Illustrated with Twelve Colored Plates.
PRINTED AND PUBLISHED BY
J. J. STOCKDALE, 24, OPERA COLONNADE.
BY THE EDITOR.
HERE’S a piece of pork and greens, as exclaimed a good-humoured countryman, who got into some dilemma, with his cart and horses, one day. Here’s a piece of pork and greens! This comes of notoriety. No sooner had the following little volume, got wind, than all the world was on the qui vive, to learn what characters, it was to contain. One got at one, and another at another, and then the last proof-sheet was dropped on its way to the printers. Thus, by degrees, several of the persons which it introduces, acquired publicity, and all the world was agog to give, to airy nothings, a local habitation and a name.
The London news-papers duly announced the meeting of Harriette, with her publisher, at Calais. They give every movement of his majesty to and from Carlton palace to Windsor, or Brighton, or elsewhere, and, of course, for consistency’s sake, they must have a no less vigilant eye, on Harriette and her publisher!!
The latter had scarcely betaken himself, once again to his harness, and, seising his pen, in manful guise, at his bookselling-desk, than he received an anonymous letter, franc de port, from Paris, apprising him that its sagacious writer had developed many of the characters, which figure in the following pages.
Poor Harriette, tenderly sympathizing with her unhappy publisher, who had not forgotten, that most extraordinary verdict which had been given against him, in Blore’s case, and resolving to be secure against such a recurrence, in future, drew on her imagination for her modern romance, of Paris Lions and London Tigers: but neither may she, nor her publisher be at rest! His anonymous correspondent, assisted as he says by many other persons, no less comme il faut, than himself, avows that the list, hereto subjoined, is a true key to the characters of this romance, as far as it goes, and Stockdale, thinking the joke too good to be altogether lost, has handed the elegant epistle, to me, to turn to the best possible account. Ecce signum!
Sir Violet Sigh-away Sir Henry Mildmay
Mr. Soso Captain Gronow
Mr. Satirical Harmless Sir Frank Hall Standish
Mr. Fox Mr. Reynolds
The Armenian General Armenteros
Lord Chatterbox Earl of Clanricarde
Mr. Squibb Mr. Stawb
Three Clock-cases The Lygons
Mr. Bellfield Col. Rochfort
Prince Stroll-about Prince Esterhazy
Mac Griffin Prince Mac Gregor
Mr. Boot-jack Mr. Livius
Mrs. Brawney Be-at-them Mrs. Brereton
Mrs. Teaze-all Mrs. Dun
Lady Sin-enough Lady Bolingbroke
Lady Top-knot Lady Hyde Parker
The Brussels Heroine Mrs. Lewis, alias Tom-
kins, alias, La Presidente.
O Fly-away, the Callams, Harry Hairbrain, Geo. Frolic, Beau Militaire, Comtesse de Bienpassé, Mrs. Beaumont, Mrs. Pemberton, are names which appear to be still in want of owners.
Editor of Harriette Wilson’s Memoirs, Beauty, Marriage-Ceremonies, and Intercourse of the Sexes, in all Nations; Systems of Physiognomy, &c.
London, 22, Opera Colonnade,
LIST OF PLATES
To face Page.
and others 200
LIONS and Tigers just arrived for the coronation. Walk in ladies and gentlemen. Don’t be frait nothing. Only six francs, to see all these wild beasts.
The first was Mr. Callam, with Mrs., and the three Misses Callam, and Master Callam. They arrived, at half past four o’clock, aux Messageries Royales, Rue Notre Dame des Victoires, by the diligence, which comes safe to Paris, every day, token it does not overturn, between seven in the morning, and seven in the evening. Frenchmen are not a bit particular for an hour or two.
The Callams, I mean the females of that family, had been raving mad, to see Paris, ever since the proclamation of peace, between our blessed island, and that delightful country.
Surely, would Mrs. Callam often say to her better half, surely, my dear, ve have been an industrious couple, and have toiled hard to heddicate our family, and bring them up genteelly, and now that ve are before-hand vith the vorld, I don’t see no hobstacle against a trip to Paris, to finish our daughters’ heddication, and give them the proper French hacksent, vich is, indeed, all, our Eliza vants, after the sight of money ve have paid to her French master.
To all these broad hints, Mr. Callam had been, for years, in the habit of answering just nothing, or what amounted to nothing, since it was but an extra puff of the pipe, or a hem! or a pooh! pooh! or my eye in a bandbox!!! or some other ejaculations, which mean nothing.
Apropos! It is here necessary to give my readers some little description of the Callams; so, not to prose, because this atmosphere is a lazy one, and more learned books are gone abroad than folks will read, more shame for them. Be it known, then, that Mr. Callam was a fat man, in the soap-boiling line, and wore large buttons, to his, nearly, sky-blue, best coat, as big as five franc pieces.
Those buttons are out of fashion, my dear, would Mrs. Callam often exclaim, to which Mr. Callam uniformly answered, by a significant shrug of the shoulders.
The Callams were good sort of people, nevertheless. Mr. Callam was, as I have said, a soap-boiler, as was his father, before him, and both father and son had been, from the beginning, what is vulgarly called, well to do, in the world. Mr. Callam, who has just arrived, in Paris, to perform a part in my menagerie, lost his father, at the age of five and twenty, and, by his death, he became commander in chief, or rather sole commander of the soap-trade.
After duly mourning, and wearing a crape hat-band, till it was rusty, my Tiger began to think, seriously, of matrimony. I will choose my wife, said he, to himself, for such qualities as shall wear well; not for her beauty, nor for her money. Thank God, I have a trade, which will lead on to fortune: a useful trade too, soap being all in all to a dirty face. Mine is none of your rich, showy trades, which pass away with the fashions. Give me a wife, who will love me, darn my stockings, and stay at home. Ye kind gods, I ask no more!
He found a wife to his mind, in Shropshire, while he was on a visit to his uncle John, and, in the person of his uncle John’s housemaid, a clean, neat, pretty, virtuous, industrious, young woman.
The soap-boiler was touched, the very first moment he set his eyes upon her.
But that she is a maid, I would marry her, said he to himself, while his charmer was warming his bed. A maid-servant, he meant, of course.
The next morning, his uncle’s maid servant brought him the best cup of chocolate, he had ever tasted, and she blushed deeply when she presented it to him; because he happened to be in his bed!!
The soap-boiler was overcome! just like Mrs. Hannah Moore’s hero, whose hardened libertinism was not proof against the delicious flavour of a ragout, à la sauce piquante.
Oh! my love!! exclaimed he, clasping the ragout-chronicler to his breast. I am now, alluding to Hannah Moore’s hero. However, my soap-boiler was just as short taken, by dint of chocolate, and therefore, to be brief, since you all, like myself, no doubt, hate to play second fiddle, in a love-scene, the soap-boiler married his uncle’s maid.
* * * *
* * * *
Nearly six and twenty years had witnessed the harmony of this union, and, during that period, Mrs. Callam had become the mother of her hopeful heir, Mr. Peter Callam, as well as of three daughters, who, by sheer pertinacity, having gained their grand object, of a visit to the French capital, now stepped out of the Paris diligence.
Eliza, the eldest, was in her twenty-first year, a pretty, fair girl, with soft blue eyes, and a turn-up nose. She had been educated at a second-rate-school, where she had carried it, with a very high hand.
Mr. Callam’s daughter ought to be distinguished from the common herd of school girls, said the fond mother, who looked up to her husband as a paragon: and, in consequence, Miss Eliza’s wardrobe was the gayest of the gay. She likewise had a gold watch and chain, and a silver goblet, and various delicacies were sent to her, in a basket, every Monday morning.
Miss Eliza, being of a delicate constitution, mamma desired she might not be teazed to learn more than was agreeable. The result of this education may be gleaned from the young lady’s letters, to her friend in London. At all events, it will not do to keep a whole family waiting, at the Messagerie de Paris, after the fatigues of a long journey; the said Messagerie being just about the most comfortless spot, which can, reasonably, be imagined.
Well! only think of our being in Paris at last, said the good natured Mrs. Callam, arranging her habit. But Peter, my dear boy, take care to see after our desk. God bless you, don’t lose sight o’ that, or its all dickey with us!
Peter was a dandy, and belonged to a company of private, theatrical performers. He proposed cutting the soap-boiling line, on the very earliest opportunity.
Voulez vous un fiacre, mes dames? asked a commissionaire.
Monsieur, vous avez trente francs à payer pour votre baggage, said a Frenchman, in black.
et mes dames, vite! vite! les clefs de vos malles! called out another.
Veut on bien faire entendre, à cette grosse dame Anglaise, que son fiacre l’attend? Fiacre à la porte! reiterated the commissionaire.
These remarks were all unintelligible to the soap-boiler. D——n it, said he, at last, I wish I had staid in England! What the devil does all this mean! This dirty fellow haunts me, pointing to the ragged commissioner, with his feeharkur ally pot. What the devil is feeharkur ally pot. Look how they are thumping and bumping our boxes about.
Vos clefs! vos clefs! said another Frenchman, holding out his hand, towards them, impatiently.
Eliza, my love, said Mrs. Callam, to her eldest daughter, what can this man mean, by calling out for clay? We have got no clay to give him! How should we?
He wants our keys, said Miss Eliza, with much dignity! My readers must bear in mind, that Miss Eliza had learned French.
The devil he does! What for, pray? He must be a highway-robber! Has’nt our baggage been hauled and mauled about enough, already?
Lord, Pa! no! observed his second daughter, a fine, dark, sparkling, black-eyed, bold, romp, just turned of seventeen. Never mind! let’s give up the keys. We must expect to be robbed and murdered too, over and over again, with many other inconveniences, which one makes one’s mind up to, when one goes abroad; but we shall have plenty of fun, I dare say. Give up the keys then. Don’t you see, that gentleman has given his whole bunch, to the man, in a military looking jacket.
Mes dames, votre fiacre à la porte! again bawled out the ragged commissionaire.
Oh! with a sigh, exclaimed Mr. Callam, here’s my evil genius again!
Monsieur, veut-il payer les trente francs pour son baggage? once more enquired the Frenchman, in black.
Oh! dear me! what do they all want? observed Mrs. Callam? I wish Eliza would translate for us, after all the expense we have been at, in larning her French. Come here child. Stand by your pa, do.Ve’re tired to death of all these noisy people. I vish ve cou’d get a hackney-coach, to drive us to an inn. Vot a queer way this is, for to put down their passengers in such a Babylon of a houtlandish place!
Monsieur, je vous dis encore que tout est prêt, et votre fiacre vous attend depuis une heure, again bawled out the shabby commissioner, in Mr. Callam’s ear.
Oh! Christ! ejaculated Callam faintly, as he receded several paces; for he was, naturally, a peaceable, quiet man, who hated noise or bustle, of any kind, particularly after passing two nights, squeezed up, in a French diligence.
Hah! hah! hah! said Mary, Mr. Callam’s second merry daughter, who had not been half so much petted and spoiled as her sister, in consequence of her being of such a robust constitution, Hah! hah! hah! This man is enough to make one die of laughing, with his dirty face coming up to pa, every minute, feeharkur ally pot. What can he mean, I wonder!
Now might my very lips freeze to my teeth; my tongue to the roof of my mouth; my heart in my belly, ere I could come by a fire to thaw me! exclaimed young Peter, in a theatrical tone, as he wrapped his plaid cloak about him.
Law! Peter, observed Mary, what a fool you are, spouting plays, instead of helping us out of the mess. You are all the worst travellers I ever saw.
Mais, Monsieur, donc, vous plait-il de payer votre baggage? again interrupted the Frenchman.
Here, Eliza, my love, what is baggage, in English? Mary asked.
Luggage, child, to be sure.
Oh! thank you. Well then, I know what paya is: every body can guess at that word, and we shall know it better still, I dare say, before we have been here long.
Pay your luggage, Sir, continued Mary, playfully, holding out her hand, to her father.
Combien? enquired the father, having picked up that word on his journey.
Mais trente francs je vous dis.
Thirty francs, reiterated Eliza, her affectation giving way, by virtue of hunger and thirst.
Thirty francs! said Callam, well! can’t be helped, taking out his purse; but, if ever they catch me at this noisy, expensive place again—
Monsieur, encore une fois, avez vous envie de vous servir du fiacre, qui est à la porte? cried the enraged commissioner.
Oh! answered Mary, you are our first and last tormentor. I’ll settle you. Feeharkur! That’s a very funny word. I’m afraid feeharkur will puzzle Eliza, herself.
Not at all, it is—in short, it is—Jeune homme, montrez nous donc ce que c’est—
Oh! dear me, Eliza need not pretend to be so very clever. Any of us would know it, if we saw it, observed Frances, the youngest of this hopeful family.
She was a little, arch-looking girl, of twelve years old, with a Chinese kind of cap.
Come pa, let’s make him show us what this nasty feeharkur is, that he has been stunning us about so long, said Mary, leading the way to the grande porte cocher of the Messageries Royales.
Entrez, mes dames, entrez, c’est votre fiacre, bawled out the tattered commissioner, pulling down the steps of a hackney-coach.
Oh! dear! how stupid of us! Just the very thing we wanted most. I shall remember feeharkur as long as I live. The man has taught us something, however, observed Mary, as she tripped back, in great glee, to call her party to the coach.
But where shall we drive to? asked Mrs. Callam, seating herself in the feeharkur.
Hotel de Bourbon, answered a young man, thrusting a card into her hand.
Bless me, how lucky! cried one of them. Hotel de Paris, said another. Hotel Meurice, a third. Hotel d’Oxford, a fourth. Hotel de Londres, a fifth.
Ou devrois-je vous méner? calls out the coachman.
Pardon, exclaimed two more smart waiters, at once, handing in their cards, je vous prie, mes dames, allez à l’hotel d’Angleterre, l’hotel d’Oxford.
Drive to the devil! vociferated Mr. Callam, to the coachman, in pure, downright, and unadulterated English.
Ou donc est son hotel? enquired the coachman, believing that one had been named to him.
I keep the Hotel de l’Europe, said a decent, young Englishman, who had contrived to force another card, into the hands of one of the young ladies, whose lap was already full of them.
Hallo! hoy! hallo! You Sir, you are English, are you? roared out Mr. Callam, eagerly, leaning his head out of the coach window.
Hotel Bourbon! Hotel Britannique!! Hotel d’Oxford! Hotel d’Hollande! again called out half a dozen Frenchmen at once.
Mais, diable Monsieur, faut-il que je reste ici toute la sainte journée? bawled out the coachman.
Monsieur n’oubliera pas le commissionaire? their late tormentor cried.
