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Title: Paris and the Parisians in 1835 (Vol. 1 of 2)
Author: Trollope, Frances Milton, 1780-1863
Language: English
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Transcriber's Note:

  Inconsistent hyphenation and spelling in the original document have
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     PARIS AND THE PARISIANS
     IN 1835.
     VOL. I.



     Preparing for publication, by the same Author,
     In 3 vols. post 8vo. with 15 Characteristic Engravings.

     THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES
     OF
     JONATHAN JEFFERSON WHITLAW
     OR,
     SCENES ON THE MISSISSIPPI.



     PARIS AND THE PARISIANS,
     IN 1835.

     VOL. I.

     [Illustration: Drawn & Etched by A. Hervieu.]

     LONDON:
     RICHARD BENTLEY, NEW BURLINGTON STREET.
     Publisher in Ordinary to His Majesty,
     1835.



     PARIS
     AND
     THE PARISIANS
     IN 1835.

     BY FRANCES TROLLOPE,
     AUTHOR OF "DOMESTIC MANNERS OF THE AMERICANS,"
     "TREMORDYN CLIFF," &c.

     "Le pire des états, c'est l'état populaire."--CORNEILLE.

     IN TWO VOLUMES.

     VOL. I.

     LONDON:
     RICHARD BENTLEY, NEW BURLINGTON STREET,
     Publisher in Ordinary to His Majesty.
     1836.



     LONDON:
     PRINTED BY SAMUEL BENTLEY,
     Dorset Street, Fleet Street.



PREFACE.


From the very beginning of reading and writing--nay, doubtless from
the very beginning of speaking,--TRUTH, immortal TRUTH has been the
object of ostensible worship to all who read and to all who listen;
and, in the abstract, it is unquestionably held in sincere veneration
by all: yet, in the detail of every-day practice, the majority of
mankind often hate it, and are seen to bear pain, disappointment, and
sorrow more patiently than its honoured voice when it echoes not their
own opinion.

Preconceived notions generally take a much firmer hold of the mind
than can be obtained by any statement, however clear and plain, which
tends to overthrow them; and if it happen that these are connected
with an honest intention of being right, they are often mistaken for
principles;--in which case the attempt to shake them is considered not
merely as a folly, but a sin.

With this conviction strongly impressed upon my mind, it requires some
moral courage to publish these volumes; for they are written in
conformity to the opinions of ... perhaps none,--and, worse still,
there is that in them which may be considered as contradictory to my
own. Had I before my late visit to Paris written a book for the
purpose of advocating the opinions I entertained on the state of the
country, it certainly would have been composed in a spirit by no means
according in all points with that manifested in the following pages:
but while profiting by every occasion which permitted me to mix with
distinguished people of all parties, I learnt much of which I was--in
common, I suspect, with many others--very profoundly ignorant. I found
good where I looked for mischief--strength where I anticipated
weakness--and the watchful wisdom of cautious legislators, most
usefully at work for the welfare of their country, instead of the
crude vagaries of a revolutionary government, active only in leading
blindfold the deluded populace who trusted to them.

The result of this was, first a wavering, and then a change of
opinion,--not as to the immutable laws which should regulate
hereditary succession, or the regret that it should ever have been
deemed expedient to violate them--but as to the wisest way in which
the French nation, situated as it actually is, can be governed, so as
best to repair the grievous injuries left by former convulsions, and
most effectually to guard against a recurrence of them in future.

That the present policy of France keeps these objects steadily in
view, and that much wisdom and courage are at work to advance them,
cannot be doubted; and those most anxious to advocate the sacred cause
of well-ordered authority amongst all the nations of the earth should
be the first to bear testimony to this truth.

     London, December 1835.



     CONTENTS
     TO
     THE FIRST VOLUME.


       LETTER I.
     Difficulty of giving a systematic account of what is doing
     in France.--Pleasure of revisiting Paris after long
     absence.--What is changed; what remains the same.          Page 1

       LETTER II.
     Absence of the English Embassy.--Trial of the Lyons
     Prisoners.--Church of the Madeleine.--Statue of Napoleon.       7

       LETTER III.
     Slang.--Les Jeunes Gens de Paris.--La Jeune France.
     --Rococo.--Décousu.                                            12

       LETTER IV.
     Théâtre Français.--Mademoiselle Mars.--Elmire.--'Charlotte
     Brown.'--Extract from a Sermon.                                17

       LETTER V.
     Exhibition of Living Artists at the Louvre.--The
     Deluge.--Poussin and Martin.--Portraits.--Appearance of the
     company.                                                       22

       LETTER VI.
     Society.--Morality.--False Impressions and False Reports.
     --Observations from a Frenchman on a recent publication.       32

       LETTER VII.
     Alarm created by the Trial of the Lyons Prisoners.--Visits
     from a Republican and from a Doctrinaire: reassured
     by the promises of safety and protection received from the
     latter.                                                        41

       LETTER VIII.
     Eloquence of the Pulpit.--L'Abbé Coeur.--Sermon at
     St. Roch.--Elegant Congregation.--Costume of the younger
     Clergy.                                                        50

       LETTER IX.
     Literature of the Revolutionary School.--Its low estimation
     in France.                                                     59

       LETTER X.
     Lonchamps.--The "Three Hours' Agony" at St. Roch.--Sermons
     on the Gospel of Good-Friday.--Prospects of the Catholics.
     --O'Connell.                                                   66

      LETTER XI.
     Trial Chamber at the Luxembourg.--Institute.--M. Mignet.
     --Concert Musard.                                              76

       LETTER XII.
     Easter-Sunday at Notre Dame.--Archbishop.--View of
     Paris.--Victor Hugo.--Hôtel Dieu.--Mr. Jefferson.              83

       LETTER XIII.
     "Le Monomane".                                                 91

       LETTER XIV.
     The Gardens of the Tuileries.--Legitimatist.--Republican.
     --Doctrinaire.--Children.--Dress of the Ladies.--Of the
     Gentlemen.--Black Hair.--Unrestricted Admission.--Anecdote.   101

       LETTER XV.
     Street Police.--Cleaning Beds.--Tinning Kettles.--Building
     Houses.--Loading Carts.--Preparing for the Scavenger.--Want
     of Drains.--Bad Pavement.--Darkness.                          112

       LETTER XVI.
     Preparations for the Fête du Roi.--Arrival of Troops.--Champs
     Elysées.--Concert in the Garden of the Tuileries.--Silence
     of the People.--Fireworks.                                    120

       LETTER XVII.
     Political chances.--Visit from a Republican.--His high
     spirits at the prospects before him.--His advice to me
     respecting my name.--Removal of the Prisoners from
     Ste. Pélagie.--Review.--Garde de Paris.--The National
     Guard.                                                        130

       LETTER XVIII.
     First Day of the Trials.--Much blustering, but no riot.--All
     alarm subsided.--Proposal for inviting Lord B----m
     to plead at the Trial.--Society.--Charm of idle conversation.
     --The Whisperer of good stories.                              141

       LETTER XIX.
     Victor Hugo.--Racine.                                         151

       LETTER XX.
     Versailles.--St. Cloud.                                       170

       LETTER XXI.
     History of the Vicomte de B----. His opinions.--State
     of France.--Expediency.                                       180

       LETTER XXII.
     Père Lachaise.--Mourning in public.--Defacing the Tomb
     of Abelard and Eloïsa.--Baron Munchausen.--Russian
     Monument.--Statue of Manuel.                                  189

       LETTER XXIII.
     Remarkable People.--Distinguished People.--Metaphysical
     Lady.                                                         196

       LETTER XXIV.
     Expedition to the Luxembourg.--No admittance for
     Females.--Portraits of "Henri."--Republican Costume.--Quai
     Voltaire.--Mural Inscriptions.--Anecdote of Marshal
     Lobau.--Arrest.                                               206

       LETTER XXV.
     Chapelle Expiatoire.--Devotees seen there.--Tri-coloured
     flag out of place there.--Flower Market of the Madeleine.
     --Petites Maîtresses.                                         220

       LETTER XXVI.
     Delicacy in France and in England.--Causes of the
     difference between them.                                      227

       LETTER XXVII.
     Objections to quoting the names of private individuals.
     --Impossibility of avoiding Politics.--_Parceque_ and
     _Quoique_.--Soirée Antithestique.                             237

       LETTER XXVIII.
     New Publications.--M. de Lamartine's "Souvenirs, Impressions,
     Pensées, et Paysages."--Tocqueville and Beaumont.--New
     American regulation.--M. Scribe.--Madame
     Tastu.--Reception of different Writers in society.            249

       LETTER XXIX.
     Sunday in Paris.--Family Groups.--Popular Enjoyment.
     --Polytechnic Students.--Their resemblance to the figure
     of Napoleon.--Enduring attachment to the Emperor.
     --Conservative spirit of the English Schools.--Sunday in
     the Gardens of the Tuileries.--Religion of the Educated.
     --Popular Opinion.                                            257

       LETTER XXX.
     Madame Récamier.--Her Morning Parties.--Gérard's
     Picture of Corinne.--Miniature of Madame de Staël.--M.
     de Châteaubriand.--Conversation on the degree in which
     the French Language is understood by Foreigners.--The
     necessity of speaking French.                                 269

       LETTER XXXI.
     Exhibition of Sèvres China at the Louvre.--Gobelins and
     Beauvais Tapestry.--Legitimatist Father and Doctrinaire
     Son.--Copies from the Medicean Gallery.                       281

       LETTER XXXII.
     Eglise Apostolique Française.--Its doctrine.--L'Abbé Auzou.
     --His Sermon on "les Plaisirs Populaires."                    290

       LETTER XXXIII.
     Establishment for Insane Patients at Vanves.--Description
     of the arrangements.--Englishman.--His religious madness.     307

       LETTER XXXIV.
     Riot at the Porte St. Martin.--Prevented by a shower
     of Rain.--The Mob in fine weather.--How to stop Emeutes.
     --Army of Italy.--Théâtre Français.--Mademoiselle Mars
     in Henriette.--Disappearance of Comedy.                       319

       LETTER XXXV.
     Soirée dansante.--Young Ladies.--Old Ladies.--Anecdote.--The
     Consolations of Chaperones.--Flirtations.--Discussion upon
     the variations between young Married Women in France and in
     England.--Making love by deputy.--Not likely to answer in
     England.                                                      329

       LETTER XXXVI.
     Improvements of Paris.--Introduction of Carpets and
     Trottoirs.--Maisonnettes.--Not likely to answer in Paris.
     --The necessity of a Porter and Porter's Lodge.--Comparative
     Expenses of France and England.--Increasing Wealth of the
     Bourgeoisie.                                                  347

       LETTER XXXVII.
     Horrible Murder.--La Morgue.--Suicides.--Vanity.
     --Anecdote.--Influence of Modern Literature.--Different
     appearance of Poverty in France and England.                  358

       LETTER XXXVIII.
     Opéra Comique.--"Cheval de Bronze."--"La Marquise."
     --Impossibility of playing Tragedy.--Mrs. Siddons's
     Readings.--Mademoiselle Mars has equal power.--_Laisser
     aller_ of the Female Performers.--Decline of Theatrical
     Taste among the Fashionable.                                  371

       LETTER XXXIX.
     The Abbé de Lamennais.--Cobbett.--O'Connell.--Napoleon.
     --Robespierre.                                                381

       LETTER XL.
     Which Party is it ranks second in the estimation of
     all?--No Caricatures against the Exiles.--Horror of a
     Republic.                                                     389

       LETTER XLI.
     M. Dupré.--His Drawings in Greece.--L'Eglise des
     Carmes.--M. Vinchon's Picture of the National Convention.
     --Léopold Robert's Fishermen.--Reported cause of his
     Suicide.--Roman Catholic Religion.--Mr. Daniel O'Connell.     400

       LETTER XLII.
     Old Maids.--Rarely to be found in France.--The reasons
     for this.                                                     408



     EMBELLISHMENTS
     TO
     THE FIRST VOLUME.


     Louvre                                                    Page 30

     Morning at the Tuileries Gardens                              106

     "Pro Patria"                                                  140

     "Ce soir, à la Porte St. Martin."--"J'y serai."               218

     Tuileries Gardens (on Sunday)                                 264

     Porte St. Martin                                              322


P. 155, line 2, _read_ given--P. 224, line 23, _read_ new.



     PARIS
     AND THE PARISIANS
     IN 1835.



LETTER I.

      Difficulty of giving a systematic account of what is doing in
      France.--Pleasure of revisiting Paris after long absence.--What
      is changed; what remains the same.


     Paris, 11th April 1835.

     MY DEAR FRIEND,

In visiting Paris it certainly was my intention to describe in print
what I saw and heard there; and to do this as faithfully as possible,
I proposed to continue my old habit of noting in my journal all
things, great and small, in which I took an interest. But the task
frightens me. I have been here but a few days, and I already find
myself preaching and prosing at much greater length than I approve: I
already feel that I am involved in such a mizmaze of interesting
subjects, that to give anything like an orderly and well-arranged
digest of them, would beguile me into attempting a work greatly
beyond my power to execute.

The very most I can hope to do will be but to "skim lightly over the
surface of things;" and in addressing myself to you, I shall feel less
as if I were about to be guilty of the presumption of writing "a work
on France," than if I threw my notes into a less familiar form. I will
then discourse to you, as well as I may, of such things as leave the
deepest impression among the thousand sights and sounds in the midst
of which I am now placed. Should it be our will hereafter that these
letters pass from your hands into those of the public, I trust that
nobody will be so unmerciful as to expect that they shall make them
acquainted with everything past, present, and to come, "respecting the
destinies of this remarkable country."

It must indeed be a bold pen that attempts to write of "Young France,"
as it is at present the fashion to call it, with anything like a
reasonable degree of order and precision, while still surrounded by
all the startling novelties she has to show. To reason of what she has
done, what she is doing, and--more difficult still--of what she is
about to do, would require a steadier head than most persons can
command, while yet turning and twisting in all directions to see what
this Young France looks like.

In truth, I am disposed to believe that whatever I write about it
will be much in the style of the old conundrum--

     "I saw a comet rain down hail
     I saw a cloud" &c.

And here you will remember, that though the things seen are stated in
the most simple and veracious manner, much of the meaning is occult,
depending altogether upon the stopping or pointing of the narrative.
This stopping or pointing I must leave to you, or any other readers I
may happen to have, and confine myself to the plain statement of "I
saw;" for though it is sufficiently easy to see and to hear, I feel
extremely doubtful if I shall always be able to understand.

It is just seven years and seven months since I last visited the
capital of the "Great Nation." The interval is a long one, as a
portion of human life; but how short does it appear when the events
that it has brought forth are contemplated! I left the white banner of
France floating gaily over her palaces, and I find it torn down and
trampled in the dust. The renowned lilies, for so many ages the symbol
of chivalric bravery, are everywhere erased; and it should seem that
the once proud shield of St. Louis is soiled, broken, and reversed for
ever.

But all this was old. France is grown young again; and I am assured
that, according to the present condition of human judgment, everything
is exactly as it should be. Knighthood, glory, shields, banners,
faith, loyalty, and the like, are gone out of fashion; and they say it
is only necessary to look about me a little, to perceive how
remarkably well the present race of Frenchmen can do without them;--an
occupation, it is added, which I shall find much more profitable and
amusing than lamenting over the mouldering records of their ancient
greatness.

The good sense of this remonstrance is so evident, that I am
determined henceforth to profit by it; remembering, moreover, that, as
an Englishwoman, I have certainly no particular call to mourn over the
fading honours of my country's rival. So in future I shall turn my
eyes as much as I can from the tri-coloured flag--(those three stripes
are terribly false heraldry)--and only think of amusing myself; a
business never performed anywhere with so much ease as at Paris.

Since I last saw it, I have journeyed half round the globe; but
nothing I have met in all my wanderings has sufficed to damp the
pleasure with which I enter again this gay, bright, noisy, restless
city,--this city of the living, as beyond all others it may be justly
called.

And where, in truth, can anything be found that shall make its air of
ceaseless jubilee seem tame?--or its thousand depôts of all that is
prettiest in art, lose by comparison with any other pretty things in
the wide world? Where do all the externals of happiness meet the eye
so readily?--or where can the heavy spirit so easily be roused to seek
and find enjoyment? Cold, worn-out, and dead indeed must the heart be
that does not awaken to some throb of pleasure when Paris, after long
absence, comes again in sight! For though a throne has been
overturned, the Tuileries still remain;--though the main stock of a
right royal tree has been torn up, and a scion sprung from one of the
roots, that had run, wildly enough, to a distance, has been barricaded
in, and watered, and nurtured, and fostered into power and strength of
growth to supply its place, the Boulevards, with their matchless
aspect of eternal holiday, are still the same. No commotion, however
violent, has yet been able to cause this light but precious essence of
Parisian attractiveness to evaporate; and while the very foundations
of society have been shaken round them, the old elms go on, throwing
their flickering shadows upon a crowd that--allowing for some vagaries
of the milliner and tailor--might be taken for the very same, and no
other, which has gladdened the eye and enlivened the imagination since
first their green boughs beckoned all that was fairest and gayest in
Paris to meet together beneath them.

Whilst this is the case, and while sundry other enchantments that may
be named in their turn continue to proclaim that Paris is Paris
still, it would be silly quarrelling with something better than
bread-and-butter, did we spend the time of our abode here in dreaming
of what has been, instead of opening our eyes and endeavouring to be
as much awake as possible to look upon all that is.

     Farewell!



LETTER II.

      Absence of the English Embassy.--Trial of the Lyons
      Prisoners.--Church of the Madeleine.--Statue of Napoleon.


It may be doubtful, perhaps, whether the present period[1] be more
favourable or unfavourable for the arrival of English travellers at
Paris. The sort of interregnum which has taken place in our embassy
here deprives us of the centre round which all that is most gay among
the English residents usually revolves; but, on the other hand, the
approaching trial of the Lyons prisoners and their Parisian
accomplices is stirring up from the very bottom all the fermenting
passions of the nation. Every principle, however quietly and
unobtrusively treasured,--every feeling, however cautiously
concealed,--is now afloat; and the most careless observer may expect
to see, with little trouble, the genuine temper of the people.

The genuine temper of the people?--Nay, but this phrase must be mended
ere it can convey to you any idea of what is indeed likely to be made
visible; for, as it stands, it might intimate that the people were of
one temper; and anything less like the truth than this cannot easily
be imagined.

The temper of the people of Paris upon the subject of this "atrocious
trial," as all parties not connected with the government are pleased
to call it, varies according to their politics,--from rage and
execration to ecstasy and delight--from indifference to
enthusiasm--from triumph to despair.

It will be impossible, my friend, to ramble up and down Paris for
eight or nine weeks, with a note-book in my hand, without recurring
again and again to a theme that meets us in every _salon_, murmurs
through the corridors of every theatre, glares from the eyes of the
republican, sneers from the lip of the doctrinaire, and in some shape
or other crosses our path, let it lead in what direction it may.

This being inevitable, the monster must be permitted to protrude its
horns occasionally; nor must I bear the blame should it sometimes
appear to you a very tedious and tiresome monster indeed. Having
announced that its appearance may be frequently expected, I will leave
you for the present in the same state of expectation respecting it
that we are in ourselves; and, while we are still safe from its
threatened violence, indulge in a little peaceable examination of the
still-life part of the picture spread out before me.

The first objects that struck me as new on re-entering Paris, or
rather as changed since I last saw them, were the Column of the Place
Vendôme, and the finished Church of the Madeleine. Finished indeed!
Did Greece ever show any combination of stones and mortar more
graceful, more majestic than this? If she did, it was in the days of
her youth; for, poetical association apart, and the unquestionably
great pleasure of learned investigation set aside, no ruin can
possibly meet the eye with such perfect symmetry of loveliness, or so
completely fill and satisfy the mind, as does this modern temple.

Why might not our National Gallery have risen as noble, as simple, as
beautiful as this?

As for the other novelty--the statue of the sometime Emperor of the
French, I suspect that I looked up at it with rather more approbation
than became an Englishwoman. But in truth, though the name of Napoleon
brings with it reminiscences which call up many hostile feelings, I
can never find myself in Paris without remembering his good, rather
than his terrible actions. Perhaps, too, as one gazes on this brazen
monument of his victories, there may be something soothing in the
recollection that the bold standard he bore never for an instant
wantoned on a British breeze.

However, putting sentiment and personal feeling of every kind apart,
so much that is admirable in Paris owes its origin to him, that his
ambition and his usurpations are involuntarily forgotten, and the use
made of his ill-gotten power almost obliterates the lawless tyranny of
the power itself. The appearance of his statue, therefore, on the top
of the column formed of the cannon taken by the armies of France when
fighting under his command, appeared to me to be the result of an
arrangement founded upon perfect propriety and good taste.

When his effigy was torn down some twenty years ago by the avenging
hands of the Allies, the act was one both of moral justice and of
natural feeling; and that the rightful owners of the throne he had
seized should never have replaced it, can hardly be matter of
surprise: but that it should now again be permitted to look down upon
the fitful fortunes of the French people, has something of historic
propriety in it which pleases the imagination.

This statue of Napoleon offers the only instance I remember in which
that most grotesque of European habiliments, a cocked-hat, has been
immortalized in marble or in bronze with good effect. The original
statue, with its flowing outline of Roman drapery, was erected by a
feeling of pride; but this portrait of him has the every-day familiar
look that could best satisfy affection. Instead of causing the eye to
turn away as it does from some faithful portraitures of modern
costume with positive disgust, this _chapeau à trois cornes_, and the
well-known loose _redingote_, have that air of picturesque truth in
them which is sure to please the taste even where it does not touch
the heart.

To the French themselves this statue is little short of an idol. Fresh
votive wreaths are perpetually hung about its pedestal; and little
draperies of black crape, constantly renewed, show plainly how fondly
his memory is still cherished.

While Napoleon was still among them, the halo of his military glory,
bright as it was, could not so dazzle the eyes of the nation but that
some portentous spots were discerned even in the very nucleus of that
glory itself; but now that it shines upon them across his tomb, it is
gazed at with an enthusiasm of devoted affection which mixes no memory
of error with its regrets.

It would, I think, be very difficult to find a Frenchman, let his
party be what it might, who would speak of Napoleon with disrespect.

I one day passed the foot of his gorgeous pedestal in company with a
legitimate _sans reproche_, who, raising his eyes to the statue,
said--"Notre position, Madame Trollope, est bien dure: nous avons
perdu le droit d'être fidèles, sans avoir plus celui d'être fiers."

FOOTNOTE:

[1] April 1835.



LETTER III.

      Slang.--Les Jeunes Gens de Paris.--La Jeune
      France.--Rococo.--Décousu.


I suppose that, among all people and at all times, a certain portion
of what we call slang will insinuate itself into familiar colloquial
intercourse, and sometimes even dare to make its unsanctioned accents
heard from the tribune and the stage. It appears to me, I confess,
that France is at present taking considerable liberties with her
mother-tongue. But this is a subject which requires for its grave
discussion a native critic, and a learned one too. I therefore can
only venture distantly and doubtingly to allude to it, as one of the
points at which it appears to me that innovation is visibly and
audibly at work.

I know it may be said that every additional word, whether fabricated
or borrowed, adds something to the riches of the language; and no
doubt it does so. But there is a polished grace, a finished elegance
in the language of France, as registered in the writings of her
Augustan age, which may well atone for the want of greater
copiousness, with which it has been sometimes reproached. To increase
its strength, by giving it coarseness, would be like exchanging a
high-mettled racer for a dray-horse. A brewer would tell you, that you
gained in power what you lost in grace: it may be so; but there are
many, I think, even in this age of operatives and utilitarians, who
would regret the change.

This is a theme, however, as I have said before, on which I should not
feel myself justified in saying much. None should pretend to examine,
or at any rate to discuss critically, the niceties of idiom in a
language that is not native to them. But, distinct from any such
presumptuous examination, there are words and phrases lawfully within
the reach of foreign observation, which strike me as remarkable at the
present day, either from their frequent recurrence, or for something
of unusual emphasis in the manner in which they are employed.

_Les jeunes gens de Paris_ appears to me to be one of these. Translate
it, and you find nothing but "the young men of Paris;" which should
seem to have no more imposing meaning than "the young men of London,"
or of any other metropolis. But hear it spoken at Paris--Mercy on me!
it sounds like a thunderbolt. It is not only loud and blustering,
however; you feel that there is something awful--nay, mystical,
implied by the phrase. It appears solemnly to typify the power, the
authority, the learning--ay, and the wisdom too, of the whole nation.

_La Jeune France_ is another of these cabalistic forms of speech, by
which everybody seems expected to understand something great,
terrible, volcanic, and sublime. At present, I confess that both of
these, pronounced as they always are with a sort of mysterious
emphasis, which seems to say that "more is meant than meets the ear,"
produce rather a paralysing effect upon me. I am conscious that I do
not clearly comprehend all the meaning with which they are pregnant,
and yet I am afraid to ask, lest the explanation should prove either
more unintelligible or more alarming than even the words themselves. I
hope, however, that ere long I shall grow more intelligent or less
timid; and whenever this happens, and I conceive that I fully
comprehend their occult meaning, I will not fail to transmit it
faithfully to you.

Besides these phrases, and some others that I may perhaps mention
hereafter as difficult to understand, I have learned a word quite new
to me, and which I suspect has but very recently been introduced into
the French language; at least, it is not to be found in the
dictionaries, and I therefore presume it to be one of those happy
inventions which are permitted from time to time to enrich the power
of expression. How the Academy of former days might have treated it, I
know not; but it seems to me to express a great deal, and might at
this time, I think, be introduced very conveniently into our own
language: at any rate, it may often help me, I think, as a very
useful adjective. This new-born word is "_rococo_," and appears to me
to be applied by the young and innovating to everything which bears
the stamp of the taste, principles, or feelings of time past. That
part of the French population to whom the epithet of _rococo_ is thus
applied, may be understood to contain all varieties of old-fashionism,
from the gentle advocate for laced coats and diamond sword-knots, up
to the high-minded venerable loyalist, who only loves his rightful
king the better because he has no means left to requite his love. Such
is the interpretation of _rococo_ in the mouth of a doctrinaire: but
if a republican speaks it, he means that it should include also every
gradation of orderly obedience, even to the powers that be; and, in
fact, whatever else may be considered as essentially connected either
with law or gospel.

There is another adjective which appears also to recur so frequently
as fully to merit, in the same manner, the distinction of being
considered as fashionable. It is, however, a good old legitimate word,
admirably expressive too, and at present of more than ordinary
utility. This is "_décousu_;" and it seems to be the epithet now given
by the sober-minded to all that smacks of the rambling nonsense of the
new school of literature, and of all those fragments of opinions which
hang so loosely about the minds of the young men who discourse
fashionably of philosophy at Paris.

Were the whole population to be classed under two great divisions, I
doubt if they could be more expressively designated than by these two
appellations, the _décousu_ and the _rococo_. I have already stated
who it is that form the _rococo_ class: the _décousu_ division may be
considered as embracing the whole of the ultra-romantic school of
authors, be they novelists, dramatists, or poets; all shades of
republicans, from the avowed eulogists of the "spirited Robespierre"
to the gentler disciples of Lamennais; most of the schoolboys, and all
the _poissardes_ of Paris.



LETTER IV.

      Théâtre Français.--Mademoiselle Mars.--Elmire.--Charlotte
      Brown.--Extract from a Sermon.


It was not without some expectation of having "Guilty of rococoism"
recorded against me, that I avowed, very soon after my arrival, the
ardent desire I felt of turning my eyes from all that was new, that I
might once again see Mars perform the part of Elmire in the
"Tartuffe."

I was not quite without fear, too, that I was running some risk of
effacing the delightful recollections of the past, by contemplating
the change which seven years had made. I almost feared to let my
children behold a reality that might destroy their _beau idéal_ of the
only perfect actress still remaining on the stage.

But "Tartuffe" was on the bills: it might not soon appear again; an
early dinner was hastily dispatched, and once more I found myself
before the curtain which I had so often seen rise to Talma, Duchenois,
and Mars.

I perceived with great pleasure on reaching the theatre, that the
Parisians, though fickle in all else, were still faithful in their
adoration of Mademoiselle Mars: for now, for perhaps the five
hundredth representation of her Elmire, the barricades were as
necessary, the _queue_ as long and as full, as when, fifteen years
ago, I was first told to remark the wonderful power of attraction
possessed by an actress already greatly past the first bloom of youth
and beauty. Were the Parisians as defensible in their ordinary love of
change as they are in this singular proof of fidelity, it would be
well. It is, however, strange witchery.

That the ear should be gratified, and the feelings awakened, by the
skilful intonations of a voice the sweetest perhaps that ever blest a
mortal, is quite intelligible; but that the eye should follow with
such unwearied delight every look and movement of a woman, not only
old--for that does sometimes happen at Paris--but one known to be so
from one end of Europe to the other, is certainly a singular
phenomenon. Yet so it is; and could you see her, you would understand
why, though not how, it is so. There is still a charm, a grace, in
every movement of Mademoiselle Mars, however trifling and however
slight, which instantly captivates the eye, and forbids it to wander
to any other object--even though that object be young and lovely.

Why is it that none of the young heads can learn to turn like hers?
Why can no arms move with the same beautiful and easy elegance? Her
very fingers, even when gloved, seem to aid her expression; and the
quietest and least posture-studying of actresses contrives to make the
most trifling and ordinary movement assist in giving effect to her
part.

I would willingly consent to be dead for a few hours, if I could
meanwhile bring Molière to life, and let him see Mars play one of his
best-loved characters. How delicious would be his pleasure in
beholding the creature of his own fancy thus exquisitely alive before
him; and of marking, moreover, the thrill that makes itself heard
along the closely-packed rows of the parterre, when his wit, conveyed
by this charming conductor, runs round the house like the touch of
electricity! Do you think that the best smile of Louis le Grand could
be worth this?

Few theatrical pieces can, I think, be calculated to give less
pleasure than that of "Charlotte Brown," which followed the
"Tartuffe;" but as the part of Charlotte is played by Mademoiselle
Mars, people will stay to see it. I repented however that I did not
go, for it made me cross and angry.

Such an actress as Mars should not be asked to try a _tour de force_
in order to make an abortive production effective. And what else can
it be called, if her touching pathos and enchanting grace are brought
before the public, to make them endure a platitude that would have
been hissed into oblivion ere it had well seen light without her? It
is hardly fair to expect that a performer should create as well as
personate the chief character of a piece; but Mademoiselle Mars
certainly does nothing less, when she contrives to excite sympathy and
interest for a low-born and low-minded woman, who has managed to make
a great match by telling a great falsehood. Yet "Charlotte Brown" is
worth seeing for the sake of a certain tragic look given by this
wonderful actress at the moment when her falsehood is discovered. It
is no exaggeration to say, that Mrs. Siddons never produced an
expression of greater power.

It is long since I have seen any theatre so crowded.

I remember many years ago hearing what I thought an excellent sermon
from a venerable rector, who happened to have a curate more remarkable
for the conscientious manner in which he performed his duty to the
parish, and the judicious selection of his discourses, than for the
excellence of his original sermons. "It is the duty of a minister,"
said the old man, "to address the congregation which shall assemble to
hear him with the most impressive and most able eloquence that it is
within the compass of his power to use; and far better is it that the
approved wisdom of those who have passed away be read from the pulpit,
than that the weak efforts of an ungifted preacher should fall wearily
and unprofitably on the ears of his congregation. The fact that his
discourse is manuscript, instead of printed, will hardly console them
for the difference."

Do you not think--with all reverence be it spoken--that the same
reasoning might be very usefully addressed to the managers of
theatres, not in France only, but all the world over? If it cost too
much to have a good new piece, would it not be better to have a good
old one?



LETTER V.

      Exhibition of Living Artists at the Louvre.--The
      Deluge.--Poussin and Martin.--Portraits.--Appearance of the
      company.


I have been so little careful about dates and seasons, as totally to
have forgotten, or rather neglected to learn, that the period of our
arriving at Paris was that of the Exhibition of Living Artists at the
Louvre: and it is not easy to describe the feeling produced by
entering the gallery, with the expectation of seeing what I had been
used to see there, and finding what was, at least, so very different.

Nevertheless, the exhibition is a very fine one, and so greatly
superior to any I had heretofore seen of the modern French school,
that we soon had the consolation of finding ourselves amused, and I
may say delighted, notwithstanding our disappointment.

But surely there never was a device hit upon so little likely to
propitiate the feelings which generate applause, as this of covering
up Poussin, Rubens, Raphael, Titian, and Correggio, by hanging before
them the fresh results of modern palettes. It is indeed a most
un-coquettish mode of extorting attention.

There are some pictures of the Louvre Gallery in particular, with
which my children are well acquainted, either by engravings or
description, whose eclipse produced a very sad effect. "The Deluge" of
Poussin is one of these. Perhaps it may have been my brother's
striking description of this picture which made it pre-eminently an
object of interest to us. You may remember that Mr. Milton, in his
elegant and curious little volume on the Fine Arts, written at Paris
just before the breaking up of Napoleon's collection, says in speaking
of it--"Colouring was unquestionably Poussin's least excellence; yet
in this collection there is one of his pictures--the Deluge--in which
the effect produced by the mere colouring is most singular and
powerful. The air is burdened and heavy with water; the earth, where
it is not as yet overwhelmed, seems torn to pieces by its violence:
the very light of heaven is absorbed and lost." I give you this
passage, because I remember no picture described with equal brevity,
yet brought so powerfully before the imagination of the reader.

Can the place where one comes to look for this be favourable for
hanging our illustrious countryman's representation of the same
subject? It is doing him a most ungratifying honour; and were I Mr.
Martin, or any other painter living, I would not consent to be
exposed to the invidious comparisons which must inevitably ensue from
such an injudicious arrangement.

How exceedingly disagreeable, for instance, must it be for the
artists--who, I believe, not unfrequently indulge themselves by
hovering under the incognito of apparent indifference near their
favourite works--to overhear such remarks as those to which I listened
yesterday in that part of the gallery where Le Sueur's St. Brunos
hang!--"Certainly, the bows on that lady's dress are of a delicate
blue," said the critic; "and so is the drapery of Le Sueur, which, for
my sins, I happen to know is hid just under it.... Would one wish a
better contrast to what it hides, than that unmeaning smile--that
cold, smooth, varnished skin,--those lifeless limbs, and the whole
unspeakable tameness of this thing, called _portrait d'une dame_?"

He spoke truly; yet was there but little point in what he said, for it
might have referred with equal justice to many a pretty lady doomed to
simper for ever in her gilded frame.

On the whole, however, portraits are much less oppressively
predominating than with us; and among them are many whose size,
composition, and exquisite style of finishing redeem them altogether
from the odium of being _de trop_ in the collection. I cannot but wish
that this style of portrait-painting may find favour and imitation in
England.

Lawrence is gone; and though Gérard on this side of the water, and
indeed too many to rehearse on both, are left, whose portraitures of
the human face are admirable; true to nature; true to art; true to
expression,--true, even to the want of it; I am greatly inclined to
believe that the enormous sums annually expended on these clever
portraits contribute more to lower than to raise the art in popularity
and in the genuine estimation of the public. The sums thus lavished
may be termed patronage, certainly; but it is patronage that bribes
the artist to the restraint, and often to the destruction, of his
genius.

Is there, in fact, any one who can honestly deny that a splendid
exhibition-room, crowded with ladies and gentlemen on canvass, as
large as life, is a lounge of great tediousness and inanity?

We may feel some satisfaction in recognising at a glance the eyes,
nose, mouth, and chin of many of our friends and acquaintance,--nay,
our most critical judgment may often acknowledge that these familiar
features are registered with equal truth and skill; but this will not
prevent the exhibition from being very dull. Nor is the thing much
mended when each portrait, or pair of portraits, has been withdrawn
from the gaudy throng, and hung up for ever and for ever before the
eyes of their family and friends. The fair lady, sweetly smiling in
one division of the apartment, and the well-dressed gentleman looking
_distingué_ in another, contribute as little at home as they did when
suspended on the walls of the academy to the real pleasure and
amusement of the beholder.

At the exhibition this year at the Louvre are many exquisite
full-length portraits in oil, of which the canvass measures from
eighteen inches to a foot in height, and from a foot to ten inches in
width. The composition and style of these beautiful little pictures
are often such as to detain one long before them, even though one does
not recognise in them the features of an acquaintance. Their
unobtrusive size must prevent their ever being disagreeably
predominant in the decoration of a room; while their delicate and
elaborate finish, and the richness of their highly-studied
composition, will well reward attention; and even the closest
examination, when directed to them, either by politeness, affection,
or connoisseurship, can never be disappointed.

The Catalogue of the exhibition notices all the pictures which have
been either ordered or purchased by the king or any of the royal
family; and the number is so considerable as to show plainly that the
most liberal and widely-extended patronage of art is a systematic
object with the government.

The gold medal of the year has been courteously bestowed upon Mr.
Martin for his picture of the Deluge. Had I been the judge, I should
have awarded it to Stuben's Battle of Waterloo. That the faculty of
imagination is one of the highest requisites for a painter is most
certain; and that Mr. Martin pre-eminently possesses it, not less so.
But imagination, though it can do much, cannot do all; and common
sense is at least equally important in the formation of a finished
artist. The painter of the great day of Waterloo has both. His
imagination has enabled him to dive into the very hearts and souls of
the persons he has depicted. Passion speaks in every line; and common
sense has taught him, that, however powerful--nay, vehement, might be
the expression he sought to produce, it must be obtained rather by the
patient and faithful imitation of Nature than by a bold defiance of
her.

The Assassination of the Duc de Guise, by M. Delaroche, is an
admirable and highly popular work. It requires some patient
perseverance to contest inch by inch the slow approach to the place
where this exquisite piece of finishing is hung--but it well rewards
the time and labour. One or two lovely little pictures by Franquelin
made me envy those who have power to purchase, and sigh to think that
they will probably go into private collections, where I shall never
see them more. There are, indeed, many pictures so very good, that I
think it possible the judges may have relieved themselves from the
embarrassment of declaring which was best, by politely awarding the
palm to the stranger.

I could indulge myself, did I not fear to weary you, by dwelling much
longer upon my agreeable recollections of this extensive
exhibition--containing, by the way, 2,174 pictures,--and might
particularise many very admirable works. Nevertheless, I must repeat,
that thus hiding the precious labours of all schools, and of all ages
of painting, by the promiscuous productions of the living artists of
France during the last year, is a most injudicious device for winning
for them the golden opinions of those who throng from all quarters of
the world to visit the Louvre.

This exhibition reaches to about three-fourths of the gallery; and
where it ceases, a grim curtain, suspended across it, conceals the
precious labours of the Spanish and Italian schools, which occupy the
farther end. Can anything be imagined more tantalising than this? And
where is the living artist who could stand his ground against such
cruel odds?

To render the effect more striking still, this dismal curtain is
permitted so to hang as to leave a few inches between its envious
amplitude and the rich wall--suffering the mellow browns of a
well-known Murillo to meet and mock the eye. Certainly not all the
lecturers of all the academies extant could point out a more effectual
manner of showing the modern French artist wherein he chiefly fails:
let us hope he will profit by it.

As I am writing of Paris, it must be almost superfluous to say that
the admission to this collection is gratis.

I cannot quit the subject without adding a few words respecting the
company, or at least a part of it, whose appearance, I thought, gave
very unequivocal marks of the march of mind and of indecorum;--for a
considerable sprinkling of very particularly greasy citizens and
citizenesses made itself felt and seen at every point where the
critical crowd was thickest. But--

     "Sweetest nut hath sourest rind;"

and it were treason here, I suppose, to doubt that such a proportion
of intellect and refinement lies hid under the soiled _blouse_ and
time-worn petticoat, as is at least equal to any that we may hope to
find enveloped in lawn, and lace, and broadcloth.

It is an incontrovertible fact, I think, that when the immortals of
Paris raised the barricades in the streets, they pulled them down,
more or less, in society. But this is an evil which those who look
beyond the present hour for their sources of joy and sorrow need not
deeply lament. Nature herself--at least such as she shows herself,
when man, forsaking the forest, agrees with his fellows to congregate
in cities--Nature herself will take care to set this right again.

     "Strength will be lord of imbecility;"

and were all men equal in the morning, they would not go to rest till
some amongst them had been thoroughly made to understand that it was
their lot to strew the couches of the rest. Such is the law of nature;
and mere brute numerical strength will no more enable a mob to set it
aside, than it will enable the ox or the elephant to send us to
plough, or draw out our teeth to make their young one's toys.

For the present moment, however, some of the rubbish that the
commotion of "the Ordonnances" stirred up may still be seen floating
about on the surface; and it is difficult to observe without a smile
in what chiefly consists the liberty which these immortals have so
valiantly bled to acquire. We may truly say of the philosophical
population of Paris, that "they are thankful for small matters;" one
of the most remarkable of their newly-acquired rights being certainly
the privilege of presenting themselves dirty, instead of clean, before
the eyes of their magnates.

  [Illustration: Drawn & Etched by A. Hervieu.
   LOUVRE.
   London, Published by Richard Bentley, 1835.]

I am sure you must remember in days of yore,--that is to say, before
the last revolution,--how very agreeable a part of the spectacle at
the Louvre and in the Tuileries Gardens was constituted by the
people,--not the ladies and gentlemen--they look pretty much the same
everywhere; but by the careful coquetry of the pretty costumes, now a
_cauchoise_, and now a _toque_,--the spruce neatness of the men who
attended them,--nay, even by the tight and tidy trimness of the "wee
things" that in long waist, silk apron, snow-white cap, and
faultless _chaussure_, trotted beside them. All these added greatly to
the pleasantness and gaiety of the scene. But now, till the fresh dirt
(not the fresh gloss) of the Three Days' labour be worn off, dingy
jackets, uncomely _casquettes_, ragged _blouses_, and ill-favoured
round-eared caps, that look as if they did duty night and day, must
all be tolerated; and in this toleration appears to consist at present
the principal external proof of the increased liberty of the Parisian
mob.



LETTER VI.

      Society.--Morality.--False Impressions and False
      Reports.--Observations from a Frenchman on a recent
      publication.


Much as I love the sights of Paris,--including as we must under this
term all that is great and enduring, as well as all that is for ever
changing and for ever new,--I am more earnestly bent, as you will
readily believe, upon availing myself of all my opportunities for
listening to the conversation within the houses, than on contemplating
all the marvels that may be seen without.

Joyfully, therefore, have I welcomed the attention and kindness that
have been offered me in various quarters; and I have already the
satisfaction of finding myself on terms of most pleasant and familiar
intercourse with a variety of very delightful people, many of them
highly distinguished, and, happily for me, varying in their opinions
of all things both in heaven and earth, from the loftiest elevation of
the _rococo_, to the lowest profundity of the _décousu_ school.

And here let me pause, to assure you, and any other of my countrymen
and countrywomen whose ears I can reach, that excursions to Paris, be
they undertaken with what spirit of enterprise they may, and though
they may be carried through with all the unrestrained expense that
English wealth can permit, yet without the power by some means or
other of entering into good French society, they are nothing worth.

It is true, that there is something most exceedingly exhilarating to
the spirits in the mere external novelty and cheerfulness of the
objects which surround a stranger on first entering Paris. That
indescribable air of gaiety which makes every sunshiny day look like a
fête; the light hilarity of spirit that seems to pervade all ranks;
the cheerful tone of voice, the sparkling glances of the numberless
bright eyes; the gardens, the flowers, the statues of Paris,--all
together produce an effect very like enchantment.

But "use lessens marvel;" and when the first delightful excitement is
over, and we begin to feel weary from its very intensity, the next
step is backward into rationality, low spirits, and grumbling.

From that moment the English tourist talks of nothing but wide rivers,
magnificent bridges, prodigious _trottoirs_, unrivalled drains, and
genuine port. It is at this stage that the traveller, in order to
continue his enjoyment and bring it to perfection, should remit his
examination of the exterior of noble _hôtels_, and endeavour to be
admitted to the much more enduring enchantment which prevails within
them.

So much has already been said and written on the grace and charm of
the French language in conversation, that it is quite needless to
dwell upon it. That _good things_ can be said in no other idiom with
equal grace, is a fact that can neither be controverted nor more
firmly established than it is already. Happily, the art of expressing
a clever thought in the best possible words did not die with Madame de
Sévigné; nor has it yet been destroyed by revolution of any kind.

It is not only for the amusement of an hour, however, that I would
recommend the assiduous cultivation of good French society to the
English. Great and important improvements in our national manners have
already arisen from the intercourse which long peace has permitted.
Our dinner-tables are no longer disgraced by inebriety; nor are our
men and women, when they form a party expressly for the purpose of
enjoying each other's society, separated by the law of the land during
half the period for which the social meeting has been convened.

But we have much to learn still; and the general tone of our daily
associations might be yet farther improved, did the best specimens of
Parisian habits and manners furnish the examples.

It is not from the large and brilliant parties which recur in every
fashionable mansion, perhaps, three or four times in each season,
that I think we could draw much improvement. A fine party at Lady
A----'s in Grosvenor Square, is not more like a fine party at Lady
B----'s in Berkeley Square, than a fine party in Paris is to one in
London. There are abundance of pretty women, handsome men, satin,
gauze, velvet, diamonds, chains, stars, moustaches, and imperials at
both, with perhaps very little deserving the name of rational
enjoyment in either.

I suspect, indeed, that we have rather the advantage on these crowded
occasions, for we more frequently change the air by passing from one
room to another when we eat our ices; and as the tulip-tinctured
throng enjoy this respite from suffocation by detachments, they have
often not only opportunity to breathe, but occasionally to converse
also, for several minutes together, without danger of being dislodged
from their standing-ground.

It is not, therefore, at the crowded roll-calls of all their
acquaintance that I would look for anything rational or peculiar in the
_salons_ of Paris, but in the daily and constant intercourse of familiar
companionship. This is enjoyed with a degree of pleasant ease--an
absence of all pomp, pride, and circumstance, of which unhappily we have
no idea. Alas! we must know by special printed announcement a month
beforehand that our friend is "at home,"--that liveried servants will
be in attendance, and her mansion blazing with light,--before we can
dare venture to pass an evening hour in her drawing-room. How would a
London lady stare, if some half-dozen--though perhaps among the most
chosen favourites of her visiting-list--were to walk unbidden into her
presence, in bonnets and shawls, between the hours of eight and eleven!
And how strangely new would it seem, were the pleasantest and most
coveted engagements of the week, formed without ceremony and kept
without ostentation, to arise from a casual meeting at the beginning
of it!

It is this ease, this habitual absence of ceremony and parade, this
national enmity to constraint and tediousness of all kinds, which
renders the tone of French manners so infinitely more agreeable than
our own. And the degree in which this is the case can only be guessed
at by those who, by some happy accident or other, possess a real and
effective "open sesame!" for the doors of Paris.

With all the superabundance of vanity ascribed to the French, they
certainly show infinitely less of it in their intercourse with their
fellow-creatures than we do. I have seen a countess, whose title was
of a dozen fair descents, open the external door of her apartment, and
welcome the guests who appeared at it with as much grace and elegance
as if a triple relay of tall fellows who wore her colours had handed
their names from hall to drawing-room. Yet in this case there was no
want of wealth. Coachman, footman, abigail, and doubtless all fitting
etceteras, owned her as their sovereign lady and mistress. But they
happened to have been sent hither and thither, and it never entered
her imagination that her dignity could be compromised by her appearing
without them. In short, the vanity of the French does not show itself
in little things; and it is exactly for this reason that their
enjoyment of society is stripped of so much of the anxious, sensitive,
ostentatious, self-seeking etiquette which so heavily encumbers our
own.

There are some among us, my friend, who might say of this testimony to
the charm of French society, that there was danger in praising, and
pointing out as an example to be followed, the manners of a people
whose morality is considered as so much less strict than our own.
Could I think that, by thus approving what is agreeable, I could
lessen by a single hair's-breadth the interval which we believe exists
between us in this respect, I would turn my approval to reproof, and
my superficial praise to deep-dyed reprobation: but to any who should
express such a fear, I would reply by assuring them that it would
require a very different species of intimacy from any to which I had
the honour of being admitted, in order to authorise, from personal
observation, any attack upon the morals of Parisian society. More
scrupulous and delicate refinement in _the tone of manners_ can
neither be found nor wished for anywhere; and I do very strongly
suspect, that many of the pictures of French depravity which have been
brought home to us by our travellers, have been made after sketches
taken in scenes and circles to which the introductions I so strongly
recommend to my countrywomen could by no possibility lead them. It is
not of such that I can be supposed to speak.

Apropos of false impressions and false reports, I may repeat to you an
anecdote which I heard yesterday evening. The little committee in
which it was related consisted of at least a dozen persons, and it
appeared that I was myself the only one to whom it was new.

"It is rather more than two years ago," said the speaker, "that we had
amongst us an English gentleman, who avowed that it was his purpose to
write on France, not as other men write--superficially, respecting
truths that lie obvious to ordinary eyes--but with a research that
should make him acquainted with all things above, about, and
underneath. He professed this intention to more than one dear friend;
and more than one dear friend took the trouble of tracing him in his
chase after hidden truths. Not long after his arrival among us, this
gentleman became intimately acquainted with a lady more celebrated for
the variety of her friendships with men of letters than for the
endurance of them. This lady received the attentions of the stranger
with distinguished kindness, and, among other proofs of regard,
undertook to purvey for him all sorts of private anecdotes, great and
little, that from the mass he might form an average estimate of the
people; assuring him at the same time, that no one in Paris was more
_au fait_ of its secret histories than herself. This," continued my
informant, "might be, and I believe was, very particularly true; and
the English traveller might have been justified in giving to his
countrymen and countrywomen as much insight into such mysteries as he
thought good for them: but when he published the venomous slanders of
this female respecting persons not only of the highest honour, but of
the most unspotted reputation, he did what will blast his name as long
as his charlatan book is remembered." Such were the indignant words,
and there was nothing in the tone with which they were uttered to
weaken their expression.

I tell you the tale as I heard it; but I will not repeat much more
that was said on the same subject, nor will I give any A..., B..., or
C... hints as to the names so freely mentioned.

Some degree of respectability ought certainly to attach to those from
whom important information is sought respecting the morals and manners
of a country, when it is the intention of the inquirer that his
observations and statements upon it should become authority to the
whole civilized world.

The above conversation, however, was brought to a laughing conclusion
by Madame C----, who, addressing her husband as he was seconding the
angry eloquence I have repeated, said, "Calmez-vous donc, mon ami:
après tout, le tableau fait par M. le Voyageur des dames Anglaises n'a
rien à nous faire mourir de jalousie."

I suspect that neither you nor any other lady of England will feel
disposed to contradict her.

     Adieu!



LETTER VII.

      Alarm created by the Trial of the Lyons Prisoners.--Visits
      from a Republican and from a Doctrinaire: reassured by the
      promises of safety and protection received from the latter.


We have really had something very like a panic amongst us, from the
rumours in circulation respecting this terrible trial, which is now
rapidly approaching. Many people think that fearful scenes may be
expected to take place in Paris when it begins.

The newspapers of all parties are so full of the subject, that there
is little else to be found in them; and all those, of whatever colour,
which are opposed to the government, describe the manner in which the
proceedings are to be managed, as the most tyrannical exercise of
power ever practised in modern Europe.

The legitimate royalists declare it to be illegal, inasmuch as the
culprits have a right to be tried by a jury of their peers--the
citizens of France; whereas it appears that this their chartered right
is denied them, and that no other judge or jury is to be permitted in
their case than the peers of France.

Whether this accusation will be satisfactorily answered, I know not;
but there certainly does appear to be something rather plausible, at
least, in the objection. Nevertheless, it is not very difficult to see
that the 28th Article of the Charter may be made to answer it, which
says,--

      "The Chamber of Peers takes cognizance of high-treason, and
      of attempts against the safety of the state, _which shall be
      defined by law_."

Now, though this _defining by law_ appears, by what I can learn, to be
an operation not yet quite completed, there seems to be something so
very like high-treason in some of the offences for which these
prisoners are to be tried, that the first clause of the article may do
indifferently well to cover it.

The republican journals, pamphlets, and publications of all sorts,
however, treat the whole business of their detention and trial as the
most tremendous infringement of the newly-acquired rights of Young
France; and they say--nay, they do swear, that crowned king, created
peers, and placed ministers never dared to venture upon anything so
tyrannical as this.

All that the unfortunate Louis Seize ever did, or suffered to be
done--all that the banished Charles Dix ever threatened to do--never
"roared so loud, and thundered in the index," as does this deed
without a name about to be perpetrated by King Louis-Philippe the
First.

At last, however, the horrible thing has been christened, and PROCÈS
MONSTRE is its name. This is a happy device, and will save a world of
words. Before it received this expressive appellation, every paragraph
concerning it began by a roundabout specification of the horrific
business they were about to speak of; but since this lucky name has
been hit upon, all prefatory eloquence is become unnecessary: _Procès
Monstre!_ simply _Procès Monstre!_ expresses all it could say in two
words; and whatever follows may safely become matter of news and
narrative respecting it.

This news, and these narratives, however, still vary considerably, and
leave one in a very vacillating state of mind as to what may happen
next. One account states that Paris is immediately to be put under
martial law, and all foreigners, except those attached to the
different embassies, civilly requested to depart. Another declares all
this to be a weak invention of the enemy; but hints that it is
probable a pretty strong _cordon_ of troops will surround the city, to
keep watch day and night, lest _les jeunes gens_ of the metropolis, in
their mettlesome mood, should seek to wash out in the blood of their
fellow-citizens the stain which the illegitimate birth of the monster
has brought upon France. Others announce that a devoted body of
patriots have sworn to sacrifice a hecatomb of National Guards, to
atone for an abomination which many believe to originate with them.

Not a few declare that the trial will never take place; that the
government, audacious as they say it is, dare do no more than hold up
the effigy of the monster to frighten the people, and that a general
amnesty will end the business. In truth, it would be a tedious task to
record one half of the tales that are in circulation on this subject:
but I do assure you, that listening to the awful note of preparation
for all that is to be done at the Luxembourg is quite enough to make
one nervous, and many English families have already thought it prudent
to leave the city.

