A PRINCE, AN AUDIENCE, AND A SECRET EMBASSY.
The Regent remained silent for a moment: he then said in
an altered and grave voice, " C'est Men, Monsieur ! I thank
you for the distinction you have made. It were not amiss "
(lie added, turning to his comrade) " that you would now and
then deign, henceforward, to make the same distinction. But
this is neither time nor place for parlance. On, gentlemen ! "
We left the house, passed into the street, and moved on
rapidly, and in silence, till the constitutional gayety of the
Duke recovering its ordinary tone, he said with a laugh, —
"Well, now, it is a little hard that a man who has been
toiling all day for the public good should feel ashamed of
indulging for an hour or two at night in his private amuse-
ments ; but so it is. 'Once grave, always grave !' is the maxim
of the world; eh, Chatran?"
The companion bowed. " 'T is a very good saying, please
your Royal Highness, and is intended to warn us from the
sin of ever being grave ! "
"Ha! ha! you have a great turn for morality, my good
Chatran ! " cried the Duke, " and would draw a rule for con-
duct out of the wickedest hon mot of Dubois. Monsieur, par-
don me, but I have seen you before : you are the Count — "
" True, true ! I have heard much of you : you are intimate
with Milord Bolingbroke. Would that I had fifty friends
*' Monseigneur would have little trouble in his regency if
his wish were realized," said Chatran.
" Tant mieux, so long as I had little odium, as well as little
trouble, — a happiness which, thanks to you and Dubois, I am
not likely to enjoy, — but there is the carriage! "
And the Duke pointed to a dark, plain carriage, which we
had suddenly come upon.
"Count Devereux," said the merry Regent, "you will enter;
my duty requires that, at this seductive hour, I should see a
young gentleman of your dangerous age safely lodged at his
We entered, Chatran gave the orders, and we drove off
The Regent hummed a tune, and his two companions lis-
tened to it in respectful silence.
"Well, well. Messieurs," said he, bursting out at last into
open voice, " I will ever believe, in future, that the gods do
look benignantly on us worshippers of the Alma Venus! Do
you know much of Tibullus, Monsieur J^evereux? And can
you assist my memory with the continuation of the line —
" ' Quisquis amore tenetur, eat — ' "
" ' tutusque sacerque
Qualibet, insidias non timuisse decet,' " ^
" Bon ! " cried the Duke. " I love a gentleman, from my very
soul, when he can both fight well and read Latin ! I hate a
man who is merely a winebibber and blade-drawer. Bj' Saint
Louis, though it is an excellent thing to fill the stomach, es-
pecially with Tokay, yet there is no reason in the world why
we should not fill the head too. But here we are. Adieu,
Monsieur Devereux: we shall see you at the Palace."
I expressed my thanks briefly at the Regent's condescen-
sion, descended from the carriage (which instantly drove off
with renewed celerity), and once more entered my hotel.
1 " 'U'Tiosoever is possessed by Love may go safe and holy withersoever he
likes. It becomes not him to fear snares." '
Two or three days after my adventure with the Regent, I
thought it expedient to favour that eccentric prince with a
visit. During the early part of his regency, it is well known
how successfully he combated with his natural indolence,
and how devotedly his mornings were surrendered to the toils
of his new office ; but when pleasure has grown habit, it re-
quires a stronger mind than that of Philippe le Debonnaire
to give it a permanent successor in business. Pleasure is, in-
deed, like the genius of the fable, the most useful of slaves,
while you subdue it; the most intolerable of tyrants the
moment your negligence suffers it to subdue you.
The hours in which the Prince gave audience to the com-
rades of his lighter rather than graver occupations were
those immediately before and after his levee. I thought
that this would be the best season for me to present myself.
Accordingly, one morning after the levee, I repaired to his
The ante-chamber was already crowded. I sat myself
quietly down in one corner of the room, and looked upon the
motley groups around. I smiled inly as they reminded me of
the scenes my own anteroom, in my younger daj'S of folly
and fortune, was wont to exhibit; the same heterogeneous
assemblage (only upon a grander scale) of the ministers to
the physical appetites and the mental tastes. There was the
fretting and impudent mountebank, side by side with the
gentle and patient scholar; the harlot's envoy and the priest's
messenger; the agent of the police and the licensed breaker
of its laws; there — but what boots a more prolix description?