C’est moi, monsieur, qui l’aidé de porter votre baggage, dans la fiacre, squeaked out a little, filthy urchin, who seemed to fill the honourable office of the commissioner’s commissioner.
For God Almighty’s sake, ejaculated Mr. Callam, most energetically, and piously, with his body more than half thrust out of the coach, addressing the English hotel-keeper, for the love of God, Sir, get me clear of these ragamuffins, and a five pound note shall be your reward, as soon as we are all in peace and quietness.
Avec de l’argent on fait tout à Paris; in short, money is no less omnipotent in the French, than in the British, and all other capitals. Less than a quarter of an hour found them in quiet possession of a comfortable apartment, containing three bed-rooms, a sitting-room, and a dining-room.
This is summat like, observed Mr. Callam.
Paris is a divine place. I doat upon looking glasses, and yellow silk furniture, observed Eliza, throwing herself upon the sofa.
Peter didn’t know what the devil to make of it, wondered if there were any English, private theatricals; was sure Talma would never do, after Kean; wanted to see for him for all that.
Mrs. Callam voted for retiring to rest. Mr. Callam wanted his supper; Mary, her tea, and Eliza, her writing desk, for she declared she could not eat, drink or sleep, till she had addressed a letter to her darling, sweet friend, and school-fellow, Charlotte Temple.
Mary was not much tired, wished she had’nt been tired at all, hated sleeping, it was such a loss of time, and yet, really, she could not keep her eyes quite open, could have slept, in the diligence, all the second night, only the French gentleman, in the white hat, snored so.
In order to show my readers what a different view, people take of the same things, according to their various tone of mind, I will give them the correspondence of this family, separately, each having a friend in London, with whom they held communication. We will begin with papa, from the old latin proverb, seniores priores, as I used to say to my elder sister Amy, in humble imitation of the honourable John William Ward.
From Mr. Callam in Paris, to his friend Mr. Evans, a haberdasher.
My dear friend Evans,
Though I was never very fond of my pen, yet I could not refuse any reasonable request of yours, and, therefore, according to your desire, I am set down to give you some little account of our way of living here, for the last month.
Paris is the rummest place I ever inhabited. I thought I never should have got to this hotel, for want of knowing the French language, you see; at last, I had the luck to hit upon what I was told, by the landlord of it, was an English hotel. And who, do you think, wakes us in the morning, by coming close up to the side of our bed, while me and Mrs. Callam are enjoying a comfortable sleep, but a d—d, dirty commissionaire, as they call every thing that is ragamuffin, in this country.
What the devil do you do there sir? I asked, while poor Mrs. Callam screamed. I thought her last hour was come. Lay Bot, or something of that kind, was all I could get out of the rascal; so I was obliged to ring my bell, and G—d d—n them all, not that I like to encourage the practice of swearing; but this happens to be the only part of our language, the French understand. However a friend of mine, Dick Simpson, whom I met here, by accident, has taught me how to be a match, for these shoe-black intruders, so I now claps my boots on first, and gets them blacked afterwards, at the corner of any street, where I please to offer a penny. Then comes our dinner, har longlaze, as the landlord calls it, which consists of one, solitary, hard joint of meat, such as you cannot possibly get your teeth through, and all the rest is made up of ragotus, and fricando. I can’t abide the plays here, they are so hot and makes one sweat so; and the actors speak so quick and so natural, just as if they were at home, at every day work.
Tivoly is a place I am partial to. I prefer it to our Vauxhall; because there are plenty of chairs to rest one's legs, and my children are delighted with the Swiss mountains, an excellent speculation there for England, I should reckon. It is astonishing to see how the franks circulate, on a grand gala night. Persons think nothing of descending, half a dozen times, of an evening, at a frank each. There was a precious crowd, there, in honor of the French King’s coronation which you know has just taken place. For my part, I could not help pitying the poor lady, who went up in the balloon, dressed in a plume of white ostrich feathers; you would charge a guinea a piece, for such feathers, the very lowest. Yes, poor soul! she left a gay scene to dangle, and twinkle, in the air, till, at last, we could not distinguish the balloon, which had about fifty large lanterns fastened to it, from a star. However, she went up, in high spirits, seemingly, for she bowed, and bent, and curtsied, with more grace than even, my daughter Eliza, herself, with all her dancing. Between ourselves, I would never be at such like expense, for another daughter; for, after all, Mary is much better company. Do you know, this trip has turned out mighty expensive? Surely, says Mrs. Callam, surely my dear we must equip ourselves hallar fronsays, and this equipping hallar fronsays, has cost me at least a hundred golden guineas.
You may dine, in Paris, at any price you like, from twenty sous to a hundred franks, and the only difference, I see, is in the color of the table-cloth; for its nothing else but raggoos, and fricandose, go where you will.
We have hired a carriage; and a carriage, in Paris, is a passport into much good society. The pretty features of my girls, gives us an additional lift. Altogether, I hope, I shall not get puffed up with unbecoming pride. In for a penny, in for a pound, as the vulgar saying is. I was thinking of a gold snuff box, jewellers work being so cheap here, and gold so pure; but the Lord have mercy upon me!
Apropos to snuff-boxes, as the French say, I saw the most indecent snuff-box!! Oh! fie said I, to the young man who showed it me. Paris is, indeed a most lascivious city! I’ll tell you something, in your ear; but you mustn’t mention it. I’ve felt very queer at times!! God send, I may not go astray in my old age: but this high living and warm weather does wonders to a man.— — You understand me . . .eh? and there are curious exhibitions in the palais royal. Mrs. Callam has forgot to pack up our family-bible too, and that was very much against me! I, however, have this day, bought another, cheap, at Galignani’s.
Would you believe it, the public gambling houses are full of petticoats; so are the coffee-rooms, and other places. The minister of finances has lighted his sumptuous palace with gas. My girls are in high feather, and seldom pass an evening at home. As for me, and Mrs. Callam, we amuse ourselves, in rambling, from the Jardins des Plants, to the Luxembourg, from the Luxembourg to the Invalides, and all over this splendid city, in search of lions and curiosities, and we have been to the Port Saint Martin too, to see Jacko, who is about the best bred ape I ever saw, although a mere man. This goes to prove that the French have wonderful dexterity in making the most of things.
I have seen that wicked creature, Harriette Wilson, who wrote those paw, paw memoirs, that made such a stir, and such a to do, in London. She was’nt so flashy, as I expected, from the prints in the caricature shops; on the contrary she looked rather serious, than knowing or funny, as she passed us, in her very pretty green calash. I have also seen a child, with two heads, in the Shom Elesa, very complete, indeed, the mother forthcoming, every feature distinct, and well formed.
There is a rum set of English noblemen, and gentlemen established here, whom we often meet at parties, swoirases as they call them; but my little pet, Mary, can describe all these things much better than I could, supposing my fingers did not ache with what I have scribbled already; so, best regards to all, and, tell your wife I shall bring her a blue gros de Naples dress, basted up into a domino, to please the custom house men.
Believe me ever truly and cordially,
JEREMIAH PETER CALLAM.
Hotel de l’Europe.
From Miss Mary Callam to Miss Sutton,
Montague Square, London.
Paris, June 14th, 1825.
Oh! my dear Jemima, what a delicious place this Paris is! I have so much to say to you, I really don’t know where to begin. Do you know, I can already understand, and speak French, as some say, better than Eliza herself, who studied it for years in England. This, of course, is mere flattery; but it is really incredible how I improve. My Aunts, and the two Miss Callams have, at last, joined us. They arrived at eleven o’clock, on monday night, such figures!! having been upset: mais renversez bien; as dear Mlle. Mars says. Clementina lost her wig, and Rosabella her plumpers. Poor things, it is really ill-natured of me to mention this; but you know what quizzes they are, at all times.
Clementina has, for the last ten years, professed to abhor Englishmen. If ever I consent to part with dear liberty, she often says, it shall be to a foreigner. The English are too phlegmatic, too matter of fact, too—too—indifferent she might as well add, since, their having, all, been hitherto blind to her attractions, is, I know, the only fault she has to find with them.
Rosabella, who, you know, by the death of her uncle, became possessed of an excellent income, has brought over her sister, in a dashing, light blue barouche, lined with scarlet: and who, do you think, accompanied them? That precise, thin old attorney, Mr. Save-all! whether in the character of cicisbeo, man of business, or lover, I cannot learn, aunt Rosabella is so sly. They have hired handsome apartments in the rue Richelieu. Mr. Save-All does the honors; a nasty, ugly creature; I can’t think why they brought him here. Clementina dresses finer than ever she did, in London, a great deal, and has become quite an altered character, ever since she read La Nouvelle Heloise, which said work has affected my sister Eliza too, more or too less; but, as to my aunt, she sits in the Thuilleries all day, and sighs to the …moon, or sun, as it may happen, and then comes home to praise the dresses, and noble military appearance of the Gardes du Corps.
This is very severe, you will say; but I only wish you were to be present, when my aunt scolds me. There is nothing wicked, or sly, I am not accused of, as often as I attract the attention of any one of the other sex. First, on our arrival here, we were in a dreadful hobble. Mamma did not know where to go, or what to do with herself, and we did nothing but order the coachman to drive to the Boulevards, and when he enquired for the next place, we were obliged to say home, for want of knowing the name of any other place; but papa bringing letters of credit, to a large amount, on a Paris banker, we were shortly invited to his house, and we are now become very popular. I fancy, we are indebted to the beauty of Eliza, for much of the court that is paid us; indeed, we are invited every where, and never pass a single evening alone.
We meet the Spanish Duke de Lerma, almost daily, either at the soirées, the opera, or somewhere or other; but neither myself nor Eliza can endure him, and no wonder, for we have heard a most shocking description of him, from the Count del Rio, who is his countryman. He is afraid of ghosts, and says he cannot, and dare not remain alone, an instant, particularly in the dark.
His Grace has, more than once, refused to fight. He is a most profligate, disgusting man, and keeps an old duenna, in his employ, to hunt about for young, innocent girls to be debauched by him. This, however, sounds too abominable to be believed, and so, I must conclude that our gay Spaniard was jealous of the common civility, Eliza showed him. That the Duke de Lerma is a great gambler, I cannot doubt, having seen him handle the dice-box, in private parties, with such zeal, and deep interest, that one would almost swear it must have been the business of his whole life: and he has such a comical mode of scraping up the money with the tips of his fingers!! His laugh too, is, absolutely, expressive of idiotism.
Enough of this vile subject. The Duke de Lerma has inspired me with the strongest sensations of disgust, I ever experienced towards a human being, in my whole life. Added to all these, previous stories, is one of his having been so nicely flogged! Jemima, could you ever in the course of all your born days, forgive a man for having been flogged?
A truce to this disgusting creature, methought he once dared to glance his odious, lustful, grey eyes, on my poor, dear, little sister Frances. Oh! the monster! and not a monster only; for he is the greatest fool in nature, and does not possess three ideas in the world. Apropos, I must tell you about a certain French countess, if only to put this nasty contemptible character out of my head.
Last Wednesday, we received a gay card of invitation, to a soirée, in our own hotel, from Madame la Comtesse de Bienpassé.
Who is Madame la Comtesse de Bienpassé? enquired papa, of the porter, by means of my aunt’s chasseur, who is his interpreter; for, would you believe it, Jemima, aunt Clementina has hired a regular, downright chasseur, with a green coat and cocked hat, and such a feather! At first, these fair ladies had a very dirty fellow to show them about Paris; but this man coming to offer his services himself, en grande costume, both my aunts declared that he was irresistible.
You are making terrible fools of yourselves, said papa to them; but all his objections were overruled, Rosabella declaring that, since papa had condemned the excursion to Paris, as folly, from first to last, they might as well have the chasseur, since the folly of it would fall into the general lump, instead of forming separate foolery. His name is Julien, which, Clementina maintains to be a very ancient name in France. On the whole, she cannot divest herself of the idea that he is a gentleman, and Rosabella, who was always such a tyrant to her English servants, is afraid to command the most trifling service from this flashy hero, in green. C’est une bien belle chose d’être courier, ma foi! on devient bientôt chambellan.
Prince Stroll-about has, lately, arrived in Paris. I have been presented to him. He said, Ha! and dowsed his head downwards, a movement, which he intended for a bow. He is the most absent, rude creature, I ever met with; for he draws one into conversation, and then, just as one fancies oneself rather eloquent, he gives a second downward jerk of his head, begs pardon, in bad English, or worse French, and disappears. I have observed his highness more than once, lately, lounging about, among the maid servants, either in the Champs Elysées or in the Jardins des Thuilleries.
I had almost forgotten to continue my account of Madame la Comtesse de Bienpassé, who sent us the invitation to her soirée. Mamma declared, point blank, she could not presume to accept it, the French were such polite, accomplished people, and a countess too!! She had not been brought up in such society, never pretended to any thing of the kind, and really should be less afraid of facing a host of English nobility, than one of these French countesses; but we were obstinate, assuring her that the French were the easiest people in the world to live with, and, at last, we prevailed.
Fancy us then, at eight o’clock, in the evening, assembled, in our drawing-room, full dressed in our very best, wishing to do honor to the French countess’s soirée. Eliza wore a beautiful, white gauze, over pink satin, and the new ear-rings Papa has given her: in short, we had taken no small pains in ornamenting, and having hummed and coughed ourselves into something like courage for the enterprise, after duly studying the most polite expressions, in French, my brother led the way, in gay, embroidered, silk stockings, down to the porter’s lodge. Mamma looked very nice; indeed, I never saw her so becomingly dressed before.
Ou donc demeure Madame la Comtesse? said Eliza, addressing the porter.
Mais montez toujours l’escalier à gauche, Mes dames, jusqu’à ce que vous verrez le nom de Madame la Comtesse sur la porte.
Remercie bien, Monsieur, and we all began to ascend. There was no such name as Madame la Comtesse, on the premier étage. It is on the second, no doubt, said my brother. Indeed, added he, I have heard say, people of high rank generally prefer the second story, as being less noisy. These stairs are very steep, mamma observed, when we had climbed up another étage. By that time we all began to puff and blow, but we searched in vain, for Madame la Comtesse’s abode. The same happened to us in the third and fourth story.
I’ll go no further, said papa, seating himself, on the stairs. I can’t stand it.
It’s all a hoax, exclaimed Peter, why should a lady of such high rank, single us out, from so many foreigners, who are now in Paris, to invite us to her rout? Come down stairs you fools!
I wish I could discover who has had the impudence to put such a joke on an honest family like our’s, my poor father murmured, in an under tone of voice, reddening with anger.