At one moment we were really worked into a state very nearly
approaching terror by the vehement eloquence of a fiery-hot republican
who paid us a visit. I ventured to lead to the terrible subject by
asking him if he thought the approaching political trials likely to
produce any result beyond their disagreeable influence on the
convenience of the parties concerned; but I really repented my
temerity when I saw the cloud which gathered on his brow as he
replied:--

"Result! What do you call result, madam? Is the burning indignation of
millions of Frenchmen a result? Are the execrations of the noble
beings enslaved, imprisoned, tortured, trampled on by tyranny, a
result? Are the groans of their wives and mothers--are the tears of
their bereaved children--a result?--Yes, yes, there will be results
enough! They are yet to come, but come they will; and when they do,
think you that the next revolution will be one of three days? Do your
countrymen think so? does Europe think so? There has been another
revolution, to which it will more resemble."

He looked rather ashamed of himself, I thought, when he had concluded
his tirade,--and well he might: but there was such a hideous tone of
prophecy in this, that I actually trembled as I listened to him, and,
all jesting apart, thoughts of passports to be signed and conveyances
to be hired were arranging themselves very seriously in my brain. But
before we went out for the evening, all these gloomy meditations were
most agreeably dispersed by a visit from a staid old doctrinaire, who
was not only a soberer politician, but one considerably more likely to
know what he was talking about than the youth who had harangued us in
the morning.

Anxious to have my fears either confirmed or removed, I hastened to
tell him, half in jest, half in earnest, that we were beginning to
think of taking an abrupt leave of Paris. "And why?" said he.

I stated very seriously my newly-awakened fears; at which he laughed
heartily, and with an air of such unfeigned amusement, that I was
cured at once.

"Whom can you have been listening to?" said he.

"I will not give up my authority," I replied with proper diplomatic
discretion; "but I will tell you exactly what a gentleman who has been
here this morning has been saying to us." And I did so precisely as I
have repeated it to you; upon which he laughed more heartily than
before, and rubbing his hands as if perfectly delighted, he exclaimed,
"Delicious! And you really have been fortunate enough to fall in with
one of these _enfans perdus_? I really wish you joy. But do not set
off immediately: listen first to another view of the case." I assured
him that this was exactly what I wished to do, and very truly declared
that he could do me no greater favour than to put me _au fait_ of the
real state of affairs.

"Willingly will I do so," said he; "and be assured I will not deceive
you." Whereupon I closed the _croisée_, that no rattling wheels might
disturb us, and prepared to listen.

"My good lady," he began with great kindness, "soyez tranquille. There
is no more danger of revolution at this time in France than there is
in Russia. Louis-Philippe is adored; the laws are respected; order is
universally established; and if there be a sentiment of discontent or
a feeling approaching to irritation among any deserving the name of
Frenchmen, it is against these miserable _vauriens_, who still cherish
the wild hope of disturbing our peace and our prosperity. But fear
nothing: trust me, the number of these is too small to make it worth
while to count them."

You will believe I heard this with sincere satisfaction; and I really
felt very grateful, both for the information, and the friendly manner
in which it was given.

"I rejoice to hear this," said I: "but may I, as a matter of
curiosity, ask you what you think about this famous trial? How do you
think it will end?"

"As all trials ought to end," he replied: "by bringing all such as are
found guilty to punishment."

"Heaven grant it!" said I; "for the sake of mankind in general, and
for that portion of it in particular which happen at the present
moment to inhabit Paris. But do you not think that the irritation
produced by these preparations at the Luxembourg is of considerable
extent and violence?"

"To whatever extent this irritation may have gone," he answered
gravely, "it is an undoubted fact,--undoubted in the quarter where
most is known about the matter,--that the feeling which approves these
preparations is not only of greater extent, but of infinitely deeper
sincerity, than that which is opposed to it. What you have heard
to-day is mere unmeaning bluster. The trial, I do assure you, is very
popular. It is for the justification and protection of the National
Guard;--and are we not all National Guards?"

"But are all the National Guards true?"

"Perhaps not. But be sure of this, that there are enough true to
_égorger_ without any difficulty those who are not."

"But is it not very probable," said I, "that the republican feeling
may be quite strong enough to produce another disturbance, though not
another revolution? And the situation of strangers would probably
become very embarrassing, should this eventually lead to any renewed
outbreakings of public enthusiasm."

"Not the least in the world, I do assure you: for, at any rate, all
the enthusiasm, as you civilly call it, would only elicit additional
proof of the stability and power of the government which we are now so
happy as to enjoy. The enthusiasm would be speedily calmed, depend
upon it."

"A peaceable traveller," said I, "can wish for no better news; and
henceforward I shall endeavour to read and to listen with a tranquil
spirit, let the prisoners or their partisans say what they may."

"You will do wisely, believe me. Rest in perfect confidence and
security, and be assured that Louis-Philippe holds all the English as
his right good friends. While this is the case, neither Windsor
Castle nor the Tower of London itself could afford you a safer abode
than Paris."

With this seasonable and very efficient encouragement, he left me; and
as I really believe him to know more about the new-born politics of
"Young France" than most people, I go on very tranquilly making
engagements, with but few misgivings lest barricades should prevent my
keeping them.



LETTER VIII.

      Eloquence of the Pulpit.--L'Abbé Coeur.--Sermon at St.
      Roch.--Elegant Congregation.--Costume of the younger Clergy.


There is one novelty, and to me a very agreeable one, which I have
remarked since my return to this volatile France: this is the fashion
and consideration which now attend the eloquence of her preachers.

Political economists assert that the supply of every article follows
the demand for it in a degree nicely proportioned to the wants of the
population; and it is upon this principle, I presume, that we must
account for the present affluence of a talent which some few years ago
could hardly be said to exist in France, and might perhaps have been
altogether denied to it, had not the pages both of Fenelon and his
eloquent antagonist, Bossuet, rendered such an injustice impossible.

It was, I think, about a dozen years ago that I took some trouble to
discover if any traces of this glorious eloquence remained at Paris. I
heard sermons at Notre Dame--at St. Roch--at St. Eustache; but never
was a search after talent attended with worse success. The preachers
were nought; they had the air, too, of being vulgar and uneducated
men,--which I believe was, and indeed still is, very frequently the
case. The churches were nearly empty; and the few persons scattered up
and down their splendid aisles appeared, generally speaking, to be of
the very lowest order of old women.

How great is now the contrast! Nowhere are we so certain of seeing a
crowd of elegantly-dressed and distinguished persons as in the
principal churches of Paris. Nor is it a crowd that mocks the eye with
any tinsel pretensions to a rank they do not possess. Inquire who it
is that so meekly and devoutly kneels on one side of you--that so
sedulously turns the pages of her prayer-book on the other, and you
will be answered by the announcement of the noblest names remaining in
France.

Though the eloquence of the pulpit has always been an object of
attention and interest to me in all countries, I hardly ventured on my
first arrival here to inquire again if anything of the kind existed,
lest I should once more be sent to listen to an inaudible mumbling
preacher, and to look at the deaf and dozing old women who formed his
congregation. But it has needed no inquiry to make us speedily
acquainted with the fact, that the churches have become the favourite
resort of the young, the beautiful, the high-born, and the
instructed. Whence comes this change?

"Have you heard l'Abbé Coeur?" was a question asked me before I had
been here a week, by one who would not for worlds have been accounted
_rococo_. When I replied that I had not even heard of him, I saw
plainly that it was decided I could know very little indeed of what
was going on in Paris. "That is really extraordinary! but I engage you
to go without delay. He is, I assure you, quite as much the fashion as
Taglioni."

As the conversation was continued on the subject of fashionable
preachers, I soon found that I was indeed altogether benighted. Other
celebrated names were cited: Lacordaire, Deguerry, and some others
that I do not remember, were spoken of as if their fame must of
necessity have reached from pole to pole, but of which, in truth, I
knew no more than if the gentlemen had been private chaplains to the
princes of Chili. However, I set down all their names with much
docility; and the more I listened, the more I rejoiced that the
Passion-week and Easter, those most Catholic seasons for preaching,
were before us, being fully determined to profit by this opportunity
of hearing in perfection what was so perfectly new to me as popular
preaching in Paris.

I have lost little time in putting this resolution into effect. The
church of St. Roch is, I believe, the most fashionable in Paris; it
was there, too, that we were sure of hearing this celebrated Abbé
Coeur; and both these reasons together decided that it was at St.
Roch our sermon-seeking should begin: I therefore immediately set
about discovering the day and hour on which he would make his
appearance in the pulpit.

When inquiring these particulars in the church, we were informed, that
if we intended to procure chairs, it would be necessary to come at
least one good hour before the high mass which preceded the sermon
should begin. This was rather alarming intelligence to a party of
heretics who had an immense deal of business on their hands; but I was
steadfast in my purpose, and, with a small detachment of my family,
submitted to the preliminary penance of sitting the long silent hour
in front of the pulpit of St. Roch. The precaution was, however,
perfectly necessary, for the crowd was really tremendous; but, to
console us, it was of the most elegant description; and, after all,
the hour scarcely appeared much too long for the business of reviewing
the vast multitude of graceful personages, waving plumes, and blooming
flowers, that ceased not during every moment of the time to collect
themselves closer and closer still about us.

Nothing certainly could be more beautiful than this collection of
bonnets, unless it were the collection of eyes under them. The
proportion of ladies to gentlemen was on the whole, we thought, not
less than twelve to one.

"Je désirerais savoir," said a young man near me, addressing an
extremely pretty woman who sat beside him,--"Je désirerais savoir si
par hasard M. l'Abbé Coeur est jeune."

The lady answered not, but frowned most indignantly.

A few minutes afterwards, his doubts upon this point, if he really had
any, were removed. A man far from ill-looking, and farther still from
being old, mounted the tribune, and some thousands of bright eyes were
riveted upon him. The silent and profound attention which hung on
every word he uttered, unbroken as it was by a single idle sound, or
even glance, showed plainly that his influence upon the splendid and
numerous congregation that surrounded him must be very great, or the
power of his eloquence very strong: and it was an influence and a
power that, though "of another parish," I could well conceive must be
generally felt, _for he was in earnest_. His voice, though weak and
somewhat wirey, was distinct, and his enunciation clear: I did not
lose a word.

His manner was simple and affectionate; his language strong, yet not
intemperate; but he decidedly appealed more to the hearts of his
hearers than to their understandings; and it was their hearts that
answered him, for many of them wept plenteously.

A great number of priests were present at this sermon, who were all
dressed in their full clerical habits, and sat in places reserved for
them immediately in front of the pulpit: they were consequently very
near us, and we had abundant opportunity to remark the traces of that
_march of mind_ which is doing so many wondrous works upon earth.

Instead of the tonsure which we have been used to see, certainly with
some feeling of reverence--for it was often shorn into the very centre
of crisped locks, while their raven black or shining chesnut still
spoke of youth that scrupled not to sacrifice its comeliness to a
feeling of religious devotion;--instead of this, we now saw unshaven
crowns, and more than one pair of flourishing _favoris_, nourished,
trained, and trimmed evidently with the nicest care, though a stiff
three-cornered cowl in every instance hung behind the rich and waving
honours of the youthful head.

The effect of this strange mixture is very singular. But
notwithstanding this bold abandonment of priestly costume among the
junior clergy, there were in the long double row of anointed heads
which faced the pulpit some exceedingly fine studies for an artist;
and wherever the offending Adam was subdued by years, nothing could be
in better keeping than the countenances, and the sacred garb of those
to whom they belonged. Similar causes will, I suppose, at all times
produce similar effects; and it is therefore that among the twenty
priests at St. Roch in 1835, I seemed to recognise the originals of
many a holy head with which the painters of Italy, Spain, and Flanders
have made me familiar.

The contrast furnished by the deep-set eyes, and the fine severe
expression of some of these consecrated brows, to the light, airy
elegance of the pretty women around them, was sufficiently striking;
and, together with the mellow light of the shaded windows, and the
lofty spaciousness of the noble church, formed a spectacle highly
picturesque and impressive.

After the sermon was over, and while the gaily-habited congregation
fluttered away through the different doors like so many butterflies
hastening to meet returning sunshine, we amused ourselves by wandering
round the church. It is magnificently large for a parish church; but,
excepting in some of the little chapels, we found not much to admire.

That very unrighteous old churchman, the Abbé Dubois, has a fine
monument there, restored from Les Petits Augustins; and a sort of
marble medallion, bearing the head of the immortal Corneille--immortal
despite M. Victor Hugo--is also restored, and placed against one of
the heavy columns of, I think, the centre aisle. But we paused longest
in a little chapel behind the altar--not the middle one, with its
well-managed glory of crimson light, though that is very beautiful;
but in the one to the right of it, which contains a sculptured
Calvary. It is, I believe, only one of _les stations_, of which twelve
are to be found in different parts of the church; but it has a
charm--seen as we saw it, with a strong effect of accidental light,
bringing forward the delicate figure of the adoring Magdalene, and
leaving the Saviour in the dark shadow and repose of death--that sets
at defiance all the connoisseurship of art, and taking from you all
faculty to judge, leaves only the power to feel. Under these
circumstances, whether quite delusive or not I hardly know, this group
appeared to us one of exceeding beauty.

The high altar of St. Roch, and the extremity of the carpeted space
enclosed round it, is most lavishly, beautifully, and fragrantly
adorned with flowers of the choicest kind, all flourishing in the
fullest bloom in boxes and vases. It is the only instance I remember
in which the perfume of this most fair and holy decoration actually
pervaded the church. They certainly offer the sweetest incense that
can be found to breathe its grateful life and spirit out on any altar;
and were it not for the graceful swinging of the censers, which very
particularly pleases my eye, I would recommend to the Roman Catholic
church henceforth an economy of their precious gums, and advise them
to offer the incense of flowers in their stead.

Before we left the church, about a hundred and fifty boys and girls,
from ten to fourteen years of age, assembled to be catechised by a
young priest, who received them behind the Lady Chapel. His manner was
familiar, caressing and kind, and his waving hair fell about his ears
like the picture of a young St. John.



LETTER IX.

      Literature of the Revolutionary School.--Its low estimation
      in France.


Among many proofs of attentive kindness which I have received from my
Paris friends, their care to furnish me with a variety of modern
publications is not the least agreeable.

One fancies everywhere, that it is easy, by the help of a circulating
library, to know tolerably well what is going on at Paris: but this is
a mighty fond delusion; though sometimes, perhaps, our state may be
the more gracious from our ignorance.

One gentleman, to whom I owe much gratitude for the active good-nature
with which he seems willing to assist me in all my researches, has
given me much curious information respecting the present state of
literature and literary men in France.

In this department of human greatness, at least, those of the party
which has lost power and place have a most decided pre-eminence. Would
it be a pun to say that there is poetical justice in this?

The active, busy, bustling politicians of the hour have succeeded in
thrusting everything else out of place, and themselves into it. One
dynasty has been overthrown, and another established; old laws have
been abrogated, and hundreds of new ones framed; hereditary nobles
have been disinherited, and little men made great;--but amidst this
plenitude of destructiveness, they have not yet contrived to make any
one of the puny literary reputations of the day weigh down the renown
of those who have never lent their voices to the cause of treason,
regicide, rebellion, or obscenity. The literary reputations both of
Châteaubriand and Lamartine stand higher, beyond all comparison, than
those of any other living French authors: yet the first, with all his
genius, has often suffered his imagination to run riot, and the last
has only given to the public the leisure of his literary life. But
both of them are men of honour and principle, as well as men of
genius; and it comforts one's human nature to see that these qualities
will keep themselves aloft, despite whatever squally winds may blow,
or blustering floods assail them. That both Châteaubriand and
Lamartine belong rather to the imaginative than to the _positif_
class, cannot be denied; but they are renowned throughout the world,
and France is proud of them.

The most curious literary speculations, however, suggested by the
present state of letters in this country, are not respecting authors
such as these: they speak for themselves, and all the world knows
them and their position. The circumstance decidedly the most worthy of
remark in the literature of France at the present time, is the effect
which the last revolution appears to have produced. With the exception
of history, to which both Thiers and Mignet have added something that
may live, notwithstanding their very defective philosophy, no single
work has appeared since the revolution of 1830 which has obtained a
substantial, elevated, and generally acknowledged reputation for any
author unknown before that period: not even among all the unbridled
ebullitions of imagination, though restrained neither by decorum,
principle, nor taste,--not even here (excepting from one female[2]
pen, which might become, were it the pleasure of the hand that wields
it, the first now extant in the world of fiction,) has anything
appeared likely to survive its author; nor is there any writer who
during the same period has raised himself to that station in society,
by means of his literary productions, which is so universally accorded
to all who have acquired high literary celebrity in any country.

The name of M. Guizot was too well known before the revolution for
these observations to have any reference to him; and however much he
may have distinguished himself since July 1830, his reputation was
made before. There are, however, little writers in prodigious
abundance; and though as perfectly sure of the truth of what I have
here stated as that I am alive to write it, I should expect a terrible
riot about my ears, could such words be heard by the swarm of tiny
geniuses that settle in clusters, some on the newspapers, some on the
theatres, and some on the busy little printing-press of the
tale-tellers--could they catch me, I am sure I should be stung to
death.

How well I can fancy the clamour!... "Infamous libeller!" cries one;
"have not I achieved a reputation? Do I not receive yearly some
hundreds of francs for my sublime familiarity with sin and misery? and
are not my works read by 'Young France' with ecstasy? Is not this
fame?" "And I," says another,--"is it of such as I and my cotemporary
fellow-labourers in the vast field of new-ploughed speculation that
you speak?" "What call you reputation, woman?" says a third: "do not
the theatres overflow when I send murder, lust, and incest on the
stage, to witch the world with wondrous wickedness?" "And, I too,"
groans another,--"am I not famous? Are not my delicious tales of
unschooled nature in the hands of every free-born youth and tender
maid in this our regenerated Athens? Is not this fame, infamous
slanderer?"

Were I obliged to answer all this, I could only say, "_Arrangez-vous,
canaille!_ If you call this fame, take it, try it, make the most of
it, and see where you will be some dozen years hence."

Notwithstanding this extraordinary lack of great ability, however,
there never, I believe, was any period in which the printing-presses
of France worked so hard as at present. The revolution of 1830 seems
to have set all the minor spirits in motion. There is scarcely a boy
so insignificant, or a workman so unlearned, as to doubt his having
the power and the right to instruct the world. "Every breathing soul
in Paris took a part in this glorious struggle," says the recording
newspaper;--"Yes, all!" echoes the smutched mechanic, snorting and
snuffing the air with the intoxicating consciousness of imputed
power;--"Yes!" answer the _galopins_ one and all, "it is we, it is
we!" And then, like the restless witches on the barren heath that
their breath has blasted, the great reformers rouse themselves again,
and looking from the mischief they have done to the still worse that
remains behind, they mutter prophetically, "We'll do--we'll do--we'll
do!"

To me, I confess, it is perfectly astonishing that any one can be
found to class the writers of this restless _clique_ as "the literary
men of France." Yet it has been done; and it is not till the effects
of the popular commotion which brought them into existence has fully
subsided, that the actual state of French literature can be fairly
ascertained.

Béranger was not the production of that whirlwind: but, in truth, let
him sing what or when he will, the fire of genuine poetic inspiration
must perforce flash across the thickest mist that false principles can
raise around him. He is but a meteor perhaps, but a very bright one,
and must shine, though his path lie amongst unwholesome exhalations
and most dangerous pitfalls. But he cannot in any way be quoted as one
of the new-born race whose claim to genuine fame I have presumed to
doubt.

That flashes of talent, sparkles of wit, and bursts of florid
eloquence are occasionally heard, seen, and felt even from these, is,
however, certain: it could hardly be otherwise. But they blaze, and go
out. The oil which feeds the lamp of revolutionary genius is foul, and
such noxious vapours rise with the flame as must needs check its
brightness.

Do not, however, believe me guilty of such presumption as to give you
my own unsupported judgment as to the position which this "new school"
(as the _décousu_ folks always call themselves) hold in the public
esteem. Such a judgment could be little worth if unsupported; but my
opinion on this subject is, on the contrary, the result of careful
inquiry among those who are most competent to give information
respecting it.

When the names of such as are best known among this class of authors
are mentioned in society, let the politics of the circle be what they
may, they are constantly spoken of as a Paria caste that must be kept
apart.

"Do you know ---- ----?" has been a question I have repeatedly asked
respecting a person whose name is cited in England as the most
esteemed French writer of the age,--and so cited, moreover, to prove
the low standard of French taste and principle.

"No, madam," has been invariably the cold reply.

"Or ----?"

"No. He is not in society."

"Or ----?"

"Oh no! His works live an hour (too long!) and are forgotten."

Should I therefore, my friend, return from France with an higher idea
of its good taste and morality than I had when I entered it, think not
that my own standard of what is right has been lowered, but only that
I have had the pleasure of finding it differed much less than I
expected from that of our agreeable and hardly-judged neighbours on
this side the water. But I shall probably recur to this subject again;
and so, for the present, farewell!

FOOTNOTE:

[2] G. Sand.



LETTER X.

      Lonchamps.--The "Three Hours' Agony" at St. Roch.--Sermons on
      the Gospel of Good-Friday.--Prospects of the
      Catholics.--O'Connell.


I dare say you may know, my friend, though I did not, that the
Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of Passion-week are yearly set apart
by the Parisians for a splendid promenade in carriages, on horseback,
and on foot, to a part of the Bois de Boulogne called Lonchamps. What
the origin could be of so gay and brilliant an assemblage of people
and equipages, evidently coming together to be stared at and to stare,
on days so generally devoted to religious exercises, rather puzzled
me; but I have obtained a most satisfactory explanation, which, in the
hope of your ignorance, I will communicate. The custom itself, it
seems, is a sort of religious exercise; or, at any rate, it was so at
the time of its institution.

When the _beau monde_ of Paris first adopted the practice of repairing
to Lonchamps during these days of penitence and prayer, a convent
stood there, whose nuns were celebrated for performing the solemn
services appointed for the season with peculiar piety and effect. They
sustained this reputation for many years; and for many years all who
could find admittance within their church thronged to hear their sweet
voices.

This convent was destroyed at _the_ revolution (_par excellence_), but
the horses and carriages of Paris still continue to move for evermore
in the same direction when the last three days of Lent arrive.

The cavalcade assembled on this occasion forms an extremely pretty
spectacle, rivalling a spring Sunday in Hyde Park as to the number and
elegance of the equipages, and greatly exceeding it in the beauty and
extent of the magnificent road on which they show themselves. Though
the attending this congregation of wealth, rank, and fashion is still
called "going to Lonchamps," the evolutions of the company, whether in
carriages, on horseback, or on foot, are at present almost wholly
confined to the noble avenue which leads from the entrance to the
Champs Elysées up to the Barrière de l'Etoile.

From about three till six, the whole of this ample space is crowded;
and I really had no idea that so many handsome, well-appointed
equipages could be found collected together anywhere out of London.
The royal family had several handsome carriages on the ground: that of
the Duke of Orleans was particularly remarkable for the beauty of the
horses, and the general elegance of the "turn-out."

The ministers of state, and all the foreign legations, did honour to
the occasion; most of them having very complete equipages, chasseurs
of various plumage, and many with a set of four beautiful horses
really well harnessed. Many private individuals, also, had carriages
which were handsome enough, together with their elegant lading,
greatly to increase the general brilliancy of the scene.

The only individual, however, except the Duke of Orleans, who had two
carriages on the ground, two feathered chasseurs, and twice two pair
of richly-harnessed steeds, was a certain Mr. T----, an American
merchant, whose vast wealth, and still more vast expenditure, is
creating considerable consternation among his sober-minded countrymen
in Paris. We were told that the exuberance of this gentleman's
transatlantic taste was such, and such the vivacity of his inventive
fancy, that during the three days of the Lonchamps promenade he
appeared on the ground each day with different liveries; having, as it
should seem, no particular family reasons for preferring any one set
of colours to another.

The ground was sprinkled, and certainly greatly adorned, by many very
elegant-looking Englishmen on horseback; the pretty caprioles, sleek
skins, and well-managed capers of that prettiest of creatures, a
high-bred English saddle-horse, being as usual among the most
attractive parts of the show. Nor was there any deficiency of
Frenchmen, with very handsome _montures_, to complete the spectacle;
while the ample space under the trees on either side was crowded with
thousands of smart pedestrians; the whole scene being one vast moving
mass of pomp and pleasure.

Nevertheless, the weather on the first of the three days was very far
from favourable: the wind was so bitterly cold that I countermanded
the carriage I had ordered, and instead of going to Lonchamps, we
actually sat shivering over the fire at home; indeed, before three
o'clock, the ground was perfectly covered with snow. The next day
promised something better, and we ventured to emerge: but the
spectacle was really vexatious; many of the carriages being open, and
the shivering ladies attired in all the light and floating drapery of
spring costume. For it is at Lonchamps that all the fashions of the
coming season are exhibited; and no one can tell, however fashion-wise
they be, what bonnet, scarf or shawl, or even what prevailing colour,
is to be worn in Paris throughout the year, till this decisive promenade
be over. Accordingly the milliners had done their duty, and, in fact,
had far outstripped the spring. But it was sad to see the beautiful
bunches of lilac, and the graceful, flexible laburnums--each a wonder
of art--twisted and tortured, bending and breaking, before the wind.
It really seemed as if the lazy Spring, vexed at the pretty mimicry of
blossoms she had herself failed to bring, sent this inclement blast on
purpose to blight them. Everything went wrong. The tender tinted
ribbons were soon dabbled in a driving sleet; while feathers, instead
of wantoning, as it was intended they should do, on the breeze, had to
fight a furious battle with the gale.

It was not therefore till the following day--the last of the three
appointed--that Lonchamps really showed the brilliant assemblage of
carriages, horsemen, and pedestrians that I have described to you.
Upon this last day, however, though it was still cold for the
season--(England would have been ashamed of such a 17th of April)--the
sun did come forth, and smiled in such a sort as greatly to comfort
the pious pilgrims.

We remained, like all the rest of Paris, driving up and down in the
midst of the pretty crowd till six, when they gradually began to draw
off, and all the world went home to dinner.

The early part of this day, which was Good-Friday, had been very
differently passed. The same beautiful and solemn music which formerly
drew all Paris to the Convent in the Bois de Boulogne is now performed
in several of the churches. We were recommended to hear the choir of
St. Roch; and it was certainly the most impressive service at which I
was ever present.

There is much wisdom in thus giving to music an important part in the
public ceremonies of religion. Nothing commands and enchains the
attention with equal power: the ear may be deaf to eloquence, and the
thoughts may often grovel earthward, despite all the efforts of the
preacher to lead them up to heaven; but few will find it possible to
escape from the effect of music; and when it is of such a character as
that performed in the Roman Catholic church on Good-Friday, it can
hardly be that the most volatile and indifferent listener should
depart unmoved.

This service was advertised as "The Three Hours' Agony." The crowd
assembled to listen to it was immense. It is impossible to speak too
highly of the composition of the music; it is conceived in the very
highest tone of sublimity; and the deeply effective manner of its
performance recalled to me an anecdote I have heard of some young
organist, who, having accompanied an anthem in a manner which appeared
greatly superior to that of the usual performer, was asked if he had
not made some alteration in the composition. "No," he replied, "I have
not; but I always read the words when I play."

So, I should think, did those who performed the services at St. Roch
on Good-Friday; and nothing can be imagined more touching and
effective than the manner in which the whole of these striking
ceremonies were performed and arranged there.

The awful gospel of the day furnished a theme for the impassioned
eloquence of several successive preachers; one or two of whom were
wonderfully powerful in their manner of recounting the dreadful
narrative. They were all quite young men; but they went through the
whole of the appalling history with such deep solemnity, such strength
of imagery and vehemence of eloquence, as to produce prodigious
effect.

At intervals, while the exhausted preachers reposed, the organ, with
many stringed instruments, and a choir of exquisite voices, performed
the same gospel, in a manner that made one's whole soul thrill and
quiver within one. The suffering--the submission--the plaintive yet
sublime "It is finished!" and the convulsive burst of indignant nature
that followed, showing itself in thunder, hail, and earthquake, were
all brought before the mind with most miraculous power. I have been
told since, that the services at Notre Dame on that day were finer
still; but I really find some difficulty in believing that this is
possible.

During these last and most solemn days of Lent, I have been
endeavouring by every means in my power to discover how much fasting,
of any kind, was going on. If they fast at all, it is certainly
performed in most strict obedience to the very letter of the gospel:
for, assuredly, they "appear not unto men to fast." Everything goes on
as gaily as if it were the season of the carnival. The _restaurans_
reek with the savoury vapour of a hundred dishes; the theatres are
opened, and as full as the churches; invitations cease not; and I can
in no direction perceive the slightest symptom of being among a Roman
Catholic population during a season of penitence.

And yet, contradictory as the statement must appear, I am deeply
convinced that the clergy of the church of Rome feel more hope of
recovered power fluttering at their hearts now, than they have done at
any time during the last half-century. Nor can I think they are far
wrong in this. The share which the Roman Catholic priests of this our
day are said to have had in the Belgian revolution, and the part, more
remarkable still, which the same race are now performing in the
opening scenes of the fearful struggle which threatens England, has
given a new impulse to the ambition of Rome and of her children. One
may read it in the portly bearing of her youthful priests,--one may
read it in the deep-set meditative eye of those who are older. It is
legible in their brand-new vestments of gold and silver tissue; it is
legible in the costly decorations of their renovated altars; and deep,
deep, deep is the policy which teaches them to recover with a gentle
hand that which they have lost by a grasping one. How well can I
fancy that, in their secret synods, the favourite text is, "No man
putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment; for that which is
put in to fill it up, taketh from the garment, and the rent is made
worse." Were they a whit less cautious, they must fail at once; but
they tickle their converts before they think of convincing them. It is
for this that the pulpits are given to young and eloquent men, who win
the eye and ear of their congregations long before they find out to
what point they wish to lead them. But while the young men preach, the
old men are not idle: there are rumours of new convents, new
monasteries, new orders, new miracles, and of new converts, in all
directions. This wily, worldly, tranquil-seeming, but most ambitious
sect, having in many quarters joined themselves to the cause of
democracy, sit quietly by, looking for the result of their work, and
watching, like a tiger that seems to dose, for the moment when they
may avenge themselves for the long fast from power, during which they
have been gnawing their heart-strings.

But they now hail the morning of another day. I would that all English
ears could hear, as mine have done, the prattle that prophesies the
downfall of our national church as a thing certain as rain after long
drought! I would that English ears could hear, as mine have done, the
name of O'Connell uttered as that of a new apostle, and his bold
bearding of those who yet raise their voices in defence of the faith
their fathers gave them, triumphantly quoted in proof of the growing
influence both of himself and his popish creed,--which are in truth
one and inseparable! But forgive me!--all this has little to do with
my subject, and it is moreover a theme I had much better not meddle
with. I cannot touch it lightly, for my heart is heavy when I turn to
it; I cannot treat it powerfully, for, alas! I have no strength but to
lament.

     "Hé! que puis-je au milieu de ce peuple abattu?
     Benjamin est sans force, et Juda sans vertu."



LETTER XI.

      Trial Chamber at the Luxembourg.--Institute.--M.
      Mignet.--Concert Musard.


As a great and especial favour, we have been taken to see the new
chamber that has been erected at the Luxembourg for the trial of the
political prisoners. The appearance of the exterior is very handsome,
and though built wholly of wood, it corresponds perfectly, to all
outward seeming, with the old palace. The rich and massive style of
architecture is imitated to perfection: the heavy balustrades, the
gigantic bas-reliefs, are all vast, solid, and magnificent; and when
it is stated that the whole thing has been completed in the space of
two months, one is tempted to believe that Alladdin has turned
doctrinaire, and rubbed his lamp most diligently in the service of the
state.

The trial-chamber is a noble room; but from the great number of
prisoners, and greater still of witnesses expected to be examined, the
space left for the public is but small. Prudence, perhaps, may have
had as much to do with this as necessity: nor can we much wonder if
the peers of France should desire to have as little to do with the
Paris mob upon this occasion as possible.

I remarked that considerable space was left for passages, ante-rooms,
surroundings, and outposts of all sorts;--an excellent arrangement,
the wisdom of which cannot be questioned, as the attendance of a large
armed force must be indispensable. In fact, I believe it ever has been
and ever will be found, that troops furnish the only means of keeping
a remarkably free people in order.

It was, however, very comforting and satisfactory to hear the manner
in which the distinguished and agreeable individual who had procured
us the pleasure of seeing this building discoursed of the business
which was to be carried on there.

There is a quiet steadiness and confidence in their own strength among
these doctrinaries, that seems to promise well for the lasting
tranquillity of the country; nor does it impeach either their wisdom
or sincerity, if many among them adhere heart and hand to the
government, though they might have better liked a white than a
tri-coloured banner to wave over the palace of its head. Whatever the
standers-by may wish or feel about future struggles and future
changes, I think it is certain that no Frenchman who desires the
prosperity of his country can at the present moment wish for anything
but a continuance of the tranquillity she actually enjoys.

If, indeed, democracy were gaining ground,--if the frightful political
fallacies, among which the very young and the very ignorant are so apt
to bewilder themselves, were in any degree to be traced in the policy
pursued by the existing government,--then would the question be wholly
changed, and every honest man in full possession of his senses would
feel himself called upon to stay the plague with all his power and
might. But the very reverse of all this is evidently the case; and it
may be doubted if any sovereign in Europe has less taste for license
and misrule than King Louis-Philippe. Be very sure that it is not to
him that the radicals of any land must look for patronage,
encouragement, or support: they will not find it.

After quitting the Luxembourg, we went to the _bureau_ of the
secretary at the Institute, to request tickets for an annual sitting
of the five Academies, which took place yesterday. They were very
obligingly accorded--(O that our institutions, our academies, our
lectures, were thus liberally arranged!)--and yesterday we passed two
very agreeable hours in the place to which they admitted us.

I wish that the Polytechnic School, when they took a fancy for
changing the ancient _régimes_ of France, had included the uniform of
the Institute in their proscriptions. The improvement would have been
less doubtful than it is respecting some other of their innovations:
for what can be said in defence of a set of learned academicians,
varying in age from light and slender thirty to massive and
protuberant fourscore, wearing one and all a fancy blue dress-coat
"embroidered o'er with leaves of myrtle"? It is really a proof that
very good things were said and done at this sitting, when I declare
that my astonishment at the Corydon-like costume was forgotten within
the first half-hour.

We first witnessed the distribution of the prizes, and then heard one
or two members speak, or rather read their compositions. But the great
fête of the occasion was hearing a discourse pronounced by M. Mignet.
This gentleman is too celebrated not to have excited in us a very
earnest wish to hear him; and never was expectation more agreeably
gratified. Combined with the advantages of a remarkably fine face and
person, M. Mignet has a tone of voice and play of countenance
sufficient of themselves to secure the success of an orator. But on
this occasion he did not trust to these: his discourse was every way
admirable; subject, sentiment, composition, and delivery, all
excellent.

He had chosen for his theme the history of Martin Luther's appearance
before the Diet at Worms; and the manner in which he treated it
surprised as much as it delighted me. Not a single trait of that
powerful, steadfast, unbending character, which restored light to our
religion and freedom to the mind of man, escaped him: it was a mental
portrait, painted with the boldness of outline, breadth of light, and
vigour of colouring, which mark the hand of a consummate master.

But was it a Roman Catholic who pronounced this discourse?--Were they
Roman Catholics who filled every corner of the theatre, and listened
to him with attention so unbroken, and admiration so undisguised? I
know not. But for myself, I can truly declare, that my Protestant and
reformed feelings were never more gratified than by listening to this
eloquent history of the proudest moment of our great apostle's life,
pronounced in the centre of Cardinal Mazarin's palace. The concluding
words of the discourse were as follows:

"Sommé pendant quatre ans de se soumettre, Luther, pendant quatre ans,
dit non. Il avait dit non au légat; il avait dit non au pape; il dit
non à l'empereur. Dans ce non héroïque et fécond se trouvait la
liberté du monde."

Another discourse was announced to conclude the sitting of the day.
But when M. Mignet retired, no one appeared to take his place; and after
waiting for a few minutes, the numerous and very fashionable-looking
crowd dispersed themselves.

I recollected the anecdote told of the first representation of the
"Partie de Chasse de Henri Quatre," when the overture of Mehul
produced such an effect, that the audience would not permit anything
else to be performed after it. The piece, therefore, was
_remise_,--and so was the harangue of the academician who was to have
followed M. Mignet.

You will confess, I think, that we are not idle, when I tell you that,
after all this, we went in the evening to _Le Concert Musard_. This is
one of the pastimes to which we have hitherto had no parallel in
London. At half-past seven o'clock, you lounge into a fine, large,
well-lighted room, which is rapidly filled with company: a full and
good orchestra give you during a couple of hours some of the best and
most popular music of the season; and then you lounge out again, in
time to dress for a party, or eat ices at Tortoni's, or soberly to go
home for a domestic tea-drinking and early rest. For this concert you
pay a franc; and the humble price, together with the style of toilet
(every lady wearing a bonnet and shawl), might lead the uninitiated to
suppose that it was a recreation prepared for the _beau monde_ of the
Faubourg; but the long line of private carriages that occupies the
street at the conclusion of it, shows that, simple and unpretending as
is its style, this concert has attractions for the best company in
Paris.

The easy _entrée_ to it reminded me of the theatres of Germany. I
remarked many ladies coming in, two or three together, unattended by
any gentleman. Between the acts, the company promenaded round the
room, parties met and joined, and altogether it appeared to us a very
agreeable mode of gratifying that French necessity of amusing one's
self out of one's own house, which seems contagious in the very air of
Paris.



LETTER XII.

      Easter-Sunday at Notre Dame.--Archbishop.--View of
      Paris.--Victor Hugo.--Hôtel Dieu.--Mr. Jefferson.


It was long ago decided in a committee of the whole house, that on
Easter-Sunday we should attend high mass at Notre Dame. I shall not
soon forget the spectacle that greeted us on entering. Ten thousand
persons, it was said, were on that day assembled in the church; and
its dimensions are so vast, that I have no doubt the statement was
correct, for it was crowded from floor to roof. The effect of the
circular gallery, that at mid-height encompasses the centre aisle,
following as it does the graceful sweep of the chapel behind the
altar, and filled row after row with gaily-dressed company up, as it
seemed, almost to the groining of the roof, was beautiful. The chairs
on this occasion were paid for in proportion to the advantageousness
of the position in which they stood, and by disbursing an extra franc
or two we obtained very good places. The mass was performed with great
splendour. The dresses of the archbishop and his train were
magnificent; and when this splendid, princely-looking personage,
together with his court of dignitaries and priests, paraded the Host
round the church and up the crowded aisle spite of the close-wedged
throng, they looked like a stream of liquid gold, that by its own
weight made way through every obstacle. The archbishop is a mild and
amiable-looking man, and ceased not to scatter blessings from his lips
and sprinkle safety from his fingers'-ends upon the admiring people,
as slowly and gracefully he passed among them.

The latter years of this prelate's life have been signalized by some
remarkable changes. He has seen the glories and the penitences of his
church alike the favourite occupation of his king;--he has seen that
king and his highest nobles walking in holy procession through the
streets of Paris;--he has seen that same king banished from his throne
and his country, a proscribed and melancholy exile, while the pomp and
parade of his cherished faith were forbidden to offend the people's
eyes by any longer pouring forth its gorgeous superstitions into the
streets;--he has seen his own consecrated palace razed to its
foundation, and its very elements scattered to the winds:--and now,
this self-same prelate sees himself again well received at the court
whence Charles Dix was banished; and, stranger still, perhaps, he sees
his startled flock once more assembling round him, quietly and
silently, but steadily and in earnest; while he who, within five
short years, was trembling for his life, now lifts his head again, and
not only in safety, but, with all his former power and pride of place,
is permitted to

     "Chanter les _oremus_, faire des processions,
     Et répandre à grands flots les bénédictions."

It is true, indeed, that there are no longer any Roman Catholic
processions to be seen in the streets of Paris; but if we look within
the churches, we find that the splendour concentrated there, has lost
nothing of its impressive sumptuousness by thus changing the scene of
its display.

The service of this day, as far as the music was concerned, was in my
opinion infinitely less impressive than that of Good-Friday at St.
Roch. This doubtless arose in a great degree from the style of
composition; but I suspect, moreover, that my imagination was put out
of humour by seeing about fifty fiddlers, with every appearance of
being (what they actually were) the orchestra of the opera, performing
from a space enclosed for them at the entrance of the choir. The
singing men and boys were also stationed in the same unwonted and
unecclesiastical place; and though some of those hired for the
occasion had very fine Italian voices, they had all the air of singing
without "reading the words;" and, on the whole, my ear and my fancy
were disappointed.

Victor Hugo's description of old Paris as seen from the towers of
Notre Dame sent us labouring to their summit. The state of the
atmosphere was very favourable, and I was delighted to find that the
introduction of coal, rapid as its progress has lately been, has not
yet tinged the bright clear air sufficiently to prevent this splendid
panorama from being distinctly seen to its remotest edge. That
impenetrable mass of dun, dull smoke, that we look down upon whenever
a mischievous imp of curiosity lures us to the top of any dome, tower,
or obelisk in London, can hardly fail of making one remember every
weary step which led to the profitless elevation; but one must be
tired indeed to remember fatigue while looking down upon the bright,
warm, moving miniature spread out below the towers of Notre Dame.

What an intricate world of roofs it is!--and how mystically
incomprehensible are the ins and outs, the bridges and the islands, of
the idle Seine! A raft, caught sight of at intervals, bearing wood or
wine; a floating wash-house, with its line of bending naïads, looking
like a child's toy with figures all of a row; and here and there a
floating-bath,--are all this river shows of its power to aid and
assist the magnificent capital which has so strangely chosen to
stretch herself along its banks. When one thinks of the forest of
masts which we see covering whole miles of extent in London, it seems
utterly unintelligible how that which is found needful for the
necessities of one great city should appear so perfectly unnecessary
for another.

Victor Hugo's picture of the scene he has fancied beneath the towers
of Notre Dame in the days of his Esmeralda is sketched with amazing
spirit; though probably Paris was no more like the pretty panorama he
makes of it than Timbuctoo. I heartily wish, however, that he would
confine himself to the representation of still-life, and let his
characters be all of innocent bricks and mortar: for even though they
do look shadowy and somewhat doubtful in the distance, they have
infinitely more nature and truth than can be found among all his
horrible imaginings concerning his fellow-creatures.

His description of the old church itself, too, is delicious: for
though it has little of architectural reality or strict graphic
fidelity about it, there is such a powerful air of truth in every word
he says respecting it, that one looks out and about upon the rugged
stones, and studies every angle, buttress, and parapet, with the
lively interest of old acquaintance.

I should like to have a legend, as fond and lingering in its
descriptions, attached to some of our glorious and mysterious old
Gothic cathedrals at home. This sort of reading gives a pleasure in
which imagination and reality are very happily blended; and I can
fancy nothing more agreeable than following an able romancer up and
down, through and amongst, in and out, the gloomy, shadowy, fanciful,
unintelligible intricacies of such a structure. How well might
Winchester, for instance, with its solemn crypts, its sturdy Saxon
strength, its quaintly-coffined relics of royal bones, its Gothic
shrines, its monumental splendour, and its stately magnitude, furnish
forth the material for some such spirit-stirring record!

Having spent an hour of first-rate interest and gratification in
wandering inside and outside of this very magnificent church, we
crossed the Place, or _Parvis_, of Notre Dame, to see the celebrated
hospital of the Hôtel Dieu. It is very particularly large, clean,
airy, and well-ordered in every way; and I never saw sick people look
less miserable than some scores of men and women did, tucked snugly up
in their neat little beds, and most of them with a friend or relative
at their side to console or amuse them.

The access to the wards of this building is as free as that into a
public bazaar; but there is one caution used in the admission of
company which, before I understood it, puzzled me greatly. There are
three doors at the top of the fine flight of steps which leads to the
building. The centre one is used only as an exit; at the other two are
placed guards, one a male, the other a female. Through these
side-doors all who enter must pass--the men on one side, the women on
the other; and all must submit to be pretty strictly examined, to see
that they are conveying nothing either to eat or drink that might be
injurious to the invalids.

The covered bridge which opens from the back part of the Hôtel Dieu,
connecting _l'Isle de la Cité_ with the left bank of the Seine, with
its light glass roof, and safe shelter from wind, dust, or annoyance
of any kind, forms a delightful promenade for the convalescent.

The evening of this day we spent at a _soirée_, where we met, among
many other pleasant persons, a very sensible and gentlemanlike
American. I had the pleasure of a long conversation with him, during
which he said many things extremely worth listening to. This gentleman
has held many distinguished diplomatic situations, appears to have
acquired a great deal of general information, and moreover to have
given much attention to the institutions and character of his own
country.

He told me that Jefferson had been the friend of his early life; that
he knew his sentiments and opinions on all subjects intimately well,
and much better than those who were acquainted with them no otherwise
than by his published writings. He assured me most positively that
Jefferson was NOT a democrat in principle, but believed it expedient
to promulgate the doctrine, as the only one which could excite the
general feeling of the people, and make them hang together till they
should have acquired strength sufficient to be reckoned as one among
the nations. He said, that Jefferson's ulterior hope for America was,
that she should, after having acquired this strength, give birth to
men distinguished both by talent and fortune; that when this happened,
an enlightened and powerful aristocracy might be hoped for, without
which HE KNEW that no country could be really great or powerful.

As I am assured that the word of this gentleman may be depended on,
these observations--or rather, I should say, statements--respecting
Jefferson appear to me worth noting.



LETTER XIII.

      "Le Monomane."


As a distinguished specimen of fashionable horror, I went last night
to the Porte St. Martin to see "The Monomane," a drama in five acts,
from the pen of a M. Duveyrier. I hardly know whether to give you a
sketch of this monstrous outrage against common sense or not; but I
think I will do so, because I flatter myself that no one will be silly
enough to translate it into English, or import it in any shape into
England; and, therefore, if I do not tell you something about it, you
may chance to die without knowing to what prodigious lengths a search
after absurdity may carry men.

But first let me mention, as not the least extraordinary part of the
phenomenon, that the theatre was crowded from floor to roof, and that
Shakspeare was never listened to with attention more profound.
However, it does not follow that approval or admiration of any kind
was either the cause or the effect of this silent contemplation of the
scene: no one could be more devoted to the business of the hour than
myself, but most surely this was not the result of approbation.

If I am not very clear respecting the plot, you must excuse me, from
my want of habitual expertness in such an analysis; but the main
features and characters cannot escape me.

An exceedingly amiable and highly intellectual gentleman is the hero
of this piece; a part personated by a M. Lockroi with a degree of
ability deserving a worthier employment. This amiable man holds at
Colmar the office of _procureur du roi_; and, from the habit of
witnessing trials, acquires so vehement a passion for the shedding of
blood on the scaffold, that it amounts to a mania. To illustrate this
singular trait of character, M. Balthazar developes his secret
feelings in an opening speech to an intimate friend. In this speech,
which really contains some very good lines, he dilates with much
enthusiasm on the immense importance which he conceives to attach to
the strict and impartial administration of criminal justice. No man
could deliver himself more judge-like and wisely; but how or why such
very rational and sober opinions should lead to an unbounded passion
for blood, is very difficult to understand.

The next scene, however, shows the _procureur du roi_ hugging himself
with a kind of mysterious rapture at the idea of an approaching
execution, and receiving with a very wild and mad-like sort of agony
some attempts to prove the culprit innocent. The execution takes
place; and after it is over, the innocence of the unfortunate victim
is fully proved.

The amiable and excellent _procureur du roi_ is greatly moved at this;
but his repentant agony is soon walked off by a few well-trod
melodramatic turns up and down the stage; and he goes on again,
seizing with ecstasy upon every opportunity of bringing the guilty to
justice.

What the object of the author can possibly be in making out that a man
is mad solely because he wishes to do his duty, I cannot even guess.
It is difficult to imagine an honest-minded magistrate uttering more
common-place, uncontrovertible truths upon the painful duties of his
station, than does this unfortunate gentleman.

M. Victor Hugo, speaking of himself in one of his prefaces, says, "Il
(Victor Hugo) continuera donc fermement; et chaque fois qu'il croira
nécessaire de faire bien voir à tous, dans ses moindres détails, une
idée utile, une idée sociale, une idée humaine, il posera le théâtre
déssus comme un verre grossissant."[3]

It strikes me that M. Duveyrier, the ingenious author of the Monomane,
must work upon the same principle, and that in this piece he thinks
he has put a magnifying-glass upon "une idée sociale."

But I must return to my analysis of this drama of five mortal
acts.--After the execution, the real perpetrator of the murder for
which the unfortunate victim of legal enthusiasm has innocently
suffered appears on the scene. He is brought sick or wounded into the
house of a physician, with whom the _procureur du roi_ and his wife
are on a visit. Balthazar sees the murderer conveyed to bed in a
chamber that opens from that of his friend the doctor. He then goes to
bed himself with his wife, and appears to have fallen asleep without
delay, for we presently see him in this state come forth from his
chamber upon a gallery, from whence a flight of stairs descends upon
the stage. We see him walk down these stairs,--take some instrument
out of a case belonging to the doctor,--enter the apartment where the
murderer has been lodged,--return,--replace the instrument,--wash his
bloody hands and wipe them upon a hand-towel,--then reascend the
staircase and enter his lady's room at the top of it; all of which is
performed in the silence of profound sleep.

The attention which hung upon the whole of this long silent scene was
such, that one might have supposed the lives of the audience depended
upon their not waking this murderous sleeper by any sound; and the
applause which followed the mute performance, when once the awful
_procureur du roi_ was again safely lodged in his chamber, was
deafening.

The following morning it is discovered that the sick stranger has been
murdered; and instantly the _procureur du roi_, with his usual ardour
in discovering the guilty, sets most ably to work upon the
investigation of every circumstance which may throw light upon this
horrible transaction. Everything, particularly the case of
instruments, of which one is bloody, and the hand-towel found in his
room, stained with the same accusing dye--all tends to prove that the
poor innocent physician is the murderer: he is accordingly taken up,
tried, and condemned.

This unfortunate young doctor has an uncle, of the same learned
profession, who is addicted to the science of animal magnetism. This
gentleman having some suspicion that Balthazar is himself the guilty
person, imagines a very cunning device by which he may be made to
betray himself if guilty. He determines to practise his magnetism upon
him in full court while he is engaged in the duties of his high
office, and flatters himself that he shall be able to throw him into a
sleep or trance, in which state he may _par hasard_ let out something
of the truth.

This admirable contrivance answers perfectly. The attorney-general
does fall into a most profound sleep the moment the old doctor begins
his magnetising manoeuvres, and in this state not only relates aloud
every circumstance of the murder, but, to give this confession more
sure effect, he writes it out fairly, and sets his name to it, being
profoundly asleep the whole time.

And here it is impossible to avoid remarking on the extreme ill
fortune which attends the sleeping hours of this amiable
attorney-general. At one time he takes a nap, and kills a man without
knowing anything of the matter; and then, in a subsequent state of
oblivion, he confesses it, still without knowing anything of the
matter.

As soon as the unfortunate gentleman has finished the business for
which he was put to sleep, he is awakened, and the paper is shown to
him. He scruples not immediately to own his handwriting, which,
sleeping or waking, it seems, was the same; but testifies the greatest
horror and astonishment at the information the document contains,
which was quite as unexpected to himself as to the rest of the
company.

His high office, however, we must presume, exempts him from all
responsibility; for the only result of the discovery is an earnest
recommendation from his friends, particularly the old and young
doctors, that he should travel for the purpose of recovering his
spirits.

There is a little episode, by the way, from which we learn, that once,
in one of his alarming slumbers, this amiable but unfortunate man
gave symptoms of wishing to murder his wife and child; in consequence
of which, it is proposed by the doctors that this tour for the
restoration of his spirits should be made without them. To this
separation Balthazar strongly objects, and tells his beautiful wife,
with much tenderness, that he shall find it very dull without her.

To this the lady, though naturally rather afraid of him, answers with
great sweetness, that in that case she shall be extremely happy to go
with him; adding tenderly, that she would willingly die to prove her
devotion.

Nothing could be so unfortunate as this expression. At the bare
mention of his hobby-horse, _death_, his malady revives, and he
instantly manifests a strong inclination to murder her,--and this time
without even the ceremony of going to sleep.

Big with the darling thought, his eyes rolling, his cheek pale, his
bristling hair on end, and the awful genius of Melodrame swelling in
every vein, Balthazar seats himself on the sofa beside his trembling
wife, and taking the comb out of her (Mademoiselle Noblet's) beautiful
hair, appears about to strangle her in the rope of jet that he pulls
out to its utmost length, and twists, and twists, and twists, till one
really feels a cold shiver from head to foot. But at length, at the
very moment when matters seem drawing to a close, the lady throws
herself lovingly on his bosom, and his purpose changes, or at least
for a moment seems to change, and he relaxes his hold.

At this critical juncture the two doctors enter. Balthazar looks at
them wildly, then at his wife, then at the doctors again, and finally
tells them all that he must beg leave to retire for a few moments. He
passes through the group, who look at him in mournful silence; but as
he approaches the door, he utters the word 'poison,' then enters, and
locks and bolts it after him.

Upon this the lady screams, and the two doctors fly for a crow-bar.
The door is burst open, and the _procureur du roi_ comes forward, wide
awake, but having swallowed the poison he had mentioned.

This being "the last scene of all that ends this strange eventful
history," the curtain falls upon the enthusiastic attorney-general as
he expires in the arms of his wife and friends.

We are always so apt, when we see anything remarkably absurd abroad,
to flatter ourselves with the belief that nothing like it exists at
home, that I am almost afraid to draw a parallel between this
inconceivable trash, and the very worst and vilest piece that ever was
permitted to keep possession of the stage in England, lest some one
better informed on the subject than myself should quote some British
enormity unknown to me, and so prove my patriotic theory false.

