paid out of it, as is a portion of the cost of
maintaining the roads. On the other hand, much money is collected, as a
general regulation, that does not appear in the budget. Few or no
churches are built, and there are charges for masses, interments,
christenings, and fees for a hundred things, of which no account is
taken in making out the sum total of the cost of government.

It was the policy of Napoleon to create a system of centralization, that
should cause everything to emanate from himself. The whole organization
of government had this end in view, and all the details of the
departments have been framed expressly to further this object. The
prefects are no more than so many political _aides_, whose duty it is to
carry into effect the orders that emanate from the great head, and lines
of telegraphs are established all over France, in such a way that a
communication may be sent from the Tuileries, to the remotest corner of
the kingdom, in the course of a few hours. It has been said that one of
the first steps towards effecting a revolution, ought to be to seize the
telegraphs at Paris, by means of which such information and orders could
be sent into the provinces, as the emergency might seem to require.

This system of centralization has almost neutralized the advancement of
the nation, in a knowledge of the usages and objects of the political
liberty that the French have obtained, by bitter experience, from other
sources. It is the constant aim of that portion of the community which
understands the action of free institutions, to increase the powers of
the municipalities, and to lessen the functions of the central
government; but their efforts are resisted with a jealous distrust of
everything like popular dictation. Their municipal privileges are,
rightly enough, thought to be the entering wedges of real liberty. The
people ought to manage their own affairs, just as far as they can do so
without sacrificing their interests for want of a proper care, and here
is the starting point of representation. So far from France enjoying
such a system, however, half the time a bell cannot be hung in a parish
church, or a bridge repaired, without communications with and orders
from Paris.



LETTER VI.

Letters of Introduction.--European Etiquette.--Diplomatic Entertainments.
--Ladies in Coffee-houses.--French Hospitality.--Mr. Canning at Paris.
--Parisian Hotels.--French Lady at Washington.--Receptions in Paris
and in New York.--Mode of Announcement.--Republican Affectation.
--Hotel Monaco.--Dinner given to Mr. Canning.--Diplomatic Etiquette.
--European Ambassadors.--Prime Minister of France.--Mr. Canning.
--Count Pozzo di Borgo.--Precedency at Dinner.--American Etiquette.
--A French Dinner.--Servants.--Catholic Fasting.--Conversation with
Canning.--English Prejudice against Americans.


To MRS. POMEROY, COOPERSTOWN, NEW YORK.

I quitted America with some twenty letters of introduction, that had
been pressed upon me by different friends, but which were carefully
locked up in a secretary, where they still remain, and are likely to
remain for ever, or until they are destroyed. As this may appear a
singular resolution for one who left his own country to be absent for
years, I shall endeavour to explain it. In the first place, I have a
strong repugnance to pushing myself on the acquaintance of any man: this
feeling may, in fact, proceed from pride, but I have a disposition to
believe that it proceeds, in part, also from a better motive. These
letters of introduction, like verbal introductions, are so much abused
in America, that the latter feeling, perhaps I might say both feelings,
are increased by the fact. Of all the people in the world we are the
most prodigal of these favours, when self-respect and propriety would
teach us we ought to be among the most reserved, simply because the
character of the nation is so low, that the European, more than half the
time, fancies he is condescending when he bestows attentions on our
people at all. Other travellers may give you a different account of the
matter, but let every one be responsible for his own opinions and facts.
Then a friend who, just as we left home, returned from Europe after an
absence of five years, assured me that he found his letters of but
little use; that nearly every agreeable acquaintance he made was the
result of accident, and that the Europeans in general were much more
cautious in giving and receiving letters of this nature than ourselves.

The usages of all Europe, those of the English excepted, differ from our
own on the subject of visits. There the stranger, or the latest arrival,
is expected to make the first visit, and an inquiry for your address is
always taken for an intimation that your acquaintance would be
acceptable. Many, perhaps most Americans, lose a great deal through
their provincial breeding, in this respect, in waiting for attentions
that it is their duty to invite, by putting themselves in the way of
receiving them. The European usage is not only the most rational, but it
is the most delicate. It is the most rational, as there is a manifest
absurdity in supposing, for instance, that the inhabitant of a town is
to know whenever a visitor from the country arrives; and it is the most
delicate, as it leaves the newcomer, who is supposed to know his own
wishes best, to decide for himself whether he wishes to make
acquaintances or not. In short, our own practices are provincial and
rustic, and cannot exist when the society of the country shall have
taken the usual phases of an advanced civilization. Even in England, in
the higher classes, the cases of distinguished men excepted, it is usual
for the stranger to seek the introduction.

Under such circumstances, coupled with the utter insignificance of an
ordinary individual in a town like Paris, you will easily understand
that we had the first months of our residence entirely to ourselves. As
a matter of course, we called on our own minister and his wife; and, as
a matter of course, we have been included in the dinners and parties
that they are accustomed to give at this season of the year. This,
however, has merely brought us in contact with a chance-medley of our
own countrymen, these diplomatic entertainments being quite obviously a
matter of accident, so far as the set is concerned. The dinners of your
banker, however, are still worse, since with them the visiting-list is
usually a mere extract from the ledger.

Our privacy has not been without its advantages. It has enabled us to
visit all the visible objects without the incumbrance of engagements, and
given me leisure to note and to comment on things that might otherwise
have been overlooked. For several months we have had nothing to do but to
see sights, get familiarized with a situation that, at first, we found
singularly novel, and to brush up our French.

I never had sufficient faith in the popular accounts of the usages of
other countries, to believe one-half of what I have heard. I distrusted
from the first the fact of ladies--I mean real, _bona fide_ ladies, women
of sentiment, delicacy, taste, and condition--frequenting public
eating-houses, and habitually living, without the retirement and reserve
that is so necessary to all _women_, not to say _men_, of the _caste_. I
found it difficult, therefore, to imagine I should meet with many females
of condition in _restaurans_ and _cafés_. Such a thing might happen on an
emergency, but it was assailing too much all those feelings and tastes
which become inherent in refinement, to suppose that the tables of even
the best house of the sort in Paris could be honoured by the presence of
such persons, except under particular circumstances. My own observation
corroborated this opinion, and, in order to make sure of the fact, I have
put the question to nearly every Frenchwoman of rank it has since been my
good fortune to become sufficiently acquainted with to take the liberty.
The answer has been uniform. Such things are sometimes done, but rarely;
and even then it is usual to have the service in a private room. One old
lady, a woman perfectly competent to decide on such a point, told me
frankly:--"We never do it, except by way of a frolic, or when in a humour
which induces people to do many other silly and unbecoming things. Why
should we go to the _restaurateurs_ to eat? We have our own houses and
servants as well as the English, or even you Americans"--it may be
supposed I laughed--"and certainly the French are not so devoid of good
taste as not to understand that the mixed society of a public-house is
not the best possible company for a woman."

It is, moreover, a great mistake to imagine that the French are not
hospitable, and that they do not entertain as freely, and as often, as
any other people. The only difference between them and the English, in
this respect, or between them and ourselves, is in the better taste and
ease which regulate their intercourse of this nature. While there is a
great deal of true elegance, there is no fuss, at a French
entertainment; and all that you have heard of the superiority of the
kitchen in this country, is certainly true. Society is divided into
_castes_ in Paris, as it is everywhere else; and the degrees of elegance
and refinement increase as one ascends as a matter of course; but there
is less of effort, in every class, than is usual with us. One of the
best-bred Englishmen of my acquaintance, and one, too, who had long been
in the world, has frankly admitted to me, that the highest tone of
English society is merely an imitation of that which existed in Paris
previously to the revolution, and of which, though modified as to usages
and forms, a good deal still remains. By the highest tone, however, you
are not to suppose I mean that laboured, frigid, heartless manner that
so many, in England especially, mistake for high breeding, merely
because they do not know how to unite with the finish which constant
intercourse with the world creates, the graceful semblance of living
less for one's self than for others, and to express, as it were, their
feelings and wishes, rather than to permit one's own to escape him--a
habit that, like the reflection of a mirror, produces the truest and
most pleasing images, when thrown back from surfaces the most highly
polished. But I am anticipating rather than giving you a history of what
I have seen.

In consequence of our not having brought any letters, as has just been
mentioned, and of not having sought society, no one gave themselves any
trouble on our account for the first three or four months of our
residence in Paris. At the end of that period, however, I made my
_début_ at, probably, as brilliant an entertainment as one usually sees
here in the course of a whole winter. Mr. Canning, then Secretary of
State for Foreign Affairs, came to Paris on a visit, and, as is usual on
such occasions, diplomacy was a good deal mixed up with eating and
drinking. Report says, that the etiquette of the court was a good deal
deranged by this visit, the Bourbons not having adopted the hale-fellow
hospitality of the English kings. M. de Villèle or M. de Damas would be
invited to dine at Windsor almost as a matter of course; but the
descendant of Hugh Capet hesitated about breaking bread with an English
commoner. The matter is understood to have been gotten over, by giving
the entertainment at St. Cloud, where, it would seem, the royal person
has fewer immunities than at the Tuileries. But, among other attentions
that were bestowed on the English statesman, Mr. Brown determined to
give him a great diplomatic dinner; and our own legations having a great
poverty of subordinates, except in the way of travelling _attachés_, I
was invited to occupy one end of the table, while the regular secretary
took his seat at the other. Before I attempt a short description of this
entertainment, it may help to enliven the solitude of your mountain
residence, and serve to give you more distinct ideas of the matter than
can be obtained from novels, if I commence with a summary of the
appliances and modes of polite intercourse in this part of the world, as
they are to be distinguished from our own.

In the first place, you are to discard from your mind all images of two
rooms and folding-doors, with a passage six feet wide, a narrow carpeted
flight of steps, and a bed-room prepared for the ladies to uncloak in,
and another in which the men can brush their hair and hide their hats.
Some such snuggeries very possibly exist in England, among the middling
classes; but I believe all over the continent of Europe style is never
attempted without more suitable means to carry out the intention.

In Paris, every one who mingles with the world lives in an hotel, or a
house that has a court and an outer gate. Usually the building surrounds
three sides of this court, and sometimes the whole four; though small
hotels are to be found, in which the court is encircled on two, or even
on three of its sides, merely by high walls. The gate is always in the
keeping of a regular porter, who is an important personage about the
establishment, taking in letters, tickets, etc., ejecting blackguards
and all other suspicious persons, carrying messages, besides levying
contributions on all the inmates of the house, in the way of wood and
coal. In short, he is in some measure, held to be responsible for the
exits and entrances, being a sort of domestic gendarme. In the larger
hotels there are two courts, the great and _la basse cour_, the latter
being connected with the offices and stables.

Of course, these hotels vary in size and magnificence. Some are not
larger than our own largest town dwellings, while others, again, are
palaces. As these buildings were originally constructed to lodge a
single establishment, they have their principal and their inferior
apartments; some have their summer and their winter apartments. As is,
and always must be the case, where everything like state and
magnificence are affected, the reception-rooms are en suite; the mode of
building which prevails in America, being derived from the secondary
class of English houses. It is true, that in London, many men of rank,
perhaps of the nobility, do not live in houses any larger, or much
better, than the best of our own; though I think, that one oftener sees
rooms of a good size and proper elevation, even in these dwellings, than
it is usual to see in America. But the great houses of London, such as
Burlington-house, Northumberland-house, Devonshire-house,
Lansdown-house, Sutherland-house (the most magnificent of all) etc. are,
more or less, on the continental plan, though not generally built around
courts. This plan eschews passages of all descriptions, except among the
private parts of the dwelling. In this respect, an American house is the
very opposite of a European house. We are nothing without passages, it
being indispensable that every room should open on one; whereas, here
the great point is to have as little to do with them as possible. Thus
you quit the great staircase by a principal door, and find yourself in
an ante-chamber; this communicates with one or two more rooms of the
same character, gradually improving in ornaments and fixtures, until you
enter a _salon_. Then comes a succession of apartments, of greater or
less magnificence, according to circumstances until you are led entirely
round the edifice, quitting it by a door on the great staircase again,
opposite to the one by which you entered. In those cases in which there
are courts, the principal rooms are ranged in this manner, _en suite_,
on the exterior range, usually looking out on the gardens, while those
within them, which look into the court, contain the bed-rooms, boudoir,
eating-rooms, and perhaps the library. So tenacious are those, who lay
any claim to gentility here, of the use of the ante-chambers, that I
scarcely recollect a lodging of any sort, beyond the solitary chamber of
some student, without, at least, one. They seem indispensable, and I
think rightly, to all ideas of style, or even of comfort. I remember to
have seen an amusing instance of the strength of this feeling in the
case of the wife of a former French minister, at Washington. The
building she inhabited was one of the ordinary American double houses,
as they are called, with a passage through the centre, the stairs in the
passage, and a short corridor, to communicate with the bed-rooms above.
Off the end of this upper corridor, if, indeed, so short a transverse
passage deserves the name, was partitioned a room of some eight feet by
ten, as a bed-room. A room adjoining this, was converted into a boudoir
and bed-room, for Madame de ----, by means of a silk screen. The usual
door of the latter opened, of course, on the passage. In a morning call
one day, I was received in the boudoir. Surprised to be carried up
stairs on such an occasion, I was still more so to find myself taken
through a small room, before I was admitted to the larger. The amount of
it all was; that Madame de ----, accustomed to have many rooms, and to
think it vulgar to receive in her great drawing-room of a morning,
believing _au premier_, or up one pair of stairs, more genteel than the
_rez de chaussée_, or the ground floor, and feeling the necessity of an
ante-chamber as there was an abruptness in being at once admitted into
the presence of a lady from a staircase, a sort of local _brusquerie_,
that would suit her cook better than the wife of an envoy extraordinary,
had contrived to introduce her guests through the little bed-room, at
the end of the upstairs entry!

From all this you will be prepared to understand some of the essential
differences between a reception in Paris and one at New York, or even at
Washington. The footman, or footmen, if there are two, ascend to the
inner ante-chamber, with their masters and mistresses, where they
receive the cloaks, shawls, over-coats, or whatever else has been used
for the sake of mere warmth, and withdraw. If they are sent home, as is
usually the case at dinners and evening parties, they return with the
things at the hour ordered; but if the call be merely a passing one, or
the guest means to go early to some other house, they either wait in the
ante-chamber, or in a room provided for that purpose. The French are
kind to their servants; much kinder than either the English, or their
humble imitators, ourselves; and it is quite common to see, not only a
good warm room, but refreshments, provided for the servants at a French
party. In England, they either crowd the narrow passages and the
door-way, or throng the street, as with us. In both countries, the poor
coachmen sit for hours on their carriage-boxes, like so many ducks, in
the drizzle and rain.

The footman gives the names of his party to the _maître d'hôtel_, or the
groom of the chambers, who, as he throws open the door of the first
drawing-room, announces them in a loud voice. Announcing by means of a
line of servants, is rarely, if ever, practised in France, though it is
still done in England, at large parties, and in the great houses. Every
one has heard the story of the attempt at Philadelphia, some forty years
ago, to introduce the latter custom, when, by the awkwardness of a
servant, a party was announced as "Master and Mistress, and the young
ladies;" but you will smile when I tell you that the latter part of this
style is precisely that which is most in vogue at Paris. A young lady
here may be admired, she may be danced with, and she may even look and
be looked at; but in society she talks little, is never loud or
_belleish_, is always neat and simple in her attire, using very little
jewelry, and has scarcely any other name than Mademoiselle. The usual
mode of announcing is, "Monsieur le Comte et Madame la Comtesse d'une
telle, avec leurs demoiselles;" or, in plain English, "The Count and
Countess Such-a-one, with their daughters" This you will perceive is not
so far, after all, from "Master and Mistress, and the young ladies." The
English, more simple in some respects, and less so in others, usually
give every name, though, in the use of titles, the utmost good taste is
observed. Thus every nobleman below a duke is almost uniformly addressed
and styled Lord A----, Lord B----, etc. and their wives, Ladies A----,
and B----. Thus the Marquess of Lansdowne would, I think, always be
addressed and spoken of, and even announced, merely as Lord Lansdowne.
This, you will observe, is using the simplest possible style, and it
appears to me that there is rather an affectation of simplicity in their
ordinary intercourse, the term "My Lord" being hardly ever used, except
by the tradesmen and domestics. The safest rule for an American, and
certainly the one that good taste would dictate, is to be very sparing
in his use of everything of this sort, since he cannot be always certain
of the proper usages of the different countries he visits, and, so long
as he avoids unnecessary affectations of republicanisms, and, if a
gentleman, this he will do without any effort, simplicity is his cue.
When I say _avoids the affectations of republicanisms_, I do not mean
the points connected with principles, but those vulgar and underbred
pretensions of ultra equality and liberalism, which, while they mark
neither manliness nor a real appreciation of equal rights almost
uniformly betray a want of proper training and great ignorance of the
world. Whenever, however, any attempt is made to identify equality of
rights and democratical institutions with vulgarity and truculency, as
is sometimes attempted here, in the presence of Americans, and even in
good company, it is the part of every gentleman of our country to
improve the opportunity that is thus afforded him, to show it is a
source of pride with him to belong to a nation in which a hundred men
are not depressed politically, in order that one may be great; and also
to show how much advantage, after all, he who is right in substance has
over him who is substantially wrong, even in the forms of society, and
in that true politeness which depends on natural justice. Such a
principle, acted on systematically would soon place the gentlemen of
America where they ought to be, and the gentlemen of other countries
where, sooner or later, they must be content to descend, or to change
their systems. That these things are not so, must be ascribed to our
provincial habits, our remote situation, comparative insignificance, and
chiefly to the circumstance that men's minds, trained under a different
state of things, cannot keep even pace with the wonderful progress of
the facts of the country.

But all this time I have only got you into the outer _salon_ of a French
hotel. In order that we may proceed more regularly, we will return to
the dinner given by our minister to Mr. Canning. Mr. Brown has an
apartment in the Hotel Monaco, one of the best houses in Paris. The
Prince of Monaco is the sovereign of a little territory of the same
name, on the Gulf of Nice, at the foot of the maritime Alps. His states
may be some six or eight miles square, and the population some six or
eight thousand. The ancient name of the family is Grimaldi; but by some
intermarriage or other, the Duke of Valentinois, a Frenchman, has become
the prince. This little state is still independent, though under the
especial protection of the King of Sardinia, and without foreign
relations. It was formerly a common thing for the petty princes of
Europe to own hotels at Paris. Thus the present Hotel of the Legion of
Honour was built by a Prince of Salms; and the Princes of Monaco had
two, one of which is occupied by the Austrian ambassador, and, in the
other, our own minister, just at this moment, has an apartment. As I had
been pressed especially to be early, I went a little before six, and
finding no one in the drawing-room, I strolled into the bureau, where I
found Mr. Shelden, the secretary of legation, who lived in the family,
dressed for dinner. We chatted a little, and, on my admiring the
magnificence of the rooms, he gave me the history of the hotel, as you
have just heard it, with an additional anecdote, that may be worth
relating.

"This hotel," said the secretary, "was once owned by M. de Talleyrand,
and this bureau was probably the receptacle of state secrets of far
greater importance than any that are connected with our own simple and
unsupported claims for justice." He then went on to say, that the
citizens of Hamburg, understanding it was the intention of Napoleon to
incorporate their town with the empire, had recourse to a _...ceur_,[5]
in order to prevent an act that, by destroying their neutrality, would
annihilate their commerce. Four millions of francs were administered on
this occasion, and of these, a large proportion, it is said, went to pay
for the Hotel Monaco, which was a recent purchase of M. de Talleyrand.
To the horror of the Hambourgeois, the money was scarcely paid, when the
deprecated decree appeared, and every man of them was converted into a
Frenchman by the stroke of a pen. The worthy burghers were accustomed to
receive a _quid pro quo_ for every florin they bestowed, failing of
which, on the present occasion, they sent a deputation forthwith, to
Napoleon, to reveal the facts, and to make their complaints. That great
man little liked that any one but himself should peculate in his
dominions, and, in the end, M. de Talleyrand was obliged to quit the
Hotel Monaco. By some means with which I am unacquainted, most probably
by purchase, however, the house is now the property of Madame Adelaide
of Orleans.

[Footnote 5: the first three letters of the word cannot be correctly
read on the original book]

The rolling of a coach into the court was a signal for us to be at our
posts, and we abandoned the bureau so lately occupied by the great
father of diplomacy, for the drawing-room. I have already told you that
this dinner was in honour of Mr. Canning, and, although diplomatic in
one sense, it was not so strictly confined to the corps as to prevent a
selection. This selection, in honour of the principal guest, had been
made from the representatives of the great powers, Spain being the least
important nation represented on the occasion, the republic of
Switzerland excepted. I do not know whether the presence of the Swiss
chargé-d'affaires was so intended or not, but it struck me as pointed
and in good taste, for all the other foreign agents were ambassadors,
with the exception of the Prussian, who was an Envoy Extraordinary.
Diplomacy has its honorary gradations as well as a military corps; and,
as you can know but little of such matters, I will explain them _en
passant_. First in rank comes the Ambassador. This functionary is
supposed to represent the personal dignity of the state that sends him.
If a king, there is a room in his house that has a throne, and it is
usual to see the chair reversed, in respect for its sanctity; and it
appears to be etiquette to suspend the portrait of the sovereign beneath
the canopy. The Envoy Extraordinary comes next, and then the Minister
Plenipotentiary. Ordinarily, these two functions are united in the same
individual. Such is the rank of Mr. Brown. The Minister Resident is a
lower grade, and the Chargé-d'affaires the lowest of all. _Inter se_,
these personages take rank according to this scale. Previously to the
peace of 1814, the representative of one monarch laid claim to precede
the representative of another, always admitting, however, of the
validity of the foregoing rule. This pretension gave rise to a good deal
of heartburning and contention. Nothing can, in itself, be of greater
indifference whether A. or B. walk into the reception-room or to the
dinner-table first; but when the idea of general superiority is
associated with the act, the aspect of the thing is entirely changed.
Under the old system, the ambassador of the Emperor, claimed precedence
over all other ambassadors, and, I believe, the representatives of the
kings of France had high pretensions also. Now there are great mutations
in states. Spain, once the most important kingdom of Europe, has much
less influence to-day than Prussia, a power of yesterday. Then the
minister of the most insignificant prince claimed precedency over the
representative of the most potent republic. This might have passed while
republics were insignificant and dependent; but no one can believe that
a minister of America, for instance, representing a state of fifty
millions, as will be the case before long, would submit to such an
extravagant pretension on the part of a minister of Wurtemburg, or
Sardinia, or Portugal. He would not submit to such a pretension on the
part of the minister of any power on earth.

I do not believe that the Congress of Vienna had sufficient foresight,
or sufficient knowledge of the actual condition of the United States, to
foresee this difficulty; but there were embarrassing points to be
settled among the European states themselves, and the whole affair was
disposed of on a very discreet and equitable principle. It was decided
that priority of standing at a particular court should regulate the rank
between the different classes of agents at that particular court. Thus
the ambassador longest at Paris precedes all the other ambassadors at
Paris; and the same rule prevails with the ministers and chargés,
according to their respective gradations of rank. A provision, however,
was made in favour of the representative of the Pope, who, if of the
rank of a nuncio, precedes all ambassadors. The concession has been made
in honour of the church, which, as you must know, or ought to be told,
is an interest much protected in all monarchies, statesmen being
notoriously of tender consciences.

The constant habit of meeting drills the diplomatic corps so well, that
they go through the evolutions of etiquette as dexterously as a corps of
regular troops perform their wheelings and countermarches. The first
great point with them is punctuality; for, to people who sacrifice so
much of it to forms, time gets to be precious. The roll of wheels was
incessant in the court of the Hotel Monaco, from the time the first
carriage entered until the last had set down its company. I know, as
every man who reflects must know, that it is inherently ill-bred to be
late anywhere; but I never before felt how completely it was high
breeding to be as punctual as possible. The _maître d'hôtel_ had as much
as he could do to announce the company, who entered as closely after
each other as decorum and dignity would permit. I presume one party
waited a little for the others in the outer drawing-room, the reception
being altogether in the inner room.

The Americans very properly came first. We were Mr. Gallatin, who was
absent from London on leave, his wife and daughter, and a clergyman and
his wife, and myself; Mrs. ---- having declined the invitation on account
of ill health. The announcing and the entrance of most of the company,
especially as everybody was in high dinner-dress, the women in jewels
and the men wearing all their orders, had something of the air of a
scenic display. The effect was heightened by the magnificence of the
hotel, the drawing-room in which we were collected being almost regal.

The first person who appeared was a handsome, compact, well-built,
gentleman-like little man, who was announced as the Duke of Villa
Hermosa, the Spanish ambassador. He was dressed with great simplicity
and beauty, having, however, the breast of his coat covered with stars,
among which I recognized, with historical reverence, that of the Golden
Fleece. He came alone, his wife pleading indisposition for her absence.
The Prussian minister and his wife came next. Then followed Lord and
Lady Granville, the representatives of England. He was a large,
well-looking man, but wanted the perfect command of movement and manner
that so much distinguish his brethren in diplomacy: as for mere physical
stuff, he and our own minister, who stands six feet four in his
stockings, would make material enough for all the rest of the corps. He
wore the star of the Bath. The Austrian ambassador and ambassadress
followed, a couple of singularly high air, and a good tone of manner. He
is a Hungarian, and very handsome; she a Veronese, I believe, and
certainly a woman admirably adapted for her station. They had hardly
made their salutations before M. le Comte et Mad. la Comtesse de Villèle
were announced. Here, then, we had the French prime minister. As the
women precede the men into a drawing-room here, knowing how to walk and
to curtsey alone, I did not, at first, perceive the great man, who
followed so close to his wife's skirts as to be nearly hid. But he was
soon flying about the room at large, and betrayed himself immediately to
be a fidget. Instead of remaining stationary, or nearly so as became his
high quality, he took the initiative in compliments, and had nearly
every diplomatic man walking apart in the adjoining room, in a political
aside, in less than twenty minutes. He had a countenance of shrewdness,
and I make little doubt is a better man in a bureau than in a
drawing-room. His colleague, the foreign minister, M. de Damas, and his
wife, came next. He was a large, heavy-looking personage, that I suspect
throws no small part of the diplomacy on the shoulders of the premier;
though he had more the manner of good society than his colleague. He has
already exchanged his office for that of governor of the heir
presumptive, as I have already stated. There was a pause, when a quiet,
even-paced, classical-looking man, in the attire of an ecclesiastic,
appeared in the door, and was announced as "My Lord the Nuncio." He was
then an archbishop, and wore the usual dress of his rank; but I have
since met him at an evening party with a red hat; under his arm, the
Pope having recalled him, and raised him to that dignity. He is now
Cardinal Macchi. He was a priestly and an intellectual-looking
personage, and, externals considered, well suited to his station. He
wore a decoration or two, as well as most of the others.

"My Lord Clanricarde and Mr. Canning" came next, and the great man,
followed by his son-in-law, made his appearance. He walked into the room
with the quiet _aplomb_ of a man accustomed to being _lionised_; and
certainly, without being of striking, he was of very pleasing
appearance. His size was ordinary, but his frame was compact and well
built, neither too heavy nor too light for his years, but of just the
proportions to give one the idea of a perfect management of the machine.
His face was agreeable, and his eye steady and searching. He and M. de
Villèle were the very opposites in demeanour, though, after all, it was
easy to see that the Englishman had the most latent force about him. One
was fidgety, and the other humorous; for, with all his command of limb
and gesture, nothing could be more natural than the expression of Mr.
Canning, I may have imagined that I detected some of his wit, from a
knowledge of the character of his mind. He left the impression, however,
of a man whose natural powers were checked by a trained and factitious
deference to the rank of those with whom he associated. Lord Granville,
I thought, treated him with a sort of affectionate deference; and, right
or wrong, I jumped to the conclusion, that the English ambassador was a
straight-forward, good fellow at the bottom, and one very likely to
badger the fidgetty premier, by his steady determination to do what was
right. I thought M. de Damas, too, looked like an honest man. God
forgive me, if I do injustice to any of these gentlemen!

All this time, I have forgotten Count Pozzo di Borgo, the Russian
ambassador. Being a bachelor, he came alone. It might have been fancy,
but I thought he appeared more at his ease under the American roof than
any of his colleagues. The perfect good understanding between our own
government and that of Russia extends to their representatives, and,
policy or not, we are better treated by them than by any other foreign
ministers. This fact should be known and appreciated, for as one citizen
of the republic, however insignificant, I have no notion of being
blackguarded and vituperated half a century, and then cajoled into
forgetfulness, at the suggestions of fear and expediency, as
circumstances render our good-will of importance. Let us at least show
that we are not mannikins to be pulled about for the convenience and
humours of others, but that we know what honest words are, understand
the difference between civility and abuse, and have pride enough to
resent contumely, when, at least, we feel it to be unmerited. M. Pozzo
is a handsome man, of good size and a fine dark eye, and has a greater
reputation for talents than any other member of the diplomatic corps now
at Paris. He is by birth a Corsican, and, I have heard it said,
distantly related to Bonaparte. This may be true, Corsica being so small
a country; just as some of us are related to everybody in West Jersey.
Our party now consisted of the prime minister, the secretary of foreign
affairs, the Austrian and English ambassadors, and the Prussian
minister, with their wives,--the Nuncio, the Russian and Spanish
ambassadors, the Swiss chargé-d'affaires, Mr. Canning, Lord Clanricarde,
--Mr. Mrs. and Miss Gallatin, and the other Americans already mentioned,
or twenty-five in all.

If I had been struck with the rapid and business-like manner in which
the company entered, I was amused with the readiness with which they
paired off when dinner was announced. It was like a _coup de théâtre_,
every man and woman knowing his or her exact rank and precedency, and
the time when to move. This business of getting out of a drawing-room to
a dinner-table is often one of difficulty, though less frequently in
France than in most other European countries, on account of the
admirable tact of the women, who seldom suffer a knotty point to get the
ascendancy, but, by choosing the gentlemen for themselves, settle the
affair off hand. From their decision, of course, there is no appeal. In
order that in your simplicity you may not mistake the importance of this
moment, I will relate an anecdote of what lately occurred at a dinner
given by an English functionary in Holland.

When William invaded England, in 1688, he took with him many Dutch
nobles, some of whom remained, and became English peers. Among others,
he created one of his followers an Irish earl; but choosing to return to
Holland, this person was afterwards known as the Count de ----, although
his Irish rank was always acknowledged. It happened that the wife of the
descendant of this person was present at the entertainment in question.
When dinner was announced, the company remarked that the master of the
house was in a dilemma. There was much consultation, and a delay of near
half an hour before the matter was decided. The debated point was,
whether Madame de ---- was to be considered as a Dutch or an Irish
countess. If the latter, there were English ladies present who were
entitled to precede her; if the former, as a stranger, she might get
that advantage herself. Luckily for the rights of hospitality, the Dutch
lady got the best of it.

These things sound absurd, and sometimes they are so; but this social
drilling, unless carried to extremes, is not without its use. In
America, I have always understood that, on such occasions, silent laws
of etiquette exist in all good company, which are founded on propriety
and tact. The young give way to the old, the undistinguished to the
distinguished, and he who is at home to the stranger. These rules are
certainly the most rational, and in the best taste, when they can be
observed, and, on the whole, they lead perhaps to the fewest
embarrassments; always so, if there happen to be none but the well-bred
present, since seats become of little consideration where no importance
is attached to them. I confess to some manoeuvring in my time, to get
near, or away from a fire, out of a draught, or next some agreeable
woman; but the idea whether I was at the head or the foot of the table
never crossed my mind: and yet here, where they do mean the salt to come
into the account, I begin to take care that they do not "bite their
thumbs" at me. Two or three little things have occurred in my presence,
which show that all our people do not even understand the ways of their
own good society. A very young man lately, under the impression that
gallantry required it, led one of the most distinguished women in the
room to the table, merely because he happened to be next her, at the
moment dinner was announced. This was certainly a failure even in
American etiquette, every woman being more disposed to appreciate the
delicacy and respect which should have induced such a person to give
place to one of higher claims, than to prize the head-over-heels
assiduity that caused the boy to forget himself. Sentiment should be the
guide on such occasions, and no man is a gentleman until his habits are
brought completely in subjection to its dictates, in all matters of this
sort.

There was very little sentiment, however, in marshalling the company at
the dinner given to Mr. Canning. I will not undertake to say that all
the guests were invited to meet this gentleman, and that he had been
asked to name a day, as is usual when it is intended to pay an especial
compliment; but I was asked to meet him, and I understood that the
dinner was in his honour. Diplomatic etiquette made short work of the
matter, notwithstanding, for the doors were hardly thrown open, before
all the privileged vanished, with a quickness that was surprising. The
minister took Madame de Villèle; M. de Villèle, Mrs. Brown; M. de Damas,
the wife of the oldest ambassador; and the Nuncio, Madame de Damas:
after which, the ambassadors and ministers took each other's wives in
due order, and with a promptitude that denoted great practice. Even the
charge disappeared, leaving the rest of us to settle matters among
ourselves as well as we could. Mr. Canning, Mr. Gallatin, Lord
Clanricarde, the divine, the secretary, and myself, were left with only
the wife of the clergyman and Miss Gallatin. As a matter of course, the
Americans, feeling themselves at home, made signs for the two Englishmen
to precede them, and Mr. Canning offered his arm to Mrs. ----, and Lord
Clanricarde, his to Miss Gallatin. Here occurred a touch of character
that is worthy to be mentioned, as showing of how very little account an
American, male or female, is in the estimation of a European, and how
very arbitrary are the laws of etiquette among our English cousins. Mr.
Canning actually gave way to his son-in-law, leaving the oldest of the
two ladies to come after the youngest, because, as a marquis, his
son-in-law took precedence of a commoner! This was out of place in
America, at least, where the parties were, by a fiction in law, if not
in politeness, and it greatly scandalized all our Yankee notions of
propriety. Mrs. ---- afterwards told me that he apologized for the
circumstance, giving Lord Clanricarde's rank as the reason.
"_Sempereadem_," or "worse and worse," as my old friend O----n used to
translate it. What became of the precedency of the married lady all this
time? you will be ready to ask. Alas! she was an American, and had no
precedency. The twelve millions may not settle this matter as it should
be; but, take my word for it, the "fifty millions" will. Insignificant as
all this is, or rather ought to be, your grandchildren and mine will
live to see the mistake rectified. How much better would it be for those
who cannot stop the progress of events, by vain wishes and idle regrets,
to concede the point gracefully, and on just principles, than to have
their cherished prejudices broken down by dint of sheer numbers and
power!

The dinner itself was, like every dinner that is given at Paris,
beautiful in decoration, admirable in its order, and excellent in
viands, or rather, in its dishes; for it is the cookery and not the
staple articles that form the boast of the French kitchen. As you are
notable in your own region for understanding these matters, I must say a
word touching the gastric science as it is understood here. A general
error exists in America on the subject of French cookery, which is not
highly seasoned, but whose merit consists in blending flavours and in
arranging compounds, in such a manner as to produce, at the same time,
the lightest and most agreeable food. A lady who, from her public
situation, receives once a week, for the entire year, and whose table
has a reputation, assured me lately, that all the spices consumed
annually in her kitchen did not cost her a franc. The _effect_ of a
French dinner is its principal charm. One of reasonably moderate habits,
rises from the table with a sense of enjoyment, that, to a stranger, at
least, is sometimes startling. I have, on several occasions, been afraid
I was relaxing into the vices of a _gourmet_, if, indeed, vices they can
be called. The _gourmand_ is a beast, and there is nothing to be said in
his favour; but, after all, I incline to the opinion that no one is the
worse for a knowledge of what is agreeable to the palate. Perhaps no one
of either sex is thoroughly trained, or properly bred, without being
_tant soit peu de gourmet_. The difference between sheer eating, and
eating with tact and intelligence, is so apparent as to need no
explanation. A dinner here does not oppress one. The wine neither
intoxicates nor heats, and the frame of mind and body in which one is
left, is precisely that best suited to intellectual and social
pleasures. I make no doubt, that one of the chief causes of the French
being so agreeable as companions, is, in a considerable degree, owing to
the admirable qualities of their table. A national character may emanate
from a kitchen. Roast beef, bacon, pudding, and beer, and port, will
make a different man, in time, from Chateau Margau, _côtelettes_,
_consommés_, and _soufflés_. The very name of _vol au vent_ is enough to
make one walk on air!

Seriously, these things have more influence than may be, at a glance,
imagined. The first great change I could wish to make in America, would
be to see a juster appreciation of the substance, and less importance
attached to outward forms, in moral things. The second would be, to
create a standard of greatness and distinction that should be
independent, or nearly independent, of money. The next, a more reasoning
and original tone of thought as respects our own distinctive principles
and _distinctive situation_, with a total indifference to the theories
that have been broached to sustain an alien and an antagonist system, in
England; and the last (the climax), a total reform in the kitchen! If I
were to reverse the order of these improvements, I am not certain the
three last might not follow as a consequence of the first. After our
people have been taught to cook a dinner, they ought also to be taught
how to eat it.

Our entertainment lasted the usual hour and a half; and, as one is all
this time eating, and there are limits to the capacity of a stomach, a
part of the lightness and gaiety with which one rises from a French
dinner ought to be attributed to the time that is consumed at the table.
The different ingredients have opportunity to dispose of themselves in
their new abode, and are not crowded together pell-mell, or like papers
and books in ---- library, as I think they must be after a transatlantic
meal. As for the point of a mere consumption of food, I take it the palm
must be given to your Frenchman. I had some amusement to-day in watching
the different countries. The Americans were nearly all through their
dinner by the time the first course was removed. All that was eaten
afterwards was literally, with them, pure makeweight, though they kept a
hungry look to the last. The English seemed fed even before the dinner
was begun; and, although the continental powers in general had the art
of picking till they got to the finger-bowls, none really kept up the
ball but the Frenchmen. It happened to be Friday, and I was a little
curious to discover whether the Nuncio came to these places with a
dispensation in his pocket. He sat next to Madame de Damas, as good a
Catholic as himself, and I observed them helping themselves to several
suspicious-looking dishes during the first course. I ought to have told
you before, that one rarely, almost never, helps his neighbour, at a
French entertainment. The dishes are usually put on the table, removed
by the servants to be carved in succession, and handed to the guests to
help themselves. When the service is perfect, every dish is handed to
each guest. In the great houses, servants out of livery help to the
different _plats_, servants in livery holding the dishes, sauces, etc.,
and changing the plates. I believe it is strictly _haut ton_ for the
servants in livery to do nothing but assist those out of livery. In
America it is thought stylish to give liveries; in Europe those who keep
most servants out of livery are in the highest mode, since these are
always a superior class of menials. The habits of this quarter of the
world give servants a very different estimation from that which they
hold with us. Nobles of high rank are employed about the persons of
princes; and, although, in this age, they perform no strictly menial
offices, or only on great occasions, they are, in theory, the servitors
of the body. Nobles have been even employed by nobles; and it is still
considered an honour for the child of a physician, or a clergyman, or a
shopkeeper, in some parts of Europe, to fill a high place in the
household of a great noble. The body servant, or the _gentleman_, as he
is sometimes called even in England, of a man of rank, looks down upon a
mechanic as his inferior. Contrary to all our notions as all this is, it
is strictly reasonable, when the relative conditions, information,
habits, and characters of the people are considered. But servants here
are divided into many classes; for some are scullions, and some are
entrusted with the keys. It follows that those who maintain most of the
higher class, who are never in livery, maintain the highest style. To
say, he keeps a servant out of livery, means, that he keeps a better
sort of domestic. Mere footmen always wear it; the _maître d'hôtel_, or
groom of the chambers, and the valet, never.

But to return to the dispensation, I made it a point to taste every dish
that had been partaken of by the Nuncio and his neighbour; and I found
that they were all fish; but fish so treated, that they could hardly
know what to think of themselves. You may remember, however, that an
Archbishop of Paris was sufficiently complaisant to declare a particular
duck, of which one of Louis the Sixteenth's aunts was fond, to be fish,
and, of course, fit to be eaten on fast-days.

The fasting of these people would strike you as singular; for I verily
believe they eat more of a fast-day than on any other. We engaged a
governess for the girls not long after our arrival, and she proved to be
a bigoted Catholic, a furious royalist, and as ignorant as a calf. She
had been but a few weeks in the house, when I detected her teaching her
_élèves_ to think Washington an unpardonable rebel, La Fayette a
monster, Louis XVI. a martyr, and all heretics in the high road to
damnation. There remained no alternative but to give her a quarter's
salary, and to get rid of her. By the way, this woman was of a noble
family, and as such received a small pension from the court. But I kept
her fully a month longer than I think I otherwise should, to see her eat
on fast-days. Your aunt had the consideration invariably to order fish
for her, and she made as much havoc among them as a pike. She always
commenced the Friday with an extra allowance of fruit, which she was
eating all the morning; and at dinner she contrived to eat half the
vegetables and all the fish. One day, by mistake, the soup happened to
be _gras_ instead of _maigre_, and, after she had swallowed a large
plateful, I was malicious enough to express my regrets at the mistake. I
really thought the poor woman was about to disgorge on the spot; but by
dint of consolation she managed to spare us this scene. So good an
occasion offering, I ventured to ask her why she fasted at all, as I did
not see it made any great difference in the sum total of her bodily
nutriment. She assured me that I did not understand the matter. The
fruit was merely a "_rafraîchissant_" and so counted for nothing; and as
for the fish and vegetables, I might possibly think them very good
eating, and, for that matter, so did she, on Thursdays and Saturdays;
but no sooner did Friday come than she longed for meat. The merit of the
thing consisted, therefore, more in denying her appetite than in going
without food. I tried hard to persuade her to take a _côtelette_ with
me; but the proposition made her shudder, though she admitted that she
envied me every mouthful I swallowed. The knowledge of this craving did
not take away my appetite.

Lest you should suppose that I am indulging in the vulgar English slang
against French governesses, I will add, that our own was the very worst,
in every respect, I ever saw, in or out of France; and that I have met
with ladies in this situation every way qualified, by principles,
attainments, manners, and antecedents, to be received with pleasure in
the best company of Europe.

Our _connives_ in the Hotel Monaco soon disappeared after the
_chasse-café_, leaving none but the Americans behind them. Men and women
retired as they came; the latter, however, taking leave, as is always
required by the punctilios of your sex, except at very large and crowded
parties, and even then properly; and the former, if alone, getting away
as quietly as possible. The whole affair was over before nine o'clock,
at which hour the diplomatic corps was scattered all through Paris.

Previously to this dispersion, however, Mr. Gallatin did me the favour
to present me to Mr. Canning. The conversation was short, and was
chiefly on America. There was a sore part in his feelings in consequence
of a recent negotiation, and he betrayed it. He clearly does not love
us; but what Englishman does? You will be amused to hear that,
unimportant in other respects as this little conversation was, it has
been the means of affecting the happiness of two individuals of high
station in Great Britain. It would be improper for me to say more; but
of the fact I can entertain no manner of doubt, and I mention it here
merely as a curious instance of the manner in which "tall oaks from
little acorns grow."

I ought to have said that two, instead of one event, followed this
dinner. The second was our own introduction into European society. The
how and wherefore it is unnecessary to explain, but some of the
cleverest and best-bred people of this well-bred and clever capital took
us by the hand, all "unlettered" as we were, and from that moment,
taking into consideration our tastes and my health, the question has
been, not how to get into, but how to keep out of, the great world. You
know enough of these matters, to understand that, the ice once broken,
any one can float in the current of society.

This little footing has not been obtained without some _contretems_, and
I have learned early to understand that wherever there is an Englishman
in the question, it behoves an American to be reserved, punctilious, and
sometimes stubborn. There is a strange mixture of kind feeling,
prejudice, and ill-nature, as respects us, wrought into the national
character of that people, that will not admit of much mystification.
That they should not like us, may be natural enough; but if they seek
the intercourse, they ought, on all occasions, to be made to conduct it
equally, without annoyance and condescension and on terms of perfect
equality; conditions, by the way, that are scarcely agreeable to their
present notions of superiority.[6]

[Footnote 6: The change in this respect during the last ten years is
_patent_. No European nation has, probably, just at this moment as much
real respect for America as the English, though it is still mixed with
great ignorance, and a very sincere dislike. Still, the enterprise,
activity, and growing power of the country are forcing themselves on the
attention of our kinsmen; and if the government understood its foreign
relations as well as it does its domestic, and made a proper exhibition
of maritime preparation and of maritime force, this people would hold
the balance in many of the grave questions that are now only in abeyance
in European politics. Hitherto we have been influenced by every
vacillation in English interests, and it is quite time to think of
turning the tables, and of placing, as far as practicable, American
interests above the vicissitudes of those of other people. The thing is
more easily done than is commonly imagined, but a party politician is
rarely a statesman, the subordinate management necessary to the one
being death to the comprehensive views that belong to the other. The
peculiar nature of the American institutions, and the peculiar
geographical situation of the country, moreover, render higher qualities
necessary, perhaps, to make a statesman here than elsewhere.]

In order to understand why I mention any other than the French, in the
capital of France, you will remember that there are many thousands of
foreigners established here, for longer or shorter periods, who, by means
of their money (a necessary that, relatively, is less abundant with the
French), materially affect society, contriving to penetrate it in all
directions, in some way or other.



LETTER VII.

English Jurisprudence.--English Justice.--Justice in
France.--Continental Jurisprudence.--Juries.--Legal Injustice.--The Bar
in France.--Precedence of the Law.


To JACOB SUTHERLAND, ESQ. NEW YORK.

Your legal pursuits will naturally give you an interest in the subject
of the state of justice in this part of the world. A correspondence like
mine would not admit of any very profound analysis of the subject, did I
possess the necessary learning, which I do not, but I may present a few
general facts and notions, that will give you some idea of the state of
this important feature of society. The forms and modes of English
jurisprudence are so much like our own, as to create the impression that
the administration of justice is equally free from venality and favour.
As a whole and when the points at issue reach the higher functionaries
of the law, I should think this opinion true; but, taking those facts
that appear in the daily prints, through the police reports and in the
form of personal narratives, as guides, I should think that there is
much more oppression, many more abuses, and far more outrages on the
intention of the law, in the purlieus of the courts in England, through
the agency of subordinates, than with us. The delays and charges of a
suit in chancery almost amount to a denial of justice. Quite lately, I
saw a statement, which went to show that a legacy to a charity of about
1000_l_., with the interest of some fourteen years, had been consumed in
this court, with the exception of rather more than 100_l_. This is an
intolerable state of things, and goes to prove, I think, that, in some
of its features at least, English jurisprudence is behind that of every
other free country.

But I have been much impressed lately, by a case that would be likely to
escape the attention of more regular commentators. A peer of the realm
having struck a constable on a race-course, is proceeded against, in the
civil action. The jury found for the plaintiff, damages fifty pounds. In
summing up, the judge reasoned exactly contrary to what I am inclined to
think would have been the case had the matter been tried before you. He
gave it as his opinion that the action was frivolous, and ought never to
have been brought; that the affair should have been settled out of
court; and, in short, left the impression that it was not, as such, so
great a hardship for a constable to be struck by a peer, that his honour
might not be satisfied with the offering of a guinea or two. The jury
thought differently; from which I infer that the facts did not sustain
the judge in his notions. Now, the reasoning at home would, I think,
have been just the other way. The English judge said, in substance, a
man of Lord ----'s dignity ought not to have been exposed to this
action; you would have said, a senator is a law-maker, and owes even a
higher example of order than common to the community; _he_ insinuated
that a small reparation ought to suffice, while _you_ would have made
some strong hints at smart-money.

I mention this case, for I think it rather illustrative of English
justice. Indeed, it is not easy to see how it well can be otherwise:
when society is divided into castes, the weak must go to the wall. I
know that the theory here is quite different, and that one of the boasts
of England is the equality of its justice; but I am dealing in _facts_,
and not in theories. In America it is thought, and with proper
limitations I dare say justly, that the bias of juries, in the very
lowest courts, is in favour of the poor against the rich; but the right
of appeal restores the balance, and, in a great degree, secures justice.
In each case it is the controlling power that does the wrong; in England
the few, in America the many.

In France, as you probably know, juries are confined to criminal cases.
The consequence is, a continuance of the old practice of soliciting
justice. The judge virtually decides in chambers, and he hears the
parties in chambers, or, in other words, wherever he may choose to
receive them. The client depends as much on external influence and his
own solicitations, as on the law and the justice of his case. He visits
the judge officially, and works upon his mind by all the means in his
power. You and I have been acquainted intimately from boyhood, and it
has been my bad luck to have had more to do with the courts than I could
wish; and yet, in all the freedom of an otherwise unfettered
intercourse, I have never dared to introduce the subject of any suit in
which I have been a party. I have been afraid of wounding your sense of
right, to say nothing of my own, and of forfeiting your esteem, or at
least, of losing your society. Now had we been Frenchmen, you would have
expected me to _solicit_ you; you would probably have heard me with the
bias of an old friend; and my adversary must have been a singularly
lucky fellow, or you a very honest one, if he did not get the worst of
it, supposing the case to admit of doubt. Formerly, it was known that
influence prevailed; bribes were offered and received, and a suit was a
contest of money and favouritism rather than one of facts and
principles.

I asked General La Fayette not long since, what he thought of the actual
condition of France as respects the administration of justice. In most
political cases he accused the government of the grossest injustice,
illegality, and oppression. In the ordinary criminal cases he believed
the intentions of the courts and juries perfectly fair, as, indeed, it
is difficult to believe they should not be. In the civil suits he
thought a great improvement had taken place; nor did he believe that
there now exists much of the ancient corruption. The civil code of
Napoleon had worked well, and all he complained of was a want of fitness
between the subordinate provisions of a system invented by a military
despot for his own support, and the system of _quasi_ liberty that had
been adopted at the restoration; for the Bourbons had gladly availed
themselves of all the machinery of power that Napoleon bequeathed to
France.

A gentleman who heard the conversation afterwards told me the following
anecdote. A friend of his had long been an unsuccessful suitor in one of
the higher courts of the kingdom. They met one day in the street, when
the other told him that an unsealed letter, which he held in his hand,
contained an offer of a pair of carriage-horses to the wife of the judge
who had the control of his affair. On being told he dare not take so
strong a step, M. de ----, my informant, was requested to read the
letter, to seal it and to put it in the _boîte aux lettres_ with his own
hands, in order to satisfy himself of the actual state of justice in
France. All this was done, and "I can only add," continued M. de ----,
"that I afterwards saw the horses in the carriage of Madame ----, and
that my friend gained his cause." To this anecdote I can only say, I
tell it exactly as I heard it, and that M. de ---- is a deputy, and one
of the honestest and simplest-minded men of my acquaintance. It is but
proper to add, that the judge in question has a bad name, and is little
esteemed by the bar; but the above-mentioned fact would go to show that
too much of the old system remains.