I will make a point of being satisfied, though, said Peter, descending the stairs, three at a time, till he arrived at the porter’s lodge. Are we to wait for you, here, Peter? mamma called out, over the balustrade. Peter begged we would, and he soon returned to us, with the good news that it was no hoax. Madame la Comtesse did give a soirée, and she lived au cinquieme étage.
Bless me, said mamma; how ignorant we are of French manners. We should never dream of these great folks sticking themselves up in the garret, in this sort of way. Courage, mes dames! il n’y a qu’une étage de plus, I remarked, gaily leading the way. It was, now, quite dark; for the staircase was only lighted jusqu’au quatrième.
How are we to grope our way here? enquired Eliza, horror-struck at finding herself so dismally situated, on the fifth landing place.
How are we to find the countess’s door, among six or seven? said mamma. French stairs too, are so often, wet and dirty, added Eliza. We shall spoil our dresses, I remarked. A variety of bad and unwholesome smells assailed our noses as we poked about, from one door to another.
I have found a door of somebody’s, said papa, and it being on a latch, we opened it. Being the most enterprising of the family, I entered, at once. It will be a lesson to me not to thrust my nose into unexplored, private places, for this time. All our noses, instantaneously warned us, that we had made a woeful mistake, and the door was closed.
Come home, said mamma, for heaven’s sake. What should we do groping about, here, into every dirty hole and corner, as if it were possible that any one, much less a countess, would give a party, without hanging out a single lamp!
I have found a bell, said Peter, and he rang it, violently, without waiting for permission.
Qui est là ? squeaked out a shrill, trembling voice, from within.
Madame la Comtesse de Bienpassé? Peter inquired.
Pas-ici, cried the voice. Madame la Comtesse demeure au fond de la galérie à gauche. Je suis couché, moi. A dirty-looking, old creature, now issued forth from a door, at the opposite corner of the corridor, holding up a miserable, little, twinkling lamp, which, every instant, threatened to serve her, as the lamps of fair heroines of romances are wont to do; namely, to be extinguished, by the first breath of air.
Demande-t-on, la bas, Madame la Comtesse de Bienpassé? called out the lamp-bearer: and, being answered in the affirmative, by five anxious voices, together, we were beckoned forwards, and invited, with much ceremony, into a very small room, by Madame la Comtesse, elle-meme!!!
Let me describe her. She was a tall, thin, old lady of, at least, sixty years of age. Her features, perhaps, had, once, been handsome; her skin, was completely, daubed, with red and white paint, contrasted with a due proportion of snuff, which disfigured her upper lip and chin; her grey hairs were ill-concealed, beneath a flaxen wig, around which, were turned two rows of large white beads, and a wreath of rose-coloured flowers, which were as faded as herself. Her gauze dress had, once, been yellow; her neck and arms were uncovered; and she wore an immense clasp-bracelet, and ear-rings, and necklace of green stones.
Having saluted us, with infinite ease, and French grace, she presented us to her company, separately, according to their rank, beginning with the Marquis de Casse-Noisette, a little gentleman of the ancien regime, such as you have seen in old French pictures, and I often meet, toddling about the Jardin des Plantes, here. It would require a more able pen than mine to do justice to Monsieur le Marquis’s extreme politeness.
The next person, to whom our attention was directed, was le confesseur de Madame la Comtesse, a pious, hungry-looking priest; but I have not time to describe them all, a round dozen of them, I should think, besides ourselves. They sat, all of a row, round the room. Nobody could advance or recede an inch. There were two merry-faced young ladies, accompanied by their brother, and a fat, old woman, with a bloated, red face, and a turban to match.
The protégée of Madame la Comtesse, who sat at as humble a distance, as limits would permit, wore a plain, white, calico blouse, without ornament, and there was a gay militaire, in his regimentals, who seemed to be rather on an intimate footing, chez Madame la Comtesse. A small sofa was in the room, covered with thin, rose-coloured silk; tallow candles were burning on the chimney-piece, gaily ornamented with coloured papers, and some china-jars were filled with large bouquets. There was, also, an old-fashioned table, a picture of a paire de France, another of Cupid and Psyche, a third of the Virgin Mary, and a portrait of a lady, in the court-dress of Louis Quatorze. Next to Mary Magdalen was a shepherdess, in tapestry; a little stuffed dog under a glass-case; a live poll-parrot; two French, female puppies, on a dirty, scarlet, satin pillow; a crucifix in ivory; a painted snuff-box; and old clock; a piece of carpet-work, half-finished; a fat abbot, painted in oil; and Monsieur le Duc de Guiche in water; a martyr, and a satyr.
I think I have, now, described all worthy attention. The vieille cour-beau, in green silk stockings, was indefatigable, in his endeavours to amuse us girls, and he certainly succeeded admirably, possessing an inexhaustible fund of amusing anecdotes. He had been in London, and spoke the language excellently, for a French man.
We missed Madame la Comtesse, all at once, and Monsieur le militaire happened to disappear at about the same moment.
Où est, donc, le beau militaire? some one asked, and my brother, out of pure malice, answered, in a very respectful tone, Il vient de se rétirer dans la chamber à coucher, à coté, avec Madame la Comtesse. My brother has the best memory in the world. Indeed I may say that both of us, sans me flatter, have done wonders in acquiring the French language.
There was no harm done. Madame la Comtesse, having called her protégée, who left the bed-room-door open for half a second, for which crime, she was severely reprimanded, by her fair patroness, I espied Monsieur le Militaire, very busy, assisting madame to make punch, and eau sucré. It was very good of Monsieur le Militaire, and one good turn deserves another; so it is natural, and benevolent, to suppose that Madame la Comtesse was occasionally, very kind, and good-natured, to Monsieur le Militaire: ça coute si peu! Upon the whole we spent a very pleasant evening, much more so than the one we passed at the Messrs. Lockfast, our bankers, in spite of the princely magnificence with which they entertained us.
I, really, cannot hold my pen any longer; but will resume it very soon. Dieu m’en garde, I think I hear you cry, if all your letters are to be of this length. In the mean time however, believe me, my dear Jemima,
Most truly yours,
Let us now enquire what the two Miss Callams are about? Rosabella’s reputed fortune had brought round her, a swarm of needy, young men, who had all, in a fit of desperation, made up their minds to swallow the bitter pill, if sufficiently gilt; avec le consentement de Madame, bien entendu. Among the most forward of these adventurers was one Mr. Walkup, a tall, raw-boned, ill made, but gay, and somewhat elegantly dressed, young man, of not ungentlemanly appearance. His temper was mild, and conciliatory; and his countenance rather interesting; yet this was one of the most consummate rogues in grain, perhaps, in all Europe. He was a dragoon on half, or no pay, and his father was a gentleman. This, with plenty of new, French kid-gloves, is quite enough, and all which is required, for Parisian soirées.
Mr. Walkup obtained admission every where, and was, at all times, le bien venu, chez les dames Callam. As to Clementina, she was in love with him. Clementina, however, was not what he wanted; but, although Rosabella was his first object, yet Walkup hoped to make something of Clementina, who was, by no means, in bad circumstances. He had, already, contrived that many hundred francs should glide, gently, from the fair Clementina’s purse, to his own. He was now the most unlucky fellow in the world at écarté: he had offended his papa…, was in debt to a friend, a debt of honor! lost all his money, last night, and must go to Versailles; and the fair Clementina’s hand was open, as melting charity, whenever her too susceptible heart was touched; and she loved a man, who dressed well!
That Mr. Bellfield is a fine man, she would often say, with a sigh, for, with all her vanity, long experience had put it beyond a doubt, that such first rate beauties as Bellfield, were passed praying for. A fine creature, indeed; but then he does not get his shoe-strings ironed, and this is the second time he has been to my soirée, with only one glove, having lost the other, on his way hither, not to mention the hole in his hat, which, he declares, is so convenient to know it by. What is the use of a smart carriage, if a man goes about, with a little hole in his hat? It is, really, quite indecent! Now that dear Walkup…by the bye I, seriously, wonder he does not return me some of the money I have lent him; but he is, always very elegantly dressed. With regard to Miss Rosabella, the gay Walkup was but losing time. It was not new gloves, diamond-pins, nor any kind of fopery, which would meet her high-flown ideas of perfection…..she had fixed her mind on a hero….if moustached, so much the better. Would’st thou have the fair Rosabella for thy friend, thou must cut kids, and lavender water, with embroidered pocket-handkerchiefs to boot, to grasp a sword, and do something glorious!!
Rosabella often dreamed of
MacGruffin, the first,
The great MacGruffin, as great in person as in deeds! but how to get introduced? Due enquiry had been made. MacGruffin, the first, visited no one, not even ladies, it being contrary to the etiquette of kings: but ladies might visit him, in his palace, à la villate, be ushered into his anti-room, by his highness’s secretary, for the home department, the Count de Break-nose!! Bellfield, was his highness’s confidential friend, and prime minister.
Rosabella was afraid to encounter this gentleman, of the home department; for her mind ran strongly on foreign affairs, and Bellfield declared he would introduce no ladies. He did not think his Royal Highness liked ladies: the rooms were too full of smoke, and ladies interrupted the momentous calculations of armies, and navies, and flags, and signals, and bonds, and crosses, and ribbons.
Rosabella had had the honor of being once in the society of the Duc de Guiche….There was a man !! …only he happened to be….married….
People might say, what they pleased. Prejudice might run as high, as it pleased fools to let it; but there was something noble, and truly heroic, about the manners and expression of Monsieur Julien her chasseur which she had never remarked, in any one before.
At about this time of my little sketch or novel, or romance of the present day, or whatever people like to call it, a handsome, eccentric, young man, of large fortune, arrived in Paris. Nobody knew him, and very few cared to know more than that he was rich; and, therefore, of course, an excellent match for any woman. He lived in a very expensive style, paid every body, went every where, and fell in love, at first sight, with Miss Mary Callam.
Mary is a soap-boiler's daughter, observed one of his acquaintances!
She is the most natural girl, I ever saw, answered the young man, whose name was Villers. I don’t mind about the soap-trade; but I will never marry, till I feel convinced, in my own mind, of being loved by such an unsophisticated, dear, young creature, for myself alone. I happen to be well-looking, and I know it, besides being rich; but I must study this girl’s principles, and my way to manage it, shall be this, I’ll make myself appear an empty, silly fop, in her society, and then propose marriage to her.
What then, suppose she consents?
If she consents to make a partner for life of such a contemptible blockhead as I will seem to her, I shall sham having lost every sixpence of my fortune, at play, or by failure of a banker, and no fear but that I shall get rid of her, easily enough. His friend, laughingly, declared that it was a capital plan; longed to see how a man of such winning-ways and gentlemanly manners, would play the part of a vapid, insipid, silly, flattering, heartless unprincipled beau; candidly confessed his belief, that Mary would refuse him, and, further, that the soap-boiler's second daughter, Mary, was certainly the highest, natural-bred girl, and, apparently, the most amiable and clever, he had seen in Paris, and, on this, the friends parted.
The Duc de Lerma, whom every body knows, and whom Mary Callam has made such free mention of, in her letter, left Paris, some ten years ago, in debt, and, there were reasons why he did not go to England. At that time, he was followed, and hunted, up and down the Paris streets, by one Mrs. Teaze-all, whom he declared he hated worse than even being alone in the dark, and, when he was asked why this woman happened to be always hanging on his arm, he asserted that it was beyond the power of mortal-man, to get rid of her. She had so haunted, and hunted a poor tailor, in London, that he had been induced to offer her an annuity of two hundred a year for her life, on the single condition of never again returning to England, and which said offer was accepted, therefore, continued the duke, with a dismal sigh, there is no remedy, for I can’t afford to buy her out of France, neither is it convenient for me to live any where else, at present. But he was not, then, Duc de Lerma, having succeeded, to that title, and large estates, rather unexpectedly, some years ago. Money, as I have said before does much in Paris, and rank does something too: but rank and riches were not enough to obtain, for the Duc de Lerma, a place in good society; and he, therefore, professed to be in ill health, lived at home, took hot baths, and kept a seraglio, besides tigers in abundance.
There was one of these animals, which he particularly, distinguished; placing him, daily, on the driving seat of his barouche, or, next to him in the interior of it, paid for his dinner, and gave him free ingress and egress to and from his seraglio.
It should, however, be borne in mind, that a tiger is a fierce, rapacious, and most uncertain beast, and like a cat, so sly, (at least according to the great historian Buffon,) and so little to be confided in, that it will, often, turn round, on the hand which feeds it. The said tiger too, was an old one, and grey into the bargain, and the ladies of the seraglio, who had much interest, prevailed on his grace de Lerma to make him over to the rich Mr. Satirical Harmless, in the Rue Pelletier, and send an advertisement to Galignani, for a coachman. The exchange was made; but how the said rough-headed tiger liked it, I know not. There was, unquestionably, a due proportion of dirty work to be performed, in both places, and his late, as well as his present master were, both, mean men, who never, willingly, gave away more money than was necessary. On the other hand, any body might, with ever so little wit, over-reach the duke, and cheat his hind leg off; while, quite the reverse, Mr. Satirical Harmless was a shrewd fellow, in all things, save horse-flesh. He had the disposition, also, to have been a seducer; but he always failed when he came to the point. In like manner, he would have been a hard rider…only he was afraid, and he would run in debt, if alas! he could have obtained any credit. He, likewise, wrote a satirical poem, in which he meant to tickle up the great, and break many a heart; but, nobody would publish it. He, once wanted, to prosecute a man in Italy; but he had the misfortune to speak such execrable Italian, that neither judge nor jury could understand him. Another time, he wished to commit a rape, but.....it was not accomplished. One thing, however, I believe, he did accomplish, which was to put the Duc de Lerma’s tiger upon half pay, whereas the tiger, in his last place, kept his tiger, and, what is more, the under-tiger kept a mistress!! The golden age is no more present amongst us. The tiger, notwithstanding, still managed to hold up his head.
Miss Rosabella Callam, having issued cards for a party, we will fancy them all assembled, in, rather small, but very elegant apartments. Mr. Satirical Harmless came, shuffling in, in a pair of slip-shod shoes, and nankeen trowsers, accompanied by Robin Rough, his grey tiger. By the bye, the latter haunts one everywhere. I wish to heaven, some good tailor would buy him into banishment. It would be a great relief to the public eye.
Mr. Villers, whom Mary Callam, on this eventful night, met, for the second time in her life, had equipped himself in the most ridiculous, and conceited manner, possible. I will try how far money will carry a man, had he said to himself, a few days previous to this night's entertainment, just as he was entering the porte-cocher of the residence of Mr. Squib, who is the Stultze of Paris.