Nevertheless, I cannot quit the subject without saying, that as far as
my knowledge and belief go, English people never did sit by hundreds
and listen patiently to such stuff as this. There is no very atrocious
vice, no terrific wickedness in the piece, as far as I could
understand its recondite philosophy; but its silliness surely
possesses the silliness of a little child. The grimaces, the dumb
show, the newly-invented passions, and the series of impossible
events, which drag through these five longsome acts, seem to show a
species of anomaly in the human mind that composed the piece, to which
I imagine no parallel can be found on record.

Is this the result of the march of mind?--is it the fruit of that
universal diffusion of knowledge which we are told is at work
throughout the world, but most busily in France?... I shall never
understand the mystery, let me meditate upon it as long as I will. No!
never shall I understand how a French audience, lively, witty, acute,
and prone to seize upon whatever is ridiculous, can thus sit night
after night with profound gravity, and the highest apparent
satisfaction, to witness the incredible absurdity of such a piece as
"Le Monomane."

There is one way, and one way only, in which the success of this drama
can be accounted for intelligibly. May it not be, that "LES JEUNES
GENS," wanton in their power, have determined in merry mood to mystify
their fellow-citizens by passing a favourable judgment upon this
tedious performance? And may they not now be enjoying the success of
their plot in ecstasies of private laughter, at seeing how meekly the
dutiful Parisians go nightly to the Porte St. Martin, and sit in
obedient admiration of what it has pleased their youthful tyrants to
denominate "a fine drama"?

But I must leave off guessing; for, as the wise man saith, "the
finding out of parables is a wearisome labour of the mind."

Some critic, speaking of the new school of French dramatists, says
that "they have heaved the ground under the feet of Racine and
Corneille." If this indeed be so, the best thing that the lovers of
tragedy can do is to sit at home and wait patiently till the earth
settles itself again from the shock of so deplorable an earthquake.
That it will settle itself again, I have neither doubt nor fear.
Nonsense has nothing of immortality in its nature; and when the storm
which has scattered all this frothy scum upon us shall have fairly
blown over and passed away, then I suspect that Corneille and Racine
will still find solid standing-ground on the soil of France;--nay,
should they by chance find also that their old niches in the temple of
her great men remain vacant, it is likely enough that they may be
again invited to take possession of them; and they may keep it too
perhaps for a few more hundred years, with very little danger that any
greater than they should arrive to take their places.

FOOTNOTE:

[3] _Translation._--He will continue then firmly; and every time that
he shall think it necessary to make visible to all, in its least
details, a useful idea, a social idea, a humane idea, he will place
upon it the theatre, as a magnifying-glass.



LETTER XIV.

      The Gardens of the Tuileries.--Legitimatist.--Republican.--
      Doctrinaire.--Children.--Dress of the Ladies.--Of the
      Gentlemen.--Black Hair.--Unrestricted Admission.--Anecdote.


Is there anything in the world that can be fairly said to resemble the
Gardens of the Tuileries? I should think not. It is a whole made up of
so many strongly-marked and peculiar features, that it is not probable
any other place should be found like it. To my fancy, it seems one of
the most delightful scenes in the world; and I never enter there,
though it is long since the enchantment of novelty made any part of
the charm, without a fresh feeling of enjoyment.

The _locale_ itself, independent of the moving throng which for ever
seems to dwell within it, is greatly to my taste: I love all the
detail of its embellishment, and I dearly love the bright and happy
aspect of the whole. But on this subject I know there are various
opinions: many talk with distaste of the straight lines, the clipped
trees, the formal flower-beds, the ugly roofs,--nay, some will even
abuse the venerable orange-trees themselves, because they grow in
square boxes, and do not wave their boughs in the breeze like so many
ragged willow-trees.

But I agree not with any one of these objections; and should think it
as reasonable, and in as good taste, to quarrel with Westminster Abbey
because it did not look like a Grecian temple, as to find fault with
the Gardens of the Tuileries because they are arranged like French
pleasure-grounds, and not like an English park. For my own part, I
profess that I would not, if I had the power, change even in the least
degree a single feature in this pleasant spot: enter it at what hour
or at what point I will, it ever seems to receive me with smiles and
gladness.

We seldom suffer a day to pass without refreshing our spirits by
sitting for a while amidst its shade and its flowers. From the part of
the town where we are now dwelling, the gate opposite the Place
Vendôme is our nearest entrance; and perhaps from no point does the
lively beauty of the whole scene show itself better than from beneath
the green roof of the terrace-walk, to which this gate admits us.

To the right, the dark mass of unshorn trees, now rich with the flowers
of the horse-chesnut, and growing as boldly and as loftily as the most
English-hearted gardener could desire, leads the eye through a very
delicious "continuity of shade" to the magnificent gate that opens
upon the Place Louis-Quinze. To the left is the widely-spreading
façade of the Tuileries Palace, the ungraceful elevation of the
pavilion roofs, well nigh forgotten, and quite atoned for by the
beauty of the gardens at their feet. Then, just where the shade of the
high trees ceases, and the bright blaze of sunshine begins, what
multitudes of sweet flowers are seen blushing in its beams! An
universal lilac bloom seems at this season to spread itself over the
whole space; and every breeze that passes by, comes to us laden with
perfume. My daily walk is almost always the same,--I love it so well
that I do not like to change it. Following the shady terrace by which
we enter to the point where it sinks down to the level of the
magnificent esplanade in front of the palace, we turn to the right,
and endure the splendid brightness till we reach the noble walk
leading from the gateway of the centre pavilion, through flowers,
statues, orange-trees, and chesnut-groves, as far as the eye can
reach, till it reposes at last upon the lofty arch of the Barrière de
l'Etoile.

This _coup-d'oeil_ is so beautiful, that I constantly feel renewed
pleasure when I look upon it. I do indeed confess myself to be one of
those "who in trim gardens take their pleasure." I love the studied
elegance, the carefully-selected grace of every object permitted to
meet the pampered eye in such a spot as this. I love these
fondly-nurtured princely exotics, the old orange-trees, ranged in
their long stately rows; and better still do I love the marble groups,
that stand so nobly, sometimes against the bright blue sky, and
sometimes half concealed in the dark setting of the trees. Everything
seems to speak of taste, luxury, and elegance.

Having indulged in a lingering walk from the palace to the point at
which the sunshine ceases and the shade begins, a new species of
interest and amusement awaits us. Thousands of chairs scattered just
within the shelter of this inviting covert are occupied by an
interminable variety of pretty groups.

I wonder how many months of constant attendance there, it would take
before I should grow weary of studying the whole and every separate
part of this bright picture? It is really matchless in beauty as a
spectacle, and unequalled in interest as a national study. All Paris
may in turn be seen and examined there; and nowhere is it so easy to
distinguish specimens of the various and strongly-marked divisions of
the people.

This morning we took possession of half a dozen chairs under the trees
which front the beautiful group of Pelus and Aria. It was the hour
when all the newspapers are in the greatest requisition; and we had
the satisfaction of watching the studies of three individuals, each of
whom might have sat as a model for an artist who wished to give an
idea of their several peculiarities. We saw, in short, beyond the
possibility of doubt, a royalist, a doctrinaire, and a republican,
during the half-hour we remained there, all soothing their feelings by
indulging in two sous' worth of politics, each in his own line.

A stiff but gentleman-like old man first came, and having taken a
journal from the little octagon stand--which journal we felt quite
sure was either "La France" or "La Quotidienne"--he established
himself at no great distance from us. Why it was that we all felt so
certain of his being a legitimatist I can hardly tell you, but not one
of the party had the least doubt about it. There was a quiet,
half-proud, half-melancholy air of keeping himself apart; an
aristocratical cast of features; a pale care-worn complexion; and a
style of dress which no vulgar man ever wore, but which no rich one
would be likely to wear to-day. This is all I can record of him: but
there was something pervading his whole person too essentially loyal
to be misunderstood, yet too delicate in its tone to be coarsely
painted. Such as it was, however, we felt it quite enough to make the
matter sure; and if I could find out that old gentleman to be either
doctrinaire or republican, I never would look on a human countenance
again in order to discover what was passing within.

The next who approached us we were equally sure was a republican: but
here the discovery did little honour to our discernment; for these
gentry choose to leave no doubt upon the subject of their _clique_,
but contrive that every article contributing to the appearance of the
outward man shall become a symbol and a sign, a token and a stigma, of
the madness that possesses them. He too held a paper in his hand, and
without venturing to approach too nearly to so alarming a personage,
we scrupled not to assure each other that the journal he was so
assiduously perusing was "Le Réformateur."

Just as we had decided what manner of man it was who was stalking so
majestically past us, a comfortable-looking citizen approached in the
uniform of the National Guard, who sat himself down to his daily
allowance of politics with the air of a person expecting to be well
pleased with what he finds, but nevertheless too well contented with
himself and all things about him to care over-much about it. Every
line of this man's jocund face, every curve of his portly figure,
spoke contentment and well-being. He was probably one of that very new
race in France, a tradesman making a rapid fortune. Was it possible to
doubt that the paper in his hand was "Le Journal des Débats?" was it
possible to believe that this man was other than a prosperous
doctrinaire?

  [Illustration: Drawn & Etched by A. Hervieu.
   MORNING AT THE TUILERIES.
   London, Published by Richard Bentley, 1835.]

Thus, on the neutral ground furnished by these delightful gardens,
hostile spirits meet with impunity, and, though they mingle not,
enjoy in common the delicious privileges of cool shade, fresh air,
and the idle luxury of an _al fresco_ newspaper, in the midst of a
crowded and party-split city, with as much certainty of being
unchallenged and uninterrupted as if each were wandering alone in a
princely domain of his own.

Such, too, as are not over splenetic may find a very lively variety of
study in watching the ways of the little dandies and dandiesses who,
at some hours of the day, swarm like so many hummingbirds amidst the
shade and sunshine of the Tuileries. Either these little French
personages are marvellously well-behaved, or there is some
superintending care which prevents screaming; for I certainly never
saw so many young things assembled together who indulged so rarely in
that salutary exercise of the lungs which makes one so often tremble
at the approach of

     "Soft infancy, that nothing can, but cry."

The costumes of these pretty creatures contribute not a little to the
amusement; it is often so whimsical as to give them the appearance of
miniature maskers. I have seen little fellows beating a hoop in the
full uniform of a National Guard; others waddling under the mimicry of
kilted Highlanders; and small ladies without number in every possible
variety of un-babylike apparel.

The entertainment to be derived from sitting in the Tuileries Gardens
and studying costume is, however, by no means confined to the junior
part of the company. In no country have I ever seen anything
approaching in grotesque habiliments to some of the figures daily and
hourly met lounging about these walks. But such vagaries are confined
wholly to the male part of the population; it is very rare to see a
woman outrageously dressed in any way; and if you do, the chances are
five hundred to one that she is not a Frenchwoman. An air of quiet
elegant neatness is, I think, the most striking characteristic of the
walking costume of the French ladies. All the little minor finishings
of the female toilet appear to be more sedulously cared for than the
weightier matters of the pelisse and gown. Every lady you meet is
_bien chaussée_, _bien gantée_. Her ribbons, if they do not match her
dress, are sure to accord with it; and for all the delicate garniture
that comes under the care of the laundress, it should seem that Paris
alone, of all the earth, knows how to iron.

The whimsical caprices of male attire, on the contrary, defy anything
like general remark; unless, indeed, it be that the air of Paris
appears to have the quality of turning all the _imperials_, _favoris_,
and _moustaches_ which dwell within its walls to jetty blackness. At a
little distance, the young men have really the air of having their
faces tied up with black ribbon as a cure for the mumps; and, handsome
as this dark _chevelure_ is generally allowed to be, the heavy
uniformity of it at present very considerably lessens its striking
effect. When every man has his face half covered with black hair, it
ceases to be a very valuable distinction. Perhaps, too, the frequent
advertisements of compositions infallible in their power of turning
the hair to any colour except "what pleases God," may tend to make one
look with suspicious eyes at these once fascinating southern
decorations; but, at present, I take it to be an undoubted fact, that
a clean, close-shaven, northern-looking gentleman is valued at a high
premium in every _salon_ in Paris.

It is not to be denied that the "glorious and immortal days" have done
some injury to the general appearance of the Tuileries Gardens. Before
this period, no one was permitted to enter them dressed in a _blouse_,
or jacket, or _casquette_; and no one, either male or female, might
carry bundles or baskets through these pretty regions, sacred to
relaxation and holiday enjoyment. But liberty and unseemly sordidness
of attire being somehow or other jumbled together in the minds of the
sovereign mob,--not sovereign either--the mob is only vice-regal in
Paris as yet;--but the mob, however, such as it is, has obtained, as a
mark of peculiar respect and favour to themselves, a new law or
regulation, by which it is enacted that these royal precincts may
become like unto Noah's ark, and that both clean and unclean beasts
may enter here.

Could one wish for a better specimen of the sort of advantage to be
gained by removing the restraint of authority in order to pamper the
popular taste for what they are pleased to call freedom? Not one of
the persons who enter the gardens now, were restricted from entering
them before; only it was required that they should be decently
clad;--that is to say, in such garments as they were accustomed to
wear on Sunday or any other holiday; the only occasions, one should
imagine, on which the working classes could wish to profit by
permission to promenade in a public garden: but the obligation to
appear clean in the garden of the king's palace was an infringement on
their liberty, so that formality is dispensed with; and they have now
obtained the distinguished and ennobling privilege of being as dirty
and ill-dressed as they like.

The power formerly intrusted to the sentinel, wherever there was one
stationed, of refusing the _entrée_ to all persons not properly
dressed, gave occasion once to a saucy outbreaking of French wit in
one of the National Guard, which was amusing enough. This civic
guardian was stationed at the gates of a certain _Mairie_ on some
public occasion, with the usual injunction not to permit any person
"_mal-mise_" to enter. An _incroyable_ presented himself, not dressed
in the fashion, but immoderately beyond it. The sentinel looked at
him, and lowered his piece across the entrance, pronouncing in a
voice of authority--

"You cannot enter."

"Not enter?" exclaimed the astonished beau, looking down at the
exquisite result of his laborious toilet; "not enter?--forbid me to
enter, sir?--impossible! What is it you mean? Let me pass, I say!"

The imperturbable sentinel stood like a rock before the entrance: "My
orders are precise," he said, "and I may not infringe them."

"Precise? Your orders precise to refuse me?"

"Oui, monsieur, précis, de refuser qui que ce soit que je trouve
mal-mis."



LETTER XV.

      Street Police.--Cleaning Beds.--Tinning Kettles.--Building
      Houses.--Loading Carts.--Preparing for the Scavenger.--Want
      of Drains.--Bad Pavement.--Darkness.


My last letter was of the Tuileries Gardens; a theme which furnished
me so many subjects of admiration, that I think, if only for the sake
of variety, I will let the smelfungus vein prevail to-day. Such, then,
being my humour,--or my ill-humour, if you will,--I shall indulge it
by telling you what I think of the street-police of Paris.

I will not tell you that it is bad, for that, I doubt not, many others
may have done before me; but I will tell you that I consider it as
something wonderful, mysterious, incomprehensible, and perfectly
astonishing.

In a city where everything intended to meet the eye is converted into
graceful ornament; where the shops and coffee-houses have the air of
fairy palaces, and the markets show fountains wherein the daintiest
naïads might delight to bathe;--in such a city as this, where the
women look too delicate to belong wholly to earth, and the men too
watchful and observant to suffer the winds of heaven to visit them
too roughly;--in such a city as this, you are shocked and disgusted at
every step you take, or at every gyration that the wheels of your
chariot can make, by sights and smells that may not be described.

Every day brings my astonishment on this subject to a higher pitch
than the one which preceded it; for every day brings with it fresh
conviction that a very considerable portion of the enjoyment of life
is altogether destroyed in Paris by the neglect or omission of such a
degree of municipal interference as might secure the most elegant
people in the world from the loathsome disgust occasioned by the
perpetual outrage of common decency in their streets.

On this branch of the subject it is impossible to say more; but there
are other points on which the neglect of street-police is as plainly,
though less disgustingly, apparent; and some of these I will enumerate
for your information, as they may be described without impropriety;
but when they are looked at in conjunction with the passion for
graceful decoration, so decidedly a characteristic of the French
people, they offer to our observation an incongruity so violent, as to
puzzle in no ordinary degree whoever may wish to explain it.

You cannot at this season pass through any street in Paris, however
pre-eminently fashionable from its situation, or however distinguished
by the elegance of those who frequent it, without being frequently
obliged to turn aside, that you may not run against two or more women
covered with dust, and probably with vermin, who are busily employed
in pulling their flock mattresses to pieces in the street. There they
stand or sit, caring for nobody, but combing, turning, and shaking the
wool upon all comers and goers; and, finally, occupying the space
round which many thousand passengers are obliged to make what is
always an inconvenient, and sometimes a very dirty _détour_, by poking
the material, cleared from the filth, which has passed into the
throats of the gentlemen and ladies of Paris, back again into its
checked repository.

I have within this half-hour passed from the Italian Boulevard by the
Opera-house, in the front of which this obscene and loathsome
operation was being performed by a solitary old crone, who will
doubtless occupy the place she has chosen during the whole day, and
carry away her bed just in time to permit the Duke of Orleans to step
from his carriage into the Opera without tumbling over it, but
certainly not in time to prevent his having a great chance of
receiving as he passes some portion of the various animate and
inanimate superfluities which for so many hours she has been
scattering to the air.

A few days ago I saw a well-dressed gentleman receive a severe
contusion on the head, and the most overwhelming destruction to the
neatness of his attire, in consequence of a fall occasioned by his
foot getting entangled in the apparatus of a street-working tinker,
who had his charcoal fire, bellows, melting-pot, and all other things
necessary for carrying on the tinning trade in a small way, spread
forth on the pavement of the Rue de Provence.

When the accident happened, many persons were passing, all of whom
seemed to take a very obliging degree of interest in the misfortune of
the fallen gentleman; but not a syllable either of remonstrance or
remark was uttered concerning the invasion of the highway by the
tinker; nor did that wandering individual himself appear to think any
apology called for, or any change in the arrangement of his various
chattels necessary.

Whenever a house is to be built or repaired in London, the first thing
done is to surround the premises with a high paling, that shall
prevent any of the operations that are going on within it from
annoying in any way the public in the street. The next thing is to
arrange a footpath round this paling, carefully protected by posts and
rails, so that this unavoidable invasion of the ordinary foot-path may
be productive of as little inconvenience as possible.

Were you to pass a spot in Paris under similar circumstances, you
would fancy that some tremendous accident--a fire, perhaps, or the
falling in of a roof--had occasioned a degree of difficulty and
confusion to the passengers which it was impossible to suppose could
be suffered to remain an hour unremedied: but it is, on the contrary,
permitted to continue, to the torment and danger of daily thousands,
for months together, without the slightest notice or objection on the
part of the municipal authorities. If a cart be loading or unloading
in the street, it is permitted to take and keep a position the most
inconvenient, in utter disregard of any danger or delay which it may
and must occasion to the carriages and foot-passengers who have to
travel round it.

Nuisances and abominations of all sorts are without scruple committed
to the street at any hour of the day or night, to await the morning
visit of the scavenger to remove them: and happy indeed is it for the
humble pedestrian if his eye and nose alone suffer from these
ejectments; happy, indeed, if he comes not in contact with them, as
they make their unceremonious exit from window or door. "_Quel
bonheur!_" is the exclamation if he escapes; but a look, wholly in
sorrow and nowise in anger, is the only helpless resource should he be
splashed from head to foot.

On the subject of that monstrous barbarism, a gutter in the middle of
the streets expressly formed for the reception of filth, which is
still permitted to deform the greater portion of this beautiful city,
I can only say, that the patient endurance of it by men and women of
the year one thousand eight hundred and thirty-five is a mystery
difficult to understand.

It really appears to me, that almost the only thing in the world which
other men do, but which Frenchmen cannot, is the making of sewers and
drains. After an hour or two of very violent rain last week, that part
of the Place Louis-Quinze which is near the entrance to the Champs
Elysées remained covered with water. The Board of Works having waited
for a day or two to see what would happen, and finding that the muddy
lake did not disappear, commanded the assistance of twenty-six
able-bodied labourers, who set about digging just such a channel as
little boys amuse themselves by making beside a pond. By this
well-imagined engineering exploit, the stagnant water was at length
conducted to the nearest gutter; the pickaxes were shouldered, and an
open muddy channel left to adorn this magnificent area, which, were a
little finishing bestowed upon it, would probably be the finest point
that any city in the world could boast.

Perhaps it will hardly be fair to set it amongst my complaints against
the streets of Paris, that they have not yet adopted our last and most
luxurious improvement. I cannot but observe, however, that having
passed some weeks here, I feel that the Macadamised streets of London
ought to become the subject of a metropolitan jubilee among us. The
exceeding noise of Paris, proceeding either from the uneven structure
of the pavement, or from the defective construction of wheels and
springs, is so violent and incessant as to appear like the effect of
one great continuous cause,--a sort of demon torment, which it must
require great length of use to enable one to endure without suffering.
Were a cure for this sought in the Macadamising of the streets, an
additional advantage, by the bye, would be obtained, from the
difficulties it would throw in the way of the future heroes of a
barricade.

There is another defect, however, and one much more easily remedied,
which may fairly, I think, come under the head of defective
street-police. This is the profound darkness of every part of the city
in which there are not shops illuminated by the owners of them with
gas. This is done so brilliantly on the Boulevards by the _cafés_ and
_restaurans_, that the dim old-fashioned lamp suspended at long
intervals across the _pavé_ is forgotten. But no sooner is this region
of light and gaiety left, than you seem to plunge into outer darkness;
and there is not a little country town in England which is not
incomparably better lighted than any street in Paris which depends for
its illumination upon the public regulations of the city.

As it is evident that gas-pipes must be actually laid in all
directions in order to supply the individuals who employ it in their
houses, I could in no way understand why these most dismal
_réverbères_, with their dingy oil, were to be made use of in
preference to the beautiful light which almost outblazes that of the
sun; but I am told that some unexpired contract between Paris and her
lamplighters is the cause of this. Were the convenience of the public
as sedulously studied in France as in England, not all the claims of
all the lamplighters in the world, let it cost what it might to
content them, would keep her citizens groping in darkness when it was
so very easy to give them light.

But not to dwell ungratefully upon the grievances which certainly
disfigure this city of delight, I will not multiply instances; yet I
am sure I may assert, without fear of contradiction or reproach, that
such a street-police as that of London would be one of the greatest
civic blessings that King Philippe could possibly bestow upon his
"_belle ville de Paris_."



LETTER XVI.

      Preparations for the Fête du Roi.--Arrival of Troops.--Champs
      Elysées.--Concert in the Garden of the Tuileries.--Silence of
      the People.--Fireworks.


     May 2, 1835.

For several days past we have been watching the preparations for the
King's fête, which though not quite equal to those in the days of the
Emperor, when all the fountains in Paris ran wine, were on a large and
splendid scale, and if more sober, were perhaps not less princely.
Temporary theatres, ball-rooms, and orchestras in the Champs
Elysées--magnificent fireworks on the Pont Louis-Seize--preparations
for a full concert immediately in front of the Tuileries Palace, and
arrangement of lamps for general illuminations, but especially in the
Gardens, were the chief of these; but none of them struck us so much
as the daily-increasing number of troops. National Guards and soldiers
of the line divided the streets between them; and as a grand review
was naturally to make a part of the day's pageantry, there would have
been nothing to remark in this, were it not that the various parties
into which the country is divided perpetually leads people to suppose
that King Philippe finds it necessary to act on the defensive.

Numberless are the hints, as you may imagine, on this theme that have
been thrown out on the present occasion; and it is confidently
asserted in some quarters, that the reviewing of large bodies of
troops is likely to become a very fashionable and frequent, if not a
very popular, amusement here. If, indeed, a show of force be necessary
to ensure the tranquillity of this strife-worn land, the government
certainly do right in displaying it; but if this be not the case,
there is some imprudence in it, for the effect much resembles that of

     "A rich armour, worn in heat of day,
     That scalds with safety."

Yesterday, then, being marked in the calendar as sacred to St. Jacques
and St. Philippe, was kept as the fête of the present King of the
French. The weather was brilliant, and everything looked gay,
particularly around the courtly region of the Tuileries, Champs
Elysées, and all parts near or between them.

Being assured by a philosophical looker-on upon all such assemblings
of the people as are likely to show forth indications of their temper,
that the humours of the Champs Elysées would display more of this than
I could hope to find elsewhere, I was about to order a carriage to
convey us there; but my friend stopped me.

"You may as well remain at home," said he; "from a carriage you will
see nothing but a mob: but if you will walk amongst them, you may
perhaps find out whether they are thinking of anything or nothing."

"Anything?--or nothing?" I repeated. "Does the _anything_ mean a
revolution? Tell me truly, is there any chance of a riot?"

Instead of answering, he turned to a gentleman of our party who was
just returned from the review of the troops by the king.

"Did you not say you had seen the review?" he demanded.

"Yes; I am just come from it."

"And what do you think of the troops?"

"They are very fine troops,--remarkably fine men, both the National
Guards and the troops of the line."

"And in sufficient force, are they not, to keep Paris quiet if she
should feel disposed to be frolicsome?"

"Certainly--I should think so."

It was therefore determined, leaving the younger part of the females
behind us however in case of the worst, that we should repair to the
Champs Elysées.

No one who has not seen a public fête celebrated at Paris can form an
idea of the scene which the whole of this extensive area presents: it
makes me giddy even to remember it. Imagine a hundred swings throwing
their laughing cargoes high into the air; a hundred winged ships
flying in endless whirl, and bearing for their crews a _tête-à-tête_
pair of holiday sweethearts: imagine a hundred horses, each with two
prancing hoofs high poised in air, coursing each other in a circle,
with nostrils of flame; a hundred mountebanks, chattering and
gibbering their inconceivable jargon, some habited as generals, some
as Turks,--some offering their nostrums in the impressive habit of an
Armenian Jew, and others rolling head-over-heels upon a stage, and
presenting a dose with the grin of Grimaldi. We stopped more than once
in our progress to watch the ways of one of these animals when it had
succeeded in fascinating its prey: the poor victim was cajoled and
coaxed into believing that none of woman born could ever taste of evil
more, if he would but trust to the one only true, sure, and certain
specific.

At all sides of us, as we advanced, we were skirted by long lines of
booths, decked with gaudy merchandise, rings, clasps, brooches,
buckles, most tempting to behold, and all to be had for five sous
each. It is pretty enough to watch the eager glances and the smirking
smiles of the damsels, with the yielding, tender looks of the fond
boys who hover round these magazines of female trumpery. Alas! it is
perhaps but the beginning of sorrow!

In the largest open space afforded by these Elysian fields were
erected two theatres, the interval between them holding, it was said,
twenty thousand spectators. While one of these performed a piece,
pantomimic I believe, the other enjoyed a _relâche_ and reposed
itself: but the instant the curtain of one fell, that of the other
rose, and the ocean of heads which filled the space between them
turned, and undulated like the waves of the sea, ebbing and flowing,
backwards and forwards, as the moon-struck folly attracted them.

Four ample _al fresco_ enclosures prepared for dancing, each furnished
with a very respectable orchestra, occupied the extreme corners of
this space; and notwithstanding the crowd, the heat, the sunshine, and
the din, this exercise, which was carried on immediately under them,
did not, I was told, cease for a single instant during the whole of
that long summer-day. When one set of fiddlers were tired out, another
succeeded. The activity, gaiety, and universal good-humour of this
enormous mob were uniform and uninterrupted from morning to night.

These people really deserve fêtes; they enjoy them so heartily, yet so
peaceably.

Such were the great and most striking features of the jubilee; but we
hardly advanced a single step through the throng which did not exhibit
to us some minor trait of national and characteristic revelry. I was
delighted to observe, however, throughout the whole of my expedition,
that, according to our friend's definition, "_nobody was thinking of
anything_."

But what pleased me incomparably more than all the rest was the
temperate style of the popular refreshments. The young men and the
old, the time-worn matron and the dainty damsel, all alike slaked
their thirst with iced lemonade, which was furnished in incredible
quantities by numberless ambulant cisterns, at the price of one sou
the glass. Happily this light-hearted, fête-loving population have no
gin-palaces to revel in.

But hunger was to be satisfied as well as thirst; and here the
_friand_ taste of the people displayed itself by dozens of little
chafing-dishes lodged at intervals under the trees, each with its
presiding old woman, who, holding a frying-pan, for ever redolent of
onions, over the coals, screamed in shrill accents the praises of her
_saucisses_ and her _foie_. This was the only part of the business
that was really disagreeable: the odour from these _al fresco_
kitchens was not, I confess, very pleasant; but everything else
pleased me exceedingly. It was the first time I ever saw a real mob in
full jubilee; and I did not believe it possible I could have been so
much amused, and so not at all frightened. Even before one of these
terribly odoriferant kitchens, I could not help pausing for a moment
as I passed, to admire the polite style in which an old woman who had
taken early possession of the shade of a tree for her _restaurant_
defended the station from the wheelbarrow of a merchant of gingerbread
who approached it.

"Pardon, monsieur!... Ne venez pas, je vous prie, déranger mon
établissement."

The two grotesque old figures, together with their fittings up, made
this dignified address delightful; and as it was answered by a bow,
and the respectful drawing back of the wheelbarrow, I cannot but give
it the preference over the more energetic language which a similar
circumstance would be likely to produce at Bartholomew Fair.

Altogether we were infinitely amused by this excursion; but I think I
never was more completely fatigued in my life. Nevertheless, I
contrived to repose myself sufficiently to join a large party to the
Tuileries Gardens in the evening, where we were assured that _two
hundred thousand persons_ were collected. The crowd was indeed very
great, and the party soon found it impossible to keep together; but
about three hours afterwards we had the satisfaction of assembling in
safety at the same pleasant mansion from which we set out.

The attraction which during the early part of the evening chiefly drew
together the crowd was the orchestra in front of the palace. A large
military band were stationed there, and continued playing, while the
thousands and tens of thousands of lamps were being lighted all over
the gardens.

During this time, the king, queen, and royal family appeared on the
balcony. And here the only fault which I had perceived in this pretty
fête throughout the day showed itself so strongly as to produce a very
disagreeable effect. From first to last, it seemed that the cause of
the jubilee was forgotten; not a sound of any kind greeted the
appearance of the royal party. That so gay and demonstrative a people,
assembled in such numbers, and on such an occasion, should remain with
uplifted heads, gazing on the sovereign, without a sound being uttered
by any single voice, appeared perfectly astonishing. However, if there
were no bravoes, there was decidedly no hissing.

The scene itself was one of enchanting gaiety. Before us rose the
illuminated pavilions of the Tuileries: the bright lights darting
through the oleanders and myrtles on the balcony, showed to advantage
the royal party stationed there. On every side were trees, statues,
flowers, brought out to view by unnumbered lamps rising in brilliant
pyramids among them, while the inspiring sounds of martial music
resounded in the midst. The _jets d'eau_, catching the artificial
light, sprang high into the air like arrows of fire, then turned into
spray, and descended again in light showers, seeming to shed delicious
coolness on the crowd; and behind them, far as the eye could reach,
stretched the suburban forest, sparkling with festoons of lamps, that
seemed drawn out, "fine by degrees and beautifully less," up to the
Barrière de l'Etoile. The scene itself was indeed lovely; and if,
instead of the heavy silence with which it was regarded, a loud
heartfelt cheering had greeted the _jour de fête_ of a long-loved
king, it would have been perfect.

The fireworks, too, were superb; and though all the theatres in Paris
were opened gratis to the public, and, as we afterwards heard,
completely filled, the multitudes that thronged to look at them seemed
enough to people a dozen cities. But it is so much the habit of this
people, old and young, rich and poor, to live out of doors, that a
slight temptation "bye common" is sufficient to draw forth every human
being who is able to stand alone: and indeed, of those who are not,
thousands are deposited in chairs, and other thousands in the arms of
mothers and nurses.

The Pont Louis-Seize was the point from which all the fireworks were
let off. No spot could have been better chosen: the terraces of the
Tuileries looked down upon it; and the whole length of the quays, on
both sides of the river, as far as the _Cité_, looked up to it, and
the persons stationed on them must have seen clearly the many-coloured
fires that blazed there.

One of the prettiest popular contrivances for creating a shout when
fireworks are exhibited here, is to have rockets, sending up
tri-coloured balls, blue, white, and red, in rapid succession,
looking, as I heard a young republican say, "like winged messengers,
from their loved banner up to heaven." I could not help remarking,
that if the messengers repeated faithfully all that the tri-coloured
banner had done, they would have strange tales to tell.

The _bouquet_, or last grand display that finished the exhibition, was
very fanciful and very splendid: but what struck me as the prettiest
part of the whole show, was the Chamber of Deputies, the architecture
of which was marked by lines of light; and the magnificent flight of
steps leading to it having each one its unbroken fencing of fire, was
perhaps intended as a mystical type of the ordeal to be passed in a
popular election before this temple of wisdom could be entered.

How very delightful was the abounding tea of that hot lamp-lit
night!... And how very thankful was I this morning, at one o'clock, to
feel that the _fête du roi_ was peaceably over, and I ready to fall
soundly to sleep in my bed!



LETTER XVII.

      Political chances.--Visit from a Republican.--His high
      spirits at the prospects before him.--His advice to me
      respecting my name.--Removal of the Prisoners from Ste.
      Pélagie.--Review.--Garde de Paris.--The National Guard.


We are so accustomed, in these our luckless days, to hear of _émuetes_
and rumours of _émuetes_, here, there, and everywhere, that we
certainly grow nerve-hardened, and if not quite callous, at least we
are almost reckless of the threat. But in this city the business of
getting up riots on the one hand, and putting them down on the other,
is carried on in so easy and familiar a manner, that we daily look for
an account of something of the kind as regularly as for our breakfast
bread; and I begin already to lose in a great degree my fear of
disagreeable results, in the interest with which I watch what is going
on.

The living in the midst of all these different parties, and listening
first to one and then to another of them, is to a foreigner much like
the amusement derived by an idle spectator from walking round a
card-table, looking into all the hands, and then watching the manner
in which each one plays his game.

It has so often happened here, as we all know, that when the game has
appeared over, and the winner in possession of the stake he played
for, they have on a sudden shuffled the cards and begun again, that
people seem always looking out for new chances, new bets, new losses,
and new confusion. I can assure you, that it is a game of considerable
movement and animation which is going on at Paris just now. The
political trials are to commence on Tuesday next, and the republicans
are as busy as a nest of wasps when conscious that their stronghold is
attacked. They have not only been upon the alert, but hitherto in
great spirits at the prospect before them.

The same individual whose alarming communications on this subject I
mentioned to you soon after we came here, called on me again a few
days ago. I never saw a man more altered in the interval of a few
weeks: when I first saw him here, he was sullen, gloomy, and
miserable-looking in the extreme; but at his last visit he appeared
gay, frolicsome, and happy. He was not disposed, however, to talk much
on politics; and I am persuaded he came with a fixed determination not
to indulge our curiosity by saying a word on the subject. But "out of
the fulness of the heart the mouth speaketh;" and this gentleman did
not depart without giving us some little intimation of what was
passing in his.

Observe, that I do no treason in repeating to you whatever this young
man said in my hearing; for he assured me the first time I ever saw
him, that he knew me to be "_une absolutiste enragée_;" but that, so
far from fearing to speak freely before me, there was nothing that
would give him so much pleasure as believing that I should publish
every word he uttered on the subject of politics. I told him in
return, that if I did so, it should be without mentioning his name;
for that I should be truly sorry to hear that he had been consigned to
Ste. Pélagie as a rebel on my evidence. So we understand each other
perfectly.

On the morning in question, he began talking gaily and gallantly
concerning the pleasures of Paris, and expressed his hope that we were
taking care to profit by the present interval of public tranquillity.

"Is this interval of calm likely to be followed by a storm?" said one
of the party.

"Mais ... que sais-je?... The weather is so fine now, you know.... And
the opera? en vérité, c'est superbe!... Have you seen it yet?"

"Seen what?"

"Eh! mais, 'La Juive'! ... à présent il n'y a que cela au monde....
You read the journals?"

"Yes; Galignani's at least."

"Ah! ah!" said he, laughing; "c'est assez pour vous autres."

"Is there any interesting news to-day in any of the papers?"

"Intéressante? ... mais, oui ... assez.... Cependant...." And then
again he rattled on about plays, balls, concerts, and I know not what.

"I wish you would tell me," said I, interrupting him, "whether you
think, that in case any popular movement should occur, the English
would be molested, or in any way annoyed."

"Non, madame--je ne le crois pas--surtout les femmes. Cependant, si
j'étais vous, Madame Trollope, je me donnerai pour le moment le nom
d'O'Connell."

"And that, you think, would be accepted as a passport through any
scene of treason and rebellion?" said I.

He laughed again, and said that was not exactly what he meant; but
that O'Connell was a name revered in France as well as at Rome, and
might very likely belong one day or other to a pope, if his generous
wishes for an Irish republic were too dear to his heart to permit him
ever to accept the title of king.

"An Irish republic? ... perhaps that is just what is wanted," said I.
But not wishing to enter into any discussion on the niceties of
speech, I waived the compliments he began to pay me on this liberal
sentiment, and again asked him if he thought anything was going on
amongst the friends of the prisoners that might impede the course of
justice.

Though not aware of the quibble with which I had replied to him, he
answered me by another, saying with energy--

"No! ... never!... They will never do anything to impede the course of
justice."

"Will they do anything to assist it?" said I.

He sprang from his chair, gave a bound across the room, as if to hide
his glee by looking out of the window, and when he showed his face
again, said with much solemnity--"They will do their duty."

The conversation continued for some time longer, wavering between
politics and dissipation; and though we could not obtain from him
anything approaching to information respecting what might be going on
among his hot-headed party, yet it seemed clear that he at least hoped
for something that would lead to important results.

The riddle was explained a very few hours after he left us. The
political prisoners, most of whom were lodged in the prison of Ste.
Pélagie, have been removed to the Luxembourg; and it was confidently
hoped and expected by the republicans that enough malcontents would be
found among the citizens of Paris to get up a very satisfactory
_émeute_ on the occasion. But never was hope more abortive: not the
slightest public sensation appears to have been excited by this
removal; and I am assured that the whole republican party are so
bitterly disappointed at this, that the most sanguine among them have
ceased for the present to anticipate the triumph of their cause. I
suspect, therefore, that it will be some time before we shall receive
another visit from our riot-loving friend.

Meanwhile preparations are going on in a very orderly and judicious
style at the Luxembourg. The trial-chamber and all things connected
with it are completed; tents have been pitched in the gardens for the
accommodation of the soldiers, and guards stationed in such a manner
in all directions as to ensure a reasonable chance of tranquillity to
the peaceable.

We have attended a review of very fine troops in the Place du
Carrousel, composed of National Guards, troops of the line, and that
most superb-looking body of municipal troops called _La Garde de
Paris_. These latter, it seems, have performed in Paris since the
revolution of 1830 the duties of that portion of the police formerly
called _gendarmerie_; but the name having fallen into disrepute in the
capital--(_les jeunes gens_, _par exemple_, could not bear it)--the
title of _Garde de Paris_ has been accorded to them instead, and it is
now only in the provinces that _gendarmes_ are to be found. But let
them be called by what name they may, I never saw any corps of more
superb appearance. Men and horses, accoutrements and discipline, all
seem perfect. It is amusing to observe how slight a thread will
sometimes suffice to lead captive the most unruly spirits.

     "What is there in a name?"

Yet I have heard it asserted with triumphant crowings by some of the
revolutionary set, that, thanks to their valour! the odious system was
completely changed--that _gendarmes_ and _mouchards_ no longer existed
in Paris--that citizens would never again be tormented by their
hateful _surveillance_--and, in short, that Frenchmen were redeemed
from thraldom now and for evermore; so now they have _La Garde de
Paris_, just to take care of them: and if ever a set of men were
capable of performing effectually the duties committed to their
charge, I think it must be this well-drilled stalworth corps.

The appearance of a large body of the National Guard too, when brought
together, as at a review, in full military style, is very imposing.
The eye at once sees that they are not ordinary troops. All the
appointments are in excellent order; and the very material of which
their uniform is made, being so much less common than usual, helps to
produce this effect. Not to mention that the uniform itself, of dark
blue, with the delicately white pantaloons, is peculiarly handsome on
parade; much more so, I think, though perhaps less calculated for a
battle-field, than the red lower garments by which the troops of the
French line are at present distinguished.

The king looks well on horseback--so do his sons. The whole staff,
indeed, was gay and gallant-looking, and in style as decidedly
aristocratic as any prince need desire. Shouts of "_Vive le Roi!_"
ran cheerily and lustily along the lines; and if these may be trusted
as indications of the feelings of the soldiery towards King Philippe,
he may, I think, feel quite indifferent as to whatever other vows may
be uttered concerning him in the distance.

But in this city of contradictions one can never sit down safely to
ruminate upon any one inference or conclusion whatever; for five
minutes afterwards you are assured by somebody or other that you are
quite wrong, utterly mistaken, and that the exact contrary of what you
suppose is the real fact. Thus, on mentioning in the evening the
cordial reception given by the soldiers to the king in the morning, I
received for answer--"Je le crois bien, madame; les officiers leur
commandent de le faire."

We remained a good while on the ground, and saw as much as the
confinement of a carriage would permit. Like all reviews of
well-dressed, well-appointed troops, it was a gay and pretty
spectacle; and notwithstanding the caustic reprimand for my faith in
empty sounds which I have just repeated to you, I am still of opinion
that King Philippe had every reason to be contented with his troops,
and with the manner in which he was received by them.

Every hour that one remains at Paris increases, I think, one's
conviction of the enormous power and importance of the National Guard.
Our volunteer corps, in the season of threatenings and danger, gave
us unquestionably an immense accession of strength; and had the
threatener dared to come, neither his legions nor his eagles, his
veterans nor his victories, would have saved him from utter
destruction. He knew this, and he came not: he knew that the little
island was bristling from her centre to her shore with arms raised to
strike, by the impulse of the heart and soul, and not by conscription;
he knew this, and wisely came not.

Our volunteers were armed men--armed in a cause that warmed their
blood; and it is sufficient to establish their importance, that
History must record the simple fact, that Napoleon looked at them and
turned away. But, great as was the power of this critical show of
volunteer strength among us, as a permanent force it was trifling when
compared to the present National Guard of France. Not only are their
numbers greater--Paris alone has eighty thousand of them,--but their
discipline is perfect, and their practical habits of being on duty
keep them in such daily activity, that a tocsin sounded within their
hearing would suffice to turn out within an hour nearly the whole of
this force, not only completely armed, equipped, and in all respects
fit for service--not only each one with his quarters and rations
provided, but each one knowing and feeling the importance of the duty
he is upon as intimately as the general himself; and each one, in
addition to all other feelings and motives which make armed men
strong, warmed with the consciousness that it is his own stronghold,
his own property, his own castle, as well as his own life, that he is
defending.

This force will save France from devouring her own vitals, if anything
can do it.

Among all the novelties produced by the ever-growing experience of
men, and of which so many have ripened in these latter days, I doubt
if any can be named more rationally calculated to fulfil the purpose
for which it is intended than this organization of a force formed of
the industrious and the orderly part of a community to keep in check
the idle and disorderly,--and that, without taxing the state,
compromising their professional usefulness, or sacrificing their
personal independence, more than every man in his senses would be
willing to do for the purpose of keeping watch and ward over all that
he loves and values on earth.

The more the power of such a force as this increases, the farther must
the country where it exists be from all danger of revolution. Such men
are, and must be, conservatives in the strongest sense of the word;
and though it may certainly be possible for some who may be rebel to
the cause of order to get enrolled among them, the danger of the
enterprise will unquestionably prevent its frequent recurrence. The
wolf might as safely mount guard in the midst of armed shepherds and
their dogs, as demagogues and agitators place themselves in the ranks
of the National Guard of Paris.

  [Illustration: Drawn & Etched by A. Hervieu.
   "PRO PATRIA!"
   London, Published by Richard Bentley. 1835.]



LETTER XVIII.

      First Day of the Trials.--Much blustering, but no riot.--All
      alarm subsided.--Proposal for inviting Lord B----m to plead
      at the Trial.--Society.--Charm of idle conversation.--The
      Whisperer of good stories.


     6th May 1835.

The monster is hatched at last! The trials began yesterday, and we are
all rejoicing exceedingly at having found ourselves alive in our beds
this morning. What will betide us and it, as its scales or its plumes
push forth and gather strength from day to day, I know not; but
"sufficient for the day is the evil thereof;" and I do assure you in
very sober earnest, that when Galignani's paper arrived this morning,
the party round the breakfast-table was greatly comforted by finding
that nothing more alarming than a few republican demands on the part
of the prisoners, and a few monarchical refusals on the part of the
court, took place.

This interchange of hostilities commenced by some of the accused
refusing to answer when their names were called;--then followed a
demand for free admission to the chamber, during the trials, for the
mothers, wives, and all other females belonging to the respective
families of the prisoners;--and next, a somewhat blustering demand for
counsel of their own choosing; the body of legal advocates, who, by
general rule and common usage, are always charged with the defence of
prisoners, not containing, as it should seem, orators sufficiently of
their own _clique_ to content them.

This was of course stoutly refused by the court, after retiring,
however, for a couple of hours to deliberate upon it--a ceremony I
should hardly have supposed necessary. The company of the ladies, too,
was declined; and as, upon a moderate computation, their numerical
force could not have amounted to less than five hundred, this want of
gallantry in the Peers of France must be forgiven in favour of their
discretion.

The gentleman, however, who was appointed, as he said, by the rest, to
request the pleasure of their society, declared loudly that the demand
for it should be daily renewed. This reminds one of the story of the
man who punished his wife for infidelity by making her sit to hear the
story of her misdeeds rehearsed every day of her life, and pretty
plainly indicates that it is the plan of the accused to torment their
judges as much as they conveniently can.

One of the prisoners named the celebrated Abbé de Lamennais, author of
"Les Paroles d'un Croyant," as his advocate. The _procureur-général_
remarked, that it was for the interest of the defence that the rule
for permitting lawyers only to plead should be adhered to.

Next came a demand from one of the accused, in the name of all the
rest, that permission for free and unrestrained intercourse between
the prisoners of Lyons, Paris, and Marseilles should be allowed. This
was answered only by the announcement that "the court was adjourned;"
an intimation which produced an awful clamour; and as the peers
quitted the court, they were assailed with vehement cries of "We
protest! ... we protest!... We will make no defence!... We protest!
... we protest!" And so ended the business of the day.

I believe that the government, and all those who are sufficiently
connected with it to know anything of the real state of the case, were
perfectly aware that no public movement was likely to take place at
this stage of the business. Every one seems to know that the restless
spirits, the desperate adventurers engaged in the extensive plot now
under investigation, consider their trial as the best occasion
possible for a political _coup de théâtre_, and that nothing would
have disturbed their performance more than a riot before the curtain
rose.

Everything like panic seems now to have subsided, even among those who
are farthest from the centre of action; and all the effects of this
mighty affair apparently visible at present are to be seen on the
faces of the republicans, who, according to their wont, strut about
wherever they are most likely to be looked at, and take care that each
one of their countenances shall be

     "Like to a book where men may read strange matters."

I thank Heaven, nevertheless, that this first day is so well over. I
had heard so over-much about it, that it became a sort of nightmare to
me, from which I now feel happily relieved. It is quite clear, that if
the out-of-door agitators should think proper to make any attempts to
produce disturbance, the government feels quite equal to the task of
making them quiet again, and of insuring that peaceable security to
the country for which she has so long languished in vain.

The military force employed at the Luxembourg is, however, by no means
large. One battalion of the first legion of National Guards was in the
court of the palace, and about four hundred troops of the line
occupied the garden. But though no show of force is unnecessarily
displayed, every one has the comfort of knowing that there is enough
within reach should any necessity arise for employing it.

I was told the other day, that when Lord B----m was in Paris, he was
so kind as to visit M. Armand Carrel in prison; and that, on the
strength of this proof of sympathy and affection, it has been
suggested to the prisoners at the Luxembourg, that they should
despatch a deputation of their friends to wait upon his lordship,
requesting the aid of his eloquence in pleading their cause against
the tyrants who so unjustifiably hold them in durance.

The proposal, it seems, was very generally approved; but nevertheless,
it was at last negatived on the representation of a person who had
once heard his lordship argue in the French language. This is the more
to be regretted by the friends of these suffering victims, since their
choice of defenders is to be restricted to members of the bar: and
this restriction, narrow-minded and severe as it is, would not exclude
his lordship; a legal advocate being beyond all question a legal
advocate all the world over.

It was not till we had sent out in one or two directions to ascertain
if all things were quiet, that we ventured to keep an engagement which
we had made for last night to pass the _soirée_ at Madame de L*****'s.
I should have been sorry to have lost it; for the business of the
morning appeared to have awakened the spirits and set everybody
talking. There are few things I like better than listening to a full,
free flow of Paris talk; particularly when, as in this instance, the
party is small and in a lively mood.

It appears as if there were nothing like caution or reserve here in
any direction. Among those whom I have had the satisfaction of
occasionally meeting are some who figure amongst the most important
personages of the day; but their conversation is as gaily unrestrained
as if they had nothing to do but to amuse themselves. These, indeed,
are not likely to commit themselves; but I have known others less
secure, who have appeared to permit every thought that occurred to
them to meet the ear of whoever chose to listen. In short, whatever
restraint the police, which by its nature is very phoenix-like, may
endeavour to put upon the periodical press, its influence certainly
does not as yet reach the lips, which open with equal freedom for the
expression of faith, scepticism, loyalty, treason, philosophy, and
wit.

In an intercourse so transient as mine is likely to be with most of
the acquaintance I have formed here,--an intercourse consisting
chiefly, as to the manner of it, of evening visits through a series of
_salons_,--amusement is naturally more sought than information: and
were it otherwise, I should, with some few exceptions, have reaped
disappointment instead of pleasure; for it is evident that the same
feeling which leads the majority of persons you meet in society here,
to speak freely, prevents them from saying anything seriously. So
that, after talking for an hour or two upon subjects which one should
think very gravely important, a light word, a light laugh, ends the
colloquy, and very often leaves me in doubt as to the real sentiments
of those to whom I have been listening.

But if not always successful in obtaining information, I never fail in
finding amusement. Rarely, even for a moment, does conversation
languish; and a string of lively nothings, or a startling succession
of seemingly bold, but really unmeaning speculations, often make me
imagine that a vast deal of talent has been displayed; yet, when
memory sets to work upon it, little remains worth recording.
Nevertheless, there is talent, and of a very charming kind too, in
this manner of uttering trifles so that they may be mistaken for wit.

I know some few in our own dear land who have also this happy gift;
and, as a matter of grace and mere exterior endowment, I question if
it be not fairly worth all the rest. But I believe we have it in about
the same proportion that we have good actors of genteel comedy,
compared to the number which they can boast of the same class here.
With us this easy, natural style of mimicking real life is a rare
talent, though sometimes possessed in great perfection; but with them
it seems more or less the birthright of all.

So is it with the gift of that bright colloquial faculty which bestows
such indescribable grace upon the airy nothings uttered in French
drawing-rooms. To listen to it, is very like quaffing the sparkling,
frothy beverage native to their sunny hills;--French talk is very like
champagne. The exhilaration it produces is instantaneous: the spirits
mount, and something like wit is often struck out even from dull
natures by merely coming in contact with what is so brilliant.

I could almost venture to assert that the effect of this delightful
inspiration might be perceived by any one who had gained admission to
French society even if they did not understand the language. Let an
observing eye, well accustomed to read the expression so legibly,
though so transiently written in the countenances of persons in
conversation,--let such a one only see, if he cannot hear, the effect
produced by the hits and flashes of French eloquence. Allow me another
simile, and I will tell you that it is like applying electricity to a
bunch of feathers tied together and attached to the conductor by a
thread: first one, then another starts, flies off, mounts, and drops
again, as the bright spark passes lightly, gracefully, capriciously,
yet still all making part of one circle.

Of course, I am not speaking now of large parties; these, as I think I
have said before, are wonderfully alike in all lands, and nothing
approaching to conversation can possibly take place at any of them. It
is only where the circle is restricted to a few that this sort of
effect can be produced; and then, the impulse once given by a piquant
word, seemingly uttered at random, every one present receives a share
of it, and contributes in return all the lively thoughts to which it
has given birth.

But there was one gentleman of our party yesterday evening who had a
most provoking trick of attracting one's attention as if on purpose to
disappoint it. He was not quite like Molière's Timante, of whom
Célimène says,

     "Et, jusques au bonjour, il dit tout à l'oreille;"

but in the midst of pleasant talk, in which all were interested, he
said aloud--

"_Par exemple!_ I heard the very best thing possible to-day about the
King. Will you hear it, Madame B...?"

This question being addressed to a decided doctrinaire, the answer was
of course a reproachful shake of the head; but as it was accompanied
by half a smile, and as the lady bent her fair neck towards the
speaker, she, and she only, was made acquainted with "the best of all
possible things," conveyed in a whisper.

At another time he addressed himself to the lady of the house; but as
he spoke across the circle, he not only fixed her attention, but that
of every one else.

"Madame!" said he coaxingly, "will you let me tell you a little word
of treason?"

"Comment?--de la trahison?... Apropos de quoi, s'il vous plaît?...
Mais c'est égal--contez toujours."

On receiving this answer, the whisperer of good stories got up from
the depth of his arm-chair--an enterprise of some difficulty, for he
was neither rapid nor light in his movements,--and deliberately
walking round the chairs of all the party, he placed himself behind
Madame de L*****, and whispered in her ear what made her colour and
shake her head again; but she laughed too, telling him that she hated
timid politics, and had no taste for any _trahisons_ which were not
"_hautement prononcées_."

This hint sent him back to his place; but it was taken very
good-humouredly, for, instead of whispering any more, he uttered aloud
sundry odds and ends of gossip, but all so well dressed up in lively
wording, that they sounded very like good stories.



