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clines men more to human actions, than courteous ones— we should at least lose that distinct variety and originality of character, which distinguishes them, not only from each other, but from all the world besides.
I had a few of King William's shillings as smooth as glass in my pocket; and foreseeing they would be of use in the illustration of my hypothesis, I had got them into my hand, when I had proceeded so far.—
See, Monsieur le Comte, said I, rising up, and laying them before him upon the table-by jingling and rubbing one against another for seventy years together in one body's pocket or another's, they are become so much alike, you can scarce distinguish one shilling from another.
The English, like ancient medals, kept more apart, and passing but few people's hands, preserve the first sharpnesses which the fine hand of nature has given them-they are not so pleasant to feel-but, in return, the legend is so visible, that at the first look you see whose image and superscription they bear. But the French, Monsieur le Comte, added I, wishing to soften what I had said, have so many excellences, they can the better spare this-they are a loyal, a gallant, a generous, an ingenious, and good-temper'd people as is under heaven-if they have a fault-they are too serious.
Mon Dieu! cried the Count, rising out of his chair.
Mais vous plaisantez, said he, correcting his exclamation.— I laid my hand upon my breast, and with earnest gravity assured him it was my most settled opinion.
The Count said he was mortified he could not stay to hear my reasons, being engaged to go that moment to dine with the Duc de C.
But if it is not too far to come to Versailles to eat your soup with me, I beg, before you leave France, I may have the pleasure of knowing you retract your opinion—or, in what manner you support it.—But if you do support it, Monsieur Anglois, said he, you must do it with all your powers, because you have the whole world against you.— I promised the Count I would do myself the honor of dining with him before I set out for Italy-so took my leave.
HEN I alighted at the hotel, the porter told me a young woman with a band-box had been that moment inquiring for me.-I do not know, said the porter, whether she is gone away or no. I took the key of my chamber of him, and went up-stairs; and when I had got within ten steps of the top of the landing before my door, I met her coming easily down.
It was the fair fille de chambre I had walked along the Quai de Conti with: Madame de R had sent her upon some commissions to a merchante des modes within a step or two of the Hotel de Modene; and as I had fail'd in waiting upon her, had bid her inquire if I had left Paris; and if so, whether I had not left a letter addressed to her.
As the fair fille de chambre was so near my door, she turned back, and went into the room with me for a moment or two whilst I wrote a card.
It was a fine still evening in the latter end of the month of May the crimson window-curtains (which were of the same color of those of the bed) were drawn close-the sun was setting, and reflected through them so warm a tint into the fair fille de chambre's face-I thought she blush'd-the idea of it made me blush myself-we were quite alone; and that superinduced a second blush before the first could get off.
There is a sort of a pleasing half guilty blush, where the blood is more in fault than the man-'t is sent impetuous from the heart, and virtue flies after it-not to call it back, but to make the sensation of it more delicious to the nerves't is associated.—
But I'll not describe it.-I felt something at first within me which was not in strict unison with the lesson of virtue I had given her the night before.—I sought five minutes for
a card-I knew I had not one.-I took up a pen-I laid it down again-my hand trembled-the devil was in me.
I know as well as any one he is an adversary, whom if we resist he will fly from us-but I seldom resist him at all; from a terror that though I may conquer, I may still get a hurt in the combat-so I give up the triumph for security; and instead of thinking to make him fly, I generally fly myself.
The fair fille de chambre came close up to the bureau where I was looking for a card-took up first the pen I cast down, then offer'd to hold me the ink; she offer'd it so sweetly, I was going to accept it—but I durst not.—I have nothing, my dear, said I, to write upon.-Write it, said she, simply, upon anything.
I was just going to cry out, Then I will write it, fair girl, upon thy lips.
If I do, said I, I shall perish-so I took her by the hand, and led her to the door, and begg'd she would not forget the lesson I had given her. She said, indeed she would notand as she utter'd it with some earnestness, she turn'd about, and gave me both her hands, closed together, into mine-it was impossible not to compress them in that situation-I wish'd to let them go; and all the time I held them, I kept arguing within myself against it-and still I held them on.In two minutes I found I had all the battle to fight over again -and I felt my legs and every limb about me tremble at the idea.
The foot of the bed was within a yard and a half of the place where we were standing-I had still hold of her hands -and how it happened I can give no account, but I neither ask'd her-nor drew her-nor did I think of the bed-but so it did happen, we both sat down.
I'll just show you, said the fair fille de chambre, the little purse I have been making to-day to hold your crown. So she put her hand into her right pocket, which was next me, and felt for it some time-then into the left-"She had lost it."I never bore expectation more quietly—it was in her right pocket at last she pull'd it out; it was of green taffeta, lined with a little bit of white quilted satin, and just big enough to hold the crown-she put it into my hand;-it was pretty; and I held it ten minutes with the back of my hand resting
upon her lap-looking sometimes at the purse, sometimes on one side of it.
A stitch or two had broke out in the gathers of my stock— the fair fille de chambre, without saying a word, took out her little hussive, threaded a small needle, and sew'd it up.-I foresaw it would hazard the glory of the day; and as she pass'd her hand in silence across and across my neck in the manoeuver, I felt the laurels shake which fancy had wreath'd about my head.
A strap had given way in her walk, and the buckle of her shoe was just falling off.-See, said the fille de chambre, holding up her foot.-I could not for my soul but fasten the buckle in return, and putting in the strap-and lifting up the other foot with it, when I had done, to see both were right— in doing it too suddenly-it unavoidably threw the fair fille de chambre off her center-and then
ES-and then-Ye whose clay-cold heads and lukewarm hearts can argue down or mask your passions -tell me, what trespass is it that man should have them? or how his spirit stands answerable to the Father of spirits but for his conduct under them.
If Nature has so wove her web of kindness that some threads of love and desire are entangled with the piecemust the whole web be rent in drawing them out?—Whip me such stoics, great Governor of nature! said I to myself.— Wherever thy providence shall place me for the trials of my virtue-whatever is my danger-whatever is my situationlet me feel the movements which rise out of it, and which belong to me as a man—and if I govern them as a good oneI will trust the issues to thy justice: for thou hast made us— and not we ourselves.
As I finish'd my address, I raised the fair fille de chambre up by the hand, and led her out of the room-she stood by me till I lock'd the door and put the key in my pocket-and then the victory being quite decisive-and not till then, I press'd my lips to her cheek, and taking her by the hand again, led her safe to the gate of the hotel.