The said Mr. Squib, at the young gentleman’s desire, though much against the grain of his own inclination, equipped him for Rosabella’s soirée, in a pair of broad-ribbed, yellow, silk small-clothes, with gold bell-buttons; silk embroidered stockings, immodestly transparent; a pale, pink, satin waistcoat, under a white one of gros de Naples; a coat, made quite tight, of such a very light shade of purple, that it was scarcely purple at all; his hair oiled, and twisted into various ringlets; but separated, on the forehead, á la Madona; and, to complete this charming costume, he wore three large diamond-rings, a variety of gay seals, a gold chain, of curious workmanship; and the pin, which fastened his embroidered French cambric shirt, was headed, with a fair lady’s miniature set with brilliants!
Ha! ha! ha. Excellent! said his young friend Harry Hairbrain, who had attended his toilet.
Mais sera-t-il permis de se presenter comme céla? enquiredVillers, almost ashamed of himself.
Nonsense, reiterated Hairbrain, what’s the use of being rich and independent, if you may not wear what you like?
Ah! true, answered Villers, and I have, so lately, returned from India, that nobody knows or cares about me.
And then the Miss Callams will doat upon you, thus adorned.
Why, yes, returned Villers, as he surveyed himself. I think I shall unsettle my fair hostess’s heart, a little.
Villers was an eccentric young man; of such versatile talents, that he could be any thing, he pleased.
Above, all, he shone at masquerades. In whatever character he appeared, he was sure to be the best mask in the room. Whether he represented a French postillion, an English coachman, Don Quixotte, Sancho Panza, a Spanish grandee, a strolling player, a Yorkshireman, or a poet, he was sure to seem naturalized, in the character, as if by long habit; even when he assumed it, for the first time. He knew well that he possessed the sort of talents which charm women out of their better judgment, and, with that refinement of vanity, which is natural enough, to a spoiled man, he determined to find a woman, who, despising all besides, should appreciate his talents, and love him only for himself, good, bad, or indifferent, such as he really was. Villers was not given to the melting mood; but the sentiments, Mary Callam had inspired, were the first, of that nature, he had ever experienced, and he felt no inclination to curb his passion; on the contrary it was, to him, a new and most exquisite sensation, which inspired all the glowing ardour of his character, and he delighted to give it the fullest play.
Now Hairbrain, said Villers to his young companion, as they stepped into his elegant little chariot, I have treated you as a friend. You are quite old enough to be a man’s friend, and must not fancy yourself a child; therefore mind, if you giggle, or titter, so as to induce any of the party to smell a rat, I shall never forgive you.
Hair-brain, proud of hearing himself called a grown up gentleman’s friend, determined to prove that he was not the silly, mere boy, who could not duly command his countenance, let what would occur.
Well, then! Depend on me! Very good.... Ha! ha! ha! ha! let me have my laugh out, first, though, at all events. Those d–––d broad-striped, yellow breeches are so absurd, and that little peaked hat!! Where the devil did Squib get that stuff for the breeches?
Come, now, hold your tongue; will you? I foresee you will get me into a scrape, and spoil all.
If I do, never trust me again, said Hairbrain, just as the carriage stopped at Miss Callam’s hotel.
Villers’s entrance produced a great sensation. Clementina, in audible whispers, professed herself charmed; and there was a lady, from Brussels, absolutely ravished! but that was always the case, with this fair lady. Oh, mercy on me, what a god is that! she had exclaimed, some six months before, when young Bellfield was presented to her, and she sent him card after card; and invitations, without end. It was most provoking of Bellfield! He eternally made excuses!! However, he will come tonight, said she to a certain gentleman of my acquaintance, who is, or has been concerned in the editorial department, and, with whom, because he knew her in Brussels, she had no disguise. Yes! He certainly will come tonight; he has passed his word and honor. I cannot attempt to describe him. You will see him. Judge for yourself. He is an angel, on earth!!
Her daughter, a very amiable young lady, began to blush for her mother’s folly; and, in good truth, not without reason, for the old lady made a great fool of herself, as is usually the case. At last the conqueror came!
What do you think of him? said the lady from Brussels, her heart panting and palpitating in an agony of expectation.
The lady bore two names, one for Paris the other for Brussels; but which of them, or whether both, were des noms de guerre, I cannot say. She was affectation personified, sans cheveux, sans dens, sans every thing which constitute charms. In all probability, the poet must have alluded to this identical lady, when he, thus expresses, his disappointment:
Instead of woman, heavenly woman’s charms,
To clasp paint, cork, wool, varnish in your
However, she dressed as youthfully as her daughter. Bellfield, whom her editorial friend admitted, was very handsome, having made his bow to her, went lounging, about the room, in search of more attractive metal. The Brussels heroine, had like to have died of sheer vexation.
Well! Your new friend is, remarkably, handsome, indeed! observed the gentleman, as if on purpose to add fuel to her wrath.
Yes! but that..........that coat of his, is very ugly, answered the lady, not knowing what else to vent her spleen, against...Did you ever see such a coat in all your born days? Oh! continued the fair one, stamping her foot, in a phrenzy of disappointment, oh! that a man should make such an ass! such a fool! such a monkey, of himself.
Young Bellfield, finding the silly, old, vain woman a bore, never repeated his visit; by which means, he converted into a most bitter enemy, the Brussels adventuress, with her alaises, tacked to her name, and she, now, presumes, upon her petticoats, to assert the grossest and most illiberal falsehoods of him, simply, because one of the finest young men, in Europe, thought that he might do better, than intrigue with a disgusting old woman, who possessed not a single point of attraction.
To proceed with my narrative: the Brussels heroine, was inflamed, in an instant, at the sight of young Villers’s party-coloured, and gaudy equipments. What a contrast to Bellfield’s vile, short coat, said she, in a fit of rapture, addressing Clementina, as Villers, and his young friend, passed on, amidst the titters, ill suppressed laughter, and whispers of who is he? Don’t you know him? He is the rich man, from India, whom nobody knows. I have met him twice; but never saw him such a figure before.
During all these audible whispers, Villers, accustomed to command the muscles of his countenance, and give them just what expression he pleased, having, like a good actor, identified himself with the part he proposed playing, steadily, for the next week, smiled, nodded, and sent kisses, by dozens, across the room, from the tips of his white fingers, with infinite grace, and complacency, as though in pity to the havoc, his wonderful attractions were making among the hearts of all the females in the room. In fact, absurdly outré, as was his costume, it did not detract much from his personal figure. Villers wanted the necessary philosophy to render himself ugly, in the presence of the first woman, who had made an impression on his heart; but mimicry was his forte. He excelled in it from a boy, and would have made one of the first comic actors of the age. Can we wonder if he was delighted in the exercise and display of his great talent? His natural character was the most manly, and furthest removed from a coxcomb, of any which could well be imagined; yet the effeminate arrangement of his luxurious, auburn hair, un peu á la madonna, was exactly that, which set off the greek contour of his fine countenance, to the best advantage. Thus then love, all potent love, had made of Villers, the thing he most abhorred, at the very moment when he believed he was holding up that character, to ridicule.
Mr. Satirical Harmless, who was entertaining an Irish gentleman, an honorary tiger of Lord Chatterbox, whom his lordship left behind him, in Paris, to superintend the packing of some jewellery, which he had ordered in the palais royal; his lordship, like Serjeant Whittaker of the tenth hussars, being suddenly seized with the desire to get married, Mr. Satirical Harmless, I say, paused in the egotistical remark he was about to make, as usual, to fix his eyes on the phenomenon, which had just entered the room; but, Mr. Harmless being nearly blind, Villers’s pink waistcoat and filigree buttons only confused and dazzled him.
Let us go and see what that is, said Harmless, tugging his rough tiger by the sleeve.
When they came in close contact with the object, which had excited their curiosity, he was paying his respects to Rosabella.
The slovenly poet stared at him, with his mouth wide open, till Villers, happening, while throwing a hasty glance around the room to fix his bright eyes, for an instant, on Harmless’s face, the would-be poet slunk back, to where he came from; like a snail, into its shell; not but our young author would have been more bold and impudent, only he dared not, therefore, placing his back against the wall, where he had left Lord Chatterbox’s tiger, in waiting, he continued his conversation. He did not want the inclination to make satirical remarks on Villers's costume, tout comme un autre, only he, wisely, thought it might be safer to ascertain, before hand, how such remarks might be taken.
He now resumed, where he had left off. A man is really a great ass, I mean, il a tort, as the French have it, to commence author, particularly one, like me, possessing large, independent fortune! Why should I court the impertinence of Edinburgh reviewers, and expose myself, like an humble servant of the public, to their mercy?
Very true! indeed, said Roughhead.
Most true! echoed the lord’s tiger, in waiting.
Oh Lord!! said young Hairbrain, who cared for nobody, and who happened to join them, precisely in time to overhear Mr. Harmless’s last wise remark. Lord bless my soul, you need not be a bit afraid of the Edinburgh reviewers. I’ll bet you twenty guineas, to one, that they never, once, trouble themselves, to name you, or your work.
Harmless was all attention. Having paused, to consider the matter, he, in a decided tone, somewhat touched with melancholy, said, That is possible. I don’t know that it is not very likely to happen.
Harmless was not a fool; but really felt doubtful, and shy, of his own abilities.
style think you is most worthy of imitation, among modern poets? enquired one
of the tigers.
Lord Byron’s, said Hairbrain.
Pope’s, decidedly, answered Harmless. We want a correct school for study, although
Some beauties yet no precepts can declare.
Music resembles poetry; in each,
Are harmless graces, which, no methods teach,
And which a master’s hand, alone, can reach.
Yet, continued Harmless, just as if this quotation was all in his speech, for he had so familiarized himself with his favourite Pope, as scarcely to be aware when he quoted the language of that poet; and yet a certain method may be acquired, and the ear improved, by the constant study of correct, harmonious versification, particularly of the narrative kind, in which Pope stands unrivalled by, either ancients, or moderns.
A man may conclude his studies with Byron, who is full of brilliant errors; but, to begin with him, is the very way to make the imagination take the lead of judgment. Lord Byron spoils a man for harder study.
Do not you read Lord Byron, then? enquired one of the tigers; but Harmless was in the constant habit of shamming absence of mind, whenever people asked him stupid questions.
I want to consult you, said Harmless to Hairbrain, who instantly declared himself all attention.
A man has broken my carriage, by driving on the wrong side of the road; and it will cost me a thousand francs to put it to rights. Shall I prosecute him or not?
Don’t prosecute him, for a mistake, poor fellow.
Oh! he be d–––d, said Harmless. I ask you, as a friend, whether it is worth my while to take the trouble?
What a selfish fellow you are, observed Harry, with his usual, blunt frankness.
I believe you may be right, observed Harmless, who was never, in the least, offended with people, for speaking their mind about him. On the contrary, he courted them to do so, agreeing, with his favourite Pope, that
The noblest study of mankind, is man.
He, really, wanted to know and appreciate himself, rightly.
I am not warm-hearted, that is beyond the slightest doubt, said he, in a musing way, as though, he had been talking to himself, and yet.......... I think my only reason for not caring one straw, for any body, is the conviction, I feel, that they all hate me, so cursedly.
And can you be surprised at it?––You who take upon yourself to go down among a set of jolly fellows, in Leicestershire, and hunt with them, as their companion, and brother-sportsman, and yet presume to hunt them down, and show them all up, in rhymes, in the ill-natured way you did, a little time since; because you happen, perhaps, to be a better scholar, or may possess superior abilities, or rather a knack, in that satirico-poetical way. Is it their fault? What had you to do with them.
They called me a lout, said Harmless, sulkily.
Ha! ha! ha! and very justly. You are the most unlicked cub, I ever saw, in my life.
And they laughed at my riding, too, continued Harmless.
Rhymers have no business in Leicestershire, among merry fox-hunters.
I can ride, though, continued Harmless, with some emphasis, on the can.
Oh! I am sure you must look cock-tail, on horseback, although I never saw you.
Well! it was a long while ago, and I am sorry for it. I was only a lad. How is one to get over such a thing? Shall I write them an apology?
Young Mr. So-so, the little Frenchified demisol guardsman, who has been in Paris, depuis long temps, interrupted them, at this moment, exclaiming,
Did you ever, in all your born days, see such a double-distilled, exquisite, superlatively refined dandy, as that young Villers? Do come, and let us look at him, through our opera-glasses, all at once.
Not I indeed, said Harmless. He will be calling me out, and I have no wish to fight. What, the devil, should I fight for, with fifteen thousand a year? and I could’nt stand caning, neither; so I never say a word, now, about any man, unless I am very much provoked. You young fellows, without any money, and nothing to lose, may do as you please.
Mr. Villers is my friend, observed Hairbrain, and Mr. So-so begged Hairbrain’s pardon.
Oh! apologies are quite unnecessary, Mr. So-so. What you have said of Villers would rather gratify, than annoy him.
It will, now, be necessary to say something of Mary Callam, whom Villers had been at so much trouble, to please.
She had met him, once or twice, before, and thought him, without any exception, the finest young man, she had ever seen; but Villers, intent on studying, deeply, the disposition of so lovely a girl, had scarcely addressed a word to her, desiring to see her in her natural character, unembarrassed by the conversation of a stranger. Mary had watched him, about the room, with sly, but constant perseverance, and, when she retired to rest, in the warmth and humility of her heart, she had offered up a short prayer for his future happiness. May he marry some sweet young lady, as beautiful as himself, who will love him for ever! Love, however, scarcely ever did, or ever will exist, without a ray of hope. Mary fell asleep, and, in the morning, had almost forgotten Mr. Villers.
More than a week had elapsed, since Mary Callam’s brief prayer had ascended, like grateful incense, at the shrine of Villers’s beauty, when Mary recognized him, in his new suit, and filigree, gold buttons.
She could scarcely refrain from laughing aloud. How could she have been so high-flown, as to have prayed for such a thing as that?
Did you ever see such a conceited, foolish, fellow, as Mr. Villers, my dear Eliza? said Mary, to her sister. Look how he smiles, to show his white teeth, and bows, like an automaton, on wires.
What a beautiful creature! exclaimed Eliza, who had scarcely observed him, when, with her sister, she had met him, in his every-day-suit of quiet black.
Beautiful! repeated Mary, in surprise, looking towards him. At that moment, their eyes met, for the first time. Nature, here, predominated over the actor, and Villers’s fine countenance was, involuntarily, animated with a bright blush.
