the cloth laid, the sideboard loaded, the wines ready, but
nothing to eat on the table ! A Madame de Savori, who was
next me, noted my surprise.
"What astonishes you, Monsieur?"
''Nothing, Madame," said I; "that is, the absence of all
"What! you expected to see supper?"
"I own my delusion: I did."
"It is not cooked yet! "
"Oh! well, lean wait!"
" And officiate too ! " said the lady ; " in a word, this is
one of the Eegent's cooking nights."
Scarcely had I received this explanation, before there was a
general adjournment to an inner apartment, where all the
necessary articles of cooking were ready to our hand.
" The Regent led the way,
To light us to our prey,"
and, with an irresistible gravity and importance of demeanour,
entered upon the duties of chef. In a very short time we
were all engaged. Nothing could exceed the zest with which
every one seemed to enter into the rites of the kitchen. You
would have imagined they had been born scullions, they
handled the hatterie de cuisine so naturally. As for me, I
sought protection with Madame de Savori; and as, fortu-
nately, she was very deeply skilled in the science, she had
occasion to employ me in many minor avocations which her
experience tauglit her would not be above my comprehension.
After we had spent a certain time in this dignified occu-
pation, we returned to the salle a manger. The attendants
placed the dishes on the table, and we all fell to. Whether
out of self-love to their own performances, or complaisance to
the performances of others, I cannot exactly say, but certain
it is that all the guests acquitted themselves a merveille : you
would not have imagined the Regent the only one who had
gone without dinner to eat the more at supper. Even that
devoted wife to her cher hon marl, who had so severely dwelt
upon the good Eegent's infirmity, occupied herself with an
earnestness that would have seemed almost wolf-like in a
Very slight indeed was the conversation till the supper was
nearly over-, then the effects of the wine became more percep-
tible. The Regent was the first person who evinced that he
had eaten sufficiently to be able to talk. Utterly dispensing
with the slightest veil of reserve or royalty, he leaned over
the table, and poured forth a whole tide of jests. The guests
then began to think it was indecorous to stuff themselves
any more, and, as well as they were able, they followed their
host's example. But the most amusing personages were the
buffoons : they mimicked and joked, and lampooned and lied,
as if by inspiration. As the bottle circulated, and talk grew
louder, the lampooning and the lying were not, however, con-
fined to the buffoons. On the contrary, the best born and
best bred people seemed to excel the most in those polite arts.
Every person who boasted a fair name or a decent reputation
at court was seized, condemned, and mangled in an instant.
And how elaborately the good folks slandered! It was no
hasty word and flippant repartee which did the business of
the absent: there was a precision, a polish, a labour of mal-
ice, which showed that each person had brought so many
reputations already cut up. The good-natured convivialists
differed from all other backbiters that I have ever met, In
the same manner as the toads of Surinam differ from all other
toads; namely, their venomous offspring were not half
formed, misshapen tadpoles of slander, but sprang at once
into life, ā well shaped and fully developed.
" Chantons ! " cried the Regent, whose eyes, winking and
rolling, gave token of his approaching state which equals
the beggar to the king; "let us have a song. Noce, lift up
thy voice, and let us hear what the Tokay has put into thy
Noce obeyed, and sang as men half drunk generally do sing.
"0 CieZ.'"' whispered the malicious Savori, "what a hid-
eous screech: one would think he had turned his face into a
'^ Bravissimo / " cried the Duke, when his guest had ceased,
ā " what happy people we are ! Our doors are locked ; not a
soul can disturb us : we have plenty of wine ; we are going to
get drunk; and we have all Paris to abuse! what were you
saying of Marshal Villars, my little Parabere?"
And pounce went the little Parabere upon the unfortunate
marshal. At last slander had a respite : nonsense began its
reign; the full inspiration descended upon the orgies; the
good people lost the use of their faculties. Noise, clamour,
uproar, broken bottles, falling chairs, and (I grieve to say)
their occupants falling too, ā conclude the scene of the royal
supper. Let us drop the curtain.
I WENT a little out of my way, on departing from Paris, to
visit Lord Bolingbroke, who at that time was in the country.
