Charles James Lever.

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W Hotel des Pkinces, Paris.


It is a strange thing to begin a " log " when the voyage
is nigh ended ! A voyage without chart or compass has
it been : and now is land in sight — the land of the weary
and heart-tired !

Here am I, at the Hotel des Princes, en route for Italy,
whither my doctors have sentenced me ! What a sad
record would be preserved to the world if travellers were
but to fill up, with good faith, the police formula at each
stage of the journey, which asks, " the object of the
tour! " How terribly often should we read the two short
words — " To Die," With what sorrowful interest would,
one gaze at the letters formed by a trembling hand ; and
yet how many would have to write them ! Truly the old.
Italian adage, " Vedere Napoli e poi morire^'' has gained
a new signification ; and, unhappily, a far more real one.

This same practice of physicians, of sending their patients
to linger out the last hours of life in a foreign land, is, to my
thinking, by no means so reprehensible as the generality of
people make out. It is a theme, however, on which so many
common places can be strung that common-place people,
who,aboveall others, love their own eloquence, never weary
of it. Away from his children — from his favourite haunts — •



from the doctors that uuclerstood liis case — from his comfort-
able house — from the family apothecary — such are the
changes thoy ring ; and if dying were to be done often,
there would be much reascu in all this. But it is not so ;
this same change occurs but once, and its approach brings
with it a. ne.vy train of thoughts and feelings from all that
we have ever felt before. In that twilight hour of life,
objects that have escaped our vision in the blaze of noon-
day become clear and distinct ; and, even to the least
reflecting of minds, an increased power of perception and
iudsfment is accorded — the viaticum for the cominof
journey !

I remcmlior being greatly affected by the stories in the
" Diary of a Pliysician," when first I read them : they
were powerfully written — and so real ! N^ow this is the
very quality they want : they are altogether unreal.

Terrific and heart-stirring as the death-bed scenes are,
they are not true to nature : the vice and the virtue are
alike exaggerated. Few, very few persons can bring
themselves by an effort to believe that they are dying —
easy as it seems, often as we talk of it, frequent as the
very expression becomes in a colloquialism, it is still a
most difficult process ; but once thoroughly felt, there is
an engrossing power in the thought that excludes all

At times, indeed, Hope will triumph for a brief interval,
and "tell of bright da3-s to come." Hope ! the glorious
phantom that we follow up the Rhine — through the deep
glens of the Tyrol, and over the Al^^s ! — Only content to
die when we have lost it !

There ai'e men to whom the truth, however shocking,
is always revealed — to whom the lawyer says, "You have
no case," and the physician confesses, " You have no
constitution." Happily or unhappily — I will not deny it
may be both — I am one of these. Of the three doctors
summoned to consult on my health, one spoke confidently
and chceringly ; he even assumed that kind of profes-
sional jocularity that would imply, " the patient is making
too much of it." The second, more reserved from
temperament, and graver, counselled caution and great


care — hinted at the danger of the malady — coupling his
fears with the hopes he derived from the prospect of
climate. The third (he was younger than either of the
others, and of inferior repute) closed the door after them,
and resumed his seat,

I waited for some time expecting him to speak, but he
sat in silence, and seemingly in deep thought. " And you,
my dear doctor," said I at length, " are you equally con-
fident as your learned colleagues ? Will the air of Italy

? " He lifted up his eyes as I got so far, and their

expression I shall not readily forget — so softly tender, so
•full of compassionate pity, did they beam, ^ever did a
look convey more of sorrowing regret, nor more of blank
despair, I hesitated — on his account I feared to finish
what I had. begun ; but, as if replying to the expression
of his glance, I added, "But still you advise me to go ?
You counsel the journey, at least ? "

He blushed deeply before he could answer. He felt
ashamed that he had failed in one great requisite of his
art. I hastened to relieve him, by saying with a joyous
air, "Well, I will go. I like the notion myself; it is at
least a truce with physic. It is like drawing a game be-
fore one has completely lost it."

And so here I am — somewhat wearied and fevered by
the unaccustomed exertion, but less so than I expected.