LETTER XIX.

      Victor Hugo.--Racine.


I have again been listening to some curious details respecting the
present state of literature in France. I think I have before stated to
you, that I have uniformly heard the whole of the _décousu_ school of
authors spoken of with unmitigated contempt,--and that not only by the
venerable advocates for the _bon vieux temps_, but also, and equally,
by the distinguished men of the present day--distinguished both by
position and ability.

Respecting Victor Hugo, the only one of the tribe to which I allude
who has been sufficiently read in England to justify his being classed
by us as a person of general celebrity, the feeling is more remarkable
still. I have never mentioned him or his works to any person of good
moral feeling and cultivated mind, who did not appear to shrink from
according him even the degree of reputation that those who are
received as authority among our own critics have been disposed to
allow him. I might say, that of him France seems to be ashamed.

Again and again it has happened to me, when I have asked the opinions
of individuals as to the merit of his different plays, that I have
been answered thus:--

"I assure you I know nothing about it: I never saw it played."

"Have you read it?"

"No; I have not. I cannot read the works of Victor Hugo."

One gentleman, who has heard me more than once persist in my inquiries
respecting the reputation enjoyed by Victor Hugo at Paris as a man of
genius and a successful dramatic writer, told me, that he saw that, in
common with the generality of foreigners, particularly the English, I
looked upon Victor Hugo and his productions as a sort of type or
specimen of the literature of France at the present hour. "But permit
me to assure you," he added gravely and earnestly, "that no idea was
ever more entirely and altogether erroneous. He is the head of a
sect--the high-priest of a congregation who have abolished every law,
moral and intellectual, by which the efforts of the human mind have
hitherto been regulated. He has attained this pre-eminence, and I
trust that no other will arise to dispute it with him. But Victor Hugo
is NOT a popular French writer."

Such a judgment as this, or the like of it, I have heard passed upon
him and his works nine times out of ten that I have mentioned him;
and I consider this as a proof of right feeling and sound taste, which
is extremely honourable, and certainly more than we have lately given
our neighbours credit for. It pleased me the more perhaps because I
did not expect it. There is so much meretricious glitter in the works
of Victor Hugo,--nay, so much real brightness now and then,--that I
expected to find at least the younger and less reflective part of the
population warm in their admiration of him.

His clinging fondness for scenes of vice and horror, and his utter
contempt for all that time has stamped as good in taste or feeling,
might, I thought, arise from the unsettled spirit of the times; and if
so, he could not fail of receiving the meed of sympathy and praise
from those who had themselves set that spirit at work.

But it is not so. The wild vigour of some of his descriptions is
acknowledged; but that is all of praise that I ever heard bestowed
upon Victor Hugo's theatrical productions in his native land.

The startling, bold, and stirring incidents of his disgusting dramas
must and will excite a certain degree of attention when seen for the
first time, and it is evidently the interest of managers to bring
forward whatever is most likely to produce this effect; but the doing
so cannot be quoted as a proof of the systematic degradation of the
theatre. It is moreover a fact, which the play-bills themselves are
alone sufficient to attest, that after Victor Hugo's plays have had
their first run, they are never brought forward again: not one of them
has yet become what we call a stock-play.

This fact, which was first stated to me by a person perfectly _au
fait_ of the subject, has been subsequently confirmed by many others;
and it speaks more plainly than any recorded criticism could do, what
the public judgment of these pieces really is.

The romance of "Notre Dame de Paris" is ever cited as Victor Hugo's
best work, excepting some early lyrical pieces of which we know
nothing. But even this, though there are passages of extraordinary
descriptive power in it, is always alluded to with much more of
contempt than admiration; and I have heard it ridiculed in circles,
whose praise was fame, with a light pleasantry more likely to prove an
antidote to its mischief than all the reprobation that sober criticism
could pour out upon it.

But may not this champion of vice--this chronicler of sin, shame, and
misery--quote Scripture and say, "A prophet is not without honour,
save in his own country"? For I have seen a criticism in an English
paper (The Examiner) which says, "_The_ Notre Dame _of Victor Hugo
must take rank with the best romances by the author of_ Waverley....
_It transcends them in vigour, animation, and familiarity with the
age._"

In reply to the last point here mentioned, in which our countryman has
given the superiority to Victor Hugo over Sir Walter Scott, a very
strong testimony against its correctness has reached me since I have
been in Paris. An able lawyer, and most accomplished gentleman and
scholar, who holds a distinguished station in the Cour Royale, took us
to see the Palais de Justice. Having shown us the chamber where
criminal trials are carried on, he observed, that this was the room
described by Victor Hugo in his romance; adding,--"He was, however,
mistaken here, as in most places _where he affects a knowledge of the
times of which he writes_. In the reign of Louis the Eleventh, no
criminal trials ever took place within the walls of this building; and
all the ceremonies as described by him resemble much more a trial of
yesterday than of the age at which he dates his tale."

The vulgar old adage, that "there is no accounting for taste," must, I
suppose, teach us to submit patiently to the hearing of any judgments
and opinions which it is the will and pleasure of man to pronounce;
but it does seem strange that any can be found who, after bringing Sir
Walter Scott and Victor Hugo into comparison, should give the palm of
superiority to the author of "Notre Dame de Paris."

Were the faults of this school of authors only of a literary kind, few
persons, I believe, would take the trouble to criticise them, and
their nonsense would die a natural death as soon as it was made to
encounter the light of day: but such productions as Victor Hugo's are
calculated to do great injury to human nature. They would teach us to
believe that all our gentlest and best affections can only lead to
crime and infamy. There is not, I truly believe, a single pure,
innocent, and holy thought to be found throughout his writings: Sin is
the muse he invokes--he would

                             "Take off the rose
     From the fair forehead of an innocent love,
     And set a blister there;"

Horror is his handmaid; and "thousands of liveried _monsters_ lackey
him," to furnish the portraits with which it is the occupation of his
life to disgust the world.

Can there, think you, be a stronger proof of a diseased intellect
among the _décousu_ part of the world, than that they not only admire
this man's hideous extravagances, but that they actually believe him
to be ... at least they say so ... a second Shakspeare!... A
Shakspeare!

To chastise as he deserves an author who may be said to defy mankind
by the libels he has put forth on the whole race, requires a stouter
and a keener weapon than any a woman can wield; but when they prate of
Shakspeare, I feel that it is our turn to speak. How much of
gratitude and love does every woman owe to him! He, who has entered
deeper into her heart than ever mortal did before or since his day,
how has he painted her?--As Portia, Juliet, Constance, Hermione;--as
Cordelia, Volumnia, Isabella, Desdemona, Imogene!

Then turn and see for what we have to thank our modern painter. Who
are his heroines?--Lucrèce Borgia, Marion de Lorme, Blanche,
Maguelonne, with I know not how many more of the same stamp; besides
his novel heroine, whom Mr. Henry Lytton Bulwer calls "the most
delicate female ever drawn by the pen of romance"--The Esmeralda! ...
whose sole accomplishments are dancing and singing in the streets, and
who ... delicate creature! ... being caught up by a horseman in a
midnight brawl, throws her arms round his neck, swears he is very
handsome, and thenceforward shows the delicate tenderness of her
nature, by pertinaciously doting upon him, without any other return or
encouragement whatever than an insulting caress bestowed upon her one
night when he was drunk ... "delicate female!"

But this is all too bad to dwell upon. It is, however, in my
estimation a positive duty, when mentioning the works of Victor Hugo,
to record a protest against their tone and tendency; and it is also a
duty to correct, as far as one can, the erroneous impression existing
in England respecting his reputation in France.

Whenever his name is mentioned in England, his success is cited as a
proof of the depraved state, moral and intellectual, of the French
people. And such it would be, were his success and reputation such as
his partisans represent them to be. But, in point of fact, the manner
in which he is judged by his own countrymen is the strongest possible
evidence that neither a powerful fancy, a commanding diction, nor an
imagination teeming with images of intense passion, can suffice to
ensure an author any exalted reputation in France at the present day
if he outrages good feeling and good taste.

Should any doubt the correctness of this statement, I can only refer
them to the source from whence I derived the information on which it
is founded,--I can only refer them to France herself. There is one
fact, however, which may be ascertained without crossing the
Channel;--namely, that when one of their reviews found occasion to
introduce an article upon the modern drama, the editors acquitted
themselves of the task by translating the whole of the able article
upon that subject which appeared about a year and a half ago in the
Quarterly, acknowledging to what source they were indebted for it.

Were the name and the labours of Victor Hugo confined to his own
country, it would now be high time that I should release you from him;
but it is an English critic who has said, that he has heaved the
ground from under the feet of Racine; and you must indulge me for a
few minutes, while I endeavour to bring the two parties together
before you. In doing this, I will be generous; for I will introduce M.
Hugo in "Le Roi s'amuse," which, from the circumstance (the happiest,
I was assured, that ever befel the author) of its being withdrawn by
authority from the Théâtre Français, has become infinitely more
celebrated than any other he has written.

It may be remarked by the way, that a few more such acts of decent
watchfulness over the morals and manners of the people may redeem the
country from the stigma it now bears of being the most licentious in
its theatre and its press in the world.

The first glorious moment of being forbidden at the Français appears
almost to have turned the lucky author's brain. His preface to "Le Roi
s'amuse," among many other symptoms of insanity has the following:--

"Le premier mouvement de l'auteur fut de douter.... L'acte était
arbitraire au point d'être incroyable.... L'auteur ne pouvait croire à
tant d'insolence et de folie.... Le ministre avait en effet, de son
droit divin de ministre, intimé l'ordre.... Le ministre lui avait pris
sa pièce, lui avait pris son droit, lui avait pris sa chose. Il ne
restait plus qu'à le mettre, lui poëte, à la Bastille.... Est-ce qu'il
y a eu en effet quelque chose qu'on a appelé la révolution de
Juillet?... Que peut être le motif d'une pareille mesure?... Il parait
que nos faiseurs de censure se prétendent scandalisés dans leur morale
par 'Le Roi s'amuse;' le nom seul du poëte inculpé aurait dû être une
suffisante réfutation (!!!)... Cette pièce a révolté la pudeur des
gendarmes; la brigade Léotaud y était, et l'a trouvé obscène; le
bureau des moeurs s'est voilé la face; M. Vidocq a rougi.... Holà,
mes maîtres! Silence sur ce point!... Depuis quand n'est-il plus
permis à un roi de courtiser sur la scène une servante d'auberge?...
Mener un roi dans un mauvais lieu, cela ne serait pas même nouveau non
plus.... L'auteur veut l'art chaste, et non l'art prude.... Il est
profondement triste de voir comment se termine la révolution de
Juillet...."

Then follows a _précis_ of the extravagant and hateful plot, in which
the heroine is, as usual, "une fille séduite et perdue;" and he sums
it up thus pompously:--"Au fond d'un des ouvrages de l'auteur il y a
la fatalité--au fond de celui-ci il y a la providence."

I wish much that some one would collect and publish in a separate
volume all M. Victor Hugo's prefaces; I would purchase it instantly,
and it would be a fund of almost inexhaustible amusement. He assumes a
tone in them which, all things considered, is perhaps unequalled in
the history of literature. In another part of the one from which I
have given the above extracts, he says--

"Vraiment, le pouvoir qui s'attaque à nous n'aura pas gagné grand'
chose à ce que nous, hommes d'art, nous quittions notre tâche
consciencieuse, tranquille, sincère, profonde; notre tâche sainte...."
What on earth, if it be not insanity, could have put it into Mr.
Hugo's head that the manufacturing of his obscene dramas was "une
tâche sainte"?

The principal characters in "Le Roi s'amuse" are François Premier;
Triboulet, his pander and buffoon; Blanche, the daughter of Triboulet,
"la fille séduite," and heroine of the piece; and Maguelonne, another
Esmeralda.

The interest lies in the contrast between Triboulet pander and
Triboulet père. He is himself the most corrupt and infamous of men;
and because he is humpbacked, makes it both his pastime and his
business to lead the king his master into every species of debauchery:
but he shuts up his daughter to preserve her purity; and the poet has
put forth all his strength in describing the worship which Triboulet
père pays to the virtue which he passes his life as Triboulet pander
in destroying.

Of course, the king falls in love with Blanche, and she with him; and
Triboulet pander is made to assist in carrying her off in the dark,
under the belief that she was the wife of a nobleman to whom also his
majesty the king was making love.

When Triboulet père and pander finds out what he has done, he falls
into a terrible agony: and here again is a _tour de force_, to show
how pathetically such a father can address such a daughter.

He resolves to murder the king, and informs his daughter, who is
passionately attached to her royal seducer, of his intention. She
objects, but is at length brought to consent by being made to peep
through a hole in the wall, and seeing his majesty King Francis
engaged in making love to Maguelonne.

This part of the plot is brought out shortly and pithily.

       BLANCHE (_peeping through the hole in the wall_).
     Et cette femme! ... est-elle affrontée! ... oh!...

       TRIBOULET.
                 Tais-toi;
     Pas de pleurs. Laisse-moi te venger!

       BLANCHE.
                 Hélas!--Faites--
     Tout ce que vous voudrez.

       TRIBOULET.
         Merci!

This _merci_, observe, is not said ironically, but gravely and
gratefully. Having arranged this part of the business, he gives his
daughter instructions as to what she is to do with herself, in the
following sublime verses:--

       TRIBOULET.
     Écoute. Va chez moi, prends-y des habits d'homme,
     Un cheval, de l'argent, n'importe quelle somme;
     Et pars, sans t'arrêter un instant en chemin,
     Pour Evreux, où j'irai te joindre après-demain.
     --Tu sais ce coffre auprès du portrait de ta mère;
     L'habit est là,--je l'ai d'avance exprès fait faire.

Having dismissed his daughter, he settles with a gipsy-man named
Saltabadil, who is the brother of Maguelonne, all the details of the
murder, which is to be performed in their house, a small cabaret at
which the foul weather and the fair Maguelonne induce the royal rake
to pass the night. Triboulet leaves them an old sack in which they are
to pack up the body, and promises to return at midnight, that he may
himself see it thrown into the Seine.

Blanche meanwhile departs; but feeling some compunctious visitings
about the proposed murder of her lover, returns, and again applying
her ear to the hole in the wall, finds that his majesty is gone to bed
in the garret, and that the brother and sister are consulting about
his death. Maguelonne, a very "delicate female," objects too; she
admires his beauty, and proposes that his life shall be spared if any
stranger happens to arrive whose body may serve to fill the sack.
Blanche, in a fit of heroic tenderness, determines to be that
stranger; exclaiming,

     "Eh bien! ... mourons pour lui!"

But before she knocks at the door, she kneels down to say her prayers,
particularly for forgiveness to all her enemies. Here are the verses,
making part of those which have overthrown Racine:--

       BLANCHE.
                 Oh! Dieu, vers qui je vais,
     Je pardonne à tous ceux qui m'ont été mauvais:
     Mon père et vous, mon Dieu! pardonnez-leurs de même
     Au roi François Premier, que je plains et que j'aime.

She knocks, the door opens, she is stabbed and consigned to the sack.
Her father arrives immediately after as by appointment, receives the
sack, and prepares to drag it towards the river, handling it with
revengeful ecstasy, and exclaiming--

                 Maintenant, monde, regarde-moi:
     Ceci, c'est un bouffon; et ceci, c'est un roi.

At this triumphant moment he hears the voice of the king, singing as
he walks away from the dwelling of Maguelonne.

       TRIBOULET.
     Mais qui donc m'a-t-il mis à sa place, le traître!

He cuts open the sack; and a flash of lightning very melodramatically
enables him to recognise his daughter, who revives, to die in his
arms.

This is beyond doubt what may be called "a tragic situation;" and I
confess it does seem very hard-hearted to laugh at it: but the _pas_
that divides the sublime from the ridiculous is not distinctly seen,
and there is something vulgar and ludicrous, both in the position and
language of the parties, which quite destroys the pathetic effect.

It must be remembered that she is dressed in the "habit d'homme" of
which her father says so poetically--

     Je l'ai d'avance exprès fait faire.

Observe, too, that she is still in the sack; the stage directions
being, "Le bas du corps, qui est resté vêtu, est caché dans le sac."

       BLANCHE.
                 Où suis-je?

       TRIBOULET.
     Blanche! que t'a-t-on fait? Quel mystère infernal!
     Je crains en te touchant de te faire du mal....
     Ah! la cloche du bac est là sur la muraille:
     Ma pauvre enfant, peux-tu m'attendre un peu, que j'aille
     Chercher de l'eau....

A surgeon arrives, and having examined her wound, says,

                 Elle est morte.
     Elle a dans le flanc gauche une plaie assez forte:
     Le sang a dû causer la mort en l'étouffant.

       TRIBOULET.
     J'ai tué mon enfant! J'ai tué mon enfant!
     (_Il tombe sur le pavé._)

       FIN.

All this is very shocking; but it is not tragedy,--and it is not
poetry. Yet it is what we are told has heaved the earth from under
Racine!

After such a sentence as this, it must be, I know, _rococo_ to name
him; but yet I would say, in his own words,

     D'adorateurs zélés à peine un petit nombre
     Ose des premiers temps nous retracer quelque ombre;
     Le reste....
     Se fait initier à ces honteux mystères,
     Et blasphème le nom qu'ont invoqué leurs pères.

As I profess myself of the _petit nombre_, you must let me recall to
your memory some of the fragments of that noble edifice which Racine
raised over him, and which, as they say, has now perished under the
mighty power of Victor Hugo. It will not be lost time to do this; for
look where you will among the splendid material of this uprooted
temple, and you will find no morsel that is not precious; nothing that
is not designed, chiseled, and finished by the hand of a master.

Racine has not produced dramas from ordinary life; it was not his
object to do so, nor is it the end he has attained. It is the tragedy
of heroes and demi-gods that he has given us, and not of cut-purses,
buffoons, and street-walkers.

If the language of Racine be poetry, that of M. Hugo is not; and
wherever the one is admired, the other must of necessity be valueless.
It would be endless to attempt giving citations to prove the grace,
the dignity, the majestic flow of Racine's verse; but let your eye run
over "Iphigénie," for instance,--there also the loss of a daughter
forms the tragic interest,--and compare such verses as those I have
quoted above with any that you can find in Racine.

Hear the royal mother, for example, describe the scene that awaits
her:

     Un prêtre environné d'une foule cruelle
     Portera sur ma fille une main criminelle,
     Déchirera son sein, et d'un oeil curieux
     Dans son coeur palpitant consultera les dieux;
     --Et moi--qui l'amenai triomphante, adorée,
     Je m'en retournerai, seule, et désespérée.

Surely this is of a better fabric than--

     Tu sais ce coffre auprès du portrait de ta mère;
     L'habit est là,--je l'ai d'avance exprès fait faire.

I have little doubt but that the inspired author, when this noble
phrase, "exprès fait faire," suggested itself, felt ready to exclaim,
in the words of Philaminte and Bélise--

     Ah! que cet "exprès fait" est d'un goût admirable!
     C'est à mon sentiment un endroit impayable;
     J'entends là-dessous un million de mots.--
     --Il est vrai qu'il dit plus de choses qu'il n'est gros.

But to take the matter seriously, let us examine a little the ground
upon which this school of dramatic writers found their claim to
superiority over their classic predecessors. Is it not that they
declare themselves to be more true to nature? And how do they support
this claim? Were you to read through every play that M. Hugo has
written--(and may you long be preserved from so great annoyance!)--I
doubt if you would find a single personage with whom you could
sympathise, or a single sentiment or opinion that you would feel true
to the nature within you.

It would be much less difficult, I conceive, so strongly to excite the
imagination by the majestic eloquence of Racine's verses as to make
you conscious of fellow-feeling with his sublime personages, than to
debase your very heart and soul so thoroughly as to enable you to
fancy that you have anything in common with the corrupt creations of
Victor Hugo.

But even were it otherwise--were the scenes imagined by this new
Shakspeare more like the real villany of human nature than those of
the noble writer he is said to have set aside, I should still deny
that this furnished any good reason for bringing such scenes upon the
stage. Why should we make a pastime of looking upon vulgar vice? Why
should the lowest passions of our nature be for ever brought out in
parade before us?

     "It is not and it cannot be for good."

The same reasoning might lead us to turn from the cultured garden, its
marble terraces, its velvet lawns, its flowers and fruits of every
clime, that we might take our pleasure in a bog--and for all
consolation be told, when we slip and flounder about in its loathsome
slime, that it is more natural.

I have written you a most unmerciful letter, and it is quite time
that I should quit the theme, for I get angry--angry that I have no
power to express in words all I feel on this subject. Would that for
one short hour or so I had the pen which wrote the "Dunciad!"--I would
use it--heartily--and then take my leave by saying,

     "Rentre dans le néant, dont je t'ai fait sortir."



LETTER XX.

      Versailles.--St. Cloud.


The Château de Versailles, that marvellous _chef-d'oeuvre_ of the
splendid taste and unbounded extravagance of Louis le Grand, is shut
up, and has been so for the last eighteen months. This is a great
disappointment to such of our party as have never seen its
interminable chambers and their gorgeous decorations. The reason
assigned for this unwonted exclusion of the public is, that the whole
of this enormous pile is filled with workmen; not, however, for the
purpose of restoring it as a palace for the king, but of preparing it
as a sort of universal museum for the nation. The buildings are in
fact too extensive for a palace; and splendid as it is, I can easily
believe no king of modern days would wish to inhabit it. I have
sometimes wondered that Napoleon did not take a fancy to its vastness;
but, I believe, he had no great taste in the upholstering line, and
preferred converting his millions into the sinews of war, to the
possession of all the carving and gilding in the world.

If this projected museum, however, should be _monté_ with science,
judgment and taste, and on the usual scale of French magnificence, it
will be turning the costly whim of _le Grand Monarque_ to excellent
account.

The works which are going on there, were mentioned at a party the
other evening, when some one stated that it was the intention of the
King to convert one portion of the building into a gallery of national
history, that should contain pictures of all the victories which
France had ever won.

The remark made in reply amused me much, it was so very French.--"Ma
foi!... Mais cette galerie-là doit être bien longue--et assez
ennuyeuse pour les étrangers."

Though the château was closed to us, we did not therefore give up our
purposed expedition to Versailles: every object there is interesting,
not only from its splendour, but from the recollections it revives of
scenes with whose history we are all familiar. Not only the horrors of
the last century, but all the regal glories of the preceding one, are
so well known to everybody, that there must have been a prodigious
deal of gossip handed down to us from France, or we never could feel
so much better acquainted with events which have passed at Versailles
than with any scenes that have occurred at an equal distance of time
at Windsor.

But so it is; and the English go there not merely as strangers
visiting a palace in a foreign land, but as pilgrims to the shrine of
the princes and poets who have left their memory there, and with whose
names and histories they are as familiar as if they belonged to us.

The day we passed among the royal spectres that never fail to haunt
one at this palace of recollections, was a mixture of sunshine and
showers, and our meditations seemed to partake of the vicissitude.

It is said that the great Louis reared this stupendous dwelling in
which to pass the gilded hours of his idleness, because from St.
Germain's he could see the plain of St. Denis, over which his funeral
array was to pass, and the spire that marked the spot where his too
precious dust was to be laid. Happy was it for him that the
scutcheoned sepulchre of St. Denis was the most distant and most
gloomy point to which his prophetic glance could reach! Could the
great king have looked a little farther, and dreamed of the scenes
which were destined to follow this dreaded passage to his royal tomb,
how would he have blessed the fate which permitted him to pass into it
so peacefully!

It is quite wonderful to see how much of the elaborate decoration and
fine finishing of this sumptuous place remains uninjured after being
visited by the most ferocious mob that ever collected together. Had
they been less intent on the savage object of their mission, it is
probable that they would have sated their insane rage in destroying
the palace itself, and the costly decorations of its singular gardens.
Though far inferior in all ways either to the gardens of the Elector
of Hesse Cassel at Wilhelmshöhe, or to those of the Grand Duke of
Baden at Schwetzingen, those of Versailles are still highly
interesting from many causes, and have so much of majesty and pomp
about them, that one cannot look upon them without feeling that only
the kings of the earth could ever have had a master's right to take
their pleasure therein.

Before we entered upon the orderly confusion of groves, statues,
temples, and water-works through which it is necessary to be led, we
made our grey-headed guide lead us round and about every part of the
building while we listened to his string of interesting old stories
about Louis Seize, and Marie Antoinette, and Monsieur, and le Comte
d'Artois, (for he seemed to have forgotten that they had borne any
other titles than those he remembered in his youth,) all of whom
seemed to retain exactly the same place in his imagination that they
had occupied some fifty years ago, when he was assistant to the keeper
of the _orangerie_. He boasted, with a vanity as fresh as if it had
been newly born, of the honours of that near approach to royalty which
he had formerly enjoyed; recounted how the Queen called one of the
orange-trees her own, because she fancied its blossoms sweeter than
all the rest; and how from such a broad-leafed double-blossoming
myrtle he had daily gathered a _bouquet_ for her majesty, which was
laid upon her toilet exactly at two o'clock. This old man knew every
orange-tree, its birth and history, as well as a shepherd knows his
flock. The venerable father of the band dates his existence from the
reign of François Premier, and truly he enjoys a green old age. The
one surnamed Louis le Grand, who was twin brother, as he said, to that
mighty monarch, looks like a youth beside it--and you are told that it
has not yet attained its full growth.

Oh! could those orange-trees but speak! could they recount to us the
scenes they have witnessed; could they describe to us all the beauties
over whom they have shed their fragrant flowers--all the heroes,
statesmen, poets, and princes who have stepped in courtly paces
beneath their shade; what a world of witty wickedness, of solemn
warning, and of sad reflection, we should have!

But though the orange-trees were mute, our old man talked enough for
them all. He was a faithful servant to the old _régime_: and indeed it
should seem that there is something in the air of Versailles
favourable alike to orange-trees and loyalty; for never did I hear,
while wandering amidst their aristocratic perfume, one word that was
not of sound orthodox legitimate loyalty to the race for whose
service they have for so many hundred years lived and bloomed. And
still they blossom on, unscathed by revolution, unblighted though an
usurper called them his;--happier in this than many of those who were
once privileged to parade their dignity beneath their royal shade. The
old servitors still move among these venerable vegetable grandees with
the ceremonious air of courtiers, offering obsequious service, if not
to the king himself, at least to his cousin-germans; and I am
persuaded there is not one of these old serving-men, who wander about
Versailles like ghosts revisiting the scenes of former happiness, who
would not more humbly pull off his hat to François Premier or Louis le
Grand in the greenhouse, than to any monarch of a younger race.

Napoleon has left less trace of himself and his giant power at
Versailles than anywhere else; and the naïads and hamadryads still
lift their sculptured heads with such an eternity of stately grace, as
makes one feel the evanescent nature of the interlude that was played
among them during the empire. It is of the old race of Bourbon that
the whole region is redolent. "There," said our old guide, "is the
range of chambers that was occupied by the Queen ... those were the
King's apartments ... there were the royal children ... there Monsieur
... and there the Comte d'Artois."

Then we were led round to the fatal balcony which overhangs the
entrance. It was there that the fallen Marie Antoinette stood, her
young son in her arms, and the doomed King her husband beside her,
when she looked down upon the demons drunk with blood, who sought her
life. I had heard all this hateful, but o'er-true history, more than
once before on the same spot, and shortening the frightful detail, I
hastened to leave it, though I believe the good old man would
willingly have spent hours in dwelling upon it.

The day had been named as one on which the great waters were to play.
But, little as Nature has to do with this pretty exhibition, she
interfered on this occasion to prevent it. There was no water. The dry
winter would, they told us, probably render it impossible to play them
during the whole summer.

Here was another disappointment; but we bore it heroically, and after
examining and much admiring the numberless allegories which people the
grounds, and to the creation of which, a poet must have been as
necessary as a sculptor, we adjourned to the Trianons, there to
meditate on all the ceaseless vicissitudes of female influence from
Maintenon to Josephine. It is but a sad review, but it may serve well
to reconcile the majority of womankind to the tranquil dreaminess of
obscurity.

The next thing to be done was dining--and most wretchedly done it was:
but we found something to laugh at, nevertheless; for when the wine
brought to us was found too bad to drink, and we ordered better, no
less than four bottles were presented to us in succession, each one
increasing in price, but being precisely of the same quality. When we
charged the black-eyed daughter of the house with the fact, she said
with perfect good-humour, but nowise denying it, that she was very
sorry they had no better. When the bill was brought, the same damsel
civilly hoped that we should not think ten sous (half-a-franc) too
much to pay for having opened so many bottles. Now, as three of them
were firmly corked, and carefully sealed besides, we paid our ten sous
without any complaining.

The looking at a fête at St. Cloud made part of the business of the
day; but in order to get there, we were obliged to mount into one of
those indescribable vehicles by which the gay _bourgeoisie_ of Paris
are conveyed from palace to palace, and from _guinguette_ to
_guinguette_. We had dismissed our comfortable _citadine_, being
assured that we should have no difficulty in finding another. In this,
however, we were disappointed, the proportion of company appearing
greatly to exceed that of the carriages which were to convey them, and
we considered ourselves fortunate in securing places in an equipage
which we should have scorned indignantly when we quitted Paris in the
morning.

The whimsical gaiety of the crowd, all hurrying one way, was very
amusing; all anxious to reach St. Cloud before the promised
half-hour's display of water-works were over; all testifying, by look,
gesture, voice, and words, that light effervescence of animal spirits
so essentially characteristic of the country, and all forming a moving
panorama so gay and so bright as almost to make one giddy by looking
at it.

Some among the capricious variety of vehicles were drawn by five or
six horses. These were in truth nothing but gaily-painted waggons,
hung on rude springs, with a flat awning over them. In several I
counted twenty persons; but there were some few among them in which
one or perhaps two seats were still vacant--and then the rapturous
glee of the party was excited to the utmost by the efforts of the
driver, as gay as themselves, to obtain customers to fill the
vacancies.

Every individual overtaken on the road was invited by the most
clamorous outcries to occupy the vacant seats. "St. Cloud! St. Cloud!
St. Cloud!" shouted by the driver and re-echoed by all his company,
rang in the startled ears of all they passed; and if a traveller
soberly journeying in the contrary direction was met, the invitation
was uttered with tenfold vehemence, accompanied by shouts of laughter;
which, far from offending the party who provoked it, was invariably
answered with equal frolic and fun. But when upon one occasion a
carriage posting almost at full gallop towards Versailles was
encountered, the ecstasy of mirth with which it was greeted exceeds
description. "St. Cloud! St. Cloud! St. Cloud!--Tournez donc,
messieurs--tournez à St. Cloud!" The shouts and vociferations were
enough to frighten all the horses in the world excepting French ones;
and they must be so thoroughly broken to the endurance of din, that
there is little danger of their starting at it. I could have almost
fancied that upon this occasion they took part in it; for they shook
their ropes and their tassels, snorted and tossed, very much as if
they enjoyed the fun.

After all, we, and many hundred others, arrived too late for the show,
the supply of water failing even before the promised half-hour had
elapsed. The gardens, however, were extremely full, and all the world
looked as gay and as well-pleased as if nothing had gone wrong.

I wonder if these people ever grow old,--that is, old as we do,
sitting in the chimney-corner, and dreaming no more of fêtes than of
playing at blind-man's-buff. I have certainly seen here, as elsewhere,
men, and women too, grey-headed, and wrinkled enough to be as solemn
as the most venerable judge upon the bench; but I never saw any that
did not seem ready to hop, skip, jump, waltz, and make love.



LETTER XXI.

      History of the Vicomte de B----. His opinions.--State of
      France.--Expediency.


I have had a curious conversation this morning with an old gentleman
whom I believed to be a thorough legitimate, but who turns out, as you
will see, something else--I hardly know what to call it--_doctrinaire_
I suppose it must be, yet it is not quite that either.

But before I give you his opinions, let me present himself. M. le
Vicomte de B---- is a person that I am very sure you would be happy to
know anywhere. His residence is not in Paris, but at a château that he
describes as the most profound retirement imaginable; yet it is not
more than thirty leagues from Paris. He is a widower, and his only
child is a daughter, who has been some years married.

The history of this gentleman, given as he gave it himself, was deeply
interesting. It was told with much feeling, some wit, and no
prolixity. Were I, however, to attempt to repeat it to you in the same
manner, it would become long and tedious, and in every way as unlike
as possible to what it was as it came fresh from the living fountain.

In brief, then, I will tell you that he was the younger son of an old
and noble house, and, for seven years, page to Louis Seize. He must
have been strikingly handsome; and young as he was at the time of the
first revolution, he seems already to have found the court a very
agreeable residence. He had held a commission in the army about two
years, when his father, and his only brother, his elder by ten years,
were obliged to leave the country, to save their lives.

The family was not a wealthy one, and great sacrifices were necessary
to enable them to live in England. What remained became eventually the
property of our friend, both father and brother having died in exile.
With this remnant of fortune he married, not very prudently; and
having lost his wife and disposed of his daughter in marriage, he is
now living in his large dilapidated château, with one female servant,
and an old man as major-domo, valet, and cook, who served with him in
La Vendée, and who, by his description, must be a perfect Corporal
Trim.

I would give a good deal to be able to accept the invitation I have
received to pay him a visit at his castle. I think I should find just
such a _ménage_ as that which Scott so beautifully describes in one of
his prefaces. But the wish is vain, such an excursion being quite
impossible; so I must do without the castle, and content myself with
the long morning visits that its agreeable owner is so kind as to make
us.

I have seen him frequently, and listened with great interest to his
little history; but it was only this morning that the conversation
took a speculative turn. I was quite persuaded, but certainly from my
own preconceived notions only, and not from anything I have heard him
say, that M. de B---- was a devoted legitimate. An old noble--page to
Louis Seize--a royalist soldier in La Vendée,--how could I think
otherwise? Yet he talked to me as ... you shall hear.

Our conversation began by his asking me if I was conscious of much
material change in Paris since I last visited it.

I replied, that I certainly saw some, but perhaps suspected more.

"I dare say you do," said he; "it is what your nation is very apt to
do: but take my advice,--believe what you see, and nothing else."

"But what one can see in the course of a month or two is so little,
and I hear so much."

"That is true; but do you not find that what you hear from one person
is often contradicted by another?"

"Constantly," I replied.

"Then what can you do at last but judge by what you see?"

"Why, it appears to me that the better plan would be to listen to all
parties, and let my balancing belief incline to the testimony that has
most weight."

"Then be careful that this weight be not false. There are some who
will tell you that the national feeling which for so many centuries
has kept France together as a powerful and predominating people is
loosened, melted, and gone;--that though there are Frenchmen left,
there is no longer a French people."

"To any who told me so," I replied, "I would say, that the division
they complained of, arose not so much from any change in the French
character, as from the false position in which many were unhappily
placed at the present moment. Men's hearts are divided because they
are diversely drawn aside from a common centre."

"And you would say truly," said he; "but others will tell you, that
regenerated France will soon dictate laws to the whole earth; that her
flag will become the flag of all people--her government their
government; and that their tottering monarchies will soon crumble into
dust, to become part and parcel of her glorious republic."

"And to these I should say, that they appeared to be in a very heavy
slumber, and that the sooner they could wake out of it and shake off
their feverish dreams, the better it would be for them."

"But what would your inference be as to the state of the country from
such reports as these?"

"I should think that, as usual, truth lay between. I should neither
believe that France was so united as to constitute a single-minded
giant, nor so divided as to have become a mass of unconnected atoms,
or a race of pigmies."

"You know," he continued, "that the fashionable phrase for describing
our condition at present is, that we are in _a state of
transition_,--from butterflies to grubs, or from grubs to butterflies,
I know not which; but to me it seems that the transition is over,--and
it is high time that it should be so. The country has known neither
rest nor peace for nearly half a century; and powerful as she has been
and still is, she must at last fall a prey to whoever may think it
worth their while to despoil her, unless she stops short while it is
yet time, and strengthens herself by a little seasonable repose."

"But how is this repose to be obtained?" said I. "Some of you wish to
have one king, some another, and some to have no king at all. This is
not a condition in which a country is very likely to find repose."

"Not if each faction be of equal power, or sufficiently so to
persevere in struggling for the mastery. Our only hope lies in the
belief that there is no such equality. Let him who has seized the helm
keep it: if he be an able helmsman, he will keep us in smooth
water;--and it is no longer time for us to ask how he got his
commission; let us be thankful that he happens to be of the same
lineage as those to whose charge we have for so many ages committed
the safety of our bark."

I believe my countenance expressed my astonishment; for the old
gentleman smiled and said,

"Do I frighten you with my revolutionary principles?"

"Indeed, you surprise me a little," I replied: "I should have thought
that the rights of a legitimate monarch would have been in your
opinion indefeasible."

"Where is the law, my good lady, that may control necessity?... I
speak not of my own feelings, or of those of the few who were born
like myself in another era. Very terrible convulsions have passed over
France, and perhaps threaten the rest of Europe. I have for many years
stood apart and watched the storm; and I am quite sure, and find much
comfort in the assurance, that the crimes and passions of men cannot
change the nature of things. They may produce much misery, they may
disturb and confuse the peaceful current of events; but man still
remains as he was, and will seek his safety and his good, where he has
ever found them--under the shelter of power."

"There, indeed, I quite agree with you. But surely the more lawful
and right the power is, the more likely it must be to remain tranquil
and undisputed in its influence."

"France has no longer the choice," said he, interrupting me abruptly.
"I speak but as a looker-on; my political race is ended; I have more
than once sworn allegiance to the elder branch of the house of
Bourbon, and certainly nothing would tempt me to hold office or take
oath under any other. But do you think it would be the duty of a
Frenchman who has three grandsons native to the soil of France,--do
you really think it the duty of such a one to invoke civil war upon
the land of his fathers, and remembering only his king, to forget his
country? I will not tell you, that if I could wake to-morrow morning
and find a fifth Henry peacefully seated on the throne of his fathers,
I might not rejoice; particularly if I were sure that he would be as
likely to keep the naughty boys of Paris in order as I think his
cousin Philippe is. Were there profit in wishing, I would wish for
France a government so strong as should effectually prevent her from
destroying herself; and that government should have at its head a king
whose right to reign had come to him, not by force of arms, but by the
will of God in lawful succession. But when we mortals have a wish, we
may be thankful if the half of it be granted;--and, in truth, I think
that I have the first and better half of mine to rejoice in. There is
a stout and sturdy strength in the government of King Philippe, which
gives good hope that France may recover under its protection from her
sins and her sorrows, and again become the glory of her children."

So saying, M. de B---- rose to leave me, and putting out his hand in
the English fashion, added, "I am afraid you do not like me so well as
you did.... I am no longer a true and loyal knight in your estimation
... but something, perhaps, very like a rebel and a traitor?... Is it
not so?"

I hardly knew how to answer him. He certainly had lost a good deal of
that poetical elevation of character with which I had invested him;
yet there was a mixture of honesty and honour in his frankness that I
could not help esteeming. I thanked him very sincerely for the
openness with which he had spoken, but confessed that I had not quite
made up my mind to think that expediency was the right rule for human
actions. It certainly was not the noblest, and therefore I was willing
to believe that it was not the best.

"I must go," said he, looking at his watch, "for it is my hour of
dining, or I think I could dispute with you a little upon your word
_expediency_. Whatever is really expedient for us to do--that is,
whatever is best for us in the situation in which we are actually
placed, is really right. Adieu!--I shall present myself again ere
long; and if you admit me, I shall be thankful."

So saying, he departed,--leaving us all, I believe, a little less in
alt about him than before, but certainly with no inclination to shut
our doors against him.



LETTER XXII.

      Père Lachaise.--Mourning in public.--Defacing the Tomb of
      Abelard and Eloïsa.--Baron Munchausen.--Russian
      Monument.--Statue of Manuel.


Often as I have visited the enclosure of Père Lachaise, it was with
feelings of renewed curiosity and interest that I yesterday
accompanied thither those of my party who had not yet seen it. I was
well pleased to wander once more through the cypress alleys, now grown
into fine gloomy funereal shades, and once more to feel that wavering
sort of emotion which I always experience there;--one moment being
tempted to smile at the fantastic manner in which affection has been
manifested,--and the next, moved to tears by some touch of tenderness,
that makes itself felt even amidst the vast collection of childish
superstitions with which the place abounds.

This mournful garden is altogether a very solemn and impressive
spectacle. What a world of mortality does one take in at one glance!
It will set one thinking a little, however fresh from the busy
idleness of Paris,--of Paris, that antidote to all serious thought,
that especial paradise for the worshippers of SANS SOUCI.

A profusion of spring flowers are at this season hourly shedding their
blossoms over every little cherished enclosure. There is beauty,
freshness, fragrance on the surface.... It is a fearful contrast!

I do not remember any spot, either in church or churchyard, where the
unequal dignity of the memorials raised above the dust which lies so
very equally beneath them all is shown in a manner to strike the heart
so forcibly as it does at Père Lachaise. Here, a shovelful of weeds
have hardly room to grow; and there rises a costly pile, shadowing its
lowly neighbour. On this side the narrow path, sorrow is wrapped round
and hid from notice by the very poverty that renders it more bitter;
while, on the other, wealth, rank, and pride heap decorations over the
worthless clay, striving vainly to conceal its nothingness. It is an
epitome of the world they have left: remove the marble and disturb the
turf, human nature will be found to wear the same aspect under both.

Many groups in deep mourning were wandering among the tombs; so many
indeed, that when we turned aside from one, with the reverence one
always feels disposed to pay to sorrow, we were sure to encounter
another. This manner of lamenting in public seems so strange to us!
How would it be for a shy English mother, who sobs inwardly and hides
the aching sorrow in her heart's core,--how would she bear to bargain
at the public gate for a pretty garland, then enter amidst an idle
throng, with the toy hanging on her finger, and, before the eyes of
all who choose to look, suspend it over the grave of her lost child?
An Englishwoman surely must lose her reason either before or after
such an act;--if it were not the effect of madness, it would be the
cause of it. Yet such is the effect of habit, or rather of the
different tone of manners and of mind here, that one may daily and
hourly see parents, most devoted to their children during their lives,
and most heart-broken when divided from them by death, perform with
streaming eyes these public lamentations.

It is nevertheless impossible, let the manner of it differ from our
own as much as it may, to look at the freshly-trimmed flowers, the
garlands, and all the pretty tokens of tender care which meet the eye
in every part of this wide-spread mass of mortal nothingness, without
feeling that real love and real sorrow have been at work.

One small enclosure attracted my attention as at once the most
_bizarre_ and the most touching of all. It held the little grassy tomb
of a young child, planted round with choice flowers; and at its head
rose a semicircular recess, containing, together with a crucifix and
other religious emblems, several common playthings, which had
doubtless been the latest joy of the lost darling. His age was stated
to have been three years, and he was mourned as the first and only
child after twelve years of marriage.

Below this melancholy statement was inscribed--

      "Passans! priez pour sa malheureuse mère!"

Might we not say, that

      Thought and affliction, passion, death itself,
      They turn to favour and to prettiness?

It would, I believe, be more just, as well as more generous, instead
of accusing the whole nation of being the victims of affectation
instead of sorrow under every affliction that death can cause, to
believe that they feel quite as sincerely as ourselves; though they
have certainly a very different way of showing it.

I wish they, whoever they are, who had the command of such matters,
would have let the curious tomb of Abelard and Eloïsa remain in decent
tranquillity in its original position. Nothing can assimilate worse
than do its Gothic form and decorations with every object around it.
The paltry plaster tablet too, that has been stuck upon it for the
purpose of recording the history of the tomb rather than of those who
lie buried in it, is in villanously bad taste; and we can only hope
that the elements will complete the work they have begun, and then
this barbarous defacing will crumble away before our grandchildren
shall know anything about it.

The thickly-planted trees and shrubs have grown so rapidly, as in many
places to make it difficult to pass through them; and the ground
appears to be extremely crowded nearly over its whole extent. A few
neighbouring acres have been lately added to it; but their bleak,
naked, and unornamented surface forbids the eye as yet to recognise
this space as part of the enclosure. One pale solitary tomb is placed
within it, at the very verge of the dark cypress line that marks the
original boundary; and it looks like a sheeted ghost hovering about
between night and morning.

One very noble monument has been added since I last visited the
garden: it is dedicated to the memory of a noble Russian lady, whose
long unspellable name I forget. It is of white or greyish marble, and
of magnificent proportions,--lofty and elegant, yet massive and
entirely simple. Altogether, it appeared to me to be as perfect in
taste as any specimen of monumental architecture that I have ever
seen, though it had not the last best grace of sculpture to adorn it.
There is no effigy--no statue--scarcely an ornament of any kind, but
it seems constructed with a view to unite equally the appearance of
imposing majesty and enduring strength. This splendid mausoleum
stands towards the top of the garden, and forms a predominating and
very beautiful object from various parts of it.

Among the hundreds of names which one reads in passing,--I hardly know
why, for they certainly convey but small interest to the mind,--we met
with that of the _Baron Munchausen_. It was a small and
unpretending-looking stone, but bore a host of blazing titles, by
which it appears that this Baron, whom I, and all my generation, I
believe, have ever looked upon as an imaginary personage, was in fact
something or other very important to somebody or other who was very
powerful. Why his noble name has been made such use of among us, I
cannot imagine.

In the course of our wanderings we came upon this singular
inscription:--

"Ci-gît Caroline,"--(I think the name is Caroline,)--"fille de
Mademoiselle Mars."

Is it not wonderful what a difference twenty-one miles of salt-water
can make in the ways and manners of people?

There are not many statues in the cemetery, and none of sufficient
merit to add much to its embellishment; but there is one recently
placed there, and standing loftily predominant above every surrounding
object, which is strongly indicative of the period of its erection,
and of the temper of the people to whom it seems to address itself.
This is a colossal figure of Manuel. The countenance is vulgar, and
the expression of the features violent and exaggerated: it might stand
as the portrait of a bold factious rebel for ever.



LETTER XXIII.

      Remarkable People.--Distinguished People.--Metaphysical Lady.


Last night we passed our _soirée_ at the house of a lady who had been
introduced to me with this recommendation:--"You will be certain of
meeting at Madame de V----'s many REMARKABLE PEOPLE."

This is, I think, exactly the sort of introduction which would in any
city give the most piquant interest to a new acquaintance; but it does
so particularly at Paris; for this attractive capital draws its
collection of remarkable people from a greater variety of nations,
classes, and creeds, than any other.

Nevertheless, this term "remarkable people" must not be taken too
confidently to mean individuals so distinguished that all men would
desire to gaze upon them; the phrase varying in its value and its
meaning according to the feelings, faculties, and station of the
speaker.

Everybody has got his or her own "remarkable people" to introduce to
you; and I have begun to find out, among the houses that are open to
me, what species of "remarkable people" I am likely to meet at each.

When Madame A---- whispers to me as I enter her drawing-room--"Ah!
vous voilà! c'est bon; j'aurais été bien fâchée si vous m'aviez
manquée; il y a ici, ce soir, une personne bien remarquable, qu'il
faut absolument vous présenter,"--I am quite sure that I shall see
some one who has been a marshal, or a duke, or a general, or a
physician, or an actor, or an artist, to Napoleon.

But if it were Madame B---- who said the same thing, I should be
equally certain that it must be a comfortable-looking doctrinaire, who
was, had been, or was about to be in place, and who had made his voice
heard on the winning side.

Madame C----, on the contrary, would not deign to bestow such an
epithet on any one whose views and occupations were so earthward. It
could only be some philosopher, pale with the labour of reconciling
paradoxes or discovering a new element.

My charming, quiet, graceful, gentle Madame D---- could use it only
when speaking of an ex-chancellor, or chamberlain, or friend, or
faithful servant of the exiled dynasty.

As for the tall dark-browed Madame E----, with her thin lips and
sinister smile, though she professes to hold a _salon_ where talent of
every party is welcome, she never cares much, I am very sure, for any
remarkableness that is not connected with the great and immortal
mischief of some revolution. She is not quite old enough to have had
anything to do with the first; but I have no doubt that she was very
busy during the last, and I am positive that she will never know peace
by night or day till another can be got up. If her hopes fail on this
point, she will die of atrophy; for nothing affords her nourishment
but what is mixed up with rebellion against constituted authority.

I know that she dislikes me; and I suspect I owe the honour of being
admitted to appear in her presence solely to her determination that I
should hear everything that she thinks it would be disagreeable for me
to listen to. I believe she fancies that I do not like to meet
Americans; but she is as much mistaken in this as in most other of her
speculations.

I really never saw or heard of any fanaticism equal to that, with
which this lady worships destruction. That whatever is, is wrong, is
the rule by which her judgment is guided in all things. It is enough
for her that a law on any point is established, to render the thing
legalised detestable; and were the republic about which she raves, and
of which she knows as much as her lap-dog, to be established
throughout France to-morrow, I am quite persuaded that we should have
her embroidering a regal robe for the most legitimate king she could
find, before next Monday.

Madame F----'s _remarkables_ are almost all of them foreigners of the
philosophic revolutionary class; any gentry that are not particularly
well off at home, and who would rather prefer being remarkable and
remarked a few hundred miles from their own country than in it.

Madame G----'s are chiefly musical personages. "Croyez-moi, madame,"
she says, "il n'y a que lui pour toucher le piano.... Vous n'avez pas
encore entendu Mademoiselle Z----.... Quelle voix superbe!... Elle
fera, j'en suis sûre, une fortune immense à Londres."

Madame H----'s acquaintance are not so "remarkable" for anything
peculiar in each or any of them, as for being in all things exactly
opposed to each other. She likes to have her parties described as "Les
soirées antithestiques de Madame H----," and has a peculiar sort of
pleasure in seeing people sitting side by side on her hearth-rug, who
would be very likely to salute each other with a pistol-shot were they
to meet elsewhere. It is rather a singular device for arranging a
sociable party; but her _soirées_ are very delightful _soirées_, for
all that.

Madame J----'s friends are not "remarkable;" they are "distinguished."
It is quite extraordinary what a number of distinguished individuals I
have met at her house.

But I must not go through the whole alphabet, lest I should tire you.
So let me return to the point from whence I set out, and take you
with me to Madame de V----'s _soirée_. A large party is almost always
a sort of lottery, and your good or bad fortune depends on the
accidental vicinity of pleasant or unpleasant neighbours.

I cannot consider myself to have gained a prize last night; and
Fortune, if she means to make things even, must place me to-night next
the most agreeable person in Paris. I really think that should the
same evil chance that beset me yesterday pursue me for a week, I
should leave the country to escape from it. I will describe to you the
manner of my torment as well as I can, but must fail, I think, to give
you an adequate idea of it.

A lady I had never seen before walked across the room to me last night
soon after I entered it, and making prisoner of Madame de V---- in the
way, was presented to me in due form. I was placed on a sofa by an old
gentleman with whom we have formed a great friendship, and for whose
conversation I have a particular liking: he had just seated himself
beside me, when my new acquaintance dislodged him by saying, as she
attempted to squeeze herself in between us, "Pardon, monsieur; ne vous
dérangez pas! ... mais si madame voulait bien me permettre" ... and
before she could finish her speech, my old acquaintance was far away
and my new one close beside me.

She began the conversation by some very obliging assurances of her
wish to make my acquaintance. "I want to discuss with you," said she.
I bowed, but trembled inwardly, for I do not like discussions,
especially with "remarkable" ladies. "Yes," she continued, "I want to
discuss with you many topics of vital interest to us all--topics on
which I believe we now think differently, but on which I feel quite
sure that we should agree, would you but listen to me."

I smiled and bowed, and muttered something civil, and looked as much
pleased as I possibly could,--and recollected, too, how large Paris
was, and how easy it would be to turn my back upon conviction, if I
found that I could not face it agreeably. But, to say truth, there was
something in the eye and manner of my new friend that rather alarmed
me. She is rather pretty, nevertheless; but her bright eyes are never
still for an instant, and she is one of those who aid the power of
speech by that of touch, to which she has incessant recourse. Had she
been a man, she would have seized all her friends by the button: but
as it is, she can only lay her fingers with emphasis upon your arm, or
grasp a handful of your sleeve, when she sees reason to fear that your
attention wanders.

"You are a legitimatist! ... quel dommage! Ah! you smile. But did you
know the incalculable injury done to the intellect by putting chains
upon it!... My studies, observe, are confined almost wholly to one
subject,--the philosophy of the human mind. Metaphysics have been the
great object of my life from a very early age." (I should think she
was now about seven or eight-and-twenty.) "Yet sometimes I have the
weakness to turn aside from this noble pursuit to look upon the
troubled current of human affairs that is rolling past me. I do not
pretend to enter deeply into politics--I have no time for it; but I
see enough to make me shrink from despotism and legitimacy. Believe
me, it cramps the mind; and be assured that a constant succession of
political changes keeps the faculties of a nation on the _qui vive_,
and, abstractedly considered as a mental operation, must be
incalculably more beneficial than the half-dormant state which takes
place after any long continuance in one position, let it be what it
may."

She uttered all this with such wonderful rapidity, that it would have
been quite impossible for me to have made any observation upon it as
she went along, if I had been ever so much inclined to do so. But I
soon found that this was not expected of me.

      "'Twas hers to speak, and mine to hear;"

and I made up my mind to listen as patiently as I could till I should
find a convenient opportunity for changing my place.

At different times, and in different climes, I have heretofore
listened to a good deal of nonsense, certainly; but I assure you I
never did nor ever can expect again to hear such a profusion of wild
absurdity as this lady uttered. Yet I am told that she has in many
circles the reputation of being a woman of genius. It would be but a
vain attempt did I endeavour to go on remembering and translating all
she said; but some of her speeches really deserve recording.

After she had run her tilt against authority, she broke off,
exclaiming--

"Mais, après tout,--what does it signify?... When you have once
devoted yourself to the study of the soul, all these little
distinctions do appear so trifling!... I have given myself wholly to
the study of the soul; and my life passes in a series of experiments,
which, if I do not wear myself out here," putting her hand to her
forehead, "will, I think, eventually lead me to something important."