Well! he is certainly handsome, after all, added Mary, turning hastily round, to avoid his earnest glance, which, being the first attention she had recognized, created a tremulous sensation about the regions of her heart, notwithstanding all her prejudice against his foppery. Villers immediately joined her.
Oh! ma belle Marie!! if thou could’st but know how many fathoms deep I am in love! said Villers, raising her hand to his lips, with infinite assurance.
This beau comes here to laugh at, and insult us, poor trades-people, though Mary, reddening with anger, as she, hastily, withdrew her hand.
I love the name of Mary, continued Villers: it is music to my heart!! I have loved, at least, a dozen Mary’s this winter! and he, with the most ineffable nonchalance, examined his teeth, in a small mirror, on the back of a gold snuff-box.
Mary’s eyes were traversing the room, in every direction, for her brother, or her father, whose protection, she began to fancy, might be necessary, to secure her from insults; but this last speech, was uttered, by Villers, with such consummate sang froid, and struck her, as so perfectly ridiculous, that she laughed outright, in spite of all her efforts, to look serious.
Charming playfulness! continued Villers. I would live with thee, in the deserts of barren Arabia, Mary! Thy smile is so refreshing!! Refresh me, then, again and again, sweet one! Laugh on, for ever. That bright, dear hazel-eye haunts me by night and day; and, in the twilight of the evening too, I love it, and think of it. Eyes ne’er did this for me before! But there is a stony stillness in thine, love, and yet they are stag-like, and bright, and clear as the rainbow. Pray, look on me, love! following up Mary, who, in extreme confusion, was hastening away towards her mother.
None will love thee, sweetest, as I could. Nay! then, look at me again, beloved of my heart!………He paused a moment. Well, then, look at my new filligree buttons, and tell me what thou think’st of them? Villers added, in serious fervour, by way of winding up his heroics, with a specimen of the art of sinking, as he seized her hand, and forced her to turn round.
Mary’s fears were, now, converted into wild hilarity. She was, in fact, absolutely convulsed with laughter, and stood, wiping her eyes, and pressing one hand, on her side. Not but this vociferous exhibition of loud mirth was, to make the best of it, utterly adverse to every rule of fashionable etiquette; but my poor heroine, was a soap-boiler’s daughter.
I suppose, ma’am, you take them for silver gilt? said Villers, in apparent pique. I wish you very good night, madam: and, bowing with much solemnity, he retired to the furthest extremity of the room, addressed Clementina, made a desperate attack upon that lady’s heart, then invited his fair hostess to dance the Gavotte, and performed his part, in that graceful movement, to perfection, while Rosabella languished and frisked about, out of all manner of time, tune, or measure.
This exhibition afforded infinite amusement to every individual, in the room, except Mary, who felt out of humour, and unhappy, she knew not why. It was not possible to suspect herself of being in love with such a piece of absurdity as Villers, and his abominable, filigree buttons, and his ridiculous tout ensemble.
After the Gavotte, Villers attacked Eliza, with outré expressions of admiration. Alas! like the frogs in the fable, what was mere sport to him, sank deep into the heart of this weak, silly, girl: but Villers, accustomed, as he was, to succeed, never once dreamed of being at all formidable to a lovely girl, who must have been habituated to flattery, while making himself so perfectly ridiculous. Of Eliza, he could never have dreamed, as a wife, and his principles had ever made him abhor the idea of seeking a moment’s sensual gratification, at the risk of future wretchedness, to another; so, after making a few flourishing speeches, with such perfect apathy, as he would have found it difficult, perhaps impossible, to evince, in the society of Mary, he bade poor Eliza remember him in her prayers, and took his leave, little suspecting that he had sent one of Cupid’s sharpest arrows through, and through the heart of Miss Eliza Callam.
Come this way, come and see this man, in the next room, said Villers, to Harry Hairbrain, a few minutes after he had taken leave of Eliza. Do you know, Villers continued, that a man has just entered the next room, who is playing my own identical character, and I flattered myself, mine was such an original fancy! That man, surely, must be doing it on purpose, too! Oh! there is no doubt. Only look at his wadding, and then his attitude. It is the very best acting I have seen in France. Capital!! I must try at that! and, before Hairbrain could interfere, Villers had taken a chair, opposite the person, who had attracted his attentions, and not only placed himself in the very self-same, studied attitude, to a nicety, but gave a most astonishing proof of the flexibility of his countenance, by drawing it into a very strong resemblance to that of his neighbour.
Good God! Do you know what you are doing? whispered Hairbrain in his ear.
To be sure I do. What business had this man to attempt turning me into ridicule, by taking my new character? I suppose that impudent fellow Squib, has put him up to it.
I tell you, continued Hairbrain, it is Sir Violet Sighaway, and in his usual costume.
Nonsense! Do you want to make me believe a man would take the trouble of fixing himself thus, like a statue, in an attitude, every day of his life. No such thing. I am determined to be a match for him, and he continued his inimitable imitations, which were too strikingly correct not to be, immediately, recognized, by every person in the room, save and except the original himself, who, having, taken his attitude from an antique, and ascertained its becomingness by the most minute study, before his looking-glass, now affected to be in deep thought, as an excuse for continuing immoveable. Every body began to whisper, and titter, and blow their noses, or run away, to indulge their mirth at a distance. At last, the extreme resemblance which Villers continued to throw into his features, was too much, not only for the politeness of the company, but it even overcame Harmless’s dread of being called out, and he joined in the loud roar of laughter, which became so general as, almost to shake the roof of the house.
Sir Violet Sighaway, suddenly, turned his head, and looked about him; and every body ran out of the room, in a fright, except Villers, who nodded at him, like the ghost in Don Giovanni, without changing his position.
Sir Violet did not know what to say to his nodding neighbour, who appeared to be mimicking him. It is true, he was a sad coxcomb, and he knew it; but the labours of his toilette, were daily encountered to please, and gratify lovely woman! Could the sweet creatures, then, refuse to forgive him? Being, rather a good tempered, and a mild man, he had seldom provoked such insults; and, he was, therefore, puzzled, for an instant. However, the continued laughter of the company, added to Villers’s repeated nods, finally succeeded in rousing him.
Pray, Mr. Villers, said Sir Violet, jumping up, pray sir, are you nodding at me, in that absurd way, like a mandarin figure, in a tea-shop.
Oh! upon my honor, you ought to have sate still.
You have deranged one of the finest attitudes, upon honor, you have! said Villers, rising also, and speaking affectedly. It was excellent, I assure you.
Sir Violet, who was certainly a man of very gentlemanly manners, requested that Mr. Villers would allow him to say a few words to him, in private.
Oh! No! said Villers, excuse me. Par ma foi! I suppose, you imagine, I wish to call you out, for certain insults offered me; but, excuse me, I beg. Not but I have learned to fence, with the small sword, very gracefully; but, in the month of June, I cannot endure fighting. I am, indeed, very angry, not because you copied me, that was natural enough, and what I am quite accustomed to; but you did more. You beat me hollow, you cut me out, particularly in your attitudes.
I copy you, sir!! exclaimed Sir Violet, in a passion, and with a voice, at the very height of his powers, I would rather copy a monkey, dressed up at a fair, or Jacko himself.
Now, my very excellent fellow, Sir Violet, don’t be envious! I’ll tell you what. There are not one hundred of these filigree buttons in all France. I had them from Twabba Lam Ching Chong, himself, one of the Emperor of China’s favourite mandarins, who lives at Ram Jam Jung, near the long wall, in Canton. They were brought to Canton, from Pekin, from Nankin, to Nankin, from Cochin, and to Cochin, from…..
I cannot stand this, hastily interrupted Sir Violet, turning on his heels. Pray, Miss Rosabella, said he, having, quickly, joined his fair hostess, is not Mr. Villers, sometimes considered a little…..? and he touched his forehead.
Rosabella declared she really did not know, what to make of Mr. Villers, whom she had invited, to please her sister Clementina, and advised Sir Violet to laugh at him, which was what every lady else did.
Sir Violet had forgiven him, in an instant, and, from his heart, in order to have done with him, that he might be at liberty, to amuse himself more pleasantly. However, Villers, really was very handsome, and Sir Violet, never could pardon a man, for his beauty. He won’t fight, that’s clear, thought Sir Violet, so I need not alarm myself; but, I’ll be even with him, some how or other. An opportunity of making the attempt soon presented itself.
Observing that Villers was endeavouring to fascinate, with his foppery, Mary Callam, who seemed, now, rather to avoid his attempts, as persecutions, he contrived to engage that young lady in conversation. I will not say, that Mary here, did not evince some small degree of coquetry, in her disposition; for Mary was piqued that all the high-flown sentiments, with which Villers had began to plead his love, should have turned out mere mockery, and end in filligree-buttons.
Sir Violet could not have been more unfortunate than he was, in his efforts to annoy Villers, on whom, Mary’s apparent indifference had a very exhilarating effect.
I knew she was a dear, sensible girl, said Villers, addressing Hairbrain. I could have sworn she must despise a coxcomb: how I doat, upon her, for disregarding me, rich, as she knows I am!
Alas! Mary was very far from deserving his praise, as far, at least, as her indifference was concerned.
Villers had, absolutely, bewitched her! In vain, she said to herself, this can be neither more nor less, than a mere heartless, selfish, fop; who will never marry any woman. The thrill of pleasure, which she had experienced, the first time their eyes had met, still vibrated in every nerve, and there was no help for it. It was passion, love, first love! in all its glowing ardour! a passion, which assails us all, sooner or later, once or more, in our lives, as the case may happen to be.
Mary had never read a novel. Her present feelings were the more ardent, from their frankness. Not only, she had not loved before; but she had not even once dreamed about loving. Her warmth of heart had been, widely, diffused, amongst her friends, and favourites, whom she had loved so dearly, that there had been
No void, left aching, in her heart:
for passion to creep in at. She had, it was true, been, often, told, she was handsome; indeed she was, by no means, unaware of this positive, and striking, fact; but, beauty was nothing, so very uncommon, she thought, and, when she first saw Villers, she was as likely to have dreamed of obtaining a particular star, the brightness of which, might have attracted her attention, as any favour, in his eyes.
Viller’s glance, however, so expressive of tender admiration, had not been entirely misunderstood. Ladies are very sharp-sighted to the admiration, they inspire!
Mary had lived on the bright glance, of Viller’s love-able orbs, ever since, and no after-failings could drive him from her memory; although she did wish, from the bottom of her soul, that he had been the manly, unsophisticated being, she had, at first, imagined him; but then, sighed Mary, but then, Villers would have been, too perfect for the world we live in; and then she added, while the idea somewhat consoled her, and then I could not have been blessed, with that sweet, and gracious smile, the remembrance of which makes me so happy: for, would, such a man, have taken notice of me, if it had not been that he was such another silly, gay deceiver, as Sir Violet Sighaway, who smiles on every well-favoured girl he meets, whether milk-maid, or duchess!
Mary was interrupted, in these, her deep, and wise, cogitations, by the dear object of them, in person, who had left her as soon as Sir Violet addressed her: and Sir Violet, also, forsook the poor soap-boiler’s daughter, the moment he had ascertained that his attentions caused trouble to nobody but to himself.
Good night, sweet one! you and I, who are to live and die together, must not part now, nor ever, in anger, said Villers, holding out his finger, towards Mary, affectedly.
Mary had the infatuation to wish, ardently, that she might have once touched his hand; but she possessed just that due proportion of pride, without which, a fine young woman, may be considered as unsexed; and this pride induced her to make a strong effort, to wish her lover, good night, with somewhat of calm, and lady-like dignity, though she avoided touching the hand, which was offered her.
Nonsense, dear Mary! you are too shy by half! I tell you, upon, my honor, I have forgiven you, notwithstanding these filligree-buttons were, certainly, worthy of your attention, being curiously wrought. My valet is gone to Greenwich, to see after another small box of them, which my friend Twabba Lam Ching Chong, the Emperor of China’s favorite mandarin, and who was my particular friend, in Canton, promised to send me. Will you go to India with me, and smoke a real, Persian, filligreed hookah, and hear me call out, like a sultan, hookah burdar, whenever I want it lighted?
Why am I singled out, Mr. Villers, to have my ears assailed, with more nonsense, that you bestow on any other lady in the room? Mary asked this question, with an effort to seem indignant, and yet, strange to say, life almost hung on the question, did he, or did he not, distinguish her from the rest? What would she not have given to be convinced, that the former was the case.
I single you!! just the contrary. I would not have thee single, an hour, sweetest, to waste thy bloom, and that dear glowing beauty, which I would cherish in my own bosom. I doat on all things beautiful, and that is what makes me so anxious to get these butons from Greenwich. Tell me love! are they not beautiful, and of exquisite workmanship?
Mary possessed a very shrewd understanding, beyond, what might have been expected from her youth, and the retired way, in which she had been brought up. There was something outré in this man’s affectations, and his eternal reference to his fillagree-buttons. Part of the truth darted across her mind. Viller’s real motive for disguising his natural manner, beneath such vapid folly, did not, however, for an instant, enter into her mind; and the new-born hope that he was not really so silly, as he affected to be, tinged her cheek with rapture. She was one of the most sanguine, and most natural girls, under heaven. I do not maintain, that she had not, on some very great and particular occasions, wished to assert a falsehood; but truth was natural to her, and nature did so predominate in her disposition, that it was, really, out of her power, to utter a deliberate untruth, even on subjects, where lies are mere, innocent, playful recreation. Mary, being taken, thus suddenly, by surprise, turned her glowing face, towards her lover, and the arch expression of her countenance, rendered her so lovely, that Villers forgot his part, and, forcibly, seizing her hand, imprinted about a hundred, ardent kisses on it, in half a second. Mary could not have withdrawn it, if earth had yawned, and all the witches, in Macbeth, had threatened her to boot, and shaken their birch-brooms, in defiance, over her head. The witchery of Villers’s beauty, would have, completely, out-witched them. In short, poor Mary began to give herself up for a lost wretch, who possessed not the power to suppress impertinence.
If I thought this little, dear hand, which you abandon, thus, without reserve, to my kisses, had never, till now, been pressed by living man, or by man who has lived, said Villers, love and anxiety over-topping every other consideration; if I could only flatter myself that….
Never, so help me Heaven, have I been thus passive, nor will I, answered Mary, in the ardour of youthful enthusiasm…..But, alas! Villers was too deficient in vanity, too ignorant of his own powers of pleasing, to appreciate poor Mary’s warmth, and singleness of heart. She wants my fortune, thought he: and that idea fixed his determination, to subject Mary, to the probationary trial, he had, at first, proposed.
