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host and hostess were, beyond their names. There was something _piquant_
in this ignorance, and I had almost made up my mind to go in the same
mysterious manner, leaving all to events, when happening, in an idle
moment, to ask a lady of my acquaintance, and for whom I have a great
respect, if she knew a Madame de - - , to my surprise, her answer was,
"Most certainly; she is my cousin, and you are to dine there to-morrow."
I said no more, though this satisfied me that my hosts were people of
some standing. While driving to their hotel, it struck me, under all the
circumstances, it might be well to know more of them, and I stopped at
the gate of a female friend, who knows everybody, and who, I was
certain, would receive me even at that unseasonable hour. I was
admitted, explained my errand, and inquired if she knew a M. de - - .
"Quelle question!" she exclaimed - "M. de - - est Chancelier de France!"
Absurd and even awkward as it might have proved, but for this lucky
thought, I should have dined with the French Lord High Chancellor,
without having the smallest suspicion of who he was!

The hotel was a fine one, though the apartment was merely good, and the
reception, service, and general style of the house were so simple that
neither would have awakened the least suspicion of the importance of my
hosts. The party was small and the dinner modest. I found the
_chancelier_ a grave dignified man, a little curious on the subject of
America, and his wife apparently a woman of great good sense, and I
should think, of a good deal of attainment. Everything went off in the
quietest manner possible, and I was sorry when it was time to go.

From this dinner, I drove to the hotel of the Marquis de Marbois, to pay
a visit of digestion. M. de Marbois retires so early, on account of his
great age, that one is obliged to be punctual, or he will find the gate
locked at nine. The company had got back into the drawing-room, and as
the last week's guests were mostly there, as well as those who had just
left the table, there might have been thirty people present, all of whom
were men but two. One of the ladies was Madame de Souza, known in French
literature as the writer of several clever novels of society. In the
drawing-room were grouped, in clusters, the Grand Referendary, M.
Cuvier, M. Daru, M. Villemain, M. de Plaisance, Mr. Brown, and many
others of note. There seemed to be something in the wind, as the
conversation was in low confidential whispers, attended by divers
ominous shrugs. This could only be politics, and watching an
opportunity, I questioned an acquaintance. The fact was really so. The
appointed hour had come and the ministry of M. de Villèle was in the
agony. The elections had not been favourable, and it was expedient to
make an attempt to reach the old end, by what is called a new
combination. It is necessary to understand the general influence of
political intrigues on certain _côteries_ of Paris, to appreciate the
effect of this intelligence, on a drawing-room filled, like this, with
men who had been actors in the principal events of France for forty
years. The name of M. Cuvier was even mentioned as one of the new
ministers. Comte Roy was also named as likely to be the new premier. I
was told that this gentleman was one of the greatest landed proprietors
of France, his estates being valued at four millions of dollars. The
fact is curious, as showing, not on vulgar rumour, but from a
respectable source, what is deemed a first-rate landed property in this
country. It is certainly no merit, nor do I believe it is any very great
advantage; but I think we might materially beat this, even in America.
The company soon separated, and I retired.

From the Place de la Madeleine, I drove to a house near the Carrousel,
where I had been invited to step in, in the course of the evening. All
the buildings that remain within the intended parallelogram, which will
some day make this spot one of the finest squares in the world, have
been bought by the government, or nearly so, with the intent to have
them pulled down, at a proper time; and the court bestows lodgings, _ad
interim_, among them, on its favourites. Madame de - - was one of these
favoured persons, and she occupies a small apartment in the third story
of one of these houses. The rooms were neat and well-arranged, but
small. Probably the largest does not exceed fifteen feet square. The
approach to a Paris lodging is usually either very good, or very bad. In
the new buildings may be found some of the mediocrity of the new order
of things; but in all those which were erected previously to the
revolution, there is nothing but extremes in this, as in most other
things: great luxury and elegance, or great meanness and discomfort. The
house of Madame de - - happens to be of the latter class, and although
all the disagreeables have disappeared from her own rooms, one is
compelled to climb up to them, through a dark well of a staircase, by
flights of steps not much better than those we use in our stables. You
have no notion of such staircases as those I had just descended in the
hotels of the _chancelier_ and the _président premier_;[25] nor have we
any just idea, as connected with respectable dwellings, of these I had
now to clamber up. M. de - - is a man of talents and great
respectability, and his wife is exceedingly clever, but they are not
rich. He is a professor, and she is an artist. After having passed so
much of my youth on top-gallant yards, and in becketting royals, you are
not to suppose, however, I had any great difficulty in getting up these
stairs, narrow, steep, and winding as they were.