As she paused for a moment, I thought I ought to say something, and
therefore asked her of what nature were the experiments of which she
spoke. To which she replied--

"Principally in comparative anatomy. None but an experimentalist could
ever imagine what extraordinary results arise from this best and
surest mode of investigation. A mouse, for instance.... Ah, madame!
would you believe it possible that the formation of a mouse could
throw light upon the theory of the noblest feeling that warms the
heart of man--even upon valour? It is true, I assure you: such are the
triumphs of science. By watching the pulsations of that _chétif_
animal," she continued, eagerly laying hold of my wrist, "we have
obtained an immense insight into the most interesting phenomena of the
passion of fear."

At this moment my old gentleman came back to me, but evidently without
any expectation of being able to resume his seat. It was only, I
believe, to see how I got on with my metaphysical neighbour. There was
an infinite deal of humour in the glance he gave me as he said, "Eh
bien, Madame Trollope, est-ce que Madame ---- vous a donné l'ambition
de la suivre dans ses sublimes études?"

"I fear it would prove beyond my strength," I replied. Upon which
Madame ---- started off anew in praise of _her_ science--"the only
science worthy the name; the science...."

Here my old friend stole off again, covered by an approaching tray of
ices; and I soon after did the same; for I had been busily engaged all
day, and I was weary,--so weary that I dreaded dropping to sleep at
the very instant that Madame ---- was exerting herself to awaken me to
a higher state of intelligence.

I have not, however, told you one tenth part of the marvellous
absurdities she poured forth; yet I suspect I have told you enough. I
have never before met anything so pre-eminently ridiculous as this:
but upon my saying so to my old friend as I passed him near the door,
he assured me that he knew another lady, whose mania was education,
and whose doctrines and manner of explaining them were decidedly more
absurd than Madame ----'s philosophy of the soul.

"Be not alarmed, however; I shall not bestow her upon you, for I
intend most carefully to keep out of her way. Do you know of any
English ladies thus devoted to the study of the soul?"... I am
sincerely happy to say that I do not.



LETTER XXIV.

      Expedition to the Luxembourg.--No admittance for
      Females.--Portraits of "Henri."--Republican Costume.--Quai
      Voltaire.--Mural Inscriptions.--Anecdote of Marshal
      Lobau.--Arrest.


Ever since the trials at the Luxembourg commenced, we have intended to
make an excursion thither, in order to look at the encampment in the
garden, at the military array around the palace, and, in short, to see
all that is visible for female eyes in the general aspect of the
place, so interesting at the present moment from the important
business going on there.

I have done all that could be done to obtain admission to the Chamber
during their sittings, and have not been without friends who very
kindly interested themselves to render my efforts successful--but in
vain; no ladies have been permitted to enter. Whether the feminine
regrets have been lessened or increased by the daily accounts that are
published of the outrageous conduct of the prisoners, I will not
venture to say. _C'est égal_; get in we cannot, whether we wish it or
not. It is said, indeed, that in one of the tribunes set apart for
the public, a small white hand has been seen to caress some jet-black
curls upon the head of a boy; and it was said, too, that the boy
called himself George S----d: but I have heard of no other instance of
any one not furnished with that important symbol of prerogative, _une
barbe au menton_, who has ventured within the proscribed limits.

Our humble-minded project of looking at the walls which enclose the
blustering rebels and their patient judges has been at length happily
accomplished, and not without affording us considerable amusement.

In addition to our usual party, we had the pleasure of being
accompanied by two agreeable Frenchmen, who promised to explain
whatever signs and symbols might meet our eyes but mock our
comprehension. As the morning was delightful, we agreed to walk to the
place of our destination, and repose ourselves as much as the tossings
of a _fiacre_ would permit on the way home.

That our route lay through the Tuileries Gardens was one reason for
this arrangement; and, as usual, we indulged ourselves for a
delightful half-hour by sitting under the trees.

Whenever six or eight persons wish to converse together--not in
_tête-à-tête_, but in a general confabulation, I would recommend
exactly the place we occupied for the purpose, with the chairs of the
party drawn together, not spread into a circle, but collected in a
group, so that every one can hear, and every one can be heard.

Our conversation was upon the subject of various prints which we had
seen exposed upon the Boulevards as we passed; and though our two
Frenchmen were excellent friends, it was very evident that they did
not hold the same opinions in politics;--so we had some very pleasant
sparring.

We have been constantly in the habit of remarking a variety of
portraits of a pretty, elegant-looking youth, sometimes totally
without letters--and yet they were not proofs, excepting of an antique
loyalty,--sometimes with the single word "Henri!"--sometimes with a
sprig of the pretty weed we call "Forget-me-not,"--and sometimes with
the name of "Le Duc de Bordeaux." As we passed one of the cases this
morning which stand out before a large shop on the Boulevards, I
remarked a new one: it was a pretty lithographic print, and being very
like an original miniature which had been kindly shown me during a
visit I paid in the Faubourg St. Germain, I stopped to buy it, and
writing my name on the envelope, ordered it to be sent home.

M. P----, the gentleman who was walking beside me when I stopped,
confirmed my opinion that it was a likeness, by his personal knowledge
of the original; and it was not difficult to perceive, though he spoke
but little on the subject, that an affectionate feeling for "THE
CAUSE" and its young hero was at his heart.

M. de L----, the other gentleman who had joined our party, was walking
behind us, and came up as I was making my purchase. He smiled. "I see
what you are about," said he: "if you and P---- continue to walk
together, I am sure you will plot some terrible treason before you get
to the Luxembourg."

When we were seated in the Tuileries Gardens, M. de L---- renewed his
attack upon me for what he called my seditious conduct in having
encouraged the vender of a prohibited article, and declared that he
thought he should but do his duty if he left M. P---- and myself in
safe custody among the other rebellious characters at the Luxembourg.

"My sedition," replied M. P----, "is but speculative. The best among
us now can only sigh that things are not quite as they should be, and
be thankful that they are not quite as bad as they might be."

"I rejoice to find that you allow so much, mon cher," replied his
friend. "Yes, I think it might be worse; par exemple, if such gentry
as those yonder were to have their way with us."

He looked towards three youths who were stalking up the walk before us
with the air of being deeply intent on some business of dire import.
They looked like walking caricatures--and in truth they were nothing
else.

They were republicans. Similar figures are constantly seen strutting
upon the Boulevards, or sauntering, like those before us, in the
Tuileries, or hovering in sinister groups about the Bois de Boulogne,
each one believing himself to bear the brow of a Brutus and the heart
of a Cato. But see them where or when you will, they take good care to
be unmistakable; there is not a child of ten years old in Paris who
cannot tell a republican when he sees him. In several print-shops I
have seen a key to their mystical toilet which may enable the ignorant
to read them right. A hat, whose crown if raised for a few inches more
would be conical, is highest in importance, as in place; and the shade
of Cromwell may perhaps glory in seeing how many desperate wrongheads
still mimic his beaver. Then come the long and matted locks, that hang
in heavy ominous dirtiness beneath it. The throat is bare, at least
from linen; but a plentiful and very disgusting profusion of hair
supplies its place. The waistcoat, like the hat, bears an immortal
name--"GILET À LA ROBESPIERRE" being its awful designation; and the
extent of its wide-spreading lapels is held to be a criterion of the
expansive principles of the wearer. _Au reste_, a general air of grim
and savage blackguardism is all that is necessary to make up the
outward man of a republican of Paris in 1835.

But, oh! the grimaces by which I have seen human face distorted by
persons wearing this masquerading attire! Some roll their eyes and
knit their brows as if they would bully the whole universe; others fix
their dark glances on the ground in fearful meditation; while other
some there be who, while gloomily leaning against a statue or a tree,
throw such terrific meaning into their looks as might naturally be
interpreted into the language of the witches in Macbeth--

     "We must, we will--we must, we will
     Have much more blood,--and become worse,
     And become worse" ... &c. &c.

The three young men who had just passed us were exactly of this stamp.
Our legitimate friend looked after them and laughed heartily.

"C'est à nous autres, mon cher," said de L----, "to enjoy that sight.
You and yours would have but small reason to laugh at such as these,
if it were not the business of us and ours to take care that they
should do you no harm. You may thank the eighty thousand National
Guards of Paris for the pleasure of quizzing with such a complacent
feeling of security these very ferocious-looking persons."

"For that I thank them heartily," replied M. P----; "only I think the
business would have been quite as well done if those who performed it
had the right to do so."

"Bah! Have you not tried, and found you could make nothing of it?"

"I think not, my friend," replied the legitimatist: "we were doing
very well, and exerting ourselves to keep the unruly spirits in order,
when you stepped in, and promised all the naughty boys in Paris a
holiday if they would but make you master. They did make you
master--they have had their holiday, and now...."

"And now ..." said I, "what will come next?"

Both the gentlemen answered me at once.

"Riots," said the legitimatist.

"Good order," said the doctrinaire.

We proceeded in our walk, and having crossed the Pont Royal, kept
along the Quai Voltaire, to avoid the Rue du Bac; as we all agreed
that, notwithstanding Madame de Staël spoke so lovingly of it at a
distance, it was far from agreeable when near.

Were it not for a sort of English horror of standing before
shop-windows, the walking along that Quai Voltaire might occupy an
entire morning. From the first wide-spread display of "remarkable
people" for five sous apiece--and there are heads among them which
even in their rude lithography would repay some study--from this
five-sous gallery of fame to the entrance of the Rue de Seine, it is
an almost uninterrupted show;--books, old and new--rich, rare, and
worthless; engravings that may be classed likewise,--_articles
d'occasion_ of all sorts,--but, far above all the rest, the most
glorious museums of old carving and gilding, of monstrous chairs,
stupendous candlesticks, grotesque timepieces, and ornaments without a
name, that can be found in the world. It is here that the wealthy
fancier of the massive splendour of Louis Quinze comes with a full
purse, and it is hence that beyond all hope he departs with a light
one. The present royal family of France, it is said, profess a taste
for this princely but ponderous style of decoration; and royal
carriages are often seen to stop at the door of _magasins_ so
heterogeneous in their contents as to admit all titles excepting only
that of "_magasin de nouveautés_," but having at the first glance very
greatly the air of a pawnbroker's shop.

During this lounge along the Quai Voltaire, I saw for the first time
some marvellously uncomely portraits, with the names of each inscribed
below, and a running title for all, classing them _en masse_ as "_Les
Prévenus d'Avril_." If these be faithful portraits, the originals are
to be greatly pitied; for they seem by nature predestined to the evil
work they have been about. Every one of them looks

       "Worthy to be a rebel, for to that
     The multiplying villanies of nature
     Do swarm upon him."

It should seem that the materials for rebellion were in Shakspeare's
days much of the same kind as they are in ours. If these be portraits,
the originals need have no fear of the caricaturist before their
eyes--their "villanies of nature" could hardly be exaggerated; and I
should think that H. B. himself would try his pencil upon them in
vain.

On the subject which the examination of these _prévenus d'Avril_
naturally led to, our two French friends seemed to be almost entirely
of the same opinion; the legitimatist confessing that "any king was
better than none," and the doctrinaire declaring that he would rather
the country should have gone without the last revolution, glorious and
immortal as it was, than that it should be exposed to another,
especially such a one as MM. les Prévenus were about to prepare for
them.

Being arrived at _le quartier Latin_, we amused ourselves by
speculating upon the propensity manifested by very young men, who were
still subjected to restraint, for the overthrow and destruction of
everything that denotes authority or threatens discipline. Thus the
walls in this neighbourhood abounded with inscriptions to that effect;
"_A bas Philippe!_"--"_Les Pairs sont des assassins!_"--"_Vive la
République!_" and the like. Pears of every size and form, with
scratches signifying eyes, nose, and mouth, were to be seen in all
directions: which being interpreted, denotes the contempt of the
juvenile students for the reigning monarch. A more troublesome
evidence of this distaste for authority was displayed a few days ago
by four or five hundred of these disorderly young men, who assembling
themselves together, followed with hootings and shoutings M. Royer
Collard, a professor lately appointed by the government to the medical
school, from the college to his home in the Rue de Provence.

Upon all such occasions, this government, or any other, would do well
to follow the hint given them by an admirable manoeuvre of General
Lobau's, the commander-in-chief of the National Guard. I believe the
anecdote is very generally known; but, in the hope that you may not
have heard it, I will indulge myself by telling you the story, which
amused me infinitely; and it is better that I should run the risk of
your hearing it twice, than of your not hearing it at all.

A party of _les jeunes gens de Paris_, who were exerting themselves to
get up a little republican _émeute_, had assembled in considerable
numbers in the Place Vendôme. The drums beat--the commandant was
summoned and appeared. The young malcontents closed their ranks,
handled their pocket-knives and walking-sticks, and prepared to stand
firm. The general was seen to dismiss an aide-de-camp, and a few
anxious moments followed, when something looking fearfully like a
military engine appeared advancing from the Rue de la Paix. Was it
cannon?... A crowd of high-capped engineers surrounded it, as with
military order and address it wheeled about and approached the spot
where the rioters had formed their thickest phalanx. The word of
command was given, and in an instant the whole host were drenched to
their skins with water.

Many who saw this memorable rout, in which the laughing _pompiers_
followed with their leather pipes the scampering heroes, declare that
no military manoeuvre ever produced so rapid an evacuation of
troops. There is something in the tone and temper of this proceeding
of the National Guard which appears to me strikingly indicative of the
easy, quiet, contemptuous spirit in which these powerful guardians of
the existing government contemplate its republican enemies.

Having reached the Luxembourg and obtained admission to the gardens,
we again rested ourselves, that we might look about at our ease upon a
scene that was not only quite novel, but certainly very singular to
those who were accustomed to the ordinary aspect of the place.

In the midst of lilacs and roses an encampment of small white tents
showed their warlike fronts. Arms, drums, and all sorts of military
accoutrements were visible among them; while loitering troops, some
smoking, some reading, some sleeping, completed the unwonted
appearance of the scene.

It would have been impossible, I believe, in all France to have fixed
ourselves on a spot where our two French friends would have found so
many incitements to unity of opinion and feeling as this. Our
conversation, therefore, was not only very amicable, but ran some risk
of being dull from the mere want of contradiction; for to a hearty
conscientious condemnation of the proceedings which led to this trial
of the _prévenus d'Avril_ there was an unanimous sentence passed _nem.
con._ throughout the whole party.

M. de L---- gave us some anecdotes of one or two of the persons best
known among the prisoners; but upon being questioned respecting the
others, he burst out indignantly in the words of Corneille--

     ----"Le reste ne vaut pas l'honneur d'être nommé:
     Un tas d'hommes perdus de dettes et de crimes,
     Que pressent de nos loix les ordres légitimes,
     Et qui désespérant de les plus éviter,
     Si tout n'est renversé, ne sauraient subsister."

"Ben trovato!" exclaimed P----; "you could not have described them
better--but...."

This "but" would very probably have led to observations that might
have put our _belle harmonie_ out of tune, or at least have produced
the renewal of our peaceable sparring, had not a little bustle among
the trees at a short distance behind us cut short our session.

It seems that ever since the trials began, the chief duty of the
gendarmes--(I beg pardon, I should say, of _la Garde de Paris_)--has
been to prevent any assembling together of the people in knots for
conversation and gossipings in the courts and gardens of the
Luxembourg. No sooner are two or three persons observed standing
together, than a policeman approaches, and with a tone of command
pronounces, "Circulez, messieurs!--circulez, s'il vous plaît." The
reason for this precaution is, that nightly at the Porte St. Martin a
few score of _jeunes gens_ assemble to make a very idle and unmeaning
noise, the echo of which regularly runs from street to street till the
reiterated report amounts to the announcement of an _émeute_. We are
all now so used to these harmless little _émeutes_ at the Porte St.
Martin, that we mind them no more than General Lobau himself:
nevertheless, it is deemed proper, trumpery as the cause may be, to
prevent anything like a gathering together of the mob in the vicinity
of the Luxembourg, lest the same hundred-tongued lady who constantly
magnifies the hootings of a few idle mechanics into an _émeute_ should
spread a report throughout France that the Luxembourg was besieged by
the people. The noise which had disturbed us was occasioned by the
gathering together of about a dozen persons; but a policeman was in
the midst of the group, and we heard rumours of an _arrestation_. In
less than five minutes, however, everything was quiet again: but we
marked two figures so picturesque in their republicanism, that we
resumed our seats while a sketch was made from them, and amused
ourselves the while in fancying what the ominous words could be that
were so cautiously exchanged between them. M. de L---- said that there
could be no doubt that they ran thus:

"Ce soir, à la Porte St. Martin!"

_Answer._--"J'y serai."

  [Illustration: Drawn & Etched by A. Hervieu.
   "CE SOIR À LA PORTE ST. MARTIN!"
   "J'Y SERAI."
   London, Published by Richard Bentley, 1836.]



LETTER XXV.

      Chapelle Expiatoire.--Devotees seen there.--Tri-coloured flag
      out of place there.--Flower Market of the Madeleine.--Petites
      Maîtresses.


Of all the edifices finished in Paris since my last visit, there is
not one which altogether pleases me better than the little "Chapelle
Expiatoire" erected in memory of Louis the Sixteenth, and his
beautiful but ill-starred queen.

This monument was planned and in part executed by Louis the
Eighteenth, and finished by Charles the Tenth. It stands upon the spot
where many butchered victims of the tyrant mob were thrown in 1793.
The story of the royal bodies having been destroyed by quicklime is
said to have been fabricated and circulated for the purpose of
preventing any search after them, which might, it was thought, have
produced a dangerous reaction of feeling among the whim-governed
populace.

These bodies, and several others, which were placed in coffins, and
inscribed with the names of the murdered occupants, lay buried
together for many years after the revolution in a large _chantier_,
or wood-yard, at no great distance from the place of execution.

That this spot had been excavated for the purpose of receiving these
sad relics, is a fact well known, and it was never lost sight of from
the terrible period at which the ground was so employed; but the
unseemly vault continued undisturbed till after the restoration, when
the bodies of the royal victims were sought and found. Their bones
were then conveyed to the long-hallowed shrine of St. Denis; but the
spot where the mangled remains were first thrown was consecrated, and
is now become the site of this beautiful little Chapelle Expiatoire.

The enclosure in which this building stands is of considerable extent,
reaching from the Rue de l'Arcade to the Rue d'Anjou. This space is
lined with closely-planted rows of cypress-trees on every side, which
are protected by a massive railing, neatly painted. The building
itself and all its accompaniments are in excellent taste; simple,
graceful, and solemn.

The interior is a small Greek cross, each extremity of which is
finished by a semicircle surmounted by a semi-dome. The space beneath
the central dome is occupied by chairs and benches covered with
crimson velvet, for the use of the faithful--in every sense--who come
to attend the mass which is daily performed there.

As long as the daughter of the murdered monarch continued to reside in
Paris, no morning ever passed without her coming to offer up her
prayers at this expiatory shrine.

One of the four curved extremities is occupied by the altar; that
opposite to it, by the entrance; and those on either side, by two
well-composed and impressive groups in white marble--that to the right
of the altar representing Marie Antoinette bending beside a cross
supported by an angel,--and that to the left, the felon-murdered
monarch whose wretched and most unmerited destiny she shared. On the
pedestal of the king's statue is inscribed his will; on that of the
queen, her farewell letter to the Princess Elizabeth.

Nothing can exceed the chaste delicacy of the few ornaments admitted
into the chapel. They consist only, I think, of golden candlesticks,
placed in niches in the white marble walls. The effect of the whole is
beautiful and impressive.

I often go there; yet I can hardly understand what the charm can be in
the little building itself, or in the quiet mass performed there
without music, which can so attract me. It is at no great distance
from our apartments in the Rue de Provence, and a walk thither just
occupies the time before breakfast. I once went there on a Sunday
morning with some of my family; but then it was full--indeed so
crowded, that it was impossible to see across the building, or feel
the beauty of its elegant simplicity. The pale figures of the royal
dead, the foully murdered, were no longer the principal objects; and
though I have no doubt that all present were right loyal spirits, with
whose feelings I am well enough disposed to sympathise, yet I could
not read each saddened brow, and attach a romance to it, as I never
fail to do during my week-day visits.

There are two ladies, for example, whom I constantly see there, ever
in the same place, and ever in the same attitude. The elder of these I
feel perfectly sure must have passed her youth near Marie Antoinette,
for it is at the foot of her statue that she kneels--or I might almost
say that she prostrates herself, for she throws her arms forward on a
cushion that is placed before her, and suffers her aged head to fall
upon them, in a manner that speaks more sorrow than I can describe.
The young girl who always accompanies and kneels beside her may, I
think, be her granddaughter. They have each of them "_Gentlewoman
born_" written on every feature, in characters not to be mistaken. The
old lady is very pale, and the young one looks as if she were not
passing a youth of gaiety and enjoyment.

There is a grey-headed old man, too, who is equally constant in his
attendance at this melancholy chapel. He might sit as a model for a
portrait of _le bon vieux temps_; but he has a stern though sad
expression of countenance, which seems to be exactly a masculine
modification of what is passing at the heart and in the memory of the
old lady at the opposite side of the chapel. These are figures which
send the thoughts back for fifty years; and seen in the act of
assisting at a mass for the souls of Louis Seize and his queen,
produce a powerful effect on the imagination.

I have ventured to describe this melancholy spot, and what I have seen
there, the more particularly because, easy as it is of access, you
might go to Paris a dozen times without seeing it, as in fact hundreds
of English travellers do. One reason for this is, that it is not
opened to the public gaze as a show, but can only be entered during
the hour of prayer, which is inconveniently early in the day.

As this sad and sacred edifice cannot justly be considered as a public
building, the elevation of the tri-coloured flag upon it every
fête-day might, I think, have been spared.

Another, and a very different novelty, is the new flower-market, that
is now kept under the walls and columns of the majestic church of La
Madeleine. This beautiful collection of flowers appears to me to
produce from its situation a very singular effect: the relative
attributes of art and nature are reversed;--for here, art seems
sublime, vast, and enduring; while nature is small, fragile, and
perishing.

It has sometimes happened to me, after looking at a work of art which
raised my admiration to enthusiasm, that I have next sought some
marvellous combination of mountain and valley, rock and river, forest
and cataract, and felt as I gazed on them something like shame at
remembering how nearly I had suffered the work of man to produce an
equal ecstasy. But here, when I raised my eyes from the little flimsy
crowd of many-coloured blossoms to the simple, solemn pomp of that
long arcade, with its spotless purity of tint and its enduring majesty
of graceful strength, I felt half inclined to scorn myself and those
around me for being so very much occupied by the roses, pinks, and
mignonette spread out before it.

Laying aside, however, all philosophical reflections on its locality,
this new flower-market is a delightful acquisition to the Parisian
_petite maîtresse_. It was a long expedition to visit the _marché aux
fleurs_ on the distant quay near Notre Dame; and though its beauty and
its fragrance might well repay an hour or two stolen from the pillow,
the sweet decorations it offered to the boudoir must have been oftener
selected by the _maître d'hôtel_ or the _femme de chambre_ than by the
fair lady herself. But now, three times in the week we may have the
pleasure of seeing numbers of graceful females in that piquant species
of dishabille, which, uniting an equal portion of careful coquetry
and saucy indifference, gives to the morning attire of a pretty,
elegant, Frenchwoman, an air so indescribably attractive.

Followed by a neat _soubrette_, such figures may now be often seen in
the flower-market of the Madeleine before the brightness of the
morning has faded either from their eyes, or the blossoms they so love
to gaze upon. The most ordinary linen gown, made in the form of a
wrapper--the hair _en papillote_--the plain straw-bonnet drawn forward
over the eyes, and the vast shawl enveloping the whole figure, might
suffice to make many an _élégante_ pace up and down the fragrant alley
incognita, did not the observant eye remark that a veil of rich lace
secured the simple bonnet under the chin--that the shawl was of
cashmere--and that the little hand, when ungloved to enjoy the touch
of a myrtle or an orange blossom, was as white as either.



LETTER XXVI.

      Delicacy in France and in England.--Causes of the difference
      between them.


There is nothing perhaps which marks the national variety of manners
between the French and the English more distinctly than the different
estimate they form of what is delicate or indelicate, modest or
immodest, decent or indecent: nor does it appear to me that all the
intimacy of intercourse which for the last twenty years has subsisted
between the two nations has greatly lessened this difference.

Nevertheless, I believe that it is more superficial than many suppose
it to be; and that it arises rather from contingent circumstances,
than from any original and native difference in the capability of
refinement in the two nations.

Among the most obvious of these varieties of manner, is the astounding
freedom with which many things are alluded to here in good society,
the slightest reference to which is in our country banished from even
the most homely class. It seems that the opinion of Martine is by no
means peculiar to herself, and that it is pretty generally thought
that

      "Quand on se fait entendre, on parle toujours bien."

In other ways, too, it is impossible not to allow that there exists in
France a very perceptible want of refinement as compared to England.
No Englishman, I believe, has ever returned from a visit to Paris
without adding his testimony to this fact; and notwithstanding the
Gallomania so prevalent amongst us, all acknowledge that, however
striking may be the elegance and grace of the higher classes, there is
still a national want of that uniform delicacy so highly valued by all
ranks, above the very lowest, with us. Sights are seen and
inconveniences endured with philosophy, which would go nigh to rob us
of our wits in July, and lead us to hang ourselves in November.

To a fact so well known, and so little agreeable in the detail of its
examination, it would be worse than useless to draw your attention,
were it not that there is something curious in tracing the manner in
which different circumstances, seemingly unconnected, do in reality
hang together and form a whole.

The time certainly has been, when it was the fashion in England, as it
is now in France, to call things, as some one coarsely expresses it,
_by their right names_; very grave proof of which might be found even
in sermons--and from thence downwards through treatises, essays,
poems, romances, and plays.

Were we indeed to form our ideas of the tone of conversation in
England a century ago from the familiar colloquy found in the comedies
then written and acted, we must acknowledge that we were at that time
at a greater distance from the refinement we now boast, than our
French neighbours are at present.

I do not here refer to licentiousness of morals, or the coarse avowal
of it; but to a species of indelicacy which might perhaps have been
quite compatible with virtue, as the absence of it is unhappily no
security against vice.

The remedy of this has proceeded, if I mistake not, from causes much
more connected with the luxurious wealth of England, than with the
severity of her virtue. You will say, perhaps, that I have started off
to an immense distance from the point whence I set out; but I think
not--for both in France and England I find abundant reason to believe
that I am right in tracing this remarkable difference between the two
countries, less to natural disposition or character, than to the
accidental facilities for improvement possessed by the one people, and
not by the other.

It would be very easy to ascertain, by reference to the various
literary records I have named, that the improvement in English
delicacy has been gradual, and in very just proportion to the
increase of her wealth, and the fastidious keeping out of sight of
everything that can in any way annoy the senses.

When we cease to hear, see, and smell things which are disagreeable,
it is natural that we should cease to speak of them; and it is, I
believe, quite certain that the English take more pains than any other
people in the world that the senses--those conductors of sensation
from the body to the soul--shall convey to the spirit as little
disagreeable intelligence of what befalls the case in which it dwells,
as possible. The whole continent of Europe, with the exception of some
portion of Holland perhaps, (which shows a brotherly affinity to us in
many things,) might be cited for its inferiority to England in this
respect. I remember being much amused last year, when landing at
Calais, at the answer made by an old traveller to a novice who was
making his first voyage.

"What a dreadful smell!" said the uninitiated stranger, enveloping his
nose in his pocket-handkerchief.

"It is the smell of the continent, sir," replied the man of
experience. And so it was.

There are parts of this subject which it is quite impossible to dwell
upon, and which unhappily require no pen to point them out to notice.
These, if it were possible, I would willingly leave more in the dark
than I find them. But there are other circumstances, all arising from
the comparative poverty of the people, which tend to produce, with a
most obvious dependency of thing on thing, that deficiency of
refinement of which I am speaking.

Let any one examine the interior construction of a Paris dwelling of
the middle class, and compare it to a house prepared for occupants of
the same rank in London. It so happens that everything appertaining to
decoration is to be had _à bon marché_ at Paris, and we therefore find
every article of the ornamental kind almost in profusion. Mirrors,
silk hangings, or-molu in all forms; china vases, alabaster lamps, and
timepieces, in which the onward step that never returns is marked with
a grace and prettiness that conceals the solemnity of its pace,--all
these are in abundance; and the tenth part of what would be considered
necessary to dress up a common lodging in Paris, would set the London
fine lady in this respect upon an enviable elevation above her
neighbours.

But having admired their number and elegant arrangement, pass on and
enter the ordinary bed-rooms--nay, enter the kitchens too, or you will
not be able to judge how great the difference is between the two
residences.

In London, up to the second floor, and often to the third, water is
forced, which furnishes an almost unlimited supply of that luxurious
article, to be obtained with no greater trouble to the servants than
would be required to draw it from a tea-urn. In one kitchen of every
house, generally in two, and often in three, the same accommodation is
found; and when, in opposition to this, it is remembered that very
nearly every family in Paris receives this precious gift of nature
doled out by two buckets at a time, laboriously brought to them by
porters, clambering in _sabots_, often up the same stairs which lead
to their drawing-rooms, it can hardly be supposed that the use of it
is as liberal and unrestrained as with us.

Against this may be placed fairly enough the cheapness and facility of
the access to the public baths. But though personal ablutions may thus
be very satisfactorily performed by those who do not rigorously
require that every personal comfort should be found at home, yet still
the want of water, or any restraint upon the freedom with which it is
used, is a vital impediment to that perfection of neatness, in every
part of the establishment, which we consider as so necessary to our
comfort.

Much as I admire the Church of the Madeleine, I conceive that the city
of Paris would have been infinitely more benefited, had the sums
expended upon it been used for the purpose of constructing pipes for
the conveyance of water to private dwellings, than by all the
splendour received from the beauty of this imposing structure.

But great and manifold as are the evils entailed by the scarcity of
water in the bed-rooms and kitchens of Paris, there is another
deficiency greater still, and infinitely worse in its effects. The
want of drains and sewers is the great defect of all the cities in
France; and a tremendous defect it is. That people who from their
first breath of life have been obliged to accustom their senses and
submit without a struggle to the sufferings this evil entails upon
them,--that people so circumstanced should have less refinement in
their thoughts and words than ourselves, I hold to be natural and
inevitable. Thus, you see, I have come round like a preacher to his
text, and have explained, as I think, very satisfactorily, what I mean
by saying that the indelicacy which so often offends us in France does
not arise from any natural coarseness of mind, but is the unavoidable
result of circumstances, which may, and doubtless will change, as the
wealth of the country and its familiarity with the manners of England
increases.

This withdrawing from the perception of the senses everything that can
annoy them,--this lulling of the spirit by the absence of whatever
might awaken it to a sensation of pain,--is probably the last point to
which the ingenuity of man can reach in its efforts to embellish
existence.

The search after pleasure and amusement certainly betokens less
refinement than this sedulous care to avoid annoyance; and it may be,
that as we have gone farthest of all modern nations in this tender
care of ourselves, so may we be the first to fall from our delicate
elevation into that receptacle of things past and gone which has
engulfed old Greece and Rome. Is it thus that the Reform Bill, and all
the other horrible Bills in its train, are to be interpreted?

As to that other species of refinement which belongs altogether to the
intellect, and which, if less obvious to a passing glance, is more
deep and permanent in its dye than anything which relates to manners
only, it is less easy either to think or to speak with confidence.
France and England both have so long a list of mighty names that may
be quoted on either side to prove their claim to rank high as literary
contributors to refinement, that the struggle as to which ranks
highest can only be fairly settled by both parties agreeing that each
country has a fair right to prefer what they have produced themselves.
But, alas! at the present moment, neither can have great cause to
boast. What is good, is overpowered and stifled by what is bad. The
uncontrolled press of both countries has thrown so much abominable
trash upon literature during the last few years, that at present it
might be difficult to say whether general reading would be most
dangerous to the young and the pure in England or in France.

That the Hugo school has brought more nonsense with its mischief, is,
I think, clear: but it is not impossible that this may act as an
antidote to its own poison. It is a sort of humbug assumption of
talent which will pass out of fashion as quickly as Morrison's pills.
We have nothing quite so silly as this; but much I fear that, as it
concerns our welfare as a nation, we have what is more deeply
dangerous.

As to what is moral and what is not so, plain as at first sight the
question seems to be, there is much that is puzzling in it. In looking
over a volume of "Adèle et Théodore" the other day,--a work written
expressly "_sur l'éducation_," and by an author that we must presume
meant honestly and spoke sincerely,--I found this passage:--

"Je ne connais que trois romans véritablement moraux;--Clarisse, le
plus beau de tous; Grandison, et Pamela. Ma fille les lira en Anglais
lorsqu'elle aura dix-huit ans."

The venerable Grandison, though by no means _sans tache_, I will let
pass: but that any mother should talk of letting her daughter of
"dix-huit ans" read the others, is a mystery difficult to comprehend,
especially in a country where the young girls are reared, fostered,
and sheltered from every species of harm, with the most incessant and
sedulous watchfulness. I presume that Madame de Genlis conceived that,
as the object and moral purpose of these works were good, the
revolting coarseness with which some of their most powerful passages
are written could not lead to evil. But this is a bold and dangerous
judgment to pass when the question relates to the studies of a young
girl.

I think we may see symptoms of the feeling which would produce such a
judgment, in the tone of biting satire with which Molière attacks
those who wished to banish what might "faire insulte à la pudeur des
femmes." Spoken as he makes Philaminte speak it, we cannot fail to
laugh at the notion: yet ridicule on the same subject would hardly be
accepted, even from Sheridan, as jesting matter with us.

     "Mais le plus beau projet de notre académie,
     Une entreprise noble, et dont je suis ravie,
     Un dessein plein de gloire, et qui sera vanté
     Chez tous les beaux-esprits de la postérité,
     C'est le retranchement de ces syllabes sales
     Qui dans les plus beaux mots produisent des scandales;
     Ces jouets éternels des sots de tous les temps,
     Ces fades lieux communs de nos méchans plaisans;
     Ces sources d'un amas d'équivoques infâmes
     Dont on vient faire insulte à la pudeur des femmes."

Such an academy might be a very comical institution, certainly; but
the duties it would have to perform would not suffer a professor's
place to become a sinecure in France.



LETTER XXVII.

      Objections to quoting the names of private
      individuals.--Impossibility of avoiding Politics.--_Parceque_
      and _Quoique_.--Soirée Antithestique.


It would be a pleasure to me to give you the names of many persons
with whom I have become acquainted in Paris, and I should like to
describe exactly the _salons_ in which I met them; but a whole host of
proprieties forbid this. Where individuals are so well known to fame
as to render the echoing of their names a matter of ordinary
recurrence, I can of course feel no scruple in repeating the echo--one
reverberation more can do no harm: but I will never be the first to
name any one, either for praise or for blame, beyond the sanctuary of
their own circle.

I must therefore restrict myself to the giving you the best general
idea I can of the tone and style of what I have seen and heard; and if
I avail myself of the conversations I have listened to, it shall be in
such a manner as to avoid the slightest approach to personal allusion.

This necessary restraint, however, is not submitted to without
regret: it must rob much of what I would wish to repeat of the value
of authority; and when I consider how greatly at variance my
impressions are on many points to some which have been publicly
proclaimed by others, I feel that I deserve some praise for
suppressing names which would stamp my statements with a value that
neither my unsupported assertions, nor those of any other traveller,
can be supposed to bear. Those who best know what I lose by this will
give me credit for it; and I shall be sufficiently rewarded for my
forbearance if it afford them a proof that I am not unworthy the
flattering kindness I have received.

We all declare ourselves sick of politics, and a woman's letters, at
least, ought if possible to be free from this wearily pervading
subject: but the describing a human being, and omitting to mention the
heart and the brain, would not leave the analysis more defective, than
painting the Parisians at this moment without permitting their
politics to appear in the picture.

The very air they breathe is impregnated with politics. Were all words
expressive of party distinctions to be banished from their
language--were the curse of Babel to fall upon them, and no man be
able to discourse with his neighbour,--still political feeling would
find itself an organ whereby to express its workings. One man would
wear a pointed hat, another a flat one; one woman would be girt with
a tri-coloured sash, and another with a white one. Some exquisites
would be closely buttoned to the chin, while the lapels of others
would open wide in all the expansive freedom of republican
unrestraint. One set would be seen adorning Napoleon's pillar with
trophies; another, prostrate before the altar of the elder Bourbon's
monumental chapel; a third, marshalling themselves under the bloody
banner of Robespierre to the tune of "Dansons la Carmagnole;" whilst a
fourth, by far the most numerous, would be brushing their national
uniforms, attending to their prosperous shops, and giving a nod of
good-fellowship every time his majesty the king passes by.

Some friends of mine entered a shop the other day to order some
article of furniture. While they remained there, a royal carriage
passed, and one of the party said--

"It is the queen, I believe?"

"Yes, sir," replied the _ébéniste_, "it is the lady that it pleases us
to call the queen. We may certainly call her so if we like it, for we
made her ourselves; and if we find it does not answer, we shall make
another.--May I send you home this table, sir?..."

When politics are thus lightly mixed up with all things, how can the
subject be wholly avoided without destroying the power of describing
anything as we find it?

Such being the case, I cannot promise that all allusion to the
subject shall be banished from my letters; but it shall be made as
little predominant as possible. Could I indeed succeed in transferring
the light tone in which these weighty matters are generally discussed
to the account I wish to give you of them, I need not much fear that I
should weary you.

Whether it be essentially in the nature of the people, or only a
transitory feature of the times, I know not; but nothing strikes me so
forcibly as the airy, gay indifference with which subjects are
discussed on which hang the destinies of the world. The most
acute--nay, often the most profound remarks are uttered in a tone of
badinage; and the probabilities of future events, vital to the
interests of France, and indeed of Europe, are calculated with as idle
an air, and with infinitely more _sang froid_, than the chances at a
game of _rouge et noir_.

Yet, behind this I suspect that there is a good deal of sturdy
determination in all parties, and it will be long ere France can be
considered as one whole and united people. Were the country divided
into two, instead of into three factions, it is probable that the
question of which was to prevail would be soon brought to an issue;
but as it is, they stand much like the uncles and nieces in the
Critic, each keeping the other two in check.

Meanwhile this temporary division of strength is unquestionably very
favourable to the present government; in addition to which, they
derive much security from the averseness which all feel, excepting the
naughty boys and hungry desperadoes, to the disturbance of their
present tranquillity. It is evident that those who do not belong to
the triumphant majority are disposed for the most part to wait a more
favourable opportunity of hostilely and openly declaring themselves;
and it is probable that they will wait long. They know well, and are
daily reminded of it, that all the power and all the strength that
possession can give are vested in the existing dynasty; and though
much deeply-rooted feeling exists that is inimical to it, yet so many
of all parties are firmly united to prevent farther anarchy and
revolution, that the throne of Louis-Philippe perhaps rests on as
solid a foundation as that of any monarch in Europe: the fear of
renewed tumult acts like the key-stone of an arch, keeping firm,
sound, and in good condition, what would certainly fall to pieces
without it.

In addition to this wholesome fear of pulling their own dwellings
about their ears, there is also another fear that aids greatly in
producing the same result. Many of the riotous youths who so
essentially assisted in creating the confusion which ended in
uncrowning one king and crowning another, are, as far as I can
understand, quite as well disposed to make a row now as they were
then: but they know that if they do, they will most incontestably be
whipped for it; and therefore, though they pout a little in private,
they are, generally speaking, very orderly in public. Every one, not
personally interested in the possible result of another uproar, must
rejoice at this improvement in discipline. The boys of France must now
submit to give way before her men; and as long as this lasts,
something like peace and prosperity may be hoped for.

Yet it cannot be denied, I think, that among these prudent men--these
doctrinaires who now hold the high places, there are many who, "with
high thoughts, such as Lycurgus loved," still dream of a commonwealth;
or that there are others who have not yet weaned their waking thoughts
from meditations on faith, right, and loyalty. But nevertheless, all
unite in thinking that they had better "let things be," than risk
making them worse.

Nothing is more common than to hear a conversation end by a cordial
and unanimous avowal of this prudent and sagacious sentiment, which
began by an examination of general principles, and the frank
acknowledgment of opinions which would certainly lead to a very
different conclusion.

It is amusing enough to remark how these advocates for expediency
contrive each of them to find reasons why things had better remain as
they are, while all these reasons are strongly tinted by their various
opinions.

"Charles Dix," says a legitimate in principle, but a _juste-milieu_
man in practice,--"Charles Dix has abdicated the throne, which
otherwise must unquestionably be his by indefeasible right. His
heir-apparent has followed the example. The country was in no state to
be governed by a child; and what then was left for us, but to take a
king from the same race which so for many ages has possessed the
throne of France. _Louis-Philippe est roi, PARCEQU'il est Bourbon_."

"Pardonnez-moi," replies another, who, if he could manage it without
disturbing the tranquillity about him, would take care to have it
understood that nothing more legitimate than an elective monarchy
could be ever permitted in France,--"Pardonnez-moi, mon ami;
_Louis-Philippe est roi, QUOIQU'il est Bourbon_."

These two parties of the _Parceques_ and the _Quoiques_, in fact, form
the great bulwarks of King Philippe's throne; for they both consist of
experienced, practical, substantial citizens, who having felt the
horrors of anarchy, willingly keep their particular opinions in
abeyance rather than hazard a recurrence of it. They, in truth, form
between them the genuine _juste-milieu_ on which the present
government is balanced.

That there is more of the practical wisdom of expediency than of the
dignity of unbending principle in this party, can hardly be denied.
They are "wiser in their generation than the children of light;" but
it is difficult, "seeing what we have seen, seeing what we see," to
express any heavy sentence of reprobation upon a line of conduct which
ensures, for the time at least, the lives and prosperity of millions.
They tell me that my friend the Vicomte has sapped my legitimate
principles; but I deny the charge, though I cannot deliberately wish
that confusion should take the place of order, or that the desolation
of a civil war should come to deface the aspect of prosperity that it
is so delightful to contemplate.

This discrepancy between what is right and what is convenient--this
wavering of principle and of action, is the inevitable consequence of
repeated political convulsions. When the times become out of joint,
the human mind can with difficulty remain firm and steadfast. The
inconceivable variety of wild and ever-changing speculations which
have long overborne the voice of established belief and received
authority in this country, has brought the principles of the people
into a state greatly resembling that of a wheel radiated with every
colour of the rainbow, but which by rapid movement is left apparently
without any colour at all.

Our last _soirée_ was at the house of a lady who takes much interest
in showing me "le Paris d'aujourd'hui," as she calls it. "Chère dame!"
she exclaimed as I entered, "I have collected _une société délicieuse_
for you this evening."

She had met me in the ante-room, and, taking my arm within hers, led
me into the _salon_. It was already filled with company, the majority
of which were gentlemen. Having found room for us on a sofa, and
seated herself next to me, she said--

"I will present whomsoever you choose to know; but before I bring
anybody up, I must explain who they all are."

I expressed my gratitude, and she began:--"That tall gentleman is a
great republican, and one of the most respectable that we have left of
the _clique_. The party is very nearly worn out among the _gens comme
il faut_. His father, however, is of the same party, and still more
violent, I believe, than himself. Heaven knows what they would be
at!... But they are both deputies, and if they died to-morrow, would
have, either father or son, a very considerable mob to follow them to
Père Lachaise; not to mention the absolute necessity which I am sure
there would be to have troops out: c'est toujours quelque chose,
n'est-ce pas? I know that you hate them all--and, to say truth, so do
I too;--mais, chère amie! qu'est-ce que cela fait? I thought you would
like to see them: they really begin to get very scarce in _salons_."

I assured her that she was quite right, and that nothing in the whole
Jardin des Plantes could amuse me better.

"Ah ça!" she rejoined, laughing; "voilà ce que c'est d'être
raisonnable. Mais regardez ce beau garçon leaning against the
chimneypiece. He is one of _les fidèles sans tache_. Is he not
handsome? I have him at all my parties; and even the ministers' ladies
declare that he is perfectly charming."

"And that little odd-looking man in black," said I, "who is he?...
What a contrast!"

"N'est-ce pas? Do they not group well together? That is just the sort
of thing I like--it amuses everybody: besides, I assure you, he is a
very remarkable person,--in short, it is M----, the celebrated
atheist. He writes for the ----. But the Institute won't have him:
however, he is excessively talked of--and that is everything.... Then
I have two peers, both of them highly distinguished. There is M. de
----, who, you know, is King Philippe's right hand; and the gentleman
sitting down just behind him is the dear old Duc de ----, who lived
ages in exile with Louis Dix-huit.... That person almost at your
elbow, talking to the lady in blue, is the Comte de P----, a most
exemplary Catholic, who always followed Charles Dix in all religious
processions. He was half distracted, poor man! at the last revolution;
but they say he is going to dine with King Philippe next week: I long
to ask him if it is true, but I am afraid, for fear he should be
obliged to answer 'Yes;'--that would be so embarrassing!... Oh, by the
way, that is a peer that you are looking at now;--he has refused to
sit on the trial.... Now, have I not done _l'impossible_ for you?"

I thanked her gratefully, and as I knew I could not please her better
than by showing the interest I took in her menagerie, I inquired the
name of a lady who was talking with a good deal of vehemence at the
opposite side of the room.

"Oh! that's a person that I always call my '_dame de l'Empire_.' Her
husband was one of Napoleon's creations; and Josephine used to amuse
herself without ceasing by making her talk--her language and accent
are _impayables_!"

"And that pretty woman in the corner?"

"Ah! ... she is charming!... It is Madame V----, daughter of the
celebrated Vicomte de ----, so devoted, you know, to the royal cause.
But she is lately married to one of the present ministers--quite a
love-match; which is an innovation, by the way, more hard to pardon in
France than the introduction of a new dynasty. Mais c'est égal--they
are all very good friends again.... Now, tell me whom I shall
introduce to you?"

I selected the heroine of the love-match; who was not only one of the
prettiest creatures I ever saw, but so lively, intelligent, and
agreeable, that I have seldom passed a pleasanter hour than that which
followed the introduction. The whole of this heterogeneous party
seemed to mix together with the greatest harmony; the only cold glance
I saw given being from the gentleman designated as "King Philippe's
right hand," towards the tall republican deputy of whose funeral my
friend had predicted such honours. The _dame de l'Empire_ was
indulging in a lively flirtation with one of the peers _sans tache_;
and I saw the fingers of the exemplary Catholic, who was going to dine
with King Philippe, in the _tabatière_ of the celebrated atheist. I
then remembered that this was one of the _soirées antithestiques_ so
much in fashion.



LETTER XXVIII.

      New Publications.--M. de Lamartine's "Souvenirs, Impressions,
      Pensées, et Paysages."--Tocqueville and Beaumont.--New
      American regulation.--M. Scribe.--Madame Tastu.--Reception of
      different Writers in society.


Though among the new publications sent to me for perusal I have found
much to fatigue and disgust me, as must indeed be inevitable for any
one accustomed for some scores of years to nourish the heart and head
with the literature of the "_bon vieux temps_"--which means, in modern
phrase, everything musty, rusty, rococo, and forgotten,--I have yet
found some volumes which have delighted me greatly.

M. de Lamartine's "Souvenirs, Impressions, Pensées, et Paysages" in
the East, is a work which appears to me to stand solitary and alone in
the world of letters. There is certainly nothing like it, and very
little that can equal it, in my estimation, either as a collection of
written landscapes or as a memorial of poetical feeling, just
sentiment, and refined taste.

His descriptions may perhaps have been, in some rare instances,
equalled in mere graphic power by others; but who has painted anything
which can excite an interest so profound, or an elevation of the fancy
so lofty and so delightful?

Alas! that the scenes he paints should be so utterly beyond one's
reach! How little, how paltry, how full of the vulgar interests of
this "working-day world," do all the other countries of the earth
appear after reading this book, when compared to Judea! But there are
few who could visit it as Lamartine has done,--there are very few
capable of feeling as he felt--and none, I think, of describing as he
describes. His words live and glow upon the paper; he pours forth
sunshine and orient light upon us,--we hear the gale whispering among
the palm-trees, see Jordan's rapid stream rushing between its flowery
banks, and feel that the scene to which he has transported us is holy
ground.

The exalted tone of his religious feelings, and the poetic fervour
with which he expresses them, might almost lead one to believe that he
was inspired by the sacred air he breathed. It seems as if he had
found the harps which were hung up of old upon the trees, and tuned
them anew to sing of the land of David; he has "beheld the beauty of
the Lord, and inquired in his temple," and the result is exactly what
it should be.

The manner in which this most poetic of travellers, while standing on
the ruins of Tyre, speaks of the desolation and despair that appear
settling upon the earth in these latter days, is impressive beyond
anything I know of modern date.

Had France produced no other redeeming volumes than these, there is
enough within them to overpower and extinguish the national literary
disgrace with which it has been reproached so loudly; and it is a
comfort to remember that this work is as sure to live, as the literary
labours of the diabolic school are to perish. It is perhaps good for
us to read trash occasionally, that we may learn to value at their
worth such thoughts as we find here; and while there are any left on
earth who can so think, so feel, and so write, our case is not utterly
hopeless.

Great, indeed, is the debt that we owe to an author like this, who,
seizing upon the imagination with power unlimited, leads it only into
scenes that purify and exalt the spirit. It is a tremendous power,
that of taking us how and where he will, which is possessed by such an
author as this. When it is used for evil, it resembles fearfully the
action of a fiend, tempting, dragging, beckoning, cajoling to
destruction: but when it is for good, it is like an angel's hand
leading us to heaven.

I intended to have spoken to you of many other works which have
pleased me; but I really at this moment experience the strangest sort
of embarrassment imaginable in referring to them. Many agreeable new
books are lying about before me; but while my head is so full of
Lamartine and the Holy Land, everything seems to produce on me the
effect of platitude and littleness.

I must, however, conquer this so far as to tell you that you ought to
read both Tocqueville and Beaumont on the United States. By the way, I
am assured that the Americans declare themselves determined to change
their line of conduct altogether respecting the national manner of
receiving European sketches of themselves. This new law is to embrace
three clauses. The first will enforce the total exclusion, from
henceforth and for evermore, of all European strangers from their
American homes; the second will recommend that all citizens shall
abstain from reading anything, in any language written, or about to be
written, concerning them and their affairs; and the third, in case the
other two should fail, seems to take the form of a vow, protesting
that they never will storm, rave, scold, or care about anything that
anybody can say of them more. If this passes during the presidentship
of General Jackson, it will immortalize his reign more than paying off
the national debt.

Having thus, somehow or other, slipped from the Holy Land to the
United States of America, I feel sufficiently subdued in spirit to
speak of lesser things than Lamartine's "Pilgrimage."

On one point, indeed, a sense of justice urges me, when on the subject
of modern productions, to warn you against the error of supposing that
all the new theatrical pieces, which come forth here as rapidly and as
brilliantly as the blossoms of the gum cistus, and which fade almost
as soon, are of the nature and tendency of those I have mentioned as
belonging to the Victor Hugo school. On the contrary, I have seen
many, and read more, of these little comedies and vaudevilles, which
are not only free from every imputation of mischief, but absolutely
perfect in their kind.

The person whose name is celebrated far above all others for this
species of composition, is M. Scribe; and were it not that his
extraordinary facility enables him to pour forth these pretty trifles
in such abundance as already to have assured him a very large fortune,
which offers an excellent excuse in these _positif_ times for him, I
should say that he would have done better had he written less.

He has shown on several occasions, as in "L'Ambitieux," "Bertrand et
Raton," &c. that he can succeed in that most difficult of tasks, good
legitimate comedy, as well as in the lighter labour of striking off a
sparkling vaudeville. It is certain, indeed, that, spite of all we
say, and say in some respects so justly, respecting the corrupted
taste of France at the present era, there never was a time when her
stage could boast a greater affluence of delightful little pieces than
at present.

I really am afraid to enter more at large upon this theme, from a
literal _embarras de richesses_. If I begin to name these pretty,
lively trifles, I shall run into a list much too long for your
patience: for though Scribe is still the favourite as well as the most
fertile source of these delightful novelties, there are one or two
others who follow him at some little distance, and who amongst them
produce such a sum total of new pieces in the year as would make an
English manager tremble to think of;--but here the chief cost of
bringing them out is drawn, not from the theatrical treasury, but from
the ever-fresh wit and spirit of the performers.

Such an author as Scribe is a national museum of invention--a
never-failing source of new enjoyment to his lively countrymen, and he
has probably tasted the pleasures of a bright and lasting reputation
as fully as any author living. We are already indebted to him for many
charming importations; and, thanks to the Yates talent, we begin to be
not unworthy of receiving such. If we cannot have Shakspeare, Racine,
and Molière got up for us quite "in the grand style of former years,"
these bright, light, biting, playful, graceful little pieces are by
far the best substitutes for them, while we wait with all the patience
we can for a new growth of players, who shall give honour due to the
next tragedy Miss Mitford may bestow upon us.

Another proof that it is not necessary to be vicious in order to be in
vogue at Paris, and that purity is no impediment to success, is the
popularity of Madame Tastu's poetry. She writes as a woman ought to
write--with grace, feeling, delicacy, and piety.

Her literary efforts, however, are not confined to the "flowery path
of poesy;" though it is impossible not to perceive that she lingers in
it with delight, and that when she leaves it, she does so from no
truant inclination to wander elsewhere, but from some better impulse.
Her work entitled "Education Maternelle" would prove a most valuable
acquisition to English mothers desirous themselves of giving early
lessons in French to their children. The pronunciation and
accentuation are marked in a manner greatly to facilitate the task,
especially to a foreigner; whose greatest difficulty, when attempting
to teach the language without the aid of a native master, is exactly
what these initiatory lessons are so well calculated to obviate.

It is no small source of consolation and of hope, at a period when a
sort of universal epidemic frenzy appears to have seized upon the
minds of men, leading them to advocate as good that which all
experience shows to be evil, and to give specimens of dirty delirium
that might be collected in an hospital, by way of exalted works of
imagination,--it is full of hope and consolation to find that, however
rumour may clamour forth tidings of these sad ravings whenever they
appear, fame still rests only with such as really deserve it.

