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désespoir for her reëstablishment from the fatigues of her journey—and, to close all, that Monsieur had received the letter which Madame had done him the honor-And he has done me the honor, said Madame de L- interrupting La Fleur, to send a billet in return.
Madame de L had said this with such a tone of reliance upon the fact, that La Fleur had not power to disappoint her expectations—he trembled for my honor—and possibly might not altogether be unconcerned for his own, as a man capable of being attach'd to a master who could be a-wanting en égards vis-à-vis d'une femme! so that when Madame de L- asked La Fleur if he had brought a letter-o qu'oui, said La Fleur; so laying down his hat upon the ground, and taking hold of the flap of his right side pocket with his left hand, he began to search for the letter with his right — then contrariwise. — Diable! — then sought every pocket-pocket by pocket, round, not forgetting his fob— Peste !—then La Fleur emptied them upon the floor-pulled out a dirty cravat–a handkerchief-a comb—a whip lasha night-cap—then gave a peep into his hat-Quelle étourderie! He had left the letter upon the table in the Auberge—he would run for it, and be back with it in three minutes.
I had just finished my supper when La Fleur came in to give me an account of his adventure: he told the whole story simply as it was; and only added, that if Monsieur had forgot (par hazard) to answer Madame's letter, the arrangement gave him an opportunity to recover the faux pas—and if not, that things were only as they were.
Now I was not altogether, sure of my etiquette, whether I ought to have wrote or no; but if I had—a devil himself could not have been angry: 't was but the officious zeal of a well-meaning creature for my honor; and however he might have mistook the road—or embarrassed me in so doing—his heart was in no fault-I was under no necessity to writeand what weighed more than all—he did not look as if he had done amiss.
—'T is all very well, La Fleur, said I.—'T was sufficient. La Fleur flew out of the room like lightning, and return'd with pen, ink, and paper, in his hand; and coming up to the table, laid them close before me, with such a delight in his countenance, that I could not help taking up the pen.
I begun and begun again; and though I had nothing to say, and that nothing might have been expressed in half a dozen lines, I made half a dozen different beginnings, and could no way please myself.
In short, I was in no mood to write.
La Fleur stepp'd out and brought a little water in a glass to dilute my ink-then fetch'd sand and seal-wax.—It was all one; I wrote, and blotted, and tore off, and burnt, and wrote again.—Le diable l'emporte, said I half to myself—I cannot write this selfsame letter, throwing the pen down de spairingly as I said it.
As soon as I had cast down the pen, La Fleur advanced with the most respectful carriage up to the table, and making a thousand apologies for the liberty he was going to take, told me he had a letter in his pocket wrote by a drummer in his regiment to a corporal's wife, which, he durst say, would suit the occasion.
I had a mind to let the poor fellow have his humor.Then prithee, said I, let me see it.
La Fleur instantly pulled out a little dirty pocket-book cramm'd full of small letters and billet-doux in a sad condition, and laying it upon the table, and then untying the string which held them all together, run them over one by one, till he came to the letter in question.-La voilà, said he, clapping his hands: so unfolding it first, he laid it before me, and retired three steps from the table whilst I read it.
temps au désespoir par ce retour imprévu du Corporal qui
On dit aussi que Monsieur le Corporal monte la garde Mercredi : alors ce sera mon tour.
Chacun à son tour.
Je suis, Madame,
It was but changing the Corporal into the Count-and saying nothing about mounting guard on Wednesday—and the letter was neither right or wrong-so to gratify the poor fellow, who stood trembling, for my honor, his own, and the honor of his letter-I took the cream gently off it, and whipping it up in my own way—I seal'd it up and sent him with it to Madame de L- and the next morning we pursued our journey to Paris.
HEN a man can contest the point by dint of equi
page, and carry all on foundering before him with
half a dozen lackeys and a couple of cooks—'t is very well in such a place as Paris—he may drive in at which end of a street he will.
A poor prince who is weak in cavalry, and whose whole infantry does not exceed a single man, had best quit the field; and signalize himself in the cabinet, if he can get up into it-I say up into it—for there is no descending perpendicular amongst 'em with a “Me voici, mes enfans”-here I am-whatever many may think.
I own my first sensations, as soon as I was left solitary and alone in my own chamber in the hotel, were far from being so flattering as I had prefigured them. I walked up gravely to the window in my dusty black coat, and looking through the glass saw all the world in yellow, blue, and green, running at the ring of pleasure.-The old with broken lances, and in helmets which had lost their vizards—the young in armor bright which shone like gold, beplumed with each gay feather of the east-all-all tilting at it like fascinated knights in tournaments of yore for fame and love.
Alas, poor Yorick! cried I, what art thou doing here? On the very first onset of all this glittering clatter thou art reduced to an atom.-Seek-seek some winding alley, with a tourniquet at the end of it, where chariot never rolled or flambeau shot its rays—there thou mayest solace thy soul in converse sweet with some kind grisset of a barber's wife, and get into such coteries !
-May I perish! if I do, said I, pulling out the letter which I had to present to Madame de R- -:-I'll wait upon this lady, the very first thing I do. So I callid La Fleur to go seek me a barber directly—and come back and brush my coat.
HEN the barber came, he absolutely refus'd to
have anything to do with my wig: 't was either
above or below his art: I had nothing to do, but to take one ready made of his own recommendation.
-But I fear, friend ! said I, this buckle won't stand.—You may immerge it, replied he, into the ocean, and it will stand.
What a great scale is everything upon in this city! thought 1.-The utmost stretch of an English periwig-maker's ideas could have gone no further than to have “dipp'd it into a pail of water."—What difference! 't is like time to eternity.
I confess I do hate all cold conceptions, as I do the puny ideas which engender them; and am generally so struck with the great works of nature, that for my own part, if I could help it, I never would make a comparison less than a mountain at least. All that can be said against the French sublime in this instance of it, is this—that the grandeur is more in the word, and less in the thing. No doubt the ocean fills the mind with vast ideas; but Paris being so far inland, it was not likely I should run post a hundred miles out of it, to try the experiment.—The Parisian barber meant nothing.
The pail of water standing besides the great deep, makes certainly but a sorry figure in speech—but 't will be said it has one advantage—'t is in the next room, and the truth of the buckle may be tried in it, without more ado, in a single moment.
In honest truth, and upon a more candid revision of the matter, the French expression professes more than it performs.
I think I can see the precise and distinguishing marks of national characters more in these nonsensical minutie, than in the most important matters of state; where great men of