What is the anteroom of a great man, who has many wants
and many tastes, but a panorama of the blended disparities of
this compounded world?
While I was moralizing, a gentleman suddenly thrust his
head out of a door, and appeared to reconnoitre us. Instantly
the crowd swept up to him. I thought I might as well follow
the general example, and pushing aside some of my fellow-
loiterers, I presented myself and my name to the gentleman,
with the most ingratiating air I could command.
The gentleman, who was tolerably civil for a great man's
DEVEREUX. 3] 1
great man, promised that my visit should be immediately
annouuced to the Prince; and then, with the politest bow
imaginable, slapped the door in my face. After I had waited
about seven or eight minutes longer, the gentleman re-ap-
peared, singled me from the crowd, and desired me to follow
him; I passed through another room, and was presently in
the Regent's presence.
I was rather startled when I saw, by the morning light,
and in deshabille, the person of that royal martyr to dissipa-
tion. His countenance was red, but bloated, and a weakness
in his eyes added considerably to the jaded and haggard ex-
pression of his features. A proportion of stomach rather in-
clined to corjDulency seemed to betray the taste for the
pleasures of the table, which the most radically coarse, and
yet (strange to say) the most generally accomplished and
really good-natured of royal profligates, combined with his
other qualifications. He was yawning very elaborately over
a great heap of papers when I entered. He finished his yawn
(as if it were too brief and too precious a recreation to lose),
and then said, "Good morning, Monsieur Devereux; I am
glad that you have found me out at last."
"I was afraid, Monseigneur, of appearing an intruder on
your presence, by offering my homage to you before."
*'So like my good fortune," said the Regent, turning to a
man seated at another table at some distance, whose wily,
astute countenance, piercing eye, and licentious expression
of lip and brow, indicated at once the ability and vice which
composed his character. " So like my good fortune, is it not,
Dubois? If ever I meet with a tolerably pleasant fellow,
who does not disgrace me by his birth or reputation, he is al-
ways so terribly afraid of intruding! and whenever I pick up
a respectable personage without wit, or a wit without respec-
tability, he attaches himself to me like a burr, and can't live
a day without inquiring after my health."
Dubois smiled, bowed, but did not answer, and I saw that
his look was bent darkly and keenly upon me.
" Well, " said the Prince, " what think you of our opera,
Count Devereux? It beats your English one — eh?"
"Ah, certainly, Monseigneur; ours is but a reflection of
"So says your friend. Milord Bolingbroke, a person wlio
knows about operas almost as much as I do, Avhich, vanity
apart, is saying a great deal. I should like very well to visit
England; what should I learn best there? In Spain (I shall
always love Spain) I learned to cook."
"Monseigneur, I fear," answered I, smiling, "could obtain
but little additional knowledge in that art in our barbarous
country. A few rude and imperfect inventions have, indeed,
of late years, astonished the cultivators of the science; but
the night of ignorance rests still upon its main principles and
leading truths. Perhaps, what Monseigneur would find best
worth studying in England would be — the women,"
"Ah, the women all over the world!" cried the Duke,
laughing; "but I hear your belles Anglaises are sentimental,
and love a V Arcadienne."
"It is true at present; but who shall say how far Mon-
seigneur's example might enlighten them in a train of thought
"True. Nothing like example, eh, Dubois? What would
Philip of Orleans have been but for thee?"
"'L'exemple souvent n'est qn'un miroir trompeur;
Quelquefois I'un se brise oil I'autre s'est sauve,
Et par oil I'un pe'rit, un autre est conserve',' " ^
answered Dubios, oiit of "Cinna."
"Corneille is right," rejoined the Regent. "After all, to
do thee justice, -mon petit Abb4, example has little to do with
corrupting us. Nature pleads the cause of pleasure as Hy-
perides pleaded that of Phryne. She has no need of elo-
quence; she unveils the bosom of her client, and the client is
" IMonseigneur shows at least that he has learned to profit
by my humble instructions in the classics," said Dubois.
^ "Example is often but a deceitful mirror, where sometimes one destroys
himself, Avliile another comes off safe ; and where one perishes, another is
The Duke did not answer. I turned my eyes to some draw-
ings on the table ; I expressed my admiration of them. " They
are mine, " said the Kegent. *' Ah ! I should have been much
more accomplished as a private gentleman than I fear I ever
shall be as a public man of toil and business. Business —
bah! But Necessity is the only real sovereign in the world,
the only despot for whom there is no law. What! are you
going already, Count Devereux?"