Let a first-rate collector of literary lions at Paris make it known
that M. de Lamartine would appear at her _soirée_, and the permission
to enter there would be sought so eagerly, that before eleven o'clock
there would not be standing-room in her apartments, though they might
be as spacious as any the "belle ville" can show. But let it be
announced that the authors of any of the obscene masques and mummings
which have disgraced the theatres of France would present themselves,
and depend upon it they would find space sufficient to enact the part
of Triboulet at the moment when he exclaims in soliloquy,

     "Que je suis grand ici!"



LETTER XXIX.

      Sunday in Paris.--Family Groups.--Popular Enjoyment.--Polytechnic
      Students.--Their resemblance to the figure of Napoleon.--Enduring
      attachment to the Emperor.--Conservative spirit of the English
      Schools.--Sunday in the Gardens of the Tuileries.--Religion of
      the Educated.--Popular Opinion.


Sunday is a delightful day in Paris--more so than in any place I ever
visited, excepting Francfort. The enjoyment is so universal, and yet
so domestic; were I to form my idea of the national character from the
scenes passing before my eyes on that day, instead of from books and
newspapers, I should say that the most remarkable features in it, were
conjugal and parental affection.

It is rare to see either a man or a woman, of an age to be wedded and
parents, without their being accompanied by their partner and their
offspring. The cup of light wine is drunk between them; the scene that
is sought for amusement by the one is also enjoyed by the other; and
whether it be little or whether it be much that can be expended on
this day of jubilee, the man and wife share it equally.

I have entered many churches during the hours of the morning masses,
in many different parts of the town, and, as I have before stated, I
have uniformly found them extremely crowded; and though I have never
remarked any instances of that sort of penitential devotion so
constantly seen in the churches of Belgium when the painfully extended
arms remind one of the Hindoo solemnities, the appearance of earnest
and devout attention to what is going on is universal.

It is not till after the grand mass is over that the population pours
itself out over every part of the town, not so much to seek as to meet
amusement. And they are sure to find it; for not ten steps can be
taken in any direction without encountering something that shall
furnish food for enjoyment of some kind or other.

There is no sight in the world that I love better than a numerous
populace during their hours of idleness and glee. When they assemble
themselves together for purposes of legislation, I confess I do not
greatly love or admire them; but when they are enjoying themselves,
particularly when women and children share in the enjoyment, they
furnish a delightful spectacle--and nowhere can it be seen to greater
advantage than in Paris. The nature of the people--the nature of the
climate--the very form and arrangement of the city, are all especially
favourable to the display of it. It is in the open air, under the
blue vault of heaven, before the eyes of thousands, that they love to
bask and disport themselves. The bright, clear atmosphere seems made
on purpose for them; and whoever laid out the boulevards, the quays,
the gardens of Paris, surely remembered, as they did so, how necessary
space was for the assembling together of her social citizens.

The young men of the Polytechnic School make a prominent feature in a
Paris Sunday; for it is only on the _jours de fête_ that they are
permitted to range at liberty through the town: but all occasions of
this kind cause the streets and public walks to swarm with young
Napoleons.

It is quite extraordinary to see how the result of a strong principle
or sentiment may show itself externally on a large body of
individuals, making those alike, whom nature has made as dissimilar as
possible. There is not one of these Polytechnic lads, the eldest of
whom could hardly have seen the light of day before Napoleon had left
the soil of France for ever,--there is hardly one of them who does not
more or less remind one of the well-known figure and air of the
Emperor. Be they tall, be they short, be they fat, be they thin, it is
the same,--there is some approach (evidently the result of having
studied their worshipped model closely in paintings, engravings,
bronzes, marbles, and Sèvres china,) to that look and bearing which,
till the most popular tyrant that ever lived had made it as well known
as sunshine to the eyes of France, was as little resembling to the
ordinary appearance and carriage of her citizens as possible.

The tailor can certainly do much towards making the exterior of one
individual look like the exterior of another; but he cannot do all
that we see in the mien of a Polytechnic scholar that serves to recall
the extraordinary man whose name, after years of exile and of death,
is decidedly the most stirring that can be pronounced in France. Busy,
important, and most full of human interest has been the period since
his downfall; yet his memory is as fresh among them as if he had
marched into the Tuileries triumphant from one of his hundred
victories but yesterday.

O, if the sovereign people could but understand as well as read!...
And O that some Christian spirit could be found who would interpret to
them, in such accents as they would listen to, the life and adventures
of Napoleon the Great! What a deal of wisdom they might gain by it!
Where could be found a lesson so striking as this to a people who are
weary of being governed, and desire, one and all, to govern
themselves? With precisely the same weariness, with precisely the
same desire, did this active, intelligent, and powerful people throw
off, some forty years ago, the yoke of their laws and the authority of
their king. Then were they free as the sand of the desert--not one
individual atom of the mighty mass but might have risen in the
hurricane of that tempest as high as the unbridled wind of his
ambition could carry him; and what followed? Why, they grew sick to
death of the giddy whirl, where each man knocked aside his neighbour,
and there was none to say "Forbear!" Then did they cling, like sinking
souls in the act of drowning, to the first bold man who dared to
replace the yoke upon their necks; they clung to him through years of
war that mowed down their ranks as a scythe mows down the ripe corn,
and yet they murmured not. For years they suffered their young sons to
be torn from their sides while they still hung to them with all the
first fondness of youth, and yet they murmured not;--for years they
lived uncheered by the wealth that commerce brings, uncheered by any
richer return of labour than the scanty morsel that sustained their
life of toil, and yet they murmured not: for they had once more a
prince upon the throne--they had once more laws, firmly administered,
which kept them from the dreaded horrors of anarchy; and they clung to
their tyrant prince, and his strict and stern enactments, with a
devotion of gratitude and affection which speaks plainly enough their
lasting thankfulness to the courage which was put forth in their hour
of need to relieve them from the dreadful burden of self-government.

This gratitude and affection endures still--nothing will ever efface
it; for his military tyranny is passed away, and the benefits which
his colossal power enabled him to bestow upon them remain, and must
remain as long as France endures. The only means by which another
sovereign may rival Napoleon in popularity, is by rivalling him in
power. Were some of the feverish blood which still keeps France in
agitation to be drawn from her cities to reinforce her military array,
and were a hundred thousand of the sons of France marched off to
restore to Italy her natural position in Europe, power, glory, and
popularity would sustain the throne, and tranquillity be restored to
the people. Without some such discipline, poor young France may very
probably die of a plethora. If she has not this, she must have a
government as absolute as that of Russia to keep her from mischief:
and that she will have one or the other before long, I have not the
least doubt in the world; for there are many very clever personages at
and near the seat of power who will not be slow to see or to do what
is needful.

Meanwhile this fine body of young men are, as I understand, receiving
an education calculated to make them most efficient officers, whenever
they are called upon to serve. Unfortunately for the reputation of the
Polytechnic School, their names were brought more forward than was
creditable to those who had the charge of them, during the riots of
1830. But the government which the men of France accepted from the
hands of the boys really appears to be wiser and better than they had
any right to expect from authority so strangely constituted. The new
government very properly uses the strength given it, for the purpose
of preventing the repetition of the excesses to which it owes its
origin; and these fine lads are now said to be in a state of very
respectable discipline, and to furnish no contemptible bulwark to the
throne.

It is otherwise, however, as I hear, with most of the bodies of young
men collected together in Paris for the purpose of education. The
silly cant of republicanism has got among them; and till this is
mended, continued little riotous outbreakings of a naughty-boy spirit
must be expected.

One of the happiest circumstances in the situation of poor struggling
England at present is, that her boys are not republican. On the
contrary, the rising spirit among us is decidedly conservative. All
our great schools are tory to the heart's core. The young English
have been roused, awakened, startled at the peril which threatens the
land of their fathers! The _penny king_ who has invaded us has
produced on them the effect usual on all invasions; and rather than
see him and his popish court succeed in conquering England, they would
rush from their forms and their cloisters to repel him, shouting,
"Alone we'll do it, BOYS!"--and they would do it, too, even if they
had no fathers to help them.

But I have forgotten my Sunday holiday, while talking about the gayest
and happiest of those it brings forth to decorate the town. Many a
proud and happy mother may on these occasions be seen leaning on the
arm of a son that she is very conscious looks like an emperor; and
many a pretty creature, whom her familiarity, as well as her features,
proclaims to be a sister, shows in her laughing eyes that the day
which gives her smart young brother freedom is indeed a _jour de fête_
for her.

You will be weary of the Tuileries Gardens; but I cannot keep out of
them, particularly when talking of a Paris Sunday, of whose prettiest
groups they are the rendezvous: the whole day's history may be read in
them. As soon as the gates are open, figures both male and female, in
dishabille more convenient than elegant, may be seen walking across
them in every direction towards the _sortie_ which leads towards
the quay, and thence onwards to _Les Bains Vigier_. Next come the
after-breakfast groups: and these are beautiful. Elegant young mothers
in half-toilet accompany their _bonnes_, and the pretty creatures
committed to their care, to watch for an hour the happy gambols which
the presence of the "chère maman" renders seven times more gay than
ordinary.

  [Illustration: Drawn & Etched by A. Hervieu.
   TUILERIES GARDENS, ON SUNDAY.
   London, Published by Richard Bentley, 1835.]

I have watched such, repeatedly, with extreme amusement; often
attempting to read, but never able to pursue the occupation for
three-quarters of a minute together, till they at last abandon it
altogether, and sit with the useless volume upon their knee,
complacently answering all the baby questions that may be proposed to
them, while watching with the smiling satisfaction of well-pleased
maternity every attitude, every movement, and every grimace of the
darling miniatures in which they see themselves, and perhaps one
dearer still.

From about ten till one o'clock the gardens swarm with children and
their attendants: and pretty enough they are, and amusing too, with
their fanciful dresses and their baby wilfulness. Then comes the hour
of early dinners: the nurses and the children retreat; and were it
possible that any hour of the day could find a public walk in Paris
unoccupied, it would be this.

The next change shows the gradual influx of best bonnets,--pink,
white, green, blue. Feathers float onwards, and fresh flowers are seen
around: gay barouches rush down the Rues Castiglione and Rivoli; cabs
swing round every corner, all to deposit their gay freight within the
gardens. By degrees, double, treble rows of chairs are occupied on
either side of every walk, while the whole space between is one vast
moving mass of pleasant idleness.

This lasts till five; and then, as the elegant crowd withdraws,
another, less graceful perhaps, but more animated, takes its place.
Caps succeed to bonnets; and unchecked laughter, loud with youth and
glee, replaces the whispered gallantry, the silent smile, and all the
well-bred ways of giving and receiving thoughts with as little
disturbance to the circumambient air as possible.

From this hour to nightfall the multitude goes on increasing; and did
one not know that every theatre, every guinguette, every boulevard,
every café in Paris were at the same time crammed almost to
suffocation, one might be tempted to believe that the whole population
had assembled there to recreate themselves before the windows of the
king.

Among the higher ranks the Sunday evening at Paris is precisely the
same as that of any other day. There are the same number of _soirées_
going on, and no more; the same number of dinner-parties, just as
much card-playing, just as much dancing, just as much music, and just
as much going to the opera; but the other theatres are generally left
to the _endimanchés_.

You must not, however, imagine that no religious exercises are
attended to among the rich and noble because I have said nothing
especially about them on this point. On the contrary, I have great
reason to believe that it is not alone the attractive eloquence of the
popular preachers which draws such multitudes of wealthy and high-born
females into the fashionable churches of Paris; but that they go to
pray as well as to listen. Nevertheless, as to the general state of
religion amongst the educated classes in Paris, it is quite as
difficult to obtain information as it is to learn with anything like
tolerable accuracy the average state of their politics. It is not that
there is the least reserve or apparent hanging back when either
subject is discussed; on the contrary, all seem kindly eager to answer
every question, and impart to you all the information it is possible
to wish for: but the variety of statements is inconceivable; and as I
have repeatedly listened to very strong and positive assertions
respecting the opinions of the majority, from those in whose sincerity
I have perfect confidence, but which have been flatly contradicted by
others equally deserving of credit, I am led to suppose that in
effect the public mind is still wavering on both subjects. There is,
in fact, but one point upon which I truly and entirely believe that an
overwhelming majority exists,--and this is in the aversion felt for
any farther trial of a republican form of government.

The party who advocate the cause of democracy do indeed make the most
noise--it is ever their wont to do so. Neither the Chamber of Deputies
nor the Chamber of Peers can assemble nightly at a given spot to
scream "Vive le Roi!" nor are the quiet citizens, who most earnestly
wish to support the existing government, at all more likely to leave
their busy shops for this purpose than the members of the two Chambers
are to quit their _hôtels_;--so that any attempt to judge the
political feelings of the people by the outcries heard in the streets
must of necessity lead to error. Yet it is of such judgments, both at
home and abroad, that we hear the most.

As to the real private feelings on the subject of religion which exist
among the educated portion of the people, it is still more difficult
to form an opinion, for on this subject the strongest indications are
often declared to prove nothing. If churches filled to overflowing be
proof of national piety, then are the people pious: and farther than
this, no looker-on such as myself should, I think, attempt to go.



LETTER XXX.

      Madame Récamier.--Her Morning Parties.--Gérard's Picture of
      Corinne.--Miniature of Madame de Staël.--M. de
      Châteaubriand.--Conversation on the degree in which the
      French Language is understood by Foreigners.--The necessity
      of speaking French.


Of all the ladies with whom I have become acquainted in Paris, the one
who appears to me to be the most perfect specimen of an elegant
Frenchwoman is Madame Récamier,--the same Madame Récamier that, I will
not say how many years ago, I remember to have seen in London, the
admired of all eyes: and, wonderful to say, she is so still. Formerly
I knew her only from seeing her in public, where she was pointed out
to me as the most beautiful woman in Europe; but now that I have the
pleasure of her acquaintance, I can well understand, though you who
know her only by the reputation of her early beauty may not, how and
why it is that fascinations generally so evanescent are with her so
lasting. She is, in truth, the very model of all grace. In person,
manner, movement, dress, voice, and language, she seems universally
allowed to be quite perfect; and I really cannot imagine a better mode
of giving a last finish to a young lady's study of the graces, than by
affording her an opportunity of observing every movement and gesture
of Madame Récamier.

She is certainly a monopolist of talents and attractions which would
suffice, if divided in ordinary proportions, to furnish forth a host
of charming women. I never met with a Frenchman who did not allow,
that though his countrywomen were charming from _agrémens_ which seem
peculiarly their own, they have fewer faultless beauties among them
than may be found in England; but yet, as they say, "Quand une
Française se mêle d'être jolie, elle est furieusement jolie." This
_mot_ is as true in point of fact as piquant in expression;--a
beautiful Frenchwoman is, perhaps, the most beautiful woman in the
world.

The perfect loveliness of Madame Récamier has made her "a thing to
wonder at:" and now that she has passed the age when beauty is at its
height, she is perhaps to be wondered at still more; for I really
doubt if she ever excited more admiration than she does at present.
She is followed, sought, looked at, listened to, and, moreover,
beloved and esteemed, by a very large circle of the first society in
Paris, among whom are numbered some of the most illustrious literary
names in France.

That her circle, as well as herself, is delightful, is so generally
acknowledged, that by adding my voice to the universal judgment, I
perhaps show as much vanity, as gratitude for the privilege of being
admitted within it: but no one, I believe, so favoured could, when
speaking of the society of Paris, omit so striking a feature of it as
the _salon_ of Madame Récamier. She contrives to make even the
still-life around her partake of the charm for which she is herself so
remarkable, and there is a fine and finished elegance in everything
about her that is irresistibly attractive: I have often entered
drawing-rooms almost capable of containing her whole suite of
apartments, and found them infinitely less striking in their
magnificence than her beautiful little _salon_ in the Abbaye-aux-Bois.

The rich draperies of white silk, the delicate blue tint that mixes
with them throughout the apartment,--the mirrors, the flowers,--all
together give an air to the room that makes it accord marvellously
well with its fair inhabitant. One might fancy that Madame Récamier
herself was for ever _vouée au blanc_, for no drapery falls around her
that is not of snowy whiteness--and indeed the mixture of almost any
colour would seem like profanation to the exquisite delicacy of her
appearance.

Madame Récamier admits morning visits from a limited number of
persons, whose names are given to the servant attending in the
ante-room, every day from four till six. It was here I had the
pleasure of being introduced to M. de Châteaubriand, and had
afterwards the gratification of repeatedly meeting him; a
gratification that I shall assuredly never forget, and for which I
would have willingly sacrificed one-half of the fine things which
reward the trouble of a journey to Paris.

The circle thus received is never a large one, and the conversation is
always general. The first day that I and my daughters were there, we
found, I think, but two ladies, and about half a dozen gentlemen, of
whom M. de Châteaubriand was one. A magnificent picture by Gérard,
boldly and sublimely conceived, and executed in his very best manner,
occupies one side of the elegant little _salon_. The subject is
Corinne, in a moment of poetical excitement, a lyre in her hand, and a
laurel crown upon her head. Were it not for the modern costume of
those around her, the figure must be mistaken for that of Sappho: and
never was that impassioned being, the martyred saint of youthful
lovers, portrayed with more sublimity, more high poetic feeling, or
more exquisite feminine grace.

The contemplation of this _chef-d'oeuvre_ naturally led the
conversation to Madame de Staël. Her intimacy with Madame Récamier is
as well known as the biting reply of the former to an unfortunate man,
who having contrived to place himself between them, exclaimed,--"Me
voilà entre l'esprit et la beauté!"

To which bright sally he received for answer--"Sans posséder ni l'un
ni l'autre."

My knowledge of this intimacy induced me to take advantage of the
occasion, and I ventured to ask Madame Récamier if Madame de Staël had
in truth intended to draw her own character in that of Corinne.

"Assuredly ..." was the reply. "The soul of Madame de Staël is fully
developed in her portrait of that of Corinne." Then turning to the
picture, she added, "Those eyes are the eyes of Madame de Staël."

She put a miniature into my hand, representing her friend in all the
bloom of youth, at an age indeed when she could not have been known to
Madame Récamier. The eyes had certainly the same dark beauty, the same
inspired expression, as those given to Corinne by Gérard. But the
artist had too much taste or too little courage to venture upon any
farther resemblance; the thick lips and short fat chin of the real
sibyl being changed into all that is loveliest in female beauty on the
canvass.

The apparent age of the face represented in the miniature points out
its date with tolerable certainty; and it gives no very favourable
idea of the taste of the period; for the shock head of crisped Brutus
curls is placed on arms and bust as free from drapery, though better
clothed in plumpness, than those of the Medicean Venus.

As we looked first at one picture, then at the other, and conversed on
both, I was struck with the fine forehead and eyes, delightful voice,
and peculiarly graceful turn of expression, of a gentleman who sat
opposite to me, and who joined in this conversation.

I remarked to Madame Récamier that few romances had ever had the
honour of being illustrated by such a picture as this of Gérard, and
that, from many circumstances, her pleasure in possessing it must be
very great.

"It is indeed," she replied: "nor is it my only treasure of the
kind--I am so fortunate as to possess Girodet's original drawing from
Atala, the engraving from which you must often have seen. Let me show
you the original."

We followed her to the dining-room, where this very interesting
drawing is placed. "You do not know M. de Châteaubriand?" said she.

I replied that I had not that pleasure.

"It is he who was sitting opposite to you in the _salon_."

I begged that she would introduce him to me; and upon our returning to
the drawing-room she did so. The conversation was resumed, and most
agreeably--every one bore a part in it. Lamartine, Casimir Delavigne,
Dumas, Victor Hugo, and some others, passed under a light but clever
and acute review. Our Byron, Scott, &c. followed; and it was evident
that they had been read and understood. I asked M. de Châteaubriand if
he had known Lord Byron: he replied, "Non;" adding, "Je l'avais
précédé dans la vie, et malheureusement il m'a précédé au tombeau."

The degree in which any country is capable of fully appreciating the
literature of another was canvassed, and M. de Châteaubriand declared
himself decidedly of opinion that such appreciation was always and
necessarily very imperfect. Much that he said on the subject appeared
incontrovertibly true, especially as respecting the slight and
delicate shadows of expression of which the subtile grace so
constantly seems to escape at the first attempt to convert it into
another idiom. Nevertheless, I suspect that the majority of English
readers--I mean the English readers of French--are more _au fait_ of
the original literature of France than M. de Châteaubriand supposes.

The habit, so widely extended amongst us, of reading this language
almost from infancy, gives us a greater familiarity with their idiom
than he is aware of. He doubted if we could relish Molière, and named
Lafontaine as one beyond the reach of extra-Gallican criticism or
enjoyment.

I cannot agree to this, though I am not surprised that such an idea
should exist. Every English person that comes to Paris is absolutely
obliged to speak French, almost whether they can or can not. If they
shrink from doing so, they can have no hope of either speaking or
being spoken to at all. This is alone sufficient to account very
satisfactorily, I think, for any doubt which may prevail as to the
national proficiency in the language. No Frenchman that is at all in
the habit of meeting the English in society but must have his ears and
his memory full of false concords, false tenses, and false accents;
and can we wonder that he should set it down as a certain fact, that
they who thus speak cannot be said to understand the language they so
mangle? Yet, plausible as the inference is, I doubt if it be
altogether just. Which of the most accomplished Hellenists of either
country would be found capable of sustaining a familiar conversation
in Greek? The case is precisely the same; for I have known very many
whose power of tasting the beauty of French writing amounted to the
most critical acuteness, who would have probably been unintelligible
had they attempted to converse in the language for five minutes
together; whereas many others, who have perhaps had a French valet or
waiting-maid, may possess a passably good accent and great facility of
imitative expression in conversation, who yet would be puzzled how to
construe with critical accuracy the easiest passage in Rousseau.

A very considerable proportion of the educated French read English,
and often appear to enter very ably into the spirit of our authors;
but there is not one in fifty of these who will pronounce a single
word of the language in conversation. Though they endure with a polite
gravity, perfectly imperturbable, the very drollest blunders of which
language is capable, they cannot endure to run the risk of making
blunders in return. Everything connected with the externals of good
society is held as sacred by the members of it; and if they shrink
from offending _la bienséance_ by laughing at the mistakes of others,
they avoid, with at least an equal degree of caution, the unpardonable
offence of committing any themselves.

I do not believe that it would be possible for a French person to
enter into conversation merely for the pleasure of conversing, and not
from the pressure of absolute necessity, unless he were certain, or at
least believed himself to be so, that he should express himself with
propriety and elegance. The idea of uttering the brightest or the
noblest thought that ever entered a human head, in an idiom
ridiculously broken, would, I am sure, be accompanied with a feeling
of repugnance sufficient to tame the most animated and silence the
most loquacious Frenchman in existence.

It therefore falls wholly upon the English, in this happy period of
constant and intimate intercourse between the nations, to submit to
the surrender of their vanity, to gratify their love for conversation;
blundering on in conscious defiance of grammar and accent, rather than
lose the exceeding pleasure of listening in return to the polished
phrase, the graceful period, the epigrammatic turn, which make so
essential a part of genuine high-bred French conversation.

But the doubts expressed by M. de Châteaubriand as to the possibility
of the last and best grace of French writing being fully appreciated
by foreigners, was not confined wholly to the English,--the Germans
appeared to share it with us; and one who has been recently proclaimed
as the first of living German critics was quoted as having confounded
in his style, names found among the immortals of the French Pantheon,
with those of such as live and die; _Monsieur_ Fontaine, and
_Monsieur_ Bruyère, being expressions actually extant in his writings.

More than once, during subsequent visits to Madame Récamier, I led her
to speak of her lost and illustrious friend. I have never been more
interested than while listening to all which this charming woman said
of Madame de Staël: every word she uttered seemed a mixture of pain
and pleasure, of enthusiasm and regret. It is melancholy to think how
utterly impossible it is that she should ever find another to replace
her. She seems to feel this, and to have surrounded herself by
everything that can contribute to keep the recollection of what is for
ever gone, fresh in her memory. The original of the posthumous
portrait of Madame de Staël by Gérard, made so familiar to all the
world by engravings--nay, even by Sèvres vases and tea-cups, hangs in
her bed-room. The miniature I have mentioned is always near her; and
the inspired figure of her Corinne, in which it is evident that Madame
Récamier traces a resemblance to her friend beyond that of features
only, appears to be an object almost of veneration as well as love.

It is delightful to approach thus to a being that I have always been
accustomed to contemplate as something in the clouds. Admirable and
amiable as my charming new acquaintance is in a hundred ways, her past
intimacy and ever-enduring affection for Madame de Staël have given
her a still higher interest in my eyes.



LETTER XXXI.

      Exhibition of Sèvres China at the Louvre.--Gobelins and
      Beauvais Tapestry.--Legitimatist Father and Doctrinaire
      Son.--Copies from the Medicean Gallery.


We are just returned from an exhibition at the Louvre; and a very
splendid exhibition it is--though, alas! but a poor consolation for
the hidden treasures of the picture-gallery. Several magnificent rooms
are now open for the display of works in tapestry and Sèvres
porcelain; and however much we might have preferred seeing something
else there, it is impossible to deny that these rooms contain many
objects as wonderful perhaps in their way as any that the higher
branches of art ever produced.

The copy of Titian's portrait of his mistress, on porcelain, and still
more perhaps that of Raphaël's "Virgin and St. John watching the sleep
of the infant Jesus," (the _Parce somnum rumpere_,) are, I think, the
most remarkable; both being of the same size as the originals, and
performed with a perfection of colouring that is almost
inconceivable.

That the fragile clay of which porcelain is fabricated should so lend
itself to the skill of the workman,--or rather, that the workman's
skill should so triumph over the million chances which exist against
bringing unbroken out of the fire a smooth and level _plaque_ of such
extent,--is indeed most wonderful. Still more so is the skill which
has enabled the artist to prophesy, as he painted with his greys and
his greens, that the tints which flowed from his pencil of one colour,
should assume, from the nicely-regulated action of an element the most
difficult to govern, hues and shades so exquisitely imitative of his
great original.

But having acknowledged this, I have nothing more to say in praise of
a _tour de force_ which, in my opinion, can only be attempted by the
sacrifice of common sense. The _chefs-d'oeuvre_ of a Titian or a
Raphaël are treasures of which we may lawfully covet an imitation; but
why should it be attempted in a manner the most difficult, the most
laborious, the most likely to fail, and the most liable to destruction
when completed?--not to mention that, after all, there is in the most
perfect copy on porcelain a something--I am mistress of no words to
define it--which does not satisfy the mind.

As far as regards my own feelings indeed, I could go farther, and say
that the effect produced is to a certain degree positively
disagreeable,--not quite unlike that occasioned by examining
needlework performed without fingers, or watch-papers exquisitely cut
out by feet instead of hands. The admiration demanded is less for the
thing itself, than for the very defective means employed to produce
it. Were there indeed none other, the inventor would deserve a statue,
and the artist, like Trisotin, should take the air "_en carrosse
doré_:" but as it is, I would rather see a good copy on canvass than
on china.

Far different, however, is the effect produced by this beautiful and
ingenious branch of art when displayed in the embellishment of cups
and plates, vases and tea-trays. I never saw anything more gracefully
appropriate to the last high finish of domestic elegance than all the
articles of this description exhibited this year at the Louvre. It is
impossible to admire or to praise them too much; or to deny that,
wonderfully as similar manufactories have improved in England within
the last thirty years, we have still nothing equal to the finer
specimens of the Sèvres porcelain.

These rooms were, like every other place in Paris where human beings
know that they shall meet each other, extremely full of company; and I
have certainly never seen such ecstasy of admiration produced by any
objects exhibited to the public eye, as was elicited by some of the
articles displayed on this occasion: they are indeed most beautiful;
the form, the material, the workmanship, all perfect.

The Sèvres manufactory must, I think, have some individuals attached
to it who have made the theory of colour an especial study. It is
worth while to walk round the vast table, or rather platform, raised
in the middle of the apartment, for the purpose of examining the
different sets, with a view only to observe the effect produced on the
eye by the arrangement of colours in each.

The finest specimens, after the wonderful copies from pictures which I
have already mentioned, are small breakfast-sets--for a _tête-à-tête_,
I believe,--enclosed in large cases lined either with white satin or
white velvet. These cases are all open for inspection, but with a
stout brass bar around, to protect them from the peril of too near an
approach. The lid is so formed as exactly to receive the tray; while
the articles to be placed upon it, when in use, are arranged each in
its own delicate recess, with such an attention to composition and
general effect as to show all and everything to the greatest possible
advantage.

Some of these exquisite specimens are decorated with flowers, some
with landscapes, and others with figures, or miniatures of heads,
either superlative in beauty or distinguished by fame. These beautiful
decorations, admirable as they all are in design and execution, struck
me less than the perfect taste with which the reigning colour which
pervades each set, either as background, lining, or border, is made to
harmonize with the ornaments upon it.

It is a positive pleasure, independent of the amusement which may be
derived from a closer examination, to cast the eye over the general
effect produced by the consummate taste and skill thus displayed.
Those curious affinities and antipathies among colours, which I have
seen made the subject of many pretty experimental lectures, must, I am
sure, have been studied and acted upon by the _colour-master_ of each
department; and the result is to my feelings productive of a pleasure,
from the contemplation of the effect produced, as distinct from the
examination of the design, or of any other circumstance connected with
the art, as the gratification produced by the smell of an
orange-blossom or a rose: it is a pleasure which has no connexion with
the intellect, but arises solely from its agreeable effect on the
sense.

The eye seems to be unconsciously soothed and gratified, and lingers
upon the rich, the soft, or the brilliant hues, with a satisfaction
that positively amounts to enjoyment.

Whoever may be occupied by the "delightful task" of fitting up a
sumptuous drawing-room, will do well to take a tour round a room
filled with sets of Sèvres porcelain. The important question of "What
colours shall we mix?" would receive an answer there, with the
delightful certainty that no solecism in taste could possibly be
committed by obeying it.

The Gobelins and Beauvais work for chairs, screens, cushions, and
various other articles, makes a great display this year. It is very
beautiful, both in design and execution; and at the present moment,
when the stately magnificence of the age of Louis Quinze is so much in
vogue--in compliment, it is said, to the taste of the Duc
d'Orléans,--this costly manufacture is likely again to flourish.

Never can a large and lofty chamber present an appearance of more
princely magnificence than when thus decorated; and the manner in
which this elaborate style of ancient embellishment is now adopted to
modern use, is equally ingenious and elegant.

Some political economists talk of the national advantage of decreasing
labour by machinery, while others advocate every fashion which demands
the work of hands. I will not attempt to decide on which side wisdom
lies; but, in our present imperfect condition, everything that brings
an innocent and profitable occupation to women appears to me
desirable.

The needles of France are assuredly the most skilful in the world; and
set to work as they are upon designs that rival those of the Vatican
in elegance, they produce a perfection of embroidery that sets all
competition at defiance.

In pursuing my way along the rail which encloses the specimens
exhibited--a progress which was necessarily very slow from the
pressure of the crowd,--I followed close behind a tall, elegant,
aristocratic-looking gentleman, who was accompanied by his
son--decidedly his son,--the boy "fathered himself;" I never saw a
stronger likeness. Their conversation, which I overheard by no act of
impertinent listening, but because I could not possibly avoid it,
amused me much. I am seldom thrown into such close contact with
strangers without making a fancy-sketch of who and what they are; but
upon this occasion I was thrown out,--it was like reading a novel, the
_dénouement_ of which is so well concealed as to evade guessing. The
boy and his father were not of one mind; their observations were made
in the spirit of different parties: the father, I suspect, was a
royalist,--the son, I am sure, was a young doctrinaire. The crowd hung
long upon the spot where a magnificent collection of embroidery for
the seats and backs of a set of chairs was displayed. "They are for
the Duke of Orleans," said the father.

"Yes, yes," said the boy; "they are fit for him--they are princely."

"They are fit for a king!" said the father with a sigh.

The lad paused for a moment, and then said, _avec intention_, as the
stage directions express it, "Mais lui aussi, il est fils de St.
Louis; n'est-ce pas?" The father answered not, and the crowd moved on.

All I could make of this was, that the boy's instructor, whether male
or female, was a faithful disciple of the "_PARCEQU'il est Bourbon_"
school; and whatever leaven of wavering faith may be mixed up with
this doctrine, it forms perhaps the best defence to be found for
attachment to the reigning dynasty amongst those who are too young to
enter fully into the expediency part of the question.

In the last of the suite of rooms opened for this exhibition, are
displayed splendid pieces of tapestry from subjects taken from Rubens'
Medicean Gallery.

That the achievement of these enormous combinations of stitches must
have been a labour of extreme difficulty, there can be no doubt; but
notwithstanding my admiration for French needles, I am tempted to add,
in the words of our uncompromising moralist, "Would it had been
impossible!"



LETTER XXXII.

      Eglise Apostolique Française.--Its doctrine.--L'Abbé
      Auzou.--His Sermon on "les Plaisirs Populaires."


Among the multitude of friendly injunctions to see this, and to hear
that, which have produced me so much agreeable occupation, I have more
than once been very earnestly recommended to visit the "Eglise
Apostolique Française" on the Boulevard St. Denis, for the purpose of
hearing l'Abbé Auzou, and still more, that I might have an opportunity
of observing the peculiarities of this mode of worship, or rather of
doctrine; for, in fact, the ceremonies at the altar differ but little,
as far as I can perceive, from those of the Church of Rome, excepting
that the evident poverty of the establishment precludes the splendour
which usually attends the performance of its offices. I have no very
satisfactory data by which to judge of the degree of estimation in
which this new sect is held: by some I have heard them spoken of as
apostles, and by others as a Paria caste unworthy of any notice.

Before hearing M. L'Abbé Auzou, or attending the service at his
church, I wished to read some of the publications which explain their
tenets, and accordingly called at the little bureau behind their
chapel on the Boulevard St. Denis, where we were told these
publications could be found. Having purchased several pamphlets
containing catechism, hymns, sermons, and so forth, we entered into
conversation with the young man who presided in this obscure and dark
closet, dignified by the name of "Secrétariat de l'Eglise Apostolique
Française."

He told us that he was assistant minister of the chapel, and we found
him extremely conversible and communicative.

The chief differences between this new church and those which have
preceded it in the reform of the Roman Catholic religion, appears to
consist in the preservation of the external forms of worship, which
other reformers have rejected, and also of several dogmas, purely
doctrinal, and wholly unconnected with those principles of church
power and church discipline, the abuse of which was the immediate
cause of all protestant reform.

They acknowledge the real presence. I find in the _Catéchisme_ these
questions and answers:

"Jésus-Christ est-il sous le pain, ou bien sous le vin?--Il est sous
les deux espèces à la fois.

"Et quand l'hostie est partagée?--Jésus-Christ est tout entier en
chaque partie.

"Que faut-il faire pendant le jour où l'on a communié?--Assister aux
offices, et ensuite se réjouir de son bonheur avec ses parens et ses
amis."

       *       *       *       *       *

Their clergy are permitted to marry. They deny that any power of
absolution rests with the priest, allowing him only that of
intercession by prayer for the forgiveness of the penitent. Auricular
confession is not enjoined, but recommended as useful to children.
They profess entire toleration to every variety of Christian belief;
but as the "Eglise Française" refuses to acknowledge dependance upon
any _secte étrangère_,--by which phrase I conceive the Church of Rome
to be meant,--they also declare, "d'après l'Evangile, que la religion
ne doit jamais intervenir dans les gouvernemens temporels."

They recognise the seven sacraments, only modifying that of penitence,
as above mentioned. They deny the eternity of punishment, but I find
no mention of purgatory. They do not enjoin fasting. I find in the
_Catéchisme_ the following explanation of their doctrine on this head,
which appears to be extremely reasonable.

"L'Eglise Française n'impose donc pas le jeûne et l'abstinence?--Non;
l'Eglise Apostolique Française s'en rapporte pour le jeûne aux fidèles
eux-mêmes, et ne reconnaît en aucune façon le précepte de
l'abstinence; mais, plus prudente dans ses principes, elle substitue à
un jeûne de quelques jours une sobriété continuelle, et remplace une
abstinence périodique par une tempérance de chaque jour, de chaque
année, de toute la vie."

In all this there appears little in doctrine, excepting the admission
of the divine presence in the elements of the eucharist, that differs
greatly from most other reformed churches: nevertheless, the
ceremonies are entirely similar to those of the Roman Catholic
religion.

But whatever there may be either of good or of evil in this mixture,
its effect must, I think, prove absolutely nugatory on society, from
the entire absence of any church government or discipline whatever.
That this is in fact the case, is thus plainly stated in the preface
to their published Catechism:--

"L'Eglise Apostolique Française ne reconnaît aucune hiérarchie; elle
repousse en conséquence l'autorité de tout pouvoir spirituel étranger,
et de tout autre pouvoir qui en dépend ou qui s'y soumet. Elle ne
reconnaît d'autre autorité spirituelle que celle qu'exercerait la
réunion de ses fidèles; réunion qui, suivant les principes des
apôtres, constitue seule ce que de leur temps on appelait EGLISE.

"Elle n'est point salariée par l'état. L'administration de ses secours
spirituels est gratuite. Elle n'a de tarif, ni pour les baptêmes, ni
pour les mariages, ni enfin pour les inhumations. Elle vit de peu, et
s'en remet à la générosité, ou plutôt à la volonté, des fidèles.

"Ne reconnaissant pas d'hiérarchie, elle ne reconnaît pas non plus de
division de territoire, soit en arrondissement, soit en paroisse: elle
accueille donc tous les Chrétiens qui se présentent à elle pour mander
à ses prêtres l'accomplissement des fonctions de ministres de
Jésus-Christ."

       *       *       *       *       *

The _décousu_ principles of the day can hardly be carried farther than
this. A rope of sand is the only fitting emblem for a congregation so
constituted; and, like a rope of sand, it must of necessity fall
asunder, for there is no principle of union to prevent it.

After I had finished my studies on the subject, I heard a sermon
preached in the church,--not, however, by M. l'Abbé Auzou, who was
ill, but by the same person with whom we had conversed at the
_Secrétariat_. His sermon was a strong exposition of the abuses
practised by the clergy of the Church of Rome,--a theme certainly more
fertile than new.

In reading some of the most celebrated discourses of the Abbé Auzou, I
was the most struck with one entitled--"Discours sur les Plaisirs
Populaires, les Bals, et les Spectacles." The text is from St.
Matthew,--"Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I
will give you rest ... for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

In this singular discourse, among some things that are reasonable, and
more that are plausible, it is impossible to avoid seeing a spirit of
lawless uncontrol, which seems to breathe more of revolution than of
piety.

I am no advocate for a Judaical observance of the Sabbath, nor am I
ignorant of the fearful abuses which have arisen from man's daring to
arrogate to himself a power vested in God alone,--the power of
forgiving the sins of man. The undue authority assumed by the
sovereign pontiff of Rome is likewise sufficiently evident, as are
many other abuses justly reprobated in the sermons of the Abbé Auzou.
Nevertheless, education, observation, and I might say experience, have
taught me that religion requires and demands that care, protection,
and government which are so absolutely essential to the well-being of
every community of human beings who would unite together for one
general object. To talk of a self-governing church, is just as absurd
as to talk of a self-governing ship, or a self-governing family.

It should seem, by the reprobation expressed against the severity of
the Roman Catholic clergy in these sermons, as well as from anecdotes
which I have occasionally heard in society, that the Church of Rome
and the Church of Calvin are alike hostile to every kind of
dissipation, and that at the present moment they have many points of
discipline in common--at least as respects the injunctions laid upon
their congregations respecting their private conduct.

M. l'Abbé Auzou says, in speaking of revolutionary reforms,--

"Rien n'est changé dans le sacerdoce; et l'on peut dire aussi des
prêtres toujours romains, qu'ils n'ont rien oublié, qu'ils n'ont rien
appris. Cependant, sous le règne de Napoléon leur orgueil a fléchi
devant le grand intérêt de leur réinstallation.... Aussi, au retour de
leur roi légitime, cet orgueil comprimé s'est-il relevé dans toute sa
hauteur. Rome a placé son trône à côté de celui d'un roi, un peu
philosophe, a-t-on dit, mais perclus et impotent. Et enfin, lorsque
son successeur, d'abord accueilli par le peuple, est tombé entre les
mains des prêtres, ceux-ci, profitant de son âge et de sa faiblesse,
ont exploité les erreurs d'une jeunesse fougueuse, qui cependant lui
avaient valu le surnom de Chevalier Français. Alors nous avons vu ce
roi sacrifier sa popularité à leurs exigeances; appeler toute la
nation à l'expiation de ses fautes personnelles, à son repentir, à sa
pénitence; et la forcer à renier, pour ainsi dire, trente ans de
gloire et de liberté.... Un roi que le remords poursuit, dévore, et
qui ne reconnaît d'autre recours que dans le prêtre qui l'a soumis à
sa loi par la menace et la terreur de l'enfer; ce roi, sous le coup
d'une absolution conditionnelle et toujours suspendue, abdique, sans
le savoir, en faveur de son confesseur....

"Roi! tu languis dans l'exil, et tes fautes sont punies jusque dans
les dernières générations!

"Les prêtres, les prêtres romains se sont cependant soumis à un
nouveau prince, à qui la souveraineté nationale a remis le sceptre;
ils prient enfin pour lui ... et l'on sait avec quelle sincérité.

"Mais, peuple, comme leur joug s'appesantit sur toi!... Dans leur
fureur mal-déguisée ils le disent.... La maison du Seigneur est
déserte, et tu te rues avec fureur vers les plaisirs, les fêtes, les
bals et les spectacles! Anathême donc contre les plaisirs, les fêtes
et les bals! Anathême contre les spectacles!

"Ne sont-ce point là, mes frères, les paroles qui tombent chaque jour
menaçantes de la chaire de l'Eglise Romaine?...

"Combien notre langage sera différent! Le Dieu des Juifs est bien
notre Dieu; mais sa colère a été désarmée par le sacrifice que son
fils lui a offert pour notre rédemption.

"Pourquoi ce sang répandu sur la croix pour nos péchés si la
satisfaction de nos besoins physiques, si nos fonctions
intellectuelles, si l'entrainement des passions qui constituent notre
être peuvent à chaque instant nous faire tomber dans le péché et nous
précipiter dans l'abîme?

"Aussi nous vous disons dans notre chaire apostolique,--Exécutez les
commandemens de Dieu, adorez et glorifiez notre Père qui est aux
cieux, pratiquez la morale de l'Evangile, aimez votre prochain comme
vous-mêmes, et vous aurez accompli la loi de Jésus-Christ ... et nous
ajoutons,--Vous êtes membre de la société pour laquelle vous avez été
créés, et cette société vous impose des devoirs; en échange elle vous
procure des jouissances et des plaisirs: remplissez vos devoirs et
livrez-vous ensuite sans crainte aux jouissances et aux plaisirs
qu'elle vous présente. Votre participation à ces mêmes plaisirs, à ces
mêmes jouissances, est encore une partie de vos devoirs, et vous aurez
accompli encore une fois la loi de Jésus-Christ."

This doctrine may assuredly entitle the Eglise Apostolique Française
to the appellation of a NEW CHURCH.

M. l'Abbé Auzou goes on yet farther in the same strain:--

"Anathême!... Arme vieille, rouillée, émoussée, et que vous cherchez
en vain à retremper dans le fiel de la colère et de la vengeance!...
Anathême aux plaisirs! Et quoi! parceque Dieu a dit à notre premier
père, Vous mangerez votre pain à la sueur de votre visage, l'homme
serait condamné à rester toujours courbé sous le joug du travail?
N'aura-t-il à espérer aucun adoucissement à ses peines?...

"Non, sans doute ... vous dira le clergé romain, puisque Dieu a
consacré le septième jour au repos?

"Et quel est ce repos?

"Sera-ce celui, qu'en vous servant du bras du séculier, vous avez
tenté de lui imposer par une ordonnance préscrivant de fermer tous les
établissemens qui décorent notre cité, nos cafés, nos restaurans, pour
ne tolérer que l'ouverture des officines du pharmacien?--ordonnance
dont une caricature spirituelle a fait si prompte justice."

The following picture of a fanatical Sunday takes me back at once to
America. There, however, its worst effect was to steep the senses in
the unnecessary oblivion of a few more hours of sleep; but in Paris I
should really expect that such restraint, were it indeed possible to
impose it, would literally drive the sensitive and mobile population
to madness.

"Et quel est donc ce repos?

"Sera-ce l'immobilité des corps; l'abandon de toutes nos facultés;
l'oisiveté; l'ennui, compagnon inséparable de l'oisiveté; la prière;
la méditation,--la méditation plus pénible pour la plupart des hommes
que le travail des mains; et, enfin, vos sermons intolérans, et, qui
pis est peut-être, si ennuyeux?

"Ah! imposer à l'homme un pareil repos ne serait que suspendre son
travail pour lui faire porter, comme à St. Simon de Cyrène, la croix
de Jésus-Christ jusqu'au sommet escarpé du Calvaire."

The Abbé then proceeds to promulgate his bull for the permission of
all sorts of Parisian delights; nay, he takes a very pretty and
picturesque ramble into the country, where "les jeunes garçons et les
jeunes filles s'y livrent à des danses rustiques"--and, in short,
gives so animated a picture of the pleasures which ought to await the
Sabbath both in town and country, that it is almost impossible to read
it without feeling a wish that every human being who through the six
days of needful labour has been "weary worn with care" should pass the
seventh amid the bright and cheering scenes he describes. But he
effectually checks this feeling of sympathy with his views by what
follows. He describes habitual drunkenness with the disgust it merits;
but strangely qualifies this, by adding to his condemnation of the
"homme dégradé qui, oubliant chaque jour sa dignité dans les excès
d'une hideuse ivrognerie, _n'attend pas le jour que Dieu a consacré au
repos_, à la distraction, aux plaisirs, pour se livrer à son ignoble
passion," these dangerous words:--

"Mais condamnerons-nous sans retour notre frère pour un jour
d'intempérance passagère, et blamerons-nous celui qui, cherchant dans
le vin, ce présent du Ciel, un moment d'oubli des misères humaines,
n'a point su s'arrêter à cette douce ivresse, oublieuse des maux et
créatrice d'heureuses illusions?"

Is not this using the spur where the rein is most wanting? I am
persuaded that it is not the intention of the Abbé Auzou to advocate
any species of immorality; but all the world, and particularly the
French world perhaps, is so well disposed to amuse itself _coûte qui
coûte_, that I confess I doubt the wisdom of enforcing the necessity
of so doing from the pulpit.

The unwise, unauthorised, and most unchristian severity of the
Calvinistic and Romish priesthood may, I think, lawfully and
righteously be commented upon and reprobated both in the pulpit and
out of it; but this reprobation should not clothe itself in license,
or in any language that can be interpreted as such. There are many, I
should think, in every Christian land, both clergy and laity, but
neither popish nor Calvinistic, who would shrink both from the
sentiment and expression of the following passage:--

"Rappelons-nous que le patriarche Noé, lui qui planta la vigne et
exprima le jus de son fruit, en abusa une fois, et que Dieu ne lui en
fit point le reproche: Dieu punit, au contraire, le fils qui n'avait
point caché cette faiblesse d'un père."

There is some worldly wisdom, however, in the exclamation he addresses
to his intolerant brethren.

"Et vous, prêtres aveugles et impolitiques, laissez le peuple se
livrer à ses plaisirs innocens; faites en sorte qu'il se contente de
sa position; qu'il ne compare pas cette position pénible, douloureuse,
avec l'oisiveté dans laquelle vous vivez vous-mêmes, et que vous ne
devez qu'à la nouvelle dîme qui s'exprime de son front."

He then proceeds to say, that it is not the poor only who are
subjected to this severity, but the rich also ... "que le prêtre de la
secte romaine veut arrêter, troubler dans ses plaisirs, dans ses
délassemens."... "Un repas par lequel on célèbre l'union de deux
jeunes coeurs, l'union de deux familles, et dans lequel règnent la
joie, _et peut-être aussi un peu plus que de la gaîté_, est l'objet de
la censure inexorable de ces prêtres rigides.... Ils oublient que
celui qu'ils disent être leur maître a consacré ces réunions par sa
présence, et que le vin ayant manqué par le trop grand usage qu'on en
avait fait, il n'en a pas moins changé l'eau en vin. Ils sont tous
disposés à répondre comme ce Janséniste à qui l'on rappelait cet
intéressant épisode de la vie de Jésus,--'Ce n'est pas ce qu'il a fait
de mieux.'--Impie! ... tu blasphêmes contre ton maître!...

"Ah! mes frères, admirons, nous, dans la sincérité de notre coeur,
cet exemple de bienveillance et de _sociabilité pratique_, et
bénissons la bonté de Jésus."

Then follows an earnest defence, or rather eulogy, of dancing. But
though I greatly approve the exercise for young people, and believe it
to be as innocent as it is natural, I would not, were I called upon to
preach a sermon, address my hearers after this manner:--

"Quant aux bals, je ne chercherai point à les excuser, à les défendre,
par _des exemples puisés dans l'écriture sainte_. Je ne vous
représenterai point David dansant devant l'arche.... Je ne vous le
donnerai pas non plus pour modèle, à vous, jeunes gens de notre France
_si polie_, _si élégante_, car sans doute _il dansait mal_; puisque,
suivant la Bible, Michal sa femme, voyant le roi David qui sautait et
dansait, se moqua de lui et le méprisa dans son coeur." There is
about as much piety as good taste in this.

I have already given you such long extracts, that I must omit all he
says,--and it is much in favour of this amusement. Such forbearance
is the more necessary, as I must give you a passage or two more on
other subjects. Among the general reasons which he brings forward to
prove that fêtes and festivals are beneficial to the people, he very
justly remarks that the occupation they afford to industry is not the
least important, observing that the popish church takes no heed of
such things; and then adds, addressing the manufacturers,--

"Et lorsque le besoin se fera sentir et pour vous et vos enfans, allez
à l'Archevêché! ... à l'Archevêché! ... un jour la colère du peuple a
éclaté,--

     "Je n'ai fait que passer, il n'était déjà plus."...

The date which this sermon bears on its title-page is 1834; but the
event to which this line from Racine alludes was the destruction of
the archiepiscopal palace, which took place, if I mistake not, in
1831. If the "_il n'était déjà plus_" alludes to the palace, it is
correct enough, for destruction could not have done its work better:
but if it be meant to describe the fate of MONSEIGNEUR L'ARCHEVÊQUE DE
PARIS, the preacher is not a prophet; for, in truth, the sacrilegious
rout "n'a fait que passer," and MONSEIGNEUR has only risen higher from
the blow. Public orators of all kinds should be very cautious, in
these moveable times, how they venture to judge from to-day what may
be to-morrow. The only oracular sentence that can be uttered at
present with the least chance of success from the developement of the
future is, "Who can say what may happen next?" All who have sufficient
prudence to restrict their prescience to this acute form of prophecy,
may have the pleasure, let come what may, of turning to their
neighbours triumphantly with the question--"Did I not tell you that
something was going to happen?"--but it is dangerous to be one atom
more precise. Even before this letter can reach you, my friend, M.
l'Abbé's interpretation of "il n'était déjà plus" may be more correct
than mine. I say this, however, only to save my credit with you in
case of the worst; for my private opinion is, that Monseigneur was
never in a more prosperous condition in his life, and that, "as no one
can say what will happen next," I should not be at all astonished if a
cardinal's hat were speedily to reward him for all he has done and
suffered.

I certainly intended to have given you a few specimens of the Abbé
Auzou's manner of advocating theatrical exhibitions; but I fear they
would lead me into too great length of citation. He is sometimes
really eloquent upon the subject: nevertheless, his opinions on it,
however reasonable, would have been delivered with better effect from
the easy-chair of his library than from the pulpit of his church. It
is not that what would be good when heard from the one could become
evil when listened to from the other: but the preacher's pulpit is
intended for other uses; and though the visits to a well-regulated
theatre may be as lawful as eating, and as innocent too, we go to the
house of God in the hope of hearing tidings more important than his
minister's assurance that they are so.



LETTER XXXIII.

      Establishment for Insane Patients at Vanves.--Description of
      the arrangements.--Englishman.--His religious madness.


You will think perhaps that I have chosen oddly the object which has
induced me to make an excursion out of town, and obliged me to give up
nearly an entire day at Paris, when I tell you that it was to visit an
institution for the reception of the insane. There are, however, few
things which interest me more than an establishment of this nature;
especially when, as in the present instance, my manner of introduction
to it is such as to give me the hope of hearing the phenomena of these
awful maladies discussed by those well acquainted with them. The
establishment of MM. Voisin and Fabret, at Vanves, was mentioned to me
as one in which many improvements in the mode of treating alienation
of mind have been suggested and tried with excellent effect; and
having the opportunity of visiting it in company with a lady who was
well acquainted with the gentlemen presiding over it, I determined to
take advantage of it. My friend, too, knew how to direct my attention
to what was most interesting, from having had a relation placed there,
whom for many months she had been in the constant habit of visiting.

Her introduction obtained for me the most attentive reception, and the
fullest explanation of their admirable system, which appears to me to
combine, and on a very large and noble scale, everything likely to
assuage the sufferings, soothe the spirits, and contribute to the
health of the patients.

Vanves is situated at the distance of one league from Paris, in a
beautiful part of the country; and the establishment itself, from
almost every part of the high ground on which it is placed, commands
views so varied and extensive, as not only to render the principal
mansion a charming residence, but really to make the walks and drives
within the enclosure of the extensive premises delightful.

The grounds are exceedingly well laid out, with careful attention to
the principal object for which they are arranged, but without
neglecting any of the beauty of which the spot is so capable. They
have shade and flowers, distant views and sheltered seats, with
pleasant walks, and even drives and rides, in all directions. The
enclosure contains about sixty acres, to every part of which the
patients who are well enough to walk about can be admitted with
perfect safety.