[Footnote 25: M. de Marbois was the first president of the Court of
Accounts.]

We are now at the door, and I have rung. On whom do you imagine the
curtain will rise? On a _réunion_ of philosophers come to discuss
questions in botany, with M. de - - , or on artists, assembled to talk
over the troubles of their profession, with his wife? The door opens,
and I enter.

The little drawing-room is crowded; chiefly with men. Two card-tables
are set, and at one I recognize a party, in which are three dukes of the
_vieille cour_, with M. de Duras at their head! The rest of the company
was a little more mixed, but, on the whole, it savoured strongly of
Coblentz and the _émigration_. This was more truly French than anything
I had yet stumbled on. One or two of the grandees looked at me as if,
better informed than Scott, they knew that General Lafayette had not
gone to America to live. Some of these gentlemen certainly do not love
us; but I had cut out too much work for the night to stay and return the
big looks of even dukes, and, watching an opportunity, when the eyes of
Madame de - - were another way, I stole out of the room.

Charles now took his orders, and we drove down into the heart of the
town somewhere near the general post-office, or into those mazes of
streets that near two years of practice have not yet taught me to
thread. We entered the court of a large hotel, that was brilliantly
lighted, and I ascended, by a noble flight of steps, to the first floor.
Ante-chambers communicated with a magnificent saloon, which appeared to
be near forty feet square. The ceilings were lofty, and the walls were
ornamented with military trophies, beautifully designed, and which had
the air of being embossed and gilded. I had got into the hotel of one of
Napoleon's marshals, you will say, or at least into one of a marshal of
the old _régime_. The latter conjecture may be true, but the house is
now inhabited by a great woollen manufacturer, whom the events of the
day has thrown into the presence of all these military emblems. I found
the worthy _industriel_ surrounded by a group, composed of men of his
own stamp, eagerly discussing the recent changes in the government. The
women, of whom there might have been a dozen, were ranged, like a
neglected parterre, along the opposite side of the room. I paid my
compliments, staid a few minutes, and stole away to the next engagement.

We had now to go to a little retired house on the Champs Elysées. There
were only three or four carriages before the door, and on ascending to a
small but very near apartment, I found some twenty people collected. The
mistress of the house was an English lady, single, of a certain age, and
a daughter of the Earl of - - , who was once governor of New York. Here
was a very different set. One or two ladies of the old court, women of
elegant manners, and seemingly of good information, - several English
women, pretty, quiet, and clever, besides a dozen men of different
nations. This was one of those little _réunions_ that are so common in
Paris, among the foreigners, in which a small infusion of French serves
to leaven a considerable batch of human beings from other parts of the
world. As it is always a relief to me to speak my own language, after
being a good while among foreigners, I staid an hour at this house. In
the course of the evening an Irishman of great wit and of exquisite
humour, one of the paragons of the age in his way, came in. In the
course of conversation, this gentleman, who is the proprietor of an
Irish estate, and a Catholic, told me of an atrocity in the laws of his
country, of which until then I was ignorant. It seems that any younger
brother, next heir, might claim the estate by turning Protestant, or
drive the incumbent to the same act. I was rejoiced to hear that there
was hardly an instance of such profligacy known.[26] To what baseness
will not the struggle for political ascendency urge us!

[Footnote 26: I believe this infamous law, however, has been repealed.]