In Germany justice bears a better name, though the absence of juries
generally must subject the suitor to the assaults of personal influence.
Farther south, report speaks still less favourably of the manner in
which the laws are interpreted; and, indeed, it would seem to be an
inevitable consequence of despotism that justice should be abused. One
hears occasionally of some signal act of moderation and equity on the
part of monarchies, but the merits of systems are to be proved, not by
these brilliant _coups de justice_, but by the steady, quiet and regular
working of the machine, on which men know how to calculate, in which
they have faith, and which as seldom deceives them as comports with
human fallibility, rather than by _scenes_ in which the blind goddess is
made to play a part in a _melodrama_.

On the whole, it is fair to presume that, while public opinion, and that
intelligence which acts virtually as a bill of rights, even in the most
despotic governments of Europe, not even excepting Turkey, perhaps, have
produced a beneficial influence on the courts, the secrecy of their
proceedings, the irresponsible nature of their trusts (responsible to
power, and irresponsible to the nation), and the absence of publicity,
produce precisely the effects that a common-sense view of the facts
would lead one who understands human nature to expect.

I am no great admirer of the compromising verdicts of juries, in civil
suits that admit of a question as to amounts. They are an admirable
invention to settle questions of guilty or not guilty, but an
enlightened court would, nine times in ten, do more justice in the cases
just named. Would it not be an improvement to alter the present powers
of juries, by letting them simply find for or against the suitor,
leaving the damages to be assessed by regular officers, that might
resemble masters in chancery? At all events, juries, or some active
substitute, cannot be safely dispensed with until a people have made
great progress in the science of publicity, and in a knowledge of the
general principles connected with jurisprudence.

This latter feature is quite peculiar to America. Nothing has struck me
more in Europe than the ignorance which everywhere exists on such
subjects, even among educated people. No one appears to have any
distinct notions of legal principles, or even of general law, beyond a
few prominent facts, but the professional men. Chance threw me, not long
since into the company of three or four exceedingly clever young
Englishmen. They were all elder sons, and two were the heirs of
peers.[7] Something was said on the subject of a claim of a gentleman
with whom I am connected to a large Irish estate. The grandfather of
this gentleman was the next brother to the incumbent, who died
intestate. The grandson, however, was defeated in his claim, in
consequence of its being proved, that the ancestor through whom he
derived his claim was of the half-blood. My English companions did not
understand the principle, and when, I explained by adding, that the
grandfather of the claimant was born of a different mother from the
last holder in fee, and that he could never inherit at law (unless by
devise), the estate going to a hundredth cousin of the whole blood in
preference, or even escheating to the king, they one and all protested
England had no such law! They were evidently struck with the injustice
of transferring property that had been acquired by the common ancestor
of two brothers to a remote cousin, merely because the affinity between
the sons was only on the father's side although that very father may
have accumulated the estate; and they could not believe that what struck
them as so grievous a wrong, could be the law of descents under which
they lived. Luckily for me, one learned in the profession happened to be
present, and corroborated the fact. Now all these gentlemen were members
of parliament; but they were accustomed to leave legal questions of this
nature to the management of professional men.

[Footnote 7: This absurd and unaccountable provision of the common law
has since been superseded by a statute regulating descents on a more
intelligible and just provision. England has made greater advances in
common sense and in the right, in all such matters, within the last five
years, than during the previous hundred.]

I mentioned this conversation to another Englishman, who thought the
difficulty well disposed of by saying, that if property ever escheated
in this manner, I ought to remember, that the crown invariably bestowed
it on the natural heir. This struck me as singular reasoning to be used
by a people who profess to cherish liberty, inasmuch as, to a certain
degree, it places all the land in the kingdom at the mercy of the
sovereign. I need not tell you, moreover, that this answer was
insufficient, as it did not meet the contingency of a remote cousin's
inheriting to the prejudice of the children of him who earned the
estate. But habit is all in all with the English in such matters; and
that which they are accustomed to see and hear, they are accustomed to
think right.

The bar is rising greatly in public consideration in France. Before the
revolution there were certain legal families of great distinction; but
these could scarcely be considered as forming a portion of the regular
practitioners. Now, many of the most distinguished statesmen, peers, and
politicians of France, commenced their careers as advocates. The
practice of public speaking gives them an immense advantage in the
chambers, and fully half of the most popular debaters are members who
belong to the profession. New candidates for public favour appear every
day, and the time is at hand when the fortunes of France, so lately
controlled by soldiers, will be more influenced by men of this
profession than by those of all the others. This is a great step in
moral civilization; for the country that most feels the ascendancy of
the law, and that least feels that of arms, is nearest to the summit of
human perfection. When asked which profession takes rank in America, I
tell them the law in influence, and the church in deference. Some of my
moustachoed auditors stare at this reply; for here the sword has
precedence of all others, and the law, with few exceptions, is deemed a
calling for none but those who are in the secondary ranks of society.
But, as I have told you, opinion is undergoing a great change in this
particular. I believe that every efficient man in the present ministry
is, or has been, a lawyer.



LETTER VIII.

Army of France.--Military Display.--Fête of the Trocadero.--Royal Review.
--Royal Ordinance.--Dissatisfaction.--Hostile Demonstration.--Dispersion
of Rioters.--French Cavalry.--Learned Coachman.--Use of Cavalry.--Cavalry
Operations.--The Conscription.--National Defence.--Napoleon's Marshals.
--Marshal Soult--Disaffection of the Army.


To COL. BANKHEAD, U.S. ARTILLERY.

The army of France obtained so high a reputation, during the wars of the
revolution and the empire, that you may feel some curiosity to know its
actual condition. As the Bourbons understand that they have been
restored to the throne, by the great powers of Europe, if not in
opposition to the wishes of a majority of Frenchmen, certainly in
opposition to the wishes of the active portion of the population, and
consequently to that part of the nation which would be most likely to
oppose their interests, they have been accused of endeavouring to keep
the establishments of France so low as to put her at the mercy of any
new combination of the allies. I should think this accusation, in a
great degree, certainly unmerited; for France, at this moment, has a
large and, so far as I can judge, a well-appointed army, and one that is
charged by the liberal party with being a heavy expense to the nation,
and that, too, chiefly with the intention of keeping the people in
subjection to tyranny. But these contradictions are common in party
politics. It is not easy here to get at statistical facts accurately,
especially those which are connected with expenditure. Nominally, the
army is about 200,000 men, but it is whispered that numerous _congés_
are given, in order to divert the funds that are thus saved to other
objects. Admitting all this to be true, and it probably is so in part, I
should think France must have fully 150,000 men embodied, without
including the National Guards. Paris is pretty well garrisoned, and the
_casernes_ in the vicinity of the capital are always occupied. It
appears to me there cannot be less than 20,000 men within a day's march
of the Tuileries, and there may be half as many more.[8]

[Footnote 8: The sudden disbandment of the guards and other troops in
1830 greatly diminished the actual force of the country.]

Since our arrival there have been several great military displays, and I
have made it a point to be present at them all. The first was a _petite
guerre_,[9] on the plains of Issy, or within a mile of the walls of the
town. There may have been 15,000 men assembled for the occasion,
including troops of all arms.

[Footnote 9: Sham-fight.]

One of the first things that struck me at Paris was the careless
militia-like manner in which the French troops marched about the
streets. The disorder, irregularity, careless and indifferent style of
moving, were all exactly such as I have heard laughed at a thousand
times in our own great body of national defenders. But this is only one
of many similar instances, in which I have discovered that what has been
deemed a peculiarity in ourselves, arising from the institutions
perhaps, is a very general quality belonging rather to man than to any
particular set of men. Our notions, you will excuse the freedom of the
remark, are apt to be a little provincial, and every one knows that
fashion, opinions and tastes only become the more exaggerated the
farther we remove from the centre of light. In this way, we come to
think of things in an exaggerated sense, until, like the boy who is
disappointed at finding a king a man, we form notions of life that are
anything but natural and true.

I was still so new to all this, however, that I confess I went to the
plain of Issy expecting to see a new style of manoeuvring, or, at least,
one very different from that which I had so often witnessed at home, nor
can I say that in this instance there was so much disappointment. The
plan of the day did not embrace two parties, but was merely an attack on
an imaginary position, against which the assailants were regularly and
scientifically brought up, the victory being a matter of convention. The
movements were very beautiful, and were made with astonishing spirit and
accuracy. All idea of disorder or the want of regularity was lost here,
for entire battalions advanced to the charges without the slightest
apparent deviation from perfectly mathematical lines.

When we reached the acclivity that overlooked the field, a new line was
forming directly beneath us, it being supposed that the advance of the
enemy had already been driven in upon his main body, and the great
attack was just on the point of commencing.

A long line of infantry of the French guards formed the centre of the
assailants. Several batteries of artillery were at hand, and divers
strong columns of horse and foot were held in reserve. A regiment of
lancers was on the nearest flank, and another of cuirassiers was
stationed at the opposite. All the men of the royal family were in the
field, surrounded by a brilliant staff. A gun was fired near them, by
way of signal, I suppose, when two brigades of artillery galloped
through the intervals of the line, unlimbered, and went to work as if
they were in downright earnest. The cannonade continued a short time,
when the infantry advanced in line, and delivered its fire by companies,
or battalions, I could not discern which, in the smoke. This lasted some
ten minutes, when I observed a strong column of troops, dressed in
scarlet, moving up with great steadiness and regularity from the rear.
These were the Swiss Guards, and there might have been fifteen hundred
or two thousand of them. The column divided into two, as it approached
the rear of the line, which broke into column in turn, and for a minute
there was a confused crowd of red and blue coats, in the smoke, that
quite set my nautical instinct at defiance. The cuirassiers chose this
moment to make a rapid and menacing movement in advance, but without
opening their column, and some of the artillery reappeared and commenced
firing at the unoccupied intervals. This lasted a very little while for
the Swiss deployed into line like clock-work, and then made a quick
charge, with beautiful precision. Halting, they threw in a heavy fire,
by battalions; the French guard rallied and formed upon their flanks;
the whole reserve came up; the cuirassiers and lancers charged, by
turning the position assailed, and for ten or fifteen minutes there was
a succession of quick evolutions, which like the _finale_ of a grand
piece of music, appeared confused even while it was the most scientific,
and then there was a sudden pause. The position, whose centre was a
copse, had been carried, and we soon saw the guards formed on the ground
that was supposed to have been held by the enemy. The artillery still
fired occasionally, as on a retreating foe, and the lancers and
cuirassiers were charging and manoeuvring, half a mile farther in
advance, as if following up their advantage.

Altogether, this was much the prettiest field exercise I ever witnessed.
There was a unity of plan, a perfection of evolution, and a division of
_matériel_ about it, that rendered it to my eyes as nearly perfect as
might be. The troops were the best of France, and the management of the
whole had been confided to some one accustomed to the field. It
contained all the poetry, without any of the horrors of a battle. It
could not possess the heart-stirring interest of a real conflict, and
yet it was not without great excitement.

Some time after the _petite guerre_ of Issy, the capital celebrated the
fête of the Trocadero. The Trocadero, you may remember, was the fortress
of Cadix, carried by assault, under the order of the Dauphin, in the war
of the late Spanish revolution. This government, which has destroyed all
the statues of the Emperor, proscribed his family, and obliterated every
visible mark of his reign in their power, has had the unaccountable
folly of endeavouring to supplant the military glory acquired under
Napoleon by that of Louis Antoine, Dauphin of France! A necessary
consequence of the attempt, is a concentration of all the military
souvenirs of the day in this affair of the Trocadero. Bold as all this
will appear to one who has not the advantage of taking a near view of
what is going on here, it has even been exceeded, through the abject
spirit of subserviency in those who have the care of public instruction,
by an attempt to exclude even the name of the Bonaparte from French
history. My girls have shown me an abridgment of the history of France,
that has been officially prepared for the ordinary schools, in which
there is no sort of allusion to him. The wags here say, that a work has
been especially prepared for the heir presumptive, however, in which the
Emperor is a little better treated; being spoken of as "a certain
Marquis de Bonaparte, who commanded the armies of the king."

The mimic attack on the Trocadero, like its great original, was at
night. The troops assembled in the Champs de Mars, and the assault was
made, across the beautiful bridge of Jena, on a sharp acclivity near
Passy, which was the imaginary fortress. The result was a pretty good
effect of night-firing, some smoke, not a little noise, with a very
pretty movement of masses. I could make nothing of it, of much interest,
for the obscurity prevented the eyes from helping the imagination.

Not long since, the king held a great review of regular troops, and of
the entire body of the National Guards of Paris and its environs. This
review also took place in the Champs de Mars, and it was said that
nearly a hundred thousand men were under arms for the occasion. I think
there might have been quite seventy thousand. These mere reviews have
little interest, the evolutions being limited to marching by regiments
on and off the ground. In doing the latter, the troops defile before the
king. Previously to this, the royal cortege passed along the several
lines, receiving the usual honours.

On this occasion the Dauphine and the Duchesse de Berri followed the
king in open carriages, accompanied by the little Duc de Bordeaux and
his sister. I happened to be at an angle of the field as the royal
party, surrounded by a showy group of marshals and generals, passed, and
when there seemed to be a little confusion. As a matter of course, the
cry of "Vive le roi!" had passed along with the procession; for, popular
or not, it is always easy for a sovereign to procure this sign of
affection, or for others to procure it for him. You will readily
understand that _employés_ of the government are especially directed to
betray the proper enthusiasm on such occasions. There was however, a cry
at this corner of the area that did not seem so unequivocally loyal,
and, on inquiry, I was told that some of the National Guards had cried
"A bas les ministres!" The affair passed off without much notice,
however; and I believe it was generally forgotten by the population
within an hour. The desire to get rid of M. de Villèle and his set was
so general in Paris, that most people considered the interruption quite
as a matter of course.

The next day the capital was electrified by a royal ordinance,
disbanding all the National Guards of Paris! A more infatuated, or, if
it were intended to punish the disaffected, a more unjust decree, could
not easily have been issued. It was telling the great majority of the
very class which forms the true force of every government that their
rulers could not confide in them. As confidence, by awakening pride,
begets a spirit in favour of those who depend on it, so does obvious
distrust engender disaffection. But the certainty that Louis XVI. lost
his throne and his life for the want of decision, has created one of
those sweeping opinions here of the virtue of energy, that constantly
leads the rulers into false measures. An act that might have restrained
the France of 1792, would be certain to throw the France of 1827 into
open revolt. The present generation of Frenchmen, in a political sense,
have little in common with even the French of 1814, and measures must be
suited to the times in which we live. As well might one think of using
the birch on the man, that had been found profitable with the boy, as to
suppose these people can be treated like their ancestors.

As might have been expected, a deep, and what is likely to prove a
lasting discontent, has been the consequence of the blunder. It is
pretended that the shopkeepers of Paris are glad to be rid of the
trouble of occasionally mounting guard, and that the affair will be
forgotten in a short time. All this may be true enough, in part, and it
would also be true in the whole, were there not a press to keep
disaffection alive, and to inflame the feelings of those who have been
treated so cavalierly; for he knows little of human nature who does not
understand that, while bodies of men commit flagrant wrongs without the
responsibility being kept in view by their individual members, an
affront to the whole is pretty certain to be received as an affront to
each of those who make an integral part.

The immediate demonstrations of dissatisfaction have not amounted to
much, though the law and medical students paraded the streets, and
shouted beneath the windows of the ministers the very cry that gave rise
to the disbandment of the guards. But, if no other consequence has
followed this exercise of arbitrary power, I, at least, have learned how
to disperse a crowd. As you may have occasion some days, in your
military capacity, to perform this unpleasant duty, it may be worth
while to give you a hint concerning the _modus operandi_.

Happening to pass through the Place Vendôme, I found the foot of the
celebrated column which stands directly in the centre of the square
surrounded by several hundred students. They were clustered together
like bees, close to the iron railing which encloses the base of the
pillar, or around an area of some fifty or sixty feet square. From time
to time they raised a shout, evidently directed against the ministers,
of whom one resided at no great distance from the column. As the hotel
of the État-Major of Paris is in this square, and there is always a post
at it, it soon became apparent there was no intention quietly to submit
to this insult. I was attracted by a demonstration on the part of the
_corps de garde_, and, taking a station at no greet distance from the
students, I awaited the issue.

The guard, some thirty foot soldiers, came swiftly out of the court of
the hotel, and drew up in a line before its gate. This happened as I
reached their own side of the square, which I had just crossed.
Presently, a party of fifteen or twenty _gendarmes à cheval_ came up,
and wheeled into line. The students raised another shout, as it might
be, in defiance. The infantry shouldered arms, and, filing off singly,
headed by an officer, they marched in what we call Indian file, towards
the crowd. All this was done in the most quiet manner possible, but
promptly, and with an air of great decision and determination. On
reaching the crowd, they penetrated it, in the same order, quite up to
the railing. Nothing was said, nor was anything done; for it would have
been going farther than the students were prepared to proceed, had they
attempted to seize and disarm the soldiers. This appeared to be
understood, and, instead of wasting the moments and exasperating his
enemies by a parley, the officer, as has just been said, went directly
through them until he reached the railing. Once there, he began to
encircle it, followed in the same order by his men. The first turn
loosened the crowd, necessarily, and then I observed that the muskets,
which hitherto had been kept at a "carry," were inclined a little
outwards. Two turns enabled the men to throw their pieces to a charge,
and, by this time, they had opened their order so far as to occupy the
four sides of the area. Facing outwards, they advanced very slowly, but
giving time for the crowd to recede. This manoeuvre rendered the throng
less and less dense, when, watching their time, the mounted gendarmes
rode into it in a body, and, making a circuit, on a trot, without the
line of infantry, they got the mass so loosened and scattered, that,
unarmed as the students were, had they been disposed to resist, they
would now have been completely at the mercy of the troops. Every step
that was gained of course weakened the crowd, and, in ten minutes, the
square was empty; some being driven out of it in one direction, and some
in another, without a blow being struck, or even an angry word used. The
force of the old saying, "that the king's name is a tower of strength,"
or, the law being on the side of the troops, probably was of some avail;
but a mob of fiery young Frenchmen is not too apt to look at the law
with reverence.

I stood near the hotels, but still in the square, when a gendarme,
sweeping his sabre as one would use a stick in driving sheep, came near
me. He told me to go away. I smiled, and said I was a stranger, who was
looking at the scene purely from curiosity. "I see you are, sir," he
answered, "but you had better fall back into the Rue de la Paix." We
exchanged friendly nods, and I did as he told me, without further
hesitation. In truth, there remained no more to be seen.

Certainly, nothing could have been done in better temper, more
effectually, nor more steadily, than this dispersion of the students.
There is no want of spirit in these young men, you must know, but the
reverse is rather the case. The troops were under fifty in number, and
the mob was between six hundred and a thousand, resolute, active, sturdy
young fellows, who had plenty of fight in them, but who wanted the unity
of purpose that a single leader can give to soldiers. I thought this
little campaign of the column of the Place Vendôme quite as good, in its
way, as the _petite guerre_ of the plains of Issy.

I do not know whether you have fallen into the same error as myself in
relation to the comparative merits of the cavalry of this part of the
world, though I think it is one common to most Americans. From the
excellence of their horses, as well as from that general deference for
the character and prowess of the nation which exists at home, I had been
led to believe that the superior qualities of the British cavalry were
admitted in Europe. This is anything but true; military men, so far as I
can learn, giving the palm to the Austrian artillery, the British
infantry, and the French cavalry. The Russians are said to be generally
good for the purposes of defence, and in the same degree deficient for
those of attack. Some shrewd observers, however, think the Prussian
army, once more, the best in Europe.

The French cavalry is usually mounted on small, clumsy, but sturdy
beasts, that do not show a particle of blood. Their movement is awkward,
and their powers, for a short effort, certainly are very much inferior
to those of either England or America. Their superiority must consist in
their powers of endurance; for the blooded animal soon falls off, on
scanty fare and bad grooming. I have heard the moral qualities of the
men given as a reason why the French cavalry should be superior to that
of England. The system of conscription secures to an army the best
materials, while that of enlistment necessarily includes the worst. In
this fact is to be found the real moral superiority of the French and
Prussian armies. Here, service, even in the ranks, is deemed honourable;
whereas with us, or in England, it would be certain degradation to a man
of the smallest pretension to enlist as a soldier, except in moments
that made stronger appeals than usual to patriotism. In short, it is
_primâ facie_ evidence of a degraded condition for a man to carry a
musket in a regular battalion. Not so here. I have frequently seen
common soldiers copying in the gallery of the Louvre, or otherwise
engaged in examining works of science or of taste; not ignorantly, and
with vulgar wonder, but like men who had been regularly instructed. I
have been told that a work on artillery practice lately appeared in
France, which excited so much surprise by its cleverness, that an
inquiry was set on foot for its author. He was found seated in a
cabriolet in the streets, his vocation being that of a driver. What
renders his knowledge more surprising is the fact, that the man was
never a soldier at all; but, having a great deal of leisure, while
waiting for his fares, he had turned his attention to this subject, and
had obtained all he knew by means of books. Nothing is more common than
to see the drivers of cabriolets and fiacres reading in their seats; and
I have even seen market-women, under their umbrellas, _à la Robinson_,
with books in their hands. You are not, however, to be misled by these
facts, which merely show the influence of the peculiar literature of the
country, so attractive and amusing; for a very great majority of the
French can neither read nor write. It is only in the north that such
things are seen at all, except among the soldiers, and a large
proportion of even the French army are entirely without schooling.

To return to the cavalry, I have heard the superiority of the French
ascribed also to their dexterity in the use of the sabre, or, as it is
termed here, _l'arme blanche_. After all, this is rather a poetical
conclusion; for charges of cavalry rarely result in regular hand-to-hand
conflicts. Like the bayonet, the sabre is seldom used except on an
unresisting enemy. Still, the consciousness of such a manual superiority
might induce a squadron less expert to wheel away, or to break, without
waiting for orders.

I have made the acquaintance, here, of an old English general, who has
passed all his life in the dragoons, and who commanded brigades of
cavalry in Spain and at Waterloo. As he is a sensible old man, of great
frankness and simplicity of character, perfect good breeding and good
nature, and moreover, so far as I can discover, absolutely without
prejudice against America, he has quite won my heart, and I have availed
myself of his kindness to see a good deal of him. We walk together
frequently, and chat of all things in heaven and earth, just as they
come uppermost. The other day I asked him to explain the details of a
charge of his own particular arm to me, of which I confessed a proper
ignorance. "This is soon done," said the old gentleman, taking my arm
with a sort of sly humour, as if he were about to relate something
facetious: "against foot, a charge is a menace; if they break, we profit
by it; if they stand, we get out of the scrape as well as we can. When
foot are in disorder, cavalry does the most, and it is always active in
securing a victory, usually taking most of the prisoners. But as against
cavalry, there is much misconception. When two regiments assault each
other, it is in compact line--" "How," I interrupted him, "do not you
open, so as to leave room to swing a sabre?" "Not at all. The theory is
knee to knee; but this is easier said than done, in actual service. I
will suppose an unsuccessful charge. We start, knee to knee, on a trot.
This loosens the ranks, and, as we increase the speed, they become still
looser. We are under the fire of artillery, or, perhaps, of infantry,
all the time, and the enemy won't run. At this moment, a clever officer
will command a retreat to be sounded. If he should not, some officer is
opportunely killed, or some leading man loses command of his horse,
which is wounded and wheels, the squadron follows, and we get away as
well as we can. The enemy follows, and if he catches us, we are cut up.
Other charges do occur; but this is the common history of cavalry
against cavalry, and, in unsuccessful attacks of cavalry, against
infantry too. A knowledge of the use of the sword is necessary; for did
your enemy believe you ignorant of it, he would not fly; but the weapon
itself is rarely used on such occasions. Very few men are slain in their
ranks by the bayonet or the sabre."

I was once told, though not directly by an officer, that the English
dragoon neglected his horse in the field, selling the provender for
liquor, and that, as a consequence, the corps became inefficient;
whereas the French dragoon, being usually a sober man, was less exposed
to this temptation. This may, or may not, be true; but drunkenness is
now quite common in the French army, though I think much less so in the
cavalry than in the foot. The former are generally selected with some
care, and the common regiments of the line, as a matter of course,
receive the refuse of the conscription.

This conscription is after all, extremely oppressive and unjust, though
it has the appearance of an equal tax. Napoleon had made it so
unpopular, by the inordinate nature of his demands for men, that Louis
XVIII. caused an article to be inserted in the charter, by which it was
to be altogether abolished. But a law being necessary to carry out this
constitutional provision, the clause remains a perfect dead letter, it
being no uncommon thing for the law to be stronger than the constitution
even in America, and quite a common thing here. I will give you an
instance of the injustice of the system. An old servant of mine has been
drafted for the cavalry. I paid this man seven hundred francs a year,
gave him coffee, butter, and wine, with his food, and he fell heir to a
good portion of my old clothes. The other day he came to see me, and I
inquired into his present situation. His arms and clothes were found
him. He got neither coffee, wine, nor butter; and his other food, as a
matter of course, was much inferior to that he had been accustomed to
receive with me. His pay, after deducting the necessary demands on it in
the shape of regular contributions, amounts to about two sous a day,
instead of the two francs he got in my service.

Now, necessity, in such matters, is clearly the primary law. If a
country cannot exist without a large standing army, and the men are not
to be had by voluntary enlistments, a draft is probably the wisest and
best regulation for its security. But, taking this principle as the
basis of the national defence, a just and a paternal government would
occupy itself in equalizing the effects of the burden, as far as
circumstances would in any manner admit. The most obvious and efficient
means would be by raising the rate of pay to the level, at least, of a
scale that should admit of substitutes being obtained at reasonable
rates. This is done with us, where a soldier receives a full ration, all
his clothes, and sixty dollars a year.[10] It is true, that this would
make an army very costly, and, to bear the charge, it might be necessary
to curtail some of the useless magnificence and prodigality of the other
branches of the government; and herein is just the point of difference
between the expenditures of America and those of France. It must be
remembered, too, that a really free government, by enlisting the popular
feeling in its behalf through its justice, escapes all the charges that
are incident to the necessity of maintaining power by force, wanting
soldiers for its enemies without, and not for its enemies within. We
have no need of a large standing army, on account of our geographical
position, it is true; but had we the government of France, we should not
find that our geographical position exempted us from the charge.

[Footnote 10: He now receives seventy-two.]

You have heard a great deal of the celebrated soldiers who surrounded
Napoleon, and whose names have become almost as familiar to us as his
own. I do not find that the French consider the marshals men of singular
talents. Most of them reached their high stations on account of their
cleverness in some particular branch of their duties, and by their
strong devotion, in the earlier parts of their career, to their master.
Maréchal Soult has a reputation for skill in managing the civil detail
of service. As a soldier, he is also distinguished for manoeuvring in
the face of his enemy, and under fire. Some such excitement appears
necessary to arouse his dormant talents. Suchet is said to have had
capacity; but, I think, to Massena, and to the present King of Sweden,
the French usually yield the palm in this respect. Davoust was a man of
terrible military energy, and suited to certain circumstances, but
scarcely a man of talents. It was to him Napoleon said, "remember, you
have but a single friend in France--myself; take care you do not lose
him." Lannes seems to have stood better than most of them as a soldier,
and Macdonald as a man. But, on the whole, I think it quite apparent
there was scarcely one among them all calculated to have carried out a
very high fortune for himself, without the aid of the directing genius
of his master. Many of them had ambition enough for anything; but it was
an ambition stimulated by example, rather than by a consciousness of
superiority.

In nothing have I been more disappointed than in the appearance of these
men. There is more or less of character about the exterior and
physiognomy of them all, it is true; but scarcely one has what we are
accustomed to think the carriage of a soldier. It may be known to you
that Moreau had very little of this, and really one is apt to fancy he
can see the civic origin in nearly all of them. While the common French
soldiers have a good deal of military coquetry, the higher officers
appear to be nearly destitute of it. Maréchal Molitor is a fine man;
Maréchal Marmont, neat, compact, and soldierly-looking; Maréchal
Mortier, a grenadier without grace; Maréchal Oudinot, much the same; and
so on to the end of the chapter. Lamarque is a little swarthy man, with
good features and a keen eye; but he is military in neither carriage nor
mien.

Crossing the Pont Royal, shortly after my arrival, in company with a
friend, the latter pointed out to me a stranger, on the opposite
side-walk, and desired me to guess who and what he might be. The subject
of my examination was a compact, solidly-built man, with a plodding
rustic air, and who walked a little lame. After looking at him a minute,
I guessed he was some substantial grazier, who had come to Paris on
business connected with the supplies of the town. My friend laughed, and
told me it was Marshal Soult. To my inexperienced eye, he had not a bit
of the exterior of a soldier, and was as unlike the engravings we see of
the French heroes as possible. But here, art is art; and like the man
who was accused of betraying another into a profitless speculation by
drawing streams on his map, when the land was without any, and who
defended himself by declaring no one ever saw a _map_ without streams,
the French artists appear to think every one should be represented in
his ideal character, let him be as _bourgeois_ as he may in truth. I
have seen Marshal Soult in company, and his face has much character. The
head is good, and the eye searching, the whole physiognomy possessing
those latent fires that one would be apt to think would require the
noise and excitement of a battle to awaken. La Fayette looks more like
an old soldier than any of them. Gérard, however, is both a handsome man
and of a military mien.

Now and then we see a _vieux moustache_ in the guards; but, on the
whole, I have been much surprised at finding how completely the army of
this country is composed of young soldiers. The campaigns of Russia, of
1813, 1814, and of 1815, left few besides conscripts beneath the eagles
of Napoleon. My old servant Charles tells me that the guardhouse is
obliged to listen to tales of the campaign of Spain, and of the
Trocadero!

The army of France is understood to be very generally disaffected. The
restoration has introduced into it, in the capacity of general officers,
many who followed the fortunes of the Bourbons into exile, and some, I
believe, who actually fought against this country in the ranks of her
enemies. This may be, in some measure, necessary, but it is singularly
unfortunate.

I have been told, on good authority, that, since the restoration of
1815, several occasions have occurred, when the court thought itself
menaced with a revolution. On all these occasions the army, as a matter
of course, has been looked to with hope or with distrust. Investigation
is said to have always discovered so bad a spirit, that little reliance
is placed on its support.

The traditions of the service are all against the Bourbons. It is true,
that very few of the men who fought at Marengo and Austerlitz still
remain; but then the recollection of their deeds forms the great delight
of most Frenchmen. There is but one power that can counteract this
feeling, and it is the power of money. By throwing itself into the arms
of the industrious classes, the court might possibly obtain an ally,
sufficiently strong to quell the martial spirit of the nation; but, so
far from pursuing such a policy, it has all the commercial and
manufacturing interests marshalled against it, because it wishes to
return to the _bon vieux tems_ of the old system.

After all, I much question if any government in France will have the army
cordially with it, that does not find it better employment than
mock-fights on the plain of Issy, and night attacks on the mimic
Trocadero.



LETTER IX.

Royal Dinner.--Magnificence and Comfort.--Salle de Diane.--Prince de
Condé.--Duke of Orleans.--The Dinner-table.--The Dauphin.--Sires de
Coucy.--The Dauphine.--Ancient Usages--M. de Talleyrand.--Charles X.
--Panoramic Procession.--Droll Effect.--The Dinner.--M. de Talleyrand's
Office.--The Duchesse de Berri.--The Catastrophe.--An Aristocratic
Quarrel.


To MRS. SINGLETON W. BEALL, GREEN BAY.

We have lately witnessed a ceremony that may have some interest for one
who, like yourself, dwells in the retirement of a remote frontier post.
It is etiquette for the kings of France to dine in public twice in the
year, viz. the 1st of January, and the day that is set apart for the
fête of the king. Having some idle curiosity to be present on one of
these occasions, I wrote the usual note to the lord in, waiting, or, as
he is called here, "le premier gentilhomme de la chambre du roi, de
service," and we got the customary answer, enclosing us tickets of
admission. There are two sorts of permissions granted on these
occasions: by one you are allowed to remain in the room during the
dinner; and by the other, you are obliged to walk slowly through the
salle, in at one side and out at the other, without, however, being
suffered to pause even for a moment. Ours were of the former
description.

The King of France having the laudable custom of being punctual, and as
every one dines in Paris at six, that best of all hours for a town life,
we were obliged to order our own dinner an hour earlier than common, for
looking at others eating on an empty stomach is, of all amusements, the
least satisfactory. Having taken this wise precaution, we drove to the
chateau at half after five, it not being seemly to enter the room after
the king, and, as we discovered, for females impossible.

Magnificence and comfort seldom have much in common. We were struck with
this truth on entering the palace of the king of France. The room into
which we were first admitted was filled with tall, lounging foot
soldiers, richly attired, but who lolled about the place with their caps
on, and with a barrack-like air that seemed to us singularly in contrast
with the prompt and respectful civility with which one is received in
the ante-chamber of a private hotel. It is true that we had nothing to
do with the soldiers and lackeys who thronged the place; but if their
presence was intended to impress visitors with the importance of their
master, I think a more private entrance would have been most likely to
produce that effect; for I confess, that it appeared to me has a mark of
poverty, that troops being necessary to the state and security of the
monarch, he was obliged to keep them in the vestibule by which his
guests entered. But this is royal state. Formerly, the executioner was
present; and in the semi-barbarous courts of the East, such is the fact
even now. The soldiers were a party of the Hundred Swiss; men chosen for
their great stature, and remarkable for the perfection of their musket.
Two of them were posted as sentinels at the foot of the great staircase
by which we ascended, and we passed several more on the landings.

We were soon in the Salle des Gardes, or the room which the _gardes du
corps_ on service occupied. Two of these _quasi_ soldiers were also
acting as sentinels here, while others lounged about the room. Their
apartment communicated with the Salle de Diane, the hall or gallery
prepared for the entertainment. I had no other means but the eye of
judging of the dimensions of this room; but its length considerably
exceeds a hundred feet, and its breadth is probably forty, or more. It
is of the proper height, and the ceiling is painted in imitation of
those of the celebrated Farnese Palace at Rome.

We found this noble room divided, by a low railing, into three
compartments. The centre, an area of some thirty feet by forty,
contained the table, and was otherwise prepared for the reception of the
court. On one side of it were raised benches for the ladies, who were
allowed to be seated; and, on the other, a vacant space for the
gentlemen, who stood. All these, you will understand, were considered
merely as spectators, not being supposed to be in the presence of the
king. The mere spectators were dressed as usual, or in common evening
dress, and not all the women even in that; while those within the
railings, being deemed to be in the royal presence, were in high court
dresses. Thus I stood for an hour within five-and-twenty feet of the
king, and part of the time much nearer, while, by a fiction of
etiquette, I was not understood to be there at all. I was a good while
within ten feet of the Duchesse de Berri, while, by convention, I was
nowhere. There was abundance of room in our area, and every facility of
moving about, many coming and going, as they saw fit. Behind us, but at
a little distance, were other rows of raised seats, filled with the best
instrumental musicians of Paris. Along the wall, facing the table, was a
narrow raised platform, wide enough to allow of two or three to walk
abreast, separated from the rest of the room by a railing, and extending
from a door at one end of the gallery, to a door at the other. This was
the place designed for the passage of the public during the dinner; no
one, however, being admitted, even here, without a ticket.

A gentleman of the court led your aunt to the seats reserved for the
female spectators, which were also without the railing, and I took my
post among the men. Although the court of the Tuileries was, when we
entered the palace, filled with a throng of those who were waiting to
pass through the Gallery of Diana, to my surprise, the number of persons
who were to remain in the room was very small. I account for the
circumstance, by supposing, that it is not etiquette for any who have
been presented to attend, unless they are among the court; and, as some
reserve was necessary in issuing these tickets, the number was
necessarily limited. I do not think there were fifty men on our side,
which might have held several hundred; and the seats of the ladies were
not half filled. Boxes were fitted up in the enormous windows, which
closed and curtained, a family of fine children occupying that nearest
to me. Some one said they were the princes of the house of Orleans; for
none of the members of the royal family have seats at the _grands
couverts_, as these dinners are called, unless they belong to the
reigning branch. There is but one Bourbon prince more remote from the
crown[11] than the Duc d'Orléans, and this is the Prince de Condé, or, as
he is more familiarly termed here, the Duc de Bourbon, the father of the
unfortunate Duc d'Enghien. So broad are the distinctions made between
the sovereign and the other members of his family in these governments,
that it was the duty of the Prince de Condé to appear to-day behind the
king's chair, as the highest dignitary of his household; though it was
understood that he was excused, on account of his age and infirmities.
These broad distinctions, you will readily imagine, however, are only
maintained on solemn and great state occasions; for, in their ordinary
intercourse, kings nowadays dispense with most of the ancient
formalities of their rank. It would have been curious, however, to see
one descendant of St. Louis standing behind the chair of another, as a
servitor; and more especially, to see the Prince de Condé standing
behind the chair of Charles X.; for, when Comte d'Artois and Duc de
Bourbon, some fifty years since, they actually fought a duel on account
of some slight neglect of the wife of the latter by the former.

[Footnote 11: 1827]

The crown of France, as you know, passes only in the male line. The Duke
of Orleans is descended from Louis XIII., and the Prince de Condé from
Louis IX. In the male line, the Duke of Orleans is only the fourth
cousin, once removed, of the king, and the Prince de Condé the eighth or
ninth. The latter would be even much more remotely related to the crown,
but for the accession of his own branch of the family in the person of
Henry IV. who was a near cousin of his ancestor. Thus you perceive,
while royalty is always held in reverence--for any member of the family
may possibly become the king--still there are broad distinctions made
between the near and the more distant branches of the line. The Duke of
Orleans fills that equivocal position in the family, which is rather
common in the history of this species of government. He is a liberal,
and is regarded with distrust by the reigning branch, and with hope by
that portion of the people who think seriously of the actual state of
the country. A saying of M. de Talleyrand, however, is circulated at his
expense, which, if true, would go to show that this wary prince is not
disposed to risk his immense fortune in a crusade for liberty. "Ce n'est
pas assez d'être quelqu'un--il faut être quelque chose," are the words
attributed to the witty and wily politician; but, usually, men have
neither half the wit nor half the cunning that popular accounts ascribe
to them, when it becomes the fashion to record their acts and sayings. I
believe the Duke of Orleans holds no situation about the court, although
the king has given him the title of _Royal_ Highness, his birth
entitling him to be styled no more than _Serene_ Highness. This act of
grace is much spoken of by the Bourbonists, who consider it a favour
that for ever secures the loyalty and gratitude of the Duke. The
Duchess, being the daughter of a king, had this rank from her birth.

The orchestra was playing when we entered the Gallery of Diana, and
throughout the whole evening it gave us, from time to time, such music
as can only be found in a few of the great capitals of Europe.

The covers were laid, and every preparation was made within the railing
for the reception of the _convives_. The table was in the shape of a
young moon, with the horns towards the spectators, or from the wall. It
was of some length, and as there were but four covers, the guests were
obliged to be seated several feet from each other. In the centre was an
armchair, covered with crimson velvet, and ornamented with a crown; this
was for the king. A chair without arms, on his right, was intended for
the Dauphin; another on his left, for the Dauphine; and the fourth,
which was still further on the right of the Dauphin, was intended for
Madame, as she is called, or the Duchess of Berri. These are the old and
favourite appellations of the monarchy, and, absurd as some of them are,
they excite reverence and respect from their antiquity. Your Wolverines,
and Suckers, and Buckeyes, and Hooziers would look amazed to hear an
executive styled the White Fish of Michigan, or the Sturgeon of
Wisconsin; and yet there is nothing more absurd in it, in the abstract,
than the titles that were formerly given in Europe, some of which have
descended to our times. The name of the country, as well as the title of
the sovereign, in the case of Dauphiné, was derived from the same
source. Thus, in homely English, the Dolphin of Dolphinstown, renders
"le Dauphin de Dauphiné" perfectly well. The last independent Dauphin,
in bequeathing his states to the King of France of the day, (the
unfortunate John, the prisoner of the Black Prince,) made a condition
that the heir apparent of the kingdom should always be known by his own
title, and consequently, ever since, the appellation has been continued.
You will understand, that none but an _heir-apparent_ is called the
Dauphin, and not an _heir-presumptive_. Thus, should the present Dauphin
and the Duc de Bordeaux die, the Duke of Orleans, according to a treaty
of the time of Louis XIV., though not according to the ancient laws of
the monarchy, would become _heir-presumptive_; but he could never be the
Dauphin, since, should the king marry again, and have another son, his
rights would be superseded. None but the _heir-apparent_, or the
_inevitable_ heir, bears this title. There were formerly _Bears_ in
Belgium, who were of the rank of Counts. These appellations were derived
from the arms, the Dauphin now bearing dolphins with the lilies of
France. The Boar of Ardennes got his _sobriquet_ from bearing the head
of a wild boar in his arms. There were formerly many titles in France
that are now extinct, such as Captal, Vidame, and Castellan, all of
which were general, I believe, and referred to official duties. There
was, however, formerly, a singular proof of how even simplicity can
exalt a man, when the fashion runs into the opposite extremes. In the
thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, there existed in France powerful
noblemen, the owners and lords of the castle and lands of Coucy or
Couci, who were content to bear the appellation of Sire, a word from
which our own "Sir" is derived, and which means, like Sir, the simplest
term of courtesy that could be used. These Sires de Coucy were so
powerful as to make royal alliances; they waged war with their
sovereign, and maintained a state nearly royal. Their pride lay in their
antiquity, independence, and power; and they showed their contempt for
titles by their device, which is said to have been derived from the
answer of one of the family to the sovereign, who, struck with the
splendour of his appearance and the number of his attendants, had
demanded, "What king has come to my court?" This motto, which is still
to be seen on the ancient monuments of the family, reads:--

      "Je ne suis roi, ne prince, ne duc, ne comte aussi;
                Je suis le Sire de Coucy."[12]

[Footnote 12: "I am neither king, nor prince, nor duke, nor even a count;
I am M. de Coucy."]

This greatly beats Coke of Holkham, of whom it is said that George IV.,
who had been a liberal in his youth, and the friend of the great Norfolk
commoner, vexed by his bringing up so many liberal addresses,
threatened--"If Coke comes to me with any more of his Whig petitions,
_I'll Knight him_."

I have often thought that this simplicity of the Sires de Coucy
furnishes an excellent example for our own ministers and citizens when
abroad. Instead of attempting to imitate the gorgeous attire of their
colleagues, whose magnificence, for the want of stars and similar
conventional decorations, they can never equal, they should go to court
as they go to the President's House, in the simple attire of American
gentlemen. If any prince should inquire,--"Who is this that approaches
me, clad so simply that I may mistake him for a butler, or a groom of
the chambers?" let him answer, "Je ne suis roi, ne prince, ne duc, ne
comte aussi--I am the minister of the United States of Ameri_key_," and
leave the rest to the millions at home. My life for it, the question
would not be asked twice. Indeed, no man who is truly fit to represent
the republic would ever have any concern about the matter. But all this
time the dinner of the King of France is getting cold.

We might have been in the gallery fifteen minutes, when there was a stir
at a door on the side where the females were seated, and a _huissier_
cried out--"Madame la Dauphine!" and, sure enough, the Dauphine
appeared, followed by two _dames d'honneur_. She walked quite through
the gallery, across the area reserved for the court, and passed out at
the little gate in the railing which communicated with our side of the
room, leaving the place by the same door at which we had entered. She
was in high court dress, with diamonds and lappets, and was proceeding
from her own apartments, in the other wing of the palace, to those of
the king. As she went within six feet of me, I observed her hard and yet
saddened countenance with interest; for she has the reputation of
dwelling on her early fortunes, and of constantly anticipating evil. Of
course she was saluted by all in passing, but she hardly raised her eyes
from the floor; though, favoured by my position, I got a slight,
melancholy smile, in return for my own bow.

The Dauphine had scarcely disappeared, when her Royal Highness, Madame,
was announced, and the Duchess of Berri went through in a similar
manner. Her air was altogether less constrained, and she had smiles and
inclinations for all she passed. She is a slight, delicate, little
woman, with large blue eyes, a fair complexion, and light hair. She
struck me as being less a Bourbon than an Austrian, and, though wanting
in _embonpoint_, she would be quite pretty but for a cast in one of her
eyes.

A minute or two later, we had Monseigneur le Dauphin, who passed through
the gallery in the same manner as his wife and sister-in-law. He had
been reviewing some troops, and was in the uniform of a colonel of the
guards; booted to the knees, and carrying a military hat in his hand. He
is not of commanding presence, though I think he has the countenance of
an amiable man, and his face is decidedly Bourbon. We were indebted to
the same lantern like construction of the palace, for this preliminary
glimpse at so many of the actors in the coming scene.

After the passage of the Dauphin, a few courtiers and superior officers
of the household began to appear within the railed space. Among them
were five or six duchesses. Women of this rank have the privilege of
being seated in the presence of the king on state occasions, and
_tabourets_ were provided for them accordingly. A _tabouret_ is a
stuffed stool, nearly of the form of the ancient cerulean chair, without
its back, for a back would make it a chair at once, and, by the
etiquette of courts, these are reserved for the blood-royal,
ambassadors, etc. As none but duchesses could be seated at the _grand
couvert_, you may be certain none below that rank appeared. There might
have been a dozen present. They were all in high court dresses. One, of
great personal charms and quite young, was seated near me, and my
neighbour, an old _abbé_, carried away by enthusiasm, suddenly exclaimed
to me--"Quelle belle fortune, monsieur, d'être jeune, jolie, et
duchesse!" I dare say the lady had the same opinion of the matter.

Baron Louis, not the financier, but the king's physician, arrived. It
was his duty to stand behind the king's chair, like Sancho's tormentor,
and see that he did not over-eat himself. The ancient usages were very
tender of the royal person. If he travelled, he had a spare litter, or a
spare coach, to receive him, in the event of accident,--a practice that
is continued to this day; if he ate, there was one to taste his food,
lest he might be poisoned; and when he lay down to sleep, armed
sentinels watched at the door of his chamber. Most of these usages are
still continued, in some form or other, and the ceremonies which are
observed at these public dinners are mere memorials of the olden time.

I was told the following anecdote by Mad. de ----, who was intimate with
Louis XVIII. One day, in taking an airing, the king was thirsty, and
sent a footman to a cottage for water. The peasants appeared with some
grapes, which they offered, as the homage of their condition. The king
took them and ate them, notwithstanding the remonstrances of his
attendants. This little incident was spoken of at court, where all the
monarch does and says becomes matter of interest, and the next time Mad.
de ---- was admitted, she joined her remonstrances to those of the other
courtiers. "We no longer live in an age when kings need dread
assassins," said Louis, smiling. A month passed, and Mad. de ---- was
again admitted. She was received with a melancholy shake of the head,
and with tears. The Duc de Berri had been killed in the interval!

A few gentlemen, who did not strictly belong to the court, appeared
among the duchesses, but, at the most, there were but six or eight. One
of them, however, was the gayest looking personage I ever saw in the
station of a gentleman, being nothing but lace and embroidery, even to
the seams of his coat; a sort of genteel harlequin. The _abbé_, who
seemed to understand himself, said he was a Spanish grandee.

I was near the little gate, when an old man, in a strictly court dress,
but plain and matter-of-fact in air, made an application for admittance.
In giving way for him to pass, my attention was drawn to his appearance.
The long white hair that hung down his face, the _cordon bleu_, the lame
foot, the imperturbable countenance, and the _unearthly aspect_, made me
suspect the truth. On inquiring, I was right. It was M. de Talleyrand!
He came as grand chamberlain, to officiate at the dinner of his master.

Everything, in a court, goes by clock-work. Your little great may be out
of time, and affect a want of punctuality, but a rigid attention to
appointments is indispensable to those who are really in high
situations. A failure in this respect would produce the same impression
on the affairs of men, that a delay in the rising of the sun would
produce on the day. The appearance of the different personages named,
all so near each other, was the certain sign that one greater than all
could not be far behind. They were the dawn of the royal presence.
Accordingly, the door which communicated with the apartments of the
king, and the only one within the railed space, opened with the
announcement of "Le service du Roi," when a procession of footmen of the
palace appeared, bearing the dishes of the first course. All the
vessels, whether already on the table, or those in their hands, were of
gold, richly wrought, or, at least, silver gilt, I had no means of
knowing which; most probably they were of the former metal. The dishes
were taken from the footmen by pages, of honour in scarlet dresses, and
by them placed in order on the table. The first course was no sooner
ready, than we heard the welcome announcement of "Le Roi." The family
immediately made their appearance, at the same door by which the service
had entered. They were followed by a proper number of lords and ladies
in waiting. Every one arose, as a matter of course, even to the "jeunes,
jolies, et duchesses;" and the music, as became it, gave us a royal
crash. The huissier, in announcing the king, spoke in a modest voice,
and less loud, I observed, than in announcing the Dauphin and the
ladies. It was, however, a different person; and it is probable one was
a common huissier, and the other a gentleman acting in that character.

Charles X. is tall, without being of a too heavy frame, flexible of
movement, and decidedly graceful. By remembering that he is king, and
the lineal chief of the ancient and powerful family of the Bourbons, by
deferring properly to history and the illusions of the past, and by
feeling _tant soit peu_ more respect for those of the present day than
is strictly philosophical, or perhaps wise, it is certainly possible to
fancy that he has a good deal of that peculiar port and majesty that the
poetry of feeling is so apt to impute to sovereigns. I know not whether
it is the fault of a cynical temperament, or of republican prejudices,
but I can see no more, about him than the easy grace of an old
gentleman, accustomed all his life to be a principal personage among the
principal personages of the earth. This you may think was quite
sufficient,--but it aid not altogether satisfy the _exigence_ of my
unpoetical ideas. His countenance betrayed, a species of vacant
_bonhommie_, rather than of thought or dignity of mind; and while he
possessed, in a singular degree, the mere physical machinery of his
rank, he was wanting in the majesty of character and expression, without
which no man can act well the representation of royalty. Even a little
more severity of aspect would have better suited the part, and rendered
_le grand couvert encore plus grand_.

The king seated himself, after receiving the salutations of the
courtiers within the railing, taking no notice however, of those who, by
a fiction of etiquette, were not supposed to be in his presence. The
rest of the family occupied their respective places in the order I have
named, and the eating and drinking began, from the score. The different
courses were taken off and served by footmen and pages in the manner
already described, which, after all, by substituting servants out of
livery for pages, is very much the way great dinners are served, in
great houses, all over Europe.