There are some men whom one never really sees in capitals ;
one sees their masks, not themselves: Bolingbroke was one.
It was in retirement, however brief it might be, that his true
nature expanded itself; and, weary of being admired, he al-
lowed one to love, and, even in tlie wildest course of his ear-
lier excesses, to respect him. My visit was limited to a few
hours, but it made an indelible impression on me.
"Once more," I said, as we walked to and fro in the garden
of his temporary retreat, "once more you are in your element;
minister and statesman of a prince, and chief supporter of
the great plans which are to restore him to his throne."
A slight shade passed over Bolingbroke's fine brow. "To
you, my constant friend," said he, "to you, ā who of all my
friends alone remained true in exile, and unshaken by mis-
fortune, ā to you I will confide a secret that I would intrust
to no other. I repent me already of having espoused this
cause. I did so while yet the disgrace of an unmerited at-
tainder tingled in my veins ; while I was in the full tide of
those violent and warm passions which have so often misled
me. Myself attainted; the best beloved of my associates in
danger; my party deserted, and seemingly lost but for some
bold measure such as then offered, ā these were all that I saw.
I listened eagerly to representations I now find untrue; and I
accepted that rank and power from one prince which were so
rudely and gallingly torn from me by another. I perceive
that I have acted imprudently ; bvit what is done, is done : no
private scruples, no private interest, shall make me waver in
a cause that I have once pledged myself to serve ; and if I can
do aught to make a weak cause powerful, and a divided party
successful, I will; but, Devereux, you are wrong, ā this is
not my element. Ever in the paths of strife, I have sighed
for quiet; and, while most eager in pursuit of ambition, I
have languished the most fondly for content. The littleness
of intrigue disgusts me, and while the branches of my power
soared the highest, and spread with the most luxuriance, it
galled me to think of the miry soil in which that power was
condemned to strike the roofs,^ upon which it stood, and by
which it must be nourished."
1 "Occasional "Writer," No. 1. The Editor has, throughout this work,
nsnally, but not invariably, noted the passages in Bolingbroke's writings, in
which there occur similes, illustrations, or striking thoughts, correspondent
with those in the text.
I answered Bolingbroke as men are wont to answer
statesmen who complain of their calling, ā half in com-
pliment, half in contradiction; but he replied with unusual
" Do not think I affect to speak thus : you know how eagerly
I snatch any respite from state, and how unmovedly I have
borne the loss of prosperity and of power. You are now
about to enter those perilous paths which I have trod for
years. Your passions, like mine, are strong! Beware, oh,
beware, how you indulge them without restraint ! They are
the fires which should warm : let them not be the fires which
Bolingbroke paused in evident and great agitation; he re-
sumed: "I speak strongly, for I speak in bitterness; I was
thrown early into the world; my whole education had been
framed to make me ambitious; it succeeded in its end. I
was ambitious, and of all success, ā success in pleasure, suc-
cess in fame. To wean me from the former, my friends per-
suaded me to marr}^ ; they chose my wife for her connections
and her fortune, and I gained those advantages at the expense
of what was better than either, ā happiness! You know how
unfortunate has been that marriage, and how young I was
when it was contracted. Can you wonder that it failed in
the desired effect? Everyone courted me; every temptation
assailed me: pleasure even became more alluring abroad,
when at home I had no longer the hope of peace ; the indul-
gence of one passion begat the indulgence of another; and,
though my better sense j^^omipted all my actions, it never re-
strained them to a proper limit. Thus the commencement of
my actions has been generally prudent, and their continuation
has deviated into rashness, or plunged into excess. Devereux,
I have paid the forfeit of my errors with a terrible interest :
when my motives have been pure, men have seen a fault in
the conduct, and calumniated the motives ; when my conduct
has been blameless, men have remembered its former errors,
and asserted that its present goodness only arose from some
sinister intention: thus I have been termed crafty, when I
was in reality rash, and that was called the inconsistency of
interest which in reality was the inconsistency of passion.^ I
have reason, therefore, to warn you how you suffer your sub-
jects to become your tyrants; and believe me no experience is
so deep as that of one who has committed faults, and who has
discovered their causes."