In the course of the evening, Mr. - - , the Irish gentleman, gravely
introduced me to a Sir James - - , adding, with perfect gravity, "a
gentleman whose father humbugged the Pope - humbugged infallibility." One
could not but be amused with such an introduction, urged in a way so
infinitely droll, and I ventured, at a proper moment, to ask an
explanation, which, unless I was also humbugged, was as follows: -

Among the _détenus_ in 1804, was Sir William - - , the father of Sir
James - - , the person in question. Taking advantage of the presence of
the Pope at Paris, he is said to have called on the good-hearted Pius,
with great concern of manner, to state his case. He had left his sons in
England, and through his absence they had fallen under the care of two
Presbyterian aunts; as a father he was naturally anxious to rescue them
from this perilous situation. "Now Pius," continued my merry informant,
"quite naturally supposed that all this solicitude was in behalf of two
orthodox Catholic souls, and he got permission from Napoleon for the
return of so good a father to his own country, never dreaming that the
conversion of the boys, if it ever took place, would only be from the
Protestant Episcopal Church of England, to that of Calvin; or a rescue
from one of the devil's furnaces, to pop them into another." I laughed
at this story, I suppose with a little incredulity, but my Irish friend
insisted on its truth, ending the conversation with a significant nod,
Catholic as he was, and saying - "humbugged infallibility!"

By this time it was eleven o'clock, and as I am obliged to keep
reasonable hours, it was time to go to _the_ party of the evening. Count
- - , of the - - Legation, gave a great ball. My carriage entered the
line at the distance of near a quarter of a mile from the hotel;
gendarmes being actively employed in keeping us all in our places. It
was half an hour before I was set down, and the quadrilles were in full
motion when I entered. It was a brilliant affair, much the most so I
have ever yet witnessed in a private house. Some said there were fifteen
hundred people present. The number seems incredible, and yet, when one
comes to calculate, it may be so. As I got into my carriage to go away,
Charles informed me that the people at the gates affirmed that more than
six hundred carriages had entered the court that evening. By allowing an
average of little more than two to each vehicle, we get the number
mentioned.

I do not know exactly how many rooms were opened on this occasion, but I
should think there were fully a dozen. Two or three were very large
salons, and the one in the centre, which was almost at fever-heat, had
crimson hangings, by way of cooling one. I have never witnessed dancing
at all comparable to that of the quadrilles of this evening. Usually
there is either too much or too little of the dancing-master, but on
this occasion every one seemed inspired with a love of the art. It was a
beautiful sight to see a hundred charming young women, of the first
families of Europe, for they were there of all nations, dressed with the
simple elegance that is so becoming to the young of the sex, and which
is never departed from here until after marriage, moving in perfect time
to delightful music, as if animated by a common soul. The men, too, did
better than usual, being less lugubrious and mournful than our sex is
apt to be in dancing. I do not know how it is in private, but in the
world, at Paris, every young woman seems to have a good mother; or, at
least, one capable of giving her both a good tone and good taste.

At this party I met the - - , an intimate friend of the ambassador, and
one who also honours me with a portion of her friendship. In talking
over the appearance of things, she told me that some hundreds of
_applications for invitations_ to this ball had been made.
"Applications! I cannot conceive of such meanness. In what manner?"
"Directly; by note, by personal intercession - almost by tears. Be
certain of it, many hundreds have been refused." In America we hear of
refusals to go to balls, but we have not yet reached the pass of sending
refusals to invite! "Do you see Mademoiselle - - , dancing in the set
before you?" She pointed to a beautiful French girl, whom I had often
seen at her house, but whose family was in a much lower station in
society than herself, "Certainly - pray how came she here?" "I brought
her. Her mother was dying to come, too, and she begged me to get an
invitation for her and her daughter; but it would not do to bring the
mother to such a place, and I was obliged to say no more tickets could
be issued. I wished, however, to bring the daughter, she is so
pretty, and we compromised the affair in that way." "And to this the
mother assented!" "Assented! How can you doubt it - what funny American
notions you have brought with you to France!"