While these reflections were passing, in his mind, Villers was silent, and, during that interval, Mary suffered the most painful, and humiliating sensations, which could be, well, imagined.
You despise me, Mr. Villers, she exclaimed, at last, with an effort, bordering upon desperation, and with the bitter tears starting to her eyes; you despise me for what I have said; but I have not learned, nor can I, and I never shall know how to disguise my feelings. All I can do, is to avoid you hereafter. We will meet then no more, Sir, on earth, if I can help it; and every minor care, I feel, will be swallowed up in this, my fixed resolution: one little boon, therefore, I venture to ask.
They were, now, in a retired corner of the room, and somewhat concealed from general observation. Confess to me, continued Mary, brushing away another burning tear, and speaking in hurried accents, confess, that, this night, you have acted a part, which is foreign to your character, and that you are not….. their eyes met, and Villers’s countenance was expressive of the most anxious tenderness.
Oh! I am sure you are what I thought you, on that evening, when we first met, and I retired, not to rest, but to pray for you, added Mary, with ungovernable feeling, while gazing, with inquisitive eagerness, in her lover’s face. Villers was about to clasp her in his arms; but doubts still assailed him. She shall pass the ordeal, by which I at first intended to try her, said he, to himself; and, now, his obedient countenance changed from that intellectual character, which had just before distinguished it, to such mere prettiness, as is not of the soul, and he looked the veriest, handsome fop, who was born for a pink satin waistcoat, with filligree buttons.
Pray for me, to night, again, beloved one, said he, affectedly: pray for the fruition of all my wishes, and remember that I wish, just now, most of all things, for the return of that rascal of a valet of mine, Ambrose, who is to bring my filligree buttons up from Greenwich!!
Young Peter Callam, at this moment, came running towards his sister, whom he seized, somewhat roughly, by the hand, assuring her that he had been looking for her every where, not expecting to find her in a corner, tête à tête with a gentleman; and adding, that her parents were waiting, at the door, in the carriage, very angry with her.
What, in the name of wonder, did that tawdry young man, in the pink satin waist-coat, say to you this evening child?—enquired Mrs. Callam, as soon as Mary was seated in the carriage.
Mary, much disturbed, assured her mother that Mr. Villers talked a great deal of nonsense, and wanted, she believed, to make a fool of her.
Mr. Callam declared, it served them all right, for mixing with the great, in this sort of way.
Eliza sighed, audibly; and Mrs. Callam scolded her good man, for being, always, too ready to put a spoke in the girls’ wheel, when there was any chance of establishing them, in high life. The whole party, however, were worn out, with fatigue, and, on their arrival, at home, immediately retired to their chambers…….
Eliza could not obtain a wink of sleep; she had read every novel, she could lay her hand on, and had, long been prepared for falling in love! but then the Callams saw no good company, in London, nor ever suffered their daughters to be absent. Le moyen de s’enflammer! However, it was done, and settled, and over, with Miss Eliza now: so she did not attempt to recline her fair head, on her pillow, till she had addressed a long epistle, to her dear, sweet, young friend, Miss Temple, after the style of heroines, in books. The following is a short sketch of it.
Charlotte, beloved friend! I have felt his breath fan my cheek; I have read his soul, which beamed forth, in those heavenly orbs, that were fixed on my face, for more than a second!! I rave! Bear with me, sweet friend!! Yes, I love! wildly! madly! adore! What will become of me? Yet I hope! Charlotte, I presume, and dare to hope, that Villers has not seen me, with indifference, &c.
My readers have, I presume, here, had quite enough of Miss Eliza’s rhapsody, which ran on, over eight pages of large-sized letter-paper, exactly in the same strain.
Young Callam, too, had been troubled by one of the arch, little Cupid’s arrows; but, as for the wound, it turned out to be only a slight scratch. He had found the fair lady, at a certain celebrated gambling house, called, Frescati. Not that Peter had ever been addicted to gambling, but then, said his new acquaintance, George Frolic, Frescati is one of the lions of Paris, and, of course, you come here to see the lions. It is, however, a dullish place, now, compared to what it was eight or ten years ago, when I came over here, with my mother, continued Frolic. At that time, a most magnificent dinner used to be prepared, by that first rate restaurateur, Monsieur Robert, alternately, at Frescati, and the saloon, for about forty people, who used to receive cards of invitation, each, in their turn.
I remember my Lord Charles Bentinck, and that stupid young man, who married the Marquis of Wellesley’s youngest daughter—I forget his name, but fancy it might be something Littleton. Yes, these two young men, being in Paris, together, some years ago, had fixed their mind on dining at Frescati. However, they knew not how to get introduced, and no one was admitted, without the regular introduction of a gentleman, who was well known in the house. Now Lord Charles, had heard that my Lord Ebrington, and my Lord Dudley and Ward, had been both turned out of the said gambling house, and forced to the wrong side of the door, notwithstanding Lord Ebrington’s soft tone, which, by the soothing system, would have prevailed, and Lord Dudley and Ward’s abuse.
This story greatly discouraged my Lord, and Mr. Littleton. At last, they recollected that the famous Harriette Wilson, the memoir-woman, was in Paris, and Lord Charles wrote her a very humble, not to say, pathetic epistle, imploring her to forward a character forthwith; forthwith, being my Lord’s favorite expression.
For the love of Heaven, said my lord, in his letter, do, pray, dear, little, pretty Miss Wilson, forward me, forthwith, a couple of written characters, one for my friend, Mr. Littleton, the other for myself: such as shall obtain us admittance into that highly respectable establishment.
Miss Wilson had, of course, no wish to spoil men’s preferment, in life, and, therefore, addressed a line to the Marquis de Livré, to explain that, during the time, she had been acquainted with the gentlemen, she had no reason to doubt their honesty, having never lost any thing; and that they were sober, too, very frequently, especially of a morning; and did not, therefore, think there would be any risk incurred, by allowing them to sit at the bottom of the table.
I tell you this story, continued Peter Callam’s friend, just to put you up to the gentility of the thing, although they don’t give dinners now. However, you will meet some very elegant-looking ladies there.
What sort of ladies? Peter asked.
Oh! Actresses, and women of a certain fashion, answered his friend.
Peter could no longer hold out.
At Frescati, they found several fair ladies, gaily attired, sitting round an immense rouge et noir table, at which a party of gentlemen were playing.
The apartments were decorated like assembly rooms. George begged Peter to remark the beauty of a jolie brunette, on his left.
A perfect angel! said Peter.
She is an actress, and sings divinely. Shall I present you?
Oh! do, by all means, answered Peter; if she will not think me too presumptuous.
George assured him, that the lady was very good-natured indeed, and immediately named him, to her.
Is she a real actress, then? whispered Peter, in his friend’s ear, astonished at the good reception, he had met with.
Oh! Lord, yes! and she will be delighted to receive you, at her house, I am sure.
Peter’s heart went bump, bump, against his ribs. A real French actress, glad to see me! he mentally exclaimed. Why, where am I? Is this paradise, instead of Paris? I wonder if I shall be able to understand her.
George, having explained, to the fair lady, that young Callam would be happy to pay his respects to her, she handed him a card. Callam retired, to dream of her all night, and, by ten in the morning, behold him, full dressed! He wore, on this grand occasion, a new green coat, tinged with a yellow hue, a lilac silk under-waistcoat, and his cambric, plaited shirt, was fastened with a large green emerald-pin, in the form of a fleur-de-lis; his trowsers white, with a broad pink stripe, and his upper waistcoat, to match. He had, been coaxing his hair, ever since he arrived in Paris, to bring it into the true Parisian cut, par devant; and he could now compass something, like a ringlet, on each temple, which looked very gay, in fine weather, though they cut a rueful figure when the rain had transformed the said ringlets into rats’ tails. The back part of his head was scraped tight to the skin, à la Russe; his well-blacked shoes, which only just covered the tips of his toes, that his open-worked stockings might not be lost to the world, were tied, with a very broad black ribbon; his ring was an antique, and his embroidered pocket handkerchief, strongly, scented with eau de Portugal. Four, gay, French seals, dangled, from his watch-chain, which he wore round his neck.
Thus equipped, Peter Callam knocked at the actress’s door, while the clock was striking eleven, his mind running on the graceful image of every thing which was voluptuous, and lovely, in woman. The porter told him to monter, au quatrième. Having done so, and rung the bell, he was answered by a man, without stockings, who had a brush tied to one of his feet, and the effluvia, which he now inhaled was not, exactly, inspiring.
Madame Droit-pied est chez elle? asked Peter.
Ma foi! Je ne suis que le frotteur de madame, said the man, placing his arm
a-kimbo, and flying about the room, in all sorts of attitudes, in, what Peter thought, a very burlesque manner. Peter took out his card, and followed the gay frotteur, up and down the room, in the faint hope of placing it in his hand; but the man, by twirling, and capering, and harlequinade, always eluded his pursuit.
Peter, now, ventured to ring the bell again.
Ma foi! said the frotteur, dancing away upon the toe, which held a brush, attached to it, while rolling his body about, as though he had been skating over the Serpentine River—Ma foi, Monsieur, Je crois que la bonne de madame s’est allée à la halle.
Mais ou est donc Madame Droit-pied?
Dans sa chambre, answered the frotteur, nodding and dancing.
Peter ventured, in fear and trembling, to open a door, which he observed at the further end of the drawing-room. Let my reader judge of his surprise and fright, at finding himself in a small cabinet or dressing room, tête à tête with Sir Violet Sighaway!!…..
The gay baronet was en chemise, standing before the glass, arranging a broad, rose-coloured ribbon, in becoming bows, about his laced, bordered, night-cap.
Peter firmly believed that he had entered the house of Sir Violet, by mistake; so, muttering some unintelligible apology, he darted out of the room, and was in the street, before Sir Violet had recovered his surprise!
Poor crest-fallen Peter, was so low spirited all the rest of the day, and so sulky, that he shut himself up, with a volume of Shakespeare, and refused to leave his room. However, after a due portion of sleep, Peter’s anger gave way to softer feelings. It was something of a feather, in a man’s cap, thought he, to come in any kind of contact with a baronet; to be a baronet’s rival sounded well; and, to cut him out, better!
I will return to this bewitching creature, at a later hour, to-morrow. At all events, I must not condemn her, till I have convinced myself that it was really, her own, private boudoir, in which I discovered Sir Violet, en chemise.
This time, Peter was more fortunate. A smart, and somewhat rouged femme de chambre handed him into the fair Elvira’s bed-room, which was gaily, and luxuriously, ornamented with immense mirrors, toilets of pink satin, and silver muslin, embroidered muslin draperies, &c.
His illusion would have been more perfect, but for having espied, amidst all this finery, some soiled linen, a pair of slovenly pantoufles, and something else too, was visible, near the bed; but what it was, shall be nameless.
As to the fair Elvira, she was wrapped up, in a faded, yellow, figured satin douillette, or wadded pelisse, though in the midst of the dog-days, and, her hair, en papillottes, as though she were waiting for the coeffeur. She was slip-shod, and, apparently, without garters; and, though her nails were very dirty, she, nevertheless, wore many rings: nay, her very foremost finger was ornamented, with three very large ones. On the sofa, was visible, an embroidered cambric, very dirty, and somewhat snuffy handkerchief, together with a French dog, which had, nearly, destroyed the manuscript, which the fair Elvira was studying, for that evening’s representation.
No matter, Elvira was rather a fine woman, and Peter was a very raw, inexperienced youth. They were tête à tête, and the smiles of the actress were encouraging; but the further transactions of the scene, must be left, wholly, to the imagination of the reader.
Peter, having, now got rid of all reserve, rated his fair mistress, about Sir Violet.
Oh! l’imbécile! said Elvira. Oh! le fat! avec son bonnet de nuit, couleur de rose; voilà deux mois qu’il m’a promis un cachemire…
This was a broad hint, which made Peter serious. Unacquainted with human nature, Peter, from setting down Elvira, for an angel, now believed her to be completely abandoned.
I cannot afford cachemires, said Peter. My father gives me very little money, and I spend it all; but I do not want to go away in your debt, so, I suppose, I must give you this gold chain.
Elvira burst, suddenly, into a flood of tears.
Peter possessed that sort of fair, florid, youthful complexion, which ladies, on the continent, of a certain age, are apt to be very fond of.
Elvira was an actress of some talent; not altogether degraded, or mercenary; a free liver, and possessing a warmer heart, than women of her profession are suspected of, quoi-qu’elle n’était point du tout, bonne catholique. She was capable of acting with much generosity, towards those she liked; and she had greatly admired the blushing, youthful appearance of Peter, when he had been presented to her at Frescati. In short, Elvira had declared, both to her maid, and to her old occasional ami de confiance, Monsieur le Marquis de Casse-Noisette, qu’elle avoit un caprice pour le petit Anglais. The chief ingredient of the said caprice, was passion; but, Elvira would have rather walked a mile, to serve young Peter Callam, than have taken his gold chain from him; and, when her intentions were so coarsely misinterpreted, she, really, thought it heart-breaking: but youth is fickle! I wonder that any woman, can love a boy! Peter would have parted with chain, watch, and pocket money. Nay, who knows how far passion might have led him, had Elvira, only, preserved that haughty character, which, always, has, so imposing an effect, on raw youth; but she was too fond.
However, Peter was not, quite, tired of her, yet, and things went on, with tolerable smoothness, for a week or two, during which period, scarcely a day passed, that they did not see each other. Peter, now commenced a succession of complaints: the distance, fagged him; the extreme heat of the weather oppressed him, beyond measure: nay, more, he began to spout Shakespeare, in the morning, when he ought to have been attending to other matters.
Vainly did poor Elvira exert herself, for his amusement. A whole week had, now, elapsed, and she had not received, a single visit from him. At the end of that period, she really, was, as she fancied herself, violently in love. She wrote, to inform him, that she was, vraiment blessée.
No answer! Her second letter, par la petite poste, came to say, that she was indignée, her third, désesperée, her fourth, déchirée, her fifth, inconsolable: but her sixth, for she wrote exactly half a dozen, was in quite another style. In that, she requested him to make good his former offer, of the gold chain, he wore, round his neck, on pain of being shown up to his papa.
My readers shall now be favoured, with a specimen of Mr. Peter Callam’s, epistolary acquirements.
From Peter Callam, to his friend, and school-fellow, Joseph Kennedy.
Paris, June, 20th 1825.