"Apply, my dear Lord, that experience to your future ca-
reer. You remember what the most sagacious of all pedants,"
even though he was an emperor, has so happily expressed, ā
'Repentance is a goddess, and the preserver of those who have
"May Ifind her so! " answered Bolingbroke; "but as Mon-
taigne or Charron would say, ^ 'Every man is at once his
own sharper and his own bubble.' We make vast promises
to ourselves; and a passion, an example, sweeps even the
remembrance of those promises from our minds. One is too
apt to believe men hypocrites, if their conduct squares not
with their sentiments; hwt perhcq^s no vice is more rare, for
no task is more difficult, than systematic hypocrisy ; and the
same susceptibility which exposes men to be easily impressed
by the allurements of vice renders them at heart most struck
by the loveliness of virtue. Thus, their language and their
hearts worship the divinity of the latter, while their conduct
strays the most erringly towards the false shrines over which
' This I do believe to be the real (though perhaps it is a new) liglit in
which Lord Bolingbroke's life and character are to be viewed. The same
writers who tell ns of his ungovernable passions, always prefix to his name
the epithets " designing, cunning, crafty," etc. Now I will venture to tell
these historians that, if they had studied human nature instead of party
pamphlets, they would have discovered that there are certain incompatible
qualities which can never be united in one character, ā that no man can have
violent passions to which he is in the habit of i/ielding, and be systematically
crafty and designing. No man can be all heat, and at the same time all cool-
ness; but opposite causes not unoften produce like effects. Passion usually
makes men changeable, so sometimes does craft : hence the mistake of the
uninquiring or the shallow; and hence while writes, and compiles,
will the characters of great men be transmitted to posterity misstated and
belied. ā Ed.
2 The Emperor Julian. The original expression is paraphrased in the
^ " Spirit of Patriotism."
the former presides. Yes! I have never been blind to the
surpassing excellence of Good. The still, sweet whispers of
virtue have been heard, even when the storm has been loud-
est, and the bark of Keason been driven the most impetuously
over the waves: and, at this moment, I am impressed with a
foreboding that, sooner or later, the whispers will not only
be heard, but their suggestion be obeyed; and that, far from
courts and intrigue, from dissipation and ambition, I shall
learn, in retirement, the true principles of wisdom, and the
real objects of life."
Thus did Bolingbroke converse, and thus did I listen, till
it was time to depart. I left him impressed with a melan-
choly that was rather soothing than distasteful. Whatever
were the faults of that most extraordinary and most dazzling
genius, no one was ever more candid ^ in confessing his errors.
A systematically bad man either ridicules what is good or
disbelieves in its existence; but no man can be hardened in
vice whose heart is still sensible of the excellence and the
glory of virtue.
1 It is impossible to read the letter to Sir W. Windham without being re-
markably struck with the dignified and yet open candour which it displays.
The same candour is equally visible in whatever relates to himself, in aU
Lord Bolingbroke's writings and correspondence ; and yet candour is the
last attribute usually conceded to him. But never was there a writer whom
people have talked of more and read less , and I do not know a greater proof
of this than the ever-repeated assertion (echoed from a most incompetent
authority) of the said letter to Sir W. Windham being the finest of all Lord
Bolingbroke's writings. It is an article of great value to the history of the
times ; but, as to all the higher graces and qualities of composition, it is one
of the least striking (and on the other hand it is one of the most verbally
incorrect) which he has bequeathed to us (the posthumous works always
excepted). I am not sure whether the most brilliant passages, the most
noble illustrations, the most profound reflections, and most useful truths, to
be found in all his writings, are not to be gathered from the least popular of
them, ā such as that volume entitled " Political Tracts." ā Ed.