I sincerely hope it is only the fastidiousness of a
sick man, and not that most insufferable of all affectations
— exclusiveness ; but I will own I never disliked the
mixed company of a steam-boat so much before. It is
always an unpleasant part of our English travelling-
expei'ience, that little steam trip from our own coast to
the French or Belgian shore. The pleasuring Cockney,
only sufferable when sick — the runaway bank-clerk — the
Hamburg Jew — the young lady going to Paris for spring
fashions — the newly-married, barrister, with bis bit of
tawdry finery from ISTorwood, silly, simpering, and fidgetty
— the Irish landlord, sulky and familiar by turns ; all,
even to the danseuse, who, too refined for such associa-
tion, sits in her carriage on deck, have a terrible same-
ness when seen, as I have done them, something like fifty

B 2


times ; nor can I suppose their united attractions greatly-
heightened by the figure of the pale gentleman, who
coughs so incessantly, and whose wan cheek and
colourless eye are seen to such formidable contrast
with the bronzed and resolute face of the courier beside

Yet I would far rather think this want of due tolerance
for my travelling companions was a symptom of my
malady, than of that truly English disease — self-import-
ance._ I know of nothing that tracks our steps on the
Continent so invariably, nor is there any quality which
earns for us so much ill-will.

It is quite a mistake to suppose that these airs of
superiority are only assumed by persons of a certain rank
and fortune— far from it. Every denizen of Cheapside
and the Minories that travels abroad, deems himself
immeasurably above " the foreigner." Strong in his City
estimation, and charged with the leader in the Times,
he struts about like an upstart visiting the servants' hall,
and expecting every possible demonstration of respect in
return for his condescension. Hence the unhappy disparity
between the situation of an Englishman and that of any
other native abroad. Instead of rejoicing at any casualty
which presents to him a cliance meeting with a country-
man, he instinctively shrinks from it. He sees the
Frenchman, the Italian, the German, overjoyed at recog-
nition with some stranger from his own land, while he
acknowledges, in such a contingency, only another reason
for guardedness and caution. It is not that our land is
wanting in those sterling qualities which make men
respected and venerated— it is not that we are not, from
principle and practice, both more exacting in all the re-
quisites of good faith, and more tenacious of truth, than
any people of the Continent ;— it is simply that we are
the least tolerant to everything that differs from what we
have at home, that we unscrupulously condemn whatever
IS un-English; and, not satisfied with this, we expect
foreigners to respect and admire us for the very censure
we pass upon their institutions.

There is, therefore, nothing so compromising to an


Englishman abroad as a countryman ; except — Itelas that
I should say so ! — a countrywoman !

Paris is very beautiful in spring. There is something
radiant and gorgeous in the commingled splendour of a
great city, with the calmer beauties of leafy foliage and
the sparkling eddies of the bright river. Better, however,
not to dwelllonger on this theme, lest my gloomy thoughts
should stray into the dark and crime-trodden alleys of
the Bois de Boulogne, or the still more terrible filets de
St. Cloud ! How sad is it when one's temperament
should, as if instinctively, suggest the mournful view
of each object! Rather let me jot down a little in-
cident of this morning — an event which has set my
heart throbbing, and my pulse fluttering, at a rate that
all the prussic acid I have learned to take cannot calm
down again.

There come now and then moments to the sick man,
when to be well and vigorous he would consent to be
poor, unfriended in the world — taking health alone for
his heritage. I felt that half an hour ago — but it is gone
again. And now to my adventure, for, in my unbroken
dream of daily life, it seemed such.

I have said I am lodged at the Hotel des Princes.
How different are my quarters from those I inhabited
when first I saw this city ! This would entail a cf nfes-
siou, however, and I shall make it some other day. My
salon is No. 21, the first drawing-room to the right as you
turn from the grand staircase, and opening by the three
spacious windows on a balcony overlooking the Rue de
Richelieu. It is, indeed, a very splendid apartment, as
much so as immense mirrors, gilding, bronze, and ormolu
can make it. There are soft couches and chairs, and
ottomans too, that would inspire rest, save when the soul
itself was restless.