In this park are situated two or three distinct lodges, which are
found occasionally to be of the greatest utility, in cases where the
most profound quiet is necessary, and yet where too strict confinement
would be injurious. Indeed, it appears to me that the object
principally kept in view throughout all the arrangements, is the power
of keeping patients out of sight and hearing of each other till they
are sufficiently advanced towards recovery to make it a real pleasure
and advantage to associate together.

As soon as they reach this favourable stage of their convalescence,
they mix with the family in very handsome rooms, where books, music,
and a billiard-table assist them to pass the hours without _ennui_.
Every patient has a separate sleeping-apartment, in none of which are
the precautions necessary for their safety permitted to be visible.
What would wear the appearance of iron bars in every other place of
the kind that I have seen, are here made to look like very neat
_jalousies_. Not a bolt or a bar is perceptible, nor any object
whatever that might shock the spirit, if at any time a gleam of
recovered intellect should return to visit it.

This cautious keeping out of sight of the sufferers everything that
might awaken them to a sense of their own condition, or that of the
other patients, appears to me to be the most peculiar feature of the
discipline, and is evidently one of the objects most sedulously kept
in view. Next to this I should place the system of inducing the male
patients to exercise their limbs, and amuse their spirits, by working
in the garden, at any undertaking, however _bizarre_ and profitless,
which can induce them to keep mind and body healthily employed. I know
not if this has been systematically resorted to elsewhere; but the
good sense of it is certainly very obvious, and the effect, as I was
told, is found to be very generally beneficial; though it occasionally
happens that some among them have fancied their dignity compromised by
using a spade or a hoe,--and then some of the family join with them in
the labour, to prove that it is merely a matter of amusement: in
short, everything likely to cheer or soothe the spirits seems brought
into use among them.

The ground close adjoining to the house is divided into many small
well-enclosed gardens; the women's apartments opening to some, the
men's to others of them. In several of these gardens I observed neat
little tables, such as are used in the _restaurans_ of Paris, with a
clean cloth, and all necessary appointments, placed pleasantly and
commodiously in the shade, at each of which was seated one person, who
was served with a separate dinner, and with every appearance of
comfort. Had I not known their condition, I should in many instances
have thought the spectacle a very pleasing one.

M. Voisin walked through all parts of the establishment with us, and
there appeared to exist a perfectly good understanding between him and
his patients. Among many regulations, which all appeared excellent, he
told me that the friends of his inmates were permitted at all times,
and under all circumstances, to visit them without any restraint
whatever: an arrangement which can only be productive of confidence
and advantage to all parties; as it is perfectly inconceivable that
any one who had felt obliged to place an unhappy friend or relative
under restraint should wish to interfere with the discipline necessary
for his ultimate advantage; whereas a contrary system is likely to
give occasion to constant doubts and fears on one hand, and to the
possibility of ill treatment or unnecessary restraint on the other. In
one of the courts appropriated to the use of such male patients as
were sufficiently convalescent to permit their associating together,
and amusing themselves with the different games in which they are
permitted to share, we saw a young Englishman, now rapidly recovering,
but who had scrawled over the walls of his own sleeping-apartment,
poor fellow! with a pencil, a vast quantity of writing, almost wholly
on religious subjects; proving but too plainly that he was one of the
many victims of fanaticism. Every thought seemed pregnant with suffering,
and sometimes bursts of agony were scrawled in trembling characters,
that spoke the very extremity of terror. "Who is there can endure fire
and flame for ever, for ever, and for ever?" "Death is before us--Hell
follows it!" "The bottomless pit--groans--tortures--anguish--for
ever!"... Such sentences as these were still legible, though much had
been obliterated.

Who can wonder that a mind thus occupied should lose that fine balance
with which nature has arranged our faculties, making one keep watch
and ward over the other?... This poor fellow lost his wits under the
process of conversion: Judgment being entirely overthrown, Imagination
had vaulted into its seat, pregnant with visions black as night,
dark--oh! far darker than the tomb! "palled in the dunnest smoke of
hell," and armed with every image for the eternity of torture that the
ingenuity of man could devise. Who can wonder at his madness? And how
many crimes are there recorded in the Newgate Calendar which equal in
atrocity that of so distorting a mind, that sought to raise its humble
hopes towards heaven!

I felt particularly interested for this poor lunatic, both as my
countryman, and the victim of by far the most fearful tyranny that man
can exercise on man. Against all other injury it is not difficult to
believe that a steadfast spirit can arm itself and say with Hamlet,

     "I do not set my life at a pin's fee."

But against this, it were a vain boast to add,

     "And for my soul, what can it do to that,
     Being a thing immortal as itself?"

For, alas! it is that very immortality which gives hope, comfort, and
strength under every other persecution that paralyses the sufferer
under this, and arms with such horrid strength the blasphemous wretch
who teaches him to turn in terror from his God.

M. Voisin told me that this unfortunate young man had been for some
time daily becoming more calm and tranquil, and that he entertained
not any doubt of his ultimate recovery.

Excepting this my poor countryman, the only patient I saw whose
situation it was particularly painful to contemplate was a young girl
who had only arrived the preceding day. There was in her eyes a
restless, anxious, agitated manner of looking about on all things, and
gathering a distinct idea from none--a vague uncertainty as to where
she was, not felt with sufficient strength to amount to wonder, but
enough to rob her of all the feeling of repose which belongs to home.
Poor girl! perhaps some faltering, unfixable thought brought at
intervals the figure of her mother to her; for as I looked at her
pale face, its vacant expression received more than once a sad but
passing gleam of melancholy meaning. She coughed frequently; but the
cough seemed affected,--or rather, it appeared to be an effort not so
much required by her lungs, as by the need of some change, some
relief--she knew not what, nor where nor how to seek it. She appeared
very desirous of shaking off the attendance of a woman who was waiting
upon her, and her whole manner indicated a sort of fretful unrest that
it made one wretched to contemplate. But here again I was comforted by
the assurance that there were no symptoms which forbade hope of
recovery.

I remember being told, when visiting the lunatic asylum near New York,
that the most frequent causes of insanity were ascertained to be
religion and drunkenness. Near Paris I find that love, high play, and
politics are considered as the principal causes of this calamity; and
certainly nothing can be more accordant with what observation would
teach one to expect than both these statements. At New York the
physician told me that madness arising from excessive drinking
admitted, in the great majority of cases, of a perfect cure; but that
religious aberration of intellect was much more enduring.

At Paris I have heard the same; for here also it occasionally
happens, though not often, that the reason becomes disturbed by
repeated and frequent intoxication: but where either politics or love
has taken such hold of the mind as to disturb the reasoning power, the
recovery is less certain and more slow.

Dr. Voisin told me that he uniformly found the first symptoms of
insanity appear in the wavering, indifferent, and altered state of the
affections towards relations and friends;--apathy, coldness, and, in
some cases, dislike, and even violent antipathy, being sure to appear,
wherever previous attachment had been the most remarkable. They
sometimes, but not very often, take capricious fits of fondness for
strangers; but never with any show of reason, and never for any length
of time. The most certain symptom of an approach towards recovery is
when the heart appears to be re-awakened to its natural feelings and
old attachments.

There was one old lady that I watched eating her dinner of vegetables
and fruit at a little table in one of the gardens, who had adorned her
bonnet with innumerable scraps of trumpery, and set it on her head
with the most studied and coquettish air imaginable: she fed herself
with the grace or grimace of a young beauty, eating grapes of a guinea
a pound, from a plate of crystal, with a golden fork. I am sure she
was enjoying all the happiness of feeling herself beautiful, elegant,
and admired: and when I looked at the wrinkled ruin of her once handsome
face, I could hardly think her madness a misfortune; for though I did
not obtain any pitiful story concerning her, or any history of the
cause which brought her there, I felt sure that it must in some way or
other be connected with some feeling of deeply-mortified vanity: and
if I am right in my conjecture, what has the world left for her equal
in consolation to the wild fancies which now shed such simpering
complacency over her countenance? And might we not exclaim for her in
all kindness--

     "Let but the cheat endure!--She asks not aught beside?"

What was passing in this poor old head, it was easy enough to
guess--wild as it was, and wide from the truth. But there was another,
which, though I studied it as long as I could possibly contrive to do
so, wholly baffled me; and yet I would have given much to know what
thoughts were flitting through that young brain.

She was a young girl, extremely pretty, with coal-black hair and eyes,
and seated, quite apart from all, upon a pleasant shady bench in one
of the gardens. Her face was like a fair landscape, over which passes
cloud and sunshine in rapid succession: for one moment she smiled, and
the next seemed preparing to weep; but before a tear could fall, her
fine teeth were again displayed in an unmeaning smile. O, what could
be the fleeting visions formed that worked her fancy thus? Could it be
memory? Or was the fitful emotion caused by the galloping vagaries of
an imagination which outstripped the power of reason to follow it? Or
was it none of this, but a mere meaningless movement of the muscles,
that worked in idle mockery of the intellect that used to govern them?

I have sometimes thought it very strange that people should feel such
deep delight in watching on the stage the representation of the utmost
extremity of human woe that the mind of man can contrive to place
before them; and I have wondered more, much more, at the gathering
together of thousands and tens of thousands, whenever the law has
doomed that some wretched soul should be separated by the hand of man
from the body in which it has sinned: but I doubt if my own intense
interest in watching poor human nature when deprived of reason is not
stranger still. I can in no way account for it; but so it is. I can
never withdraw myself from the contemplation of a maniac without
reluctance; and yet I am always conscious of painful feelings as long
as it lasts, and perfectly sure that I shall be followed by more
painful feelings still when it is over.

It is certain, however, that the comfort, the tenderness, the care, so
evident in every part of the establishment at Vanves, render the
contemplation of insanity there less painful than I ever found it
elsewhere; and when I saw the air of healthy physical enjoyment (at
least) with which a large number of the patients prepared to take
their pastime, during their hours of exercise, each according to his
taste or whim, amid the ample space and well-chosen accessories
prepared for them, I could not but wish that every retreat fitted up
for the reception of this unfortunate portion of the human race could
be arranged on the same plan and governed by the same principles.



LETTER XXXIV.

      Riot at the Porte St. Martin.--Prevented by a shower of
      Rain.--The Mob in fine weather.--How to stop Emeutes.--Army
      of Italy.--Théâtre Français.--Mademoiselle Mars in
      Henriette.--Disappearance of Comedy.


Though Paris is really as quiet at present as any great city can
possibly be, still we continue to be told regularly every morning,
"qu'il y avait une émeute hier soir à la Porte St. Martin." But I do
assure you that these are very harmless little pastimes; and though it
seldom happens that the mysterious hour of revolution-hatching passes
by without some arrest taking place, the parties are always liberated
the next morning; it having appeared clearly at every examination that
the juvenile aggressors, who are seldom above twenty years of age, are
as harmless as a set of croaking bull-frogs on the banks of the
Wabash. The continually repeated mention, however, of these nightly
meetings, induced two gentlemen of our party to go to this often-named
Porte St. Martin a few nights ago, in hopes of witnessing the humours
of one of these small riotings. But on arriving at the spot they
found it perfectly tranquil--everything wore the proper stillness of
an orderly and well-protected night. A few military were, however,
hovering near the spot; and of these they made inquiry as to the cause
of a repose so unlike what was usually supposed to be the state of
this celebrated quarter of the town.

"Mais ne voyez-vous pas que l'eau tombe, messieurs?" said the national
guard stationed there: "c'est bien assez pour refroidir le feu de nos
républicains. S'il fait beau demain soir, messieurs, nous aurons
encore notre petit spectacle."

Determined to know whether there was any truth in these histories or
not, and half suspecting that the whole thing, as well as the
assurance of the civil _militaire_ to boot, was neither more nor less
than a hoax, they last night, the weather being remarkably fine, again
attempted the adventure, and with very different success.

On this occasion, there was, by their description, as pretty a little
riot as heart could wish. The numbers assembled were stated to be
above four hundred: military, both horse and foot, were among them;
pointed hats were as plenty as blackberries in September, and "banners
waved without a blast" on the tottering shoulders of little
ragamuffins who had been hired for two sous apiece to carry them.

On this memorable evening, which has really made a figure this morning
in some of the republican journals, a considerable number of the most
noisy portion of the mob were arrested; but, on the whole, the
military appear to have dealt very gently with them; and our friends
heard many a crazy burst of artisan eloquence, which might have easily
enough been construed into treason, answered with no rougher repartee
than a laughing "Vive le Roi!"

At one point, however, there was a vehement struggle before a young
hero, equipped cap-à-pie à la Robespierre, could be secured; and while
two of the civic guard were employed in taking him, a little fellow of
about ten years old, who had a banner as heavy as himself on his
shoulder, and who was probably squire of the body to the prisoner,
stood on tiptoe before him at the distance of a few feet, roaring
"Vive la République!" as loud as he could bawl.

Another fellow, apparently of the very lowest class, was engaged,
during the whole time that the tumult lasted, in haranguing a party
that he had collected round him. His arms were bare to the shoulders,
and his gesticulation exceedingly violent.

"Nous avons des droits!" he exclaimed with great vehemence.... "Nous
avons des droits!... Qui est-ce qui veut les nier?... Nous ne
démandons que la charte.... Qu'ils nous donnent la charte!"...

The uproar lasted about three hours, after which the crowd quietly
dispersed; and it is to be hoped that they may all employ themselves
honestly in their respective callings, till the next fine evening
shall again bring them together in the double capacity of actors and
spectators at the "petit spectacle."

The constant repetition of this idle riot seems now to give little
disturbance to any one; and were it not that the fines and
imprisonments so constantly, and sometimes not very leniently
inflicted, evidently show that they are thought worth some attention,
(though, in fact, this system appears to produce no effect whatever
towards checking the daring demonstrations of disaffection manifested
by the rabble and their newspaper supporters,) one might deem this
indifference the result of such sober confidence of strength in the
government, as left them no anxiety whatever as to anything which this
troublesome faction could achieve.

Such, I believe, is in fact the feeling of King Philippe's government:
nevertheless, it would certainly conduce greatly to the well-being of
the people of Paris, if such methods were resorted to as would
effectually and at once put a stop to such disgraceful scenes.

  [Illustration: Drawn & Etched by A. Hervieu.
   PORTE ST. MARTIN.
   London, Published by Richard Bentley, 1835.]

"LIBERTY AND ORDER" is King Philippe's motto: he could only improve it
by adding "Repose and Quiet;" for never can he reign by any other
power than that given by the hope of repose and tranquillity. The
harassed nation looks to him for these blessings; and if it be
disappointed, the result must be terrible.

Louis-Philippe is neither Napoleon nor Charles the Tenth. He has
neither the inalienable rights of the one, nor the overpowering glory
of the other; but should he be happy enough to discover a way of
securing to this fine but strife-worn and weary country the tranquil
prosperity that it now appears beginning to enjoy, he may well be
considered by the French people as greater than either.

Bold, fearless, wise, and strong must be the hand that at the present
hour can so wield the sceptre of France; and I think it may reasonably
be doubted if any one could so wield it, unless its first act were to
wave off to a safe distance some of the reckless spirits who are ready
to lay down their lives on the scaffold--or in a gutter--or over a pan
of charcoal, rather than "live peaceably in that state of life unto
which it has pleased God to call them."

If King Louis-Philippe would undertake a crusade to restore
independence to Italy, he might convert every traitor into a hero. Let
him address the army raised for the purpose in the same inspiring
words that Napoleon used of yore. "Soldats!... Partons! Rétablir le
capitole.... Réveiller le peuple romain engourdi par plusieurs siècles
d'esclavage.... Tel sera le fruit de vos victoires. Vous rentrerez
alors dans vos foyers, et vos concitoyens diront en vous montrant--Il
était de l'armée d'Italie!" And then let him institute a new order,
entitled "L'Ordre Impérial de la Redingote grise," or "L'Ordre
indomptable des Bras croisés," and accord to every man the right of
admission to it, with the honour to boot of having an eagle
embroidered on the breast of his coat if he conducted himself
gallantly and like a Frenchman in the field of battle, and we should
soon find the Porte St. Martin as quiet as the Autocrat's
dressing-room at St. Petersburg.

If such an expedient as this were resorted to, there would no longer
be any need of that indecent species of safety-valve by which the
noxious vapour generated by the ill-disposed part of the community is
now permitted to escape. It may be very great, dignified, and
high-minded for a king and his ministers to laugh at treasonable
caricatures and seditious pleasantries of all sorts,--but I do greatly
doubt the wisdom of it. Human respect is necessary for the maintenance
and support of human authority; and that respect will be more
profitably shown by a decent degree of general external deference,
than by the most sublime kindlings of individual admiration that ever
warmed the heart of a courtier. This "_avis au lecteur_" might be
listened to with advantage, perhaps, in more countries than one.

Since I last gave you any theatrical news, we have been to see
Mademoiselle Mars play the part of Henriette in Molière's exquisite
comedy of "Les Femmes Savantes;" and I really think it the most
surprising exhibition I ever witnessed. Having seen her in "Tartuffe"
and "Charlotte Brown" from a box in the first circle, at some distance
from the stage, I imagined that the distance had a good deal to do
with the effect still produced by the grace of form, movement, and
toilet of this extraordinary woman.

To ascertain, therefore, how much was delusion and how much was truth
in the beauty I still saw or fancied, I resolved upon the desperate
experiment of securing that seat in the balcony which is nearest to
the stage. It was from this place that I saw her play Henriette; a
character deriving no aid whatever from trick or stage effect of any
kind; one, too, whose charm lies wholly in simple, unaffected
youthfulness: there are no flashes of wit, no startling hits either of
pathos or pleasantry--nothing but youth, gentleness, modesty, and
tenderness--nothing but a young girl of sixteen, rather more quiet and
retiring than usual. Yet this character, which seems of necessity to
require youth and beauty in the performer, though little else, was
personated by this miraculous old lady in a manner that not only
enchanted me--being, as I am, _rococo_--but actually drew forth from
the omnipotent _jeunes gens_ in the _parterre_ such clamorous rapture
of applause as must, I think, have completely overset any actress less
used to it than herself. Is not this marvellous?

How much it is to be regretted that the art of writing comedy has
passed away! They have vaudevilles here--charming things in their way;
and we have farces at home that certainly cannot be thought of without
enjoying the gratification of a broad grin. But for comedy, where the
intellect is called upon as well as the muscles, it is dead and gone.
The "Hunchback" is perhaps the nearest approach to it, whose birth I
remember in our country, and "Bertrand and Raton" here; but in both
cases the pleasurable excitement is produced more by the plot than the
characters--more by the business of the scene than by the wit and
elegance of the dialogue, except perhaps in the pretty wilfulness of
Julia in the second act of the "Hunchback." But even here I suspect it
was more the playful grace of the enchanting actress who first
appeared in the part, than anything in the words "set down for her,"
which so delighted us.

We do now and then get a new tragedy,--witness "Fazio" and "Rienzi;"
but Comedy--genuine, easy, graceful, flowing, talking Comedy--is dead:
I think she followed Sheridan to the grave and was buried with him!
But never is one so conscious of the loss, or so inclined to mourn it,
as after seeing a comedy of Molière's of the first order,--for his
pieces should be divided into classes, like diamonds. What a burst of
new enjoyment would rush over all England, or all France, if a thing
like "The School for Scandal" or "Les Femmes Savantes" were to appear
before them!

Fancy the delight of sitting to hear wit--wit that one did not know by
rote, bright, sparkling, untasted as yet by any--new and fresh from
the living fountain!--not coming to one in the shape of coin, already
bearing the lawful stamp of ten thousand plaudits to prove it genuine,
and to refuse to accept which would be treason; but as native gold, to
which the touchstone of your own intellect must be applied to test its
worth! Shall we ever experience this?

It is strange that the immense mass of material for comedy which the
passing scenes of this singular epoch furnish should not be worked up
by some one. Molière seems not to have suffered a single passing
folly to escape him. Had he lived in these days, what delicious whigs,
radicals, "penny-rint" kings, from our side of the water,--what tragic
poets, republicans, and parvenus from his own, would he have cheered
us withal!

Rousseau says, that when a theatre produces pieces which represent the
real manners of the people, they must greatly assist those who are
present at them to see and amend what is vicious or absurd in
themselves, "comme on ôte devant un miroir les taches de son visage."
The idea is excellent; and surely there never was a time when it would
be so easy or so useful to put it in practice. Would the gods but send
a Sheridan to England and a Molière to France, we might yet live to
see some of our worst misfortunes turned to jest, and, like the man
choking in a quinsey, laugh ourselves into health again.



LETTER XXXV.

      Soirée dansante.--Young Ladies.--Old Ladies.--Anecdote.--The
      Consolations of Chaperones.--Flirtations.--Discussion upon
      the variations between young Married Women in France and in
      England.--Making love by deputy.--Not likely to answer in
      England.


Last night we were at a ball,--or rather, I should say, a "_soirée
dansante_;" for at this season, though people may dance from night to
morning, there are no balls. But let it be called by what name it may,
it could not have been more gay and agreeable were this the month of
January instead of May.

There were several English gentlemen present, who, to the great
amusement of some of the company, uniformly selected their partners
from among the young ladies. This may appear very natural to you; but
here it is thought the most unnatural proceeding possible.

To a novice in French society, there is certainly no circumstance so
remarkable as the different position which the unmarried hold in the
drawing-rooms of England and _les salons_ of France. With us, the
prettiest things to look at, and the partners first sought for the
dance, are the young girls. Brilliant in the perfection of their
youthful bloom, graceful and gay as young fawns in every movement of
the most essentially juvenile of all exercises, and eclipsing the
light elegance of their own toilet by loveliness that leaves no eyes
to study its decoration,--it is they who, in spite of diamonds and of
blonde, of wedded beauty or of titled grace, ever appear to be the
principal actors in a ball-room. But "they manage these matters" quite
otherwise "in France."

Unfortunately, it may sometimes happen among us, that a coquettish
matron may be seen to lead the giddy waltz with more sprightliness
than wisdom; but she always does it at the risk of being _mal notée_
in some way or other, more or less gravely, by almost every person
present;--nay, I would by no means encourage her to be very certain
that her tonish partner himself would not be better pleased to whirl
round the mazy circle with one of the slight, light, sylph-like
creatures he sees flying past him, than with the most fashionable
married woman in London.

But in Paris all this is totally reversed; and, what is strange
enough, you will find in both countries that the reason assigned for
the difference between them arises from national attention to good
morals.

On entering a French ball-room, instead of seeing the youngest and
loveliest part of the company occupying the most conspicuous places,
surrounded by the gayest men, and dressed with the most studied and
becoming elegance, you must look for the young things quite in the
background, soberly and quietly attired, and almost wholly eclipsed
behind the more fully-blown beauties of their married friends.

It is really marvellous, considering how very much prettier a girl is
at eighteen than she can possibly be some dozen years afterwards, to
see how completely fashion will nevertheless have its own way, making
the worse positively appear the better beauty.

All that exceeding charm and fascination which is for ever and always
attributed to an elegant Frenchwoman, belongs wholly, solely, and
altogether to her after she becomes a wife. A young French girl,
"_parfaitement bien élevée_," looks ... "_parfaitement bien élevée_;"
but it must be confessed, also, that she looks at the same time as if
her governess (and a sharp one) were looking over her shoulder. She
will be dressed, of course, with the nicest precision and most exact
propriety; her corsets will forbid a wrinkle to appear in her robe,
and her _friseur_ deny permission to any single hair that might wish
to deviate from the station appointed for it by his stiff control. But
if you would see that graceful perfection of the toilet, that
unrivalled _agacerie_ of costume which distinguishes a French woman
from all others in the world, you must turn from mademoiselle to
madame. The very sound of the voice, too, is different. It should seem
as if the heart and soul of a French girl were asleep, or at least
dozing, till the ceremony of marriage awakened them. As long as it is
mademoiselle who speaks, there is something monotonous, dull, and
uninteresting in the tone, or rather in the tune, of her voice; but
when madame addresses you, all the charm that manner, cadence, accent
can bestow, is sure to greet you.

In England, on the contrary, of all the charms peculiar to youthful
loveliness, I know none so remarkable as the unconstrained, fresh,
natural, sweet, and joyous sound of a young girl's voice. It is as
delicious as the note of the lark, when rising in the first freshness
of morning to meet the sun. It is not restrained, held in, and checked
into tameness by any fear lest it should too early show its syren
power.

Even in the dance itself, the very arena for the display of youthful
gracefulness, the young French girl fails, when her well-taught steps
are compared with the easy, careless, fascinating movements of the
married woman.

In the simple kindness of manner too, which, if there were no other
attraction, would ever suffice to render an unaffected, good-natured
young girl charming, there must be here a cautious restraint. A
_demoiselle Française_ would be prevented by _bienséance_ from showing
it, were she the gentlest-hearted creature breathing.

A young Englishman of my acquaintance, who, though he had been a good
deal in French society, was not initiated into the mysteries of female
education, recounted to me the other day an adventure of his, which is
german to the matter, though not having much to do with our last
night's ball. This young man had for a long time been very kindly
received in a French family, had repeatedly dined with them, and, in
fact, considered himself as admitted to their house on the footing of
an intimate friend.

The only child of this family was a daughter, rather pretty, but cold,
silent, and repulsive in manner--almost awkward, and utterly
uninteresting. Every attempt to draw her into conversation had ever
proved abortive; and though often in her company, the Englishman
hardly thought she could consider him as an acquaintance.

The young man returned to England; but, after some months, again
revisited Paris. While standing one day in earnest contemplation of a
picture at the Louvre, he was startled at being suddenly addressed by
an extremely beautiful woman, who in the kindest and most friendly
manner imaginable asked him a multitude of questions--made a thousand
inquiries after his health--invited him earnestly to come and see her,
and concluded by exclaiming--"Mais c'est un siècle depuis que je vous
ai vu."

My friend stood gazing at her with equal admiration and surprise. He
began to remember that he had seen her before, but when or where he
knew not. She saw his embarrassment and smiled. "Vous m'avez oublié
donc?" said she. "Je m'appelle Eglé de P----.... Mais je suis
mariée...."

But to return to our ball.

As I saw the married women taken out to dance one after the another,
till at last there was not a single dancing-looking man left, I felt
myself getting positively angry; for, notwithstanding the assistance
given by my ignorant countrymen, there were still at least half a
dozen French girls unprovided with chevaliers.

They did not, however, look by many degrees so sadly disappointed as
English girls would do did the same misfortune betide them. They, like
the poor eels, were used to it; and the gentlemen, too, were cruelly
used to the task of torture,--making their pretty little feet beat
time upon the floor, while they watched the happy wedded in pairs--not
wedded pairs--swim before their eyes in mazes which they would most
gladly have threaded after them.

When at length all the married ladies, young and old, were duly
provided for, several staid and very respectable-looking gentlemen
emerged from corners and sofas, and presenting themselves to the young
expectants, were accepted with quiet, grateful smiles, and permitted
to lead them to the dance.

Old ladies like myself, whose fate attaches them to the walls of a
ball-room, are accustomed to find their consolation and amusement from
various sources. First, they enjoy such conversation as they can
catch; or, if they will sit tolerably silent, they may often hear the
prettiest airs of the season exceedingly well played. Then the whole
arena of twinkling feet is open to their criticism and admiration.
Another consolation, and frequently a very substantial one, is found
in the supper;--nay, sometimes a passing ice will be caught to cheer
the weary watcher. But there is another species of amusement, the
general avowal of which might lead the younger part of the civilized
world to wish that old ladies wore blinkers: I allude to the quiet
contemplation of half a dozen sly flirtations that may be going on
around them,--some so well managed! ... some so clumsily!

But upon all these occasions, in England, though well-behaved old
ladies will always take especial care not so to see that their seeing
shall be seen, they still look about them with no feeling of
restraint--no consciousness that they would rather be anywhere else
than spectators of what is going forward near them. They feel, at
least I am sure I do, a very comfortable assurance that the fair one
is engaged, not in marring, but in making her fortune. Here again I
may quote the often-quoted, and say, "They manage all these matters
differently at least, if not better, in France."

In England, if a woman is seen going through all the manoeuvres of
the flirting exercise, from the first animating reception of the "How
d'ye do?" to the last soft consciousness which fixes the eyes
immovably on the floor, while the head, gently inclined, seems willing
to indulge the happy ear in receiving intoxicating draughts of
_parfait amour_,--when this is seen in England, even should the lady
be past eighteen, one feels assured that she is not married; but here,
without scandal or the shadow of scandal be it spoken, one feels
equally well assured that she is. She may be a widow--or she may flirt
in the innocence of her heart, because it is the fashion; but she
cannot do it, because she is a young lady intending to be married.

I was deeply engaged in these speculations last night, when an elderly
lady--who for some reason or other, not very easy to divine, actually
never waltzes--came across the room and placed herself by my side.
Though she does not waltz, she is a very charming person; and as I had
often conversed with her before, I now welcomed her approach with
great pleasure.

"A quoi pensez-vous, Madame Trollope?" said she: "vous avez l'air de
méditer."

I deliberated for a moment whether I should venture to tell her
exactly what was passing in my mind; but as I deliberated, I looked at
her, and there was that in her countenance which assured me I should
have no severity to fear if I put her wholly in my confidence: I
therefore replied very frankly,--

"I am meditating; and it is on the position which unmarried women hold
in France."

"Unmarried women?... You will scarcely find any such in France," said
she.

"Are not those young ladies who have just finished their quadrille
unmarried?"

"Ah!... But you cannot call them unmarried women. _Elles sont des
demoiselles._"

"Well, then, my meditations were concerning them."

"Eh bien...."

"Eh bien.... It appears to me that the ball is not given--that the
music does not play--that the gentlemen are not _empressé_, for them."

"No, certainly. It would be quite contrary to our ideas of what is
right if it were so."

"With us it is so different!... It is always the young ladies who are,
at least, the ostensible heroines of every ball-room."

"The ostensible heroines?"... She dwelt rather strongly upon the
adjective, adding with a smile,--"Our ostensible, are our real
heroines upon these occasions."

I explained. "The real heroines," said I, "will, I confess, in cases
of ostentation and display, be sometimes the ladies who give balls in
return."

"Well explained," said she, laughing: "I certainly thought you had
another meaning. You think, then," she continued, "that our young
married women are made of too much importance among us?"

"Oh no!" I replied eagerly: "it is, in my opinion, almost impossible
to make them of too much importance; for I believe that it is entirely
upon their influence that the tone of society depends."

"You are quite right. It is impossible for those who have lived as
long as we have in the world to doubt it: but how can this be, if,
upon the occasions which bring people together, they are to be
overlooked, while young girls who have as yet no position fixed are
brought forward instead?"

"But surely, being brought forward to dance in a waltz or quadrille,
is not the sort of consequence which we either of us mean?"

"Perhaps not; but it is one of its necessary results. Our women marry
young,--as soon, in fact, as their education is finished, and before
they have been permitted to enter the world, or share in the pleasures
of it. Their destiny, therefore, instead of being the brightest that
any women enjoy, would be the most _triste_, were they forbidden to
enter into the amusements so natural to their age and national
character, because they were married."

"But may there not be danger in the custom which throws young females,
thus early and irrevocably engaged, for the first time into the
society, and, as it were, upon the attentions of men whom it has
already become their duty not to consider as too amiable?"

"Oh no!... If a young woman be well-disposed, it is not a quadrille,
or a waltz either, that will lead her astray. If it could, it would
surely be the duty of all the legislators of the earth to forbid the
exercise for ever."

"No, no, no!" said I earnestly; "I mean nothing of the kind, I assure
you: on the contrary, I am so convinced, from the recollections of my
own feelings, and my observations on those of others, that dancing is
not a fictitious, but a real, natural source of enjoyment, the
inclination for which is inherent in us, that, instead of wishing it
to be forbidden, I would, had I the power, make it infinitely more
general and of more frequent occurrence than it is: young people
should never meet each other without the power of dancing if they
wished it."

"And from this animating pleasure, for which you confess that there is
a sort of _besoin_ within us, you would exclude all the young women
above seventeen--because they are married?... Poor things!... Instead
of finding them so willing as they generally are to enter on the busy
scenes of life, I think we should have great difficulty in getting
their permission to _monter un ménage_ for them. Marriage would be
soon held in abhorrence if such were its laws."

"I would not have them such, I assure you," replied I, rather at a
loss how to explain myself fully without saying something that might
either be construed into coarseness of thinking and a cruel
misdoubting of innocence, or else into a very uncivil attack upon the
national manners: I was therefore silent.

My companion seemed to expect that I should proceed, but after a short
interval resumed the conversation by saying,--"Then what arrangement
would you propose, to reconcile the necessity of dancing with the
propriety of keeping married women out of the danger which you seem to
imagine might arise from it?"

"It would be too national were I to reply, that I think our mode of
proceeding in this case is exactly what it ought to be."

"But such is your opinion?"

"To speak sincerely, I believe it is."

"Will you then have the kindness to explain to me the difference in
this respect between France and England?"

"The only difference between us which I mean to advocate is, that with
us the amusement which throws young people together under
circumstances the most likely, perhaps, to elicit expressions of
gallantry and admiration from the men, and a gracious reception of
them from the women, is considered as befitting the single rather than
the married part of the community."

"With us, indeed, it is exactly the reverse," replied she,--"at least
as respects the young ladies. By addressing the idle, unmeaning
gallantry inspired by the dance to a young girl, we should deem the
cautious delicacy of restraint in which she is enshrined transgressed
and broken in upon. A young girl should be given to her husband
before her passions have been awakened or her imagination excited by
the voice of gallantry."

"But when she is given to him, do you think this process more
desirable than before?"

"Certainly it is not desirable; but it is infinitely less dangerous.
When a girl is first married, her feelings, her thoughts, her
imagination are wholly occupied by her husband. Her mode of education
has ensured this; and afterwards, it is at the choice of her husband
whether he will secure and retain her young heart for himself. If he
does this, it is not a waltz or quadrille that will rob him of it. In
no country have husbands so little reason to complain of their wives
as in France; for in no country does the manner in which they live
with them depend so wholly on themselves. With you, if your novels,
and even the strange trials made public to all the world by your
newspapers, may be trusted, the very reverse is the case. Previous
attachments--early affection broken off before the marriage, to be
renewed after it--these are the histories we hear and read; and most
assuredly they do not tempt us to adopt your system as an amendment
upon our own."

"The very notoriety of the cases to which you allude proves their rare
occurrence," replied I. "Such sad histories would have but little
interest for the public, either as tales or trials, if they did not
relate circumstances marked and apart from ordinary life."

"Assuredly. But you will allow also that, however rare they may be in
England, such records of scandal and of shame are rarer still in
France?"

"Occurrences of the kind do not perhaps produce so much sensation
here," said I.

"Because they are more common, you would say. Is not that your
meaning?" and she smiled reproachfully.

"It certainly was not my meaning to say so," I replied; "and, in
truth, it is neither a useful nor a gracious occupation to examine on
which side the Channel the greater proportion of virtue may be found;
though it is possible some good might be done on both, were the
education in each country to be modified by the introduction of what
is best in the other."

"I have no doubt of it," said she; "and as we go on exchanging
fashions so amicably, who knows but we may live to see your young
ladies shut up a little more, while their mothers and fathers look out
for a suitable marriage for them, instead of inflicting the awkward
task upon themselves? And in return, perhaps, our young wives may lay
aside their little coquetries and become _mères respectables_
somewhat earlier than they do now. But, in truth, they all come to it
at last."

As she finished speaking these words, a new waltz sounded, and again a
dozen couples, some ill, some well matched, swam past us. One of the
pairs was composed of a very fine-looking young man, with blue-black
_favoris_ and _moustaches_, tall as a tower, and seeming, if air and
expression may be trusted, very tolerably well pleased with himself.
His _danseuse_ might unquestionably have addressed her husband, who
sat at no great distance from us, drawing up his gouty feet under his
chair to let her pass, in these touching words:--

     "Full thirty times hath Phoebus' cart gone round
     Neptune's salt wash and Tellus' orbed ground,
     And thirty dozen moons, with borrow'd sheen,
     About the world have times twelve thirties been,
     Since Love our hearts and Hymen did our hands
     Unite commutual in most sacred bands."

My neighbour and I looked up and exchanged glances as they went by. We
both laughed.

"At least you will allow," said she, "that this is one of the cases in
which a married lady may indulge her passion for the dance without
danger of consequences?"

"I am not quite sure of that," replied I. "If she be not found guilty
of sin, she will scarcely obtain a verdict that shall acquit her of
folly. But what can induce that magnificent personage, who looks down
upon her as if engaged in measuring the distance between them--what
could induce him to request the honour of enclosing her venerable
waist in his arm?"

"Nothing more easily explained. That little fair girl sitting in
yonder corner, with her hair so tightly drawn off her forehead, is her
daughter--her only daughter, and will have a noble _dot_. Now you
understand it?... And tell me, in case his speculation should not
succeed, is it not better that this excellent lady, who waltzes so
very like a duck, should receive all the eloquence with which he will
seek to render himself amiable, upon her time-steeled heart, than that
the delicate little girl herself should have to listen to it?"

"And you really would recommend us to adopt this mode of love-making
by deputy, letting the mamma be the substitute, till the young lady
has obtained a brevet to listen to the language of love in her own
person? However excellent the scheme may be, dear lady, it is vain to
hope that we shall ever be able to introduce it among us. The young
ladies, I suspect, would exclaim, as you do here, when explaining why
you cannot permit any English innovations among you, "Ce n'est pas
dans nos moeurs."

       *       *       *       *       *

I assure you, my friend, that I have not composed this conversation _à
loisir_ for your amusement, for I have set down as nearly as possible
what was said to me, though I have not quite given it all to you; but
my letter is already long enough.



LETTER XXXVI.

      Improvements of Paris.--Introduction of Carpets and
      Trottoirs.--Maisonnettes.--Not likely to answer in
      Paris.--The necessity of a Porter and Porter's
      Lodge.--Comparative Expenses of France and
      England.--Increasing Wealth of the Bourgeoisie.


Among the many recent improvements in Paris which evidently owe their
origin to England, those which strike the eye first, are the almost
universal introduction of carpets within doors, and the frequent
blessing of a _trottoir_ without. In a few years, unless all
paving-stones should be torn up in search of more immortality, there
can be no doubt that it will be almost as easy to walk in Paris as in
London. It is true that the old streets are not quite wide enough to
admit such enormous esplanades on each side as Regent and Oxford
Streets; but all that is necessary to safety and comfort may be
obtained with less expense of space; and to those who knew Paris a
dozen years ago, when one had to hop from stone to stone in the fond
hope of escaping wet shoes in the Dog-days--tormented too during the
whole of this anxious process with the terror of being run over by
carts, fiacres, concous, cabs, and wheelbarrows;--whoever remembers
what it was to walk in Paris then, will bless with an humble and
grateful spirit the dear little pavement which, with the exception of
necessary intervals to admit of an approach to the portes-cochère of
the various _hôtels_, and a few short intervals beside, which appear
to have been passed over and forgotten, borders most of the principal
streets of Paris now.

Another English innovation, infinitely more important in all ways, has
been attempted, and has failed. This was the endeavour to introduce
_maisonnettes_, or small houses calculated for the occupation of one
family. A few such have been built in that new part of the town which
stretches away in all directions behind the Madeleine; but they are
not found to answer--and that for many reasons which I should have
thought it very easy to foresee, and which I suspect it would be very
difficult to obviate.

In order to come at all within reach of the generality of French
incomes, they must be built on too small a scale to have any good
rooms; and this is a luxury, and permits a species of display, to
which many are accustomed who live in unfurnished apartments, for
which they give perhaps fifteen hundred or two thousand francs a year.
Another accommodation which habit has made it extremely difficult for
French families to dispense with, and which can be enjoyed at an easy
price only by sharing it with many, is a porter and a porter's lodge.
Active as is the race of domestic servants in Paris, their number
must, I think, be doubled in many families, were the arrangement of
the porter's lodge to be changed for our system of having a servant
summoned every time a parcel, a message, a letter, or a visit arrives
at the house.

Nor does the taking charge of these by any means comprise the whole
duty of this servant of many masters; neither am I at all competent to
say exactly what does: but it seems to me that the answer I generally
receive upon desiring that anything may be done is, "Oui, madame, le
portier ou la portière fera cela;" and were we suddenly deprived of
these factotums, I suspect that we should be immediately obliged to
leave our apartments and take refuge in an hôtel, for I should be
quite at a loss to know what or how many additional "helps" would be
necessary to enable us to exist without them.

That the whole style and manner of domestic existence throughout all
the middling classes of such a city as Paris should hang upon their
porters' lodges, seems tracing great effects to little causes; but I
have been so repeatedly told that the failure of the _maisonnettes_
has in a great degree arisen from this, that I cannot doubt it.

I know not whether anything which prevents their so completely
changing their mode of life as they must do if living in separate
houses, is to be considered as an evil or not. The Parisians are a
very agreeable, and apparently a very happy population; and who can
say what effect the quiet, steady, orderly mode of each man having a
small house of his own might produce? What is admirable as a component
part of one character, is often incongruous and disagreeable when met
in another; and I am by no means certain if the snug little mansion
which might be procured for the same rent as a handsome apartment,
would not tend to circumscribe and tame down the light spirits that
now send _locataires_ of threescore springing to their elegant
_premier_ by two stairs at a time. And the prettiest and best
_chaussés_ little feet in the world too, which now trip _sans souci_
over the common stair, would they not lag painfully perhaps in passing
through a low-browed hall, whose neatness or unneatness had become a
private and individual concern? And might not many a bright fancy be
damped while calculating how much it would cost to have a few statues
and oleanders in it?--and the head set aching by meditating how to get
"ce vilain escalier frotté" from top to bottom? Yet all these, and
many other cares which they now escape, must fall upon them if they
give up their apartments for _maisonnettes_.

The fact, I believe, is, that French fortunes, taken at the average at
which they at present stand, could not suffice to procure the pretty
elegance to which the middle classes are accustomed, unless it were
done by the sacrifice of some portion of that costly fastidiousness
which English people of the same rank seem to cling to as part of
their prerogative.

Though I am by no means prepared to say that I should like to exchange
my long-confirmed habit of living in a house of my own for the
Parisian mode of inhabiting apartments, I cannot but allow that by
this and sundry other arrangements a French income is made to
contribute infinitely more to the enjoyment of its possessor than an
English one.

Let any English person take the trouble of calculating, let their
revenue be great or small, how much of it is expended in what
immediately contributes to their personal comfort and luxury, and how
much of it is devoted to the support of expenses which in point of
fact add to neither, and the truth of this statement will become
evident.

Rousseau says, that "cela se fait," and "cela ne se fait pas," are the
words which regulate everything that goes on within the walls of
Paris. That the same words have at least equal power in London, can
hardly be denied; and, unfortunately for our individual independence,
obedience to them costs infinitely more on our side of the water than
it does on this. Hundreds are annually spent, out of very confined
incomes, to support expenses which have nothing whatever to do with
the personal enjoyment of those who so tax themselves; but it must be
submitted to, because "cela se fait," or "cela ne se fait pas." In
Paris, on the contrary, this imperative phrase has comparatively no
influence on the expenditure of any revenue, because every one's
object is not to make it appear that he is as rich as his neighbour,
but to make his means, be they great or small, contribute as much as
possible to the enjoyment and embellishment of his existence.

It is for this reason that a residence in Paris is found so favourable
an expedient in cases of diminished or insufficient fortune. A family
coming hither in the hope of obtaining the mere necessaries of life at
a much cheaper rate than in England would be greatly disappointed:
some articles are cheaper, but many are considerably dearer; and, in
truth, I doubt if at the present moment anything that can be strictly
denominated a necessary of life is to be found cheaper in Paris than
in London.

It is not the necessaries, but the luxuries of life that are cheaper
here. Wine, ornamental furniture, the keep of horses, the price of
carriages, the entrance to theatres, wax-lights, fruit, books, the
rent of handsome apartments, the wages of men-servants, are all
greatly cheaper, and direct taxes greatly less. But even this is not
the chief reason why a residence in Paris may be found economical to
persons of any pretension to rank or style at home. The necessity for
parade, so much the most costly of all the appendages to rank, may
here be greatly dispensed with, and that without any degradation
whatever. In short, the advantage of living in Paris as a matter of
economy depends entirely upon the degree of luxury to be obtained.
There are certainly many points of delicacy and refinement in the
English manner of living which I should be very sorry to see given up
as national peculiarities; but I think we should gain much in many
ways could we learn to hang our consequence less upon the comparison
of what others do. We shudder at the cruel madness of the tyrant who
would force every form to reach one standard; but those are hardly
less mad who insist that every one, to live _comme il faut_, must
live, or appear to live, exactly as others do, though the means of
doing so may vary among the silly set so prescribed to, from an income
that may justify any extravagance to one that can honestly supply
none.

This is a folly of incalculably rarer occurrence here than in England;
and it certainly is no proof of the good sense of our "most thinking
people," that for one private family brought to ruin by extravagance
in France, there are fifty who suffer from this cause in England.

It is easy to perceive that our great wealth has been the cause of
this. The general scale of expense has been set so high, that
thousands who have lived in reference to that, rather than to their
individual fortunes, have been ruined by the blunder; and I really
know no remedy so likely to cure the evil as a residence in Paris;
not, however, so much as a means of saving money, as of making a
series of experiments which may teach them how to make the best and
most enjoyable use of it.

I am persuaded, that if it were to become as much the fashion to
imitate the French independence of mind in our style of living, as it
now is to copy them in ragoûts, bonnets, moustaches, and or-molu, we
should greatly increase our stock of real genuine enjoyment. If no
English lady should ever again feel a pang at her heart because she
saw more tall footmen in her neighbour's hall than in her own--if no
sighs were breathed in secret in any club-house or at any sale,
because Jack Somebody's stud was a cut above us--if no bills were run
up at Gunter's, or at Howell and James's, because it was worse than
death to be outdone,--we should unquestionably be a happier and a
more respectable people than we are at present.

It is, I believe, pretty generally acknowledged by all parties, that
the citizens of France have become a more money-getting generation
since the last revolution than they ever were before it. The security
and repose which the new dynasty seems to have brought with it, have
already given them time and opportunity to multiply their capital; and
the consequence is, that the shop-keeping propensities with which
Napoleon used to reproach us have crossed the Channel, and are
beginning to produce very considerable alterations here.

It is evident that the wealth of the _bourgeoisie_ is rapidly
increasing, and their consequence with it; so rapidly, indeed, that
the republicans are taking fright at it,--they see before them a new
enemy, and begin to talk of the abominations of an aristocratic
_bourgeoisie_.

There is, in fact, no circumstance in the whole aspect of the country
more striking or more favourable than this new and powerful impulse
given to trade. It is the best ballast that the vessel of the state
can have; and if they can but contrive that nothing shall happen to
occasion its being thrown overboard, it may suffice to keep her
steady, whatever winds may blow.

The wide-spreading effect of this increasing wealth among the
_bourgeoisie_ is visible in many ways, but in none more than in the
rapid increase of handsome dwellings, which are springing up, as white
and bright as new-born mushrooms, in the north-western division of
Paris. This is quite a new world, and reminds me of the early days of
Russell Square, and all the region about it. The Church of the
Madeleine, instead of being, as I formerly remember it, nearly at the
extremity of Paris, has now a new city behind it; and if things go on
at the same rate at which they seem to be advancing at present, we
shall see it, or at least our children will, occupying as central a
position as St. Martin's-in-the-Fields. An excellent market, called
Marché de la Madeleine, has already found its way to this new town;
and I doubt not that churches, theatres, and restaurans innumerable
will speedily follow.

The capital which is now going so merrily on, increasing with almost
American rapidity, will soon ask to be invested; and when this
happens, Paris will be seen running out of town with the same active
pace that London has done before her; and twenty years hence the Bois
de Boulogne may very likely be as thickly peopled as the Regent's Park
is now.

This sudden accession of wealth has already become the cause of a
great increase in the price of almost every article sold in Paris;
and if this activity of commerce continue, it is more than probable,
that the hitherto moderate fortunes of the Parisian _boursier_ and
merchant will grow into something resembling the colossal capitals of
England, and we shall find that the same causes which have hitherto
made England dear will in future prevent France from being cheap. It
will then happen, that many deficiencies which are now perceptible,
and which furnish the most remarkable points of difference between the
two countries, will disappear; great wealth being in many instances
all that is required to make a French family live very much like an
English one. Whether they will not, when this time arrives, lose on
the side of unostentatious enjoyment more than they will gain by
increased splendour, may, I think, be very doubtful. For my own part,
I am decidedly of opinion, that as soon as heavy ceremonious dinners
shall systematically take place of the present easy, unexpensive style
of visiting, Paris will be more than half spoiled, and the English may
make up their minds to remain proudly and pompously at home, lest,
instead of a light and lively contrast to their own ways, they may
chance to find a heavy but successful rivalry.



LETTER XXXVII.

      Horrible Murder.--La Morgue.--Suicides.--Vanity.--Anecdote.
      --Influence of Modern Literature.--Different appearance of
      Poverty in France and England.


We have been made positively sick and miserable by the details of a
murder, which seems to show that we live in a world where there are
creatures ten thousand times more savage than any beast that ranges
the forest,

     "Be it ounce, or cat, or bear,
     Pard, or boar with bristled hair."

This horror was perpetrated on the person of a wretched female, who
appeared, by the mangled remains which were found in the river, to
have been very young. But though thus much was discovered, it was many
days ere, among the thousands who flocked to the Morgue to look at the
severed head and mangled limbs, any one could be found to recognise
the features. At length, however, the person with whom she had lodged
came to see if she could trace any resemblance between her lost
inmate and these wretched relics of a human being.

She so far succeeded as to convince herself of the identity; though
her means of judging appeared to be so little satisfactory, that few
placed any reliance upon her testimony. Nevertheless, she at length
succeeded in having a man taken up, who had lived on intimate terms
with the poor creature whose sudden disappearance had induced this
woman to visit the Morgue when the description of this mangled body
reached her. He immediately confessed the deed, in the spirit, though
not in the words, of the poet:--

     "Mourons: de tant d'horreurs qu'un trépas me délivre!
     Est-ce un malheur si grand que de cesser de vivre?

            *       *       *       *       *

     Je ne crains pas le nom que je laisse après moi."

The peculiarly horrid manner in which the crime was committed, and the
audacious style in which the criminal appears to brave justice, will,
it is thought, prevent any _extenuating circumstances_ being pleaded,
as is usually done, for the purpose of commuting the punishment of
death into imprisonment with enforced labour. It is generally expected
that this atrocious murderer will be guillotined, notwithstanding the
averseness of the government to capital punishment.

The circumstances are, indeed, hideous in all ways, and the more so
from being mixed up with what is miscalled the tender passion. The
cannibal fury which sets a man to kill his foe that he may eat him,
has fully as much tenderness in it as this species of affection.

When "the passion is made up of nothing but the finest parts of love,"
it may, perhaps, deserve the epithet of tender; but we have heard of
late of so many horrible and deliberate assassinations, originating in
what newspapers are pleased to call "_une grande passion_" that the
first idea which a love-story now suggests to me is, that the sequel
will in all probability be murder "most foul, strange, and unnatural!"

Is there in any language a word that can raise so many shuddering
sensations as "_La Morgue_?" Hatred, revenge, murder, are each
terrible; but La Morgue outdoes them all in its power of bringing
together in one syllable the abstract of whatever is most appalling in
crime, poverty, despair, and death.

To the ghastly Morgue are conveyed the unowned dead of every
description that are discovered in or near Paris. The Seine is the
great receptacle which first receives the victims of assassination or
despair; but they are not long permitted to elude the vigilance of the
Parisian police: a huge net, stretched across the river at St. Cloud,
receives and retains whatever the stream brings down; and anything
that retains a trace of human form which is found amidst the product
of the fearful draught is daily conveyed to La Morgue;--DAILY; for
rarely does it chance that for four-and-twenty hours its melancholy
biers remain unoccupied; often do eight, ten, a dozen corpses at a
time arrive by the frightful caravan from "_les filets de St. Cloud_."

I have, in common with most people, I believe, a very strong
propensity within me for seeing everything connected directly or
indirectly with any subject or event which has strongly roused my
curiosity, or interested my feelings; but, strange to say, I never
feel its influence so irresistible as when something of shuddering
horror is mixed with the spectacle. It is this propensity which has
now induced me to visit this citadel of death;--this low and solitary
roof, placed in the very centre of moving, living, laughing Paris.

No visit to a tomb, however solemn or however sad, can approach in
thrilling horror to the sensation caused by passing the threshold of
this charnel-house.

The tomb calls us to the contemplation of the common, the inevitable
lot; but this gathering place of sin and death arouses thoughts of all
that most outrages nature, and most foully violates the sanctuary of
life, into which God has breathed his spirit. But I was steadfast in
my will to visit it, and I have done it.

The building is a low, square, carefully-whited structure, situated on
the Quai de la Cité. It is open to all; and it is fearful to think how
many anxious hearts have entered, how many despairing ones have
quitted it.

On entering I found myself in a sort of low hall which contained no
object whatever. If I mistake not, there is a chamber on each side of
it: but it was to the left hand that I was led, and it was thither
that about a dozen persons who entered at the same time either
followed or preceded me. I do not too well remember how I reached the
place where the bodies are visible; but I know that I stood before one
of three large windows, through the panes of which, and very near to
them, lighted also by windows in the roof, are seen a range of biers,
sloping towards the spectator at an angle that gives the countenance
as well as the whole figure of the persons extended on them fully to
view.

In this manner I saw the bodies of four men stretched out before me;
but their aspect bore no resemblance to death--neither were they
swollen or distorted in any way, but so discoloured as to give them
exactly the appearance of bronze statues.

Two out of the four had evidently been murdered, for their heads and
throats gave frightful evidence of the violence that had been
practised upon them; the third was a mere boy, who probably met his
fate by accident: but that the fourth was a suicide, it was hardly
possible to doubt; even in death his features held the desperate
expression that might best paint the state of mind likely to lead to
such an act.

It was past mid-day when we entered the Morgue; but neither of the
bodies had yet been claimed or recognised.

This spectacle naturally set me upon seeking information, wherever I
was likely to find it, respecting the average number of bodies thus
exposed within the year, the proportion of them believed to be
suicides, and the causes generally supposed most influential in
producing this dreadful termination.