Mysterious impulse at the heart, which never suffers us to
be at rest, which urges us onward as by an unseen yet irresis-
tible law ā human planets in a petty orbit, hurried forever
and forever, till our course is run and our light is quenched
ā through the circle of a dark and impenetrable destiny ! art
thou not some faint forecast and type of our wanderings here-
after; of the unslumbering nature of the soul; of the ever-
lasting progress which we are predoomed to make through the
countless steps and realms and harmonies in the infinite cre-
ation? Oh, often in my rovings have I dared to dream so, ā
often have I soared on the wild wings of thought above the
"smoke and stir" of this dim earth, and wroiight, from
the restless visions of my mind, a chart of the glories and the
wonders which the released spirit may hereafter visit and
What a glad awakening from self, ā what a sparkling and
fresh draught from a new source of being, ā what a wheel
within wheel, animating, impelling, arousing all the rest
of tliis animal machine, is the first excitement of Travel!
the first free escape from the bonds of the linked and tame
life of cities and social vices, ā the jaded pleasure and the
hollow love, the monotonous round of sordid objects and dull
desires, ā the eternal chain that binds us to things and be-
ings, mockeries of ourselves, ā alike, but oh, how different!
the shock that brings us nearer to men only to make us strive
against them, and learn, from the harsh contest of veiled de-
ceit and open force, that the more we share the aims of others,
the more deeply and basely rooted we grow to the littleness
I passed more lingeringly through France than I did through
the other portions of my route. I had dwelt long enough in
the capital to be anxious to survey the country. It was then
that the last scale which the magic of Louis Quatorze and the
memory of his gorgeous court had left upon the mortal eye
fell off, and I saw the real essence of that monarch's greatness
and the true relics of his reign. I saw the poor, and the
degraded, and the racked, and the priest-ridden, tillers and
peoplers of the soil, which made the substance beneath the
glittering and false surface, ā the body of that vast empire, of
which I had hitherto beheld only the face, and that darkly,
and for the most part covered by a mask !
No man can look upon France, beautiful France, ā her rich
soil, her temperate yet maturing clime, the gallant and bold
spirits which she produces, her boundaries so indicated and
protected by Nature itself, her advantages of ocean and land,
of commerce and agriculture, ā and not wonder that her pros-
perity should be so bloated, and her real state so wretched
Let England draw the moral, and beware not only of wars
which exhaust, but of governments which impoverish. A
waste of the public wealth is the most lasting of public afflic-
tions; and "the treasury which is drained by extravagance
must be refilled by crime." ^
I remember one beautiful evening an accident to my car-
riage occasioned my sojourn for a whole afternoon in a small
village. The Cure honoured me with a visit; and we strolled,
after a slight repast, into the hamlet. The priest was com-
plaisant, quiet in manner, and not ill informed for his ob-
scure station and scanty opportunities of knowledge; he did
not seem, however, to possess the vivacity of his countrymen,
but was rather melancholy and pensive, not only in his ex-
pression of countenance, but his cast of thought.
"You have a charming scene here: I almost feel as if it
were a sin to leave it so soon."
We were, indeed, in a pleasant and alluring spot at the
time I addressed this observation to the good Cure. A little
rivulet emerged from the copse to the left, and ran sparkling
and dimpling beneath our feet, to deck with a more living
verdure the village green, which it intersected with a wind-
ing nor unmelodious stream. We had paused, and I was
leaning against an old and solitary chestnut-tree, which com-
manded the whole scene. The village was a little in the rear,
and the smoke from its few chimneys rose slowly to the si-
lent and deep skies, not wholly unlike the human wishes,
Avhich, though they spring from the grossness and the fumes
of earth, purify themselves as they ascend to heaven. And
from the village (when other sounds, which I shall note pres-
ently, were for an instant still) came the whoop of children,
mellowed by distance into a confused yet thrilling sound,
which fell upon the heart like the voice of our gone childhood
itself. Before, in the far expanse, stretched a chain of hills
on which the autumn sun sank slowly, pouring its yellow
beams over groups of peasantry, which, on the opposite side
of the rivulet and at some interval from us, were scattered,
partly over the green, and partly gathered beneath the shade
of a little grove. The former were of the young, and those
to whom youth's sports are dear, and were dancing to the
merry music, which (ever and anon blended with the laugh
and the tone of a louder jest) floated joyously on our ears.
The fathers and matrons of the hamlet were inhaling a more
quiet joy beneath the trees, and I involuntarily gave a ten-
derer interest to their converse by supposing them to sanction
to each other the rustic loves which they might survey among
"Will not Monsieur draw nearer to the dancers?" said the
Cure ; " there is a plank thrown over the rivulet a little lower
" No ! " said I, " perhaps they are seen to better advantage
where we are: what mirth will bear too close an inspection? "
"True, Sir," remarked the priest, and he sighed.