" Monseigneur's anteroom is crowded with less fortunate
persons than myself, whose sins of envy and covetousness I
am now answerable for."
" Ah — well ! I must hear the poor devils ; the only pleas-
ure I have is in seeing how easily I can make them happy.
"Would to Heaven, Dubois, that one could govern a great
kingdom only by fair words! Count Devereux, you have
seen me to-day as my acquaintance; see me again as my
petitioner. Bon jotir, Monsieur.^'
And I retired, very well pleased with my reception; from
that time, indeed, during the rest of my short stay at Paris,
the Prince honoured me with his especial favour. But I have
dwelt too long on my sojourn at the French court. The per-
sons whom I have described, and who alone made that so-
journ memorable, must be my apology.
One day I was honoured by a visit from the Abbe Dubois.
After a short conversation upon indifferent things, he accosted
me thus : —
"You are aware. Count Devereux, of the partiality which
the Regent has conceived towards you. Fortunate would it
be for the Prince " (here Dubois elevated his brows with an
ironical and arch expression), "so good by disposition, so in-
jured by example, if his partiality had been more frequently
testified towards gentlemen of your merit. A mission of con-
siderable importance, and one demanding great personal ad-
dress, gives his Royal Highness an opportunity of testifying
his esteem for you. He honoured me with a conference on
the subject yesterday, and has now commissioned me to
explain to you tile technical objects of this mission, and to
offer to you the honour of undertaking it. Should you accept
the proposals, you will -svait upon his Highness before his
Dubois then proceeded, in the clear, rapid manner peculiar
to him, to comment on the state of Europe. "For France,"
said he, in concluding his sketch, "peace is absolutely neces-
sary. A drained treasury, an exhausted country, require it.
You see, from what I have said, that Spain and England are
the principal quarters from which we are to dread hostilities.
Spain Ave must guard against; England we must propitiate:
the latter object is easy in England in any case, whether
James or George be uppermost. For whoever is king in Eng-
land will have quite enough to do at home to make him agree
willingly enough to peace abroad. The former requires a
less simple and a more enlarged policy. I fear the ambition
of the Queen of Spain and the turbulent genius of her minion
Alberoni. We must fortify ourselves by new forms of alli-
ance, at various courts, which shall at once defend us and
intimidate our enemies. We wish to employ some nobleman
of ability and address, on a secret mission to Eussia: will
you be that person? Your absence from Paris will be but
short; you will see a very droll country, and a very droll sov-
ereign; you will return hither, doubly the rage, and with a
just claim to more important employment hereafter. What
say you to the proposal? "
"I must hear more," said I, "before I decide."
The Abbe renewed. It is needless to repeat all the partic-
ulars of the commission that he enumerated. Suffice it that,
after a brief consideration, I accepted the honoiir proposed
to me. The Abb6 wished me joy, relapsed into his ordinary
strain of coarse levity for a few minutes, and then, remind-
ing me that I was to attend the Regent on the morrow, de-
parted. It was easy to see that in the mind of that subtle
and crafty ecclesiastic, with whose manoeuvres private in-
trigues were always blended with public, this offer of employ-
ment veiled a desire to banish me from the immediate vicinity
of the good-natured Regent, whose favour the aspiring Abbe
wished at that exact moment exclusively to monopolize.
Mere men of pleasure he knew would not interfere with his
aims upon the Prince; mere men of business still less: but a
man Avho was thought to combine the capacities of both, and
who was moreover distinguished by the Regent, he deemed
a more dangerous rival than the inestimable person thus
suspected really was.
However, I cared little for the honest man's motives. Ad-
venture to me had always greater charms than dissipation,
and it was far more agreeable to the nature of my ambition,
to win distinction by any honourable method, than by favour-
itism at a court so hollow, so unprincipled, and so grossly
licentious as that of the Regent. There to be the most suc-
cessful courtier was to be the most amusing profligate. Alas,
when the heart is away from its objects, and the taste revolts
at its excess. Pleasure is worse than palling: it is a torture!
and the devil in Jonson's play did not perhaps greatly belie
the truth when he averred "that the pains in his native coun-
try were pastimes to the life of a person of fashion."