As soon as the king was seated, the north door of the gallery, or that
on the side opposite to the place where I had taken post, was opened,
and the public was admitted, passing slowly through the room without
stopping. A droller _mélange_ could not be imagined than presented
itself in the panoramic procession; and long before the _grand couvert_
was over, I thought it much the most amusing part of the scene. Very
respectable persons, gentlemen certainly, and I believe in a few
instances ladies, came in this way, to catch a glimpse of the spectacle.
I saw several men that I knew, and the women with them could have been
no other than their friends. To these must be added, _cochers de
fiacres_ in their glazed hats, _bonnes_ in their high Norman caps,
peasants, soldiers in their shakos, _épiciers_ and _garçons_ without
number. The constant passage, for it lasted without intermission for an
hour and a half, of so many queer faces, reminded me strongly of one of
those mechanical panoramas, that bring towns, streets, and armies,
before the spectator. One of the droll effects of this scene was
produced by the faces, all of which turned, like sunflowers, towards the
light of royalty, as the bodies moved steadily on. Thus, on entering,
the eyes were a little inclined to the right; as they got nearer to the
meridian, they became gradually bent more aside; when opposite the
table, every face, was _full_; and, in retiring, all were bent backwards
over their owners' shoulders, constantly offering a dense crowd of
faces, looking towards a common centre, while the bodies were coming on,
or moving slowly off the stage. This, you will see, resembled in some
measure the revolutions of the moon around our orb, matter and a king
possessing the same beneficent attraction. I make no doubt, these good
people thought we presented a curious spectacle; but I am persuaded they
presented one that was infinitely more so.

I had seen in America, in divers places, an Englishman, a colonel in the
army. We had never been introduced, but had sat opposite to each other
at _tables d'hôtes_, jostled each other in the President's House, met in
steam-boats, in the streets, and in many other places, until it was
evident our faces were perfectly familiar to both parties; and yet we
never nodded, spoke, or gave any other sign of recognition, than by
certain knowing expressions of the eyes. In Europe, the colonel
reappeared. We met in London, in Paris, in the public walks, in the
sight-seeing places of resort, until we evidently began to think
ourselves a couple of Monsieur Tonsons. To-night, as I was standing near
the public platform, whose face should appear in the halo of
countenances but that of my colonel! The poor fellow had a wooden leg,
and he was obliged to stump on in his orbit as well as he could, while I
kept my eye on him, determined to catch a look of recognition if
possible. When he got so far forward as to bring me in his line of
sight, our eyes met, and he smiled involuntarily. Then he took a
deliberate survey of my comfortable position, and he disappeared in the
horizon, with some such expression on his features as must have belonged
to Commodore Trunnion, when he called out to Hatchway, while the hunter
was leaping over the lieutenant, "Oh! d--n you; you are well anchored!"

I do not think the dinner, in a culinary point of view, was anything
extraordinary. The king ate and drank but little, for, unlike his two
brothers and predecessors, he is said to be abstemious. The Daupin
played a better knife and fork; but on the whole, the execution was by
no means great for Frenchmen. The guests sat so far apart, and the music
made so much noise, that conversation was nearly out of the question;
though the King and the Dauphin exchanged a few words in the course of
the evening. Each of the gentlemen, also, spoke once or twice to his
female neighbour, and that was pretty much the amount of the discourse.
The whole party appeared greatly relieved by having something to do
during the desert, in admiring the service, which was of the beautiful
Sèvres china. They all took up the plates, and examined them
attentively; and really I was glad they had so rational an amusement to
relieve their _ennui_.

Once, early in the entertainment, M. de Talleyrand approached the king,
and showed him the bill of fare! It was an odd spectacle to see this old
_diplomate_ descending to the pantomime of royalty, and acting the part
of a _maître d'hôtel_. Had the duty fallen on Cambacères, one would
understand it, and fancy that it might be well done. The king smiled on
him graciously, and, I presume, gave him leave to retire; for soon after
this act of loyal servitude, the prince disappeared. As for M. Louis, he
treated Charles better than his brother treated Sancho; for I did not
observe the slightest interference, on his part, during the whole
entertainment; though one of those near me said he had tasted a dish or
two by way of ceremony,--an act of precaution that I did not myself
observe. I asked my neighbour, the _abbé_, what he thought of M. de
Talleyrand. After looking up in my face distrustfully, he
whispered:--"Mais, monsieur, c'est un chat qui tombe toujours sur ses
pieds;" a remark that was literally true tonight, for, the old man was
kept on his feet longer than could have been agreeable to the owner of
two such gouty legs.

The Duchesse de Berri, who sat quite near the place where I stood, was
busy a good deal of the time _à lorgner_ the public through her
eye-glass. This she did with very little diffidence of manner, and quite
as coolly as an English duchess would have stared at a late intimate
whom she was disposed to cut. It certainly was neither a graceful, nor a
feminine, nor a princely occupation. The Dauphine played the Bourbon
better; though, when she turned her saddened, not to say _cruel_ eyes,
on the public, it was with an expression that almost amounted to
reproach. I did not see her smile once during the whole time she was at
table; and yet _I_ thought there were many things to smile at.

At length the finger-bowls appeared, and I was not sorry to see them.
Contrary to what is commonly practised in very great houses, the pages
placed them on the table, just as Henri puts them before us democrats
every day. I ought to have said, that the service was made altogether in
front, or at the unoccupied side of the table, nothing but the bill of
fare, in the hands of M. de Talleyrand, appearing in the rear. As soon as
this part of the dinner was over, the king arose, and the whole party
withdrew by the door on the further side of the galery. In passing the
_gradins_ of the ladies, he stopped to says a few kind words to an old
woman who was seated there, muffled in a cloak, and the light of royalty
vanished.

The catastrophe is to come. The instant the king's back was turned, the
gallery became a scene of confusion. The musicians ceased playing, and
began to chatter; the pages dashed about to remove the service, and
everybody was in motion. Observing that your ---- was standing undecided
what to do, I walked into the railed area, brushed past the gorgeous
state table, and gave her my arm. She laughed, and said it had all been
very magnificent and amusing, but that some one had stolen her shawl! A
few years before, I had purchased for her a merino shawl, of singular
fineness, simplicity, and beauty. It was now old, and she had worn it on
this occasion, because she distrusted the dirt of a palace; and laying
it carelessly by her side, in the course of the evening she had found in
its place a very common thing of the same colour. The thief was deceived
by its appearance your ---- being dressed for an evening party, and had
probably mistaken it for a cashmere. So much for the company one meets
at court! Too much importance, however, must not be attached to this
little _contretems_, as people of condition are apt to procure tickets
for such places, and to give them to their _femmes de chambre_.
Probably, half the women present, the "jeunes et jolies" excepted, were
of this class. But mentioning this affair to the old Princesse de ----,
she edified me by an account of the manner in which Madame la Comtesse
de ---- had actually appropriated to the service of her own pretty person
the _cachemire_ of Madame la Baronne de ----, in the royal presence; and
how there was a famous quarrel, _à l'outrance_, about it; so I suspend
my opinions as to the quality of the thief.



LETTER X.

Road to Versailles.--Origin of Versailles.--The present Chateau.--The
two Trianons.--La Petite Suisse.--Royal Pastime.--Gardens of Versailles.
--The State Apartments.--Marie Antoinette's Chamber.--Death of Louis XV.
--Oeil de Boeuf.--The Theatre and Chapel.--A
Quarry.--Caverns.--Compiègne.--Chateau de Pierre-font.--Influence of
Monarchy.--Orangery at Versailles.


To R. COOPER, ESQ., COOPERSTOWN, NEW YORK.

We have been to Versailles, and although I have no intention to give a
laboured description of a place about which men have written and talked
these two centuries, it is impossible to pass over a spot of so much
celebrity in total silence.

The road to Versailles lies between the park of St. Cloud and the
village and manufactories of Sèvres. A little above the latter is a
small palace, called Meudon, which, from its great elevation, commands a
fine view of Paris. The palace of St. Cloud, of course, stands in the
park; Versailles lies six or eight miles farther west; Compiègne is
about fifty miles from Paris in one direction; Fontainebleau some thirty
in another, and Rambouillet rather more remotely, in a third. All these
palaces, except Versailles, are kept up, and from time to time are
visited by the court. Versailles was stripped of its furniture in the
revolution; and even Napoleon, at a time when the French empire extended
from Hamburgh to Rome, shrunk from the enormous charge of putting it in
a habitable state. It is computed that the establishment at Versailles,
first and last, in matters of construction merely, cost the French
monarchy two hundred millions of dollars! This is almost an incredible
sum, when we remember the low price of wages in France; but, on the
other hand, when we consider the vastness of the place, how many natural
difficulties were overcome, and the multitude of works from the hands of
artists of the first order it contained, it scarcely seems sufficient.

Versailles originated as a hunting-seat, in the time of Louis XIII. In
that age, most of the upland near Paris, in this direction, lay in
forest, royal chases; and, as hunting was truly a princely sport,
numberless temporary residences of this nature existed in the
neighbourhood of the capital. There are still many remains of this
barbarous magnificence, as in the wood of Vincennes, the forest of St.
Germain, Compiègne, Fontainebleau, and divers others; but great inroads
have been made in their limits by the progress of civilization and the
wants of society. So lately as the reign of Louis XV. they hunted quite
near the town; and we are actually, at this moment, dwelling in a
country house, at St. Ouen, in which, tradition hatch it, he was wont to
take his refreshments.

The original building at Versailles was a small chateau, of a very ugly
formation, and it was built of bricks. I believe it was enlarged, but
not entirely constructed, by Louis XIII. A portion of this building is
still visible, having been embraced in the subsequent structures; and,
judging from its architecture, I should think it must be nearly as
ancient as the time of Francis I. Around this modest nucleus was
constructed, by a succession of monarchs, but chiefly by Louis XIV. the
most regal residence of Europe, in magnificence and extent, if not in
taste.

The present chateau, besides containing numberless wings and courts, has
vast _casernes_ for the quarters of the household troops, stables for
many hundred horses, and is surrounded by a great many separate hotels,
for the accommodation of the courtiers. It offers a front on the garden,
in a single continuous line, that is broken only by a projection in the
centre of more than a third of a mile in length. This is the only
complete part of the edifice that possesses uniformity; the rest of it
being huge piles grouped around irregular courts, or thrown forward in
wings, that correspond to the huge body like those of the ostrich. There
is on the front next the town, however, some attempt at simplicity and
intelligibility of plan; for there is a vast open court lined by
buildings, which have been commenced in the Grecian style. Napoleon, I
believe, did something here, from which there is reason to suppose that
he sometimes thought of inhabiting the palace. Indeed, so long as France
has a king, it is impossible that such a truly royal abode can ever be
wholly deserted. At present, it is the fashion to grant lodgings in it
to dependants and favourites. Nothing that I have seen gives me so just
and so imposing an idea of the old French monarchy as a visit to
Versailles. Apart from the vastness and splendour of the palace, here is
a town that actually contained, in former times, a hundred thousand
souls, that entirely owed its existence to the presence of the court.
Other monarchs lived in large towns; but here was a monarch whose
presence created one. Figure to yourself the style of the prince, when a
place more populous than Baltimore, and infinitely richer in externals,
existed merely as an appendage to his abode!

The celebrated garden contains two or three hundred acres of land,
besides the ground that is included in the gardens of the two Trianons.
These Trianons are small palaces erected in the gardens, as if the
occupants of the chateau, having reached the acmé of magnificence and
splendour in the principal residence, were seeking refuge against the
effect of satiety in these humbler abodes. They appear small and
insignificant after the palace; but the Great Trianon is a considerable
house, and contains a fine suite of apartments, among which are some
very good rooms. There are few English abodes of royalty that equal even
this of Le Grand Trianon. The Petit Trianon was the residence of Madame
de Maintenon; it afterwards was presented to the unfortunate Marie
Antoinette, who, in part converted its grounds into an English garden,
in addition to setting aside a portion into what is called La Petite
Suisse.

We went through this exceedingly pretty house and its gardens with
melancholy interest. The first is merely a pavilion in the Italian
taste, though it is about half as large as the President's House, at
Washington. I should think the Great Trianon has quite twice the room of
our own Executive residence; and, as you can well imagine, from what has
already been said, the Capitol itself would be but a speck among the
endless edifices of the chateau. The projection in the centre of the
latter is considerably larger than the capitol, and it materially
exceeds that building in cubic contents. Now this projection is but a
small part indeed of the long line of façade, it actually appearing too
short for the ranges of wings.

Marie Antoinette was much censured for the amusements in which she
indulged in the grounds of the Little Trianon, and vulgar rumour
exaggerating their nature, no small portion of her personal unpopularity
is attributable to this cause. The family of Louis XVI. appears to have
suffered for the misdeeds of its predecessors, for it not being very
easy to fancy anything much worse than the immoralities of Louis XV. the
public were greatly disposed "to visit the sins of the fathers on the
children."

La Petite Suisse is merely a romantic portion of the garden, in which
has been built what is called the Swiss Hamlet It contains the miniature
abodes of the Curé, the Farmer, the Dairywoman, the Garde-de-Chasse, and
the Seigneur, besides the mill. There is not much that is Swiss,
however, about the place, with the exception of some resemblance in the
exterior of the buildings. Here, it is said, the royal family used
occasionally to meet, and pass an afternoon in a silly representation of
rural life, that must have proved to be a prodigious caricature. The
King (at least, so the guide affirmed), performed the part of the
Seigneur, and occupied the proper abode; the Queen was the Dairy woman,
and we were shown the marble tables that held her porcelain milk-pans;
the present King, as became his notorious propensity to field-sports,
was the Garde-de-Chasse, the late King was the Miller, and, _mirabile
dictu_, the Archbishop of Paris did not disdain to play the part of the
Curé. There was, probably, a good deal of poetry in this account; though
it is pretty certain that the Queen did indulge in some of these
phantasies. There happened to be with me, the day I visited this spot,
an American from our own mountains, who had come fresh from home, with
all his provincial opinions and habits strong about him. As the guide
explained these matters, I translated them literally into English for
the benefit of my companion, adding, that the fact rendered the Queen
extremely unpopular with her subjects. "Unpopular!" exclaimed my country
neighbour; "why so, sir?" "I cannot say; perhaps they thought it was not
a fit amusement for a queen." My mountaineer stood a minute cogitating
the affair in his American mind; and then nodding his head, he said:--"I
understand it now. The people thought that a king and queen, coming from
yonder palace to amuse themselves in this toy hamlet, in the characters
of poor people, _were making game of them_!" I do not know whether this
inference will amuse you as much as it did me at the time.

Of the gardens and the _jets d'eau_, so renowned, I shall say little.
The former are in the old French style, formal and stiff, with long
straight _allées_, but magnificent by their proportions and ornaments.
The statuary and vases that are exposed to the open air, in this garden,
must have cost an enormous sum. They are chiefly copies from the
_antique_.

As you stand on the great terrace, before the centre of the palace, the
view is down the principal avenue, which terminates at the distance of
two or three miles with a low naked hill, beyond which appears the void
of the firmament. This conceit singularly helps the idea of vastness,
though in effect it is certainly inferior to the pastoral prettiness and
rural thoughts of modern landscape gardening. Probably too much is
attempted here; for if the mind cannot conceive of illimitable space,
still less can it be represented by means of material substances.

We examined the interior of the palace with melancholy pleasure. The
vast and gorgeous apartments were entirely without furniture, though
many of the pictures still remain. The painted ceilings, and the
gildings too, contribute to render the rooms less desolate than they
would otherwise have been. I shall not stop to describe the saloons of
Peace and War, and all the other celebrated apartments, that are so
named from the subjects of their paintings, but merely add that the
state apartments lie _en suite_, in the main body of the building, and
that the principal room, or the great gallery, as it is termed, is in
the centre, with the windows looking up the main avenue of the garden.
This gallery greatly surpasses in richness and size any other room,
intended for the ordinary purposes of a palace, that I have ever seen.
Its length exceeds two hundred and thirty feet, its width is about
thirty-five, and its height is rather more than forty. The walls are a
complete succession of marbles, mirrors, and gildings. I believe, the
windows and doors excepted, that literally no part of the sides or ends
of this room show any other material. Even some of the doors are loaded
with these decorations. The ceiling is vaulted, and gorgeous with
allegories and gildings; they are painted by the best artists of France.
Here Louis XIV. moved among his courtiers, more like a god than a man,
and here was exhibited that mixture of grace and moral fraud, of
elegance and meanness, of hope and disappointment, of pleasure and
mortification, that form the characters and compose the existence of
courtiers.

I do not know the precise number of magnificent ante-chambers and saloons
through which we passed to reach this gallery, but there could not have
been less than eight; one of which, as a specimen of the scale on which
the palace is built, is near eighty feet long, and sixty wide. Continuing
our course along the suite, we passed, among others, a council-room that
looked more like state than business, and then came to the apartments of
the Queen. There were several drawing-rooms, and ball-rooms, and
card-rooms, and ante-rooms, and the change from the gorgeousness of the
state apartments, to the neat, tasteful, chaste, feminine, white and gold
of this part of the palace was agreeable, for I had got to be tired of
splendour, and was beginning to feel a disposition to "make game of the
people," by descending to rusticity.

The bed-room of Marie Antoinette is in the suite. It is a large chamber,
in the same style of ornament as the rest of her rooms, and the
dressing-rooms, bath, and other similar conveniences, were in that
exquisite French taste, which can only be equalled by imitation. The
chamber of the King looked upon the court, and was connected with that
of the Queen, by a winding and intricate communication of some length.
The door that entered the apartments of the latter opened into a
dressing-room, and both this door and that which communicated with the
bed-room form a part of the regular wall, being tapestried as such, so
as not to be immediately seen,--a style of finish that is quite usual in
French houses. It was owing to this circumstance that Marie Antoinette
made her escape, undetected, to the King's chamber, the night the palace
was entered by the fish-women.

We saw the rooms in which Louis XIV. and Louis XV. died. The latter, you
may remember, fell a victim to the small-pox, and the disgusting body,
that had so lately been almost worshipped, was deserted, the moment he
was dead. It was left for hours, without even the usual decent
observances. It was on the same occasion, we have been told, that his
grandchildren, including the heir, were assembled in a private
drawing-room, waiting the result, when they were startled by a hurried
trampling of feet. It was the courtiers, rushing in a crowd, to pay
their homage to the new monarch! All these things forced themselves
painfully on our minds, as we walked through the state rooms. Indeed
there are few things that can be more usefully studied, or which awaken
a greater source of profitable recollections, than a palace that has
been occupied by a great and historical court. Still they are not
poetical.

The balcony, in which La Fayette appeared with the Queen and her
children, opens from one of these rooms. It overlooks the inner court;
or that in which the carriages of none but the privileged entered, for
all these things were regulated by arbitrary rules. No one, for
instance, was permitted to ride in the King's coach, unless his nobility
dated from a certain century (the fourteenth, I believe), and these were
your _gentilshommes_; for the word implies more than a noble, meaning an
ancient nobleman.

The writing cabinet, private dining-room, council-room in ordinary,
library, etc. of the King, came next; the circuit ending in the Salles
des Gardes, and the apartments usually occupied by the officers and
troops on service.

There was one room we got into, I scarce know how. It was a long, high
gallery, plainly finished for a palace, and it seemed to be lighted from
an interior court, or well; for one was completely caged when in it.
This was the celebrated Bull's Eye (_oeil de boeuf_), where the
courtiers danced attendance before they were received. It got its name
from an oval window over the principal door.

We looked at no more than the state apartments, and those of the King
and Queen, and yet we must have gone through some thirty or forty rooms,
of which, the baths and dressing-room of the Queen excepted, the very
smallest would be deemed a very large room in America. Perhaps no
private house contains any as large as the smallest of these rooms, with
the exception of here and there a hall in a country house; and, no room
at all, with ceilings nearly as high, and as noble, to say nothing of
the permanent decorations, of which we have no knowledge whatever, if we
omit the window-glass, and the mantels, in both of which, size apart, we
often beat even the French palaces.

We next proceeded to the Salle de Spectacle, which is a huge theatre. It
may not be as large as the French Opera-house at Paris, but its
dimensions did not appear to me to be much less. It is true, the stage
was open, and came into the view; but it is a very large house for
dramatic representations. Now, neither this building nor the chapel,
seen on the exterior of the palace, though additions that project from
the regular line of wall, obtrudes itself on the eye, more than a
verandah attached to a window, on one of our largest houses! In this
place the celebrated dinner was given to the officers of the guards.

The chapel is rich and beautiful. No catholic church has pews, or, at
all events they are very unusual, though the municipalities do sometimes
occupy them in France, and, of course, the area was vacant. We were most
struck with the paintings on the ceiling, in which the face of Louis
XIV. was strangely and mystically blended with that of God the Father!
Pictorial and carved representations of the Saviour and of the Virgin
abound in all catholic countries; nor do they much offend, unless when
the crucifixion is represented with bleeding wounds; for, as both are
known to have appeared in the human form, the mind is not shocked at
seeing them in the semblance of humanity. But this was the first attempt
to delineate the Deity we had yet seen; and it caused us all to shudder.
He is represented in the person of an old man looking from the clouds,
in the centre of the ceiling, and the King appears among the angels that
surround him. Flattery could not go much farther, without encroaching on
omnipotence itself.

In returning from Versailles, to a tithe of the magnificence of which I
have not alluded, I observed carts coming out of the side of a hill,
loaded with the whitish stone that composes the building material of
Paris. We stopped the carriage, and went into the passage, where we
found extensive excavations. A lane of fifteen or twenty feet was cut
through the stone, and the material was carted away in heavy square
blocks. Piers were left, at short intervals, to sustain the
superincumbent earth; and, in the end, the place gets to be a succession
of intricate passages, separated by these piers, which resemble so many
small masses of houses among the streets of a town. The entire region
around Paris lies on a substratum of this stone, which indurates by
exposure to the air, and the whole secret of the celebrated catacombs of
Paris is just the same as that of this quarry, with the difference that
this opens on a level with the upper world, lying in a hill, while one
is compelled to descend to get to the level of the others. But enormous
wheels, scattered about the fields in the vicinity of the town, show
where shafts descend to new quarries on the plains, which are precisely
the same as those under Paris. The history of these subterranean
passages is very simple. The stone beneath has been transferred to the
surface, as a building material; and the graves of the town, after
centuries, were emptied into the vaults below. Any apprehensions of the
caverns falling in, on a great scale, are absurd, as the constant
recurrence of the piers, which are the living rock, must prevent such a
calamity; though it is within the limits of possibility that a house or
two might disappear. Quite lately, it is said, a tree in the garden of
the Luxembourg fell through, owing to the water working a passage down
into the quarries, by following its roots. The top of the tree remained
above ground some distance; and to prevent unnecessary panic, the police
immediately caused the place to be concealed by a high and close board
fence. The tree was cut away in the night, the hole was filled up, and
few knew anything about it. But it is scarcely possible that any serious
accident should occur, even to a single house, without a previous and
gradual sinking of its walls giving notice of the event. The palace of
the Luxembourg, one of the largest and finest edifices of Paris, stands
quite near the spot where the tree fell through, and yet there is not
the smallest danger of the structure's disappearing some dark night, the
piers below always affording sufficient support. _Au reste_, the
catacombs lie under no other part of Paris than the Quartier St.
Jacques, not crossing the river, nor reaching even the Faubourg St.
Germain.

I have taken you so unceremoniously out of the chateau of Versailles to
put you into the catacombs, that some of the royal residences have not
received the attention I intended. We have visited Compiègne this
summer, including it in a little excursion of about a hundred miles,
that we made in the vicinity of the capital, though it scarcely offered
sufficient matter of interest to be the subject of an especial letter.
We found the forest deserving of its name, and some parts of it almost
as fine as an old American wood of the second class. We rode through it
five or six miles to see a celebrated ruin, called Pierre-fond, which
was one of those baronial holds, out of which noble robbers used to
issue, to plunder on the highway, and commit all sorts of acts of
genteel violence. The castle and the adjacent territory formed one of
the most ancient seigneuries of France. The place was often besieged and
taken. In the time of Henry IV. that monarch, finding the castle had
fallen into the hands of a set of desperadoes, who were ranked with the
Leaguers, sent the Duc d'Epernon against the place; but he was wounded,
and obliged to raise the siege. Marshal Biron was next despatched, with
all the heavy artillery that could be spared; but he met with little
better success. This roused Henry, who finally succeeded in getting
possession of the place. In the reign of his son, Louis XIII, the
robberies and excesses of those who occupied the castle became so
intolerable, that the government seized it again, and ordered it to be
destroyed. Now you will remember that this castle stood in the very
heart of France, within fifty miles of the capital, and but two leagues
from a royal residence, and all so lately as the year 1617; and that it
was found necessary to destroy it, on account of the irregularities of
its owners. What an opinion one is driven to form of the moral
civilization of Europe from a fact like this! Feudal grandeur loses
greatly in a comparison with modern law, and more humble honesty.

It was easier, however, to order the Chateau de Pierre-fond to be
destroyed, than to effect that desirable object. Little more was
achieved than to make cuts into the external parts of the towers and
walls, and to unroof the different buildings; and, although this was
done two hundred years since, time has made little impression on the
ruins. We were shown a place where there had been an attempt to break
into the walls for stones, but which had been abandoned, because it was
found easier to quarry them from the living rock. The principal towers
were more than a hundred feet high, and their angles and ornaments
seemed to be as sharp and solid as ever. This was much the noblest
French ruin we had seen, and it may be questioned if there are many
finer, out of Italy, in Europe.

The palace of Compiègne, after that of Versailles, hardly rewarded us
for the trouble of examining it. Still it is large and in perfect
repair: but the apartments are common-place, though there are a few that
are good. A prince, however, is as well lodged, even here, as is usual
in the north of Europe. The present king is fond of resorting to this
house, on account of the game of the neighbouring forest. We saw several
roebucks bounding among the trees, in our drive to Pierre-fond.[13]

[Footnote 13: Pierre-fond, or Pierre-font]

I have dwelt on the palaces and the court so much, because one cannot
get a correct idea of what France was, and perhaps I ought to say, of
what France, through the reaction, _will_ be, if this point were
overlooked. The monarch was all in all in the nation--the centre of
light, wealth, and honour; letters, the arts, and the sciences revolved
around him, as the planets revolve around the sun; and if there ever was
a civilized people whose example it would be fair to quote for or
against the effects of monarchy, I think it would be the people of
France. I was surprised at my own ignorance on the subject of the
magnificence of these kings, of which, indeed, it is not easy for an
untravelled American to form any just notion; and it has struck me you
might be glad to hear a little on these points.

After all I have said, I find I have entirely omitted the Orangery at
Versailles. But then I have said little or nothing of the canals, the
_jets d'eau_, of the great and little parks, which, united, are fifty
miles in circumference, and of a hundred other things. Still, as this
orangery is on a truly royal scale, it deserves a word of notice before
I close my letter. The trees are housed in winter in long vaulted
galleries, beneath the great terrace; and there is a sort of sub-court
in front of them, where they are put into the sun during the pleasant
season. This place is really an orange grove; and, although every tree
is in a box, and is nursed like a child, many of them are as large as it
is usual to find in the orange groves of low latitudes. Several are very
old, two or three dating from the fifteenth century, and one from the
early part of it. What notions do you get of the magnificence of the
place, when you are told, that a palace, subterraneous, it is true, is
devoted to this single luxury, and that acres are covered with trees in
boxes?



LETTER XI.

Laws of Intercourse.--Americans in Europe.--Americans and English.
--Visiting in America.--Etiquette of Visits.--Presentations at Foreign
Courts.--Royal Receptions.--American Pride.--Pay of the President.
--American Diplomatist.


To JAMES STEVENSON, ESQUIRE, ALBANY.

I intend this letter to be useful rather than entertaining. Living, as we
Americans do, remote from the rest of the world, and possessing so many
practices peculiar to ourselves, at the same time that we are altogether
wanting in usages that are familiar to most other nations, it should not
be matter of surprise that we commit some mistakes on this side of the
water, in matters of taste and etiquette. A few words simply expressed,
and a few explanations plainly made, may serve to remove some errors, and
perhaps render your own contemplated visit to this part of the world more
agreeable.

There is no essential difference in the leading rules of ordinary
intercourse among the polished of all Christian nations. Though some of
these rules may appear arbitrary, it will be found, on examination, that
they are usually derived from very rational and sufficient motives. They
may vary, in immaterial points, but even these variations arise from
some valid circumstance.

The American towns are growing so rapidly, that they are getting to have
the population of capitals without enjoying their commonest facilities.
The exaggerated tone of our largest towns, for instance, forbids the
exchange of visits by means of servants. It may suit the habits of
provincial life to laugh at this as an absurdity, but it may be taken
pretty safely as a rule, that men and women of as much common sense as
the rest of their fellow-creatures, with the best opportunities of
cultivating all those tastes that are dependant on society, and with no
other possible motive than convenience, would not resort to such a
practice without a suitable inducement. No one who has not lived in a
large town that _does_ possess these facilities, can justly appreciate
their great advantages, or properly understand how much a place like New
York, with its three hundred thousand inhabitants, loses by not adopting
them. We have conventions for all sorts of things in America, some of
which do good and others harm, but I cannot imagine anything that would
contribute more to the comfort of society, than one which should settle
the laws of intercourse on principles better suited to the real
condition of the country than those which now exist. It is not unusual
to read descriptions deriding the forms of Europe, written by travelling
Americans; but I must think they have been the productions of very young
travellers, or, at least, of such as have not had the proper means of
appreciating the usages they ridicule Taking my own experience as a
guide, I have no hesitation in saying, that I know no people among whom
the ordinary social intercourse is as uncomfortable, and as little
likely to stand the test of a rational examination, as our own.

The first rule, all-important for an American to know, is, that the
latest arrival makes the first visit. England is, in some respects, an
exception to this practice, but I believe it prevails in all the rest of
Europe. I do not mean to say that departures are not made from this law,
in particular instances; but they should always be taken as exceptions,
and as pointed compliments. This rule has many conveniences, and I think
it also shows a more delicate attention to sentiment and feeling. While
the points of intrusion and of disagreeable acquaintances are left just
where they would be under our own rule, the stranger is made the judge
of his own wishes. It is, moreover, impossible, in a large town, to know
of every arrival. Many Americans, who come to Europe with every claim to
attention, pass through it nearly unnoticed, from a hesitation about
obtruding themselves on others, under the influence of the opinions in
which they have been educated. This for a long time was my own case, and
it was only when a more familiar acquaintance with the practices of this
part of the world made me acquainted with their advantages that I could
consent freely to put myself forward.

You are not to understand that any stranger arriving in a place like
Paris, or London, has a right to leave cards for whom he pleases. It is
not the custom, except for those who, by birth, or official station, or
a high reputation, may fairly deem themselves privileged, to assume this
liberty, and even then, it is always better to take some preliminary
step to assure one's self that the visit will be acceptable. The law of
salutes is very much the law of visits, in this part of the world. The
ship arriving sends an officer to know if his salute will be returned
gun for gun, and the whole affair, it is true, is conducted in rather a
categorical manner, but the governing principles are the same in both
cases, though more management may be required between two gentlemen than
between two men-of-war.

The Americans in Europe, on account of the country's having abjured all
the old feudal distinctions that still so generally prevail here, labour
under certain disadvantages, that require, on the one hand, much tact
and discretion to overcome, and, on the other, occasionally much
firmness and decision.

The rule I have adopted in my own case, is to defer to every usage, in
matters of etiquette, so far as I have understood them, that belongs to
the country in which I may happen to be. If, as has sometimes happened
(but not in a solitary instance in France), the claims of a stranger
have been overlooked, I have satisfied myself by remembering, that, in
this respect at least, the Americans are the superiors, for that is a
point in which we seldom fail; and if they are remembered, to accept of
just as much attention as shall be offered. In cases, in which those
arbitrary distinctions are set up, that, by the nature of our
institutions cannot, either in similar or in any parallel cases, exist
in America, and the party making the pretension is on neutral ground,
_if the claim be in any manner pressed_, I would say that it became an
American to resist it promptly; neither to go out of his way to meet it,
nor to defer to it when it crosses his path. In really good society
awkward cases of this nature are not very likely to occur; they are,
however, more likely to occur as between our own people and the English,
than between those of any other nation; for the latter, in mixed general
associations, have scarcely yet learned to look upon and treat us as the
possessors of an independent country. It requires perfect
self-possession, great tact, and some nerve, for an American, who is
brought much in contact with the English on the continent of Europe, to
avoid a querulous and ungentlemanlike disposition to raise objections on
these points, and at the same time to maintain the position, and command
the respect, with which he should never consent to dispense. From my own
little experience, I should say we are better treated, and have less to
overlook, in our intercourse with the higher than with the intermediate
classes of the English.

You will have very different accounts of these points, from some of our
travellers. I only give you the results of my own observation, under the
necessary limitations of my own opportunities. Still I must be permitted
to say that too many of our people, in their habitual deference to
England, mistake offensive condescension for civility. Of the two, I
will confess I would rather encounter direct arrogance, than the
assumption of a right to be affable. The first may at least be resisted.
Of all sorts of superiority, that of a condescending quality is the
least palatable.

I believe Washington is the only place in America where it is permitted
to send cards. In every other town, unless accompanied by an invitation,
and even then the card is supposed to be left, it would be viewed as
airs. It is even equivocal to leave a card in person, unless denied.
Nothing can be worse adapted to the wants of American society than this
rigid conformity to facts. Without porters; with dwellings in which the
kitchens and servants' halls are placed just as far from the
street-doors as dimensions of the houses will allow; with large
straggling towns that cover as much ground as the more populous capitals
of Europe, and these towns not properly divided into quarters; with a
society as ambitious of effect, in its way, as any I know; and with
people more than usually occupied with business and the family
cares,--one is expected to comply rigidly with the most formal rules of
village propriety. It is easy to trace these usages to their source,
provincial habits and rustic manners; but towns with three hundred
thousand inhabitants ought to be free from both. Such rigid conditions
cannot well be observed, and a consequence already to be traced is, that
those forms of society which tend to refine it, and to render it more
human and graceful, are neglected from sheer necessity. Carelessness in
the points of association connected with sentiment (and all personal
civilities and attention have this root) grows upon one like
carelessness in dress, until an entire community may get to be as
ungracious in deportment, as it is unattractive in attire.

The etiquette of visits, here, is reduced to a sort of science. A card
is sent by a servant, and returned by a servant. It is polite to return
it, next day, though three, I believe, is the lawful limits, and it is
politer still to return it the day it is received. There is no
affectation about sending the card, as it is not at all unusual to put
E.P. _(en personne)_ on it, by way of expressing a greater degree of
attention, even when the card is sent. When the call is really made in
person, though the visitor does not ask to be admitted, it is also
common to request the porter to say that the party was at the gate. All
these niceties may seem absurd and supererogatory, but depend on it they
have a direct and powerful agency in refining and polishing intercourse,
just as begging a man's pardon, when you tread on his toe, has an effect
to humanize, though the parties know no offence was intended.
Circumstances once rendered it proper that I should leave a card for a
Russian _diplomate_, an act that I took care he should know, indirectly,
I went out of my way to do, as an acknowledgment for the civilities his
countrymen showed to us Americans. My name was left at the gate of his
hotel (it was not in Paris), as I was taking a morning ride. On
returning home, after an absence of an hour, I found his card lying on
my table. Instead, however, of its containing the usual official titles,
it was simply Prince --. I was profoundly emerged in the study of this
new feature in the forms of etiquette, when the friend, who had prepared
the way for the visit, entered. I asked an explanation, and he told me
that I had received a higher compliment than could be conveyed by a
merely official card, this being a proffer of _personal_ attention. "You
will get an invitation to dinner soon;" and, sure enough, one came
before he had quitted the house. Now, here was a delicate and flattering
attention paid, and one that I felt, without trouble to either party;
one that the occupations of the _diplomate_ would scarcely permit him to
pay, except in extraordinary cases, under rules more rigid.

There is no obligation on a stranger to make the first visit, certainly;
but if he do not, he is not to be surprised if no one notices him. It is
a matter of delicacy to obtrude on the privacy of such a person, it
being presumed that he wishes to be retired. We have passed some time in
a village near Paris, which contains six or eight visitable families.
With one of these I had some acquaintance, and we exchanged civilities;
but wishing to be undisturbed, I extended my visit no farther, and I
never saw anything of the rest of my neighbours. They waited for me to
make the advances.

A person in society, here, who is desirous of relieving himself, for a
time, from the labour and care of maintaining the necessary intercourse,
can easily do it, by leaving cards of P.P.O. It might be awkward to
remain long in a place very publicly after such a step, but I ventured
on it once, to extricate myself from engagements that interfered with
more important pursuits, with entire success. I met several
acquaintances in the street, after the cards were sent, and we even
talked together, but I got no more visits or invitations. When ready _to
return to town_, all I had to do was to leave cards again, and things
went on as if nothing had happened. I parried one or two allusions to my
absence, and had no further difficulty. The only awkward part of it was,
that I accepted an invitation to dine _en famille_ with a literary
friend, and one of the guests, of whom there were but three, happened to
be a person whose invitation to dinner I had declined on account of
quitting town! As he was a sensible man, I told him the simple fact, and
we laughed at the _contretems_, and drank oar wine in peace.

The Americans who come abroad frequently complain of a want of
hospitality in the public agents. There is a strong disposition in every
man under institutions like our own, to mistake himself for a part of
the government, in matters with which he has no proper connexion, while
too many totally overlook those interests which it is their duty to
watch. In the first place, the people of the United Slates do not give
salaries to their ministers of sufficient amount to authorize them to
expect that any part of the money should be returned in the way of
personal civilities. Fifty thousand francs a year is the usual sum named
by the French, as the money necessary to maintain a genteel town
establishment, with moderate evening entertainments, and an occasional
dinner. This is three thousand francs more than the salary of the
minister, out of which he is moreover expected to maintain his regular
diplomatic intercourse. It is impossible for any one to do much in the
way of personal civilities, on such an allowance.

There is, moreover, on the part of too many of our people, an aptitude
to betray a jealous sensitiveness on the subject of being presented at
foreign courts. I have known some claim it _as a right_ when it is
yielded to the minister himself as an act of grace. The receptions of a
sovereign are merely his particular mode of receiving visits. No one
will pretend that the President of the United States is obliged to give
levees and dinners, nor is a king any more compelled to receive
strangers, or even his own subjects, unless it suit his policy and his
taste. His palace is his house, and he is the master of it, the same as
any other man is master of his own abode. It is true, the public expects
something of him, and his allowance is probably regulated by this
expectation, but the interference does not go so far as to point out his
company. Some kings pass years without holding a court at all; others
receive every week. The public obligation to open his door, is no more
than an obligation of expediency, of which he, and he only, can be the
judge. This being the rule, not only propriety, but fair dealing
requires that all who frequent a court should comply with the conditions
that are understood to be implied in the permission. While there exists
an exaggerated opinion, on the part of some of our people, on the
subject of the fastidiousness of princes, as respects their associates,
there exists among others very confused notions on the other side of the
question. A monarch usually cares very little about the quarterings and
the nobility of the person he receives, but he always wishes his court
to be frequented by people of education, accomplishments, and breeding.
In Europe these qualities are confined to _castes_, and, beyond a
question, as a general practice, every king would not only prefer, but,
were there a necessity for it, he would command that his doors should be
closed against all others, unless they came in a character different
from that of courtiers. This object has, in effect, been obtained, by
establishing a rule, that no one who has not been presented at his own
court can claim to be presented at any foreign European court; thus
leaving each sovereign to see that no one of his own subjects shall
travel with this privilege who would be likely to prove an unpleasant
guest to any other prince. But we have neither any prince nor any court,
and the minister is left to decide for himself who is, and who is not,
proper to be presented.

Let us suppose a case. A master and his servant make a simultaneous
request to be presented to the King of France. Both are American
citizens, and if _either_ has any political claim, beyond mere courtesy,
to have his request attended to, _both_ have. The minister is left to
decide for himself. He cannot so far abuse the courtesy that permits him
to present his countrymen at all, as to present the domestic, and of
course he declines doing it. In this case, perhaps, public opinion would
sustain him, as, unluckily, the party of the domestics is small in
America, the duties usually falling to the share of foreigners and
blacks. But the principle may be carried upwards, until a point is
attained where a minister might find it difficult to decide between that
which his own sense of propriety should dictate, and that which others
might be disposed to claim. All other ministers get rid of their
responsibility by the acts of their own courts; but the minister of the
republic is left exposed to the calumny, abuse, and misrepresentation of
any disappointed individual, should he determine to do what is strictly
right.

Under these circumstances, it appears to me that there are but two
courses left for any agent of our government to pursue: either to take
_official_ rank as his only guide, or to decline presenting any one. It
is not his duty to act as a master of ceremonies; every court has a
regular officer for this purpose, and any one who has been presented
himself, is permitted on proper representations to present others. The
trifling disadvantage will be amply compensated for, by the great and
peculiar benefits that arise from our peculiar form of government.

These things will quite likely strike you as of little moment. They are,
however, of more concern than one living in the simple society of
America may at first suppose. The etiquette of visiting has of course an
influence on the entire associations of a traveller, and may not be
overlooked, while the single fact that one people were practically
excluded from the European courts, would have the same effect on their
other enjoyments here, that it has to exclude an individual from the
most select circles of any particular town. Ordinary life is altogether
coloured by things that, in themselves, may appear trifling, but which
can no more be neglected with impunity, than one can neglect the varying
fashions in dress.

The Americans are not a shoving people, like their cousins the English.
Their fault in this particular lies in a morbid pride, with a
stubbornness that is the result of a limited experience, and which is
too apt to induce them to set up their own provincial notions, as the
standard, and to throw them backward into the intrenchments, of
self-esteem. This feeling is peculiarly fostered by the institutions. It
is easy to err in this manner; and it is precisely the failing of the
countryman, everywhere, when he first visits town. It is, in fact, the
fault of ignorance of the world. By referring to what I have just told
you, it will be seen that these are the very propensities which will be
the most likely to make one uncomfortable in Europe, where so much of
the initiative of intercourse is thrown upon the shoulders of the
stranger.

I cannot conclude this letter without touching on another point, that
suggests itself at the moment. It is the fashion to decry the
niggardliness of the American government on the subject of money, as
compared with those of this hemisphere. Nothing can be more unjust. Our
working men are paid better than even those of England, with the
exception of a few who have high dignities to support. I do not see the
least necessity for giving the President a dollar more than he gets
to-day, since all he wants is enough to entertain handsomely, and to
shield him from loss. Under our system, we never can have an _exclusive_
court, nor is it desirable, for in this age a court is neither a school
of manners, nor a school of anything else that is estimable. These facts
are sufficiently proved by England, a country whose mental cultivation
and manners never stood as high as they do to-day, and yet it has
virtually been without a court for an entire generation. A court may
certainly foster taste and elegance; but they may be quite as well
fostered by other, and less exclusive, means. But while the President
may receive enough, the heads of departments, at home, and the foreign
ministers of the country, are not more than half paid, _particularly the
latter_. The present minister is childless, his establishment and his
manner of living are both handsome, but not a bit more so than those of
a thousand others who inhabit this vast capital, and his intercourse
with his colleagues is not greater than is necessary to the interests of
his country. Now, I know from his own statement, that his expenses,
without a family, exceed by one hundred per cent, his salary. With a
personal income of eighty to a hundred thousand francs a years, he can
bear this drain on his private fortune, but he is almost the only
minister we ever had here who could.

The actual position of our diplomatic agents in Europe is little
understood at home. There are but two or three modes of maintaining the
rights of a nation, to say nothing of procuring those concessions from
others which enter into the commercial relations of states, and in some
degree affect their interests. The best method, certainly, as respects
the two first, is to manifest a determination to defend them by an
appeal to force; but so many conflicting interests stand in the way of
such a policy, that it is exceedingly difficult, wisest and safest in
the end though it be, to carry it out properly. At any rate, such a
course has never yet been in the power of the American government,
whatever it may be able to do hereafter, with its increasing numbers and
growing wealth. But even strength is not always sufficient to obtain
voluntary and friendly concessions, for principle must, in some degree,
be respected by the most potent people, or they will be put to the ban
of the world. Long diplomatic letters, although they may answer the
purposes of ministerial _exposés_, and read well enough in the columns
of a journal, do very little, in fact, as make-weights in negotiations.
I have been told here, _sub rosâ_, and I believe it that some of our
laboured efforts, in this way to obtain redress in the protracted
negotiation for indemnity, have actually lain months in the _bureaux_,
unread by those who alone have power to settle the question. Some
_commis_ perhaps may have cursorily related their contents to his
superior, but the superior himself is usually too much occupied in
procuring and maintaining ministerial majorities, or in looking after
the monopolizing concerns of European politics, to wade through folios
of elaborate argument in manuscript. The public ought to understand,
that the point presents itself to him in the security of his master's
capital, and with little or no apprehension of its coming to an appeal
to arms, very differently from what it occasionally presents itself in
the pages of a President's message, or in a debate in Congress. He has
so many demands on his time, that it is even difficult to have a working
interview with him at all; and when one is obtained, it is not usual to
do more than to go over the preliminaries. The details are necessarily
referred to subordinates.

Now, in such a state of things, any one accustomed to the world, can
readily understand how much may be effected by the kind feelings that
are engendered by daily, social intercourse. A few words can be
whispered in the ears of a minister, in the corner of a drawing-room,
that would never reach him in his bureau. Then _all_ the ministers are
met in society, while the _diplomate_, properly speaking, can claim
officially to see but _one_. In short, in saving, out of an overflowing
treasury, a few thousand dollars a year, we trifle with our own
interests, frequently embarrass our agents, and in some degree discredit
the country. I am not one of your _sensitives_ on the subject of parade
and appearance, nor a member of the embroidery school; still I would
substitute for the irrational frippery of the European customs, a
liberal hospitality, and a real elegance, that should speak well for the
hearts and tastes of the nation. The salary of the minister at Paris, I
know it, by the experience of a housekeeper, ought to be increased by at
least one half, and it would tell better for the interests of the
country were it doubled. Even in this case, however, I do not conceive
that an American would be justified in mistaking the house of an envoy
for a national inn; but that the proper light to view his allowances
would be to consider them as made, first, as an act of justice to the
functionary himself; next, as a measure of expediency, as connected with
the important interests of the country. As it is, I am certain that no
one but a man of fortune can accept a foreign appointment, without
committing injustice to his heirs; and I believe few do accept them
without sincerely regretting the step, in after years.



LETTER XII.

Sir Walter Scott in Paris.--Conversation with him.--Copyright in
America.--Miss Scott.--French Compliments.--Sir Walter Scott's Person
and Manners.--Ignorance as to America.--French Commerce.--French
Translations.--American Luxury.


To JAMES E. DE KAY, ESQUIRE.

We have not only had Mr. Canning in Paris, but Sir Walter Scott has
suddenly appeared among us. The arrival of the Great Unknown, or,
indeed, of any little Unknown from England, would be an event to throw
all the reading clubs at home into a state of high moral and poetical
excitement. We are true village _lionizers_. As the professors of the
Catholic religion are notoriously more addicted to yielding faith to
miraculous interventions, in the remoter dioceses, than in Rome itself;
as loyalty is always more zealous in a colony than in a court; as
fashions are more exaggerated in a province than in a capital, and men
are more prodigious to every one else than their own valets,--so do we
throw the haloes of a vast ocean around the honoured heads of the
celebrated men of this eastern hemisphere. This, perhaps, is the natural
course of things, and is as unavoidable as that the sun shall hold the
earth within the influence of its attraction, until matters shall be
reversed by the earth's becoming the larger and more glorious orb of the
two. Not so in Paris. Here men of every gradation of celebrity, from
Napoleon down to the Psalmanazar of the day, are so very common, that
one scarcely turns round in the streets to look at them. Delicate and
polite attentions, however, fall as much to the share of reputation here
as in any other country, and perhaps more so as respects literary men,
though there is so little _wonder-mongering_. It would be quite
impossible that the presence of Sir Walter Scott should not excite a
sensation. He was frequently named in the journals, received a good deal
of private and some public notice, but, on the whole, much less of both,
I think, than one would have a right to expect for him, in a place like
Paris. I account for the fact, by the French distrusting the forthcoming
work on Napoleon, and by a little dissatisfaction which prevails on the
subject of the tone of "Paul's Letters to his Kinsfolk." This feeling
may surprise you, as coming from a nation as old and as great as France;
but, alas! we are all human.

The King spoke to him, in going to his chapel, Sir Walter being in
waiting for that purpose; but, beyond this, I believe he met with no
civilities from the court.

As for myself, circumstances that it is needless to recount had brought
me, to a slight degree, within the notice of Sir Walter Scott, though we
had never met, nor had I ever seen him, even in public, so as to know
his person. Still I was not without hopes of being more fortunate now,
while I felt a delicacy about obtruding myself any further on his time
and attention. Several days after his arrival went by, however, without
my good luck bringing me in his way, and I began to give the matter up,
though the Princesse ---- with whom I had the advantage of being on
friendly terms, flattered me with an opportunity of seeing the great
writer at her house, for she had a fixed resolution of making his
acquaintance before he left Paris, _coûte que coûte_.

It might have been ten days after the arrival of Sir Walter Scott, that
I had ordered a carriage, one morning, with an intention of driving over
to the other side of the river, and had got as far as the lower flight
of steps, on my way to enter it, when, by the tramping of horses in the
court, I found that another coach was driving in. It was raining, and,
as my own carriage drove from the door to make way for the newcomer, I
stopped where I was, until it could return. The carriage-steps rattled,
and presently a large, heavy-moulded man appeared in the door of the
hotel. He was grey, and limped a little, walking with a cane. His
carriage immediately drove round, and was succeeded by mine, again; so I
descended. We passed each other on the stairs, bowing as a matter of
course. I had got to the door, and was about to enter the carriage, when
it flashed on my mind that the visit might be to myself. The two lower
floors of the hotel were occupied as a girl's boarding-school; the
reason of our dwelling in it, for our own daughters were in the
establishment; _au second_, there was nothing but our own _appartement_,
and above us, again, dwelt a family whose visitors never came in
carriages. The door of the boarding-school was below, and men seldom
came to it, at all. Strangers, moreover, sometimes did honour me with
calls. Under these impressions I paused, to see if the visitor went as
far as our flight of steps. All this time, I had not the slightest
suspicion of who he was, though I fancied both the face and form were
known to me.

The stranger got up the large stone steps slowly, leaning, with one
hand, on the iron railing, and with the other, on his cane. He was on
the first landing, as I stopped, and, turning towards the next flight,
our eyes met. The idea that I might be the person he wanted, seemed then
to strike him for the first time. "Est-ce Mons. ---- que j'ai l'honneur
de voir?" he asked, in French, and with but an indifferent accent.
"Monsieur, je m'appelle ----. Eh bien, donc--je suis Walter Scott."