I will not venture to repeat the result of these inquiries in figures,
as I doubt if the information I received was of that strictly accurate
kind which could justify my doing so; yet it was quite enough so, to
excite both horror and astonishment at the extraordinary number which
are calculated to perish annually at Paris by self-slaughter.

In many recent instances, the causes which have led to these desperate
deeds have been ascertained by the written acknowledgment of the
perpetrators themselves, left as a legacy to mankind. Such a legacy
might perhaps not be wholly unprofitable to the survivors, were it not
that the motives assigned, in almost every instance where they have
been published, have been of so frivolous and contemptible a nature as
to turn wholesome horror to most ill-placed mirth.

It can hardly be doubted, from the testimony of these singular
documents, that many young Frenchmen perish yearly in this guilty and
deplorable manner for no other reason in the world than the hope of
being talked of afterwards.

Had some solitary instance of so perverted a vanity been found among
these records, it might perhaps have been considered as no more
incredible than various other proofs of the enfeebling effects of this
paltry passion on the judgment, and have been set down to insanity,
produced by excessive egotism: but nothing short of the posthumous
testimony of the persons themselves could induce any one to believe
that scarcely a week passes without such an event, from such a cause,
taking place in Paris.

In many instances, I am told that the good sense of surviving friends
has led them to disobey the testamentary instructions left by the
infatuated young men who have thus acted, requesting that the wretched
reasonings which have led them to it should be published. But, in a
multitude of cases, the "Constitutionnel" and other journals of the
same stamp have their columns filled with reasons why these poor
reckless creatures have dared the distant justice of their Creator, in
the hope that their unmeaning names should be echoed through Paris for
a day.

It is not long since two young men--mere youths--entered a
_restaurant_, and bespoke a dinner of unusual luxury and expense, and
afterwards arrived punctually at the appointed hour to eat it. They
did so, apparently with all the zest of youthful appetite and youthful
glee. They called for champagne, and quaffed it hand in hand. No
symptom of sadness, thought, or reflection of any kind was observed to
mix with their mirth, which was loud, long, and unremitting. At last
came the _café noir_, the cognac, and the bill: one of them was seen
to point out the amount to the other, and then both burst out afresh
into violent laughter. Having swallowed each his cup of coffee to the
dregs, the _garçon_ was ordered to request the company of the
_restaurateur_ for a few minutes. He came immediately, expecting
perhaps to receive his bill, minus some extra charge which the jocund
but economical youths might deem exorbitant.

Instead of this, however, the elder of the two informed him that the
dinner had been excellent, which was the more fortunate as it was
decidedly the last that either of them should ever eat: that for his
bill, he must of necessity excuse the payment of it, as in fact they
neither of them possessed a single sous: that upon no other occasion
would they thus have violated the customary etiquette between guest
and landlord; but that finding this world, its toils and its troubles,
unworthy of them, they had determined once more to enjoy a repast of
which their poverty must for ever prevent the repetition, and
then--take leave of existence for ever! For the first part of this
resolution, he declared that it had, thanks to his cook and his
cellar, been achieved nobly; and for the last, it would soon
follow--for the _café noir_, besides the little glass of his admirable
cognac, had been medicated with that which would speedily settle all
their accounts for them.

The _restaurateur_ was enraged. He believed no part of the
rhodomontade but that which declared their inability to discharge the
bill, and he talked loudly, in his turn, of putting them into the
hands of the police. At length, however, upon their offering to give
him their address, he was persuaded to let them depart.

On the following day, either the hope of obtaining his money, or some
vague fear that they might have been in earnest in the wild tale that
they had told him, induced this man to go to the address they had left
with him; and he there heard that the two unhappy boys had been that
morning found lying together hand in hand, on a bed hired a few weeks
before by one of them. When they were discovered, they were already
dead and quite cold.

On a small table in the room lay many written papers, all expressing
aspirations after greatness that should cost neither labour nor care,
a profound contempt for those who were satisfied to live by the sweat
of their brow--sundry quotations from Victor Hugo, and a request that
their names and the manner of their death might be transmitted to the
newspapers.

Many are the cases recorded of young men, calling themselves dear
friends, who have thus encouraged each other to make their final exit
from life, if not with applause, at least with effect. And more
numerous still are the tales recounted of young men and women found
dead, and locked in each other's arms; fulfilling literally, and with
most sad seriousness, the destiny sketched so merrily in the old
song:--

     Gai, gai, marions-nous--
       Mettons-nous dans la misère;
     Gai, gai, marions-nous--
     Mettons-nous la corde au cou.

I have heard it remarked by several individuals among those who are
watching with no unphilosophical eyes many ominous features of the
present time and the present race, or rather perhaps of that portion
of the population which stand apart from the rest in dissolute
idleness, that the worst of all its threatening indications is the
reckless, hard indifference, and gladiator-like contempt of death,
which is nurtured, taught, and lauded as at once the foundation and
perfection of all human wisdom and of all human virtue.

In place of the firmness derived from hope and resignation, these
unhappy sophists seek courage in desperation, and consolation in
notoriety. With this key to the philosophy of the day, it is not
difficult to read its influence on many a countenance that one meets
among those who are lounging in listless laziness on the Boulevards or
in the gardens of Paris.

The aspect of these figures is altogether unlike what we may too often
see among those who linger, sunken, pale, and hopeless, on the benches
of our parks, or loiter under porticos and colonnades, as if waiting
for courage to beg. Hunger and intemperance often leave blended traces
on such figures as these, exciting at once pity and disgust. I have
encountered at Paris nothing like this: whether any such exist, I know
not; but if they do, their beat is distant from the public walks and
fashionable promenades. Instead of these, however, there is a race who
seem to live there, less wretched perhaps in actual want of bread, but
as evidently thriftless, homeless, and friendless as the other. On the
faces of such, one may read a state of mind wholly different,--less
degraded, but still more perverted;--a wild, bold eye, that rather
seeks than turns from every passing glance--unshrinking hardihood, but
founded more on indifference than endurance, and a scornful sneer for
any who may suffer curiosity to conquer disgust, while they fix their
eye for a moment upon a figure that looks in all ways as if got up to
enact the hero of a melodrame. Were I the king, or the minister
either, I should think it right to keep an eye of watchfulness upon
all such picturesque individuals; for one might say most truly,

     "Yon Cassius hath a lean and hungry look;
     He thinks too much: such men are dangerous."

The friend to whom I addressed myself on the subject of these
constantly-recurring suicides told me that there was great reason to
believe that the increase of this crime, so remarkable during the last
few years, might be almost wholly attributed to the "light
literature," as it is called, of the period:--dark literature would be
a fitter name for it.

The total absence of anything approaching to a virtuous principle of
action in every fictitious character held up to admiration throughout
all the tales and dramas of the _décousu_ school, while every hint of
religion is banished as if it were treason to allude to it, is in
truth quite enough to account for every species of depravity in those
who make such characters their study and their model. "How oft and by
how many shall they be laughed to scorn!"--yet believing all the
while, poor souls! that they are producing a sensation, and that the
eyes of Europe are fixed upon them, notwithstanding they once worked
as a tailor or a tinker, or at some other such unpoetical handiwork;
for they may all be described in the words of Ecclesiasticus, with a
very slight alteration,--"They would maintain the state of the world,
and all their desire is in (forgetting) the work of their craft."



LETTER XXXVIII.

      Opéra Comique.--"Cheval de Bronze."--"La
      Marquise."--Impossibility of playing Tragedy.--Mrs. Siddons's
      Readings.--Mademoiselle Mars has equal power.--_Laisser
      aller_ of the Female Performers.--Decline of Theatrical Taste
      among the Fashionable.


The "Cheval de Bronze" being the _spectacle par excellence_ at the
Opéra Comique this season, we have considered it a matter of
sight-seeing necessity to pay it a visit; and we have all agreed that
it is as perfectly beautiful in its scenery and decorations as the
size of the theatre would permit. We gazed upon it, indeed, with a
perfection of contentment, which, in secret committee afterwards, we
confessed did not say much in favour of our intellectual faculties.

I really know not how it is that one can sit, not only without
murmuring, but with positive satisfaction, for three hours together,
with no other occupation than looking at a collection of gewgaw
objects, with a most unmeaning crowd, made for the most part by
Nature's journeymen, incessantly undulating among them. Yet so it is,
that a skilful arrangement of blue and white gauze, aided by the magic
of many-coloured lights, decidedly the prettiest of all modern toys,
made us exclaim at every fresh manoeuvre of the carpenter,
"Beautiful! beautiful!" with as much delight as ever a child of five
years old displayed at a first-rate exhibition of Punch.

M. Auber's music has some pretty things in it; but he has done much
better in days of yore; and the wretched taste exhibited by all the
principal singers made me heartily wish that the well-appointed
orchestra had kept the whole performance to themselves.

Madame Casimir has had, and indeed still has, a rich and powerful
voice: but the meanest peasant-girl in Germany, who trims her vines to
the sound of her native airs, might give her a lesson on taste more
valuable than all that science has ever taught her.

I should like, could I do so with a conscience that should not
reproach me with exaggeration, to name Miss Stephens and Madame
Casimir as fair national specimens of English and French singing. And
in fact they are so; though I confess that the over-dressing of Madame
Casimir's airs is almost as much out of the common way here, as the
chaste simplicity of our native syren's strains is with us: yet the
one is essentially English, and the other French.

We were told that the manager of our London theatres had been in Paris
for the purpose of seeing and taking a cast from this fine Chinese
butterfly. If this be so, Mr. Bunn will find great advantage from the
extent of his theatre: that of the Opéra Comique is scarcely of
sufficient magnitude to exhibit its gaudy but graceful _tableaux_ to
advantage. But, on the other hand, I doubt if he will find any actress
quite so _piquante_ as the pretty Madame ----, in the last act, when
she relates to the enchanted princess, her mistress, the failure she
had made in attempting by her _agaceries_ to retain the young female
who had ventured into the magic region: and if he did, I doubt still
more if her performance would be received with equal applause.

A _petite comédie_ called "La Marquise" preceded this brilliant
trifle. The fable must, I think, be taken, though greatly changed,
from a story of George Sand. It has perhaps little in it worth talking
about; but it is a fair specimen of one of that most agreeable of
French nationalities, a natural, easy, playful little piece, at which
you may sit and laugh in sympathy with the performers as much as with
the characters, till you forget that there are such things as sorrow
and sadness in the world.

The acting in this style is so very good, that the author's task
really seems to be the least important part of the business. It is
not at one theatre, but at all, that we have witnessed this
extraordinary excellence in the performance of this species of drama;
but I doubt if the chasm which seems to surround the tragic muse,
keeping her apart on a pedestal sacred to recollections, be at all
wider or more profound in England than in France. In truth, it is less
impassible with us than it is here; for though I will allow that our
tragic actresses may be no better than those of France, seeing that a
woman's will in the one case, and the Atlantic Ocean in the other,
have robbed us of Mrs. Bartley and the Fanny--who between them might
bring our stage back to all its former glory,--still they have neither
Charles Kemble nor Macready to stand in the place that Talma has left
vacant.

I have indeed no doubt whatever that Mademoiselle Mars could read
Corneille and Racine as effectively as Mrs. Siddons read Shakspeare in
the days of Argyle-street luxury, and, like our great maga, give to
every part a power that it never had before. I well remember coming
home from one of Mrs. Siddons's readings with a passionate desire to
see her act the part of Hamlet; and from another, quite persuaded that
by some means the witch-scene in Macbeth should be so arranged that
she should speak every word of it.

In like manner, were I to hear Mars read Corneille, I should insist
upon it that she ought to play the Cid; and if Racine, Oreste would
probably be the first part I should choose for her. But as even she,
with all her Garrick-like versatility, would not be able to perform
every part of every play, tragedy must be permitted to repose for the
present in France as well as in England.

During this interregnum, it is well for them, considering how dearly
they love to amuse themselves, that they have a stock of comedians,
old, young, and middle-aged, that they need not fear should fail; for
the whole French nation seem gifted with a talent that might enable
them to supply, at an hour's warning, any deficiencies in the company.

I seldom return from an exhibition of this sort without endeavouring
in some degree to analyse the charm that has enchanted me: but in most
cases this is too light, too subtile, to permit itself to be caught by
so matter-of-fact a process. I protest to you, that I am often half
ashamed of the pleasure I receive from ... I know not what. A playful
smile, a speaking glance, a comic tone, a pretty gesture, give effect
to words that have often nothing in them more witty or more wise than
may often be met with (especially here) in ordinary conversation. But
the whole thing is so thoroughly understood, from the "_père noble_"
to the scene-shifter--so perfect in its getting-up--the piece so
admirably suited to the players, and the players to the piece,--that
whatever there is to admire and enjoy, comes to you with no drawbacks
from blunders or awkwardness of any kind.

That the composition of these happy trifles cannot be a work of any
great labour or difficulty, may be reasonably inferred from the
ceaseless succession of novelties which every theatre and every season
produces. The process, for this lively and ready-witted people, must
be pleasant enough--they must catch from what passes before them; no
difficult task, perhaps--some _piquante_ situation or ludicrous
_bévue_: the slightest thread is strong enough to hold together the
light materials of the plot; and then must follow the christening of a
needful proportion of male and female, old and young, enchanting and
ridiculous personages. The list of these once set down, and the order
of scenes which are to bring forth the plot arranged, I can fancy the
author perfectly enjoying himself as he puts into the mouth of each
character all the saucy impertinences upon every subject that his
imagination, skilful enough in such matters, can suggest. When to this
is added an occasional touch of natural feeling, and a little popular
high-mindedness in any line, the _petite comédie_ is ready for the
stage.

It is certainly a very light manufacture, and depends perhaps more
upon the fearless _laisser aller_ of both author and actor than upon
the brilliancy of wit which it displays. That old-fashioned blushing
grace too, so much in favour with King Solomon, and called in
scripture phrase shamefacedness, is sacrificed rather too unmercifully
by the female part of the performers, in the fear, as it should seem,
of impairing the spirit and vivacity of the scene by any scruple of
any kind. But I suspect these ladies miscalculate the respective value
of opposing graces; Mademoiselle Mars may show them that delicacy and
vivacity are not inseparable; and though I confess that it would be a
little unreasonable to expect all the female vaudevillists of Paris to
be like Mars, I cannot but think that, in a city where her mode of
playing comedy has for so many years been declared perfect, it must be
unnecessary to seek the power of attraction from what is so utterly at
variance with it.

The performance of comedy is often assisted here by a freedom among
the actors which I have sometimes, but not often, seen permitted in
London. It requires for its success, and indeed for its endurance,
that the audience should be perfectly in good-humour, and sympathise
very cordially with the business of the scene. I allude to the part
which the performers sometimes take not only in the acting, but in
the enjoyment of it. I never in my life saw people more heartily
amused, or disposed more unceremoniously to show it, than the actors
in the "Précieuses Ridicules," which I saw played a few nights ago at
the Français. On this occasion I think the spirit of the performance
was certainly heightened by this license, and for this reason--the
scene represents a group in which one party must of necessity be
exceedingly amused by the success of the mystification which they are
practising on the other. But I own that I have sometimes felt a little
_English stiffness_ at perceiving an air of frolic and fun upon the
stage, which seemed fully as much got up for the performers as for the
audience. But though the instance I have named of this occurred at the
Théâtre Français, it is not there that it is likely to be carried to
any offensive extent. The lesser theatres would in many instances do
well to copy closely the etiquette and decorum of all kinds which the
great national theatre exhibits: but perhaps it is hardly fair to
expect this; and besides, we might be told, justly enough, to _look at
home_.

The theatres, particularly the minor ones, appear to be still very
well attended: but I constantly hear the same observations made in
Paris as in London upon the decline of theatrical taste among the
higher orders; and it arises, I think, from the same cause in both
countries,--namely, the late dinner-hour, which renders the going to a
play a matter of general family arrangement, and often of general
family difficulty. The opera, which is later, is always full; and were
it not that I have lived too long in the world to be surprised at
anything that the power of fashion could effect, I should certainly be
astonished that so lively a people as the French should throng night
after night as they do to witness the exceeding dulness of this heavy
spectacle.

The only people I have yet seen enjoying their theatres rationally,
without abstaining from what they liked because it was unfashionable,
or enduring what they did not, because it was the _mode_, are the
Germans. Their genuine and universal love of music makes their
delicious opera almost a necessary of life to them; and they must, I
think, absolutely change their nature before they will suffer the
silly conventional elegance supposed by some to attach to the act of
eating their dinner late, to interfere with their enjoyment of it.

I used to think the theatre as dear to the French as music to the
Germans. But what is a taste in France is, from the firmer fibre of
the national character, a passion in Germany;--and it is easier to
abandon a taste than to control a passion.

Perhaps, however, in England and France too, if some new-born
theatrical talent of the first class were to "flame in the forehead of
the morning sky," both Paris and London would submit to the
degradation of dining at five o'clock in order to enjoy it: but late
hours and indifferent performances, together, have gone far towards
placing the stage among the popular rather than the fashionable
amusements of either.



LETTER XXXIX.

      The Abbé de Lamennais.--Cobbett.--O'Connell.--Napoleon.--
      Robespierre.


I had last night the satisfaction of meeting the Abbé de Lamennais at
a _soirée_. It was at the house of Madame Benjamin Constant; whose
_salon_ is as celebrated for the talent of every kind to be met there,
as for the delightful talents and amiable qualities of its mistress.

In general appearance, this celebrated man recalls an original drawing
that I remember to have seen of Rousseau. He is greatly below the
ordinary height, and extremely small in his proportions. His
countenance is very striking, and singularly indicative of habitual
meditation; but the deep-set eye has something very nearly approaching
to wildness in its rapid glance. His dress was black, but had
certainly more of republican negligence than priestly dignity in it;
and the little, tight, chequered cravat which encircled his slender
throat, gave him decidedly the appearance of a person who heeded not
either the fashion of the day, or the ordinary costume of the
_salon_.

He, in company with four or five other distinguished men, had dined
with Madame Constant; and we found him deep sunk in a _bergère_ that
almost concealed his diminutive person, surrounded by a knot of
gentlemen, with whom he was conversing with great eagerness and
animation. On one side of him was M. Jouy, the well-known "_Hermite_"
of the Chaussée d'Antin; and on the other, a deputy well known on the
benches of the _côté gauche_.

I was placed immediately opposite to him, and have seldom watched the
play of a more animated countenance. In the course of the evening, he
was brought up and introduced to me. His manners are extremely
gentlemanlike; no stiffness or reserve, either rustic or priestly,
interfering with their easy vivacity. He immediately drew a chair
_vis-à-vis_ to the sofa on which I was placed, and continued thus,
with his back turned to the rest of the company, conversing very
agreeably, till so many persons collected round him, many of whom were
ladies, that not feeling pleased, I suppose, to sit while they stood,
he bowed off, and retreated again to his _bergère_.

He told me that he must not remain long in Paris, where he was too
much in society to do anything; that he should speedily retreat to
the profound seclusion of his native Brittany, and there finish the
work upon which he was engaged. Whether this work be the defence of
the _prévenus d'Avril_, which he has threatened to fulminate in a
printed form at the head of those who refused to let him plead for
them in court, I know not; but this document, whenever it appears, is
expected to be violent, powerful, and eloquent.

The writings of the Abbé de Lamennais remind me strongly of those of
Cobbett,--not, certainly, from their matter, nor even from the manner
of treating it, but from the sort of effect which they produce upon
the mind. Had the pen of either of them been wholly devoted to the
support of a good cause, their writings would have been invaluable to
society; for they both have shown a singular power of carrying the
attention, and almost the judgment, of the reader along with them,
even when writing on subjects on which he and they were perfectly at
issue.

Were there not circumstances in the literary history of both which
contradict the notion, I should say that this species of power or
charm in their writings arose from their being themselves very much in
earnest in the opinions they were advocating: but as the Abbé de
Lamennais and the late Mr. Cobbett have both shown that their faith in
their own opinions was not strong enough to prevent them from changing
them, the peculiar force of their eloquence can hardly be referred to
the sincerity of it.

I remember hearing a lively young barrister declare that he would
rather argue against his own judgment than according to it; and I am
sure he spoke in all sincerity,--much as he would have done had he
said that he preferred shooting wild game to slaughtering tame
chickens: the difficulty made the pleasure. But we cannot presume to
suppose that either of the two persons whose names I have so
incongruously brought together have written and argued on the same
principle; and even if it were so, they have not the less changed
their minds,--unless we suppose that they have amused themselves and
the public, by sometimes arguing for what they believed to be truth,
and sometimes only to show their skill.

As to what Mr. Cobbett's principles might really have been, I think it
is a question that must ever remain in uncertainty,--unless we adopt
that easiest and most intelligible conclusion, that he had none at
all. But it is far otherwise with M. de Lamennais: it is impossible to
doubt that in his early writings he was perfectly sincere; there is a
warmth of faith in them that could proceed from no fictitious fire.
Nor is it easily to be imagined that he would have thrown himself from
the height at which he stood in the opinion of all whom he most
esteemed, had he not fancied that he saw truth at the bottom of that
abyss of heresy and schism into which all good Catholics think that he
has thrown himself.

The wild republicanism which M. de Lamennais has picked up in his
descent is, however, what has probably injured him most in the general
estimation. Some few years ago, liberal principles were advocated by
many of the most able as well as the most honest men in Europe; but
the unreasonable excesses into which the ultras of the party have
fallen seem to have made the respectable portion of mankind draw back
from it, and, whatever their speculative opinions may be, they now
show themselves anxious to rally round all that bears the stamp of
order and lawful authority.

It would be difficult to imagine a worse time for a man to commence
republican and free-thinker than the present;--unless, indeed, he did
so in the hope that the loaves and fishes were, or would be, at the
disposition of that party. Putting, however, all hope of being paid
for it aside, the period is singularly unpropitious for such a
conversion. As long as their doctrine remained a theory only, it might
easily delude many who had more imagination than judgment, or more
ignorance than either: but so much deplorable mischief has arisen
before our eyes every time the theory has been brought to the test of
practice, that I believe the sound-minded in every land consider
their speculations at present with as little respect as they would
those of a joint-stock company proposing to colonize the moon.

That the Abbé de Lamennais is no longer considered in France as the
pre-eminent man he has been, is most certain; and as it is easy to
trace in his works a regular progression downwards, from the dignified
and enthusiastic Catholic priest to the puzzled sceptic and factious
demagogue, I should not be greatly surprised to hear that he, who has
been spoken of at Rome as likely to become a cardinal, was carrying a
scarlet flag through the streets of Paris, with a conical hat and a
Robespierre waistcoat, singing "_Ça ira_" louder than he ever chanted
a mass.

M. de Lamennais, in common with several other persons of republican
principles with whom I have conversed since I have been in Paris, has
conceived the idea that England is at this moment actually and _bonâ
fide_ under the rule, dictation, and government of Mr. Daniel
O'Connell. He named him in an accent of the most profound admiration
and respect, and referred to the English newspapers as evidence of the
enthusiastic love and veneration in which he was held throughout Great
Britain!

I waxed wroth, I confess; but I took wisdom and patience, and said
very meekly, that he had probably seen only that portion of the
English papers which were of Mr. Daniel's faction, and that I believed
Great Britain was still under the dominion of King William the Fourth,
his Lords and Commons. It is not many days since I met another
politician of the same school who went farther still; for he gravely
wished me joy of the prospect of emancipation which the virtue of the
great O'Connell held out to my country. On this occasion, being in a
gay mood, I laughed heartily, and did so with a safe conscience,
having no need to set the enlightened propagandist right; this being
done for me, much better than I could have done it myself, by a
hard-headed doctrinaire who was with me.

"O'Connell is the Napoleon of England," said the republican.

"Not of England, at any rate," replied the doctrinaire. "And if he
must have a name borrowed from France, let it be Robespierre's: let
him be called magnificently the Robespierre of Ireland."

"He has already been the redeemer of Ireland," rejoined the republican
gravely; "and now _he has taken England under his protection_."

"And I suspect that ere long England will take him under hers," said
my friend, laughing. "Hitherto it appears as if the country had not
thought him worth whipping; ... mais si un chien est méchant, si même
ce ne serait qu'un vilain petit hargneux, il devrait être lié, ou
bien pendu."

Having finished this oracular sentence, the doctrinaire took a long
pinch of snuff, and began discoursing of other matters: and I too
withdrew from the discussion, persuaded that I could not bring it to a
better conclusion.



LETTER XL.

      Which Party is it ranks second in the estimation of all?--No
      Caricatures against the Exiles.--Horror of a Republic.


I have been taking some pains to discover, by the aid of all the signs
and tokens of public feeling within my reach, who among the different
parties into which this country is divided enjoys the highest degree
of general consideration.

We know that if every man in a town were desired to say who among its
inhabitants he should consider as fittest to hold an employment of
honour and profit, each would probably answer, "Myself:" we know also,
that should it happen, after the avowal of this very natural
partiality, that the name of the second best were asked for, and that
the man named as such by one were so named by all, this second best
would be accounted by the disinterested lookers-on as decidedly the
right and proper person to fill the station. According to this rule,
the right and proper government for France is neither republican, nor
military, nor doctrinaire, but that of a legitimate and constitutional
monarchy.

When men hold office, bringing both power and wealth, consideration
will of necessity follow. That the ministers and their friends,
therefore, should be seen in pride of place, and enjoying the dignity
they have achieved, is natural, inevitable, and quite as it should be.
But if, turning from this every-day spectacle, we endeavour to
discover who it is that, possessing neither power nor place, most
uniformly receive the homage of respect, I should say, without a
shadow of doubt or misgiving, that it was the legitimate royalists.

The triumphant doctrinaires pass no jokes at their expense; no _bons
mots_ are quoted against them, nor does any shop exhibit caricatures
either of what they have been or of what they are.

The republicans are no longer heard to name them, either with rancour
or disrespect: all their wrath is now poured out upon the present
actual power of the prosperous doctrinaires. This, indeed, is in
strict conformity to the principle which constitutes the foundation of
their sect; namely, that whatever exists ought to be overthrown. But
neither in jest nor earnest do they now show hostility to Charles the
Tenth or his family: nor even do the blank walls of Paris, which for
nearly half a century have been the favourite receptacle of all their
wit, exhibit any pleasantries, either in the shape of hieroglyphic,
caricature, or lampoon, alluding to them or their cause.

I have listened repeatedly to sprightly and to bitter jestings, to
judicious and to blundering reasonings, for and against the different
doctrines which divide the country; but in no instance do I remember
to have heard, either in jest or earnest, any revilings against the
exiled race. A sort of sacred silence seems to envelope this theme; or
if it be alluded to at all, it is far from being in a hostile spirit.

"HENRI!" is a name that, without note or comment, may be read _ça et
là_ in every quarter of Paris, that of the Tuileries not excepted: and
on a wall near the Royal College of Henri Quatre, where the younger
princes of the house of Orleans still study, were inscribed not long
ago these very intelligible words:--

"Pour arriver à Bordeaux, il faut passer par Orléans."

In short, whatever feelings of irritation and anger might have existed
in 1830, and produced the scenes which led to the exile of the royal
family, they now seem totally to have subsided.

It does not, however, necessarily follow from this that the majority
of the people are ready again to hazard their precious tranquillity in
order to restore them: on the contrary, it cannot be doubted that were
such a measure attempted at the present moment, it would fail--not
from any dislike of their legitimate monarch, or any affection for
the kinsman who has been placed upon his throne, but wholly and
solely from their wish to enjoy in peace their profitable speculations
at the _Bourse_--their flourishing _restaurans_--their prosperous
shops--and even their tables, chairs, beds, and coffee-pots.

Very different, however, is the feeling manifested towards the
republicans. Never did Napoleon in the days of his most absolute
power, or the descendants of Louis le Grand in those of their proudest
state, contemplate this factious, restless race with such abhorrence
as do the doctrinaires of the present hour. It is not that they fear
them--they have no real cause to do so; but they feel a sentiment made
up of hatred and contempt, which never seems to repose, and which, if
not regulated by wisdom and moderation, is very likely eventually to
lead to more barricades; though to none, I imagine, that the National
Guards may not easily throw down.

It is on the subject of this unpopular _clique_ that by far the
greater part of the ever-springing Parisian jokes expends itself;
though the doctrinaires get it "_pas mal_" in return, as I heard a
national guardsman remark, as we were looking over some caricatures
together. But, in truth, the republicans seem upon principle to offer
themselves as victims and martyrs to the quizzing propensities of
their countrymen. Harlequin does not more scrupulously adhere to his
parti-coloured suit, than do the republicans of Paris to their
burlesque costume. It is, I presume, to show their courage, that they
so ostentatiously march with their colours flying; but the effect is
very ludicrous. The symbolic peculiarities of their dress are classed
and lithographed with infinite fun.

Drolleries, too, on the parvenus of the Empire are to be found for the
seeking; and when they beset King Philippe himself, it should seem
that it is done with all the enthusiasm so well expressed by Garrick
in days of yore:--

     "'Tis for my king, and, zounds! I'll do my best!"

The only extraordinary part of all this caricaturing on walls and in
print-shops, is the license taken with those who have power to prevent
it. The principle of legislation on this point appears, with a little
variation, to be that of the old ballad:

     "Thoughts, words, and deeds, the statute blames with reason;
     But surely _jokes_ were ne'er indicted treason."

In speaking of the parties into which France is divided, the three
grand divisions of Carlists, Doctrinaires, and Republicans naturally
present themselves first and foremost, and, to foreigners in general,
appear to contain between them the entire nation: but a month or two
passed in Paris society suffices to show one that there are many who
cannot fairly be classed with either.

In the first place, the Carlist party by no means contains all those
who disapprove of treating a crown like a ready-made shoe, which, if
it be found to pinch the person it was intended for, may be disposed
of to the first comer who is willing to take it. The Carlist party,
properly so called, demand the restoration of King Charles the Tenth,
the immediate descendant and representative of their long line of
kings--the prince who has been crowned and anointed King of France,
and who, while he remains alive, must render the crowning and
anointing of any other prince an act of sacrilege. Wherefore, in
effect, King Louis-Philippe has not received "_le sacre_:" he is not
as yet the anointed King of France, whatever he may be hereafter.
Henri Quatre is said to have exclaimed under the walls of the capital,
"Paris vaut bien une messe;" and it is probable that Louis-Philippe
Premier thinks so too; but hitherto he has been able to have this
performed only in military style--being incapable, in fact, of going
through the ceremony either civilly or religiously. The Carlists are,
therefore, those only who _en rigueur_ do not approve of any king but
the real one.

The legitimate royalists are, I believe, a much more numerous party.
As strictly attached to the throne and to the principle of regular
and legitimate succession as the Carlists, they nevertheless conceive
that the pressure of circumstances may not only authorise, but render
it imperative upon the country to accept, or rather to permit, the
abdication of a sovereign. The king's leaving the country and placing
himself in exile, is one of the few causes that can justify this; and
accordingly the abdication of Charles Dix is virtual death to him as a
sovereign. But though this is granted, it does not follow in their
creed, that any part of the nation have thereupon a right to present
the hereditary crown to whom they will. The law of succession, they
say, is not to be violated because the king has fled before a popular
insurrection; and having permitted his abdication, the next heir
becomes king. This next heir, however, choosing to follow his royal
father's example, he too becomes virtually defunct, and his heir
succeeds.

This heir is still an infant, and his remaining in exile cannot
therefore be interpreted as his own act. Thus, according to the
reasoning of those who conceive the abdication of the king and the
dauphin to be acts within their own power, and beyond that of the
nation to nullify, Henri, the son of the Duc de Berri, is beyond all
doubt Henri Cinq, Roi de France.

Of this party, however, there are many, and I suspect their number is
increasing, who, having granted the power of setting aside (by his own
act) the anointed monarch, are not altogether averse to go a step
farther, if so doing shall ensure the peace of the country; and
considering the infancy of the rightful heir as constituting
insufficiency, to confess Louis-Philippe as the next in succession to
be the lawful as well as the actual King of the French.

It is this party who I always find have the most to say in support (or
defence) of their opinions. Whether this proceed from their feeling
that some eloquence is necessary to make them pass current, or that
the conviction of their justice is such as to make their hearts
overflow on the theme, I know not; but decidedly the sect of the
"_Parcequ'il est Bourbon_" is that which I find most eager to
discourse upon politics. And, to confess the truth, they have much to
say for themselves, at least on the side of expediency.

It is often a matter of regret with me, that in addressing these
letters to you I am compelled to devote so large a portion of them to
politics; but in attempting to give you some idea of Paris at the
present moment, it is impossible to avoid it. Were I to turn from this
theme, I could only do so by labouring to forget everything I have
seen, everything I see. Go where you will, do what you will, meet whom
you will, it is out of your power to escape it. But observe, that it
is wholly for your sake, and not at all for my own, that I lament it;
for, however flat and unprofitable my report may be, the thing itself,
when you are in the midst of it, is exceedingly interesting.

When I first arrived, I was considerably annoyed by finding, that as
soon as I had noted down some piece of information as an undoubted
fact, the next person I conversed with assured me that it was worth
considerably less than nought; inasmuch as my informer had not only
failed to give me useful instruction on the point concerning which I
was inquiring, but had altogether deluded, deceived, and led me
astray.

These days of primitive matter-of-factness are now, however, quite
passed with me; and though I receive a vast deal of entertainment from
all, I give my faith in return to very few. I listen to the Carlists,
the Henri-Quintists, the Philippists, with great attention and real
interest, but have sometimes caught myself humming as soon as they
have left me,

     "They were all of them kings in their turn."

Indeed, if you knew all that happens to me, instead of blaming me for
being too political, you would be very thankful for the care and pains
I bestow in endeavouring to make a digest of all I hear for your
advantage, containing as few contradictions as possible. And truly
this is no easy matter, not only from the contradictory nature of the
information I receive, but from some varying weaknesses in my own
nature, which sometimes put me in the very disagreeable predicament of
doubting if what is right be right, and if what is wrong be wrong.

When I came here, I was a thorough unequivocating legitimatist, and
felt quite ready and willing to buckle on armour against any who
should doubt that a man once a king was always a king--that once
crowned according to law, he could not be uncrowned according to
mob--or that a man's eldest son was his rightful heir.

But, oh! these doctrinaires! They have such a way of proving that if
they are not quite right, at least everybody else is a great deal more
wrong: and then they talk so prettily of England and _our_ revolution,
and our glorious constitution--and the miseries of anarchy--and the
advantages of letting things remain quietly as they are, till, as I
said before, I begin to doubt what is right and what is wrong.

There is one point, however, on which we agree wholly and heartily;
and it is this perhaps that has been the means of softening my heart
thus towards them. The doctrinaires shudder at the name of a republic.
This is not because their own party is regal, but is evidently the
result of the experience which they and their fathers have had from
the tremendous experiment which has once already been made in the
country.

"You will never know the full value of your constitution till you have
lost it," said a doctrinaire to me the other evening, at the house of
the beautiful Princess B----, formerly an energetic propagandiste, but
now a very devoted doctrinaire,--"you will never know how beneficial
is its influence on every hour of your lives, till your Mr. O'Connell
has managed to arrange a republic for you: and when you have tasted
that for about three months, you will make good and faithful subjects
to the next king that Heaven shall bestow upon you. You know how
devoted all France was to the Emperor, though the police was somewhat
tight, and the conscriptions heavy: but he had saved us from a
republic, and we adored him. For a few days, or rather hours, we were
threatened again, five years ago, by the same terrible apparition: the
result is, that four millions of armed men stand ready to protect the
prince who chased it. Were it to appear a third time--which Heaven
forbid!--you may depend upon it that the monarch who should next
ascend the throne of France might play at _le jeu de quilles_ with his
subjects, and no one be found to complain."



LETTER XLI.

      M. Dupré.--His Drawings in Greece.--L'Eglise des Carmes.--M.
      Vinchon's Picture of the National Convention.--Léopold
      Robert's Fishermen.--Reported cause of his Suicide.--Roman
      Catholic Religion.--Mr. Daniel O'Connell.


We went the other morning, with Miss C----, a very agreeable
countrywoman, who has however passed the greater portion of her life
in Paris, to visit the house and atelier of M. Dupré, a young artist
who seems to have devoted himself to the study of Greece. Her princes,
her peasants, her heavy-eyed beauties, and the bright sky that glows
above them,--all the material of her domestic life, and all the
picturesque accompaniments of her classic reminiscences, are brought
home by this gentleman in a series of spirited and highly-finished
drawings, which give decidedly the most lively idea of the country
that I have seen produced. Engravings or lithographs from them are, I
believe, intended to illustrate a splendid work on this interesting
country which is about to be published.

In our way from M. Dupré's house, in which was this collection of
Greek drawings, to his atelier--where he was kind enough to show us a
large picture recently commenced--we entered that fatal "Eglise des
Carmes," where the most hideous massacre of the first revolution took
place. A large tree that stands beside it is pointed out as having
been sought as a shelter--alas! how vainly!--by the unhappy priests,
who were shot, sabred, and dragged from its branches by dozens. A
thousand terrible recollections are suggested by the interior of the
building, aided by the popular traditions attached to it, unequalled
in atrocity even in the history of that time of horror.

Another scene relating to the same period, which, though inferior to
the massacre of the priests in multiplied barbarity, was of sufficient
horror to freeze the blood of any but a republican, has, strange to
say, been made, since the revolution of 1830, the subject of an
enormous picture by M. Vinchon, and at the present moment makes part
of the exhibition at the Louvre.

The canvass represents a hall at the Tuileries which in 1795 was the
place where the National Convention sat. The mob has broken in, and
murdered Feraud, who attempted to oppose them; and the moment chosen
by the painter is that in which a certain "_jeune fille nommée Aspasie
Migelli_" approaches the president's chair with the young man's head
borne on a pike before her, while she triumphantly envelopes herself
in some part of his dress. The whole scene is one of the most terrible
revolutionary violence. This picture is stated in the catalogue to
belong to the minister of the interior; but whether the present
minister of the interior, or any other, I know not. The subject was
given immediately after the revolution of 1830, and many artists made
sketches in competition for the execution of it. One of those who
tried, and failed before the superior genius of M. Vinchon, told us,
that the subject was given at that time as one likely to be popular,
either for love of the noble resolution with which Boissy d'Anglas
keeps possession of the president's chair, which he had seized upon,
or else from admiration of the energetic female who has assisted in
doing the work of death. In either case, this young artist said, the
popularity of such a subject was passed by, and no such order would be
given now.

Finding myself again on the subject of pictures, I must mention a very
admirable one which is now being exhibited at the "Mairie du Second
Arrondissement." It is from the hand of the unfortunate Leopold
Robert, who destroyed himself at Venice almost immediately after he
had completed it. The subject is the departure of a party of Italian
fishermen; and there are parts of the picture fully equal to anything
I have ever seen from the pencil of a modern artist. I should have
looked at this picture with extreme pleasure, had the painter still
lived to give hope of, perhaps, still higher efforts; but the history
of his death, which I had just been listening to, mixed great pain
with it.

I have been told that this young man was of a very religious and
meditative turn of mind, but a Protestant. His only sister, to whom he
was much attached, was a Catholic, and had recently taken the veil.
Her affection for him was such, that she became perfectly wretched
from the danger she believed awaited him from his heresy; and she
commenced a species of affectionate persecution, which, though it
failed to convert him, so harassed and distracted his mind, as finally
to overthrow his reason, and lead him to self-destruction. This
charming picture is exhibited for the benefit of the poor, at the
especial desire of the unhappy nun; who is said, however, to be so
perfect a fanatic, as only to regret that the dreadful act was not
delayed till she had had time to work out the salvation of her own
soul by a little more persecution of his.

There is something exceedingly curious, and, perhaps, under our
present lamentable circumstances, somewhat alarming, in the young and
vigorous after-growth of the Roman Catholic religion, which, by the
aid of a very little inquiry, may be so easily traced throughout France.
Were we keeping our own national church sacred, and guarded both by
love and by law, as it has hitherto been from all assaults of the Pope
and ... Mr. O'Connell, it could only be with pleasure that we should
see France recovering from her long ague-fit of infidelity,--and, as
far as she is concerned, we must in Christian charity rejoice, for she
is unquestionably the better for it; but there is a regenerated
activity among the Roman Catholic clergy, which, under existing
circumstances, makes a Protestant feel rather nervous,--and I declare
to you, I never pass within sight of that famous window of the Louvre,
whence Charles Neuf, with his own royal and catholic hand, discharged
a blunderbuss amongst the Huguenots, without thinking how well a
window at Whitehall, already noted in history as a scene of horror,
might serve King Daniel for the same purpose.

The great influence which the religion of Rome has of late regained
over the minds of the French people has, I am told, been considerably
increased by the priests having added to the strength derived from
their command of pardons and indulgences, that which our Methodist
preachers gain from the terrors of hell. They use the same language,
too, respecting regeneration and grace; and, as one means of regaining
the hold they had lost upon the human mind, they now anathematize all
recreations, as if their congregations were so many aspirants to the
sublime purifications of La Trappe, or so many groaning fanatics just
made over to them from Lady Huntingdon's Chapel. That there is,
however, a pretty strong force to stem this fresh spring-tide of
moon-struck superstition, is very certain. The doctrinaires, I am
told, taken as a body, are not much addicted to this species of
weakness. I remember, during the prevalence of that sweeping complaint
called the influenza, hearing of a "good lady," of the high
evangelical _clique_, who said to some of the numerous pensioners who
flocked to receive the crumbs of her table and the precepts of her
lips, that she could make up some medicine that was very good for all
POOR people that were seized with this complaint.

"What can be the difference, ma'am," said the poor body who told me
this, "between us and Madame C---- in this illness? Is not what is
good for the poor, good for the rich too?"

The same pertinent question may, I think, be asked in Paris just now
respecting the medicine called religion. It is administered in large
doses to the poor, to which class a great number of the fair sex of
all ranks happily seem to have joined themselves, intending, at
least, to rank themselves as among the poor in spirit; nay, parish
doctors are regularly paid by authority; yet, if the tale be true, the
authorities themselves take little of it. "It is very good for poor
people;" but, like the hot-baths which Anstie talks of,

         "No creature e'er view'd
     Any one of the government gentry stew'd."

Whether the returning power of this pompous and aspiring faith will
mount as it proceeds, and embrace within its grasp, as it was wont to
do, all the great ones of the earth, is a question that it may require
some years to answer; but one thing is at least certain,--that its
ministers will try hard that it shall do so, whether they are likely
to succeed or not; and, at the worst, they may console themselves by
the reflection of Lafontaine:--

     "Si de les gagner je n'emporte pas le prix,
     J'aurais au moins l'honneur de l'avoir entrepris."

One great one they have certainly already got, besides King Charles
the Tenth,--even the immortal Daniel; and however little consequence
you may be inclined to attach to this fact, it cannot be considered as
wholly unimportant, since I have heard his religious principles and
his influence in England alluded to in the pulpit here with a tone of
hope and triumph which made me tremble.

I heartily wish that some of those who continue to vote in his
traitorous majority because they are pledged to do so, could hear him
and his power spoken of here. If they have English hearts, it must, I
think, give them a pang.



LETTER XLII.

      Old Maids.--Rarely to be found in France.--The reasons for
      this.


Several years ago, while passing a few weeks in Paris, I had a
conversation with a Frenchman upon the subject of old maids, which,
though so long past, I refer to now for the sake of the sequel, which
has just reached me.

We were, I well remember, parading in the Gardens of the Luxembourg;
and as we paced up and down its long alleys, the "miserable fate," as
he called it, of single women in England was discussed and deplored by
my companion as being one of the most melancholy results of faulty
national manners that could be mentioned.

"I know nothing," said he with much energy, "that ever gave me more
pain in society, than seeing, as I did in England, numbers of unhappy
women who, however well-born, well-educated, or estimable, were
without a position, without an _état_ and without a name, excepting
one that they would generally give half their remaining days to get
rid of."

"I think you somewhat exaggerate the evil," I replied: "but even if it
were as bad as you state it to be, I see not why single ladies should
be better off here."

"Here!" he exclaimed, in a tone of horror: "Do you really imagine that
in France, where we pride ourselves on making the destiny of our women
the happiest in the world,--do you really imagine that we suffer a set
of unhappy, innocent, helpless girls to drop, as it were, out of
society into the _néant_ of celibacy, as you do? God keep us from such
barbarity!"

"But how can you help it? It is impossible but that circumstances must
arise to keep many of your men single; and if the numbers be equally
balanced, it follows that there must be single women too."

"It may seem so; but the fact is otherwise: we have no single women."

"What, then, becomes of them?"

"I know not; but were any Frenchwoman to find herself so
circumstanced, depend upon it she would drown herself."

"I know one such, however," said a lady who was with us: "Mademoiselle
Isabelle B*** is an old maid."

"Est-il possible!" cried the gentleman, in a tone that made me laugh
very heartily. "And how old is she, this unhappy Mademoiselle
Isabelle?"

"I do not know exactly," replied the lady; "but I think she must be
considerably past thirty."

"C'est une horreur!" he exclaimed again; adding, rather mysteriously,
in a half-whisper, "Trust me, she will not bear it long!"

       *       *       *       *       *

I had certainly forgotten Mademoiselle Isabelle and all about her,
when I again met the lady who had named her as the one sole existing
old maid of France. While conversing with her the other day on many
things which had passed when we were last together, she asked me if I
remembered this conversation. I assured her that I had forgotten no
part of it.

"Well, then," said she, "I must tell you what happened to me about
three months after it took place. I was invited with my husband to pay
a visit at the house of a friend in the country,--the same house where
I had formerly seen the Mademoiselle Isabelle B*** whom I had named
to you. While playing _écarté_ with our host in the evening, I
recollected our conversation in the Gardens of the Luxembourg, and
inquired for the lady who had been named in it.

"'Is it possible that you have not heard what has happened to her?' he
replied.

"'No, indeed; I have heard nothing. Is she married, then?'

"'Married!... Alas, no! she has _drowned herself_!'"

Terrible as this dénouement was, it could not be heard with the solemn
gravity it called for, after what had been said respecting her. Was
ever coincidence more strange! My friend told me, that on her return
to Paris she mentioned this catastrophe to the gentleman who had
seemed to predict it; when the information was received by an
exclamation quite in character,--"God be praised! then she is out of
her misery!"

This incident, and the conversation which followed upon it, induced me
to inquire in sober earnest what degree of truth there might really be
in the statement made to us in this well-remembered conversation; and
it certainly does appear, from all I can learn, that the meeting a
single woman past thirty is a very rare occurrence in France. The
arranging _un mariage convenable_ is in fact as necessary and as
ordinary a duty in parents towards a daughter, as the sending her to
nurse or the sending her to school. The proposal for such an alliance
proceeds quite as frequently from the friends of the lady as from
those of the gentleman: and it is obvious that this must at once very
greatly increase the chance of a suitable marriage for young women;
for though we do occasionally send our daughters to India in the hope
of obtaining this much-desired result, few English parents have as
yet gone the length of proposing to anybody, or to anybody's son, to
take their daughter off their hands.

I have not the least doubt in the world that, were the custom
otherwise--were a young lady's claim to an establishment pointed out
by her friends, instead of being left to be discovered or undiscovered
as chance will have it,--I have no doubt in the world that in such a
case many happy marriages might be the result: and where such an
arrangement infringes on no feeling of propriety, but is adopted only
in conformity to national custom, I can well believe that the fair
lady herself may deem her having nothing to do with the business a
privilege of infinite importance to her delicacy. But would our
English girls like, for the satisfaction of escaping the chance of
being an old maid, to give up the dear right of awaiting in maiden
dignity till they are chosen--selected from out the entire world--and
then of saying yes or no, as may please their fancy best?

If I do not greatly mistake the national character of Englishwomen,
there are very few who could be found to exchange this privilege for
the most perfect assurance that could be given of obtaining a marriage
in any other way. As to which is best and which is wisest, or even
which is likely to produce, ultimately and generally, the most happy
_ménage_, I will not pretend to say; because I have heard so much
plausible, and indeed, in some respects, substantial reasoning in
favour of the mode pursued here, that I feel it may be considered as
doubtful: but as to which is and must be most agreeable to the parties
chiefly concerned at the time the connexion is formed, herein I own I
think there can be no question whatever that English men and English
women have the advantage.

With all the inclination in the world to believe that France abounds
with loving, constant, faithful wives, and husbands too, I cannot but
think that if they are so, it is in spite of the manner in which their
marriages are made, and not in consequence of it. The strongest
argument in favour of their manner of proceeding undoubtedly is, that
a husband who receives a young wife as totally without impressions of
any kind, (as a well-brought-up French girl certainly is,) has a
better chance--or rather, has more _power_ of making her heart
entirely his own, than any man can have that falls in love with a
beauty of twenty, who may already have heard as tender sighs as he can
utter breathed in her ear by some one who may have had no power to
marry her, but who might have had a heart to love her, and a tongue to
win her as well as himself.

But against this how much is to be placed! However dearly a
Frenchwoman may love her husband, he can never feel that it is a love
which has selected him; and though it may sometimes happen that a
pretty creature is applied for because of her prettiness, yet if the
application be made and answered, and no question asked as to her will
or wish in the affair, she can feel but little gratification even to
her vanity--and certainly nothing whatever approaching to a feeling of
tenderness at her heart.

The force of habit is ever so inveterate, that it is not likely either
nation can be really a fair and impartial judge of the other in a
matter so entirely regulated by it. Therefore, all that I, as English,
will venture to say farther on the subject is, that I should be sorry
on this point to see us adopt the fashion of our neighbour France.

I have reason to believe, however, that my friend of the Luxembourg
Gardens exaggerated a good deal in his statement respecting the
non-existence of single women in France. They do exist here, though
certainly in less numbers than in England,--but it is not so easy to
find them out. With us it is not unusual for single ladies to take
what is called _brevet rank_;--that is, Miss Dorothy Tomkins becomes
Mrs. Dorothy Tomkins--and sometimes _tout bonnement_ Mrs. Tomkins,
provided there be no collateral Mrs. Tomkins to interfere with her:
but upon no occasion do I remember that any lady in this predicament
called herself the widow Tomkins, or the widow anything else.

Here, however, I am assured that the case is different; and that, let
the number of spinsters be great or small, no one but the near
connexions and most intimate friends of the party know anything of the
matter. Many a _veuve respectable_ has never had a husband in her
life; and I have heard it positively affirmed, that the secret is
often so well kept, that the nieces and nephews of a family do not
know their maiden aunts from their widowed ones.

This shows, at least, that matrimony is considered here as a more
honourable state than that of celibacy; though it does not quite go
the length of proving that all single women drown themselves.

But before I quit this subject, I must say a few words to you
concerning the old maids of England. There are few things which chafe
my spirit more than hearing single women spoken of with contempt
because they are such, or seeing them treated with less consideration
and attention than those who chance to be married. The cruelty and
injustice of this must be obvious to every one upon a moment's
thought; but to me its absurdity is more obvious still.

It is, I believe, a notorious fact, that there is scarcely a woman to
be found, of any rank under that of a princess of the blood royal,
who, at the age of fifty, has not at some time or in some manner had
the power of marrying if she chose it. That many who have had this
power have been tyrannically or unfortunately prevented from using it,
is certain; but there is nothing either ridiculous or contemptible in
this.

Still less does a woman merit scorn if she has had the firmness and
constancy of purpose to prefer a single life because she has
considered it best and fittest for her: in fact, I know nothing more
high-minded than the doing so. The sneering which follows female
celibacy is so well known and so coarsely manifested, that it shows
very considerable dignity of character to enable a woman to endure it,
rather than act against her sense of what is right.

I by no means say this by way of running a-tilt against all the ladies
in France who have submitted, _bon gré, mal gré_, to become wives at
the command of their fathers, mothers, uncles, aunts, and guardians:
they have done exactly what they ought, and I hope all their pretty
little quiet-looking daughters will do the same; it is the custom of
the country, and cannot discreetly be departed from. But being on the
subject, I am led, while defending our own modes of proceeding in the
important affair of marriage, to remark also on the result of them. In
permitting a young woman to become acquainted with the man who
proposes for her before she consents to pass her whole life with him,
I certainly see some advantage; but in my estimation there is more
still in the protection which our usage in these matters affords to
those who, rather than marry a man who is not the object of their
choice, prefer remaining single. I confess, too, that I consider the
class of single women as an extremely important one. Their entire
freedom from control gives them great power over their time and
resources, much more than any other woman can possibly possess who is
not a childless widow. That this power is often--very often--nobly
used, none can deny who are really and thoroughly acquainted with
English society; and if among the class there be some who love cards,
and tattle, and dress, and slander, they should be treated with just
the same measure of contempt as the married ladies who may also
occasionally be found to love cards, and tattle, and dress, and
slander,--but with no more.

It has been my chance, and I imagine that it has been the chance of
most other people, to have found my dearest and most constant friends
among single women. Of all the Helenas and Hermias that before marriage
have sat "upon one cushion, warbling of one song," even for years
together, how few are there who are not severed by marriage! Kind
feelings may be retained, and correspondence (lazily enough) kept up;
but to whom is it that the anxious mother, watching beside the sick
couch of her child, turns for sympathy and consolation?--certainly not
to the occupied and perhaps distant wedded confidante of her youthful
days, but to her maiden sister or her maiden friend. Nor is it only in
sickness that such friends are among the first blessings of life: they
violate no duty by giving their time and their talents to society; and
many a day through every house in England has probably owed some of
its most delightful hours to the presence of those whom no duty has
called

     "To suckle fools or chronicle small beer,"

and whose talents, therefore, are not only at their own disposal, but
in all probability much more highly cultivated than any possessed by
their married friends.

Thus, spite of him of the Luxembourg, I am most decidedly of opinion,
that, in England at least, there is no reason whatever that an
unmarried woman should consign herself to the fate of the unfortunate
Mademoiselle Isabelle.


END OF THE FIRST VOLUME.



     LONDON:

     PRINTED BY SAMUEL BENTLEY,
     Dorset Street, Fleet Street.





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