Well, I lounged out after breakf;ist for a short stroll
along the Boulevards, where the shade of the trees and,
the well-watered path were most inviting. Soon w^earied
— I cannot walk in a crowd — I returned to the hotel ;
shortly toiled up-stairs, waking the echoes with my
teasing cough ; and, instead of turning to the right, I


went left, taking the wrong' road, as I have so often
done in life ; and then mistaking the numei-als, I
entered No. 12 instead of No. 21. Who would credit
it, that the misplacement of a unit could prove bo
singular ?

There was one change alone which struck me. I could
not find the book I was reading — a little volume of
Auerbach's village stories of the Schwartz- Walders. There
was, however, another in its place, one that told of
humble life in the provinces — not less ti'uthful and heart-
appealing — but how very unlike ! It was Balzac's story
of " Eugenie Grandet," the most touching tale I have ever
read in any language. I have read it a hundred times,
and ever with renewed delight. Little troubling myself
to think how it came there — for, like an old and valued
friend, its familiar features were aways welcome — I began
again to read it.

Whether the result of some peculiar organization, or
the mere consequence of ill-health, I know not, but I
have long remarked, that when a book has taken a sti'ong
hold upon me — fascinating my attention and engaging all
my sympathies, I cannot long continue its perusal. I
grow dreary and speculative ; losing the thread of the
narrative, I create one for myself, imagining a variety of
incidents and scenes quite foreign to the intention of the
writer, and identifying myself usually with some one person-
age or other of the story — till the upshot of all is, I drop off
asleep, to awake an hour or so afterwards witha very tired
brain, and a very confused sense of the reality or unreality
of my last waking sensations.

It is, therefore, rather a relief to me, when, as iu the
present case, the catasti'ophe is known to me, and all
speculation on the future denied. Poor Eugenie, how 1
felt for all your sorrows ! — wondrous spectacle of a heart
that could transmute its one absorbing passion into
another, and from love, the fondest and most confiding,
beget a pure and disinterested friendship!

At last the book glided unnoticed from my hand, and 1
slept. The sofa where I hiy stood in a part of the room
where a deep shadow fell from the closed jalousies of a,


window, so that any person might easily have entered or
traversed the apartment without noticing me. I slept
calmly and without a stir — my dreaming thoughts full of
that poor girl's love. How little does any first passion
depend upon the excellence of the object that creates it !
How ideal, purely ideal, are those first emotions of the
heart ! I knew something of this, too ; for, when young,
very young, and very impressionable, with a strong
dash of I'Dmance^in my nature, that lent its Claude
Lorraine tint to all I looked at, I fell in love. Never was
the phrase more fitting. It was no gradual or even
imperceptible declension, but a headlong, reckless plunge;
such as some confident and hardy swimmer, or very often
a bold bather, makes into the water, that all may be
quickly over.

I had been appointed attacM at Vienna, where Lord
Newington was then ambassador — a widower with an
only daughter. I was very young, fresh from Woolwich,
where I had been studying for the Artillery service, when
the death of a distant relative, who but a year before had
refused to see me, put me in possession of a very lai'ge
fortune. My guardian. Lord Elderton, an old diplomatey
at once removed me from AVoolwich, and after a short
sojourn at his house near Windsor, I was introduced into
what Foreign-office people technically denominate " The
Line,'" and what they stoutly uphold as the only career for
a gentleman.

I must some day or other jot down a few recollections
of my life at Gortham, Lord Elderton's seat, where, with
Grotius and PufFendorf of a morning, and old >Sir Robert
Adams and Lord Hailieburay of an evening, I was believed
to be inhaling the very atmosphere of learned diplomacy.
Tiresome old gentlemen, whose thoughts stood fast at the
time of Fox and Pitt, and, like a clock that went down
in the night, steadily pointed to an hour long bygone.
How wearied I was of discussions as to whether the King
of Prussia would declare war, or the Emperor of Austria
make peace ! whether we should give up Malta and lose
Hanover ! Pitt, must, indeed, have been a man of " dark
counsels, for whether he wished for an alliance with


France or not was a nightly topic of debate witliout a
cliance of agreement.