I ran up to the landing, shook him by the hand, which he stood holding
out to me cordially, and expressed my sense of the honour he was
conferring. He told me, in substance, that the Princesse ---- had been
as good as her word, and having succeeded herself in getting hold of
him, she had good-naturedly given him my address. By way of cutting
short all ceremony, he had driven from his hotel to my lodgings. All
this time he was speaking French, while my answers and remarks were in
English. Suddenly recollecting himself, he said--"Well, here have I been
_parlez-vousing_ to you, in a way to surprise you, no doubt; but these
Frenchmen have got my tongue so set to their lingo, that I have half
forgotten my own language." As we proceeded up the next flight of steps,
he accepted my arm, and continued the conversation in English, walking
with more difficulty than I had expected to see. You will excuse the
vanity of my repeating the next observation he made, which I do in the
hope that some of our own exquisites in literature may learn in what
manner a man of true sentiment and sound feeling regards a trait that
they have seen fit to stigmatize unbecoming, "I'll tell you what I most
like," he added, abruptly; "and it is the manner in which you maintain
the ascendency of your own country on all proper occasions, without
descending to vulgar abuse of ours. You are obliged to bring the two
nations in collision, and I respect your liberal hostility." This will
probably be esteemed treason in our own self-constituted mentors of the
press, one of whom, I observe, has quite lately had to apologize to his
readers for exposing some of the sins of the English writers in
reference to ourselves! But these people are not worth our attention,
for they have neither the independence which belongs to masculine
reason, nor manhood even to prize the quality in others. "I am afraid
the mother has not always treated the daughter well," he continued,
"feeling a little jealous of her growth, perhaps; for, though we hope
England has not yet begun to descend on the evil side, we have a
presentiment that she has got to the top of the ladder."

There were two entrances to our apartments; one, the principal, leading
by an ante-chamber and _salle à manger_ into the _salon_, and thence
through other rooms to a terrace; and the other, by a private corridor,
to the same spot. The door of my cabinet opened on this corridor, and
though it was dark, crooked, and anything but savoury, as it led by the
kitchen, I conducted Sir Walter through it, under an impression that he
walked with pain; an idea of which I could not divest myself, in the
hurry of the moment. But for this awkwardness on my part, I believe I
should have been the witness of a singular interview. General Lafayette
had been with me a few minutes before, and he had gone away by the
_salon_, in order to speak to Mrs. ----. Having a note to write, I had
left him there, and I think his carriage could not have quitted the
court when that of Sir Walter Scott entered. If so, the General must
have passed out by the ante-chamber about the time we came through the
corridor.

There would be an impropriety in my relating all that passed in this
interview; but we talked over a matter of business, and then the
conversation was more general. You will remember that Sir Walter was
still the _Unknown_[14] and that he was believed to be in Paris in search
of facts for the Life of Napoleon. Notwithstanding the former
circumstance, he spoke of his works with great frankness and simplicity,
and without the parade of asking any promises of secrecy. In short, as
he commenced in this style, his authorship was alluded to by us both
just as if it had never been called in question. He asked me if I had a
copy of the ---- by me, and on my confessing I did not own a single
volume of anything I had written, he laughed, and said he believed that
most authors had the same feeling on the subject: as for himself, he
cared not if he never saw a Waverley novel again, as long as he lived.
Curious to know whether a writer as great and as practised as he felt
the occasional despondency which invariably attends all my own little
efforts of this nature, I remarked that I found the mere composition of
a tale a source of pleasure, so much so, that I always invented twice as
much as was committed to paper in my walks, or in bed, and in my own
judgment much the best parts of the composition never saw the light; for
what was written was usually written at set hours, and was a good deal a
matter of chance, and that going over and over the same subject in
proofs disgusted me so thoroughly with the book, that I supposed every
one else would be disposed to view it with the same eyes. To this he
answered that he was spared much of the labour of proofreading,
Scotland, he presumed, being better off than America in this respect;
but still be said he "would as soon see his dinner again after a hearty
meal as to read one of his own tales when he was fairly rid of it."

[Footnote 14: He did not avow himself for several months afterwards.]

He sat with me nearly an hour, and he manifested, during the time the
conversation was not tied down to business, a strong propensity to
humour. Having occasion to mention our common publisher in Paris, he
quaintly termed him, with a sort of malicious fun, "our Gosling;"[15]
adding, that he hoped he, at least, "laid golden eggs."

[Footnote 15: His name was Gosselin.]

I hoped that he had found the facilities he desired, in obtaining facts
for the forthcoming history. He rather hesitated about admitting this.
"One can hear as much as he pleases, as a gentleman, he is not always
sure how much of it he can, with propriety, relate in a book;
besides"--throwing all his latent humour into the expression of his
small grey eyes--"one may even doubt how much of what he hears is fit
for history on another account." He paused, and his face assumed an
exquisite air of confiding simplicity, as he continued, with perfect
_bonne foi_ and strong Scottish feeling, "I have been to see _my
countryman_ M'Donald, and I rather think that will be about as much as I
can do here, now." This was uttered with so much _naïveté_ that I could
hardly believe it was the same man who, a moment before, had shown so
much shrewd distrust of oral relations of facts.

I inquired when we might expect the work "Some time in the course of the
winter," he replied, "though it is likely to prove larger than I at
first intended. We have got several volumes printed, but I find I must
add to the matter considerably, in order to dispose of the subject. I
thought I should get rid of it in seven volumes, which are already
written, but it will reach, I think, to nine." "If you have two still to
write, I shall not expect to see the book before spring." "You may: let
me once get back to Abbotsford, and I'll soon knock off those two
fellows." To this I had nothing to say, although I thought such a _tour
de force_ in writing might better suit invention than history.

When he rose to go, I begged him to step into the _salon_, that I might
have the gratification of introducing my wife to him. To this he very
good-naturedly assented, and entering the room, after presenting Mrs.
---- and my nephew W----. he took a seat. He sat some little time, and
his fit of pleasantry returned, for he illustrated his discourse by one
or two apt anecdotes, related with a slightly Scottish accent, that he
seemed to drop and assume at will. Mrs. ---- observed to him that the
_bergère_ in which he was seated had been twice honoured that morning,
for General Lafayette had not left it more than half an hour. Sir Walter
Scott looked surprised at this, and said inquiringly, "I thought he had
gone to America, to pass the rest of his days." On my explaining the
true state of the case, he merely observed, "He is a great man;" and yet
I thought the remark was made coldly, or in complaisance to us.

When Sir Walter left us, it was settled that I was to breakfast with him
the following day but one. I was punctual, of course, and found him in a
new silk _douillette_ that he had just purchased, trying "as hard as he
could," as he pleasantly observed, to make a Frenchman of himself--an
undertaking as little likely to be successful, I should think, in the
case of his Scottish exterior, and Scottish interior too, as any
experiment well could be. There were two or three visitors, besides Miss
Ann Scott, his daughter, who was his companion in the journey. He was
just answering an invitation from the Princesse ----, to an evening
party, as I entered. "Here," said he, "you are a friend of the lady, and
_parlez-vous_ so much better than I; can you tell me whether this is for
_Jeudi_, or _Lundi_, or _Mardi_, or whether it means no day at all?" I
told him the day of the week intended. "You get notes occasionally from
the lady, or you could not read her scrawl so readily?" "She is very
kind to us, and we often have occasion to read her writing." "Well, it
is worth a very good dinner to get through a page of it." "I take my
revenge in kind, and I fancy she has the worst of it." "I don't know,
after all that she will get much the better of me with this _plume
d'auberge._" He was quite right, for, although Sir Walter writes a
smooth even hand, and one that appears rather well than otherwise on a
page, it is one of the most difficult to decipher I have ever met with;
the i's, u's, m's, n's, a's, e's, t's, etc., etc., for want of dots,
crossings, and being fully rounded, looking all alike, and rendering the
reading slow and difficult, without great familiarity with his mode of
handling the pen: at least, I have found it so.

He had sealed the note, and was about writing the direction, when he
seemed at a loss. "How do you address this lady--as Her Highness?" I
was much surprised at this question from him, for it denoted a want of
familiarity with the world, that one would not have expected in a man
who had been so very much and so long courted by the great. But, after
all, his life has been provincial, though, as his daughter remarked in
the course of the morning, they had no occasion to quit Scotland to see
the world, all the world coming to see Scotland.

The next morning he was with me again, for near an hour and we completed
our little affair. After this we had a conversation on the law of
copyrights in the two countries, which as we possess a common language,
is a subject of great national interest. I understood him to say that he
had a double right in England to his works; one under a statute, and the
other growing out of common law. Any one publishing a book, let it be
written by whom it might, in England, duly complying with the law, can
secure the right, whereas none but a _citizen_ can do the same in
America. I regret to say that I misled him on the subject of our
copyright law, which, after all, is not so much more illiberal than that
of England as I had thought it.

I told Sir Walter Scott, that, in order to secure a copyright in
America, it was necessary the book should never have been published
_anywhere else_. This was said under the popular notion of the matter;
or that which is entertained among the booksellers. Reflection and
examination have since convinced me of my error: the publication alluded
to in the law can only mean publication in America; for, as the object
of doing certain acts previously to publication is merely to forewarn
the _American_ public that the right is reserved, there can be no motive
for having reference to any other publication. It is, moreover, in
conformity with the spirit of all laws to limit the meaning of their
phrases by their proper jurisdiction. Let us suppose a case. An American
writes a book, he sends a copy to England, where it is published in
March complying with the terms of our own copyright law, as to the
entries and notices, the same work is published here in April. Now will
it be pretended that his right is lost, always providing that his own is
the first _American_ publication? I do not see how it can be so by
either the letter or the spirit of the law. The intention is to
encourage the citizen to write, and to give him a just property in the
fruits of his labour; and the precautionary provisions of the law are
merely to prevent others from being injured for want of proper
information. It is of no moment to either of these objects that the
author of a work has already reaped emolument in a foreign country: the
principle is to encourage literature by giving it all the advantages it
can obtain.

If these views are correct, why may not an English writer secure a right
in this country, by selling it in season, to a citizen here? An
equitable trust might not, probably would not be sufficient; but a _bona
fide_ transfer for a valuable consideration, I begin to think, would. It
seems to me that all the misconception which has existed on this point
has arisen from supposing that the term _publication_ refers to other
than a publication in the country. But, when one remembers how rare it
is to get lawyers to agree on a question like this, it becomes a layman
to advance his opinion with great humility. I suppose, after all a good
way of getting an accurate notion of the meaning of the law, would be to
toss a dollar into the air, and cry "heads," or "tails." Sir Walter
Scott seemed fully aware of the great circulation of his books in
America, as well as how much he lost by not being able to secure a
copyright. Still he admitted they produced him something. Our
conversation on this subject terminated by a frank offer, on his part,
of aiding me with the publishers of his own country;[16] but, although
grateful for the kindness, I was not so circumstanced as to be able to
profit by it.

[Footnote 16: An offer that was twice renewed, after intervals of several
years.]

He did not appear to me to be pleased with Paris. His notions of the
French were pretty accurate, though clearly not free from the old
fashioned prejudices. "After all," he remarked, "I am a true Scot,
never, except on this occasion, and the short visit I made to Paris in
1815, having been out of my own country, unless to visit England, and I
have even done very little of the latter." I understood him to say he
had never been in Ireland, at all.

I met him once more, in the evening, at the hotel of the Princesse ----.
The party had been got together in a hurry, and was not large. Our
hostess contrived to assemble some exceedingly clever people, however,
among whom were one or two women, who are already historical, and whom I
had fancied long since dead. All the female part of the company, with
the silent delicacy that the French so well understand, appeared with
ribbons, hats, or ornaments of some sort or other, of a Scottish stamp.
Indeed, almost the only woman in the room, that did not appear to be a
Caledonian was Miss Scott. She was in half-mourning, and, with her black
eyes and jet-black hair, might very well have passed for a French woman,
but for a slight peculiarity about the cheek-bones. She looked
exceedingly well, and was much admired. Having two or three more places
to go to, they stayed but an hour. As a matter of course, all the French
women were exceedingly _empressées_ in their manner towards the Great
Unknown; and as there were three or four that were very exaggerated on
the score of romance, he was quite lucky if he escaped some absurdities.
Nothing could be more patient than his manner, under it all; but as soon
as he very well could, he got into a corner, where I went to speak to
him. He said, laughingly, that he spoke French with so much difficulty,
he was embarrassed to answer the compliments. "I am as good a lion as
needs be, allowing my mane to be stroked as familiarly as they please,
but I can't growl for them, in French. How is it with you?" Disclaiming
the necessity of being either a good or a bad lion, being very little
troubled in that way, for his amusement I related to him an anecdote.
Pointing out to him a Comtesse de ----, who was present, I told him, I
had met this lady once a week for several months, and at every _soirée_
she invariably sailed up to me to say--"Oh, Monsieur ----, quelles
livres!--vos charmans livres--que vos livres sont charmans!" and I had
just made up my mind that she was, at least, a woman of taste, when she
approached me with the utmost _sang-froid_, and cried-- "Bon soir,
Monsieur ----; je viens d'acheter tous vos livres, et je compte profiter
de la première occasion pour les lire!"

I took leave of him in the ante-chamber, as he went away, for he was to
quit Paris the following evening.

Sir Walter Scott's person and manner have been so often described, that
you will not ask much of me in this way, especially as I saw so little
of him. His frame is large and muscular, his walk difficult, in
appearance, though be boasted himself a vigorous mountaineer, and his
action, in general, measured and heavy. His features and countenance
were very Scottish, with the short thick nose, heavy lips, and massive
cheeks. The superior or intellectual part of his head was neither deep
nor broad, but perhaps the reverse, though singularly high. Indeed, it
is quite uncommon to see a scull so round and tower-like in the
formation, though I have met with them in individuals not at all
distinguished for talents. I do not think a casual observer would find
anything unusual in the exterior of Sir Walter Scott, beyond his
physical force, which is great, without being at all extraordinary. His
eye, however, is certainly remarkable. Grey, small, and without lustre,
in his graver moments it appears to look inward, instead of regarding
external objects, in a way, though the expression, more or less, belongs
to abstraction, that I have never seen equalled. His smile is
good-natured and social; and when he is in the mood, as happened to be
the fact so often in our brief intercourse as to lead me to think it
characteristic of the man, his eye would lighten with a great deal of
latent fun. He spoke more freely of his private affairs than I had
reason to expect, though our business introduced the subject naturally;
and, at such times, I thought the expression changed to a sort of
melancholy resolution, that was not wanting in sublimity.

The manner of Sir Walter Scott is that of a man accustomed to see much
of the world without being exactly a man of the world himself. He has
evidently great social tact, perfect self-possession, is quiet, and
absolutely without pretension, and has much dignity; and yet it struck
me that he wanted the ease and _aplomb_ of one accustomed to live with
his equals. The fact of his being a lion may produce some such effect;
but I am mistaken if it be not more the influence of early habits and
opinions than of anything else.

Scott has been so much the mark of society, that it has evidently
changed his natural manner, which is far less restrained than it is his
habit to be in the world. I do not mean by this, the mere restraint of
decorum, but a drilled simplicity or demureness, like that of girls who
are curbed in their tendency to fun and light-heartedness, by the dread
of observation. I have seldom known a man of his years, whose manner was
so different in a _tête-à-tête_, and in the presence of a third person.
In Edinburgh the circle must be small, and he probably knows every one.
If strangers do go there, they do not go all at once, and of course the
old faces form the great majority; so that he finds himself always on
familiar ground. I can readily imagine that in Auld Reekie, and among
the proper set, warmed perhaps by a glass of mountain-dew, Sir Walter
Scott, in his peculiar way, is one of the pleasantest companions the
world holds.

There was a certain M. de ---- at the _soirée_ of the Princesse ----,
who has obtained some notoriety as the writer of novels. I had, the
honour of being introduced to this person, and was much amused with one
of his questions. You are to understand that the vaguest possible
notions exist in France on the subject of the United States. Empires,
states, continents, and islands are blended in inextricable confusion, in
the minds of a large majority of even the intelligent classes, and we
sometimes hear the oddest ideas imaginable. This ignorance, quite
pardonable in part, is not confined to France by any means, but exists
even in England, a country that ought to know us better. It would seem
that M. de ----, either because I was a shade or two whiter than
himself, or because he did not conceive it possible that an American
could write a book (for in this quarter of the world there is a strong
tendency to believe that every man whose name crosses the ocean from
America is merely some European who has gone there), or from some cause
that to me is inexplicable, took it into his head that I was an
Englishman who had amused a leisure year or two in the Western
Hemisphere. After asking me a few questions concerning the country, he
very coolly continued--"Et combien de temps avez-vous passé en Amérique,
monsieur?" Comprehending his mistake, for a little practice here makes
one quick in such matters, I answered, "Monsieur, nous y sommes depuis
deux siècles." I question if M. de ---- has yet recovered from his
surprise!

The French, when their general cleverness is considered, are singularly
ignorant of the habits, institutions, and civilization of other
countries. This is in part owing to their being little addicted to
travelling. Their commercial enterprise is not great; for though we
occasionally see a Frenchman carrying with him into pursuits of this
nature the comprehensive views, and one might almost say, the
philosophy, that distinguish the real intelligence of the country, such
instances are rare, the prevailing character of their commerce being
caution and close dealing. Like the people of all great nations, their
attention is drawn more to themselves than to others; and then the want
of a knowledge of foreign languages has greatly contributed to their
ignorance. This want of knowledge of foreign languages, in a nation that
has traversed Europe as conquerors, is owing to the fact that they have
either carried their own language with them, or met it everywhere. It is
a want, moreover, that belongs rather to the last generation than to the
present; the returned emigrants having brought back with them a taste
for English, German, Italian, and Spanish, which has communicated itself
to all, or nearly all, the educated people of the country. English, in
particular, is now very generally studied; and perhaps, relatively, more
French, under thirty years of age, are to be found in Paris who speak
English, than Americans, of the same age, are to be found in New York
who speak French.

I think the limited powers of the language, and the rigid laws to which
it has been subjected, contribute to render the French less acquainted
with foreign nations than they would otherwise be. In all their
translations there is an effort to render the word, however peculiar may
be its meaning, into the French tongue. Thus, "township" and "city," met
with in an American book, would probably be rendered by "_canton_" or
"_commune_" or "_ville_;" neither of which conveys an accurate idea of
the thing intended. In an English or American book we should introduce
the French word at once, which would induce the reader to inquire into
the differences that exist between the minor territorial divisions, of
his own country, and those of the country of which he is reading. In
this manner is the door open for further information, until both writers
and readers come to find it easier and more agreeable to borrow words
from others, than to curtail their ideas by their national vocabularies.
The French, however, are beginning to feel their poverty in this
respect, and some are already bold enough to resort to the natural cure.

The habit of thinking of other nations through their own customs,
betrays the people of this country into many ridiculous mistakes. One
hears here the queerest questions imaginable every day; all of which,
veiled by the good breeding and delicacy that characterize the nation,
betray an innocent sense of superiority that may be smiled at, and which
creates no feeling of resentment. A _savant_ lately named to me the
coasting tonnage of France, evidently with the expectation of exciting
my admiration; and on my receiving the information coolly, he inquired,
with a little sarcasm of manner--"Without doubt, you have some coasting
tonnage also in America?" "The coasting tonnage of the United Slates,
Monsieur, is greater than the entire tonnage of France." The man looked
astonished, and I was covered with questions as to the nature of the
trade that required so much shipping among a population numerically so
small. It could not possibly be the consumption of a country--he did not
say it, but he evidently thought it--so insignificant and poor? I told
him, that bread, wine, and every other article of the first necessity
excepted, the other consumption of America, especially in luxuries, did
not fall so much short of that of France as he imagined, owing to the
great abundance in which the middling and lower classes lived. Unlike
Europe, articles that were imported were mere necessaries of life, in
America, such as tea, coffee, sugar, etc. etc., the lowest labourer
usually indulging in them. He left me evidently impressed with new
notions, for there is a desire to learn mingled with all their vanity.

But I will relate a laughable blunder of a translator, by way of giving
you a familiar example of the manner in which the French fall into error
concerning the condition of other nations, and to illustrate my meaning.
In one of the recent American novels that have been circulated here, a
character is made to betray confusion, by tracing lines on the table,
after dinner, with some wine that had been spilt; a sort of idle
occupation sufficiently common to allow the allusion to be understood by
every American. The sentence was faithfully rendered; but, not satisfied
with giving his original, the translator annexes a note, in which he
says, "One sees by this little trait, that the use of table-cloths, at
the time of the American Revolution, was unknown in America!" You will
understand the train of reasoning that led him to this conclusion. In
France the cover is laid, perhaps, on a coarse table of oak, or even of
pine, and the cloth is never drawn; the men leaving the table with the
women. In America, the table is of highly polished mahogany, the cloth
is removed, and the men sit, as in England. Now the French custom was
supposed to be the custom of mankind, and wine could not be traced on
the wood had there been a cloth; America was a young and semi-civilized
nation, and, _ergo_, in 1779, there could have been no table-cloths
known in America!--When men even visit a people of whom they have been
accustomed to think in this way, they use their eyes through the medium
of the imagination. I lately met a French traveller who affirmed that
the use of carpets was hardly known among us.



LETTER XIII.

French Manufactures.--Sèvres China.--Tapestry of the Gobelins.--Paper
for Hangings.--The Savonnerie.--French Carpets.--American Carpets.
--Transfer of old Pictures from Wood to Canvass.--Coronation Coach.
--The Arts in France--in America.--American Prejudice.


To JAMES E. DE KAY, ESQUIRE.

In my last, I gave you a few examples of the instances in which the
French have mistaken the relative civilization of their country and
America, and I shall now give you some in which we have fallen into the
same error, or the other side of the question.

There has lately been an exhibition of articles of French manufacture,
at Paris; one of, I believe, the triennial collections of this
character, that have been established here. The court of the Louvre was
filled with temporary booths for the occasion, and vast ranges of the
unfinished apartments in that magnificent palace have been thrown open
for the same purpose. The court of the Louvre, of itself, is an area
rather more than four hundred feet square, and I should think fully a
quarter of a mile of rooms in the building itself are to be added to the
space occupied for this purpose.

The first idea, with which I was impressed, on walking through the
booths and galleries, on this occasion, was the great disproportion
between the objects purely of taste and luxury, and the objects of use.
The former abounded, were very generally elegant and well-imagined,
while the latter betrayed the condition of a nation whose civilization
has commenced with the summit, instead of the base of society.

In France, nearly every improvement in machinery is the result of
scientific research; is unobjectionable in principles, profound in the
adaptation of its parts to the end, and commonly beautiful in form. But
it ends here, rarely penetrating the mass, and producing positive
results. The Conservatoire des Arts, for instance, is full of beautiful
and ingenious ploughs; while France is tilled with heavy, costly, and
cumbrous implements of this nature. One sees light mould turning up,
here, under a sort of agricultural _diligences_, drawn by four, and even
six heavy horses, which in America would be done quite as well, and much
sooner, by two. You know I am farmer enough to understand what I say, on
a point like this. In France, the cutlery, ironware, glass,
door-fastenings, hinges, locks, fire-irons, axes, hatchets, carpenter's
tools, and, in short, almost everything that is connected with homely
industry and homely comfort, is inferior to the same thing in America.
It is true, many of our articles are imported, but this produces no
change in the habits of the respective people; our manufactories are
merely in Birmingham, instead of being in Philadelphia.

I have now been long enough in France to understand that seeing an
article in an exhibition like the one I am describing, is no proof that
it enters at all into the comforts and civilization of the nation,
although it may be an object as homely as a harrow or a spade. The
scientific part of the country has little influence, in this way, on the
operative. The chasm between knowledge and ignorance is so vast in
France, that it requires a long time for the simplest idea to find its
way across it.

Exhibitions are everywhere bad guides to the average civilization of a
country, as it is usual to expose only the objects that have been
wrought with the greatest care. In a popular sense, they are proofs of
what can be done, rather than of what _is_ done. The cloths that I saw
in the booths, for instance, are not to be met with in the shops; the
specimens of fire-arms, glass, cutlery, etc., etc., too, are all much
superior to anything one finds on sale. But this is the case everywhere,
from the boarding-school to the military parade, men invariably putting
the best foot foremost when they are to be especially inspected. This is
not the difference I mean. Familiar as every American, at all accustomed
to the usages of genteel life in his own country, must be with the
better manufactures of Great Britain, I think he would be struck by the
inferiority of even the best specimens of the commoner articles that
were here laid before the public. But when it came to the articles of
elegance and luxury, as connected with forms, taste, and execution,
though not always in ingenuity and extent of comfort, I should think
that no Englishman, let his rank in life be what it would, could pass
through this wilderness of elegancies without wonder.

Even the manufactures in which we, or rather the English (for I now
refer more to use than to production), ordinarily excel, such as
carpets, rugs, porcelain, plate, and all the higher articles of personal
comfort, _as exceptions_, surpass those of which we have any notion. I
say, _as exceptions_, not in the sense by which we distinguish the
extraordinary efforts of the ordinary manufacturer, in order to make a
figure at an exhibition, but certain objects produced in certain
exclusive establishments that are chiefly the property of the crown, as
they have been the offspring of regal taste and magnificence.

Of this latter character is the Sèvres china. There are manufactures of
this name of a quality that brings them within the reach of moderate
fortunes, it is true; but one obtains no idea of the length to which
luxury and taste have been pushed in this branch of art without
examining the objects made especially for the king, who is in the habit
of distributing them as presents among the crowned heads and his
personal favourites. After the ware has been made with the greatest care
and of the best materials, artists of celebrity are employed to paint
it. You can easily imagine the value of these articles, when you
remember that each plate has a design of its own, beautifully executed
in colours, and presenting a landscape or an historical subject that is
fit to be framed and suspended in a gallery. One or two of the artists
employed in this manner have great reputations, and it is no uncommon
thing to see miniatures in gilded frames which, on examination, prove to
be on porcelain. Of course the painting has been subject to the action
of heat in the baking. As respects the miniatures, there is not much to
be said in their favour. They are well drawn and well enough coloured;
but the process and the material give them a glossy, unnatural
appearance, which must prevent them from ever being considered as more
than so many _tours de force_ in the arts. But on vases, dinner-sets,
and all ornamental furniture of this nature, in which we look for the
peculiarities of the material, they produce a magnificence of effect
that I cannot describe. Vases of the value of ten or fifteen thousand
francs, or even of more money, are not uncommon; and at the exhibition
there was a little table, the price of which I believe was two thousand
dollars, that was a perfect treasure in its way.

Busts, and even statues, I believe, have been attempted in this branch
of art. This of course is enlisting the statuary as well as the painter
in its service. I remember to have seen, when at Sèvres, many busts of
the late Duc de Berri in the process of drying, previously to being put
into the oven. Our cicerone on that occasion made us laugh by the
routine with which he went through his catalogue of wonders. He had
pointed out to us the unbaked busts in a particular room, and on
entering another apartment, where the baked busts were standing, he
exclaimed--"Ah! voilà son Altesse Royale toute cuite." This is just the
amount of the criticism I should hazard on this branch of the Sèvres
art, or on that which exceeds its legitimate limits--"Behold his Royal
Highness, ready cooked."

The value of some of the single plates must be very considerable, and
the king frequently, in presenting a solitary vase, or ornament of the
Sèvres porcelain, presents thousands.

The tapestry is another of the costly works that it has suited the
policy of France to keep up, while her ploughs, and axes, and carts, and
other ordinary implements, are still so primitive and awkward. The
exhibition contained many specimens from the Gobelins that greatly
surpassed my expectations. They were chiefly historical subjects, with
the figures larger than life, and might very well have passed with a
novice, at a little distance, for oil-paintings. The dimensions of the
apartment are taken, and the subject is designed, of course, on a scale
suited to the room. The effect of this species of ornament is very noble
and imposing, and the tapestries have the additional merit of warmth and
comfort. Hangings in cloth are very common in Paris, but the tapestry of
the Gobelins is chiefly confined to the royal palaces. Our neighbour the
Duc de ---- has some of it, however, in his hotel, a present from the
king; but the colours are much faded, and the work is otherwise the
worse for time. I have heard him say that one piece he has, even in its
dilapidated state, is valued at seven thousand francs. Occasionally a
little of this tapestry is found in this manner in the great hotels;
but, as a rule, its use is strictly royal.

The paper for hangings is another article in which the French excel. We
get very pretty specimens of their skill in this manufacture in America,
but, with occasional exceptions, nothing that is strictly magnificent
finds its way into our markets. I was much struck with some of these
hangings that were made to imitate velvet. The cloth appeared to be
actually incorporated with the paper, and by no ingenuity of which I was
master could I detect the means. The style of paper is common enough
everywhere, but this exhibition had qualities far surpassing anything of
the sort I had ever before seen. Curiosity has since led me to the
paper-maker, in order to penetrate the secrets of his art; and there,
like the affair of Columbus and the egg, I found the whole thing as
simple as heart could wish. You will probably smile when you learn the
process by which paper is converted into velvet, which is briefly
this:--

Wooden moulds are used to stamp the designs, each colour being put on,
by laying a separate mould on its proper place, one mould being used
after another, though only one is used on any particular occasion. Thus,
all the black is put on now, the green to-morrow, and the yellow next
day. As to the velvets, they are produced as follows:--Wool is chopped
fine, and dyed the desired hue. I am not certain that cotton, or even
other materials, may not be used. This chopped and coloured wool is
thrown into a tub; the mould is covered with some glutinous substance,
and, when applied, it leaves on the paper the adhesive property, as
types leave the ink. The paper passes immediately over the tub, and a
boy throws on the wool. A light blow or two, of a rattan, tosses it
about, and finally throws all back again into the tub that has not
touched the glue. The _printed_ part, of course, is covered with blue,
or purple, or scarlet wood, and is converted, by a touch of the wand,
into velvet! The process of covering a yard lasts about ten seconds, and
I should think considerably more than a hundred yards of paper could be
velvetized in an hour. We laughed at the discovery, and came away
satisfied that Solomon could have known nothing about manufacturing
paper-hangings, or he would not have said there was nothing "new under
the sun."

But the manufacture of France that struck me as being strictly in the
best taste, in which perfection and magnificence are attained without
recourse to conceits, or doing violence to any of the proprieties, are
the products of the Savonnerie, and the exquisitely designed and
executed works of Beauvais. These include chair bottoms and backs,
hangings for rooms, and, I believe, carpets. At all events, if the
carpets do not come from these places, they are quite worthy to have
that extraction. Flowers, arabesques, and other similar designs,
exquisitely coloured and drawn, chiefly limit the efforts of the former;
and the carpets were in single pieces, and made to fit the room. Nothing
that you have ever seen, or probably have imagined, at all equals the
magnificence of some of these princely carpets. Indeed, I know nothing
that runs a closer parallel to the general civilization between France
and England, and I might almost add of America, than the history of
their respective carpets. In France, a vast majority of the people
hardly know what a carpet is. They use mud floors, or, rising a little
above the very lowest classes, coarse stone and rude tiles are
substituted. The middling classes, out of the large towns, have little
else besides painted tiles. The wooden _parquet_ is met with, in all the
better houses, and is well made and well kept. There is a finish and
beauty about them, that is not misplaced even in a palace. Among all
these classes, until quite lately, carpets were unknown, or at least
they were confined to the very highest class of society. The great
influx of English has introduced them into the public hotels and common
lodging-houses; but I have visited among many French of rank and
fortune, in the dead of winter, and found no carpets. A few of a very
coarse quality, made of rags, adroitly tortured into laboured designs,
are seen, it is true, even in indifferent houses; but the rule is as I
have told you. In short, carpets, in this country, until quite lately,
have been deemed articles of high luxury; and, like nearly everything
else that is magnificent and luxurious, at the point where they have
been taken up, they infinitely exceed anything of the sort in England.
The classical designs, perfect drawings, and brilliant colours, defeat
every effort to surpass them,--I had almost said, all competition.

In all America, except in the new regions, with here and there a
dwelling on the frontier, there is scarcely a house to be found without
carpets, the owners of which are at all above the labouring classes.
Even in many of the latter they are to be found. We are carpeted,
frequently, from the kitchen to the garret; the richness and rarity of
the manufacture increasing as we ascend in the scale of wealth and
fashion, until we reach the uttermost limits of our habits--a point
where beauty and neatness verge upon elegance and magnificence. At this
point, however, we stop, and the turn of the French commences. Now this
is the history of the comparative civilization of the two countries, in
a multitude of other matters; perhaps, it would be better to say, it is
the general comparative history of the two countries. The English differ
from us, only, in carrying their scale both higher and lower than
ourselves; in being sometimes magnificent, and sometimes impoverished;
but, rarely, indeed, do they equal the French in the light, classical,
and elegant taste that so eminently distinguishes these people. There is
something ponderous and purse-proud about the magnificence of England,
that is scarcely ever visible here; though taste is evidently and
rapidly on the increase in England on the one hand, as comfort is here
on the other. The French have even partially adopted the two words
"fashionable" and "comfortable."

One of the most curious things connected with the arts in France, is
that of transferring old pictures from wood to canvass. A large
proportion of the paintings of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries
were done on wood or copper, and many of the former are, or have been,
in danger of being lost, from decay. In order to meet the evil, a
process has been invented by which the painting is transferred to
canvass, where it remains, to all appearance, as good as ever. I have
taken some pains to ascertain in what manner this nice operation is
performed. I have seen pictures in various stages of the process, though
I have never watched any one through it all; and, in one instance, I saw
a small Wouvermans stripped to the shirt, if it may be so expressed, or,
in other words, _when it was nothing but paint_. From what I have seen
and been told, I understand the mode of effecting this delicate and
almost incredible operation to be as follows:--

A glue is rubbed over the face of the picture, which is then laid on a
piece of canvass that is properly stretched and secured, to receive it.
Weights are now laid on the back of the picture, and it is left for a
day or two, in order that the glue may harden. The weights are then
removed, and the operator commences removing the wood, first with a
plane, and, when he approaches the paint, with sharp delicate chisels.
The paint is kept in its place by the canvass to which it is glued, and
which is itself secured to the table; and although the entire body of
the colours, hardened as it is by time, is usually not thicker than a
thin wafer, the wood is commonly taken entirely from it. Should a thin
fragment be left, however, or a crack made in the paint, it is
considered of no great moment. The Wouvermans alluded to, was pure
paint, however, and I was shown the pieces of wood, much worm-eaten,
that had been removed. When the wood is away, glue is applied to the
_back of the paint_, and to the canvass on which it is intended the
picture shall remain. The latter is then laid on the paint; new weights
are placed above it, and they are left two or three days longer, for
this new glue to harden. When it is thought the adhesion between the
second canvass and the paint is sufficient, the weights are removed, the
picture is turned, and warm water is used in loosening the first canvass
from the face of the picture, until it can be stripped off. More or less
of the varnish of the picture usually comes off with the glue, rendering
the separation easier. The painting is then cleaned, retouched, and,
should it be necessary, varnished and framed; after which it commonly
looks as well, and is really as sound and as good as ever, so far, at
least, as the consistency is concerned.

Among other wonders in the exhibition, was the coronation coach of
Charles X. This carriage is truly magnificent. It is quite large, as
indeed are all the royal carriages, perhaps as large as an American
stage-coach; the glass, pure and spotless as air, goes all round the
upper compartments, so as to admit of a view of the whole interior; the
panels are beautifully painted in design; the top has gilded and
well-formed angels blowing trumpets, and the crown of France surmounts
the centre. The wheels, and train, and pole, are red, striped with gold.
All the leather is red morocco, gilt, as is the harness. Plumes of
ostrich feathers ornament the angles, and, altogether, it is a most
glittering and gorgeous vehicle. The paintings, the gildings, and all
the details are well executed, except the running gear, which struck me
as clumsy and imperfect. The cost is said to have been about sixty
thousand dollars.

Many new rooms in the Louvre were thrown open on this occasion, in order
that the paintings on their ceilings might be viewed; and as I walked
through this gorgeous magnificence, I felt how small were our highest
pretensions to anything like elegance or splendour. The very extreme of
art, of this nature, may, of itself, be of no great direct benefit, it
is true; but is should be remembered, that the skill which produces
these extraordinary fruits, in its road to the higher points of
magnificence, produces all that embellishes life in the intermediate
gradations.

In America, in the eagerness of gain, and with the contracted habits
that a love of gain engenders, which by their own avidity, as is usual
with the grosser passions, too often defeat their own ends, we overlook
the vast importance of cultivating the fine arts, even in a pecuniary
sense, to say nothing of the increased means of enjoying the very money
that is so blindly pursued, which their possession entails. France is at
this moment laying all Christendom under contribution, simply by means
of her taste. Italy, where the arts have flourished still longer, and
where they have still more effectually penetrated society, would drive
the English and French out of every market on earth, were the national
energy at all equal to the national tastes. These things do not as
exclusively belong to extreme luxury as they may at first seem. Science,
skill of the nicest investigation, and great research, are all enlisted
in their behalf; and, in time, implements of the most homely uses derive
perfection, as by-plays, from the investigations consequent on the
production of luxuries. It is true, that, by blending a certain amount
of information with practice, as in the case of the American labourer,
our wants find the means of furnishing their own supplies; but, apart
from the fact that the man who makes a chair is not obliged to sit in
it, and is therefore content to consult his profits merely, the impulses
of practice are much aided by the accumulated knowledge of study. The
influence that the arts of design have had on the French manufactures is
incalculable. They have brought in the aid of chemistry, and
mathematics, and a knowledge of antiquity; and we can trace the effects
in the bronzes, the porcelain, the hangings, the chintzes, the silks,
down to the very ribands of the country. We shall in vain endeavour to
compete with the great European nations, unless we make stronger efforts
to cultivate the fine arts. Of what avails our beautiful glass, unless
we know how to cut it? or of what great advantage, in the strife of
industry, will be even the _skilful_ glass-cutter, should he not also be
the _tasteful_ glass-cutter? It is true that classical forms and
proportions are, as yet, of no great account among us; and the great
mass of the American people still cling to their own uninstructed
fancies, in preference to the outlines and proportions of the more
approved models, and to those hues which art has demonstrated to be
harmonious. This is the history of every society in its progress to
perfection; and, cut off as we are from the rest of the civilized world,
it is not to be expected that we are to make an extraordinary exception.
But, while we may be satisfied with our own skill and taste, the happy
lot of all ignorance, our customers will not have the same
self-complacency, to induce them to become purchasers. We find this
truth already. We beat all nations in the fabrication of common
unstamped cottons. Were trade as free as some political economists
pretend, we should drive all our competitors out of every market, as
respects this one article. But the moment we attempt to print, or to
meddle with that part of the business which requires taste, we find
ourselves inferior to the Europeans, whose forms we are compelled to
imitate, and of course to receive when no longer novel, and whose hues
defy our art.

The wisest thing the United States could do, would be to appropriate
thirty or forty millions to the formation of a marine, not to secure the
coast, as our hen-roost statesmen are always preaching, but to keep in
our own hands the control of our own fortunes, by rendering our enmity
or friendship of so much account to Europe that no power shall ever
again dare trespass on our national rights:--and one of the next wisest
measures, I honestly believe, would be to appropriate at once a million
to the formation of a National Gallery, in which copies of the antique,
antiques themselves, pictures, bronzes, arabesques, and other models of
true taste, might be collected, before which the young aspirants for
fame might study, and with which become imbued, as the preliminary step
to an infusion of their merits into society. Without including the vast
influence of such a cultivation on the manners, associations,
intellects, and habits of the people--an influence that can scarcely be
appreciated too highly--fifty years would see the first cost returned
fifty-fold in the shape of the much-beloved dollars. Will this happen?
Not till men of enlightened minds--_statesmen_, instead of _political
partizans_--are sent to Washington. It is the misfortune of America to
lie so remote from the rest of the civilized world, as to feel little of
the impulses of a noble competition, our rivalry commonly limiting
itself to the vulgar exhibitions of individual vanity; and this the more
to our disadvantage, as, denied access to the best models for even this
humble species of contention with the antagonists we are compelled to
choose, victory is as bad as defeat.

One of the great impediments to a high class of improvement in America,
is the disposition to resent every intimation that we can be any better
than we are at present. Few, perhaps no country, has ever enduced so
much evil-disposed and unmerited abuse as our own. It is not difficult
to trace the reasons, and every American should meet it with a just and
manly indignation. But, being deemed a nation of rogues, barbarous, and
manifesting the vices of an ancestry of convicts, is a very different
thing from standing at the head of civilization. This tendency to repel
every suggestion of inferiority is one of the surest signs of provincial
habits; it is exactly the feeling with which the resident of the village
resents what he calls the airs of the town, and that which the inland
trader brings with him among those whom he terms the "dandies" of the
sea-board. In short, it is the jealousy of inferiority on the exciting
points; whatever may be the merits of its subject in other matters, and
furnishes of itself the best possible proof that there is room for
amendment. The French have a clever and pithy saying, that of--"On peut
tout dire à un grand peuple." "One may tell all to a great nation."[17]

[Footnote 17:--Every one was telling me that I should find the country so
altered after an absence of eight years, that I should not know it.
Altered, indeed, I found it, but not quite so evidently improved. It
struck me that there was a vast expansion of mediocrity that was well
enough in itself, but which was so overwhelming as nearly to overshadow
everything that once stood prominent as more excellent. This was perhaps
no more than a natural consequence of the elasticity and growth of a
young, vigorous community, which, in its agregate character, as in that
of its individuals, must pass through youth to arrive at manhood. Still
it was painful and doubly so to one coming from Europe. I saw the towns
increased, more tawdry than ever, but absolutely with less real taste
than they had in my youth. The art of painting alone appeared to me to
have made any material advances in the right direction, if one excepts
increase in wealth, and in the facilities to create wealth. The
steam-boats were the only objects that approached magnificence; but
while they had increased in show, they had less comfort and
respectability. The taverns, as a whole, had deteriorated; though the
three first I happened to enter might well compete with a very high
class of European inns, viz. Head's, Barnum's, and Gadsby's.]



LETTER XIV.

False Notions.--Continental Manners.--People of Paris.--Parisian Women.
--French Beauty.--Men of France.--French Soldiers.


To JAMES STEVENSON, ESQUIRE, ALBANY.

I cannot tell you whence the vulgar notions that we entertain of the
French, which, with many other pernicious prejudices, have made a part
of our great inheritance from England, have been originally obtained.
Certainly I have seen no thing, nor any person, after a long residence
in the country, to serve as models to the flippant _marquis_, the
overdressed courtiers, or the _petites maîtresses_ of the English
dramatists. Even a French _perruquier_ is quite as homely and plain a
personage as an English or an American barber. But these Athenians
grossly caricature themselves as well as their neighbours. Although
Paris is pretty well garnished with English of all degrees, from the
Duke down, it has never yet been my luck to encounter an English dandy.
Now and then one meets with a "_dresser_," a man who thinks more of his
appearance than becomes his manhood, or than comports with good
breeding; and occasionally a woman is seen who is a mere appendage to
her attire; but I am persuaded, that, as a rule, neither of these vulgar
classes exists among people of any condition, in either country. It is
impossible for me to say what changes the revolution, and the wars and
the new notions, may have produced in France, but there is no sufficient
reason for believing that the present cropped and fringeless,
bewhiskered, and _laceless_ generation of France, differs more from
their bewigged, belaced, and powdered predecessors, than the men and
women of any other country differ from their particular ancestors. Boys
wore cocked hats, and breaches, and swords, in America, previously to
the revolution; and our immediate fathers flourished in scarlet coats,
powder, ruffled fingers, and embroidered waistcoats.

The manners of the continent of Europe are more finished than those of
England, and while quiet and simplicity are the governing rules of good
breeding everywhere, even in unsophisticated America, this quiet and
simplicity is more gracious and more graceful in France than in the
neighbouring island. As yet, I see no other difference in mere
deportment, though there is abundance when one goes into the examination
of character.

I have met with a good many people of the old court at Paris, and though
now and then there is a certain _roué_ atmosphere about them, both men
and women, as if too much time had been passed at Coblentz, they have
generally, in other respects, been models of elegant demeanour. Usually
they are simple, dignified, and yet extremely gracious--gracious without
the appearance of affability, a quality that is almost always indicative
of a consciousness of superiority. The predominant fault of manner here
is too strong a hand in applying flattery; but this is as much the fault
of the head as of breeding. The French are fond of hearing pleasant
things. They say themselves that "a Frenchman goes into society to make
himself agreeable, and an Englishman to make himself disagreeable;" and
the _dire_ is not altogether without foundation in truth. I never met a
Frenchman in society here, who appeared to wish to enhance his
importance by what are called "airs," though a coxcomb in feeling is an
animal not altogether unknown to the natural history of Paris, nor is
the zoological science of M. Cuvier indispensable to his discovery.

I shall probably surprise you with one of my opinions. I think the
population of Paris, physically speaking, finer than that of London.
Fine men and fine women are, by no means, as frequent, after allowing
for the difference in whole numbers, in the French, as in the English
capital; but neither are there as many miserable, pallid, and squalid
objects. The French are a smaller race than the English, much smaller
than the race of English gentlemen, so many of whom congregate at
London; but the population of Paris has a sturdy, healthful look, that I
do not think is by any means as general in London. In making this
comparison, allowance must be made for the better dress of the English,
and for their fogs, whose effect is to bleach the skin and to give a
colour that has no necessary connexion with the springs of life,
although the female portion of the population of Paris has probably as
much colour as that of London. It might possibly be safer to say that
the female population of Paris is finer than that of London, though I
think on the whole the males may be included also. I do not mean by
this, that there is relatively as much female beauty in Paris as in
London, for in this respect the latter has immeasurably the advantage;
but, looks apart, that the _physique_ of the French of Paris is superior
to that of the English of London. The population of Paris is a
favourable specimen of that of the kingdom; while that of London,
Westminster excepted, is not at all above the level of the entire
country, if indeed it be as good.[18]

[Footnote 18: This opinion remains the same in the writer, who between
the years 1806 and 1833 has been six times in London, and between the
years 1826 and 1833, five times in Paris. In 1833 he left Paris for
London, sailing for home from the latter place. A few days after his
arrival he went to Washington, where _during the session of Congress_,
dress and air not considered, he thought he had never met so large a
proportion of fine men in any part of the world. He was particularly
struck with their size, as was an American friend who was with him, and
who had also passed many years abroad, having left Liverpool the same
day the writer sailed from Portsmouth.]

The very general notion which exists in America, that the French are a
slightly-built, airy people, and that their women in particular are thin
and without _embonpoint_, is a most extraordinary one, for there is not
a particle of foundation for it. The women of Paris are about as tall as
the women of America, and, could a fair sample of the two nations be
placed in the scales, I have no doubt it would be found that the French
women would outweigh the Americans in the proportion of six to five.
Instead of being meagre, they are compactly built, with good busts,
inclining to be full, and well-limbed, as any one may see who will take
the trouble to walk the streets after a hard shower; for, as Falstaff
told Prince Henry, "You are straight enough in the shoulders; you care
not who sees your back." Indeed, I know no females to whom the opinion
which we entertain of the French women may better apply than to our own,
and yet I know none who are so generally well-looking.

The French are not a handsome nation. Personal beauty in either sex is
rare: there is a want of simplicity, of repose, of dignity, and even of
harmonious expression, what they themselves call _finesse_, in their
countenances, and yet the liveliness of the eyes and the joyous
character of their looks render them agreeable. You are not to
understand from this that great personal beauty does not exist in
France, however, for there are so many exceptions to the rule, that they
have occasionally made me hesitate about believing it a rule at all. The
French often possess a feature in great perfection that is very rare in
England, where personal beauty is so common in both sexes. It is in the
mouth, and particularly in the smile. Want of _finesse_ about the mouth
is a general European deficiency (the Italians have more of it than any
other people I know), and it is as prevalent an advantage in America.
But the races of Saxon root fail in the chin, which wants nobleness and
volume. Here it is quite common to see profiles that would seem in their
proper places on a Roman coin.

Although female beauty is not common in France, when it is found, it is
usually of a very high order. The sweet, cherub-like, guileless
expression that belongs to the English female face, and through it to
the American, is hardly ever, perhaps never, met with here. The French
countenance seldom conveys the idea of extreme infantile innocence. Even
in the children there is a _manner_ which, while it does not absolutely
convey an impression of an absence of the virtues, I think leaves less
conviction of its belonging to the soul of the being, than the peculiar
look I mean. One always sees _woman_--modest, amiable, _spirituelle_,
feminine and attractive, if you will, in a French girl; while one
sometimes sees an _angel_ in a young English or American face. I have no
allusion now to religious education, or to religious feelings, which are
quite as general in the sex, particularly the young of good families,
under their characteristic distinctions, here as anywhere else. In this
particular the great difference is, that in America it is religion, and
in France it is infidelity, that is metaphysical.

There is a coquettish prettiness that is quite common in France, in
which air and manner are mingled with a certain sauciness of expression
that is not easily described, but which, while it blends well enough
with the style of the face, is rather pleasing than captivating. It
marks the peculiar beauty of the _grisette_, who, with her little cap,
hands stuck in the pockets of her apron, mincing walk, coquettish eye,
and well-balanced head, is a creature perfectly _sui generis_. Such a
girl is more like an actress imitating the character, than one is apt to
imagine the character itself. I have met with imitators of these roguish
beauties in a higher station, such as the wives and daughters of the
industrious classes, as it is the fashion to call them here, and even
among the banking community, but never among women of condition, whose
deportment in France, whatever may be their morals, is usually marked by
gentility of air, and a perfectly good tone of manner, always excepting
that small taint of _rouéism_ to which I have already alluded, and which
certainly must have come from the camp and emigration.

The highest style of the French beauty is the classical. I cannot recall
a more lovely picture, a finer union of the grand and the feminine, than
the Duchesse de ----, in full dress, at a carnival ball, where she shone
peerless among hundreds of the _élite_ of Europe. I see her now, with
her small, well-seated head; her large, dark, brilliant eye, rivetted on
the mazes of a _Polonaise_, danced in character; her hair, black as the
raven's wing, clustering over a brow of ivory; her graceful form
slightly inclining forward in delighted and graceful attention; her
features just Grecian enough to be a model of delicate beauty, just
Roman enough to be noble; her colour heightened to that of youth by the
heat of the room, and her costume, in which all the art of Paris was
blended with a critical knowledge of the just and the becoming. And yet
this woman was a grandmother!

The men of France have the same physical and the same conventional
peculiarities as the women. They are short, but sturdy. Including all
France, for there is a material difference in this respect between the
north and the south, I should think the average stature of the French
men (not women) to be quite an inch and a half below the average stature
of America, and possibly two inches. At home, I did not find myself
greatly above the medium height, and in a crowd I was always compelled
to stand on tiptoe to look over the heads of those around me; whereas,
here, I am evidently _un grand_, and can see across the Champs Elysées
without any difficulty. You may remember that I stand as near as may be
to five feet ten; it follows that five feet ten is rather a tall man in
France. You are not to suppose, however, that there are not occasionally
men of great stature in this country. One of the largest men I have ever
seen appears daily in the garden of the Tuileries, and I am told he is a
Frenchman of one of the north-eastern provinces. That part of the
kingdom is German rather than French, however, and the population still
retain most of the peculiarities of their origin.