I got some droll anecdotes from my companion, concerning the ingredients
of the company on this occasion, for she could be as sarcastic as she
was elegant. A young woman near us attracted attention by a loud and
vulgar manner of laughing. "Do you know that lady?" demanded my
neighbour. "I have seen her before, but scarcely know her name." "She is
the daughter of your acquaintance, the Marquise de - - ." "Then she is,
or was, a Mademoiselle de - - ." "She is not, nor properly ever was, a
Mademoiselle de - - . In the revolution the Marquis was imprisoned by
you wicked republicans, and the Marquise fled to England, whence she
returned, after an absence of three years, bringing with her this young
lady, then an infant a few months old." "And Monsieur le Marquis?" "He
never saw his daughter, having been beheaded in Paris, about a year
before her birth." "_Quelle contretems_!" "_N'est-ce pas_?"

It is a melancholy admission, but it is no less true, that good breeding
is sometimes quite as active a virtue as good principles. How many more
of the company present were born about a year after their fathers were
beheaded, I have no means of knowing; but had it been the case with all
of them, the company would have been of as elegant demeanour, and of
much more _retenue_ of deportment, than we are accustomed to see, I will
not say in _good_, but certainly in _general_ society at home. One of
the consequences of good breeding is also a disinclination, positively a
distaste, to pry into the private affairs of others. The little specimen
to the contrary just named was rather an exception, owing to the
character of the individual, and to the indiscretion of the young lady
in laughing too loud, and then the affair of a birth so _very_
posthumous was rather too _patent_ to escape all criticism.

My friend was in a gossiping mood this evening, and as she was well
turned of fifty, I ventured to continue the conversation. As some of the
_liaisons_ which exist here must be novel to you, I shall mention one or
two more.

A Madame de J - - passed us, leaning on the arm of M. de C - - . I knew
the former, who was a widow; had frequently visited her, and had been
surprised at the intimacy which existed between her and M. de C - - , who
always appeared quite at home in her house. I ventured to ask my
neighbour if the gentleman were the brother of the lady. "Her brother!
It is to be hoped not, as he is her husband." "Why does she not bear his
name, if that be the case?" "Because her first husband is of a more
illustrious family than her second; and then there are some difficulties
on the score of fortune. No, no. These people are _bona fide_ married.
_Tenez_ - do you see that gentleman who is standing so assiduously near
the chair of Madame de S - - ? He who is all attention and smiles to the
lady?" "Certainly - his politeness is even affectionate." "Well it ought
to be, for it is M. de S - - _, her husband." "They are a happy couple,
then." "_Hors de doute - he meets her at _soirées_ and balls; is the pink
of politeness; puts on her shawl; sees her safe into her carriage,
and - " "Then they drive home together, as loving as Darby and Joan."
"And then he jumps into his cabriolet, and drives to the lodgings of
- - . _Bon soir_, Monsieur; - you are making me fall into the vulgar
crime of scandal."

Now, as much as all this may sound like invention, it is quite true,
that I repeat no more to you than was said to me, and no more than what
I believe to be exact. As respects the latter couple, I have been
elsewhere told that they literally never see each other, except in
public, where they constantly meet, as the best friends in the world.

I was lately in some English society, when Lady G - - bet a pair of
gloves with Lord R - - that he had not seen Lady R - - in a fortnight.
The bet was won by the gentleman, who proved satisfactorily that he had
met his wife at a dinner-party, only ten days before.

After all I have told you, and all that you may have heard from others,
I am nevertheless inclined to believe, that the high society of Paris is
quite as exemplary as that of any other large European town. If we are
any better ourselves, is it not more owing to the absence of temptation,
than to any other cause? Put large garrisons into our towns, fill the
streets with idlers, who have nothing to do but to render themselves
agreeable, and with women with whom dress and pleasure are the principal
occupations, and then let us see what protestantism and liberty will
avail us, in this particular. The intelligent French say that their
society is improving in morals. I can believe this, of which I think
there is sufficient proof by comparing the present with the past, as the
latter has been described to us. By the past, I do not mean the period
of the revolution, when vulgarity assisted to render vice still more
odious - a happy union, perhaps, for those who were to follow - but the
days of the old _régime_. Chance has thrown me in the way of three or
four old dowagers of that period, women of high rank, and still in the
first circles, who, amid all their _finesse_ of breeding, and ease of
manner, have had a most desperate _roué_ air about them. Their very
laugh, at times, has seemed replete with a bold levity, that was as
disgusting as it was unfeminine. I have never, in any other part of the
world, seen loose sentiments _affichés_ with more effrontery. These
women are the complete antipodes of the quiet, elegant Princesse de
- - , who was at Lady - - - - 's, this evening; though some of them
write _Princesses_ on their cards, too.