My dear Joe,
In answer to your communication of the 7th inst. as to my taking the part of Romeo, on the 20th of August next, pray tell the manager of our little, private company, Mr. Puff-enough, that I must decline, for two very substantial reasons. In the first place, I am not sure of arriving in time; in the second, I am determined, that nasty, carroty, Miss White, shall not fondle and pull me about, as she did young Sparks, all the last time, I saw her play Juliet. There is nothing, on earth, I hate, so much, as the idea of being fondled, and made too much of. Even in a play, it would make me sick, with such a Juliet, and, I have had too much of it, here, in Paris. French women are very striking, and fascinating, till one knows them; and they walk well, and make the most of their persons, and turn out their toes; but, one soon gets tired of them, and there is a great sameness about the shape of their bonnets, and, in fact, their tout ensemble. The men and women, live so much together, that, neither mystery, nor illusion, are left, after one has heard them discuss their mals au ventres, and praise certain medicinal remedies: and certain leaden conveniences, are stuck up in every window, without the slightest reserve….. When the ladies are not full dressed, they wear dirty, silk douillettes, instead of our country women’s nice, white, muslin gowns; and the very height of female delicacy, is spitting to pocket-handkerchiefs. Altogether, they won’t do for us English, not but what many of them, are possessed of most amiable, obliging characters; but I look on them as mere children, and could never make a friend of any French woman, I ever saw yet.
I have but little news to relate. Our friend Mr. Fox, is here, looking just as good natured and unmeaning, as usual, and rather cleaner, if possible. Whenever he turns out, he puts me in mind of a man, who had not only been just washed, but, absolutely, mangled too; he is all over, so very glossy. In short, one would really think, that himself, and his shirt, his neck-cloth, waistcoat, and trowsers, were all one piece, and just brought home by the laundress or blanchisseuse, as she is called here.
Papa, spends much of his time at Versailles. Our cousins, the formidable Brawneys, are arrived. I have met them at two parties: the first one, given a month ago, when I mentioned to my friend, George Frolic, with whom I was conversing, that the lady in the turban, who so unconsciously stared, avec des grands yeux, was very much like my illustrious and most excellent relative Mrs. Brawney Be-at-them of—celebrity.
Hush! said another gentleman, a friend of mine, whispering in my ear, It is herself! she arrived two days ago! London was dull. The Brawney’s couldn’t get into any tip-top society there; so they voted it stupid, not half such a place as Paris, and a decided bore. Posters were ordered, and over they came, in the same, old, hearse-looking carriage, which has been rattled, backwards and forwards, for this last half century.
But, why are you so severe? I remarked.
Oh! answered my friend; I once knew them. All that time I had a large pair of mustachios. Times changed. I cut off my mustachios, and they cut my acquaintance! With this, he went off, and talked to other people.
Mrs. Be-at-them, and myself spoke not, though, I observed, she looked very hard at me, and asked the hostess of the house, as she has since told me, who I was? Nevertheless, we did not exchange a word. O’Fly-a-way was not there. He is a very humble servant of hers, au moins, c’est ce qu’on dit, and a French kind of an Irishman. Mr. O’Fly-a-way, was a little given to scandal-talking, and over-talked himself one day, about Miss Brawney. Over-talking, I don’t think more pardonable, than over eating, which is disgusting enough. The consequence was, that the lady of the house, where I spent a very pleasant evening, having daughters of her own, was not, at all, sure, that the same Mr. O’Fly-a-way, might not over-talk himself, also, about them, and she has, therefore, forbidden him her doors. Ainsi, vous voyez, mon ami, qu’on a bien tort de parler trop. Mrs. Be-at-them retired shortly after supper.
The next day, really, more, from good heart, than any particular desire to make acquaintance, with the turbanned, fiery-looking Meg Merrilies, I wrote her, a most polite, and, gentlemanlike note. I showed it to many of my friends, and some of hers. It was, universally approved. Her answer was very short, and contained these words, Mrs. Be-at-them’s compliments, and must decline the acquaintance proposed.
Last Wednesday night, I met her, for the second time, at a very rich West Indian’s. I went there late. A general buz went through the room. These grooms, of the Brawney’s, have brought so many mustachio’d beaus, that there is no moving, and, in truth, it was very crowded: how select I know not. I like crowded rooms. I believe, the Brawneys are much ridiculed here, although, for my own part, I like one of them, without having spoken to her. Not that I think her beautiful, or a figure to please me, being too scraggy; but she looks good-natured, and as if she wished to be friends. The other, I don’t know when I see her. I am told, that one is not allowed to sit down, except when dressed in black, nor the other, to stand up, at any party: and the reason, assigned, is, fear of creasing the dress of the one, and that the other is so overpoweringly tall, and gigantic, that it is, absolutely, quite shocking, to see her stand, in the middle of an assembly of ladies and gentlemen. She makes the assembly look like the house, and she resembles its chimney. Notwithstanding the Brawneys, their mustachios, and their beaus, the party went off well. One match was made, but not with a Brawney! Quel malheur pour eux! But Paris is a scandalous place, my dear Joe: people make a regular trade of it. It is a commodity; and scandal clings closer to none, than to the heels of these herculean damsels. Report says, they dine at cafés, tête-à-tête, with the gardes-du-corps, and that a moustache, well blacked, and curled, is an irresistible passport to their Sunday evening converzaziones, where reign scandal, ecarté, black strap, and mustachios. Enough of these heroines of the chapeau bergère.
I must now take a hasty leave of you; because my sisters have, two of them, got the spleen, or bile, or something or other; but the French doctors call it the migraine. Indeed, they call every thing so, and cure all their disorders with a glass of cold water, sweetened with sugar.
However, this may be, my sisters are both unwell, et il faut réfraichir le sang, as the doctors all agree.
Mais comment donc?
Ma foi, avec des sang-suës, et de l’eau sucré, sans doute.
As to Eliza, she has, I do believe, fallen in love, with a dandy, of first-rate folly: one Mr. Villers, who laughs at her; but, poor dear Mary is too good, and too amiable to be laughed at, and I hope, and believe, she has too much sense to love, without return, or wear a willow.
Farewell Joseph. I wish you would come to Paris, direct to this hotel, not to the post-office, it’s so far off. For my part, the first time I mounted up to the Rue Jean Jacques Rousseau, to put a letter into the post; every clerk passed me on, to the next, for more than a quarter of an hour, and the last one told me it had struck five, et que c’était impossible. One more adieu, and believe me,
Very sincerely, your friend,
Hotel de l’Europe,
To return to Mary: she had slept ill, after Rosabella’s party. In vain, did she call reason to her aid. She could not subdue her passion for Villers! First love is all powerful, when it happens to be real, and from the heart of a young lady, who has never been a novel-reader. However, she determined to be prudent. She might die of grief, and disappointment; but she resolved never to cause a pang in the breast of her parents. Eliza’s situation, too, gave her sister much uneasiness. Indeed, dear Eliza, she would say to her, indeed, Villers has no regard for you.
You are jealous of me, Mary, would Eliza answer.
No, indeed, I am not; but I should be, if I did not see there was no cause, was Mary’s frank, but shrewd remark; adding, that she would, herself, be, always, denied to Mr. Villers. She thus left the field open to her sister; only imploring her, to listen to the warning advice of her most sincere friend, when she, again, assured her she, was encouraging a passion, for one, whose heart had never yet been warmed towards her.
Things went on much in the same way, for a week or two. Villers called frequently on the Callams, and was beginning to lose his patience, at finding that Mary, invariably, retired to her room, the moment, he entered the house. Mary’s parents greatly approved of her prudence, for certain reasons, which I will now relate.
A rich widow, one Mrs. Beaumont, had arrived in Paris, on the morning before Rosabella’s party. The said Mrs. Beaumont’s lovely daughter, Caroline, had been a school-fellow of Mary Callam, and loved her dearly, for her most amiable character.
I must, indeed, mamma, I must visit my dear Mary Callam, when I get to Paris, said Caroline, to her parent, just as they arrived at Calais.
With all my heart, answered Mrs. Beaumont. I do not go to Paris, to be straight-laced, I assure you. One has quite enough of that in London. Mary is a fine girl, and, between ourselves, I wish, earnestly, that your brother, Samuel, would fall in love with her.
Now, this said hopeful Samuel, Mrs. Beaumont’s son, and her late husband’s heir, was a rigid methodist, having had a call when he least expected it. Samuel was such a formal piece of goods, and he wore his hair so straight, and parson-like, and his coats were so slovenly, and ill-made, that Mrs. Beaumont saw no hope, nor chance, of his being accepted by a woman of fashion; and, of all things in the world, Mrs. Beaumont, who was a gay, luxurious, handsome, buxom, widow, delighted in her liberty. The poor, dear, Mr. Beaumont had now been dead upwards of a twelve-month, and why should she be restrained, by a lath of a son, who was in the habit of turning up his eyes, like a divine, and looking like nothing human, if a word slipt from her, which was ever so little awry. Still she had no excuse for turning him out of her house, while he continued single; so she lived in hopes that the flesh might soon move him to matrimony. With this object in view, Mrs. Beaumont, and her daughter, made the Callams a very early visit, when they found Miss Mary so improved, in grace, and in beauty, that Mrs. Beaumont really conceived Samuel could not behold her with indifference. Unfortunately, a certain young woman, called Hannah Pure, who had accompanied Mrs. Beaumont to Paris, in the capacity of a waiting woman, had somewhat touched the fancy, or the heart of Mr. Samuel: not by mere accident, but intentionally.
Hannah Pure had been in the service of his mother, when his father was alive. She was, then, a merry, bold girl: artful, by nature, she had, on the death of Mr. Beaumont, formed a plan to lay siege to the heart of her young master, who was too closely wrapped up, in his methodistical principles, to be turned from his devotion. She, therefore, affected to be ever most anxious for pious instruction, listening to Samuel’s prosing discourses, with an appearance of deep interest. This had called forth the praise, and admiration of her young master, and the fair Hannah, though turned of forty, still lived, in hopes, although Samuel had never professed to feel more regard for her, than we are taught to encourage towards all our beloved brethren. But my readers will judge better of the footing, on which Samuel lived, with Hannah Pure, if I make them parties to the interview, which took place, between them, on Samuel’s return, from making his first visit to the Callams.
Samuel left his mother and sister, with the Callams, when the clock struck ten, that being his hour of returning to prayers and rest, and proceeded homeward on foot. When he entered his dressing-room, Miss Hannah Pure followed him.
Mr. Samuel, said the nymph, in a tone of great respect, Mr. Samuel, the rain hath fallen heavily, shall I fetch you a nice cordial? For the sake of the righteous, added she, turning up the whites of her eyes, my excellent young master, do not trifle with your precious health!
Thou art a kind soul, Hannah, answered Samuel; but, hast thou read, and inwardly digested the volume, I gave thee, last week?
Oh! Mr. Samuel, I read it over and over again, with fresh rapture. But the cordial?—
I will take nothing, said Samuel, and Hannah, with an humble courtesy, was leaving the room.
Come hither, Hannah, said Samuel, and, with grave dignity, beckoned her towards him. Come hither, young woman! I believe thou lovest me, with such purity of spirit, as defieth the evil one; and, therefore, may we venture———
Samuel paused, and looked cautiously round the room. The good cheer, with which he had been entertained, by the Callams, had somewhat slackened his morals, or rather worked them up to such a degree of enthusiasm, as partook more of the flesh, than of the spirit; and, therefore, repeated Samuel, after having ascertained that they were unobserved, and, therefore, may we now venture?—Nay, pin thy kerchief closer, woman! May we, I say, now, venture on a chaste salute?
Most true! sighed the fair Hannah, and their lips were joined with such ardour, as their pious creed did not, in the least, diminish.
At this moment, Mrs. Beaumont, most mal à propos, entered the room, and Samuel darted out of it, by an opposite door, with his face as red as scarlet.
Bless us! said Mrs. Beaumont. Dear me, ma’am, I am truly sorry to have arrived so very inconveniently, just as the spirit was moving you both; though I cannot but admire your holy zeal!!
Madam, said Hannah, in confusion, Madam, you surely do not mean to insinuate that¾¾¾
Nay, spare me your excuses, Hannah, interrupted Mrs. Beaumont; I take it, for granted, you are innocent, and that there was nothing wrong.
The fact is, the fair widow was delighted with this discovery, for she wanted a confidante, of that respectable and pious exterior, which would best cloak any little slip, from virtue, since Paris, being, as Callam always declared, such a wicked city, there was no saying what might befal, a poor, weak, unprotected widow, there.
What do you think of Miss Mary Callam? enquired Mrs. Beaumont, of her son, the next morning, as they sat at breakfast; being now, more anxious than ever, to see her son established decently, lest he might make a more degrading choice.
Truly, Miss Mary’s beauty is, of the first order, answered Samuel: and his mother, to make short of the business, threw herself on her son’s neck, expressing her delight that her choice, for him, had met with his approbation. She was sure, no young man could fail to be perfectly happy, with a wife of such an amiable disposition, as Mary Callam.
Nay! but I have not yet thought of the girl, as my wife, said Samuel, wavering: although added he, as the recollection of her budding charms, fired his blood, although my first duty, of course, is obedience, to my kind parent, and, truly, since the damsel is so amiable, in disposition, I am ready.
Another embrace, from mamma, closed the bargain; and Samuel promised to woo Miss Mary Callam, in form, on the first opportunity, notwithstanding he felt, not quite certain, that he was altogether pleased with the arrangement. Mrs. Beaumont hastened to call upon Mrs. Callam, early the next morning.
Lork! Mrs. Beaumont, said the warmhearted woman to her, how kind and good you are! Pray God, all your condescension, and notice of me, may not make me grow proud, and forget my former station in life.
No fear of that, Mrs. Callam. Indeed I must scold you for being too humble, by half. Who cares for pedigree now-a-days! unless in horses? Your husband is rich, and your daughters are beautiful; what more can you desire? I have something to communicate to you, my good friend, which, I hope, will not be thought disagreeable news.
Mrs. Callam was all attention!
Do you know, that your charming daughter, Mary, has made a conquest of a very rich, and excellent young man, who is ready to throw himself, and his fortune, at her feet to morrow?
Oh! Mrs. Beaumont, to whom can you allude? exclaimed Mrs. Callam, jumping up, and seizing hold of the kind lady’s hand, which she pressed to her lips, in a fit of gratitude.
No less a personage, than my own first born, who is, heir to all his father’s property. Nay, I am quite serious continued Mrs. Beaumont, observing that her friend looked incredulous. I never was more in earnest, in my life; so tell me if you think Mary will consent?
Consent! Why what, in the world, can she possibly object to? Is he not young, rich, religious, honorable?