The army has a look of service and activity rather than of force. I
should think it more formidable by its manoeuvres than its charges.
Indeed, the tactics of Napoleon, who used the legs of his troops more
than their muskets, aiming at concentrating masses on important points,
goes to show that he depended on alertness instead of _bottom_. This is
just the quality that would be most likely to prevail against your
methodical, slow-thinking, and slow-moving German; and I make no
question the short, sturdy, nimble legs of the little warriors of this
country have gained many a field.

A general officer, himself a six-footer, told me, lately, that they had
found the tall men of very little use in the field, from their inability
to endure the fatigues of a campaign. When armies shall march on
railroads, and manoeuvre by steam, the grenadiers will come in play
again; but as it is, the French are admirably adapted by their
_physique_ to return the career that history has given them. The Romans
resembled them in this respect, Cicero admitting that many people
excelled them in size, strength, beauty, and even learning, though he
claimed a superiority for his countrymen, on the score of love of
country and reverence for the gods. The French are certainly patriotic
enough, though their reverence for the gods may possibly be questioned.

The regiments of the guards, the heavy cavalry, and the artillery are
all filled with men chosen with some care. These troops would, I think,
form about an average American army, on the score of size. The
battalions of the line receive the rest. As much attention is bestowed
in adapting the duty to the _physique_, and entire corps are composed of
men of as nearly as possible the same physical force, some of the
regiments certainly make but an indifferent figure, as to dimensions,
while others appear particularly well. Still, if not overworked, I
should think these short men would do good service. I think I have seen
one or two regiments, in which the average height has not exceeded five
feet three inches. The chances of not being hit in such a corps are
worth something, for the proportion, compared to the chances in a corps
of six-footers, is as sixty-three to seventy-two, or is one-eighth in
favour of the Lilliputians. I believe the rule for retreating is when
one-third of the men are _hors de combat_.

Now, supposing a regiment of three thousand grenadiers were obliged to
retire with a loss of one thousand men, the little fellows, under the
same fire, should have, at the same time, two thousand one hundred and
thirty-seven sound men left, and of course, unless bullied out of it,
they ought to gain the day.



LETTER XV.

Perversion of Institutions.--The French Academy.--Laplace.--Astronomy.
--Theatres of Paris.--Immoral Plot.--Artificial Feelings.--French
Tragedy.--Literary Mania.--The American Press.--American
Newspapers.--French Journals--Publishing Manoeuvres.--Madame Malibran.


To JAMES E. DE KAY, ESQUIRE.

It appears to be the melancholy lot of humanity, that every institution
which ingenuity can devise shall be perverted to an end different from
the legitimate. If we plan a democracy, the craven wretch who, in a
despotism, would be the parasite of a monarch, heads us off, and gets
the best of it under the pretence of extreme love for the people; if we
flatter ourselves that by throwing power into the hands of the rich and
noble, it is put beyond the temptation to abuse it, we soon discover
that rich is a term of convention, no one thinking he has enough until
he has all, and that nobility of station has no absolute connexion with
nobleness of spirit or of conduct; if we confide all to one, indolence,
favouritism, and indeed the impossibility of supervision, throws us
again into the hands of the demagogue, in his new, or rather true
character of a courtier. So it is with life; in politics, religion,
arms, arts and letters, yea, even the republic of letters, as it is
called, is the prey of schemes and parasites, and things _in fact_, are
very different from things _as they seem to be_.

"In the seventeen years that I have been a married man," said Captain
---- of the British navy, "I have passed but seventeen months with my
wife and family," "But, now there is peace, you will pass a few years
quietly in America, to look after your affairs," said I, by way of
awkward condolence. "No, indeed; I shall return to England as soon as
possible, to make up for lost time. I have been kept so much at sea,
that they have forgotten me at home, and duty to my children requires
that I should be on the spot." In the simplicity of my heart, I thought
this strange, and yet nothing could be more true. Captain ---- was a
scion of the English aristocracy, and looked to his sword for his
fortune. Storms, fagging, cruising, all were of small avail compared to
interest at the Admiralty, and so it is with all things else, whether in
Europe or America. The man who really gains the victory, is lucky,
indeed, if he obtain the meed of his skill and valour. You may be
curious to know of what all this is _à propos?_ To be frank with, you, I
have visited the French Academy--"ces quarante qui ont l'esprit comme
quatre," and have come away fully impressed with the vanity of human
things!

The occasion was the reception of two or three new members, when,
according to a settled usage, the successful candidates pronounced
eulogies on their predecessors. You may be curious to know what
impression the assembled genius of France produced on a stranger from
the western world. I can only answer, none. The Academy of the Sciences
can scarcely ever be less than distinguished in such a nation; but when
I came to look about me, and to inquire after the purely literary men, I
was forcibly struck with the feebleness of the catalogue of names. Not
one in five was at all known to me, and very few, even of those who
were, could properly be classed among the celebrated writers of the day.
As France has many very clever men who were not on the list, I was
desirous of knowing the reason, and then learned that intrigue,
court-favour, and "_log-rolling_" to use a quaint American term, made
members of the academy as well as members of the cabinet. A moment's
reflection might have told me it could not well be otherwise. It would
be so in America, if we were burthened with an academy; it is so as
respects collegiate honours; and what reason is there for supposing it
should not be so in a country so notoriously addicted to intrigue as
France?

One ought not to be the dupe of these things. There are a few great
names, distinguished by common consent, whose claims it is necessary to
respect. These men form the front of every honorary institution; if
there are to be knights and nobles, and academicians, they must be of
the number; not that such distinctions are necessary to them, but that
they are necessary to the distinctions; after which the _oi polloi_ are
enrolled as they can find interest. Something very like an admission of
this is contained in an inscription on the statue of Molière, which
stands in the vestibule of the hall of the Academy, which frankly says,
"Though we are not necessary to your glory, you are necessary to ours."
He was excluded from the forty, by intrigue, on account of his
profession being that of a player. Shakspeare, himself, would have fared
no better. Now, fancy a country in which there was a club of select
authors, that should refuse to enrol the name of William Shakspeare on
their list!

The sitting was well attended, and I dare say the addresses were not
amiss; though there is something exceedingly tiresome in one of these
eulogies, that is perpetrated by malice prepense. The audience applauded
very much, after the fashion of those impromptus which are made _à
loisir_, and I could not but fancy that a good portion of the assembly
began to think the Academy was what the cockneys call a _rum_ place,
before they heard the last of it. We had a poem by Comte Daru, to which
I confess I did not listen, notwithstanding my personal respect for the
distinguished writer, simply because I was most heartily wearied before
he began, and because I can never make anything of French poetry, in the
Academy or out of it.

It would be unjust to speak lightly of any part of the French Academy,
without a passing remark in honour of those sections of it to which
honour is due. In these sections may be included, I think, that of the
arts, as well as that of the sciences. The number of respectable artists
that exist in this country is perfectly astonishing. The connoisseurs, I
believe, dispute the merits of the school, and ignorant as I am, in such
matters, I can myself see that there is a prevalent disposition, both in
statuary and painting, to sacrifice simplicity to details, and that the
theatrical is sometimes mistaken for the grand; but, after admitting
both these faults, and some defects in colouring, there still remains a
sufficient accumulation of merit, to create wonder in one, like myself,
who has not had previous opportunities of ascertaining the affluence of
a great nation in this respect.

As regards the scientific attainments of the French, it is unnecessary
to say anything; though I believe you will admit that they ought at
least to have the effect of counteracting some of the prejudices about
dancing-masters, _petits maîtres_, and _perruquiers_, that have
descended to us, through English novels and plays. Such a man as
Laplace, alone, is sufficient to redeem an entire people from these
imputations. The very sight of one of his demonstrations will give
common men, like ourselves, headaches, and you will remember that having
successfully got through one of the toughest of them, he felicitated
himself that there was but one other man living who could comprehend it,
now it was made.

What a noble gift would it have been to his fellow-creatures, had some
competent follower of Laplace bestowed on them a comprehensive but
popular compend of the leading astronomical facts, to be used as one of
the most ordinary school-books! Apart from the general usefulness of
this peculiar species of knowledge, and the chances that, by thus
popularizing the study, sparks might be struck from the spirit of some
dormant Newton, I know no inquiry that has so strong a tendency to raise
the mind from the gross and vulgar pursuits of the world, to a
contemplation of the power and designs of God. It has often happened to
me, when, filled with wonder and respect for the daring and art of man,
I have been wandering through the gorgeous halls of some palace, or
other public edifice, that an orrery or a diagram of the planetary
system has met my eye, and recalled me, in a moment, from the
consideration of art, and its intrinsic feebleness, to that of the
sublimity of nature. At such times, this globe has appeared so
insignificant, in comparison with the mighty system of which it forms so
secondary a part, that I felt a truly philosophical indifference, not to
give it a better term, for all it contained. Admiration of human powers,
as connected with the objects around me, has been lost in admiration of
the mysterious spirit which could penetrate the remote and sublime
secrets of the science; and on no other occasions have I felt so
profound a conviction of my own isolated insignificance, or so lively a
perception of the stupendous majesty of the Deity.

Passing by the common and conceded facts of the dimensions of the
planets, and the extent of their orbits, what thoughts are awakened by
the suggestion that the fixed stars are the centres of other solar
systems, and the eccentric comets are links to connect them all in one
great and harmonious design! The astronomers tell us that some of these
comets have no visible nucleuses--that the fixed stars are seen through
their apparent densest parts, and that they can be nothing but luminous
gases; while, on the other hand, others do betray dark compact bodies of
more solid matter. Fixed stars unaccountably disappear, as if suddenly
struck out of their places. Now, we know that aerolites are formed in
the atmosphere by a natural process, and descend in masses of pure iron.
Why may not the matter of one globe, dispersed into its elements by the
fusion of its consummation, reassemble in the shape of comets, gaseous
at first, and slowly increasing and condensing in the form of solid
matter, varying in their course as they acquire the property of
attraction, until they finally settle into new and regular planetary
orbits by the power of their own masses, thus establishing a regular
reproduction of worlds to meet the waste of eternity? Were the earth
dissolved into gases by fusion, what would become of its satellite the
moon? Might not the principles of our planet, thus volatilized, yield to
its nearer attraction, assemble around that orb, which, losing its
governing influence, should be left to wander in infinite space, subject
to a new but eccentric law of gravity, until finally reduced again
within the limits of some new system? How know we that such is not the
origin of comets?

Many astronomers have believed that the solar system, in company with
thousands of other systems, revolves around a common centre, in orbits
so vast as to defy computation, and a religious sentiment might well
suggest that this centre of the universe is the throne of the Most High.
Here we may fancy the Deity seated in power, and controlling, by his
will, the movements of worlds, directing each to the completion of his
own mysterious and benevolent designs.

It certainly might be dangerous to push our speculations too far, but
there can be no risk in familiarizing men to consider the omnipotence of
God, and to feel their own comparative insignificance. What ideas of
vastness are obtained by a knowledge of the fact that there exist stars
in the firmament which ordinary telescopes show us only as single
bodies, but which, on examination, by using reflectors of a higher
power, are found to be clusters of orbs--clusters of worlds--or clusters
of suns! These, again, are found to be _binary_ stars, or two stars
revolving round each other, while they are thought, at the same time, to
revolve around their central sun, and accompanied by this again,
probably, to revolve round the great common centre of all!

But, in the words of the quaint old song, I must cry "Holla! my fancy,
whither dost thou go?" Before taking leave of the stars altogether,
however, I will add that the French, and I believe all Europe, with the
exception of England, follow the natural order of time, in counting the
seasons. Thus the spring commences with the vernal equinox, and the
autumn with the autumnal. This division of the year leaves nearly the
whole of March as a winter month, June as a spring month, and September
as belonging to the summer. No general division of the seasons can suit
all latitudes; but the equinoxes certainly suggest the only two great
events of the year, that equally affect the entire sphere. Had the old
method of computing time continued, the seasons would gradually have
made the circle of the months, until their order was reversed as they
are now known to be in the northern and southern hemispheres.

Quitting the Academy, which, with its schools of the classical and the
romantic, has tempted me to a higher flight than I could have believed
possible, let us descend to the theatres of Paris. Talma was still
playing last year, when we arrived, and as in the case of repentance, I
put off a visit to the Théâtre Français, with a full determination to
go, because it might be made at any time. In the meanwhile, he fell ill
and died, and it never was my good fortune to see that great actor.
Mademoiselle Mars I have seen, and, certainly, in her line of
characters, I have never beheld her equal. Indeed, it is scarcely
possible to conceive of a purer, more severe, more faultless, and yet
more poetical representation of common nature, than that which
characterizes her art. Her acting has all the finish of high breeding,
with just as much feeling as is necessary to keep alive the illusion. As
for rant, there is not as much about her whole system, as would serve a
common English, or American actress, for a single "length."

To be frank with you, so great is the superiority of the French actors,
in _vaudevilles_, the light opera, and genteel comedy, that I fear I
have lost my taste for the English stage. Of tragedy I say nothing, for
I cannot enter into the poetry of the country at all, but, in all below
it, these people, to my taste, are immeasurably our superiors; and by
_ours_, you know I include the English stage. The different lines here,
are divided among the different theatres; so that if you wish to laugh,
you can go to the Variétés; to weep, to the Théâtre Français; or, to
gape, to the Odéon. At the Porte St. Martin, one finds vigorous touches
of national character, and at the Gymnase, the fashionable place of
resort, just at this moment, national traits polished by convention.
Besides these, there are many other theatres, not one of which, in its
way, can be called less than tolerable.

One can say but little in favour of the morals of too many of the pieces
represented here. In this particular there is a strange obliquity of
reason, arising out of habitual exaggeration of feeling, that really
seems to disqualify most of the women, even from perceiving what is
monstrous, provided it be sentimental and touching. I was particularly
advised to go to the Théâtre Madame to see a certain piece by a
_côterie_ of very amiable women, whom I met the following night at a
house where we all regularly resorted, once a week. On entering, they
eagerly inquired if "I had not been charmed, fascinated; if any thing
could be better played, or more touching?" Better played it could not
easily be, but I had been so shocked with the moral of the piece, that I
could scarcely admire the acting. "The moral! This was the first time
they had heard it questioned." I was obliged to explain. A certain
person had been left the protector of a friend's daughter, then an
infant. He had the child educated as his sister, and she grew to be a
woman, ignorant of her real origin. In the meantime, she has offers of
marriage, all of which she unaccountably refuses. In fine, she was
secretly cherishing a passion for her guardian _and supposed brother_;
an explanation is had, they marry, and the piece closes. I objected to
the probability of a well-educated young woman's falling in love with a
man old enough to be selected as her guardian, when she was an infant,
and against whom there existed the trifling objection of his being her
own brother.

"But he was _not_ her brother--not even a relative." "True; but she
_believed_ him to be her brother." "And nature--do you count nature as
nothing?--a _secret sentiment_ told her he was not her brother." "And
use, and education, and an _open sentiment_, and all the world told her
he was. Such a woman was guilty of a revolting indelicacy and a heinous
crime, and no exaggerated representation of love, a passion of great
purity in itself, can ever do away with the shocking realities of such a
case."

I found no one to agree with me. He was _not_ her brother, and though
his tongue and all around her told her he was, her heart, that
infallible guide, told her the truth. What more could any reasonable man
ask?

It was _à propos_ of this play, and of my objection to this particular
feature of it, that an exceedingly clever French woman laughingly told
me she understood there was no such thing as love in America. That a
people of manners as artificial as the French, should suppose that
others, under the influence of the cold, formal exterior which the
puritans have entailed on so large a portion of the public, were without
strong feeling, is not altogether as irrational as may at first appear.
Art, in ordinary deportment, is both cause and effect. That which we
habitually affect to be, gets in the end to be so incorporated with our
natural propensities as to form a part of the real man. We all know that
by discipline we can get the mastery of our strongest passions, and, on
the other hand, by yielding to them and encouraging them, that they soon
get the mastery over us. Thus do a highly artificial people, fond of,
and always seeking high excitement, come, in time, to feel it
artificially, as it were, by natural impulses.

I have mentioned the anecdote of the play, because I think it
characteristic of a tone of feeling that is quite prevalent among a
large class of the French, though I am far from saying there is not a
class who would, at once, see the grave sacrifice of principle that is
involved, in building up the sentiments of a fiction on such a
foundation of animal instinct. I find, on recollection, however, that
Miss Lee, in one of her Canterbury Tales, has made the love of her plot
hinge on a very similar incident. Surely she must have been under the
influence of some of the German monstrosities that were so much in
vogue, about the time she wrote, for even Juvenal would scarcely have
imagined anything worse, as the subject of his satire.

You will get a better idea of the sentimentalism that more or less
influences the tables of this country, however, if I tell you that the
ladies of the _côterie_, in which the remarks on the amorous sister were
made, once gravely discussed in my presence the question whether Madame
de Staël was right or wrong, in causing Corinne to go through certain
sentimental _experiences_, as our canters call it at home, on a clouded
day, instead of choosing one on which the sun was bright: or, _vice
versa_; for I really forget whether it was on the "windy side" of
sensibility or not, that the daughter of Necker was supposed to have
erred.

The first feeling is that of surprise at finding a people so artificial
in their ordinary deportment, so chaste and free from exaggeration in
their scenic representations of life. But reflection will show us that
all finish has the effect of bringing us within the compass of severe
laws, and that the high taste which results from cultivation repudiates
all excess of mere manner. The simple fact is, that an educated
Frenchman is a great actor all the while, and that when he goes on the
stage, he has much less to do to be perfect, than an Englishman who has
drilled himself into coldness, or an American who looks upon strong
expressions of feeling as affectation. When the two latter commence the
business of playing assumed parts, they consider it as a new occupation,
and go at it so much in earnest, that everybody sees they are acting.[19]

[Footnote 19: Mr. Mathews and Mr. Power were the nearest to the neat
acting of France of any male English performers the writer ever saw. The
first sometimes permitted himself to be led astray, by the caricatures
he was required to represent, and by the tastes of his audience; but the
latter, so far as the writer has seen him, appears determined to be
chaste, come what, come will.]

You will remember, I say nothing in favour of the French tragic
representations. When a great and an intellectual nation, like France,
unites to applaud images and sentiments that are communicated through
their own peculiar forms of speech, it becomes a stranger to distrust
his own knowledge, rather than their taste. I dare say that were I more
accustomed to the language, I might enjoy Corneille and Racine, and even
Voltaire, for I can now greatly enjoy Molière; but, to be honest in the
matter, all reciters of heroic French poetry appear to me to depend on a
pompous declamation, to compensate for the poverty of the idioms, and
the want of nobleness in the expressions. I never heard any one, poet or
actor, he who read his own verses, or he who repeated those of others,
who did not appear to mouth, and all their tragic playing has had the
air of being on stilts. Napoleon has said, from the sublime to the
ridiculous it is but a step. This is much truer in France than in most
other countries, for the sublime is commonly so sublimated, that it will
admit of no great increase. Racine, in a most touching scene, makes one
of his heroic characters offer to wipe off the tears of a heroine lest
they should discolour her _rouge_! I had a classmate at college, who was
so very ultra courtly in his language, that he never forgot to say, Mr.
Julius Caesar, and Mr. Homer.

There exists a perfect mania for letters throughout Europe, in this
"piping time of peace." Statesmen, soldiers, peers, princes, and kings,
hardly think themselves _illustrated_, until each has produced his book.
The world never before saw a tithe of the names of people of condition,
figuring in the catalogues of its writers. "Some thinks he writes
Cinna--he owns to Panurge," applies to half the people one meets in
society. I was at a dinner lately, given by the Marquis de ----, when
the table was filled with peers, generals, ex-ministers, ex-ambassadors,
naturalists, philosophers, and statesmen of all degrees. Casting my eyes
round the circle, I was struck with the singular prevalence of the
_cacoethes scribendi_, among so many men of different educations,
antecedents, and pursuits. There was a soldier present who had written
on taste, a politician on the art of war, a _diplomate_ who had dabbled
in poetry, and a jurist who pretended to enlighten the world in ethics,
it was the drollest assemblage in the world, and suggested many queer
associations, for, I believe, the only man at table, who had not dealt
in ink, was an old Lieutenant-General, who sat by me, and who, when I
alluded to the circumstance, strongly felicitated himself that he had
escaped the mania of the age, as it was an _illustration_ of itself.
Among the _convives_ were Cuvier, Villemain, Daru, and several others
who are almost as well known to science and letters.

Half the voluntary visits I receive are preceded by a volume of some
sort or other, as a token of my new acquaintance being a regularly
initiated member of the fraternity of the quill. In two or three
instances, I have been surprised at subsequently discovering that the
regular profession of the writer is arms, or some other pursuit, in
which one would scarcely anticipate so strong a devotion to letters. In
short, such is the actual state of opinion in Europe, that one is hardly
satisfied with any amount, or any quality of glory, until it is
consummated by that of having written a book. Napoleon closed his career
with the quill, and his successor was hardly on his throne, before he
began to publish. The principal officers of the Empire, and _émigrés_
without number, have fairly set to work as so many disinterested
historians, and even a lady, who, by way of abbreviation, is called "The
Widow of the Grand Army," is giving us regularly volumes, whose
eccentricities and periodicity, as the astronomers say, can be reduced
to known laws, by the use of figures.

In the middle ages golden spurs were the object of every man's ambition.
Without them, neither wealth, nor birth, nor power was properly
esteemed; and, at the present time, passing from the lance to the pen,
from the casque and shield to the ink-pot and fool's cap, we all seek a
passport from the order of Letters. Does this augur good or evil, for
the world? The public press of France is conducted with great spirit and
talents, on all sides. It has few points in common with our own, beyond
the mere fact of its general character. In America, a single literary
man, putting the best face on it, enters into a compact with some person
of practical knowledge, a printer perhaps, and together they establish a
newspaper, the mechanical part of which is confided to the care of the
latter partner, and the intellectual to the former. In the country, half
the time, the editor is no other than the printer himself, the division
of labour not having yet reached even this important branch of industry.
But looking to the papers that are published in the towns, one man of
letters is a luxury about an American print. There are a few instances
in which there are two, or three; but, generally, the subordinates are
little more than scissors-men. Now, it must be apparent, at a glance,
that no one individual can keep up the character of a daily print, of
any magnitude; the drain on his knowledge and other resources being too
great. This, I take it, is the simple reason why the press of America
ranks no higher than it does. The business is too much divided; too much
is required, and this, too, in a country where matters of grave import
are of rare occurrence, and in which the chief interests are centred in
the vulgar concerns of mere party politics, with little or no connexion
with great measures, or great principles. You have only to fancy the
superior importance that attaches to the views of powerful monarchs, the
secret intrigues of courts, on whose results, perhaps, depend the
fortunes of Christendom, and the serious and radical principles that are
dependent on the great changes of systems that are silently working
their way, in this part of the world, and which involve material
alterations in the very structure of society, to get an idea of how much
more interest a European journal, _ceteris paribus_, must be, compared
to an American journal, by the nature of its facts alone. It is true
that we get a portion of these facts, as light finally arrives from the
remoter stars, but mutilated, and necessarily shorn of much of their
interest, by their want of importance to our own country. I had been in
Europe some time, before I could fully comprehend the reason why I was
ignorant of so many minor points of its political history, for, from
boyhood up, I had been an attentive reader of all that touched this part
of the world, as it appeared in our prints. By dint of inquiry, however,
I believe I have come at the fact. The winds are by no means as regular
as the daily prints; and it frequently happens, especially in the winter
and spring months, that five or six packets arrive nearly together,
bringing with them the condensed intelligence of as many weeks. Now,
newspaper finders notoriously seek the latest news, and in the hurry and
confusion of reading and selecting, and bringing out, to meet the wants
of the day, many of the connecting links are lost, readers get imperfect
notions of men and things, and, from a want of a complete understanding
of the matter, the mind gives up, without regret, the little and
unsatisfactory knowledge it had so casually obtained. I take it, this is
a principal cause of the many false notions that exist among us, on the
subject of Europe and its events.

In France, a paper is established by a regular subscription of capital;
a principal editor is selected, and he is commonly supported, in the
case of a leading journal, by four or five paid assistants. In addition
to this formidable corps, many of the most distinguished men of France
are known to contribute freely to the columns of the prints in the
interest of their cause.

The laws of France compel a journal that has admitted any statement
involving facts concerning an individual, to publish his reply, that the
antidote may meet the poison. This is a regulation that we might adopt
with great advantage to truth and the character of the country.

There is not at this moment, within my knowledge, a single critical
literary journal of received authority in all France. This is a species
of literature to which the French pay but little attention just now,
although many of the leading daily prints contain articles on the
principal works as they appear.

By the little that has come under my observation, I should say the
fraudulent and disgusting system of puffing and of abusing, as interest
or pique dictates, is even carried to a greater length in France than it
is in either England or America. The following anecdote, which relates
to myself, may give you some notion of the _modus operandi_.

All the works I had written previously to coming to Europe had been
taken from the English editions and translated, appearing simultaneously
with their originals. Having an intention to cause a new book to be
printed in English in Paris, for the sake of reading the proofs, the
necessity was felt of getting some control over the translation, lest,
profiting by the interval necessary to send the sheets home to be
reprinted, it might appear as the original book. I knew that the sheets
of previous books had been purchased in England, and I accordingly sent
a proposition to the publishers that the next bargain should be made
with me. Under the impression that an author's price would be asked,
they took the alarm, and made difficulties. Finding me firm, and
indisposed to yield to some threats of doing as they pleased, the matter
was suspended for a few days. Just at this moment, I received through
the post a single number of an obscure newspaper, whose existence, until
then, was quite unknown to me. Surprised at such an attention, I was
curious to know the contents. The journal contained an article on my
merits and demerits as a writer, the latter being treated with a good
deal of freedom. When one gets a paper in this manner, containing abuse
of himself, he is pretty safe in believing its opinions dishonest. But I
had even better evidence than common in this particular case, for I
happened to be extolled for the manner in which I had treated the
character of Franklin, a personage whose name even had never appeared in
anything I had written. This, of course, settled the character of the
critique, and the next time I saw the individual who had acted as agent
in the negociation just mentioned, I gave him the paper, and told him I
was half disposed to raise my price on account of the pitiful manoeuvre
it contained. We had already come to terms, the publishers finding that
the price was little more than nominal, and the answer was a virtual
conclusion that the article was intended to affect my estimate of the
value of the intended work in France, and to bring me under subjection
to the critics.[20]

[Footnote 20: The writer suffers this anecdote to stand as it was written
nine years since; but since his return home, he has discovered that we
are in no degree behind the French in the corruption and frauds that
render the pursuits of a writer one of the most humiliating and
revolting in which a man of any pride of character can engage, unless he
resolutely maintains his independence, a temerity that is certain to be
resented by all those who, unequal to going alone in the paths of
literature, seek their ends by clinging to those who can, either as
pirates or robbers.]

I apprehend that few books are brought before the public in France,
dependent only on their intrinsic merits; and the system of intrigue,
which predominates in everything, is as active in this as in other
interests.

In France, a book that penetrates to the provinces may be said to be
popular; and as for a book coming _from_ the provinces, it is almost
unheard of. The despotism of the trade on this point is unyielding.
Paris appears to deem itself the arbiter in all matters of taste and
literature, and it is almost as unlikely that a new fashion should come
from Lyon, or Bordeaux, or Marseilles, as that a new work should be
received with favour that was published in either of those towns. The
approbation of Paris is indispensable, and the publishers of the
capital, assisted by their paid corps of puffers and detractors, are
sufficiently powerful to prevent that potent public, to whom all affect
to defer, from judging for itself.

We have lately had a proof here of the unwillingness of the Parisians to
permit others to decide for them, in anything relating to taste, in a
case that refers to us Americans. Madame Malibran arrived from America a
few months since. In Europe she was unknown, but the great name of her
father stood in her stead. Unluckily it was whispered that she had met
with great success in America. America! and this, too, in conjunction
with music and the opera! The poor woman was compelled to appear under
the disadvantage of having brought an American reputation with her, and
seriously this single fact went nigh to destroy her fortunes. Those
wretches who, as Coleridge expresses it, are "animalculae, who live by
feeding on the body of genius," affected to be displeased, and the
public hesitated, at their suggestions, about accepting an artist from
the "colonies," as they still have the audacity to call the great
Republic. I have no means of knowing what sacrifices were made to the
petty tyrants of the press before this woman, who has the talents
necessary to raise her to the summit of her profession, was enabled to
gain the favour of a "_generous and discerning public!_"



LETTER XVI.

Environs of Paris.--Village of St. Ouen.--Our House there.--Life on the
River.--Parisian Cockneys.--A pretty Grisette.--Voyage across the Seine.
--A rash Adventurer.--Village Fête.--Montmorency.--View near Paris.


TO JAMES STEVENSON, ESQUIRE, ALBANY.

We have been the residents of a French village ever since the 1st of
June, and it is now drawing to the close of October. We had already
passed the greater part of a summer, and entire autumn, winter and
spring, within the walls of Paris, and then we thought we might indulge
our tastes a little, by retreating to the fields, to catch a glimpse of
country life. You will smile when I add that we are only a league from
the Barrière de Clichy. This is the reason I have not before spoken of
the removal, for we are in town three or four times every week, and
never miss an occasion, when there is anything to be seen. I shall now
proceed, however, to let you into the secret of our actual situation.

I passed the month of May examining the environs of the capital in quest
of an house. As this was an agreeable occupation, we were in no hurry;
but having set up my cabriolet, we killed two birds with one stone, by
making ourselves familiarly acquainted with nearly every village or
hamlet within three leagues of Paris, a distance beyond which I did not
wish to go.

On the side of St. Cloud, which embraces Passy, Auteuil, and all the
places that encircle the Bois de Boulogne, the Hyde Park of Paris, there
are very many pleasant residences, but from one cause or another, no one
suited us exactly, and we finally took a house in the village of St.
Ouen, the Runnymeade of France. When Louis XVIII. came, in 1814, to his
capital, in the rear of the allies, he stopped for a few days at St.
Ouen, a league from the barriers, where there was a small chateau that
was the property of the crown. Here he was met by M. de Talleyrand and
others, and hence he issued the celebrated charter, that is to render
France for evermore a constitutional country.

The chateau has since been razed, and a pavilion erected in its place,
which has been presented to the Comtesse de ----, a lady who, reversing
the ordinary lot of courtiers, is said to cause majesty to live in the
sunshine of _her_ smiles. What an appropriate and encouraging monument
to rear on the birth-place of French liberty! At the opposite extremity
of the village is another considerable house, that was once the dwelling
of M. Necker, and is now the property and country residence of M.
Ternaux, or the _Baron_ Ternaux, if it were polite to style him thus,
the most celebrated manufacturer of France. I say polite, for the mere
_fanfaronnade_ of nobility is little in vogue here. The wags tell a
story of some one, who was formally announced as "Monsieur le Marquis
d'un tel," turning short round on the servant, and exclaiming with
indignation, "Marquis toi-même!" But this story savours of the
Bonapartists; for as the Emperor created neither _marquis_ nor
_vicomtes_, there was a sort of affectation of assuming these titles at
the restoration as proofs of belonging to the old _régime_.

St. Ouen is a cluster of small, mean, stone houses, stretched along the
right bank of the Seine, which, after making a circuit of near twenty
miles, winds round so close to the town again, that they are actually
constructing a basin, near the village, for the use of the capital; it
being easier to wheel articles from this point to Paris, than to contend
with the current and to tread its shoals. In addition to the two houses
named, however, it has six or eight respectable abodes between the
street and the river, one of which is our own.

This place became a princely residence about the year 1800, since which
time it has been more or less frequented as such down to the 4th June,
1814, the date of the memorable charter.[21] Madame de Pompadour
possessed the chateau in 1745, so you see it has been "dust to dust"
with this place, as with all that is frail.

[Footnote 21: The chateau of St. Ouen, rather less than two centuries
since, passed into the possession of the Duc de Gesvre. Dulaure gives
the following,--a part of a letter from this nobleman,--as a specimen of
the education of a _duc_ in the seventeenth century:--"Monsieur, me
trouvant obligé de randre une bonne party de largan que mais enfant ont
pris de peuis qu'il sont au campane, monsieur, cela moblige a vous
suplier tres humblemant monsieur de me faire la grasse de commander
monsieur quant il vous plera que lon me pay la capitenery de Monsaux
monsieur vous asseurant que vous mobligeres fort sansiblement monsieur
comme ausy de me croire avec toute sorte de respec, etc." This beats
Jack Cade out and out. The great connétable Anne de Montmorency could
not write his name, and as his signature became necessary, his secretary
stood over his shoulder to tell him when he had made enough _piès de
mouche_ to answer the purpose.]

The village of St. Ouen, small, dirty, crowded and unsavoury as it is,
has a _place_, like every other French village. When we drove into it,
to look at the house, I confess to having laughed outright, at the idea
of inhabiting such a hole. Two large _portes-cochères_, however, opened
from the square, and we were admitted, through the best-looking of the
two, into a spacious and an extremely neat court. On one side of the
gate was a lodge for a porter, and on the other, a building to contain
gardeners' tools, plants, etc. The walls that separate it from the square
and the adjoining gardens are twelve or fourteen feet high, and once
within them, the world is completely excluded. The width of the grounds
does not exceed a hundred and fifty feet; the length, the form being
that of a parallelogram, may be three hundred, or a little more; and yet
in these narrow limits, which are planted _à l'Anglaise_, so well is
everything contrived, that we appear to have abundance of room. The
garden terminates in a terrace that overhangs the river, and, from this
point, the eye ranges over a wide extent of beautiful plain, that is
bounded by fine bold hills which are teeming with gray villages and
_bourgs_.

The house is of stone, and not without elegance. It may be ninety feet
in length, by some forty in width. The entrance is into a vestibule,
which has the offices on the right, and the great staircase on the left.
The principal _salon_ is in front. This is a good room, near thirty feet
long, fifteen or sixteen high, and has three good windows, that open on
the garden. The billiard-room communicates on one side, and the _salle à
manger_ on the other; next the latter come the offices again, and next
the billiard-room is a very pretty little boudoir. Up stairs, are suites
of bed-rooms and dressing-rooms; every thing is neat, and the house is
in excellent order, and well furnished for a country residence. Now, all
this I get at a hundred dollars a month, for the five summer months.
There are also a carriage-house, and stabling for three horses. The
gardener and porter are paid by the proprietor. The village, however, is
not in much request, and the rent is thought to be low.

Among the great advantages enjoyed by a residence in Europe, are the
facilities of this nature. Furnished apartments, or furnished houses,
can be had in almost every town of any size; and, owning your own linen
and plate, nearly every other necessary is found you. It is true, that
one sometimes misses comforts to which he has been accustomed in his own
house; but, in France, many little things are found, it is not usual to
meet with elsewhere. Thus, no principal bedroom is considered properly
furnished in a good house, without a handsome secretary, and a bureau.
These two articles are as much matters of course, as are the eternal two
rooms and folding doors, in New York.

This, then, has been our Tusculum since June. M. Ternaux enlivens the
scene, occasionally, by a dinner; and he has politely granted us
permission to walk in his grounds, which are extensive and well laid
out, for the old French style. We have a neighbour on our left, name
unknown, who gives suppers in his garden, and concerts that really are
worthy of the grand opera. Occasionally, we get a song, in a female
voice, that rivals the best of Madame Malibran's. On our right lives a
staid widow, whose establishment is as tranquil as our own.

One of our great amusements is to watch the _living_ life on the river,
--there is no _still_ life in France. All the washerwomen of the village
assemble, three days in the week, beneath our terrace, and a merrier set
of _grisettes_ is not to be found in the neighbourhood of Paris. They
chat, and joke, and splash, and scream from morning to night, lightening
the toil by never-ceasing good humour. Occasionally an enormous
scow-like barge is hauled up against the current, by stout horses,
loaded to the water's edge, or one, without freight, comes dropping down
the stream, nearly filling the whole river as it floats broad-side to.
There are three or four islands opposite, and, now and then, a small
boat is seen paddling among them. We have even tried _punting_
ourselves, but the amusement was soon exhausted.

Sunday is a great day with us, for then the shore is lined with
Parisians, as thoroughly cockney as if Bow-bells could be heard in the
Quartier Montmartre! These good people visit us, in all sorts of ways;
some on donkeys, some in cabriolets, some in fiacres, and by far the
larger portion on foot. They are perfectly inoffensive and unobtrusive,
being, in this respect, just as unlike an American inroad from a town as
can well be. These crowds pass vineyards on their way to us, unprotected
by any fences. This point in the French character, however, about which
so much has been said to our disadvantage, as well as to that of the
English, is subject to some explanation. The statues, promenades,
gardens, etc. etc. are, almost without exception, guarded by sentinels;
and then there are agents of the police, in common clothes, scattered
through the towns, in such numbers as to make depredations hazardous. In
the country each _commune_ has one, or more, _gardes champêtres_, whose
sole business it is to detect and arrest trespassers. When to these are
added the _gendarmes à pied_ and _à cheval_, who are constantly in
motion, one sees that the risk of breaking the laws is attended with
more hazard here than with us. There is no doubt, on the other hand,
that the training and habits, produced by such a system of watchfulness,
enter so far into the character of the people, that they cease to think
of doing that which is so strenuously denied them.

Some of our visitors make their appearance in a very quaint style. I met
a party the other day, among whom the following family arrangement had
obtained:--The man was mounted on a donkey, with his feet just clear of
the ground. The wife, a buxom brunette, was trudging afoot in the rear,
accompanied by the two younger children, a boy and girl, between twelve
and fourteen, led by a small dog, fastened to a string like the guide of
a blind mendicant; while the eldest daughter was mounted on the crupper,
maintaining her equilibrium by a masculine disposition of her lower
limbs. She was a fine, rosy-cheeked _grisette_, of about seventeen; and,
as they ambled along, just fast enough to keep the cur on a slow trot,
her cap flared in the wind, her black eyes flashed with pleasure, and
her dark ringlets streamed behind her, like so many silken pennants. She
had a ready laugh for every one she met, and a sort of malicious
pleasure in asking, by her countenance, if they did not wish they too
had a donkey? As the seat was none of the most commodious, she had
contrived to make a pair of stirrups of her petticoats. The gown was
pinned up about her waist, leaving her knees, instead of her feet, as
the _points d'appui_. The well-turned legs, and the ankles, with such a
_chaussure_ as at once marks a Parisienne, were exposed to the
admiration of a _parterre_ of some hundreds of idle wayfarers. Truly, it
is no wonder that sculptors abound in this country, for capital models
are to be found, even in the highways. The donkey was the only one who
appeared displeased with this _monture_, and he only manifested
dissatisfaction by lifting his hinder extremities a little, as the man
occasionally touched his flanks with a nettle, that the ass would much
rather have been eating.

Not long since I passed half an hour on the terrace, an amused witness
of the perils of a voyage across the Seine in a punt. The adventurers
were a _bourgeois_, his wife, sister, and child. Honest Pierre, the
waterman, had conditioned to take the whole party to the island opposite
and to return them safe to the main for the modicum of five sous. The
old fox invariably charged me a franc for the same service. There was
much demurring, and many doubts about encountering the risk; and more
than once the women would have receded, had not the man treated the
matter as a trifle. He affirmed _parole d'honneur_ that his father had
crossed the Maine a dozen times, and no harm had come of it! This
encouraged them, and, with many pretty screams, _mes fois_, and _oh,
Dieu_, they finally embarked. The punt was a narrow scow that a ton
weight would not have disturbed, the river was so low and sluggish that
it might have been forded two-thirds of the distance, and the width was
not three hundred feet. Pierre protested that the danger was certainly
not worth mentioning, and away he went, as philosophical in appearance
as his punt. The voyage was made in safety, and the bows of the boat had
actually touched the shore on its return, before any of the passengers
ventured to smile. The excursion, like most travelling, was likely to be
most productive of happiness by the recollections. But the women were no
sooner landed, than that rash adventurer, the husband, brother, and
father, seized an oar, and began to ply it with all his force. He merely
wished to tell his _confrères_ of the Rue Montmartre how a punt might be
rowed. Pierre had gallantly landed to assist the ladies, and the boat,
relieved of its weight, slowly yielded to the impulse of the oar, and
inclined its bows from the land. "Oh! Edouard! mon mari! mon frère!--que
fais-tu?" exclaimed the ladies. "Ce n'est rien," returned the man,
puffing, and giving another lusty sweep, by which he succeeded in
forcing the punt fully twenty feet from the shore. "Edouard! cher
Edouard!" "Laisse-moi m'amuser,--je m'amuse, je m'amuse," cried the
husband in a tone of indignant remonstrance. But Edouard, a tight, sleek
little _épicier_, of about five-and-thirty, had never heard that an oar
on each side was necessary in a boat, and the harder he pulled the less
likely was he to regain the shore. Of this he began to be convinced, as
he whirled more into the centre of the current; and his efforts now
really became frantic, for his imagination probably painted the horrors
of a distant voyage in an unknown bark to an unknown land, and all
without food or compass. The women screamed, and the louder they cried,
the more strenuously he persevered in saying, "Laisse-moi m'amuser--je
m'amuse, je m'amuse." By this time the perspiration poured from the face
of Edouard, and I called to the imperturbable Pierre, who stood in
silent admiration of his punt while playing such antics, and desired him
to tell the man to put his oar on the bottom, and to push the boat
ashore. "Oui, Monsieur," said the rogue, with a leer, for he remembered
the francs, and we soon had our adventurer safe on _terra firma_ again.
Then began the tender expostulations, the affectionate reproaches, and
the kind injunctions for the truant to remember that he was a husband
and a father. Edouard, secretly cursing the punt and all rivers in his
heart, made light of the matter, however, protesting to the last that he
had only been enjoying himself.

We have had a fête too; for every village in the vicinity of Paris has
its fête. The square was filled with whirligigs and flying-horses, and
all the ingenious contrivances of the French to make and to spend a sou
pleasantly. There was service in the parish church, at which our
neighbours sang in a style fit for St. Peter's, and the villagers danced
quadrilles on the green with an air that would be thought fine in many a
country drawing-room.

I enjoy all this greatly; for, to own the truth, the crowds and mannered
sameness of Paris began to weary me. Our friends occasionally come from
town to see us, and we make good use of the cabriolet. As we are near
neighbours to St. Denis, we have paid several visits to the tombs of the
French kings, and returned each time less pleased with most of the
unmeaning obsequies that are observed in their vaults. There was a
ceremony, not long since, at which the royal family and many of the
great officers of the court assisted, and among others M. de Talleyrand.
The latter was in the body of the church, when a man rushed upon him and
actually struck him, or shoved him to the earth, using at the same time
language that left no doubt of the nature of the assault. There are
strange rumours connected with the affair. The assailant was a Marquis
de ----, and it is reported that his wrongs, real or imaginary, are
connected with a plot to rob one of the dethroned family of her jewels,
or of some crown jewels, I cannot say which, at the epoch of the
restoration. The journals said a good deal about it at the time, but
events occur so fast here that a quarrel of this sort produces little
sensation. I pretend to no knowledge of the merits of this affair, and
only give a general outline of what was current in the public prints at
the time.

We have also visited Enghien, and Montmorency. The latter, as you know
already, stands on the side of a low mountain, in plain view of Paris.
It is a town of some size, with very uneven streets, some of them being
actually sharp acclivities, and a Gothic church that is seen from afar
and that is well worth viewing near by. These quaint edifices afford us
deep delight, by their antiquity, architecture, size, and pious
histories. What matters it to us how much or how little superstition may
blend with the rites, when we know and feel that we are standing in a
nave that has echoed with orisons to God, for a thousand years! This of
Montmorency is not quite so old, however, having been rebuilt only three
centuries since.

Dulaure, a severe judge of aristocracy, denounces the pretension of the
Montmorencies to be the _Premiers Barons Chrétiens_, affirming that they
were neither the first barons, nor the first Christians, by a great
many. He says, that the extravagant title has most probably been a
war-cry, in the time of the crusaders. According to his account of the
family it originated, about the year 1008, in a certain Borchard, who,
proving a bad neighbour to the Abbey of St. Denis, the vassals of which
he was in the habit of robbing, besides, now and then, despoiling a
monk, the king caused his fortress in the Isle St. Denis to be razed;
after which, by a treaty, he was put in possession of the mountain hard
by, with permission to erect another hold near a fountain, at a place
called in the charters, Montmorenciacum. Hence the name, and the family.
This writer thinks that the first castle must have been built of wood!

We took a road that led us up to a bluff on the mountain, behind the
town, where we obtained a new and very peculiar view of Paris and its
environs. I have said that the French towns have no straggling suburbs.
A few winehouses (to save the _octroi_) are built near the gates,
compactly, as in the town itself, and there the buildings cease as
suddenly as if pared down by a knife. The fields touch the walls, in
many places, and between St. Ouen and the guinguettes and winehouses, at
the Barrière de Clichy, a distance of two miles, there is but a solitary
building. A wide plain separates Paris, on this side, from the
mountains, and of course our view extended across it. The number of
villages was absolutely astounding. Although I did not attempt counting
them, I should think not fewer than a hundred were in sight, all grey,
picturesque, and clustering round the high nave and church tower, like
chickens gathering beneath the wing. The day was clouded, and the
hamlets rose from their beds of verdure, sombre but distinct, with their
faces of wall, now in subdued light, and now quite shaded, resembling
the glorious _darks_ of Rembrandt's pictures.



LETTER XVII.

Rural Drives.--French Peasantry.--View of Montmartre.--The Boulevards.
--The Abattoirs.--Search for Lodgings.--A queer Breakfast.--Royal
Progresses and Magnificence.--French Carriages and Horses.--Modes of
Conveyance.--Drunkenness.--French Criminal Justice.--Marvellous Stories
of the Police.


To CAPT. M. PERRY, U.S.N.

I am often in the saddle since our removal to St. Ouen. I first
commenced the business of exploring in the cabriolet, with my wife for a
companion, during which time, several very pretty drives, of whose
existence one journeying along the great roads would form no idea, were
discovered. At last, as these became exhausted, I mounted, and pricked
into the fields. The result has been a better knowledge of the details
of ordinary rural life, in this country, than a stranger would get by a
residence, after the ordinary fashion, of years.

I found the vast plain intersected by roads as intricate as the veins of
the human body. The comparison is not unapt, by the way, and may be even
carried out much further; for the _grandes routes_ can be compared to
the arteries, the _chemins vicinaux_, or cross-roads, to the veins, and
the innumerable paths that intersect the fields, in all directions, to
the more minute blood-vessels, circulation being the object common to
all.

I mount my horse and gallop into the fields at random, merely taking
care not to quit the paths. By the latter, one can go in almost any
direction; and as they are very winding there is a certain pleasure in
following their sinuosities, doubtful whither they tend. Much of the
plain is in vegetables, for the use of Paris; though there is
occasionally a vineyard, or a field of grain. The weather has become
settled and autumnal, and is equally without the chilling moisture of
the winter, or the fickleness of the spring. The kind-hearted peasants
see me pass among them without distrust, and my salutations are answered
with cheerfulness and civility. Even at this trifling distance from the
capital, I miss the brusque ferocity that is so apt to characterise the
deportment of its lower classes, who are truly the people that Voltaire
has described as "ou singes, ou tigres." Nothing, I think, strikes an
American more than the marked difference between the town and country of
France. With us, the towns are less town-like, and the country less
country-like, than is usually the case. Our towns are provincial from
the want of tone that can only be acquired by time, while it is a fault
with our country to wish to imitate the towns. I now allude to habits
only, for nature at home, owing to the great abundance of wood, is more
strikingly rural than in any other country I know. The inhabitant of
Paris can quit his own door in the centre of the place, and after
walking an hour he finds himself truly in the country, both as to the
air of external objects, and as to the manners of the people. The
influence of the capital doubtless has some little effect on the latter,
but not enough to raise them above the ordinary rusticity, for the
French peasants are as rustic in their appearance and habits as the
upper classes are refined.

One of my rides is through the plain that lies between St. Ouen and
Montmartre, ascending the latter by its rear to the windmills that,
night and day, are whirling their ragged arms over the capital of
France. Thence I descend into the town by the carriage road. A view from
this height is like a glimpse into the pages of history; for every foot
of land that it commands, and more than half the artificial accessories,
are pregnant of the past. Looking down into the fissures between the
houses, men appear the mites they are; and one gets to have a
philosophical indifference to human vanities by obtaining these
bird's-eye views of them in the mass. It was a happy thought that first
suggested the summits of mountains for religious contemplation; nor do I
think the father of evil discovered his usual sagacity when he resorted
to such a place for the purposes of selfish temptation: perhaps,
however, it would be better to say, he betrayed the grovelling
propensities of his own nature. The cathedral of Notre Dame should have
been reared on this noble and isolated height, that the airs of heaven
might whisper through its fane, breathing the chaunts in honour of God.

Dismounting manfully, I have lately undertaken a far more serious
enterprise--that of making the entire circuit of Paris on foot. My
companion was our old friend Captain ----. We met by appointment at
eleven o'clock, just without the Barrière de Clichy, and ordering the
carriage to come for us at five, off we started, taking the direction of
the eastern side of the town. You probably know that what are commonly
called the _boulevards_ of Paris, are no more than a circular line of
wide streets through the very heart of the place, which obtain their
common appellation from the fact that they occupy the sites of the
ancient walls. Thus the street within this circuit is called by its
name, whatever it may happen to be, and if continued without the
circuit, the term of _faubourg_ or suburb is added; as in the case of
the Rue St. Honoré and the Rue du Faubourg St. Honoré, the latter being
strictly a continuation of the former, but lying without the site of the
ancient walls. As the town has increased, it has been found necessary to
enlarge its _enceinte_, and the walls are now encircled with wide
avenues that are called the outer _boulevards_. There are avenues within
and without the walls, and immediately beneath them; and in many places
both are planted. Our route was on the exterior.