All these discussions, far from tending to excite my
ardonr for the career, served to make me dread it, as the
most tiresome of all possible pursuits. The light gossip,
too, over which they regaled themselves with such excel-
lent relish, was insupportably dull. Who could care for
the pointless repartees of defunct Grand Dukes, or the
meaningless caprices of long-buried Archduchesses ?

If, then, I was glad to escape from Gortham and its
weary company, had I formed no very sanguine expecta-
tions of pleasure at Vienna.

I saw very little of the Continent in this my first
journey. I was consigned to the charge of a cabinet
messenger, who had orders to deliver me " safe " at
Vienna. Poor M'Kaye, slight as I was, lie left me veiy
little of the small coupe we travelled in. He weighed
something more than twenty stone, a heaving mass of
fat and fretting : the great misery of his life being that
Washington Irving had held him up to European ridicule,
for he was the original " Stout Gentleman " whose heavy
perambulations overhead suggested that inimitable sketch.

We arrived at Vienna some hours after dai'k, and after
speedily traversing the narrow and winding streets of the
capital, drew up within the parte cocJiere of the English
embassy. There was a grand ball at the embassy — a
sovereign's birthday, or a coronation, I forget which — but
I can well remember the dazzling splendour of the grand
staircase, a blaze of waxlights, and glittering with the
brilliant lustre of jewelled dresses and gorgeous uniforms;
but, perhaps, even more struck by the frequent announce-
ment of names which were familiar to me as almost
historical personages — the Esterhazeys, the Schwarzen-
bergs, and the Lichtensteins, when suddenly, with almost
a shock, I heard my own untitled name called aloud, " Mr.
Horace Templeton." It is, I believe, a very old gentry
name, and has maintained a fair repute for some half-
dozen centuries; but, I own, it clinked somewhat meagre
on the ear amid the hiijh-sounding svllables of Austrian


I stood witliin the doorway of the grand salon, almost
stunned by the sudden transition from the dark monotony
of a night journey to the noonday blaze of splendour
before me, when a gentle tap from a bouquet on my arm
aroused me, and a very silvery voice, in accents every one
of which sank into my heart, bade me welcome to Vienna,
It was Lady Blanche Newington that spoke — the most
lovely oreatui'e that ever beauty and station combined to
form. Fascinations like hers were new to me: she mingled
gentleness of manner with a spiritual liveliness, that
seemed ever ready to say the right thing at the right
moment. The ease with which, in different languages,
she addressed the various individuals of the compan}",
employing all the little delicate forms of those conven-
tionalities French and Italian so abound in, and through
all, an unobtrusive solicitude to please, that was most

My whole occupation that night was to steal after her
unobserved, and gaze with delight at traits of manner
that my ardent imagination had already elevated into
graces of mind. I was very much in love — so much so
that, ere a few weeks went over, my brother attaches saw
it, and tormented me unceasingly on the subject. Nay,
they went further : they actually told Lady Blanche her-
self, so that I dreaded to meet her, not knowing how she
might treat my presumption. I fancied all manner of
changes in her bearing towards me — reserve, coldness,
perhaps disdain. Nothing of the kind ! She was only
more familiar and cordial than evei\ Plad I known more
of the world, or of the feminine part of it, I should have
read this differently : as it was, it overwhelmed me with
delight. There was a frankness in her tone towards me,
too; for now she discussed the temper and character of our
mutual acquaintances, and with a shrewdness of criticism
strange in one so young. At last we came to talk of a
certain Count de Favancourt, the secretary of the French
embassy ; and as I mentioned his name, she said, some-
what abruptly, —

" I half suspect you don't like tlie Count ? "

" Who could ? " replied T, cagoily ; " is he not a 'Fat .?' "


— usiug that precious monosyllable by -wliich his country-
men designate a certain class of pretenders.

She laughed, and I -went on, not sorry to have an oppor-
tunity of severity on one for whom I had conceived an
especial hatred — indeed, not altogether without cause,
since he had, on more than one occasion, marlvcd the
difference of our official rank in a manner sufficiently
pointed to be offensive ; and yet, the rigid etiquette ob-
servable to another embassy forbade all notice of whatever
could be passed over.