The Duke of Orleans received me the next morning with
more than his wonted bonhomie. What a pity that so good-
natured a prince should have been so bad a man! He en-
larged more easily and carelessly than his worthy preceptor
had done vipon the several points to be observed in my mis-
sion; then condescendingly told me he was very sorry to lose
me from his court, and asked me, at all events, before I left
Paris, to be a guest at one of his select suppers. I appreci-
ated this honour at its just value. To these suppers none
were asked but the Prince's chums, or roues,^ as he was
pleased to call them. As, entre n>n/s, these chums were for
the most part the most good-for-nothing people in the king-
dom, I could not but feel highly flattered at being deemed, by
so deep a judge of character as the Regent, worthy to join
them. I need not say that the invitation was eagerly ac-
cepted, nor that I left Philippe le Debonnaire impressed with
the idea of his being the most admirable person in Europe.
1 The term rou(f, now so comprehensive, was first given by the Regent to
a select number of liis friends ; according to them, liecause they would be
broken on the wheel for his sake ; according to himself, because they deserved
to be so broken. — Ed.
Wliat a fool a great man is if lie does not study to be affable :
weigh a prince's condescension in one scale, and all the cardi-
nal virtues in the other, and the condescension will outweigh
them all ! The Eegent of France ruined his country as much
as he well could do, and there was not a dry eye when he
A day had now effected a change — a great change — in my
fate. A new court, a new theatre of action, a new walk of
ambition, were suddenly opened to me. Nothing could be
more promising than my first employment; nothing could be
more pleasing than the anticipation of the change. *' I must
force myself to be agreeable to-night," said I, as I dressed
for the Regent's supper. " I must leave behind me the re-
membrance of a hon mot, or I shall be forgotten."
And I was right. In that whirlpool, the capital of France,
everything sinks but wit; that is always on the surface; and
we must cling to it with a firm grasp, if we would not go
down to — "the deep oblivion.''
EOTAL EXERTIONS FOK THE GOOD OF THE PEOPLE.
What a singular scene was that private supper with the
Regent of France and his roues! The party consisted of
twenty; nine gentlemen of the court besides myself; four
men of low rank and character, but admirable buffoons ; and
six ladies, such ladies as the Duke loved best, — witty, lively,
sarcastic, and good for nothing.
De Chatran accosted me.
"Je suis ravi, mon cher Monsieur Devereux," said he,
gravely, "to see you in such excellent company: you must be
a little surprised to find yourself here!"
" Not at all ! every scene is worth one visit. He, my good
Monsieur Chatran, who goes to the House of Correction once
is a philosopher : he who goes twice is a rogue ! "
*' Thank you, Count, what am I then? I have been here
" Why, I will answer you with a story. The soul of a Jes-
uit one night, when its body was asleep, wandered down to
the lower regions ; Satan caught it, and was about to consign
it to some appropriate place; the soul tried hard to excuse
itself: you know what a cunning thing a Jesuit's soul is!
'Monsieur Satan,' said the spirit; 'no king should punish a
traveller as he would a native. Upon my honour, I am
merely here en voyageur.^ 'Go then,' said Satan, and the
soul flew back to its body. But the Jesuit died, and came to
the lower regions a second time. He was brought before his
Satanic majesty, and made the same excuse. 'Xo, no,' cried
Beelzebub; 'once here is to be only le citable voTjageur; twice
here, and you are le diahle tout de hon. ' "
"Ha! ha! ha!" said Chatran, laughing; "I then am the
diahle tout de hon ! 't is well I am no worse ; for we reckon
the roues a devilish deal worse than the very worst of the
devils, — but see, the Regent approaches us."
And, leaving a very pretty and gay-looking lady, the Re-
gent sauntered towards us. It was in walking, by the by,
that he lost all the grace of his mien. I don't know, how-
ever, that one wishes a great man to be graceful, so long as
he 's familiar.
"Aha, Monsieur Devereux!" said he, "we will give you
some lessons in cooking to-night ; we shall show you how to
provide for yourself in that barbarous country which you are
about to visit. Tout voyageur dolt tout savoir ! "
"A very admirable saying; which leads me to understand
that Monseigneur has been a great traveller," said I.