We began the march in good spirits, and by twelve we had handsomely done
our four miles and a half. Of course we passed the different
_barrières_, and the gate of Père Lachaise. The captain commenced with
great vigour, and for near two hours, as he expressed himself, he had me
a little on his lee quarter; not more, however, he thought, than was due
to his superior rank, for he had once been my senior as a midshipman. At
the Barrière du Trône we were compelled to diverge a little from the
wall, in order to get across the river by the Pont d'Austerlitz. By this
time I had ranged up abeam of the commodore, and I proposed that we
should follow the river up as far as the wall again, in order to do our
work honestly; but to this he objected that he had no wish to puzzle
himself with spherical trigonometry; that plane sailing was his humour
at the moment; and that he had, moreover, just discovered that one of
his boots pinched his foot. Accordingly we proceeded straight from the
bridge, not meeting the wall again until we were beyond the _abattoir_.
These _abattoirs_ are slaughter-houses, that Napoleon caused to be built
near the walls, in some places within, and in others without them,
according to the different localities. There are five or six of them,
that of Montmartre being the most considerable. They are kept in
excellent order, and the regulations respecting them appear to be
generally good. The butchers sell their meats, in shops, all over the
town, a general custom in Europe, and one that has more advantages than
disadvantages, as it enables the inhabitant to order a meal at any
moment. This independence in the mode of living distinguishes all the
large towns of this part of the world from our own; for I greatly
question if there be any civilized people among whom the individual is
as much obliged to consult the habits and tastes of _all_, in gratifying
his own, as in free and independent America. A part of this
uncomfortable feature in our domestic economy is no doubt the result of
circumstances unavoidably connected with the condition of a young
country; but a great deal is to be ascribed to the practice of referring
everything to the public, and not a little to those religious sects who
extended their supervision to all the affairs of life, that had a chief
concern in settling the country, and who have entailed so much that is
inconvenient and ungraceful (I might almost say, in some instances,
_disgraceful_) on the nation, blended with so much that forms its purest
sources of pride. Men are always an inconsistent medley of good and bad.

The captain and myself had visited the _abattoir_ of Montmartre only a
few days previously to this excursion, and we had both been much
gratified with its order and neatness. But an unfortunate pile of hocks,
hoofs, tallow, and nameless fragments of carcasses, had caught my
companion's eye. I found him musing over this _omnium gatherum_, which
he protested was worse than a bread-pudding at Saratoga. By some process
of reasoning that was rather material than philosophical, he came to the
conclusion that the substratum of all the extraordinary compounds he had
met with at the _restaurans_ was derived from this pile, and he swore as
terribly as any of "our army in Flanders," that not another mouthful
would he touch, while he remained in Paris, if the dish put his
knowledge of natural history at fault. He had all along suspected he had
been eating cats and vermin, but his imagination had never pictured to
him such a store of abominations for the _casserole_ as were to be seen
in this pile. In vain I asked him if he did not find the dishes good.
Cats might be good for anything he knew, but he was too old to change
his habits. On the present occasion, he made the situation of the
Abattoir d'Ivry an excuse for not turning up the river by the wall. I do
not think, however, we gained anything in the distance, the _détour_ to
cross the bridge more than equalling the ground we missed.

We came under the wall again at the Barrière de Ville Juif, and followed
it, keeping on the side next the town until we fairly reached the river
once more, beyond Vaugirard. Here we were compelled to walk some
distance to cross the Pont de Jena, and again to make a considerable
circuit through Passy, on account of the gardens, in order to do justice
to our task. About this time the commodore fairly fell astern; and he
discovered that the other boot was too large. I kept talking to him over
my shoulder, and cheering him on, and he felicitated me on frogs
agreeing so well with my constitution. At length we came in at the
Barrière de Clichy, just as the clocks struck three, or in four hours,
to a minute, from the time we had left the same spot. We had neither
stopped, eaten, nor drunk a mouthful. The distance is supposed to be
about eighteen miles, but I can hardly think it is so much, for we went
rather further than if we had closely followed the wall.

Our agility having greatly exceeded my calculations, we were obliged to
walk two miles further, in order to find the carriage. The time expended
in going this distance included, we were just four hours and a half on
our feet. The captain protested that his boots had disgraced him, and
forthwith commanded another pair; a subterfuge that did him no good.

One anecdote connected with the sojourn of this eccentric, but really
excellent-hearted and intelligent man,[22] at Paris is too good not to be
told. He cannot speak a word of pure French; and of all Anglicizing of
the language I have ever heard, his attempts at it are the most droll.
He calls the Tuileries, Tully_rees_; the Jardin des Plantes, the _Garden
dis Plants_; the guillotine, gully_teen_; and the _garçons_ of the
_cafés_, _gassons_. Choleric, with whiskers like a bear, and a voice of
thunder, if anything goes wrong, he swears away, starboard and larboard,
in French and English, in delightful discord.

[Footnote 22: He is since dead.]

He sought me out soon after his arrival, and carried me with him, as an
interpreter, in quest of lodgings. We found a very snug little apartment
of four rooms, that he took. The last occupant was a lady, who, in
letting the rooms, conditioned that Marie, her servant, must be hired
with them, to look after the furniture, and to be in readiness to
receive her at her return from the provinces. A few days after this
arrangement I called, and was surprised, on ringing the bell, to hear
the cry of an infant. After a moment's delay the door was cautiously
opened, and the captain, in his gruffest tone, demanded, "Cur vully
voo?" An exclamation of surprise at seeing me followed; but instead of
opening the door for my admission, he held it for a moment, as if
undecided whether to be "at home" or not. At this critical instant an
infant cried again, and the thing became too ridiculous for further
gravity. We both laughed outright. I entered, and found the captain with
a child three days old tucked under his right arm, or that which had
been concealed by the door. The explanation was very simple, and
infinitely to his credit.

Marie, the _locum tenens_ of the lady who had let the apartment, and the
wife of a coachman who was in the country, was the mother of the infant.
After its birth she presented herself to her new master; told her story;
adding, by means of an interpreter, that if he turned her away, she had
no place in which to lay her head. The kind-hearted fellow made out to
live abroad as well as he could for a day or two--an easy thing enough
in Paris, by the way,--and when I so unexpectedly entered, Marie was
actually cooking the captain's breakfast in the kitchen while he was
nursing the child in the _salon!_

The dialogues between the captain and Marie were to the last degree
amusing. He was quite unconscious of the odd sounds he uttered in
speaking French, but thought he was getting on very well, being rather
minute and particular in his orders; and she felt his kindness to
herself and child so sensibly, that she always fancied she understood
his wishes. I was frequently compelled to interpret between them; first
asking him to explain himself in English, for I could make but little of
his French myself. On one occasion he invited me to breakfast, as we
were to pass the day exploring in company. By way of inducement, he told
me that he had accidentally found some cocoa in the shell, and that he
had been teaching Marie how to cook it "ship-fashion." I would not
promise, as his hour was rather early, and the distance between us so
great; but before eleven I would certainly be with him. I breakfasted at
home therefore, but was punctual to the latter engagement. "I hope you
have breakfasted?" cried the captain, rather fiercely, as I entered. I
satisfied him on this point; and then, after a minute of demure
reflection, he resumed, "You are lucky; for Marie boiled the cocoa, and,
after throwing away the liquor, she buttered and peppered the shells,
and served them for me to eat! I don't see how she made such a mistake,
for I was very particular in my directions, and be d----d to her! I
don't care so much about my own breakfast neither, for that can be had
at the next _café_; but the poor creature has lost hers, which I told
her to cook out of the rest of the cocoa." I had the curiosity to
inquire how he had made out to tell Marie to do all this. "Why, I showed
her the cocoa, to be sure, and then told her to _boily vous-même_."
There was no laughing at this, and so I went with the captain to a
_café_; after which we proceeded in quest of the _gullyteen_, which he
was particularly anxious to see.

My rides often extend to the heights behind Malmaison and St. Cloud,
where there is a fine country, and where some of the best views in the
vicinity of Paris are to be obtained. As the court is at St. Cloud, I
often meet different members of the royal family dashing to or from
town, or perhaps passing from one of their abodes to another. The style
is pretty uniform, for I do not remember to have ever met the king but
once with less than eight horses. The exception was quite early one
morning, when he was going into the country with very little _éclat_,
accompanied by the Dauphine. Even on this occasion he was in a carriage
and six, followed by another with four, and attended by a dozen mounted
men. These royal progresses are truly magnificent; and they serve
greatly to enliven the road, as we live so near the country palace. The
king has been quite lately to a camp formed at St. Omer, and I happened
to meet a portion of his equipages on their return. The carriages I saw
were very neatly built post-chaises, well leathered, and contained what
are here called the "officers of the mouth," alias "cooks and
purveyors." They were all drawn by four horses. This was a great
occasion--furniture being actually sent from the palace of Compiègne for
the king's lodgings, and the court is said to have employed seventy
different vehicles to transport it. I saw about a dozen.

Returning the other night from a dinner-party, given on the banks of the
Seine, a few miles above us, I saw flaring lights gleaming along the
highway, which, at first, caused nearly as much conjecture as some of
the adventures of Don Quixotte. My horse proving a little restive, I
pulled up, placing the cabriolet on one side of the road, for the first
impression was that the cattle employed at some funeral procession had
taken flight and were running away. It proved to be the Dauphine dashing
towards St. Cloud. This was the first time I had ever met any of the
royal equipages at night, and the passage was much the most picturesque
of any I had hitherto seen. Footmen, holding flaming flambeaux, rode in
pairs in front, by the side of the carriage, and in its rear; the
_piqueur_ scouring along the road in advance, like a rocket. By the way,
a lady of the court told me lately that Louis XVIII. had lost some of
his French by the emigration, for he did not know how to pronounce this
word _piqueur_.

On witnessing all this magnificence, the mind is carried back a few
generations, in the inquiry after the progress of luxury, and the usages
of our fathers. Coaches were first used in England in the reign of
Elizabeth. It is clear enough, by the pictures in the Louvre, that in
the time of Louis XIV. the royal carriages were huge, clumsy vehicles,
with at least three seats. Mademoiselle de Montpensier, in her Memoirs,
tells us how often she took her place at the window, in order to admire
the graceful attitudes of M. de Lauzun, who rode near it. There is still
in existence, in the Bibliothèque du Roi, a letter of Henry IV. to
Sully, in which the king explains to the grand master the reason why he
could not come to the arsenal that day; the excuse being that the queen
_was using the carriage!_ To-day his descendant seldom moves at a pace
slower than ten miles the hour, is drawn by eight horses, and is usually
accompanied by one or more empty vehicles of equal magnificence to
receive him, in the event of an accident.

Notwithstanding all this regal splendour, the turn-outs of Paris, as a
whole, are by no means remarkable. The genteelest and the fashionable
carriage is the chariot. I like the proportions of the French carriages
better than those of the English or our own, the first being too heavy,
and the last too light. The French vehicles appear to me to be in this
respect a happy medium. But the finish is by no means equal to that of
the English carriages, nor at all better than that of ours. There are
relatively a large proportion of shabby-genteel equipages at Paris. Even
the vehicles that are seen standing in the court of the Tuileries on a
reception day are not at all superior to the better sort of American
carriages, though the liveries are much more showy.

Few people here own the carriages and horses they use. Even the
strangers, who are obliged to have travelling vehicles rarely use them
in town, the road and the streets requiring very different sorts of
equipages. There are certain job-dealers who furnish all that is
required for a stipulated sum. You select the carriage and horses on
trial and contract at so much a month, or at so much a year. The
coachman usually comes with the equipage, as does the footman sometimes,
though both are paid by the person taking the coach. They will wear your
livery, if you choose, and you can have your arms put on the carriage if
desirable. I pay five hundred francs a month for a carriage and horses,
and forty francs for a coachman. I believe this is the usual price. I
have a right to have a pair of horses always at my command, finding
nothing but the stable, and even this would be unnecessary in Paris. If
we go away from our own stable, I pay five francs a day extra. There is
a very great convenience to strangers, in particular, in this system,
for one can set up and lay down a carriage, without unnecessary trouble
or expense, as it may be wanted. In everything of this nature, we have
no town that has the least character, or the conveniences, of a capital.

The French have little to boast of in the way of horseflesh. Most of the
fine coach and cabriolet cattle of Paris come from Mecklenburgh, though
some are imported from England. It is not common to meet with a very
fine animal of the native breed. In America, land is so plenty and so
cheap, that we keep a much larger proportion of brute force than is kept
here. It is not uncommon with us to meet with those who live by day's
work, using either oxen or horses. The consequence is that many beasts
are raised with little care, and with scarcely any attention to the
breeds. We find many good ones. In spite of bad grooming, little
training, and hard work, I greatly question if even England possesses a
larger proportion of good horses, comparing the population of the two
countries, than America. Our animals are quicker footed, and at
trotting, I suspect, we could beat the world; Christendom, certainly.
The great avenue between the garden of the Tuileries and the Bois de
Boulogne, with the _allées_ of the latter, are the places to meet the
fast-goers of the French capital, and I am strongly of opinion that
there is no such exhibition of speed, in either, as one meets on the
Third Avenue of New York. As for the Avenue de Neuilly, our sulky riders
would vanish like the wind from anything I have seen on it; although one
meets there, occasionally, fine animals from all parts of Europe.

The cattle of the _diligences_, of the post-houses, and even of the
cavalry of France, are solid, hardy and good feeders, but they are
almost entirely without speed or action. The two former are very much
the same, and it is a hard matter to get more than eight miles out of
them without breaking into a gallop, or more than ten, if put under the
whip. Now, a short time previously to leaving home, I went eleven
measured miles, in a public coach, in two minutes less than an hour, the
whip untouched. I sat on the box, by the side of the driver, and know
that this was done under a pull that actually disabled one of his arms,
and that neither of the four animals broke its trot. It is not often our
roads will admit of this, but, had we the roads of England, I make
little doubt we should altogether outdo her in speed. As for the horses
used here in the public conveyances, and for the post routes, they are
commonly compact, clumsy beasts, with less force than their shape would
give reason to suppose. Their manes are long and shaggy, the fetlocks
are rarely trimmed, the shoes are seldom corked, and, when there is a
little coquetry, the tail is braided. In this trim, with a coarse
harness, that is hardly ever cleaned, traces of common rope, and half
the time no blinkers or reins, away they scamper, with their heads in
all directions, like the classical representation of a team in an
ancient car, through thick and thin, working with all their might to do
two posts within an hour, one being the legal measure. These animals
appear to possess a strange _bonhomie_, being obedient, willing and
tractable, although, in the way of harness and reins, they are pretty
much their own masters.

My excursions in the environs have made me acquainted with a great
variety of modes of communication between the capital and its adjacent,
villages. Although Paris is pared down so accurately, and is almost
without suburbs, the population, within a circuit of ten miles in each
direction, is almost equal to that of Paris itself. St. Denis has
several thousands, St. Germain the same, and Versailles is still a town
of considerable importance. All these places, with villages out of
number, keep up daily intercourse with the city, and in addition to the
hundreds of vegetable carts that constantly pass to and fro, there are
many conveyances that are exclusively devoted to passengers. The
cheapest and lowest is called a _coucou_ for no reason that I can see,
unless it be that a man looks very like a fool to have a seat in one of
them. They are large cabriolets, with two and even three seats. The
wheels are enormous, and there is commonly a small horse harnessed by
the side of a larger, in the hills, to drag perhaps eight or nine
people. One is amazed to see the living carrion that is driven about a
place like Paris, in these uncouth vehicles. The river is so exceedingly
crooked, that it is little used by travellers above Rouen.

The internal transportation of France, where the lines of the rivers are
not followed, is carried on, almost exclusively, in enormous carts,
drawn by six and even eight heavy horses, harnessed in a line. The
burthen is often as large as a load of hay, not quite so high, perhaps,
but generally longer, care being had to preserve the balance in such a
manner as to leave no great weight on the shaft horse. These teams are
managed with great dexterity, and I have often stopped and witnessed,
with admiration, the entrance of one of them into a yard, as it passed
from a crowded street probably not more than thirty feet wide. But the
evolutions of the _diligence_, guided as it chiefly is by the whip, and
moving on a trot, are really nice affairs. I came from La Grange, some
time since, in one, and I thought that we should dash everything to
pieces in the streets, and yet nothing was injured. At the close of the
journey, our team of five horses, two on the pole and three on the lead,
wheeled, without breaking its trot, into a street that was barely wide
enough to receive the huge vehicle, and this too without human
direction, the driver being much too drunk to be of any service. These
_diligences_ are uncouth objects to the eye; but, for the inside
passengers, they are much more comfortable, so far as my experience
extends than either the American stage or the English coach.

The necessity of passing the _barrière_ two or three times a day, has
also made me acquainted with the great amount of drunkenness that
prevails in Paris. Wine can be had outside of the walls, for about half
the price which is paid for it within the town, as it escapes the
_octroi_, or city duty. The people resort to these places for
indulgence, and there is quite as much low blackguardism and guzzling
here, as is to be met with in any sea-port I know.

Provisions of all sorts, too, are cheaper without the gates, for the
same reason; and the lower classes resort to them to celebrate their
weddings, and on other eating and drinking occasions. "Ici on fait
festins et noces,"[23] is a common sign, no barrier being without more or
less of these houses. The _guinguettes_ are low gardens, answering to
the English tea-gardens of the humblest class, with a difference in the
drinkables and other fare. The base of Montmartre is crowded with them.

[Footnote 23: Weddings and merry-makings are kept here.]

One sometimes meets with an unpleasant adventure among these exhilarated
gentry; for, though I think a low Frenchman is usually better natured
when a little _grisé_ than when perfectly sober, this is not always the
case. Quite lately I had an affair that might have terminated seriously,
but for our good luck. It is usual to have two sets of reins to the
cabriolets, the horses being very spirited, and the danger from
accidents in streets so narrow and crowded being great. I had dined in
town, and was coming out about nine o'clock. The horse was walking up
the ascent to the Barrière de Clichy, when I observed, by the shadow
cast from a bright moon, that there was a man seated on the cabriolet,
behind. Charles was driving, and I ordered him to tell the man to get
off. Finding words of no effect, Charles gave him a slight tap with his
whip. The fellow instantly sprang forward, seized the horse by the
reins, and attempted to drag him to one side of the road. Failing in
this, he fled up the street. Charles now called out that he had cut the
reins. I seized the other pair and brought the horse up, and, as soon as
he was under command, we pursued our assailant at a gallop. He was soon
out of breath, and we captured him. As I felt very indignant at the
supposed outrage, which might have cost, not us only, but others, their
lives, I gave him in charge to two gendarmes at the gate, with my
address, promising to call at the police office in the morning.

Accordingly, next day I presented myself, and was surprised to find that
the man had been liberated. I had discovered, in the interval, that the
leather had broken, and had not been cut, which materially altered the
_animus_ of the offence, and I had come with an intention to ask for the
release of the culprit, believing it merely a sally of temper, which a
night's imprisonment sufficiently punished; but the man being _charged_
with cutting the rein, I thought the magistrate had greatly forgotten
himself in discharging him before I appeared. Indeed I made no scruple
in telling him so. We had some warm words, and parted. I make no doubt I
was mistaken for an Englishman, and that the old national antipathy was
at work against me.

I was a good deal surprised at the termination of this, my first essay
in French criminal justice. So many eulogiums have been passed on the
police, that I was not prepared to find this indifference to an offence
like that of wantonly cutting the reins of a spirited cabriolet horse,
in the streets of Paris; for such was the charge on which the man stood
committed. I mentioned the affair to a friend, and he said that the
police was good only for political offences, and that the government
rather leaned to the side of the rabble, in order to find support with
them, in the event of any serious movement. This, you will remember, was
the opinion of a Frenchman, and not mine; for I only relate the facts
(one conjecture excepted), and to do justice to all parties, it is
proper to add that my friend is warmly opposed to the present _régime_.

I have uniformly found the gendarmes civil, and even obliging; and I
have seen them show great forbearance on various occasions. As to the
marvellous stories we have heard of the police of Paris, I suspect they
have been gotten up for effect, such things being constantly practised
here. One needs be behind the curtain, in a great many things, to get a
just idea of the true state of the world. A laughable instance has just
occurred, within my knowledge, of a story that has been got up for
effect. The town was quite horrified lately, with an account, in the
journals, of a careless nurse permitting a child to fall into the
_fossé_ of the great bears, in the Jardin des Plantes, and of the bears
eating up the dear little thing, to the smallest fragment, before
succour could be obtained. Happening to be at the garden soon after, in
the company of one connected with the establishment, I inquired into the
circumstances, and was told that the nurses were very careless with the
children, and that the story was published in order that the bears
should not eat up any child hereafter, rather than because they had
eaten up a child heretofore!



LETTER XVIII.

Personal Intercourse.--Parisian Society and Hospitality.--Influence of
Money.--Fiacres.--M. de Lameth.--Strife of Courtesy.--Standard of
Delicacy.--French Dinners.--Mode of Visiting.--The Chancellor of
France.--The Marquis de Marbois.--Political Côteries.--Paris Lodgings.
--A French Party.--An English Party.--A splendid Ball.--Effects of good
Breeding.--Characteristic Traits.--Influence of a Court.


To MRS. POMEROY, COOPERSTOWN.

I have said very little, in my previous letters, on the subject of our
personal intercourse with the society of Paris. It is not always easy
for one to be particular in these matters, and maintain the reserve that
is due to others. Violating the confidence he may have received through
his hospitality, is but an indifferent return from the guest to the
host. Still there are men, if I may so express it, so public in their
very essence, certainly in their lives, that propriety is less concerned
with a repetition of their sentiments, and with delineations of their
characters, than in ordinary cases; for the practice of the world has
put them so much on their guard against the representations of
travellers, that there is more danger of rendering a false account, by
becoming their dupes, than of betraying them in their unguarded moments.
I have scarcely ever been admitted to the presence of a real notoriety,
that I did not find the man, or woman--sex making little difference--an
actor; and this, too, much beyond the everyday and perhaps justifiable
little practices of conventional life. Inherent simplicity of character
is one of the rarest, as, tempered by the tone imparted by refinement,
it is the loveliest of all our traits, though it is quite common to meet
with those who affect it, with an address that is very apt to deceive
the ordinary, and most especially the flattered, observer.

Opportunity, rather than talents, is the great requisite for circulating
gossip; a very moderate degree of ability sufficing for the observation
which shall render private anecdotes, more especially when they relate
to persons of celebrity, of interest to the general reader. But there is
another objection to being merely the medium of information of this low
quality, that I should think would have great influence with every one
who has the common self-respect of a gentleman. _There is a tacit
admission of inferiority_ in the occupation, that ought to prove too
humiliating to a man accustomed to those associations, which imply
equality. It is permitted to touch upon the habits and appearance of a
truly great man; but to dwell upon the peculiarities of a duke, merely
because he is a duke, is as much as to say he is your superior; a
concession, I do not feel disposed to make in favour of any _mere duke_
in Christendom.

I shall not, however, be wholly silent on the general impressions left
by the little I have seen of the society of Paris; and, occasionally,
when it is characteristic, an anecdote may be introduced, for such
things sometimes give distinctness, as well as piquancy, to a
description.

During our first winter in Paris, our circle, never very large, was
principally confined to foreign families intermingled with a few French;
but since our return to town, from St. Ouen, we have seen more of the
people of the country. I should greatly mislead you, however, were I to
leave the impression that our currency in the French capital has been at
all general, for it certainly has not. Neither my health, leisure,
fortune, nor opportunities, have permitted this. I believe few, perhaps
no Americans, have very general access to the best society of any large
European town; at all events, I have met with no one who I have had any
reason to think was much better off than myself in this respect; and, I
repeat, my own familiarity with the circles of the capital is nothing to
boast of. It is in Paris, as it is everywhere else, as respects those
who are easy of access. In all large towns there is to be found a
troublesome and pushing set, who, requiring notoriety, obtrude
themselves on strangers, sometimes with sounding names, and always with
offensive pretensions of some sort or other; but the truly respectable
and estimable class, in every country, except in cases that cannot
properly be included in the rule, are to be sought. Now, one must feel
that he has peculiar claims, or be better furnished with letters than
happened to be my case, to get a ready admission into this set, or,
having obtained it, to feel that his position enabled him to maintain
the intercourse, with the ease and freedom that could alone render it
agreeable. To be shown about as a lion, when circumstances offer the
means; to be stuck up at a dinner-table, as a piece of luxury, like
strawberries in February, or peaches in April,--can hardly be called
association: the terms being much on a par with that which forms the
_liaisons_, between him who gives the entertainment, and the hired plate
with which his table is garnished. With this explanation, then, you are
welcome to an outline of the little I know on the subject.

One of the errors respecting the French, which has been imported into
America, through England, is the impression that they are not
hospitable. Since my residence here, I have often been at a loss to
imagine how such a notion could have arisen, for I am acquainted with no
town, in which it has struck me there is more true hospitality than in
Paris. Not only are dinners, balls, and all the minor entertainments
frequent, but there is scarcely a man, or a woman, of any note in
society, who does not cause his or her doors to be opened, once a
fortnight at least, and, in half the cases, once a week. At these
_soirées_ invitations are sometimes given, it is true, but then they are
general, and for the whole season; and it is not unusual, even, to
consider them free to all who are on visiting terms with the family. The
utmost simplicity and good taste prevail at these places, the
refreshments being light and appropriate, and the forms exacting no more
than what belongs to good breeding. You will, at once, conceive the
great advantages that a stranger possesses in having access to such
social resources. One, with a tolerable visiting list, may choose his
circle for any particular evening, and if, by chance, the company should
not happen to be to his mind, he has still before him the alternative of
several other houses, which are certain to be open. It is not easy to
say what can be more truly hospitable than this.

The _petits soupers_, once so celebrated, are entirely superseded by the
new distribution of time, which is probably the most rational that can
be devised for a town life. The dinner is at six, an hour that is too
early to interfere with the engagements of the evening, it being usually
over at eight, and too late to render food again necessary that night;
an arrangement that greatly facilitates the evening intercourse,
releasing it at once from all trouble and parade.

It has often been said in favour of French society, that once within the
doors of a _salon_, all are equal. This is not literally so, it being
impossible that such a state of things can exist; nor is it desirable
that it should, since it is confounding all sentiment and feeling,
overlooking the claims of age, services, merit of every sort, and
setting at nought the whole construction of society. It is not
absolutely true that even rank is entirely forgotten in French society,
though I think it sufficiently so to prevent any deference to it from
being offensive. The social pretensions of a French peer are exceedingly
well regulated, nor do I remember to have seen an instance in which a
very young man has been particularly noticed on account of his having
claims of this sort. Distinguished men are so very numerous in Paris,
that they excite no great feeling, and the even course of society is
little disturbed on their account.

Although all within the doors of a French _salon_ are not perfectly
equal, none are made unpleasantly to feel the indifference. I dare say
there are circles in Paris, in which the mere possession of money may be
a source of evident distinction, but it must be in a very inferior set.
The French, while they are singularly alive to the advantages of money,
and extremely liable to yield to its influence in all important matters,
rarely permit any manifestations of its power to escape them in their
ordinary intercourse. As a people, they appear to me to be ready to
yield everything to money but its external homage. On these points they
are the very converse of the Americans, who are hard to be bought, while
they consider money the very base of all distinction. The origin of
these peculiarities may be found in the respective conditions of the two
countries.

In America, fortunes are easily and rapidly acquired; pressure reduces
few to want; he who serves is, if anything, more in demand than he who
is to be served; and the want of temptation produces exemption from the
liability to corruption. Men will, and do, daily _corrupt themselves_ in
the rapacious pursuit of gain, but comparatively few are in the market
to be bought and sold by others. Notwithstanding this, money being every
man's goal, there is a secret, profound, and general deference for it,
while money will do less than in almost any other country in
Christendom. Here, few young men look forward to gaining distinction by
making money; they search for it as a means, whereas with us it is the
end. We have little need of arms in America, and the profession is in
less request than that of law or merchandize. Of the arts and letters
the country possesses none, or next to none; and there is no true
sympathy with either. The only career that is felt as likely to lead,
and which can lead, to distinction independently of money, is that of
politics, and, as a whole, this is so much occupied by sheer
adventurers, with little or no pretentions to the name of statesmen,
that it is scarcely reputable to belong to it. Although money has no
influence in politics, or as little as well may be, even the successful
politician is but a secondary man in ordinary society in comparison with
the _millionnaire_. Now all this is very much reversed in Paris: money
does much, while it seems to do but little. The writer of a successful
comedy would be a much more important personage in the _côteries_ of
Paris than M. Rothschild; and the inventor of a new bonnet would enjoy
much more _éclat_ than the inventor of a clever speculation. I question
if there be a community on earth in which gambling risks in the funds,
for instance, are more general than in this, and yet the subject appears
to be entirely lost sight of out of the Bourse.

The little social notoriety that is attached to military distinction
here has greatly surprised me. It really seems as if France has had so
much military renown as to be satiated with it. One is elbowed
constantly by generals, who have gained this or that victory, and yet no
one seems to care anything about them. I do not mean that the nation is
indifferent to military glory, but society appears to care little or
nothing about it. I have seen a good deal of fuss made with the writer
of a few clever verses, but I have never seen any made with a hero.
Perhaps it was because the verses were new, and the victories old.

The perfect good taste and indifference which the French manifest
concerning the private affairs, and concerning the mode of living, of
one who is admitted to the _salons_, has justly extorted admiration,
even from the English, the people of all others who most submit to a
contrary feeling. A hackney-coach is not always admitted into a
court-yard, but both men and women make their visits in them, without
any apparent hesitation. No one seems ashamed of confessing poverty. I
do not say that women of quality often use _fiacres_ to make their
visits, but men do, and I have seen women in them openly whom I have met
in some of the best houses in Paris. It is better to go in a private
carriage, or in a _remise_, if one can, but few hesitate, when their
means are limited, about using the former. In order to appreciate this
self-denial, or simplicity, or good sense, it is necessary to remember
that a Paris _fiacre_ is not to be confounded with any other vehicle on
earth. I witnessed, a short time since, a ludicrous instance of the
different degrees of feeling that exist on this point among different
people. A---- and myself went to the house of an English woman our
acquaintance who is not very choice in her French. A Mrs. ----, the wife
of a colonel in the English army, sat next A----, as a French lady
begged that her carriage might be ordered. Our hostess told her servant
to order the _fiacre_ of Madame ----. Now Madame ---- kept her chariot,
to my certain knowledge, but she disregarded the mistake. A---- soon
after desired that our carriage might come next. The good woman of the
house, who loved to be busy, again called for the _fiacre_ of Madame
----. I saw the foot of A---- in motion, but catching my eye, she
smiled, and the thing passed off. The "voiture de Madame ----," or our
own carriage, was announced just as Mrs. ---- was trying to make a
servant understand she wished for hers. "Le fiacre de Madame ----,"
again put in the bustling hostess. This was too much for a colonel's
lady, and, with a very pretty air of distress, she took care to explain,
in a way that all might hear her, that it was a _remise_.

I dare say, vulgar prejudices influence vulgar minds, here, as
elsewhere, and yet I must say, that I never knew any one hesitate about
giving an address on account of the humility of the lodgings. It is to
be presumed that the manner in which families that are historical, and
of long-established rank, were broken down by the revolution, has had an
influence in effecting this healthful state of feeling.

The great tact and careful training of the women, serve to add very much
to the grace of French society. They effectually prevent all
embarrassments from the question of precedency, by their own decisions.
Indeed, it appears to be admitted, that when there is any doubt on these
points, the mistress of the house shall settle it in her own way. I
found myself lately, at a small dinner, the only stranger, and the
especially invited guest, standing near Madame la Marquise at the moment
the service was announced. A bishop made one of the trio. I could not
precede a man of his years and profession, and he was too polite to
precede a stranger. It was a nice point. Had it been a question between
a duke and myself, as a stranger, and under the circumstances of the
invitation, I should have had the _pas_, but even the lady hesitated
about discrediting a father of the church. She delayed but an instant,
and, smiling, she begged us to follow her to the table, avoiding the
decision altogether. In America such a thing could not have happened,
for no woman, by a fiction of society, is supposed to know how to walk
in company without support; but, here, a woman will not spoil her
curtsey, on entering a room, by leaning on an arm, if she can well help
it. The practice of tucking up a brace of females (liver and gizzard, as
the English coarsely, but not inaptly, term it), under one's arms, in
order to enter a small room that is crowded in a way to render the
movements of even one person difficult, does not prevail here, it being
rightly judged that a proper _tenue_, a good walk, and a graceful
movement, are all impaired by it. This habit also singularly contributes
to the comfort of your sex, by rendering them more independent of ours.
No one thinks, except in very particular cases, of going to the door to
see a lady into her carriage, a custom too provincial to prevail in a
capital, anywhere. Still, there is an amusing assiduity among the men,
on certain points of etiquette, that has sometimes made me laugh;
though, in truth, every concession to politeness being a tribute to
benevolence, is respectable, unless spoiled in the manner. As we are
gossiping about trifles, I will mention a usage or two, that to you will
at least be novel.

I was honoured with a letter from le Chevalier Alexandre de Lameth,[24]
accompanied by an offering of a book, and I took an early opportunity to
pay my respects to him. I found this gentleman, who once played so
conspicuous a part in the politics of France, and who is now a liberal
deputy, at breakfast, in a small cabinet, at the end of a suite of four
rooms. He received me politely, conversed a good deal of America, in
which country he had served as a colonel, under Rochambeau, and I took
my leave. That M. de Lameth should rise, and even see me into the next
room, was what every one would expect, and there I again took my leave
of him. But he followed me to each door, in succession, and when, with a
little gentle violence, I succeeded in shutting him in the ante-chamber,
he seemed to yield to my entreaties not to give himself any further
trouble. I was on the landing, on my way down, when, hearing the door of
M. de Lameth's apartment open, I turned and saw its master standing
before it, to give and receive the last bow. Although this extreme
attention to the feelings of others, and delicacy of demeanour, rather
marks the Frenchman of the old school, perhaps, it is by no means
uncommon here. General Lafayette, while he permits me to see him with
very little ceremony, scarcely ever suffers me to leave him without
going with me as far as two or three doors. This, in my case, he does
more from habit than anything else, for he frequently does not even rise
when I enter; and, sometimes, when I laughingly venture to say so much
ceremony is scarcely necessary between us, he will take me at my word,
and go back to his writing, with perfect simplicity.

[Footnote 24: Since dead.]

The reception between the women, I see plainly, is graduated with an
unpretending but nice regard to their respective claims. They rise, even
to men, a much more becoming and graceful habit than that of America,
except in evening circles, or in receiving intimates. I never saw a
French woman offer her hand to a male visitor, unless a relative, though
it is quite common for females to kiss each other, when the _réunion_ is
not an affair of ceremony. The practice of kissing among men still
exists, though it is not very common at Paris. It appears, to be
gradually going out with the earrings. I have never had an offer from a
Frenchman, of my own age, to kiss me, but it has frequently occurred
with my seniors. General Lafayette practises it still, with all his
intimates.

I was seated, the other evening, in quiet conversation, with Madame la
Princesse de ----. Several people had come and gone in the course of an
hour, and all had been received in the usual manner. At length the
_huissier_, walking fast through the ante-chamber, announced the wife of
an ambassador. The Princesse, at the moment, was seated on a divan, with
her feet raised so as not to touch the floor. I was startled with the
suddenness and vehemence of her movements. She sprang to her feet, and
rather ran than walked across the vast _salon_ to the door, where she
was met by her visitor, who, observing the _empressement_ of her
hostess, through the vista of rooms, had rushed forward as fast as
decorum would at all allow, in order to anticipate her at the door. It
was my impression, at first, that they were bosom friends, about to be
restored to each other, after a long absence, and that the impetuosity
of their feelings had gotten the better of their ordinary self-command.
No such thing; it was merely a strife of courtesy, for the meeting was
followed by an extreme attention to all the forms of society, profound
curtsies, and the elaborated demeanour which marks ceremony rather than
friendship.

Much has been said about the latitude of speech among the women of
France, and comparisons have been made between them and our own females,
to the disadvantage of the former. If the American usages are to be
taken as the standard of delicacy in such matters, I know of no other
people who come up to it. As to our mere feelings, habit can render
anything proper, or anything improper, and it is not an easy matter to
say where the line, in conformity with good sense and good taste, should
be actually drawn. I confess a leaning to the American school, but how
far I am influenced by education it would not be easy for me to say
myself. Foreigners affirm that we are squeamish, and that we wound
delicacy oftener by the awkward attempts to protect it, than if we had
more simplicity. There may be some truth in this, for though cherishing
the notions of my youth, I never belonged to the ultra school at home,
which, I believe you will agree with me, rather proves low breeding than
good breeding. One sees instances of this truth, not only every day, but
every hour of the day. Yesterday, in crossing the Tuileries, I was
witness of a ludicrous scene that sufficiently illustrates what I mean.
The statues of the garden have little or no drapery. A countryman, and
two women of the same class, in passing one, were struck with this
circumstance, and their bursts of laughter, running and hiding their
faces, and loud giggling, left no one in ignorance of the cause of their
extreme bashfulness. Thousands of both sexes pass daily beneath the same
statue, without a thought of its nudity, and it is looked upon as a
noble piece of sculpture.

In dismissing this subject, which is every way delicate, I shall merely
say that usage tolerates a license of speech, of which you probably have
no idea, but that I think one hears very rarely from a French woman of
condition little that would not be uttered by an American female under
similar circumstances. So far as my experience goes, there is a marked
difference in this particular between the women of a middle station and
those of a higher rank; by rank, however, I mean hereditary rank, for
The revolution has made a _pêle mêle_ in the _salons_ of Paris.

Although the _petits soupers_ have disappeared, the dinners are very
sufficient substitutes: they are given at a better hour; and the service
of a French entertainment, so quiet, so entirely free from effort, or
chatter about food, is admirably adapted to rendering them agreeable. I
am clearly of opinion that no one ought to give any entertainment that
has not the means of making it pass off as a matter-of-course thing, and
without effort. I have certainly seen a few fussy dinners here, but they
are surprisingly rare. At home, we have plenty of people who know that a
party that has a laboured air is inherently vulgar, but how few are
there that know how to treat a brilliant entertainment as a mere matter
of course! Paris is full of those desirable houses in which the thing is
understood.

The forms of the table vary a little, according to the set one is in. In
truly French houses, until quite lately, I believe, it was not the
custom to change the knife,--the duty of which, by the way, is not
great, the cookery requiring little more than the fork. In families that
mingle more with strangers, both are changed, as with us. A great dinner
is served very much as at home, so far as the mere courses are
concerned, though I have seen the melons follow the soup. This I believe
to be in good taste, though it is not common; and it struck me at first
as being as much out of season as the old New England custom of eating
the pudding before the meat. But the French give small dinners (small in
name, though certainly very great in execution), in which the dishes are
served singly or nearly so, the entertainment resembling those given by
the Turks, and being liable to the same objection; for when there is but
a single dish before one, and it is not known whether there is to be any
more, it is an awkward thing to decline eating. Such dinners are
generally of the best quality, but I think they should never be given,
except where there is sufficient intimacy to embolden the guest to say
_jam satis_.

The old devotion to the sex is not so exclusively the occupation of a
French _salon_ as it was probably half a century since. I have been in
several, where the men were grouped in a corner talking politics, while
the women amused each other as best they could, in cold, formal lines,
looking like so many figures placed there to show off the latest modes
of the toilette. I do not say this is absolutely common, but it is less
rare than you might be apt to suppose.

I can tell you little of the habit of reading manuscripts in society.
Such things are certainly done, for I have been invited to be present on
one or two occasions; but having a horror of such exhibitions, I make it
a point to be indisposed, the choice lying between the megrims before or
after them. Once, and once only, I have heard a poet recite his verses
in a well-filled drawing-room; and though I have every reason to think
him clever, my ear was so little accustomed to the language, that, in
the mouthing of French recitation, I lost nearly all of it.

I have had an odd pleasure in driving from one house to another, on
particular evenings, in order to produce as strong contrasts as my
limited visiting-list will procure. Having a fair opportunity a few
nights since, in consequence of two or three invitations coming in for
the evening on which several houses where I occasionally called were
opened, I determined to make a night of it, in order to note the effect.
As A---- did not know several of the people, I went alone, and you may
possibly be amused with an account of my adventures: they shall be told.

In the first place, I had to dress, in order to go to dinner at a house
that I had never entered, and with a family of which I had never seen a
soul. These are incidents which frequently come over a stranger, and at
first were not a little awkward; but use hardens us to much greater
misfortunes. At six, then, I stepped punctually into my _coupé_, and
gave Charles the necessary number and street. I ought to tell you that
the invitation had come a few days before, and in a fit of curiosity I
had accepted it, and sent a card, without having the least idea who my
host and hostess were, beyond their names. There was something _piquant_
in this ignorance, and I had almost made up my mind to go in the same
mysterious manner, leaving all to events, when happening, in an idle
moment, to ask a lady of my acquaintance, and for whom I have a great
respect, if she knew a Madame de ----, to my surprise, her answer was,
"Most certainly; she is my cousin, and you are to dine there to-morrow."
I said no more, though this satisfied me that my hosts were people of
some standing. While driving to their hotel, it struck me, under all the
circumstances, it might be well to know more of them, and I stopped at
the gate of a female friend, who knows everybody, and who, I was
certain, would receive me even at that unseasonable hour. I was
admitted, explained my errand, and inquired if she knew a M. de ----.
"Quelle question!" she exclaimed--"M. de ---- est Chancelier de France!"
Absurd and even awkward as it might have proved, but for this lucky
thought, I should have dined with the French Lord High Chancellor,
without having the smallest suspicion of who he was!

The hotel was a fine one, though the apartment was merely good, and the
reception, service, and general style of the house were so simple that
neither would have awakened the least suspicion of the importance of my
hosts. The party was small and the dinner modest. I found the
_chancelier_ a grave dignified man, a little curious on the subject of
America, and his wife apparently a woman of great good sense, and I
should think, of a good deal of attainment. Everything went off in the
quietest manner possible, and I was sorry when it was time to go.

From this dinner, I drove to the hotel of the Marquis de Marbois, to pay
a visit of digestion. M. de Marbois retires so early, on account of his
great age, that one is obliged to be punctual, or he will find the gate
locked at nine. The company had got back into the drawing-room, and as
the last week's guests were mostly there, as well as those who had just
left the table, there might have been thirty people present, all of whom
were men but two. One of the ladies was Madame de Souza, known in French
literature as the writer of several clever novels of society. In the
drawing-room were grouped, in clusters, the Grand Referendary, M.
Cuvier, M. Daru, M. Villemain, M. de Plaisance, Mr. Brown, and many
others of note. There seemed to be something in the wind, as the
conversation was in low confidential whispers, attended by divers
ominous shrugs. This could only be politics, and watching an
opportunity, I questioned an acquaintance. The fact was really so. The
appointed hour had come and the ministry of M. de Villèle was in the
agony. The elections had not been favourable, and it was expedient to
make an attempt to reach the old end, by what is called a new
combination. It is necessary to understand the general influence of
political intrigues on certain _côteries_ of Paris, to appreciate the
effect of this intelligence, on a drawing-room filled, like this, with
men who had been actors in the principal events of France for forty
years. The name of M. Cuvier was even mentioned as one of the new
ministers. Comte Roy was also named as likely to be the new premier. I
was told that this gentleman was one of the greatest landed proprietors
of France, his estates being valued at four millions of dollars. The
fact is curious, as showing, not on vulgar rumour, but from a
respectable source, what is deemed a first-rate landed property in this
country. It is certainly no merit, nor do I believe it is any very great
advantage; but I think we might materially beat this, even in America.
The company soon separated, and I retired.

From the Place de la Madeleine, I drove to a house near the Carrousel,
where I had been invited to step in, in the course of the evening. All
the buildings that remain within the intended parallelogram, which will
some day make this spot one of the finest squares in the world, have
been bought by the government, or nearly so, with the intent to have
them pulled down, at a proper time; and the court bestows lodgings, _ad
interim_, among them, on its favourites. Madame de ---- was one of these
favoured persons, and she occupies a small apartment in the third story
of one of these houses. The rooms were neat and well-arranged, but
small. Probably the largest does not exceed fifteen feet square. The
approach to a Paris lodging is usually either very good, or very bad. In
the new buildings may be found some of the mediocrity of the new order
of things; but in all those which were erected previously to the
revolution, there is nothing but extremes in this, as in most other
things: great luxury and elegance, or great meanness and discomfort. The
house of Madame de ---- happens to be of the latter class, and although
all the disagreeables have disappeared from her own rooms, one is
compelled to climb up to them, through a dark well of a staircase, by
flights of steps not much better than those we use in our stables. You
have no notion of such staircases as those I had just descended in the
hotels of the _chancelier_ and the _président premier_;[25] nor have we
any just idea, as connected with respectable dwellings, of these I had
now to clamber up. M. de ---- is a man of talents and great
respectability, and his wife is exceedingly clever, but they are not
rich. He is a professor, and she is an artist. After having passed so
much of my youth on top-gallant yards, and in becketting royals, you are
not to suppose, however, I had any great difficulty in getting up these
stairs, narrow, steep, and winding as they were.

[Footnote 25: M. de Marbois was the first president of the Court of
Accounts.]

We are now at the door, and I have rung. On whom do you imagine the
curtain will rise? On a _réunion_ of philosophers come to discuss
questions in botany, with M. de ----, or on artists, assembled to talk
over the troubles of their profession, with his wife? The door opens,
and I enter.

The little drawing-room is crowded; chiefly with men. Two card-tables
are set, and at one I recognize a party, in which are three dukes of the
_vieille cour_, with M. de Duras at their head! The rest of the company
was a little more mixed, but, on the whole, it savoured strongly of
Coblentz and the _émigration_. This was more truly French than anything
I had yet stumbled on. One or two of the grandees looked at me as if,
better informed than Scott, they knew that General Lafayette had not
gone to America to live. Some of these gentlemen certainly do not love
us; but I had cut out too much work for the night to stay and return the
big looks of even dukes, and, watching an opportunity, when the eyes of
Madame de ---- were another way, I stole out of the room.

Charles now took his orders, and we drove down into the heart of the
town somewhere near the general post-office, or into those mazes of
streets that near two years of practice have not yet taught me to
thread. We entered the court of a large hotel, that was brilliantly
lighted, and I ascended, by a noble flight of steps, to the first floor.
Ante-chambers communicated with a magnificent saloon, which appeared to
be near forty feet square. The ceilings were lofty, and the walls were
ornamented with military trophies, beautifully designed, and which had
the air of being embossed and gilded. I had got into the hotel of one of
Napoleon's marshals, you will say, or at least into one of a marshal of
the old _régime_. The latter conjecture may be true, but the house is
now inhabited by a great woollen manufacturer, whom the events of the
day has thrown into the presence of all these military emblems. I found
the worthy _industriel_ surrounded by a group, composed of men of his
own stamp, eagerly discussing the recent changes in the government. The
women, of whom there might have been a dozen, were ranged, like a
neglected parterre, along the opposite side of the room. I paid my
compliments, staid a few minutes, and stole away to the next engagement.

We had now to go to a little retired house on the Champs Elysées. There
were only three or four carriages before the door, and on ascending to a
small but very near apartment, I found some twenty people collected. The
mistress of the house was an English lady, single, of a certain age, and
a daughter of the Earl of ----, who was once governor of New York. Here
was a very different set. One or two ladies of the old court, women of
elegant manners, and seemingly of good information,--several English
women, pretty, quiet, and clever, besides a dozen men of different
nations. This was one of those little _réunions_ that are so common in
Paris, among the foreigners, in which a small infusion of French serves
to leaven a considerable batch of human beings from other parts of the
world. As it is always a relief to me to speak my own language, after
being a good while among foreigners, I staid an hour at this house. In
the course of the evening an Irishman of great wit and of exquisite
humour, one of the paragons of the age in his way, came in. In the
course of conversation, this gentleman, who is the proprietor of an
Irish estate, and a Catholic, told me of an atrocity in the laws of his
country, of which until then I was ignorant. It seems that any younger
brother, next heir, might claim the estate by turning Protestant, or
drive the incumbent to the same act. I was rejoiced to hear that there
was hardly an instance of such profligacy known.[26] To what baseness
will not the struggle for political ascendency urge us!

[Footnote 26: I believe this infamous law, however, has been repealed.]

In the course of the evening, Mr. ----, the Irish gentleman, gravely
introduced me to a Sir James ----, adding, with perfect gravity, "a
gentleman whose father humbugged the Pope--humbugged infallibility." One
could not but be amused with such an introduction, urged in a way so
infinitely droll, and I ventured, at a proper moment, to ask an
explanation, which, unless I was also humbugged, was as follows:--

Among the _détenus_ in 1804, was Sir William ----, the father of Sir
James ----, the person in question. Taking advantage of the presence of
the Pope at Paris, he is said to have called on the good-hearted Pius,
with great concern of manner, to state his case. He had left his sons in
England, and through his absence they had fallen under the care of two
Presbyterian aunts; as a father he was naturally anxious to rescue them
from this perilous situation. "Now Pius," continued my merry informant,
"quite naturally supposed that all this solicitude was in behalf of two
orthodox Catholic souls, and he got permission from Napoleon for the
return of so good a father to his own country, never dreaming that the
conversion of the boys, if it ever took place, would only be from the
Protestant Episcopal Church of England, to that of Calvin; or a rescue
from one of the devil's furnaces, to pop them into another." I laughed
at this story, I suppose with a little incredulity, but my Irish friend
insisted on its truth, ending the conversation with a significant nod,
Catholic as he was, and saying--"humbugged infallibility!"

By this time it was eleven o'clock, and as I am obliged to keep
reasonable hours, it was time to go to _the_ party of the evening. Count
----, of the ---- Legation, gave a great ball. My carriage entered the
line at the distance of near a quarter of a mile from the hotel;
gendarmes being actively employed in keeping us all in our places. It
was half an hour before I was set down, and the quadrilles were in full
motion when I entered. It was a brilliant affair, much the most so I
have ever yet witnessed in a private house. Some said there were fifteen
hundred people present. The number seems incredible, and yet, when one
comes to calculate, it may be so. As I got into my carriage to go away,
Charles informed me that the people at the gates affirmed that more than
six hundred carriages had entered the court that evening. By allowing an
average of little more than two to each vehicle, we get the number
mentioned.

I do not know exactly how many rooms were opened on this occasion, but I
should think there were fully a dozen. Two or three were very large
salons, and the one in the centre, which was almost at fever-heat, had
crimson hangings, by way of cooling one. I have never witnessed dancing
at all comparable to that of the quadrilles of this evening. Usually
there is either too much or too little of the dancing-master, but on
this occasion every one seemed inspired with a love of the art. It was a
beautiful sight to see a hundred charming young women, of the first
families of Europe, for they were there of all nations, dressed with the
simple elegance that is so becoming to the young of the sex, and which
is never departed from here until after marriage, moving in perfect time
to delightful music, as if animated by a common soul. The men, too, did
better than usual, being less lugubrious and mournful than our sex is
apt to be in dancing. I do not know how it is in private, but in the
world, at Paris, every young woman seems to have a good mother; or, at
least, one capable of giving her both a good tone and good taste.