Like a very young man, I did not bound my criticism
on the Count by what I saw and observed in his manner,
but extended it to every possible deduction I could draw
from his air and bearing ; winding up all by a very bi'oadly-
hinted doubt that those ferocious whiskers and that deep
baritone were anything but a lion's skin over a very
craven heart.

The last words were scarcely uttered, when a servant
announced the Count de Favancourt. There is something,
to a young person at least — I fancy I should not mind it
now — so overwhelming on the sudden appearance of any
one on whom the conversation has taken a turn of severity,
that I arose confused and uneasy — I believe I blushed ; at
all events, I perceived that Lady Blanche remai-ked my
discomfiture, and her eyes glanced on me with an expres-
sion I never observed before. As for the Count, he
advanced and made his deep revereuce without ever notic-
ing me, nor, even while taking his seat, once showed any
consciousness of my presence.

Burning with indignation that I could scarce repress, I
turned towards a table, and affected to occupy myself
tossing over the prints and drawings that lay about — my
maddened thoughts rendered still more insufferable from
fancying that Lady Blanche and the Count seemed on far
hotter and more intimate footing than I had ever known
them before.

Some other visitors being announced, I took the occasion
to retire unobserved, and had just reached the lauding of
the stairs when I heard a foot behind me. I turned — it
was Favancourt. For the first time in my life, I perceived


a smile upon his countenance— an expression, I own, that
became it even less than liis habitual stern scowl.

" You have done me the honour, sir," said he, "to make
some observations on ray manner, which, I regret to learn,
has not acquired your favourable opinion. Now, I have
a strong sense of the inconvenance of anything like a
rupture of amicable relations between the embassy I have
the honour to serve and that to which you belong. It is,
then, exceedingly un^^leasant for me to notice your remarks
— it is impossible for me to let them pass unnoticed."

He made a pause at these words, and so long that I felt
bound to speak, and, in a voice that passion had rendered
slightly tremulous, said —

" Am I to receive this, sir, in the light of a rebuke ?
because, as yet, I only perceive it conveys the expression
of your own regret that you cannot demand an explanation
I am most ready to afford you."

" My demand is somewhat dififei-ent, sir, but, I trust,
will be as readily accorded. It is this : that you resign
your position as attache to this embassy, and leave Vienna
at once. There is no necessity that any unfavourable
notice of this affair should follow you to another mission,
or to England."

" Stop, sir, I beg of you ; I cannot be answerable for
my temper, if you persist to outrage it. While you may
press me to acknowledge that, while half an hour ago
I only deemed you a ' Fat,' I now account you an ' im-

" Enough ! " said the Count, passing down the stairs
before me.

When I reached my lodgings, I found a " friend " from
him, who arranged a speedy meeting. We fought that
same evening, behind the Prater, and I received his ball
in my shoulder — mine pierced his hat. I was I'ecalled
before my wound permitted me to leave my bed. The day
I left Vienna, Lady Blanche was married to Count Favan-
court !

Some fourteen years had elapsed since that event and
the time in which I now lay sleeping on the sofa ; and
yet, after a.11 that long interval — with all its scenes of


varied interests, its stormy passions, its hopes, its failures,
its successes — the image of Blanche was before my mind's
cje, as brightly, joyously fair, as on the evening I first
beheld her. I had forgotten all that time and worldly
knowledge had taught me, that, of all her attractions, her
beauty only was real — that the graceful elegance of her
bearing was only manner — that her gentleness was manner
— her winning softness and delicacy mere manner — that
all the fair endowments that seemed the rich promise of
a gifted mind, united to a nature so bounteously endowed,
were mere manner. She was spirituelle, lively, animated,
and brilliant — all, from nothing but manner. To this
knowledge I did not come without many a severe lesson.
The teaching has been perfect, however, and made me
what I am ! Alas ! how is it that mere gilding can look
so like solid gold — nay, be made to cover more graceful
tracery, and forms more purely elegant, than the real
metal ?

I have said that I slept ! and, as I lay, dreams came

Online LibraryCharles James LeverHorace Templeton → online text (page 1 of 31)