"Yet," I resumed musingly, and I spoke ratlier to myself
than to my companion, "yet, how happy do they seem! what
a revival of our Arcadian dreams are the flute and the dance,
the glossy trees all glowing in the autumn sunset, the green
sod, and the murmuring rill, and the buoyant laugh, start-
ling the satyr in his leafy haunts ; and the rural loves which
will grow sweeter still when the sun has set, and the twilight
has made the sigh more tender and the blush of a mellower
hue! Ah, why is it only the revival of a dream? why must
it be only an interval of labour and woe, the brief saturnalia
of slaves, the green resting-spot in a dreary and long road of
travail and toil?"
"You are the first stranger I have met," said the Cur^, "who
seems to pierce beneath the thin veil of our Gallic gayety;
the first to whom the scene we now survey is fraught with
other feelings than a belief in the happiness of our peasantry
and an envy at its imagined exuberance. But as it is not the
happiest individuals, so I fear it is not the happiest nations,
that are the gayest,"
I looked at the Cure with some surprise. "Your remark is
deeper than the ordinary wisdom of your tribe, my Father,"
"I have travelled over three parts of the globe," answered
the Cure: "I was not always intended for what I am;" and
the priest's mild eyes flashed with a sudden light that as sud-
denly died away. "Yes, I have travelled over the greater
part of the known world," he repeated, in a more quiet tone;
" and I have noted that where a man has many comforts to
guard, and many rights to defend, he necessarily shares the
thought and the seriousness of those who feel the value of a
treasure which they possess, and whose most earnest medita-
tions are intent upon providing against its loss. I have
noted, too, that the joy produced by a momentary suspense of
labour is naturally great in proportion to the toil; hence it is
that no European mirth is so wild as that of the Indian slave,
when a brief holiday releases him from his task. Alas! that
very mirth is the strongest evidence of the weight of the pre-
vious chains ; even as, in ourselves, we find the happiest mo-
ment we enjoy is that immediately succeeding the cessation
of deep sorrow to the mind or violent torture to the body." *
I was struck by this observation of the priest.
"I see now/' said I, "that as an Englishman I have no rea-
son to repine at the proverbial gravity of my countrymen, or
to envy the lighter spirit of the sons of Italy and France."
"No," said the Cure; "the happiest nations are those in
whose people you Avitness the least sensible reverses from
gayety to dejection; and that thought, which is the noblest
characteristic of the isolated man, is also that of a people.
Freemen are serious ; they have objects at their heart worthy
to engross attention. It is reserved for slaves to indulge in
groans at one moment and laughter at another."
"At that rate," said I, "the best sign for France will be
when the gayety of her sons is no longer a just proverb, and
the laughing lip is succeeded by the thoughtful brow."
We remained silent for several minutes; our conversation
had shed a gloom over the light scene before us, and the voice
of the flute no longer sounded musically on my ear. I pro-
posed to the Cure to return to my inn. As we walked slowly
in that direction, I surveyed my companion more attentively
than I had hitherto done. He was a model of masculine vig-
our and grace of form; and, had I not looked earnestly upon
his cheek, I should have thought him likely to outlive the
very oaks around the hamlet church where he presided. But
the cheek was worn and hectic, and seemed to indicate that
the keen fire which burns at the deep heart, unseen, but un-
slaking, would consume the mortal fuel, long before Time
should even have commenced his gradual decay.
"You have travelled, then, much, Sir?" said I, and the
tone of my voice was that of curiosity.
The good Cure penetrated into my desire to hear something
1 This reflection, if true, may console us for the loss of those viUage dances
and pleasant holidays for which " merry England " was once celebrated. The
loss of them has been ascribed to the gloomy influence of the Puritans ; but
it has never occurred to the good poets, who have so mourned over that loss,
that it is also to be ascribed to the liberty which those Puritans generalized,
if they did not introduce. ā Ed.
of his adventures ; and few are the recluses who are not grati-
fied by the interest of others, or who are unwilling to reward