At this party I met the ----, an intimate friend of the ambassador, and
one who also honours me with a portion of her friendship. In talking
over the appearance of things, she told me that some hundreds of
_applications for invitations_ to this ball had been made.
"Applications! I cannot conceive of such meanness. In what manner?"
"Directly; by note, by personal intercession--almost by tears. Be
certain of it, many hundreds have been refused." In America we hear of
refusals to go to balls, but we have not yet reached the pass of sending
refusals to invite! "Do you see Mademoiselle ----, dancing in the set
before you?" She pointed to a beautiful French girl, whom I had often
seen at her house, but whose family was in a much lower station in
society than herself, "Certainly--pray how came she here?" "I brought
her. Her mother was dying to come, too, and she begged me to get an
invitation for her and her daughter; but it would not do to bring the
mother to such a place, and I was obliged to say no more tickets could
be issued. I wished, however, to bring the daughter, she is so
pretty, and we compromised the affair in that way." "And to this the
mother assented!" "Assented! How can you doubt it--what funny American
notions you have brought with you to France!"

I got some droll anecdotes from my companion, concerning the ingredients
of the company on this occasion, for she could be as sarcastic as she
was elegant. A young woman near us attracted attention by a loud and
vulgar manner of laughing. "Do you know that lady?" demanded my
neighbour. "I have seen her before, but scarcely know her name." "She is
the daughter of your acquaintance, the Marquise de ----." "Then she is,
or was, a Mademoiselle de ----." "She is not, nor properly ever was, a
Mademoiselle de ----. In the revolution the Marquis was imprisoned by
you wicked republicans, and the Marquise fled to England, whence she
returned, after an absence of three years, bringing with her this young
lady, then an infant a few months old." "And Monsieur le Marquis?" "He
never saw his daughter, having been beheaded in Paris, about a year
before her birth." "_Quelle contretems_!" "_N'est-ce pas_?"

It is a melancholy admission, but it is no less true, that good breeding
is sometimes quite as active a virtue as good principles. How many more
of the company present were born about a year after their fathers were
beheaded, I have no means of knowing; but had it been the case with all
of them, the company would have been of as elegant demeanour, and of
much more _retenue_ of deportment, than we are accustomed to see, I will
not say in _good_, but certainly in _general_ society at home. One of
the consequences of good breeding is also a disinclination, positively a
distaste, to pry into the private affairs of others. The little specimen
to the contrary just named was rather an exception, owing to the
character of the individual, and to the indiscretion of the young lady
in laughing too loud, and then the affair of a birth so _very_
posthumous was rather too _patent_ to escape all criticism.

My friend was in a gossiping mood this evening, and as she was well
turned of fifty, I ventured to continue the conversation. As some of the
_liaisons_ which exist here must be novel to you, I shall mention one or
two more.

A Madame de J---- passed us, leaning on the arm of M. de C----. I knew
the former, who was a widow; had frequently visited her, and had been
surprised at the intimacy which existed between her and M. de C----, who
always appeared quite at home in her house. I ventured to ask my
neighbour if the gentleman were the brother of the lady. "Her brother!
It is to be hoped not, as he is her husband." "Why does she not bear his
name, if that be the case?" "Because her first husband is of a more
illustrious family than her second; and then there are some difficulties
on the score of fortune. No, no. These people are _bona fide_ married.
_Tenez_--do you see that gentleman who is standing so assiduously near
the chair of Madame de S----? He who is all attention and smiles to the
lady?" "Certainly--his politeness is even affectionate." "Well it ought
to be, for it is M. de S----_, her husband." "They are a happy couple,
then." "_Hors de doute--he meets her at _soirées_ and balls; is the pink
of politeness; puts on her shawl; sees her safe into her carriage,
and--" "Then they drive home together, as loving as Darby and Joan."
"And then he jumps into his cabriolet, and drives to the lodgings of
----. _Bon soir_, Monsieur;--you are making me fall into the vulgar
crime of scandal."

Now, as much as all this may sound like invention, it is quite true,
that I repeat no more to you than was said to me, and no more than what
I believe to be exact. As respects the latter couple, I have been
elsewhere told that they literally never see each other, except in
public, where they constantly meet, as the best friends in the world.

I was lately in some English society, when Lady G---- bet a pair of
gloves with Lord R---- that he had not seen Lady R---- in a fortnight.
The bet was won by the gentleman, who proved satisfactorily that he had
met his wife at a dinner-party, only ten days before.

After all I have told you, and all that you may have heard from others,
I am nevertheless inclined to believe, that the high society of Paris is
quite as exemplary as that of any other large European town. If we are
any better ourselves, is it not more owing to the absence of temptation,
than to any other cause? Put large garrisons into our towns, fill the
streets with idlers, who have nothing to do but to render themselves
agreeable, and with women with whom dress and pleasure are the principal
occupations, and then let us see what protestantism and liberty will
avail us, in this particular. The intelligent French say that their
society is improving in morals. I can believe this, of which I think
there is sufficient proof by comparing the present with the past, as the
latter has been described to us. By the past, I do not mean the period
of the revolution, when vulgarity assisted to render vice still more
odious--a happy union, perhaps, for those who were to follow--but the
days of the old _régime_. Chance has thrown me in the way of three or
four old dowagers of that period, women of high rank, and still in the
first circles, who, amid all their _finesse_ of breeding, and ease of
manner, have had a most desperate _roué_ air about them. Their very
laugh, at times, has seemed replete with a bold levity, that was as
disgusting as it was unfeminine. I have never, in any other part of the
world, seen loose sentiments _affichés_ with more effrontery. These
women are the complete antipodes of the quiet, elegant Princesse de
----, who was at Lady ---- ----'s, this evening; though some of them
write _Princesses_ on their cards, too.

The influence of a court must be great on the morals of those who live
in its purlieus. Conversing with the Duc de ----, a man who has had
general currency in the best society of Europe, on this subject, he
said, --"England has long decried our manners. Previously to the
revolution, I admit they were bad; perhaps worst than her own; but I
know nothing in our history as bad as what I lately witnessed in
England. You know I was there quite recently. The king invited me to
dine at Windsor. I found every one in the drawing-room, but His Majesty
and Lady ----. She entered but a minute before him, like a queen. Her
reception was that of a queen; young, unmarried females kissed her hand.
Now, all this might happen in France, even now: but Louis XV. the most
dissolute of our monarchs, went no farther. At Windsor, I saw the
husband, sons, and daughters of the favourite, in the circle! _Le parc
des Cerfs_ was not as bad as this."

"And yet, M. de ----, since we are conversing frankly, listen to what I
witnessed, but the other day, in France. You know the situation of
things at St. Ouen, and the rumours that are so rife. We had the _Fête
Dieu_, during my residence there. You, who are a Catholic, need not be
told that your sect believe in the doctrine of the 'real presence.'
There was a _reposoir_ erected in the garden of the chateau, and God, in
person, was carried, with religious pomp, to rest in the bowers of the
ex-favourite. It is true, the husband was not present: he was only in
the provinces!"

"The influence of a throne makes sad parasites and hypocrites," said M.
de ----, shrugging his shoulders.

"And the influence of the people, too, though in a different way. A
courtier is merely a well-dressed demagogue."

"It follows, then, that man is just a poor devil."

But I am gossiping away with you, when my Asmodean career is ended, and
it is time I went to bed. Good night!



LETTER XIX.

Garden of the Tuileries.--The French Parliament.--Parliamentary
Speakers.--The Tribune.--Royal Initiative.--The Charter.--Mongrel
Government.--Ministerial Responsibility.--Elections in
France.--Doctrinaires.--Differences of Opinion.--Controversy.


TO JACOB SUTHERLAND, ESQ. NEW YORK.

The Chambers have been opened with the customary ceremonies and parade.
It is usual for the king, attended by a brilliant _cortège_, to go, on
these occasions, from the Tuileries to the Palais Bourbon, through lines
of troops, under a salute of guns. The French love _spectacles_, and
their monarch, if he would be popular, is compelled to make himself one,
at every plausible opportunity.

The garden of the Tuileries is a parallelogram, of, I should think,
fifty acres, of which one end is bounded by the palace. It has a high
vaulted terrace on the side next the river, as well as at the opposite
end, and one a little lower, next the Rue de Rivoli. There is also a
very low broad terrace, immediately beneath the windows of the palace,
which separates the buildings from the parterres. You will understand
that the effect of this arrangement is to shut out the world from the
persons in the garden, by means of the terraces, and, indeed, to enable
them, by taking refuge in the woods that fill quite half the area, to
bury themselves almost in a forest. The public has free access to this
place, from an early hour in the morning to eight or nine at night,
according to the season. When it is required to clear them, a party of
troops marches, by beat of drum, from the chateau, through the great
_allée_, to the lower end of the garden. This is always taken as the
signal to disperse, and the world begins to go out, at the different
gates. It is understood that the place is frequently used as a
promenade, by the royal family, after this hour, especially in the fine
season; but, as it would be quite easy for any one, evilly disposed, to
conceal himself among the trees, statues, and shrubs, the troops are
extended in very open order, and march slowly back to the palace, of
course driving every one before them. Each gate is locked, as the line
passes it.

The only parts of the garden, which appear, on the exterior, to be on a
level with the street, though such is actually the fact with the whole
of the interior, are the great gate opposite the palace, and a side gate
near its southern end; the latter being the way by which one passes out,
to cross the Pont Royal.

In attempting to pass in at this gate the other morning, for the first
time, at that hour, I found it closed. A party of ladies and gentlemen
were walking on the low terrace, beneath the palace windows, and a
hundred people might have been looking at them from without. A second
glance showed me, that among some children, were the heir presumptive,
and his sister Mademoiselle d'Artois. The exhibition could merely be an
attempt to feel the public pulse, for the country-house of La Bagatelle,
to which the children go two or three times a week, is much better
suited to taking the air. I could not believe in the indifference that
was manifested, had I not seen it. The children are both engaging,
particularly the daughter, and yet these innocent and perfectly
inoffensive beings were evidently regarded more with aversion than with
affection.

The display of the opening of the session produced no more effect on the
public mind, than the appearance on the terrace of _les Enfans de
France_. The Parisians are the least loyal of Charles's subjects, and
though the troops, and a portion of the crowd, cried "Vive le Roi!" it
was easy to see that the disaffected were more numerous than the
well-affected.

I have attended some of the sittings since the opening, and shall now
say a word on the subject of the French Parliamentary proceedings. The
hall is an amphitheatre, like our own; the disposition of the seats and
speaker's chair being much the same as at Washington. The members sit on
benches, however, that rise one behind the other, and through which they
ascend and descend, by aisles. These aisles separate the different
shades of opinion, for those who think alike sit together. Thus the
_gauche_ or left is occupied by the extreme liberals; the _centre
gauche_, by those who are a shade nearer the Bourbons. The _centre
droit_, or right centre, by the true Bourbonists, and so on, to the
farthest point of the semi-circle. Some of the members affect even to
manifest the minuter shades of their opinions by their relative
positions in their own sections, and I believe it is usual for each one
to occupy his proper place.

You probably know that the French members speak from a stand immediately
beneath the chair of the president, called a tribune. Absurd as this may
seem, I believe it to be a very useful regulation, the vivacity of the
national character rendering some such check on loquacity quite
necessary. Without it, a dozen would often be on their feet at once; as
it is, even, this sometimes happens. No disorder that ever occurs in our
legislative bodies, will give you any just notion of that which
frequently occurs here. The president rings a bell as a summons to keep
order, and as a last resource he puts on his hat, a signal that the
sitting is suspended.

The speaking of both chambers is generally bad. Two-thirds of the
members read their speeches, which gives the sitting a dull, monotonous
character, and, as you may suppose, the greater part of their lectures
are very little attended to. The most parliamentary speaker is M. Royer
Collard, who is, just now, so popular that he has been returned for
seven different places at the recent election.

M. Constant is an exceedingly animated speaker, resembling in this
particular Mr. M'Duffie. M. Constant, however, has a different motion
from the last gentleman, his movement being a constant oscillation over
the edge of the tribune, about as fast, and almost as regular, as that
of the pendulum of a large clock. It resembles that of a sawyer in the
Mississippi. General Lafayette speaks with the steadiness and calm that
you would expect from his character, and is always listened to with
respect. Many professional men speak well, and exercise considerable
influence in the house; for here, as elsewhere, the habit of public and
extemporaneous speaking gives an immediate ascendency in deliberative
bodies.

Some of the scenes one witnesses in the Chamber of Deputies are amusing
by their exceeding vivacity. The habit of crying "Écoutez!" prevails, as
in the English parliament, though the different intonations of that cry
are not well understood. I have seen members run at the tribune, like
children playing puss in a corner; and, on one occasion, I saw five
different persons on its steps, in waiting for the descent of the member
in possession. When a great question is to be solemnly argued, the
members inscribe their names for the discussion, and are called on to
speak in the order in which they stand on the list.

The French never sit in committee of the whole, but they have adopted in
its place an expedient, that gives power more control over the
proceedings of the two houses. At the commencement of the session, the
members draw for their numbers in the _bureaux_, as they are called. Of
these _bureaux_, there are ten or twelve, and, as a matter of course,
they include all the members. As soon as the numbers are drawn, the
members assemble in their respective rooms, and choose their officers; a
president and secretary. These elections are always supposed to be
indicative of the political tendency of each _bureau_; those which have
a majority of liberals, choosing officers of their own opinions, and
_vice versa_. These _bureaux_ are remodelled, periodically, by drawing
anew; the term of duration being a month or six weeks. I believe the
chamber retains the power to refer questions, or not, to these
_bureaux_; their institution being no more than a matter of internal
regulation, and not of constitutional law. It is, however, usual to send
all important laws to them, where they are discussed and voted on; the
approbation of a majority of the _bureaux_ being, in such cases,
necessary for their reception in the chambers.

The great evil of the present system is the initiative of the king. By
this reservation in the charter, the crown possesses more than a veto,
all laws actually emanating from the sovereign. The tendency of such a
regulation is either to convert the chambers into the old _lits de
justice_, or to overthrow the throne, an event which will certainly
accompany any serious change here. As might have been, as _would_ have
been anticipated, by any one familiar with the action of legislative
bodies, in our time, this right is already so vigorously assailed, as to
give rise to constant contentions between the great powers of the state.
All parties are agreed that no law can be presented, that does not come
originally from the throne; but the liberals are for putting so wide a
construction on the right to amend, as already to threaten to pervert
the regulation. This has driven some of the Bourbonists to maintain that
the chambers have no right, at all, to amend a royal proposition. Any
one may foresee, that this is a state of things which cannot peaceably
endure for any great length of time. The ministry are compelled to pack
the chambers, and in order to effect their objects, they resort to all
the expedients of power that offer. As those who drew up the charter had
neither the forethought, nor the experience, to anticipate all the
embarrassments of a parliamentary government, they unwittingly committed
themselves, and illegal acts are constantly resorted to, in order that
the system may be upheld. The charter was bestowed _ad captandum_, and
is a contradictory _mélange_ of inexpedient concessions and wily
reservations. The conscription undermined the popularity of Napoleon,
and Louis XVIII. in his charter says, "The conscription is abolished;
the _recruiting_ for the army and navy shall be settled by a law." Now
the conscription _is not_ abolished; but, if pushed on this point, a
French jurist would perhaps tell you it is _now_ established by law. The
feudal exclusiveness, on the subject of taxation, is done away with, all
men being equally liable to taxation. The nett pay of the army is about
two sous a day; _this_ is settled by law, passed by the representatives
of those who pay two hundred francs a year, in direct taxation. The
conscription, in appearance, is general and fair enough; but he who has
money can always hire a substitute, at a price quite within his power.
It is only the poor man, who is never in possession of one or two
thousand francs, that is obliged to serve seven years at two sous a day,
nett.

France has gained, beyond estimate, by the changes from the old to the
present system, but it is in a manner to render further violent changes
necessary. I say _violent_, for political changes are everywhere
unavoidable, since questions of polity are, after all, no other than
questions of facts, and these are interests that will regulate
themselves, directly or indirectly. The great desideratum of a
government, after settling its principles in conformity with controlling
facts, is to secure to itself the means of progressive change, without
the apprehension of convulsion. Such is not the case with France, and
further revolutions are inevitable. The mongrel government which exists,
neither can stand, nor does it deserve to stand. It contains the seeds
of its own destruction. Here, you will be told, that the King is a
Jesuit, that he desires to return to the ancient regime, and that the
opposition wishes merely to keep him within the limits of the charter.
My own observations lead to a very different conclusion. The difficulty
is in the charter itself, which leaves the government neither free nor
despotic; in short, without any distinctive character.

This defect is so much felt, that, in carrying out the details of the
system, much that properly belongs to it has been studiously omitted.
The king can do no wrong, here, as in England, but the ministers are
responsible. By way of making a parade of this responsibility, every
official act of the king is countersigned by the minister of the proper
department, and, by the theory of the government, that particular
minister is responsible for that particular act. Now, by the charter,
the peers are the judges of political crimes. By the charter, also, it
is stipulated that no one can be proceeded against except in cases
expressly provided for by law and in the _forms_ prescribed by the law.
You will remember that, all the previous constitutions being declared
illegal, Louis XVIII. dates his reign from the supposed death of Louis
XVII. and that there are no fundamental precedents that may be drawn in
to aid the constructions, but that the charter must be interpreted by
its own provisions. It follows, then, as a consequence, that no minister
can be legally punished until a law is enacted to dictate the
punishment, explain the offences, and point out the forms of procedure.
Now, no such law has ever been proposed, and although the chambers may
_recommend_ laws to the king, they must await his pleasure in order even
to discuss them openly, and enlist the public feeling in their behalf.
The responsibility of the ministers was proposed _ad captandum_, like
the abolition of the conscription, but neither has been found convenient
in practice.[27]

[Footnote 27: When the ministers of Charles X. were tried, it was without
law, and they would probably have escaped punishment altogether, on this
plea, had not the condition of the public mind required a concession.]


The electors of France are said to be between eighty and one hundred
thousand. The qualifications of a deputy being much higher than those of
an elector, it is computed that the four hundred and fifty members must
be elected from among some four or five thousand available candidates.
It is not pretended that France does not contain more than this number
of individuals who pay a thousand francs a year in direct taxes, for
taxation is so great that this sum is soon made up; but a deputy must be
forty years old, a regulation which at once excludes fully one half the
men, of itself; and then it will be recollected that many are
superannuated, several hundreds are peers, others cannot quit their
employments, etc. etc. I have seen the number of available candidates
estimated as low, even, as three thousand.

The elections in France are conducted in a mode peculiar to the nation.
The electors of the highest class have two votes, or for representatives
of two descriptions. This plan was an after-thought of the king, for the
original charter contains no such regulation, but the munificent father
of the national liberties saw fit, subsequently, to qualify his gift.
Had Louis XVIII. lived a little longer, he would most probably have been
dethroned before this; the hopes and expectations which usually
accompany a new reign having, most probably, deferred the crisis for a
few years. The electors form themselves into colleges, into which no one
who is not privileged to vote is admitted. This is a good regulation,
and might be copied to advantage at home. A law prescribing certain
limits around each poll, and rendering it penal for any but those
authorized to vote at that particular poll, to cross it, would greatly
purify our elections. The government, here, appoints the presiding
officer of each electoral college, and the selection is always carefully
made of one in the interests of the ministry; though in what manner such
a functionary can influence the result, is more than I can tell you. It
is, however, thought to be favourable to an individual's own election to
get this nomination. The vote is by ballot, though the charter secures
no such privilege. Indeed that instrument is little more than a
declaration of rights, fortified by a few general constituent laws.

The same latitude exists here, in the constructions of the charter, as
exists at home, in the constructions of the constitution. The French
have, however, one great advantage over us, in daring to think for
themselves; for, though there is a party of _doctrinaires_, who wish to
imitate England, too, it is neither a numerous nor a strong party. These
_doctrinaires_, as the name implies, are men who wish to defer to
theories, rather than facts; a class that is to be found all over the
world. For obvious reasons, the English system has admirers throughout
Europe, as well as in America, since nothing can be more agreeable, for
those who are in a situation to look forward to such an advantage, than
to see themselves elevated into, as Lafayette expresses, so many "little
legitimacies." The peerage, with its exclusive and hereditary benefits,
is the aim of all the nobility of Europe, and wishes of this sort make
easy converts to any philosophy that may favour the desire.

One meets, here, with droll evidences of the truth of what I have just
told you. I have made the acquaintance of a Russian of very illustrious
family, and he has always been loud and constant in his eulogiums of
America and her liberty. Alluding to the subject, the other day, he
amused me by _naïvely_ observing, "Ah, you are a happy people--you are
_free_--and so are the _English_. Now, in Russia, all rank depends on
the commission one bears in the army, or on the will of the Emperor. I
am a Prince; my father was a Prince; my grandfather, too; but it is of
no avail. I get no privileges by my birth; whereas, in England, where I
have been, it is so different--And I dare say it is different in
America, too?" I told him it was, indeed, "very different in America."
He sighed, and seemed to envy me.

The party of the _doctrinaires_ is the one that menaces the most serious
evil to France. It is inherently the party of aristocracy; and, in a
country as far advanced as France, it is the combinations of the few,
that, after all, are most to be apprehended. The worst of it is, that,
in countries where abuses have so long existed, the people get to be so
disqualified for entertaining free institutions, that even the
disinterested and well-meaning are often induced to side with the
rapacious and selfish, to prevent the evils of reaction.

In a country so much inclined to speculate, to philosophize, and to
reason on everything, it is not surprising that a fundamental law, as
vaguely expressed as the charter, should leave ample room for
discussion. We find that our own long experience in these written
instruments does not protect us from violent differences of opinion,
some of which are quite as extravagant as any that exist here, though
possibly less apt to lead to as grave consequences.[28]

[Footnote 28: The discussion which grew out of the law to protect
American industry, affords a singular instance of the manner in which
clever men can persuade themselves and others into any notion, however
extravagant. The uncouth doctrine of nullification turned on the
construction that might be put on the intimacy of the relations created
by the Union, and on the nature of the sovereignties of the states.

Because the constitution commences with a declaration, that it is formed
and adopted by "we the people of the United States," overlooking, not
only all the facts of the case, but misconceiving the very meaning of
the words they quote, one party virtually contended, that the instrument
was formed by a consolidated nation. On this point their argument,
certainly sustained in part by unanswerable truth, mainly depends.

The word "people" has notoriously several significations. It means a
"population;" it means the "vulgar;" it means any particular portion of
a population, as, "rich people," "poor people," "mercantile people,"
etc. etc. In a political sense, it has always been understood to mean
that portion of the population of a country, which is possessed of
_political rights_. On this sense, then, it means a _constituency_ in a
representative government, and so it has always been understood in
England, and is understood to-day in France. When a question is referred
to the "people" at an election in England, it is not referred to a tithe
of the population, but to a particular portion of it. In South Carolina
and Louisiana, in the popular sense of Mr. Webster, there is no "people"
to refer to, a majority of the men of both states possessing no civil
rights, and scarcely having civil existence. Besides, "people," in its
broad signification, includes men, women, and children, and no one will
contend, that the two latter had anything to do with the formation of
our constitution. It follows, then, that the term has been used in a
limited sense, and we must look to incidental facts to discover its
meaning.

The convention was chosen, not by any common constituency, but by the
constituencies of the several states, which, at that time, embraced
every gradation between a democratical and an aristocratically polity.
Thirteen states existed in 1787, and yet the constitution was to go into
effect when it was adopted by any nine of them. It will not be pretended
that this decision would be binding on the other four, and yet it is
possible that these four dissenting states should contain more than half
of all the population of the confederation. It would be very easy to put
a proposition, in which it might be demonstrated arithmetically, that
the constitution could have been adopted against a considerable majority
of whole numbers. In the face of such a fact, it is folly to suppose the
term "people" is used in any other than a conventional sense. It is well
known, in addition to the mode of its adoption, that every provision of
the constitution can be altered, with a single exception, by
three-fourths of the states. Perhaps more than half of the entire
population (excluding the Territories and the District), is in six of
the largest states, at this moment. But whether this be so or not, such
a combination could easily he made, as would demonstrate that less than
a third of the population of the country can at any time alter the
constitution.

It is probable that the term "we the people," was used in a sort of
contradistinction to the old implied right of the sovereignty of the
king, just as we idly substituted the words "God save the people" at the
end of a proclamation, for "God save the king." It was a form. But, if
it is desirable to affix to them any more precise signification, it will
not do to generalize according to the argument of one party; but we are
to take the words, in their limited and appropriate meaning and with
their accompanying facts. They can only allude to the constituencies,
and these constituencies existed only _through_ the states, and were as
varied as their several systems. If the meaning of the term "we the
people" was misconceived, it follows that the argument which was drawn
from the error was worthless. The constitution of the United States was
not formed by the _people_ of the United States, but by such a portion
of them as it suited the several states to invest with political powers,
and under such combinations as gave the decision to anything but a
majority of the nation. In other words, the constitution was certainly
formed by the _states_ as _political bodies_, and without any necessary
connexion with any general or uniform system of polity.

Any theory based on the separate sovereignties of the states, has, on
the other hand, a frail support. The question was not _who_ formed the
constitution, but _what_ was formed. All the great powers of
sovereignty, such as foreign relations, the right to treat, make war and
peace, to control commerce, to coin money, etc. etc. are expressly
ceded. But these are not, after all, the greatest blows that are given
to the doctrine of reserved sovereignty. A power to _alter_ the
constitution, as has just been remarked, has been granted, by which even
the _dissenting states_ have become bound. The only right reserved, is
that of the equal representation in the senate, and it would follow,
perhaps, as a legitimate consequence, the preservation of the
confederated polity; but South Carolina could, under the theory of the
constitution, be stripped of her right to control nearly every social
interest; every man, woman and child in the state dissenting. It is
scarcely worth while to construct a sublimated theory, on the
sovereignty of a community so situated by the legitimate theory of the
government under which it actually exists!

No means can be devised, that will always protect the weak from the
aggressions of the strong, under the forms of law; and nature has
pointed out the remedy, when the preponderance of good is against
submission; but one cannot suppress his expression of astonishment, at
finding any respectable portion of a reasoning community, losing sight
of this simple and self-evident truth, to uphold a doctrine as weak as
that of nullification, viewed as a legal remedy.

If the American statesmen (_quasi_ and real) would imitate the good
curate and the bachelor of Don Quixote, by burning all the political
heresies, with which their libraries, not to say their brains, are now
crammed, and set seriously about studying the terms and the nature of
the national compact, without reference to the notions of men who had no
connexion with the country, the public would be the gainers, and
occasionally one of them might stand a chance of descending to posterity
in some other light than that of the mere leader of a faction.]



LETTER XX.

Excursion with Lafayette.--Vincennes.--The Donjon.--Lagrange.--The
Towers.--Interior of the House--the General's Apartments.--the Cabinet.
--Lafayette's Title.--Church of the Chateau.--Ruins of Vivier.--Roman
Remains.--American Curiosity.--The Table at Lagrange.--Swindling.


To R. COOPER, ESQ. COOPERSTOWN.

I have said nothing to you of Lagrange, though I have now been there no
less than three times. Shortly after our arrival in Paris, General
Lafayette had the kindness to send us an invitation; but we were
deterred from going for sometime, by the indisposition of one of the
family. In the autumn of 1826, I went, however, alone; in the spring I
went again, carrying Mrs. ---- with me; and I have now just returned from
a third visit, in which I went with my wife, accompanied by one or two
more of the family.

It is about twenty-seven miles from Paris to Rosay, a small town that is
a league from the castle. This is not a post-route, the great road
ending at Rosay, and we were obliged to go the whole distance with the
same horses. Paris is left by the Boulevard de la Bastille, the Barrière
du Trône, and the chateau and woods of Vincennes. The second time I went
into Brie, it was with the General himself, and in his own carriage. He
showed me a small pavilion that is still standing in a garden near the
old site of the Bastille, and which he told me, once belonged to the
hotel that Beaumarchais inhabited, when in his glory, and in which
pavilion this witty writer was accustomed to work. The roof was topped
by a vane to show which way the wind blew; and, in pure _fanfaronnade_,
or to manifest his contempt for principles, the author of "Figaro" had
caused a large copper pen to do the duty of a weathercock; and there it
stands to this day, a curious memorial equally of his wit and of his
audacity.

At the Barrière du Trône the General pointed out to me the spot where
two of his female connexions suffered under the guillotine during the
Reign of Terror. On one occasion, in passing, we entered the Castle of
Vincennes, which is a sort of citadel for Paris, and which has served
for a state prison since the destruction of the Bastille. Almost all of
these strong old places were formerly the residences of the kings, or of
great nobles, the times requiring that they should live constantly
protected by ditches and walls.

Vincennes, like the Tower of London, is a collection of old buildings,
enclosed within a wall, and surrounded by a ditch. The latter, however,
is dry. The most curious of the structures, and the one which gives the
place its picturesque appearance, in the distance, is a cluster of
exceedingly slender, tall, round towers, in which the prisoners are
usually confined, and which is the _donjon_ of the hold. This building,
which contains many vaulted rooms piled on each other, was formerly the
royal abode; and it has, even now, a ditch of its own, though it stands
within the outer walls of the place. There are many other high towers on
the walls; and, until the reign of Napoleon, there were still more; but
he caused them to be razed to the level of the walls, which of
themselves are sufficiently high.

The chapel is a fine building, being Gothic. It was constructed in the
time of Charles V. There are also two or three vast _corps de bâtimens_,
which are almost palaces in extent and design, though they are now used
only as quarters for officers, etc. etc. The _donjon_ dates from the
same reign. The first room in this building is called the "salle de la
question," a name which sufficiently denotes its infernal use. That of
the upper story is the room in which the kings of France formerly held
their councils. The walls are sixteen feet thick, and the rooms are
thirty feet high. As there are five stories, this _donjon_ cannot be
less than a hundred and forty or fifty feet in elevation. The view from
the summit is very extensive; though it is said that, in the time of
Napoleon, a screen was built around the battlement, to prevent the
prisoners, when they took the air, from enjoying it. As this conqueror
was cruel from policy alone, it is probable this was merely a precaution
against signals; for it is quite apparent, if he desired, to torment his
captives, France has places better adapted to the object than even the
_donjon_ of Vincennes. I am not his apologist, however; for, while I
shall not go quite as far as the Englishman who maintained, in a
laboured treatise, that Napoleon was the beast of the Revelations, I
believe he was anything but a god.

Vincennes was a favourite residence of St. Louis, and there is a
tradition that he used to take his seat under a particular oak, in the
adjoining forest, where, all who pleased were permitted to come before
him, and receive justice from himself. Henry V. of England, died in the
_donjon_ of Vincennes; and I believe his successor, Henry VI. was born
in the same building. One gets a better notion of the state of things in
the ages of feudality, by passing an hour in examining such a hold, than
in a week's reading. After going through this habitation, and studying
its barbarous magnificence, I feel much more disposed to believe that
Shakspeare has not outraged probability in his dialogue between Henry
and Catharine, than if I had never seen it, bad as that celebrated
love-scene is.

Shortly after quitting Vincennes the road crosses the Marne, and
stretches away across a broad bottom. There is little of interest
between Paris and Rosay. The principal house is that of Grosbois, which
once belonged to Moreau, I believe, but is now the property of the
Prince de Wagram, the young son of Berthier. The grounds are extensive,
and the house is large, though I think neither in very good taste, at
least, so far as one could judge in passing.

There are two or three ruins on this road of some historical interest,
but not of much beauty. There is usually a nakedness, unrelieved by
trees or other picturesque accessories, about the French ruins, which
robs them of half their beauty, and dirty, squalid hamlets and villages
half the time come in to render the picture still less interesting.

At Rosay another route is taken, and Lagrange is approached by the rear,
after turning a small bit of wood. It is possible to see the tops of the
towers for an instant, on the great road, before reaching the town.

It is not certainly known in what age the chateau was built; but, from
its form, and a few facts connected with its origin, whose dates are
ascertained, it is thought to be about five hundred years old. It never
was more than a second-rate building of its class, though it was clearly
intended for a baronial hold. Originally, the name was Lagrange en Brie;
but by passing into a new family, it got the appellation of Lagrange
Bléneau, by which it is known at present. You are sufficiently familiar
with French to understand that _grange_ means barn or granary, and that
a liberal translation would make it Bléneau Farm.

In 1399 a marriage took place between the son of the lord of Lagrange en
Brie with a daughter of a branch of the very ancient and great family of
Courtenay, which had extensive possessions, at that time, in Brie. It
was this marriage which gave the new name to the castle, the estate in
consequence passing into the line of Courtenay-Bléneau. In 1595, the
property, by another marriage with an heiress, passed into the
well-known family D'Aubussons, Comtes de la Feuillade. The first
proprietor of this name was the grandfather of the Mareschal de la
Feuillade, the courtier who caused the Place des Victoires to be
constructed at Paris; and he appropriated the revenues of the estate,
which, in 1686, were valued at nine thousand francs, to the support and
completion of his work of flattery. The property at that time was,
however, much more extensive than it is at present. The son of this
courtier dying without issue, in 1726, the estate was purchased by M.
Dupré, one of the judges of France.

With this magistrate commences, I believe, the connexion of the
ancestors of the Lafayettes with the property. The only daughter married
M. d'Aguesseau; and her daughter, again, married the Duc de
Noailles-d'Ayen, [29] carrying with her, as a marriage portion, the lands
of Fontenay, Lagrange, etc. etc., or, in other words, the ancient
possessions of M. de Lafeuillade. The Marquis de Lafayette married one
of the Mesdemoiselles de Noailles, while he was still a youth, and when
the estate, after a short sequestration, was restored to the family,
General Lafayette received the chateau of Lagrange, with some six or
eight hundred acres of land around it, as his wife's portion.

[Footnote 29: Mr. Adams, in his Eulogy on Lafayette, has called the Duc
de Noailles, the first peer of France. The fact is of no great moment,
but accuracy is always better than error. I believe the Duc de Noailles
was the youngest of the old _ducs et pairs_ of France. The Duc d'Uzès, I
have always understood, was the oldest.]

Although the house is not very spacious for a chateau of the region in
which it stands, it is a considerable edifice, and one of the most
picturesque I have seen in this country. The buildings stand on three
sides of an irregular square. The fourth side must have been either a
high wall or a range of low offices formerly, to complete the court and
the defences, but every vestige of them has long since been removed. The
ditch, too, which originally encircled the whole castle, has been filled
in, on two sides, though still remaining on the two others, and greatly
contributing to the beauty of the place, as the water is living, and is
made to serve the purposes of a fishpond. We had carp from it, for
breakfast, the day after our arrival.

Lagrange is constructed of hewn stone, of a good greyish colour, and in
parts of it there are some respectable pretensions to architecture. I
think it probable that one of its fronts has been rebuilt, the style
being so much better than the rest of the structure. There are five
towers, all of which are round, and have the plain, high, pyramidal
roof, so common in France. They are without cornices, battlements of any
sort, or, indeed, any relief to the circular masonry. One, however, has
a roof of a square form, though the exterior of the lower itself is, at
least in part, round. All the roofs are of slate.

The approach to the castle is circuitous, until quite near it, when the
road enters a little thicket of evergreens, crosses a bridge, and passes
beneath an arch to the court, which is paved. The bridge is now
permanent, though there was once a draw, and the grooves of a portcullis
are still visible beneath the arch. The shortest side of the square is
next the bridge, the building offering here but little more than the two
towers, and the room above the gateway. One of these towers forms the
end of this front of the castle, and the other is, of course, at an
angle. On the exterior, they are both buried in ivy, as well as the
building which connects them. This ivy was planted by Charles Fox, who,
in company with General Fitzpatrick, visited Lagrange, after the peace
of Amiens. The windows, which are small and irregular on this side, open
beautifully through the thick foliage, and as this is the part of the
structure that is occupied by the children of the family, their blooming
faces thrust through the leafy apertures have a singularly pleasing
effect. The other three towers stand, one near the centre of the
principal _corps de bâtiment_, one at the other angle, and the third at
the end of the wing opposite that of the gate. The towers vary in size,
and are all more or less buried in the walls, though still so distinct
as greatly to relieve the latter, and everywhere to rise above them. On
the open side of the court there is no ditch, but the ground, which is
altogether park-like, and beautifully arranged, falls away, dotted with
trees and copses, towards a distant thicket.

Besides the _rez-de-chaussée_, which is but little above the ground,
there are two good stories all round the building, and even more in the
towers. The dining-room and offices are below, and there is also a small
oratory, or chapel, though I believe none of the family live there. The
entrance to the principal apartments is opposite the gate, and there is
also here an exterior door which communicates directly with the lawn,
the ditch running behind the other wing, and in front of the gate only.
The great staircase is quite good, being spacious, easy of ascent, and
of marble, with a handsome iron railing. It was put there by the mother
of Madame Lafayette, I believe, and the General told me, it was nearly
the only thing of value that he found among the fixtures, on taking
possession. It had escaped injury.

I should think the length of the house on the side of the square which
contains the staircase might be ninety feet, including the tower at the
end, and the tower at the angle; and perhaps the side which contains the
offices may be even a little longer; though this will also include the
same tower in the same angle, as well as the one at the opposite corner;
while the side in which is the gateway can scarcely exceed sixty feet.
If my estimates, which are merely made by the eye, are correct,
including the towers, this would give an outside wall of two hundred and
fifty feet, in circuit. Like most French buildings, the depth is
comparatively much less. I question if the outer drawing-room is more
than eighteen feet wide, though it is near thirty long. This room has
windows on the court and on the lawn, and is the first apartment one
enters after ascending the stairs. It communicates with the inner
drawing-room, which is in the end tower of this side of the chateau, is
quite round, of course, and may be twenty feet in diameter.

The General's apartments are on the second floor. They consist of his
bed-room, a large cabinet, and the library. The latter is in the tower
at the angle, on the side of the staircase. It is circular, and from its
windows overlooks the moat, which is beautifully shaded by willows and
other trees. It contains a respectable collection of books, besides
divers curiosities.

The only bed-rooms I have occupied are, one in the tower, immediately
beneath the library, and the other in the side tower, or the only one
which does not stand at an angle, or at an end of the building. I
believe, however, that the entire edifice, with the exception of the
oratory, the offices, the dining-room, which is a large apartment on the
_rez-de-chaussée_, the two drawing-rooms, two or three cabinets, and the
library, and perhaps a family-room or two, such as a school-room,
painting-room, etc., is subdivided into sleeping apartments, with the
necessary cabinets and dressing-rooms. Including the family, I have
known thirty people to be lodged in the house, besides servants, and I
should think it might even lodge more. Indeed its hospitality seems to
know no limits, for every newcomer appears to be just as welcome as all
the others.

The cabinet of Lafayette communicates with the library, and I passed
much of the time during our visit, alone with him, in these two rooms. I
may say that this was the commencement of a confidence with which he has
since continued to treat me, and of a more intimate knowledge of the
amiable features and simple integrity of his character, that has greatly
added to my respect. No one can be pleasanter in private, and he is full
of historical anecdotes, that he tells with great simplicity, and
frequently with great humour. The cabinet contains many portraits, and,
among others, one of Madame de Staël, and one of his own father. The
former I am assured is exceedingly like; it is not the resemblance of a
very fascinating woman. In the latter I find more resemblance to some of
the grandchildren than to the son, although there is something about the
shape of the head that is not unlike that of Lafayette's.

General Lafayette never knew his father, who was killed, when he was
quite an infant, at the battle of Minden. I believe the general was an
only child, for I have never heard him speak of any brother or sister,
nor indeed of any relative at all, as I can remember, on his own side,
though he often alludes to the connexions he made by his marriage. I
asked him how his father happened to be styled the _Comte_ de Lafayette,
and he to be called the _Marquis_. He could not tell me: his grandfather
was the _Marquis_ de Lafayette, his father the _Comte_, and he again was
termed the _Marquis_. "I know very little about it," said be, "beyond
this: I found myself a little _Marquis_, as I grew to know anything, and
boys trouble themselves very little about such matters; and then I soon
got tired of the name after I went to America. I cannot explain all the
foolish distinctions of the feudal times, but I very well remember that
when I was quite a boy, I had the honour to go through the ceremony of
appointing the _curé_ of a very considerable town in Auvergne, of which
I was the Seigneur. My conscience has been quite easy about the
nomination, however, as my guardians must answer for the sin, if there
be any."

I was at a small dinner given by the Comte de Ségur, just before we went
to Lagrange, and at which General Lafayette and M. Alexander de Lameth
were also guests. The three had served in America, all of them having
been colonels while little more than boys. In the course of the
conversation, M. de Lameth jokingly observed that the Americans paid the
greater deference to General Lafayette because he was a _Marquis_. For a
long time there had been but one Marquis in England (Lord Rockingham),
and the colonist appreciating all other Marquises by this standard, had
at once thought they would do no less than make the Marquis de Lafayette
a general. "As for myself, though I was the senior colonel, and (as I
understood him to say) his superior in personal rank, I passed for
nobody, because I was only a _chevalier._" This sally was laughed at, at
the time, though there is something very unsettled in the use of those
arbitrary personal distinctions on which the French formerly laid so
much stress. I shall not attempt to explain them. I contented myself by
whispering to M. de Lameth, that we certainly knew very little of such
matters in America, but I questioned if we were ever so ignorant as to
suppose there was only one _Marquis_ in France. On the contrary, we are
little too apt to fancy every Frenchman a _Marquis_.

There was formerly a regular parish church attached to the chateau,
which is still standing. It is very small, and is within a short
distance of the gateway. The congregation was composed solely of the
inhabitants of the chateau, and the people of the farm. The church
contains epitaphs and inscriptions in memory of three of the D'Aubussons
whose hearts were buried here, viz. Leon, Comte de Lafeuillade, a
lieutenant-general; Gabriel, Marquis de Montargis; and Paul D'Aubussons,
a Knight of Malta; all of whom were killed young, in battle.

The General has about three hundred and fifty acres in cultivation, and
more than two in wood, pasture, and meadow. The place is in very
excellent condition, and seems to be well attended to. I have galloped
all over it, on a little filly belonging to one of the young gentlemen,
and have found beauty and utility as nicely blended, as is often to be
met with, even in England, the true country of _fermes ornées_, though
the name is imported.

The third day of our visit, we all drove three or four leagues across
the country, to see an old ruin of a royal castle called Vivier. This
name implies a pond, and sure enough we found the remains of the
buildings in the midst of two or three pools of water. This has been a
considerable house, the ruins being still quite extensive and rather
pretty. It was originally the property of a great noble, but the kings
of France were in possession of it, as early as the year 1300. Charles
V. had a great affection for Vivier, and very materially increased its
establishment. His son, Charles VI. who was at times deranged, was often
confined here, and it was after his reign, and by means of the long wars
that ravaged France, that the place came to be finally abandoned as a
royal abode. Indeed, it is not easy to see why a king should ever have
chosen this spot at all for his residence, unless it might be for the
purpose of hunting, for even now it is in a retired, tame, and far from
pleasant part of the country.

There are the ruins of a fine chapel and of two towers of considerable
interest, beside extensive fragments of more vulgar buildings. One of
these towers, being very high and very slender, is a striking object;
but, from its form and position, it was one of those narrow wells that
were attached to larger towers, and which contained nothing but the
stairs. They are commonly to be seen in the ruins of edifices built in
the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, in France; and what is worthy
of remark, in several instances, notwithstanding their slender forms, I
have met with them standing, although their principals have nearly
disappeared. I can only account for it, by supposing that their use and
delicacy of form have required more than ordinary care in the
construction.

The ruins of Vivier belong to M. Parquin, a distinguished lawyer of
Paris. This gentleman has a small country-house near by, and General
Lafayette took us all to see him. We found him at home, and met, quite
as a matter of course, with a polite reception. M. Parquin gave us much
curious information about the ruin, and took us to see some of the
subterraneous passages that he has caused to be opened.

It is thought that some of these artificial caverns were prisons, and
that others were intended merely as places for depositing stores. The
one we entered was of beautiful masonry, vaulted with the nicest art,
and seemed to communicate with the ruins although the outlet was in the
open field, and some distance from the walls. It might have been
intended for the double purpose of a store-house and an outlet; for it
is rare to meet with a palace, or a castle, that has out, more or less,
of these private means of entrance and retreat. The Tuileries is said to
abound with them, and I have been shown the line of an under-ground
passage, between that palace and one of the public hotels, which must be
fully a quarter of a mile in length.

Dulaure gives an extract from a report of the state of the Chateau of
Vivier, made about the year 1700, with a view to know whether its
conditions were such as to entitle the place to preserve certain of its
privileges. In this document, the castle is described as standing in the
centre of a marsh, surrounded by forest, and as so remote from all
civilization, as to be nearly forgotten. This, it will be remembered, is
the account of a royal abode, that stands within thirty miles of Paris.

In the very heart of the French capital, are the remains of an extensive
palace of one of the Roman Emperors, and yet it may be questioned if one
in a thousand, of those who live within a mile of the spot, have the
least idea of the origin of the buildings. I have inquired about it, in
its immediate neighbourhood, and it was with considerable difficulty I
could discover any one who even knew that there was such a ruin at all,
in the street. The great number of similar objects, and the habit of
seeing them daily, has some such effect on one, as the movement of a
crowd in a public thoroughfare, where images pass so incessantly before
the eye, as to leave no impression of their peculiarities. Were a
solitary bison to scamper through the Rue St. Honoré, the worthy
Parisians would transmit an account of his exploits to their children's
children, while the wayfarer on the prairies takes little heed of the
flight of a herd.

As we went to Lagrange, we stopped at a tavern, opposite to which was
the iron gate of a small chateau. I asked the girl who was preparing our
_goûter_, to whom the house belonged. "I am sorry I cannot tell you,
sir," she answered; and then seeing suspicion in my face, she promptly
added--"for, do you see, sir, I have only been here _six weeks_." Figure
to yourself an American girl, set down opposite an iron gate, in the
country, and how long do you imagine she would be ignorant of the
owner's name? If the blood of those pious inquisitors, the puritans,
were in her veins, she would know more, not only of the gate, but of its
owner, his wife, his children, his means, his hopes, wishes, intentions
and thoughts, than he ever knew himself, or would be likely to know. But
if this prominent love of meddling must of necessity in its very nature
lead to what is worse than contented ignorance, gossiping error, and a
wrong estimate of our fellow-creatures, it has, at least, the advantage
of keeping a people from falling asleep over their everyday facts. There
is no question that the vulgar and low-bred propensity of conjecturing,
meddling, combining, with their unavoidable companion, _inventing_,
exist to a vice, among a portion of our people; but, on the other hand,
it is extremely inconvenient when one is travelling, and wishes to know
the points of the compass, as has happened to myself, if he should ask a
full-grown woman whereabouts the sun rises in that neighbourhood, he is
repulsed with the answer, that--"Monsieur ought to know that better than
a poor garden-woman like me!"

We returned to Paris, after a pleasant visit of three days at Lagrange,
during which we had delightful weather, and altogether a most agreeable
time. The habits of the family are very regular and simple, but the
intercourse has the freedom and independence of a country-house. We were
all in the circular drawing-room a little before ten, breakfast being
served between ten and eleven. The table was French, the morning repast
consisting of light dishes of meat, _compotes_, fruits, and sometimes
_soupe au lait_, one of the simplest and best things for such a meal
than can be imagined. As a compliment to us Americans, we had fish fried
and broiled, but I rather think this was an innovation. Wine, to drink
with water, as a matter of course, was on the table. The whole ended
with a cup of _café au lait_. The morning then passed as each one saw
fit. The young men went shooting, the ladies drove out, or read, or had
a little music, while the general and myself were either walking about
the farm, or were conversing in the library. We dined at six, as at
Paris, and tea was made in the drawing-room about nine.

I was glad to hear from General Lafayette, that the reports of Americans
making demands on his purse, like so many other silly rumours that are
circulated, merely because some one has fancied such a thing might be
so, are untrue. On the contrary, he assures me that applications of this
nature are very seldom made, and most of those that have been made have
proved to come from Englishmen, who have thought they might swindle him
in this form. I have had at least a dozen such applications myself, but
I take it nothing is easier, in general, than to distinguish between an
American and a native of Great Britain. It was agreed between us, that
in future all applications of this nature should be sent to me for
investigation.[30]

[Footnote 30: Under this arrangement, two or three years later, an
applicant was sent for examination, under very peculiar circumstances.
The man represented himself to be a shopkeeper of Baltimore, who had
come to England with his wife and child, to purchase goods. He had been
robbed of all he had, according to his account of the matter, about a
thousand pounds in sovereigns, and was reduced to want, in a strange
country. After trying all other means in vain, he bethought him of
coming to Paris, to apply to General Lafayette for succour. He had just
money enough to do this, having left his wife in Liverpool. He appeared
with an English passport, looked like an Englishman, and had even caught
some of the low English idioms, such as, "I am agreeable," for "It is
agreeable to me," or, "I agree to do so," etc. etc. The writer was
exceedingly puzzled to decide as to this man's nationality. At length,
in describing his journey to Paris, he said, "they took my passport from
me, when we got _to the lines_." This settled the matter, as no one but
an American would call a _frontier_ the _lines_. He proved, in the end,
to be an American, and a great rogue.]



LETTER XXI.

Insecurity of the Bourbons.--Distrust of Americans.--Literary Visitor.
--The Templars.--Presents and Invitations.--A Spy--American Virtue.
--Inconsistency.--Social Freedom in America,--French Mannerists
--National Distinctions.--A lively Reaction.


To R. COOPER, ESQ. COOPERSTOWN.

We all went to bed, a night or two since, as usual, and awoke to learn
that there had been a fight in the capital. One of the countless
underplots had got so near the surface, that it threw up smoke. It is
said, that about fifty were killed and wounded, chiefly on the part of
the populace.

The insecurity of the Bourbons is little understood in America. It is
little understood even by those Americans who pass a few months in the
country, and in virtue of frequenting the _cafés_, and visiting the
theatres, fancy they know the people. Louis XVIII. was more than once on
the point of flying, again, between the year 1815 and his death; for
since the removal of the allied troops, there is really no force for a
monarch to depend on, more especially in and around the capital, the
army being quite as likely to take sides against them as for them.

The government has determined on exhibiting vigour, and there was a
great show of troops the night succeeding the combat. Curious to see the
effect of all this, two or three of us got into a carriage and drove
through the streets, about nine o'clock. We found some two or three
thousand men on the Boulevards, and the Rue St. Denis, in particular,
which had been the scene of the late disorder, was watched with jealous
caution. In all, there might have been four or five thousand men under
arms. They were merely in readiness, leaving a free passage for
carriages, though in some of the narrow streets we found the bayonets
pretty near our faces.

An American being supposed _ex officio_, as it were, to be a well-wisher
to the popular cause, there is, perhaps, a slight disposition to look at
us with distrust. The opinion of our _travellers'_ generally favouring
liberty is, in my judgment, singularly erroneous, the feelings of a
majority being, on the whole, just the other way, for, at least, the
first year or two of their European experience; though, I think, it is
to be noticed, by the end of that time, that they begin to lose sight of
the personal interests which, at home, have made them anything but
philosophers on such subjects, and to see and appreciate the immense
advantages of freedom over exclusion, although the predominance of the
former may not always favour their own particular views. Such, at least,
has been the result of my own observations, and so far from considering
a fresh arrival from home, as being likely to be an accession to our
little circle of liberal principles, I have generally deemed all such
individuals as being more likely to join the side of the aristocrats or
the exclusionists in politics. This is not the moment to enter into an
examination of the causes that have led to so singular a contradiction
between opinions and facts, though I think the circumstance is not to be
denied, for it is now my intention to give you an account of the manner
in which matters are managed here, rather than enter into long
investigations of the state of society at home.

