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Sleep, forsake us; may the soul
Gladden in its Maker's sight, • As the clouds, that o'er us roll,
• Sparkle in the morning light.
· God of life, be Thou the ray
• Of our dim and wandering course; • Light us, as the star of day,
• On to Truth's eternal source.'
THE SPRING SHOWER.
Away to that snug nook; for the thick shower
AMIOT'S LETTERS FROM FRANCE.
Paris, Rue du Mont-Thabor, 11th August.
I have such a heap of things to say that I don't know how to begin. Admirations, disquisitions, indignations, excusations, accusations, and absolutions, press for an utterance. You are well acquainted with my opinion of the inutility of attempting to describe, as that term is usually understood ; because it is in fact impracticable in execution, and would be quite superflous if it were not so. Galignani's guide book is very copious and well written, and you shall have the use of it. But there are some things, and those by far the most important to the minds of some persons, which a guide book does not, and cannot, take notice of; and those are the things, if I mistake not, which will most amuse you all ; I mean an account of my own adventures, my own notions, my own reflections. These, if not intrinsically valuable, are at least original.
We left Calais at ten by the market clock on Wednesday morning ; and commend me to the cabriolet of the Calais Diligence for comfortable travelling in summer! It is simply a covered gig where our box is. The conducteur, or guard, sits with you ; you avoid sun and dust; at night a curtain is drawn across the front, and you may sleep just as if you were lolling inside a gentleman's carriage. There is nothing like it in an English coach. And then what a subject for inexhaustible divertisement is submitted to your attention in the postilion and his team! I had often heard of the French postilions and their horses; I knew they wore tails and jackboots, and were caparisoned (that is the horses were) with ropes; but the individual particulars convey no notion of the complex image. The fellow at Calais was a dandy, and his boots were not much more than twice the size of those of the Oxford Bluesand had been cleaned ; but as we left the coast, the tail descended, and the boot increased, and the Day and Martin was all my eye ; till, at about forty miles from Paris, the whole thing attained its legitimate acmé, and I declare, positively, that a creature of five feet nothing, with legs and thighs like a forked radish, with VOL, I. PART I,
a queue six inches long, no coat, or waistcoat, or neckcloth, but clothed in a pair and a half of jean trowsers, leaped, Curtiuslike, into two enormous gambado boots, which stood in the yard like columns upright, and one of which would have silenced Trim's battery in five minutes. Curtius had a whip like a threshing flail, the lash being simply a long broad piece of leather, - such as boys use to flog their tops with. This was his whip, his horn, and blunderbuss. When any thing was in his way, Curtius could crack his flail in a portentous manner; the noise was louder and worse than a horn, and the sacrés came ever and anon like small shot in your ears. Yet Curtius drove his five horses at six miles an hour, withoạt spending so much whip on their backs as an English coachman would have done in one! The stages were very short, and we were not detained two minutes. Upon the whole, so far as my experience has gone, the French travelling has been much traduced; it is not bang-up, but it is safe, comfortable, and steady. No guard or coachman comes to impose upon you at every forty miles ; all is fixed; there are no gratuities; the conducteur pays every thing, and demands from you at the end the exact amount. This is inestimable to a wretch who cannot understand five syllables that are spoken to him, and hardly knows the value of the silver counters he has in his purse.
We dined at Sterne's Montreuil, and breakfasted at Beauvais, both fortified towns. Let me expatiate upon the dinner. Bear with me. In a room quite smart with sofas, and pier glasses, and flowers, and marble clock-stands, and Apollo, and Venus, and those kinds of folks, we sat down to excellent soup, by no means meagre ; then fish; ere we had blunted our appetite on that, came pork-steaks; then Maintenon cutlets; then chickens ; then very savoury ebullitions of fungous batter with a panoply of white sugar; of these last I absorbed seven, but they were unsubstantial as a lover's dream, in fact mere crust. A bottle of wine and a bottle of water were placed between every two persons. Salad, melons, grapes, peaches, and apricots abounded. We got all this, besides coffee, for four franks and a half a-piece; not to mention half a dozen sous to a pretty Picardy girl, for which she dropped two curtesies and a half, shot three or four glances from very black eyes, and said; “Bien obligée, Monsieur, et je vous remercie!