" Ay, in all things and all places; eh. Count? " answered
the Regent, smiling; "but," here he lowered his voice a lit-
tle, " I have never yet learned how you came so opportunely
to our assistance that night. Dieu me davine ! but it reminds
me of the old story of the two sisters meeting at a gallant's
house. 'Oh, Sister, how came yow here?' said one, in vir-
tuous amazement. *Ciel/ ma soeurf' cries the other; 'what
brought you ? ' " ^
"Monseigneur is pleasant," said I, laughing; "but a man
does now and then (though I own it is very seldom) do a good
action, without having previously resolved to commit a bad
"I like your parenthesis," cried the Regent; "it reminds
me of my friend St. Simon, who thinks so ill of mankind that
I asked him one day Avhether it was possible for him to de-
spise anything more than men? 'Yes,' said he, with a low
bow, 'women! ' "
"His experience," said I, glancing at the female part of the
coterie, "was, I must own, likely to lead him to that opinion."
"None of your sarcasms. Monsieur," cried the Regent.
"'L'amusement est un des besoins de I'homme,' as I hear
young Arouet very pithily said the other day; and we owe
gratitude to whomsoever it may be that supplies that want.
Now, you will agree with me that none supply it like women :
therefore we owe them gratitude ; therefore we must not hear
them abused. Logically proved, I think!"
"Yes, indeed," said I, "it is a pleasure to find they have so
able an advocate; and that your Highness can so well apply
to yourself both the assertions in the motto of the great mas-
ter of fortification, Vauban,— 'I destroy, but I defend.' "
"Enough," said the Duke, gayly, "now to ovr fortifica-
tions;'' and he moved away towards the women; I followed
the royal example, and soon found myself seated next to a
pretty and very small woman. We entered into conversa-
tion; and, when once begun, my fair companion took care
that it should not cease, without a miracle. By the goddess
Facundia, what volumes of words issued from that little
mouth! and on all subjects too! church, state, law, politics,
play-houses, lampoons, lace, liveries, kings, qiieens, roturiers,
beggars, you would have thought, had you heard her, so vast
was her confusion of all things, that chaos had come again.
1 The reader will remember a better version of this anecdote in one of the
most popular of the English comedies. — Ed.
Our royal host did not escape her. " You never before supped
here en faviille,'" said she, — "mon Dieu! it will do your
heart good to see how much the Eegent will eat. He has
such an appetite; you know he never eats any dinner, in
order to eat the more at supper. You see that little dark
woman he is talking to? — well, she is Madame de Parabere:
he calls her his little black crow ; was there ever such a pet
name? Can you guess why he likes her? Nay, never take
the trouble of thinking: I will tell you at once; simply be-
cause she eats and drinks so much. Parole iVhonneur, 't is
true. The Regent says he likes sympathy in all things ! is it
not droll? What a hideous old man is that Noce: his face
looks as if it had caught the rainbow. That impudent fellow
Dubois scolded him for squeezing so many louis out of the
good Regent. The yellow creature attempted to deny the
fact. 'Nay,' cried Dubois, 'you cannot contradict me: I see
their very ghosts in your face.'"
While my companion was thus amusing herself, Noce, un-
conscious of her panegyric on his personal attractions, joined
"Ah! my dear Noce," said the lady, most affectionately,
"how well you are looking! I am delighted to see you."
"I do not doubt it," said Noce "for I have to inform you
that your petition is granted; your husband will have the
" Oh, how eternally grateful I am to you ! " cried the lady,
in an ecstasy; "my poor, dear husband will be so rejoiced.
I wish I had wings to fly to him!"
The gallant Noce uttered a compliment ; I thought myself
de tro]), and moved away. I again encountered Chatran.
"I overheard your conversation with Madame la ^Marquise,"
said he, smiling: "she has a bitter tongue; has she not?"
"Very! how she abused the poor rogue Noc6l "
" Yes, and yet he is her lover ! "
"Her lover! — you astonish me: why, she seemed almost
fond of her husband; the tears came in her eyes when she
spoke of him.''
" She is fond of him! " said Chatran, dryly. " She loves the
ground he treads on: it is precisely for that reason she fa-
vours Noce; she is never happy but when she is procuring
something pour son cher bon mari. She goes to spend a week
at ^SToce's country-house, and writes to her husband, with a
pen dipped in her blood, saying, 'My heart is with thee! ' "
"Certainly," said I, "France is the land of enigmas; the
sphynx must have been a Parisienne. And when Jupiter
made man, he made two natures utterly distinct from one
another. One was Human nature, and the other French
nature ! "
At this moment supper was announced. We all adjourned
to another apartment, where to my great surprise I observed