Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

He told me it was some poor Abbé in one of the upper loges, who he supposed had got planted perdu behind a couple of grisettes, in order to see the opera, and that the parterre, espying him, were insisting upon his holding up both his hands during the representation. . ... And can it be supposed, said I, that an ecclesiastic would pick the grisettes' pockets? -- The old French officer smiled, and, whispering in my ear, opened a door of knowledge which I had no idea of.

Good God! said I, turning pale with astonishment, - is it possible that a people so smit with sentiment should at the same time be so unclean, and so unlike themselves ? Quelle grossierté ! added I.

The French officer told me it was an illiberal sarcasm at the church, which had begun in the theatre about the time the Tartuffe was given in it, by Molière:

but, like other remains of Gothic manners, was declining. -Every nation, continued he, have their refinements and grossiertés, in which they take the lead, and lose it of one another by turns; that he had been in most countries, but never in one but where he found some delicacies, which others seemed to want. Le pour et le contre se trouvent en chaque nation; there is a balance, said he, of good and bad everywhere; and nothing but knowing it is so can emancipate one half of the world from the prepossession which it holds against the other: - that the advantage of travel, as it regarded the sçavoir vivre, was by seeing a great deal both of men and manners; it taught us mutual toleration; and mutual toleration, concluded he, making me a bow, taught us mutual love.

The old French officer delivered this with an air

[ocr errors]

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

of such candour and good sense as coincided with my first favourable impressions of his character: I thought I loved the man; but I fear I mistook the object: – 'twas my own way of thinking, - the difference was, I could not have expressed it half so well.

It is alike troublesome to both the rider and his beast if the latter goes pricking up his ears, and starting all the way at every object which he never saw before.

I have as little torment of this kind as any creature alive; and yet I honestly confess that many a thing gave me pain, and that I blushed at many a word the first month which I found inconsequent and perfectly innocent the second.

Madame de Rambouliet, after an acquaintance of about six weeks with her, had done me the honour to take me in her coach about two leagues out of town.

Of all women, Madame de Rambouliet is the most correct; and I never wish to see one of more virtues and purity of heart. — In our return back, Madame de Rambouliet desired me to pull the cord I asked her if she wanted any thing? - Rien que pour pisser, said Madame de Rambouliet.

Grieve not, gentle traveller, to let Madame de Rambouliet p-ss on. — And, ye fair mystic nymphs, go each one pluck your rose, and scatter them in your path, for Madame de Rambouliet did no more. -I handed Madame de Rambouliet out of the coach; and had I been the priest of the chaste Castalia, I could not have served at her fountain with a more respectful decorum.

Sentimental Journey, elc.

6

THE FILLE DE CHAMBRE.

PARIS.

[ocr errors]

What the old French officer had delivered upon travelling, bringing Polonius's advice to his son, upon the same subject, into my head, -- and that bringing in Hamlet, — and Hamlet the rest of Shakespeare's Works, I stopt at the Quai de Conti, in my return home, to purchase the whole set. The bookseller said he had not a set in the world.

Comment! said I, taking one up out of a set which lay upon the counter betwixt us.

... He said, they were sent him only to be got bound; and were to be sent back to Versailles in the morning to the Count de B****

And does the Count de B****, said I, read Shakespeare? .... C'est un esprit fort; replied the bookseller. - He loves English books; and, what is

. more to his honour, Monsieur, he loves the English too. ... You speak this so civilly, said I, that it is. enough to oblige an Englishman to lay out a Louis d'or or two at your shop. The bookseller made a bow, and was going to say something, when a young decent girl, about twenty, who, by her air and dress seemed to be fille de chambre to some devout woman of fashion, came into the shop and asked for Les Egaremens du Caur et de l'Esprit. The bookseller gave her the book directly; she pulled out a little green satin purse, run round with a ribband of the same colour, and, putting her finger and thumb into it, she took out the money and paid for it. As I had nothing

more to stay me in the shop, we both walked out of the door together.

And what have you to do, my dear, said I, with The Wanderings of the Heart, who scarce know yet you have one? nor, 'till Love has first told you it, or some faithless shepherd has made it ache, canst thou ever be sure it is so... Dieu m'en garde! said the girl. . . . . With reason, said I; for, if it is a good one, 'tis a pity it should be stolen; 'tis a little treasure to thee, and gives a better air to your face than if it was dressed out with pearls.

The young girl listened with a submissive attention, holding her satin purse by its ribband in her hand all the time. 'Tis a very small one, said I, taking hold of the bottom of it (she held it towards me) — and there is very little in it, my dear, said I; but be but as good as thou art handsome, and Heaven will fill it. I had a parcel of crowns in my hand to pay for Shakespeare; and, as she had let go the purse entirely, I put a single one in; and, tying up the ribband in a bow-knot, returned it to her.

The young girl made me more a humble curtsey than a low one 'twas one of those quiet, thankful sinkings, where the spirit bows itself down, - the body does no more than tell it. I never gave a girl a crown in my life which gave me half the pleasure.

My advice, my dear, would not have been worth a pin to you, said I, if I had not given this along with

when

you see the crown, you'll remember it; so don't, my dear, lay it out in ribbands.

Upon my word, Sir, said the girl, earnestly, I am incapable; in saying which, as is usual in little

[ocr errors]

it; but now,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

bargains of honour, she gave me her hand: - En verité, Monsieur, je mettrai cet argent apart, said she.

When a virtuous convention is made betwixt man and woman, it sanctities their most private walks; so notwithstanding it was dusky, yet as both our roads lay the same way, we made no scruple of walking along the Quai de Conti together.

She made me a second curtsey in setting off; and, before we got twenty yards from the door, as if she had not done enough before, she made a sort of a little stop, to tell me again she thanked me.

- It was a small tribute, I told her, which I could not avoid paying to virtue, and would not be mistaken in the person I had been rendering it to for the world; but I see innocence, my dear, in your face, - and foul befalt

the man who ever lays a snare in its

way!

or that

The girl seemed affected, some way or other, with what I said; she gave a low sigh; - I found I was not empowered to enquire at all after it, - 80 said nothing more, till I got to the corner of the Rue de Nevers, where we were to part.

But, is this the way, my dear, said I, to the Hotel de Modene?.... She told me it was; I might ġo by the Rue de Gueneguault, which was the next turn. .... Then I'll go, my dear, by the Rue de Gueneguault, said I, for two reasons: first, I shall please myself; and next, I shall give you the protection of my company as far on your way as I can. The girl was sensible I was civil, – and said, she wished the Hotel de Modene was in the Rue de St. Pierre..... You live there? said I. .... She told me she was fille de chambre to Madame R***..... Good

« ZurückWeiter »