The conducteur sate with us, and seemed thoroughly at home. This last was a queer fellow. I could not catch all he said, for he was a downright Picard, and tobacco in every shape had played the devil with his grinders. But this was amusing. Am. “ Qu'est-ce, que ce bâtiment-ci ?” C. “ Bâtiment ! C'est une église de Notre Dame. Vous savez, nous sommes tous
Catholiques dans ce pays-ci!” Am. “ Oui.” C. vous êtes Protestans !” Am. " Oui; et vous nous detestez!”
Oh, que non! mais vous vous en plaindrez la-haut!” looking up to heaven. And two minutes afterwards this scoundrel commenced of his own accord a monologue so obscene in word and action as would have made you
sick! I remember at Calais we went into the church; and here I must describe, not stones and mortar, but flesh and blood. Imagine—but you cannot, highly gifted with the shaping power as you are; nevertheless essay to imagine yourself entering the parish church at
on a week-day, and seeing a tall gaunt figure crested with a wig and tail, two black Munchausen patches on his forehead and cheek, and enormous whiskers, mustachios, and military stock! Continue to imagine this figure arrayed in a rezé blue cloak and a broad admiral's belt across his shoulder, from which was appended an immeasurable sword; a pair of silk pantaloons a world too large for his shrunk shanks, white stockings, pumps, and buckles six inches square, completed his armour. This figure approached us; we shrunk; it was an awful moment.
İt spoke ;
Hé, hé! vous êtes Anglais ! hé, hé! c'est bien! Voici une église ! Je vous conduirai. L'autel, tout marbre! Magnifique ! hé, hé! Voilà Notre Dame! Magnifique ! Le tableau de l'Adoration! Magnifique ! bien coloré; hé, hé! Tout est magnifique ici! Le confessionnal! hé, hé! Ici on obtient l'absolution! Magnifique ! mais vous riez!” Am.“ Pardon! nous sommes héretiques!” “ Ah!”—a shrug of the shoulders; then in a moment afterwards; “ Hé, hé! c'est bien ! c'est fort bien ! hé, hé, ah! uh!”
But to return. At five of the clock on Thursday evening we entered Paris by the Porte St. Denis, and landed in an immense yard in the Rue N. D. des Victoires, whence half the coaches in France depart for their several destinations. M- was to have taken lodgings for us, and to have met us, but no Mwas there. It was no very enviable situation. You know it is somewhat difficult to be philosophical on a debarkation at the White Horse Cellar ;--conceive the tempest five times doubled, the villains five times as impudent, and yourself not able to comprehend or perhaps utter one syllable of the Babylonish around you! Ultimately we took shelter in a blackguard hotel in the yard, and dispatched a note to M
We were choused out of two francs for having our luggage carried ten yards. After we had wetted our faces in a pye-dish up-stairs, we descended into the café, and took dinner.
came; he had taken no lodgings, there being a difficulty in getting them for a fortnight. We agreed to meet the next morning and renew the search. That night we prowled about ; but nothing remarkable occurred except that we most miserably lost our way, which however, all things considered, was not so very extraordinary, and got choused again by the jarvy who extricated us from our pilgrimage.
We are now settled in the centre of the most splendid quarter of Paris, with the Place Vendôme on one side, and the gardens of the Tuilleries on the other. Our apartments are smart, and Panchette is pretty. We had great fun in our treaty with my landlady, who is a native of Lorraine, with a good humoured German husband. After various questions, and beating her down sundry francs, we asked if there was a bell, upon which she showed it to us, and enlarged upon its excellence.
Ecoutez, Monsieur!” and hear we did, and still may hear it: for it seemeth that this bell is constructed on the novel and entertaining principle of affording exercise to the arm and a lesson of patience to the mind of the ringer, at the same time that it gives no trouble to the domestic in attending to it. In a few words, although the said bell soundeth bien fortement up stairs, it soundeth point du tout in the kitchen.
We went to the Theatre Français on Friday night, and saw Talma and Duchesnois. The play was “ Regulus.” Let him be judged, as is fair, upon the principles and after the fashion of the drama of the French, and I should think Talma the finest actor in the world. He is more majestic, more tender, more overpowering than Kemble ; his figure is as great, though perhaps not so correct, and his voice is inexpressibly touching. But I saw none of the workings of Kean's face, none of that fearful agony of the upper lip, none of the tremulous agitations of his hands and breast; Talma's great feat was to thrust his fingers into his eyes, and to show the whites to the people. Duchesnois is a plain woman, yet she equals O'Neill in many things ; in some surpasses her. I have never heard such an unaffected yet affecting change of voice from declamation to grief. Every accent could be heard distinctly. The play, upon the whole, was certainly better acted than in England. There was no bad acting.