The influence of a court must be great on the morals of those who live
in its purlieus. Conversing with the Duc de - - , a man who has had
general currency in the best society of Europe, on this subject, he
said, - "England has long decried our manners. Previously to the
revolution, I admit they were bad; perhaps worst than her own; but I
know nothing in our history as bad as what I lately witnessed in
England. You know I was there quite recently. The king invited me to
dine at Windsor. I found every one in the drawing-room, but His Majesty
and Lady - - . She entered but a minute before him, like a queen. Her
reception was that of a queen; young, unmarried females kissed her hand.
Now, all this might happen in France, even now: but Louis XV. the most
dissolute of our monarchs, went no farther. At Windsor, I saw the
husband, sons, and daughters of the favourite, in the circle! _Le parc
des Cerfs_ was not as bad as this."

"And yet, M. de - - , since we are conversing frankly, listen to what I
witnessed, but the other day, in France. You know the situation of
things at St. Ouen, and the rumours that are so rife. We had the _Fête
Dieu_, during my residence there. You, who are a Catholic, need not be
told that your sect believe in the doctrine of the 'real presence.'
There was a _reposoir_ erected in the garden of the chateau, and God, in
person, was carried, with religious pomp, to rest in the bowers of the
ex-favourite. It is true, the husband was not present: he was only in
the provinces!"

"The influence of a throne makes sad parasites and hypocrites," said M.
de - - , shrugging his shoulders.

"And the influence of the people, too, though in a different way. A
courtier is merely a well-dressed demagogue."

"It follows, then, that man is just a poor devil."

But I am gossiping away with you, when my Asmodean career is ended, and
it is time I went to bed. Good night!




LETTER XIX.

Garden of the Tuileries. - The French Parliament. - Parliamentary
Speakers. - The Tribune. - Royal Initiative. - The Charter. - Mongrel
Government. - Ministerial Responsibility. - Elections in
France. - Doctrinaires. - Differences of Opinion. - Controversy.


TO JACOB SUTHERLAND, ESQ. NEW YORK.

The Chambers have been opened with the customary ceremonies and parade.
It is usual for the king, attended by a brilliant _cortège_, to go, on
these occasions, from the Tuileries to the Palais Bourbon, through lines
of troops, under a salute of guns. The French love _spectacles_, and
their monarch, if he would be popular, is compelled to make himself one,
at every plausible opportunity.

The garden of the Tuileries is a parallelogram, of, I should think,
fifty acres, of which one end is bounded by the palace. It has a high
vaulted terrace on the side next the river, as well as at the opposite
end, and one a little lower, next the Rue de Rivoli. There is also a
very low broad terrace, immediately beneath the windows of the palace,
which separates the buildings from the parterres. You will understand
that the effect of this arrangement is to shut out the world from the
persons in the garden, by means of the terraces, and, indeed, to enable
them, by taking refuge in the woods that fill quite half the area, to
bury themselves almost in a forest. The public has free access to this
place, from an early hour in the morning to eight or nine at night,
according to the season. When it is required to clear them, a party of
troops marches, by beat of drum, from the chateau, through the great
_allée_, to the lower end of the garden. This is always taken as the
signal to disperse, and the world begins to go out, at the different
gates. It is understood that the place is frequently used as a
promenade, by the royal family, after this hour, especially in the fine
season; but, as it would be quite easy for any one, evilly disposed, to
conceal himself among the trees, statues, and shrubs, the troops are
extended in very open order, and march slowly back to the palace, of
course driving every one before them. Each gate is locked, as the line
passes it.

The only parts of the garden, which appear, on the exterior, to be on a
level with the street, though such is actually the fact with the whole
of the interior, are the great gate opposite the palace, and a side gate
near its southern end; the latter being the way by which one passes out,
to cross the Pont Royal.

In attempting to pass in at this gate the other morning, for the first
time, at that hour, I found it closed. A party of ladies and gentlemen



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