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—May I perish! if I do, said I, pulling out a letter which I had to present to Madame de R***. --I'll wait upon this lady, the very first thing I do. So I called La Fleur to go seek me a barber cirectly —and come back and brush my coat.
HEN the barber came, he absolutely refused to have anything to do with my wig; ’twas 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 I—The utmost stretch of an English periwig-maker's ideas could have gone no further than to have "dipped it into a pail of water.". What difference! 'tis 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 beside the great deep, makes certainly but a sorry figure in speechbut 'twill be said-it has one advantage-'tis 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 minutia, than in the most important matters of state; where great men of all nations talk and stalk so much alike, that I would not give ninepence to chuse amongst them.
I was so long in getting from under my barber's hands, that it was too late to think of going with my letter to Madame R*** that night: but when a man is once dressed at all points for going out, his reflections turn to little account; so taking
down the name of the Hotel de Modene, where I lodged, I walked forth without any determination
where to go
-I shall consider of that, said I, as I
AIL ye small sweet courtesies of life, for smooth do ye make the road of it! like grace and beauty which beget inclinations to love at first sight: 'tis ye who open this door and let the stranger in.
—Pray, Madame, said I, have the goodness to tell me which way I must turn to go to the Opera comique :-Most willingly, Monsieur, said she, laying aside her work
I had given a cast with my eye into half a dozen shops as I came along in search of a face not likely to be disordered by such an interruption; till at last, this hitting my fancy, I had walked in.
She was working a pair of ruffles as she sat in a low chair on the far side of the shop facing the door.
-Tres volontiers; most willingly, said she, laying her work down upon a chair next her, and rising up from the low chair she was sitting in, with
so chearful a movement and so chearful a look, that had I been laying out fifty louis d'ors with her, I should have said "This woman is grateful.”
You must turn, Monsieur, said she, going with me to the door of the shop, and pointing the way down the street I was to take—you must turn first to your left hand-mais prenez garde-there are two turns; and be so good as to take the second —then go down a little way and you'll see a church, and when you are past it, give yourself the trouble to turn directly to the right, and that will lead you to the foot of the Pont Neuf, which you must cross —and there any one will do himself the pleasure to shew you
She repeated her instructions three times over to me, with the same good-natur'd patience the third time as the first ;-and if tones and manners have a meaning, which certainly they have, unless to hearts which shut them out- -she seemed really interested,
that I should not lose myself.
I will not suppose it was the woman's beauty, notwithstanding she was the handsomest Grisset, I think, I ever saw, which had much to do with the sense I had of her courtesy; I told her how much I was looked very full in her eyes, my thanks as often as she had done her instructions.
only I remember, when obliged to her, that I -and that I repeated