Not long after my arrival in France, a visit was announced, from a
person who was entirely unknown to me, but who called himself a
_littérateur_. The first interview passed off as such interviews usually
do, and circumstances not requiring any return on my part, it was soon
forgotten. Within a fortnight, however, I received visit the second,
when the conversation took a political turn, my guest freely abusing the
Bourbons, the aristocrats, and the present state of things in France. I
did little more than listen. When the way was thus opened, I was asked
if I admired Sir Walter Scott, and particularly what I thought of
Ivanhoe, or, rather, if I did not think it an indifferent book. A little
surprised at such a question, I told my _littérateur_, that Ivanhoe
appeared to me to be very unequal, the first half being incomparably the
best, but that, as a whole, I thought it stood quite at the head of the
particular sort of romances to which it belonged. The Antiquary, and Guy
Mannering, for instance, were both much nearer perfection, and, on the
whole, I thought both better books; but Ivanhoe, especially its
commencement, was a noble poem. But did I not condemn the want of
historical truth in its pictures? I did not consider Ivanhoe as intended
to be history; it was a work of the imagination, in which all the
fidelity that was requisite, was enough to be probable and natural, and
that requisite I thought it possessed in an eminent degree. It is true,
antiquarians accused the author of having committed some anachronisms,
by confounding the usages of different centuries, which was perhaps a
greater fault, in such a work, than to confound mere individual
characters; but of this I did not pretend to judge, not being the least
of an antiquary myself. Did I not think he had done gross injustice to
the noble and useful order of the Templars? On this point I could say no
more than on the preceding, having but a very superficial knowledge of
the Templars, though I thought the probabilities seemed to be perfectly
well respected. Nothing could _seem_ to be more true, than Scott's
pictures. My guest then went into a long vindication of the Templars,
stating Scott had done them gross injustice, and concluding with an
exaggerated compliment, in which it was attempted to persuade me that I
was the man to vindicate the truth, and to do justice to at subject that
was so peculiarly connected with liberal principles. I disclaimed the
ability to undertake such a task, at all; confessed that I did not wish
to disturb the images which Sir Walter Scott had left, had I the
ability; and declared I did not see the connexion between his
accusation, admitting it to be true, and liberal principles.

My visitor soon after went away, and I saw no more of him for a week,
when he came again. On this occasion, he commenced by relating several
_piquant_ anecdotes of the Bourbons and their friends, gradually and
ingeniously leading the conversation, again, round to his favourite
Templars. After pushing me, for half an hour, on this point, always
insisting on my being the man to vindicate the order, and harping on its
connexion with liberty, he took advantage of one of my often-repeated
protestations of ignorance of the whole matter, suddenly to say, "Well,
then, Monsieur, go and see for yourself, and you will soon be satisfied
that my account of the order is true." "Go and see what?" "The
Templars." "There are no longer any." "They exist still." "Where?"
"Here, in Paris." "This is new to me: I do not understand it." "The
Templars exist; they possess documents to prove how much Scott has
misrepresented them, and--but, you will remember that the actual
government has so much jealousy of everything it does not control, that
secrecy is necessary--and, to be frank with you, M. ----, I am
commissioned by the Grand Master, to invite you to be present at a
secret meeting, this very week."

Of course, I immediately conjectured that some of the political
agitators of the day had assumed this taking guise, in order to combine
their means, and carry out their plans.[31] The proposition was gotten
rid of, by my stating, in terms that could not be misunderstood, that I
was a traveller, and did not wish to meddle with anything that required
secrecy, in a foreign government; that I certainly had my own political
notions, and if pushed, should not hesitate to avow them anywhere; that
the proper place for a writer to declare his sentiments, was in his
books, unless under circumstances which authorized him to act; that I
did not conceive foreigners were justifiable in going beyond this; that
I never had meddled with the affairs of foreign countries, and that I
never would; and that the fact of this society's being secret, was
sufficient to deter me from visiting it. With this answer, my guest
departed, and he never came again.

[Footnote 31: Since the revolution of 1830, these Templars have made
public, but abortive efforts, to bring themselves into notice, by
instituting some ceremonies, in which they appeared openly in their
robes.]

Now, the first impression was, as I have told you, and I supposed my
visitor, although a man of fifty, was one of those who innocently lent
himself to these silly exaggerations; either as a dupe, or to dupe
others. I saw reason, however, to change this opinion.

At the time these visits occurred, I scarcely knew any one in Paris, and
was living in absolute retirement--being, as you know already, quite
without letters. About ten days after I saw the last of my
_littérateur_, I got a letter from a high functionary of the government,
sending me a set of valuable medals. The following day these were
succeeded by his card, and an invitation to dinner. Soon after, another
person, notoriously connected with court intrigues, sought me out, and
overwhelmed me with civilities. In a conversation that shortly after
occurred between us, this person gave a pretty direct intimation, that
by pushing a little, a certain decoration that is usually conferred on
literary men was to be had, if it were desired. I got rid of all these
things, in the straight-forward manner, that is the best for upsetting
intrigues; and having really nothing to conceal, I was shortly permitted
to take my own course.

I have now little doubt that the _littérateur_ was a _spy_, sent either
to sound me on some points connected with Lafayette and the republicans,
or possibly to lead me into some difficulty, though I admit that this is
no more than conjecture. I give you the facts, which, at the time,
struck me as, at least, odd, and you may draw your own conclusions.
This, however, is but one of a dozen adventures, more or less similar,
that have occurred, and I think it well to mention it, by way of giving
you an insight into what sometimes happens here.[32]

[Footnote 32: A conversation, which took place after the revolution of
1830, with one of the parties named, leaves little doubt as to the truth
of the original conjecture.]

My rule has been, whenever I am pushed on the subject of politics, to
deal honestly and sincerely with all with whom I am brought in contact,
and in no manner to leave the impression, that I think the popular form
of government an unavoidable evil, to which America is obliged to
submit. I do not shut my eyes to the defects of our own system, or to
the bad consequences that flow from it, and from it alone; but, the more
I see of other countries, the more I am persuaded, that, under
circumstances which admit but of a choice of evils, we are greatly the
gainers by having adopted it. Although I do not believe every other
nation is precisely fitted to imitate us, I think it is their misfortune
they are not so. If the inhabitants of other countries do not like to
hear such opinions, they should avoid the subject with Americans.

It is very much the custom here, whenever the example of America is
quoted in favour of the practicability of republican institutions, to
attribute our success to the fact of society's being so simple, and the
people so virtuous. I presume I speak within bounds, when I say that I
have heard the latter argument urged a hundred times, during the last
eighteen months. One lady, in particular, who is exceedingly clever, but
who has a dread of all republics, on account of having lost a near
friend during the reign of terror, was especially in the practice of
resorting to this argument, whenever, in our frequent playful
discussions of the subject, I have succeeded in disturbing her
inferences, by citing American facts. "Mais, Monsieur, l'Amérique est si
jeune, et vous avez les vertus que nous manquons," etc. etc. has always
been thought a sufficient answer. Now I happen to be one of those who do
not entertain such extravagant notions of the exclusive and peculiar
virtues of our own country. Nor have I been so much struck with the
profound respect of the Europeans, in general, for those very qualities
that, nevertheless, are always quoted as the reason of the success of
what is called the "American experiment." Quite the contrary: I have
found myself called on, more than once, to repel accusations against our
morality of a very serious nature; accusations that we do not deserve;
and my impression certainly is, that the American people, so far as they
are at all the subjects of observation, enjoy anything but a good name,
in Europe. Struck by this flagrant contradiction, I determined to
practise on my female friend, a little; a plan that was successfully
carried out, as follows.

Avoiding all allusion to politics, so as to throw her completely off her
guard, I took care to introduce such subjects as should provoke
comparisons on other points, between France and America; or rather,
between the latter and Europe generally. As our discussions had a tinge
of philosophy, neither being very bigoted, and both preserving perfect
good humour, the plot succeeded admirably. After a little time, I took
occasion to fortify one of my arguments by a slight allusion to the
peculiar virtues of the American people. She was too well-bred to
controvert this sort of reasoning at first, until, pushing the point,
little by little, she was so far provoked as to exclaim, "You lay great
stress on the exclusive virtues of your countrymen, Monsieur, but I have
yet to learn that they are so much better than the rest of the world!"
"I beg a thousand pardons, Madame, if I have been led into an
indiscretion on this delicate subject; but you must ascribe my error to
your own eloquence, which, contrary to my previous convictions, had
persuaded me into the belief that we have some peculiar unction of this
nature, that is unknown in Europe. I now begin to see the mistake, and
to understand "que nous autres Américains" are to be considered
_virtuous_ only where there is question of the practicability of
maintaining republican form of government, and as great rogues on all
other occasions." Madame de ---- was wise enough, and good-tempered
enough, to laugh at the artifice, and the allusion to "nous autres
vertueux" has got to be a _mot d'ordre_ with us. The truth is, that the
question of politics is exclusively one of personal advantages, with a
vast majority of the people of Europe; one set selfishly struggling to
maintain their present superiority, while the other is as selfishly, and
in some respects as blindly, striving to overturn all that is
established, in order to be benefited by the scramble that will follow;
and religion, justice, philosophy, and practical good are almost equally
remote from the motives of both parties.

From reflecting on such subjects, I have been led into a consideration
of the influence of political institutions on the more ordinary
relations of society. If the conclusions are generally in favour of
popular rights, and what is called freedom, there can be little question
that there are one or two weak spots, on our side of the question, that
it were better did they not exist. Let us, for the humour of the thing,
look a little into these points.

It is a common remark of all foreigners, that there is less social
freedom in America than in most other countries of Christendom. By
social freedom, I do not mean as relates to the mere forms of society,
for in these we are loose rather than rigid; but that one is less a
master of his own acts, his own mode of living, his own time, being more
rigidly amenable to public opinion, on all these points, than elsewhere.
The fact, I believe, out of all question, is true; at least it appears
to be true, so far as my knowledge of our own and of other countries
extends. Admitting then the fact to be so, it is worth while to throw
away a moment in inquiring into the consequent good and evil of such a
state of things, as well as in looking for the causes. It is always a
great assistant in our study of others, to have some tolerable notions
of ourselves.

The control of public opinion has, beyond question, a salutary influence
on the moral _exterior_ of a country. The great indifference which the
French, and indeed the higher classes of most European countries,
manifest to the manner of living of the members of their different
circles, so long as certain appearances are respected, may do no
affirmative good to society, though at the same time it does less
positive harm than you may be disposed to imagine. But this is not the
point to which I now allude. Europeans maintain that, in things
_innocent in themselves_, but which are closely connected with the
independence of action and tastes of men, the American is less his own
master than the inhabitant of this part of the world; and this is the
fact I, for one, feel it necessary to concede to them. There can be no
doubt that society meddles much more with the private affairs of
individuals, and affairs, too, over which it properly has no control, in
America than in Europe. I will illustrate what I mean, by an example.

About twenty years since there lived in one of our shiretowns a family,
which, in its different branches, had numerous female descendants, then
all children. A member of this family, one day, went to a respectable
clergyman, his friend, and told him that he and his connexions had so
many female children, whom it was time to think of educating, that they
had hit upon the plan of engaging some suitable instructress, with the
intention of educating their girls all together, both for economy's sake
and for convenience, as well as that such near connexions might be
brought up in a way to strengthen the family tie. The clergyman warmly
remonstrated against the scheme, assuring his friend, _that the
community would not bear it, and that it would infallibly make enemies!_
This was the feeling of a very sensible man, and of an experienced
divine, and I was myself the person making the application. This is
religiously true, and I have often thought of the circumstance since,
equally with astonishment and horror.

There are doubtless many parts of America, even, where such an
interference with the private arrangement of a family would not be
dreamt of; but there is a large portion of the country in which the
feeling described by my clerical friend does prevail. Most observers
would refer all this to democracy, but I do not. The interference would
not proceed from the humblest classes of society at all, but from those
nearer one's own level. It would proceed from a determination to bring
all within the jurisdiction of a common opinion, or to be revenged on
delinquents, by envy, hatred, and all uncharitableness. There is no
disposition in America, to let one live as he or she may happen to
please to live; the public choosing, though always in its proper circle,
to interfere and say _how_ you must live. It is folly to call this by
terms as sounding as republicanism or democracy, which inculcate the
doctrine of as much personal freedom as at all comports with the public
good. He is, indeed, a most sneaking democrat, who finds it necessary to
consult a neighbourhood before he can indulge his innocent habits and
tastes. It is sheer _meddling_, and no casuistry can fitly give it any
other name.

A portion of this troublesome quality is owing, beyond question, to our
provincial habits, which are always the most exacting; but I think a
large portion, perhaps I ought to say the largest, is inherited from
those pious but exaggerated religionists who first peopled the country.
These sectaries extended the discipline of the church to all the
concerns of life. Nothing was too minute to escape their cognizance, and
a parish sat in judgment on the affairs of all who belonged to it. One
may easily live so long in the condition of society that such an origin
has entailed on us, as to be quite unconscious of its peculiarities, but
I think they can hardly escape one who has lived much beyond its
influence.

Here, perhaps, the fault is to be found in the opposite extreme; though
there are so many virtues consequent on independence of thought and
independence of habits, that I am not sure the good does not equal the
evil. There is no canting, and very little hypocrisy, in mere matters of
habits, in France; and this, at once, is abridging two of our own most
besetting vices. Still the French can hardly be called a very original
people. Convention ties them down mercilessly in a great many things.
They are less under the influence of mere fashion, in their intercourse,
it is true, than some of their neighbours, reason and taste exercising
more influence over such matters, in France, than almost anywhere else;
but they are mannerists in the fine arts, in their literature, and in
all their _feelings_, if one can use such an expression. The gross
exaggerations of the romantic school that is, just now, attracting so
much attention, are merely an effort to liberate themselves. But, after
allowing for the extreme ignorance of the substratum of society, which,
in France, although it forms so large a portion of the whole, should no
more be taken into the account in speaking of the national qualities,
than the slaves of Carolina should be included in an estimate of the
character of the Carolinians, there is, notwithstanding this mannerism,
a personal independence here, that certainly does not exist with us. The
American goes and comes when he pleases, and no one asks for a passport;
he has his political rights, talks of his liberty, swaggers of his
advantages, and yet does less as he pleases, even in innocent things,
than the Frenchman. His neighbours form a police, and a most troublesome
and impertinent one it sometimes proves to be. It is also unjust, for
having no legal means of arriving at facts, it half the time condemns on
conjecture.

The truth is, our institutions are the result of facts and accidents,
and, being necessarily an imitative people, there are often gross
inconsistencies between our professions and our practice; whereas the
French have had to struggle through their apprenticeship in political
rights, by the force of discussions and appeals to reason, and theory is
still too important to be entirely overlooked. Perhaps no people
understand the _true_ private characters of their public men so little
as the Americans, or any people so well as the French. I have never
known a distinguished American, in whom it did not appear to me that his
popular character was a false one; or a distinguished Frenchman, whom
the public did not appear to estimate very nearly as he deserved to be.
Even Napoleon, necessary as he is to the national pride, and dazzling as
is all military renown, seems to me to be much more justly appreciated
at Paris than anywhere else. The practice of meddling can lead to no
other result. They who wish to stand particularly fair before the
public, resort to deception, and I have heard a man of considerable
notoriety in America confess, that he was so much afraid of popular
comments, that he always acted as if an enemy were looking over his
shoulder. With us, no one scruples to believe that he knows all about a
public man, even to the nicest traits of his character; all talk of him,
as none should talk but those who are in his intimacy, and, what between
hypocrisy on his part--an hypocrisy to which he is in some measure
driven by the officious interference with his most private
interests--and exaggerations and inventions, that ingenious tyrant,
public opinion, comes as near the truth as a fortune-teller who is
venturing his prediction in behalf of a stranger.[33]

[Footnote 33: I can give no better illustration of the state of
dependence to which men are reduced in America, by this spirit of
meddling, than by the following anecdote: A friend was about to build a
new town-house, and letting me know the situation, he asked my advice as
to the mode of construction. The inconveniences of an ordinary American
town-house were pointed out to him,--its unfitness for the general state
of society, the climate, the other domestic arrangements, and its
ugliness. All were admitted, and the plan proposed in place of the old
style of building was liked, but still my friend hesitated about
adopting it. "It will be a genteeler and a better-looking house than the
other." "Agreed." "It will be really more convenient." "I think so,
too." "It will be cheaper." "Of that there is no question." "Then why
not adopt it?" "To own the truth, I _dare not build differently from my
neighbour!_"]

In France the right of the citizen to discuss all public matters is not
only allowed, but _felt_. In America it is not _felt_, though it is
allowed. A homage must be paid to the public, by assuming the disguise
of acting as a public agent, in America; whereas, in France, individuals
address their countrymen, daily, under their own signatures. The
impersonality of _we_, and the character of public journalists, is
almost indispensable, with us, to impunity, although the mask can
deceive no one, the journalists notoriously making their prints
subservient to their private passions and private interests, and being
_impersonal_ only in the use of the imperial pronoun. The
_representative_, too, in America, is privileged to teach, in virtue of
his collective character, by the very men who hold the extreme and
untenable doctrine of instruction! It is the fashion to say in America,
_that the people will rule!_ it would be nearer the truth, however, to
say, _the people will seem to rule_.

I think that these distinctions are facts, and they certainly lead to
odd reflections. We are so peculiarly situated as a nation, that one is
not to venture on conclusions too hastily. A great deal is to be imputed
to our provincial habits; much to the circumstance of the disproportion
between surface and population, which, by scattering the well-bred and
intelligent, a class at all times relatively small, serves greatly to
lessen their influence in imparting tone to society; something to the
inquisitorial habits of our pious forefathers, who appear to have
thought that the charities were nought, and, in the very teeth of
revelation, that Heaven was to be stormed by impertinences; while a good
deal is to be conceded to the nature of a popular government whose
essential spirit is to create a predominant opinion, before which, right
or wrong, all must bow until its cycle shall be completed. Thus it is,
that we are always, more or less, under one of two false influences, the
blow or its rebound; action that is seldom quite right, or reaction that
is always wrong; sinning heedlessly, or repeating to fanaticism. The
surest process in the world, of "riding on to fortune" in America, is to
get seated astride a lively "reaction," which is rather more likely to
carry with it a unanimous sentiment, than even the error to which it
owes its birth.

As much of this weakness as is inseparable from humanity exists here,
but it exists under so many modifying circumstances, as, in this
particular, to render France as unlike America as well may be. Liberty
is not always pure philosophy nor strict justice, and yet, as a whole,
it is favourable to both. These are the spots on the political sun. To
the eye which seeks only the radiance and warmth of the orb, they are
lost; but he who studies it, with calmness and impartiality, sees them
too plainly to be in any doubt of their existence.



LETTER XXII.

Animal Magnetism.--Somnambules.--Magnetised Patients.--My own
Examination.--A Prediction.--Ventriloquism.--Force of the Imagination.


To JAMES E. DE KAY, M.D.

Although we have not been without our metaphysical hallucinations in
America, I do not remember to have heard that "animal magnetism" was
ever in vogue among us. A people who are not very quick to feel the
poetry of sentiment, may well be supposed exempt from the delusions of a
doctrine which comprehends the very poetry of physics. Still, as the
subject is not without interest, and as chance has put me in the way of
personally inquiring into this fanciful system, I intend, in this
letter, to give you an account of what I have both heard and seen.

I shall premise by saying that I rank "animal magnetism" among the
"arts" rather than among the "sciences." Of its theory I have no very
clear notion, nor do I believe that I am at all peculiar in my
ignorance; but until we can say what is that other "magnetism" to which
the world is indisputably so much indebted for its knowledge and
comforts, I do not know that we are to repudiate this, merely because we
do not understand it. Magnetism is an unseen and inexplicable influence,
and that is "metallic," while this is "animal;" _voilà tout_. On the
whole, it may be fairly mooted which most controls the world, the animal
or the metallic influence.

To deal gravely with a subject that, at least, baffles our
comprehension, there are certainly very extraordinary things related of
animal magnetism, and apparently on pretty good testimony. Take, for
instance, a single fact. M. Jules Cloquet is one of the cleverest
practitioners of Paris, and is in extensive business. This gentleman
publicly makes the following statement. I write it from memory, but have
heard it and read it so often, that I do not think my account will
contain any essential error.

A woman, who was subject to the magnetic influence, or who was what is
commonly called a _somnambule_, had a cancer in the breast. M. ----, one
of the principal magnetisers of Paris, and from whom, among others, I
have had an account of the whole affair, was engaged to magnetise this
woman, while M. Cloquet operated on the diseased part. The patient was
put asleep, or rather into the magnetic trance, for it can scarcely be
called sleep, and the cancer was extracted, without the woman's
_manifesting the least terror, or the slightest sense of pain!_ To the
truth of the substance of this account, M. Cloquet, who does not pretend
to explain the reason, nor profess to belong, in any way, to the school,
simply testifies. He says that he had such a patient, and that she was
operated on, virtually, as I have told you. Such a statement, coming
from so high a source, induced the Academy, which is certainly not
altogether composed of magnetisers, but many of whose members are quite
animal enough to comprehend the matter, to refer the subject to a
special committee, which committee, I believe, was comprised of very
clever men. The substance of their report was pretty much what might
have been anticipated. They said that the subject was inexplicable, and
that "animal magnetism" could not be brought within the limits of any
known laws of nature. They might have said the same thing of the comets!
In both cases we have facts, with a few established consequences, but
are totally without elementary causes.

Animal magnetism is clearly one of three things: it is what it pretends
to be, an unexplained and as yet incomprehensible physical influence; it
is delusion, or it is absolute fraud.

A young countryman of ours, having made the acquaintance of M. C----,
professionally, and being full of the subject, I have so far listened to
his entreaties as to inquire personally into the facts, a step I might
not have otherwise been induced to take.

I shall now proceed to the history of my own experience in this
inexplicable mystery. We found M. C---- buried in the heart of Paris, in
one of those vast old hotels, which give to this town the air of
generations of houses, commencing with the quaint and noble of the
sixteenth century, and ending with the more fashionable pavilion of our
own times. His cabinet looked upon a small garden, a pleasant transition
from the animal within to the vegetable without. But one meets with
gardens, with their verdure and shrubbery and trees, in the most
unexpected manner, in this crowded town.

M. C---- received us politely, and we found with him one of his
_somnambules_; but as she had just come out of a trance, we were told
she could not be put asleep again that morning. Our first visit,
therefore, went no farther than some discourse on the subject of "animal
magnetism," and a little practical by-play, that shall be related in its
place.

M. C---- did not attempt ascending to first principles, in his
explanations. Animal magnetism was animal magnetism--it was a fact, and
not a theory. Its effects were not to be doubted; they depended on
testimony of sufficient validity to dispose of any mere question of
authenticity. All that he attempted was hypothesis, which he invited us
to controvert. He might as well have desired me to demonstrate that the
sun is not a carbuncle. On the _modus operandi_, and the powers of his
art, the doctor was more explicit. There were a great many gradations in
quality in his _somnambules_, some being better and some worse; and
there was also a good deal of difference in the _intensity_ of the
_magnetiser's_. It appears to be settled that the best _somnambules_ are
females, and the best _magnetisers_ males, though the law is not
absolute. I was flattered with being, by nature, a first-rate
magnetiser, and the doctor had not the smallest doubt of his ability to
put me to sleep; and ability, so far as his theory went, I thought it
was likely enough he might possess, though I greatly questioned his
physical means.

I suppose it is _primâ facie_ evidence of credulity, to take the trouble
to inquire into the subject at all; at any rate it was quite evident I
was set down as a good subject, from the moment of my appearance. Even
the _somnambule_ testified to this, though she would not then consent to
be put into a trance in order to give her opinion its mystical sanction.

The powers of a really good _somnambule_ are certainly of a very
respectable class. If a lock of hair be cut from the head of an invalid,
and sent a hundred leagues from the provinces, such a _somnambule_,
properly magnetised, becomes gifted with the faculty to discover the
seat of the disease, however latent; and, by practice, she may even
prescribe the remedy, though this is usually done by a physician, like
M. C----, who is regularly graduated. The _somnambule_ is, properly,
only versed in pathology, any other skill she may discover being either
a consequence of this knowledge, or the effects of observation and
experience. The powers of a _somnambule_ extend equally to the _morale_
as well as to the _physique_. In this respect a phrenologist is a pure
quack in comparison with a lady in a trance. The latter has no
dependence on bumps and organs, but she looks right through you, at a
glance, and pronounces _ex cathedrâ_, whether you are a rogue, or an
honest man; a well-disposed, or an evil-disposed child of Adam. In this
particular, it is an invaluable science, and it is a thousand pities all
young women were not magnetised before they pronounce the fatal vows, as
not a few of them would probably wake up, and cheat the parson of his
fee. Our sex is difficult to be put asleep, and are so obstinate, that I
doubt if they would be satisfied with a shadowy glimpse of the temper
and dispositions of their mistresses.

You may possibly think I am trifling with you, and that I invent as I
write. On the contrary, I have not related one half of the miraculous
powers which being magnetised imparts to the thoroughly good
_somnambule_, as they were related to me by M. C----, and vouched for by
four or five of his patients who were present, as well as by my own
companion, a firm believer in the doctrine. M. C---- added that
_somnambules_ improve by practice, as well as _magnetisers_, and that he
has such command over one of his _somnambules_ that he can put her to
sleep, by a simple effort of the will, although she may be in her own
apartment, in an adjoining street. He related the story of M. Cloquet
and the cancer, with great unction, and asked me what I thought of that?
Upon my word, I did not very well know what I did think of it, unless it
was to think it very queer. It appeared to me to be altogether
extraordinary, especially as I knew M. Cloquet to be a man of talents,
and believe him to be honest.

By this time I was nearly magnetised with second-hand facts; and I
became a little urgent for one or two that were visible to my own sense.
I was promised more testimony, and a sight of the process of magnetising
some water that a patient was to drink. This patient was present; the
very type of credulity. He listened to everything that fell from M.
C---- with a _gusto_ and a faith that might have worked miracles truly,
had it been of the right sort, now and then turning his good-humoured
marvel-eating eyes on me, as much as to say, "What do you think of that,
now?" My companion told me, in English, he was a man of good estate, and
of proved philanthropy, who had no more doubt of the efficacy of animal
magnetism than I had of my being in the room. He had brought with him
two bottles of water, and these M. C---- _magnetised_, by pointing his
fingers at their orifices, rubbing their sides, and ringing his hands
about them as if washing them, in order to disengage the subtle fluid
that was to impart to them their healing properties, for the patient
drank no other water.

Presently a young man came in, of a good countenance and certainly of a
very respectable exterior. As the _somnambule_ had left us, and this
person could not consult her, which was his avowed intention in coming,
M. C---- proposed to let me see his own power as a magnetiser, in an
experiment on this patient. The young man consenting, the parties were
soon prepared. M. C---- began by telling me, that he would, by _a
transfusion of his will_, into the body of the patient, compel him to
sit still, although his own desire should be to rise. In order to
achieve this, he placed himself before the young man and threw off the
fluid from his fingers' ends, which he kept in a cluster, by constant
forward gestures of the arms. Sometimes he held the fingers pointed at
some particular part of the body, the heart in preference, though the
brain would have been more poetical. The young man certainly did not
rise; neither did I, nor any one else in the room. As this experiment
appeared so satisfactory to everybody else, I was almost ashamed to
distrust it, easy as it really seemed to sit still, with a man
flourishing his fingers before one's eyes.

I proposed that the doctor should see if he could pin me down, in this
invisible fashion, but this he frankly admitted he did not think he
could do _so soon_, though he foresaw I would become a firm believer in
the existence of animal magnetism, ere long, and a public supporter of
its wonders. In time, he did not doubt his power to work the same
miracle on me. He then varied the experiment, by making the young man
raise his arm _contrary_ to his wishes. The same process was repealed,
all the fluid being directed at the arm, which, after a severe trial,
was slowly raised, until it pointed forward like a finger-board. After
this he was made to stand up, in spite of himself. This was the hardest
affair of all, the doctor throwing off the fluid in handfuls; the
magnetised refusing for some time to budge an inch. At length he
suddenly stood up, and seemed to draw his breath like one who finally
yields after a strong trial of his physical force.

Nothing, certainly, is easier than for a young man to sit still and to
stand up, pretending that he strives internally to resist the desire to
do either. Still, if you ask me, if I think this was simple collusion, I
hardly know what to answer. It is the easiest solution, and yet it did
not strike me as being the true one. I never saw less of the appearance
of deception than in the air of this young man; his face, deportment,
and acts being those of a person in sober earnest. He made no
professions, was extremely modest, and really seemed anxious not to have
the experiments tried. To my question, if he resisted the will of M.
C----, he answered, as much as he could, and said, that when he rose, he
did it because he could not help himself. I confess myself disposed to
believe in his sincerity and good faith.

I had somewhat of a reputation, when a boy, of effecting my objects by
pure dint of teasing. Many is the shilling I have abstracted, in this
way, from my mother's purse, who, constantly affirmed that it was sore
against her will. Now, it seems to me, that M. C---- may, very easily,
have acquired so much command over a credulous youth, as to cause him to
do things of this nature, as he may fancy, against his own will. Signs
are the substitutes of words, which of themselves are purely
conventional, and, in his case, the flourishing of the fingers are
merely so many continued solicitations to get up. When the confirmation
of a theory that is already received, and which is doubly attractive by
its mysticisms, depends, in some measure, on the result, the experiment
becomes still less likely to fail. It is stripping one of all
pretensions to be a physiognomist, to believe that this young man was
not honest; and I prefer getting over the difficulty in this way. As to
the operator himself, he might, or might not, be the dupe of his own
powers. If the former, I think it would, on the whole, render him the
more likely to succeed with his subject.

After a visit or two, I was considered sufficiently advanced to be
scientifically examined. One of the very best of the _somnambules_ was
employed on the occasion, and everything being in readiness, she was put
to sleep. There was a faith-shaking brevity in this process, which, to
say the least, if not fraudulent, was ill-judged. The doctor merely
pointed his fingers at her once or twice, looking her intently in the
eye, and the woman gaped; this success was followed up by a flourish or
two of the hand, and the woman slept, or was magnetised. Now this was
hardly sufficient even for my theory of the influence of the
imagination. One could have wished the _somnambule_ had not been so
drowsy. But there she was, with her eyes shut, giving an occasional
hearty gape, and the doctor declared her perfectly lit for service. She
retained her seat, however, moved her body, laughed, talked, and, in all
other respects, seemed to be precisely the woman she was before he
pointed his fingers at her. At first, I felt a disposition to manifest
that more parade was indispensable to humbugging me (who am not the
Pope, you will remember), but reflection said, the wisest way was to
affect a little faith, as the surest means of securing more experiments.
Moreover, I am not certain, on the whole, that the simplicity of the
operation is not in favour of the sincerity of the parties; for, were
deception deliberately planned, it would be apt to call in the aid of
more mummery, and this, particularly, in a case in which there was
probably a stronger desire than usual to make a convert.

I gave the _somnambule_ my hand, and the examination was commenced,
forthwith. I was first physically inspected, and the report was highly
favourable to the condition of the animal. I had the satisfaction of
hearing from this high authority, that the whole machinery of the mere
material man was in perfect order, everything working well and in its
proper place. This was a little contrary to my own experience, it is
true, but as I had no means of seeing the interior clock-work of my own
frame, like the _somnambule_, had I ventured to raise a doubt, it would
have been overturned by the evidence of one who had ocular proofs of
what she said, and should, beyond question, have incurred the ridicule
of being accounted a _malade imaginaire_.

Modesty must prevent my recording all that this obliging _somnambule_
testified to, on the subject of my _morale_. Her account of the matter
was highly satisfactory, and I must have been made of stone, not to
credit her and her mysticisms. M. C---- looked at me again and again,
with an air of triumph, as much as to say, "What do you think of all
that now?--are you not _really_ the noble, honest, virtuous,
disinterested, brave creature, she has described you to be?" I can
assure you, it required no little self-denial to abstain from becoming a
convert to the whole system. As it is very unusual to find a man with a
good head, who has not a secret inclination to believe in phrenology, so
does he, who is thus purified by the scrutiny of animal magnetism, feel
disposed to credit its mysterious influence. Certainly, I might have
gaped, in my turn, and commenced the moral and physical dissection of
the _somnambule_, whose hand I held, and no one could have given me the
lie, for nothing is easier than to speak _ex cathedrâ_, when one has a
monopoly of knowledge.

Encouraged by this flattering account of my own condition, I begged hard
for some more indisputable evidence of the truth of the theory. I
carried a stop-watch, and as I had taken an opportunity to push the stop
on entering the room, I was particularly desirous that the _somnambule_
should tell me the time indicated by its hands, a common test of their
powers, I had been told; but to this M. C---- objected, referring
everything of this tangible nature to future occasions. In fine, I could
get nothing during three or four visits, but pretty positive assertions,
expressions of wonder that I should affect to doubt what had been so
often and so triumphantly proved to others, accounts physical and moral,
like the one of which I had been the subject myself, and which did not
admit of either confirmation or refutation, and often-repeated
declarations, that the time was not distant when, in my own unworthy
person, I was to become one of the most powerful magnetisers of the age.
All this did very well to amuse, but very little towards convincing; and
I was finally promised, that at my next visit, the _somnambule_ would be
prepared to show her powers, in a way that would not admit of cavil.

I went to the appointed meeting with a good deal of curiosity to learn
the issue, and a resolution not to be easily duped. When I presented
myself (I believe it was the fourth visit), M. C---- gave me a sealed
paper, that was not to be opened for several weeks, and which, he said,
contained the prediction of an event that was to occur to myself,
between the present time and the day set for the opening of the letter,
and which the _somnambule_ had been enabled to foresee, in consequence
of the interest she took in me and mine. With this sealed revelation,
then, I was obliged to depart, to await the allotted hour.

M. C---- had promised to be present at the opening of the seal, but he
did not appear. I dealt fairly by him, and the cover was first formally
removed, on the evening of the day endorsed on its back, as the one when
it would be permitted. The _somnambule_ had foretold that, in the
intervening time, one of my children would be seriously ill, that I
should magnetise it, and the child would recover. Nothing of the sort
had occurred. No one of the family had been ill, I had not attempted to
magnetise any one, or even dreamed of it, and, of course, the whole
prediction was a complete failure.

To do M. C---- justice, when he heard the result, he manifested surprise
rather than any less confident feeling. I was closely questioned, first,
as to whether either of the family had not been ill, and secondly,
whether I had not felt a secret desire to magnetise any one of them. To
all these interrogatories, truth compelled me to give unqualified
negatives. I had hardly thought of the subject during the whole time. As
this interview took place at my own house, politeness compelled me to
pass the matter off as lightly as possible. There happened to be several
ladies present, however, the evening M. C---- called, and, thinking the
occasion a good one for him to try his powers on some one besides his
regular _somnambules_, I invited him to magnetise any one of the party
who might be disposed to submit to the process. To this he made no
difficulty, choosing an English female friend as the subject of the
experiment. The lady in question raised no objection, and the doctor
commenced with great zeal, and with every appearance of faith in his own
powers. No effect, however, was produced on this lady, or on one or two
more of the party, all of whom obstinately refused even to gape. M.
C---- gave the matter up, and soon after took his leave, and thus closed
my personal connexion with animal magnetism.

If you ask me for the conclusions I have drawn from these facts, I shall
be obliged to tell you, that I am in doubt how far the parties concerned
deceived others, and how far they deceived themselves. It is difficult
to discredit entirely all the testimony that has been adduced in behalf
of this power; and one is consequently obliged to refer all the
established facts to the influence of the imagination. Then testimony
itself is but a precarious thing, different eyes seeing the same objects
in different lights.

Let us take ventriloquism as a parallel case to that of animal
magnetism. Ventriloquism is neither more nor less than imitation; and
yet, aided by the imagination, perhaps a majority of those who know
anything about it, are inclined to believe there is really such a
faculty as that which is vulgarly attributed to ventriloquism. The whole
art of the ventriloquist consists in making such sounds as would be
produced by a person, or thing, that should be actually in the
circumstances that he wishes to represent. Let there be, for instance,
five or six sitting around a table, in a room with a single door; a
ventriloquist among them wishes to mislead his companions, by making
them believe that another is applying for admission. All he has to do,
is to make a sound similar to that which a person on the outside would
make, in applying for admission. "Open the door, and let me in," uttered
in such a manner, would deceive any one who was not prepared for the
experiment, simply because men do not ordinarily make such sounds when
sitting near each other, because the words themselves would draw the
attention to the door, and because the sounds would be suited to the
fictitious application. If there were _two_ doors, the person first
moving his head towards one of them, would probably give a direction to
the imaginations of all the others; unless, indeed, the ventriloquist
himself, by his words, or his own movements, as is usually the case,
should assume the initiative. Every ventriloquist takes especial care to
_direct_ the imagination of his listener to the desired point, either by
what he says, by some gesture, or by some movement. Such, undeniably, is
the fact in regard to ventriloquism; for we know enough of the
philosophy of sound, to be certain it can he nothing else. One of the
best ventriloquists of this age, after affecting to resist this
explanation of his mystery, candidly admitted to me, on finding that I
stuck to the principles of reason, that all his art consisted of no more
than a power to control the imagination by imitation supported
occasionally by acting. And yet I once saw this man literally turn a
whole family out of doors, in a storm, by an exercise of his art. On
that occasion, so complete was the delusion, that the good people of the
house actually fancied sounds which came from the ventriloquist, came
from a point considerably beyond the place where they stood, and on the
side _opposite_ to that occupied by the speaker, although they stood at
the top of a flight of steps, and he stood at the bottom. All this time,
the sounds appeared to me to come from the place whence, by the laws of
sound, except in cases of reverberation, and of the influence of the
imagination, they only could appear to come; or, in other words, from
the mouth of the ventriloquist himself. Now, if the imagination can
effect so much, even in crowded assemblies, composed of people of all
degrees of credulity, intelligence, and strength of mind, and when all
are prepared, in part at least, for the delusion, what may it not be
expected to produce on minds peculiarly suited to yield to its
influence, and this, too, when the prodigy takes the captivating form of
mysticism and miracles!

In the case of the patient of M. Cloquet, we are reduced to the
alternatives of denying the testimony, of believing that recourse was
had to drugs, of referring all to the force of the imagination, or of
admitting the truth of the doctrine of animal magnetism. The character
of M. Cloquet, and the motiveless folly of such a course, compel us to
reject the first; the second can hardly be believed, as the patient had
not the appearance of being drugged, and the possession of such a secret
would be almost as valuable as the art in question itself. The doctrine
of animal magnetism we cannot receive, on account of the want of
uniformity and exactitude in the experiments; and I think, we are fairly
driven to take refuge in the force of the imagination. Before doing
this, however, we ought to make considerable allowances for
exaggerations, colouring, and the different manner in which men are apt
to regard the same thing. My young American friend, who _did_ believe in
animal magnetism, viewed several of the facts I have related with eyes
more favourable than mine, although even he was compelled to allow that
M. C---- had much greater success with himself, than with your humble
servant.



LETTER XXIII.


Preparations for Departure.--My Consulate.--Leave
Paris.--Picardy.--Cressy.--Montreuil.--Gate of Calais.--Port of
Calais.--Magical Words.


To R. COOPER, ESQ., COOPERSTOWN.

We entered France in July, 1826, and having remained in and about the
French capital until February, 1828, we thought it time to change the
scene. Paris is effectually the centre of Europe, and a residence in it
is the best training an American can have, previously to visiting the
other parts of that quarter of the world. Its civilisation, usages, and
facilities take the edge off our provincial admiration, remove
prejudices, and prepare the mind to receive new impressions, with more
discrimination and tact. I would advise all our travellers to make this
their first stage, and then to visit the North of Europe, before
crossing the Alps or the Pyrenees. Most people, however, hurry into the
South, with a view to obtain the best as soon as possible; but it is
with this, as in most of our enjoyments, a too eager indulgence defeats
its own aim.

We had decided to visit London, where the season, _or winter_, would
soon commence. The necessary arrangements were made, and we sent round
our cards of p.p.c. and obtained passports. On the very day we were to
quit Paris, an American friend wrote me a note to say that a young
connexion of his was desirous of going to London, and begged a place for
her in my carriage. It is, I believe, a peculiar and a respectable trait
in the national character, that we so seldom hesitate about asking, or
acceding to, favours of this sort. Whenever woman is concerned, our own
sex yield, and usually without murmuring. At all events, it was so with
W----, who cheerfully gave up his seat in the carriage to Miss ----, in
order to take one in the _coupé_ of the diligence. The notice was so
short, and the hour so late, that there was no time to get a passport
for him, and, as he was included in mine, I was compelled to run the
risk of sending him to the frontiers without one. I was a consul at the
time,--a titular one as to duties, but in reality as much of a consul as
if I had ever visited my consulate.[34] The only official paper I
possessed, in connexion with the office, the commission and _exequatur_
excepted, was a letter from the Préfet of the Rhône, acknowledging the
receipt of the latter. As this was strictly a French document, I gave it
to W---- as proof of my identity, accompanied by a brief statement of
the reasons why he was without a passport, begging the authorities at
Need to let him pass as far as the frontier, where I should be in season
to prove his character. This statement I signed as consul, instructing
W---- to show it, if applied to for a passport; and if the gendarmes
disavowed me, to show the letter, by way of proving who I was. The
expedient was clumsy enough, but it was the best that offered.

[Footnote 34: There being so strong a propensity to cavil at American
facts, lest this book might fall into European hands, it may be well to
explain a little. The consulate of the writer was given to him solely to
avoid the appearance of going over to the enemy, during his residence
abroad. The situation conferred neither honour nor profit, there being
no salary, and, in his case, not fees enough to meet the expense of the
office opened by a deputy. The writer suspects he was much too true to
the character and principles of his native country, to be voluntarily
selected by its Government as the object of its honours or rewards, and
it is certain he never solicited either. There are favours, it would
seem, that are reserved, in America, for those who most serve the
interests of her enemies! A day of retribution will come.]

This arrangement settled, we got into the carriage, and took our leave
of Paris. Before quitting the town, however, I drove round to the Rue
d'Anjou, to take my leave of General Lafayette. This illustrious man had
been seriously ill for some weeks, and I had many doubts of my ever
seeing him again. He did not conceive himself to be in any danger,
however; but spoke of his speedy recovery as a matter of course, and
made an engagement with me for the ensuing summer. I bade him adieu,
with a melancholy apprehension that I should never see him again.

We drove through the gates of Paris, amid the dreariness of a winter's
evening. You are to understand that everybody quits London and Paris
just as night sets in. I cannot tell you whether this is caprice, or
whether it is a usage that has arisen from a wish to have the day in
town, and a desire to relieve the monotony of roads so often travelled,
by sleep; but so it is. We did not fall into the fashion simply because
it is a fashion, but the days are so short in February in these high
latitudes, that we could not make our preparations earlier.

I have little agreeable to say concerning the first forty miles of the
journey. It rained; and the roads were, as usual, slippery with mud, and
full of holes. The old _pavés_ are beginning to give way, however, and
we actually got a bit of _terre_ within six posts of Paris. This may be
considered a triumph of modern civilisation; for, whatever may be said
and sung in favour of Appian ways and Roman magnificence, a more cruel
invention for travellers and carriage-wheels, than these _pavés_, was
never invented. A real Paris winter's day is the most uncomfortable of
all weather. If you walk, no device of leather will prevent the moisture
from penetrating to your heart; if you ride, it is but an affair of mud
and _gras de Paris_. We enjoyed all this until nine at night, by which
time we had got enough of it; and in Beauvais, instead of giving the
order _à la poste_, the postilion was told to go to an inn. A warm
supper and good beds put us all in good-humour again.

In putting into the mouth of Falstaff the words, "Shall I not take mine
ease in mine inn?" Shakspeare may have meant no more than the drowsy
indolence of a glutton; but they recur to me with peculiar satisfaction
whenever I get unbooted, and with a full stomach before the warm fire of
an hotel, after a fatiguing and chilling day's work. If any man doubt
whether Providence has not dealt justly by all of us in rendering our
enjoyments dependent on comparative rather than on positive benefits,
let him travel through a dreary day, and take his comfort at night in a
house where everything is far below his usual habits, and learn to
appreciate the truth. The sweetest sleep I have ever had has been caught
on deck, in the middle watch, under a wet pee-jacket, and with a coil of
rope for a pillow.

Our next day's work carried us as far as Abbeville, in Picardy. Here we
had a capital supper of game, in a room that set us all shivering with
good honest cold. The beds, as usual, were excellent. The country
throughout all this part of France, is tame and monotonous, with wide
reaches of grain-lands that are now brown and dreary, here and there a
wood, and the usual villages of dirty stonehouses. We passed a few
hamlets, however, that were more than commonly rustic and picturesque,
and in which the dwellings seemed to be of mud, and were thatched. As
they were mostly very irregular in form, the street winding through them
quite prettily, they would have been good in their way, had there been
any of the simple expedients of taste to relieve their poverty. But the
French peasants of this province appear to think of little else but
their wants. There was occasionally a venerable and generous old vine
clinging about the door, however, to raise some faint impressions of
happiness.

We passed through, or near, the field of Cressy. By the aid of the
books, we fancied we could trace the positions of the two armies; but it
was little more than very vague conjecture. There was a mead, a breadth
of field well adapted to cavalry, and a wood. The river is a mere brook,
and could have offered but little protection, or resistance, to the
passage of any species of troops. I saw no village, and we may not have
been within a mile of the real field, after all. Quite likely; no one
knows where it is. It is very natural that the precise sites of great
events should be lost, though our own history is so fresh and full, that
to us it is apt to appear extraordinary. In a conversation with a
gentleman of the Stanley family, lately, I asked him if Latham-House, so
celebrated for its siege in the civil wars, was still in the possession
of its ancient proprietors. I was told it no longer existed, and that,
until quite recently, its positive site was a disputed point, and one
which had only been settled by the discovery of a hole in a rock, in
which shot had been cast during the siege, and which hole was known to
have formerly been in a court. It is no wonder that doubts exist as to
the identity of Homer, or the position of Troy.

We have anglicised the word Cressy, which the French term Crécy, or, to
give it a true Picard orthography, Créci. Most of the names that have
this termination are said to be derived from this province. Many of them
have become English, and have undergone several changes in the spelling.
Tracy, or Tracey; de Courcy, or de Courcey; Montmorency; and Lacy, or
Lacey, were once "Traci," "Courci," "Montmorenci," and "Laci." [35] The
French get over the disgrace of their ancient defeats very ingeniously,
by asserting that the English armies of old were principally composed of
Norman soldiers, and that the chivalrous nobility which performed such
wonders were of purely Norman blood. The latter was probably more true
than the former.

[Footnote 35: The celebrated Sir William Draper was once present when the
subject turned on the descent of families, and the changes that names
underwent. "Now my own is a proof of what I say," he continued, with the
intention to put an end to a discourse that was getting to savour of
family pride; "my family being directly derived from King Pepin." "How
do you make that out, Sir William?" "By self-evident orthographical
testimony, as you may see,--Pepin, Pipkin, Napkin, Diaper, Draper."]

As we drew nearer to the coast, the country became more varied.
Montreuil and Samer are both fortified; and one of these places,
standing on an abrupt, rocky eminence, is quite picturesque and quaint.
But we did not stop to look at anything very minutely, pushing forward,
as fast as three horses could draw us, for the end of our journey. A
league or two from Boulogne we were met by a half-dozen mounted runners
from the different inns, each inviting us to give our custom to his
particular employer. These fellows reminded me of the wheat-runners on
the hill at Albany; though they were as much more clamorous and earnest,
as a noisy protestation-making Frenchman is more obtrusive, than a
shrewd, quiet, calculating Yankee. We did not stop in Boulogne to try
how true were the voluble representations of these gentry, but, changing
horses at the post, went our way. The town seemed full of English; and
we gazed about us, with some curiosity, at a place that has become so
celebrated by the great demonstration of Napoleon. There is a high
monument standing at no great distance from the town, to commemorate one
of his military parades. The port is small and crowded, like most of the
harbours on both sides of the Channel.

We had rain, and chills, and darkness, for the three or four posts that
succeeded. The country grew more and more tame, until, after crossing an
extensive plain of moist meadow-land, we passed through the gate of
Calais. I know no place that will give you a more accurate notion of
this celebrated port than Powles Hook. It is, however, necessary to
enlarge the scale greatly, for Calais is a town of some size, and the
hommock on which it stands, and the low land by which it is environed,
are much more considerable in extent than the spot just named.

We drove to the inn that Sterne has immortalised, or one at least that
bears the same name, and found English comfort united with French
cookery and French taste. After all, I do not know why I may not say
French comforts too; for in many respects they surpass their island
neighbours even in this feature of domestic comfort. It is a comfort to
have a napkin even when eating a muffin; to see one's self entire in a
mirror, instead of _edging_ the form into it, or out of it, sideways; to
drink good coffee; to eat good _côtelettes;_ and to be able to wear the
same linen for a day, without having it soiled. The Bible says, "Comfort
me with flagons, or apples," I really forget which,--and if either of
these is to be taken as authority, a _côtelette_ may surely be admitted
into the _carte de conforts_.

We found Calais a clear town, and pressing a certain medium aspect, that
was as much English as French. The position is strong, though I was not
much struck with the strength of the works. England has no motive to
wish to possess it, now that conquest on the Continent is neither
expedient nor possible. The port is good for nothing, in a warlike
sense, except to protect a privateer or two; though the use of steam
will probably make it of more importance in any future war, than it has
been for the last two centuries.

We found W---- safely arrived. At one of the frontier towns he had been
asked for his passport, and in his fright he gave the letter of the
Préfet of the Rhône, instead of the explanation I had so cleverly
devised. This letter commenced with the words "Monsieur le Consul" in
large letters, and occupying, according to French etiquette, nearly half
of the first page. The gendarme, a _vieux moustache_, held his lantern
up to read it, and seeing this ominous title, it would seem that
Napoleon, and Marengo, and all the glories of the Consulate, arose in
his imagination. He got no further than those three words, which he
pronounced aloud; and then folding the letter, he returned it with a
profound bow, asking no further questions. As the diligence drove on,
W---- heard him say, "Apparemment vous avez un homme très-considérable
là-dedans, Monsieur le Conducteur." So much for our fears, for
passports, and for gendarmes!

We went to bed, with the intention of embarking for England in the
morning.

THE END





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