True, true; but young ladies, you know, my dear madam, are very romantic and fanciful; and Samuel is rather serious you know, and does not dress quite so fashionably as might please their wishes.
Pooh! Pooh! retorted Mrs. Callam, my daughters have not been brought up, or encouraged, in these follies. Be assured, Mary will be proud to make Mr. Samuel an obedient, and most excellent wife.
Things being, so far, agreed on, the ladies parted, as soon as Mrs. Callam, had promised to prepare her daughter, for her tête-à tête, with Mr. Samuel, and which was to be brought about, as if, by mere accident, at the first opportunity.
I must now tell my readers, something of Mrs. Beaumont’s fair daughter. Caroline was the affianced wife of her wild cousin, Harry Hairbrain, with whom my readers, have already formed a slight acquaintance.
She was a beautiful, lively girl, and adored her cousin, whose hand, her father had, on his death-bed, placed in hers: but, Hairbrain was a rake, whose conduct was a constant source of uneasiness to her, and, though her pride induced her to conceal her wounded feelings, from her lover, yet she, often, when he imagined her to be calmly sleeping, had wetted her pillow, with bitter tears.
Her cousin’s visit to Paris, had both piqued and offended her. True, they were not to be married for another whole twelvemonth, and she had no right, to prevent his seeing the world. She was, however, overjoyed when, unsolicited by herself, her mother, one morning, surprised her, with the agreeable news, of her having determined on a trip to Paris, pour se distraire, after the heavy, domestic calamity, which had made her so nervous.
Hairbrain, the very instant of her arrival, flew to his affianced, on the wings of love; for he loved her better than any thing on earth besides; but, as to constancy, for a whole year before marriage, c’etait trop démander: it was utterly out of the question.
He was a young man, of what my Lord Frederick Bentrick would term, such loose morals, that he never, once, imagined the thing to be practicable, nor, indeed, physically possible. He had, therefore, faute de mieux, passed a few idle hours, with Sir Violet Sighaway’s sister, in the humane intention of consoling her, for the neglect of that cruel world, who had cut her, and left her to pine, as Mrs. Nesbitt’s neighbour, at Versailles. I do not mean that the former, like the latter, was in the habit of making outré exhibitions of her fundamental wrongs, to females. Of that, I entirely acquit her, as being a woman of, infinitely, too good taste; but, enough, on this subject, for the present.
The proposed tête-à-tête, which was to give Samuel Beaumont an opportunity of declaring his passion, was accomplished, on the very morning, after Mrs. Beaumont had broached the subject, to Mrs. Callam. Ladies are so clever in there manœuvers!
Mary Callam had listened, to her mother’s proposal, on behalf of Samuel, with dismay: but, she was not a heroine, of high flown ideas. She did not entirely understand the holy scriptures either; but, the duties of a daughter, which she felt herself bound to fulfil, towards affectionate, tender parents, were straight forward, and clear as noon-day. She determined to listen to Samuel’s suit, and, if she saw a possibility of complying with their wishes, without the total sacrifice of every future comfort to herself, to do so. At all events, she was resolved to avoid, all further intercourse with Mr. Villers, for the sake of her sister, who, certainly, had worked herself up, into a violent love-fit towards him, and, also, from motives of proper effeminate pride. She would not, subject herself, to such insulting, careless, and indifference, as her imprudence, in acknowledging her regard for him, had drawn upon her, and something of the mere woman made her, almost, wish it were possible to bring herself to consent, to an immediate marriage, with Mr. Samuel, in order to prove, to that impertinent Mr. Villers, that she could survive his indifference, and repay it, in his own coin.
Villers was, all this time, enragé! dechiré! désesperé! like Peter Callam’s lady. One day, he determined to cut this little, low-bred, impertinent minx…. and the next beheld him, in a new suit, of folly’s own choosing, the earliest visitor at Mrs. Callam’s house.
Why don’t you propose to her? his friend Hairbrain would ask. But Villers’s pride here, interfered.
What have I to do with proposing myself to these soap-boilers, who are ready to shut their doors in my face, and deny me the society of their daughters? said Villers.
Why then don’t you appear, in your natural, unaffected character? returned Hairbrain.
Viller’s mind was so disturbed, that he knew not, what to determine on. After due reflection he resolved to obtain a private interview with Mary.
I forget, that I am, all this while, keeping my readers, in suspense, though they are, no doubt, anxious to hear Mr. Samuel’s declaration of love. Mrs. Beaumont invited Mrs. Callam out of the room, on some trifling pretence, after whispering to her son that, if he missed such a glorious, and golden, opportunity, she would never forgive him.
Poor Mary, guessing what was to come, and, having thrown a glance, on the formal object, who was about to make his declaration, in form, felt all her courage evaporate, as she could not, for the soul of her, avoid making, in her own mind, comparisons, which were so unfavourable to Samuel. To conceal her confusion, Mary took a purse, from her work-box, and began to net.
Why are you not seated, Mr. Samuel, said Mary, raising her eyes, for an instant, towards him.
Thank you, Miss, answered Samuel, drawing his chair on a line with Mary’s, though, at a most respectful distance.
A long pause, now ensued, and Mary, during that interval, employed herself on her purse. At last, Samuel coughed—and he coughed again, and louder, and, as if with a sudden jerk, he ventured to draw his chair a little nearer to Mary’s, and then—he blew his nose!
How eloquent, thought Mary to herself! Ultimately, after various other minor preparations, he ventured on a soliloquy.
If, and he coughed again, if she would but look at me, said he, in a half whisper, to himself, and then his cough re-commenced.
Mary, at this moment, ventured to fix her large full eyes, inquisitively, on his face, from very impatience of her present, most uncomfortable situation.
Samuel, involuntarily started back, chair and all, for a pace or two. What a bright eye she has! thought he, drawing in his breath, and, at length, wheeling forward, once more, with a desperate effort, he addressed Miss Mary.
Pray–hem!–pray, Miss Mary, said he, pray–don’t you–he paused and stammered. Don’t–don’t you. I––
Mary again fixed her bright eyes, on his face, with an expression of anxious surprise, which reeled him back, to the point he had moved from, while he continued his lame remark, don’t you think the days lengthen, most perceptibly, Miss?
This is rather a common occurrence, at this season of the year, answered Mary, trying to suppress a laugh.
Samuel jumped on his feet, and, wiping the perspiration from his face, took a few hasty strides about the room.
Oh! I shall faint, before I can get to the point, in this manner, he mentally ejaculated. It requires wonderful courage, and must be done at once: and he darted again, towards Mary, whom he addressed in agitated, and hurried accents:–
Pray Miss, pray Miss Mary, how do you feel yourself inclined towards the holy estate of matrimony? Thank God, it is out, at last, thought Samuel, breathing a heavy sigh.
Mr. Samuel, answered Mary, greatly confused, although nearly bursting into a laugh, Mr. Samuel, the question is really so abrupt, and unexpected, that I do not know how–
Come, thought Samuel, gathering confidence, from Mary’s loss of it, come, I am better now it is out.
May I venture to surmise, said he, rallying fast, and addressing Mary, loveliest of woman kind, from those bow-peep blushes, on thy fair cheeks, that thou preferest the righteousness of my inward man, to the gaudy butterflies, which surround thee? I do not venture to allude to Mr. Villers, in particular, though mine eye hath not dwelled on a butterfly of such varied colours. Nay, do not blush maiden, for thy modesty forbids thee, and I would ask thee upon what part of the holy ceremony is a maiden’s mind running, when she blushes? Is it not the pious joining of hands thus? At this moment, Samuel fell on his knees, and was in the act of pressing Mary’s hand to his lips, when, in bounced his sister Caroline, accompanied by his cousin, Harry Hairbrain, and his friend Mr. Villers.
Oh! your most obedient, Samuel, said Caroline, laughing. I had no idea you would cut such a good figure, at the feet of a lady.
Samuel, in great confusion, instantly took his leave, saying, that he had much business on his hands, and must leave Paris, for Versailles, in the evening; but that he would, notwithstanding, wait upon Mrs. Callam, the following day.
His mother now entered the room, to insist on his dining with her, the succeeding Wednesday.
Recollect Sam, I have a large dinner-party, and, in the evening, I see masks.
Samuel turned up his eyes, and shook his head, at the word masks; but promised to be punctual, at her dinner-hour on Wednesday.
Caroline, who declared she must, and would have some private chat with her old friend, and school-fellow, insisted on accompanying her to her dressing-room, where Mary listened, with infinite patience, to all the complaints, Caroline made, against her affianced husband.
I cannot endure it, said Caroline. My friends will, no longer, permit me to submit to Hairbrain’s neglect of me. It is publicly known, that he is the lover of that nasty, impudent, ugly, sister of Sir Violet, and I am determined to send him his congé. I shall do it in the coolest, most indifferent manner possible. I shall not make any sort of complaint; but merely state that I am no longer in the humour to become his wife. Yes! that will be quite enough for Hairbrain. In short, I hate him, absolutely despise him. Caroline thus worked herself up into invectives, which, at last, exhausted her; and she changed the subject, and rated her friend, for having confessed to her, in confidence, that she was in love with Mr. Villers.
How can you be so ridiculous, as to work up your imagination thus, for a pink waistcoat, and filligree buttons?
Mary shook her head, as she wiped the bitter tear from her eye. What must he have thought, finding that formal brother of your’s, on his knees, before me, Caroline? asked Mary. I have a favour to beg of you, and implore you not to refuse my most earnest request.
Out with it, said Caroline.
Do my love, for heaven’s sake, contrive to disgust your brother from marrying me, and I shall be, eternally, under obligations to you. Indeed, I am not the person to render him happy.
Well, my dear, retorted Caroline, suppose you tell Samuel so, at once: and pray don’t have the vanity to imagine he will drop down dead on the spot. He thinks you a charming creature, of course; but, do not be in a passion. Entre nous, it is a hard race between you, and our sanctified Hannah Pure, who is, you know, my good mamma’s waiting woman.
My dear Caroline, you mistake the difficulty. I am not afraid of breaking your brother’s heart; but my refusal would pain and irritate my dear mother, who firmly believes, my union, with Mr. Samuel, would insure my future happiness. Let him but renounce me, and my parents will submit to what is irremediable.
Well, my dear, I will do my best, having little fear that my brother’s large fortune will, soon, procure him a partner, provided he does not, in the mean time, elope with our sanctified Hannah, who has conceived a spiritual passion for him!
Rather late in the day, I think, said Mary, for, surely, your mamma’s woman must be on the wrong side of forty.
No such thing, my dear. She was born again, the other day, and has become one of the f-a-i-t-h-f-u-l.
The friends, now, retired to the drawing-room, where they found Hairbrain and Mrs. Beaumont; but Villers had taken his departure. Mrs. Beaumont, having, already, with her usual sharp-sightedness, discovered that Mary was much more inclined for Mr. Villers, than for her son Samuel, resolved to bend her mind, like a young twig, to her own wishes; for which purpose, she invited Clementina to pass a fortnight at her house, asking Mary Callam, also, to make one of the party, in the Champs Elysées. Clementina, having fallen out, regularly, at least, six times a day, with her sister Rosabella, which is generally the case with rival charmers, was delighted with the idea of leaving her home, for the elegant mansion of Mrs. Beaumont; and Mrs. Callam, thought her beloved Mary could not be under safer protection, than that of her future husband’s mamma!
Gustave, said Villers to his valet, as soon as he entered his dressing-room, on his return, from the Callam’s; Gustave, connoissez-vous la femme de chambre de Madame Beaumont, dans les Champs Elysées?
Du tout, Monsieur, answered Gustave, with a low bow.
Gustave was an independent, clever, active, young rogue, qui se tenoit beaucoup à sa toilette. Monsieur, said he, to Villers, on being asked why he left his former service, when he presented himself to supply the place of Mr. Ambrose, the English valet, who had just given Villers notice to quit, à cause des puces et punaises, which certainly abound in Paris—
Monsieur, je quitte mon maitre parcequ’il ne m’habille pas assez bien. Je tiens toujours à paroitre avec du beau linge, bien propre. Au reste, Monsieur prendra des informations.
Gustave’s master assured Villers that Gustave was très habile garcon, qui ne manquoit pas d’esprit.
Then, said Villers, I am sure it will be an agreeable exchange to me, after having been bored with Ambrose’s matter of fact-way, of finding fault with every nation but his own. Gustave etait arreté sur le champ.
Vous ne connoissez pas, donc, cette femme de chambre de Madame Beaumont? repeated Villers.
Non, Monsieur: mais cependant, Monsieur, continued Gustave, observing his master’s agitated and perplexed countenance, cependant, cela pourroit se faire, facilement, en cas que––
Mais vous parlez si mal Anglois, retorted Villers.
Oh! c’est égal, Monsieur, il y a des gestes, très expressives, qui, joint au peu que je sais, suffra pour tout ce que vous voudriez.
In a few words, Villers proceeded to inform his servant, that he desired to be, minutely, informed of the movements of Mary Callam, so as to accomplish a tête-à-tête with her, and he saw no better plan, than bribing the waiting woman of Mrs. Beaumont, to inform them when the young lady walked, or drove out, what were the family hours, who they visited, &c.
Ou trouverai-je Mademoiselle, la femme de chambre, Monsieur? Gustave asked.
Est-ce que je sais moi? exclaimed Villers.
Bien, bien, Monsieur, ça suffit, c’est une affaire fini. J’y vais de suite.
Caroline had returned home, in somewhat better spirits; for she could not, while in Hairbrain’s society, doubt that she was beloved, in spite of all the stories, which had come to her ears. She found her brother Samuel alone, in the salle à manger, reading a sermon! and she determined to seize this opportunity of complying with her friend’s request, by endeavouring to disgust him with the idea of taking Mary Callam to wife.
Samuel, said Caroline, I have just heard all about your success with Mary Callam, who confesses she has made her mind up to have you. She declared, however, that there was no denying, even to your sister, that you are, unquestionably, a great quiz. She is, nevertheless, determined to change both your inward and your outward man. In the first place, she has, already, spoken to Mr. Villers’s tailor, and has ordered him to take your measure for a new suit to be married in; the fellow suit to Mr. Villers’s evening-costume. Caroline was here interrupted by a heavy groan, from her brother. She continued, You are to renew the order of dandies, which has fallen into disrepute.
You are to be padded, à la Violet Sighaway.
You are to wear stays, man!
Good Lord defend us! sighed out poor Samuel.
You are to have a French valet, who is to put your hair in papillottes!
You are to take lessons, every morning of your life, of Madame Point du Pied, until you are perfect in the new quadrilles.
You must waltz too!
This cannot be! said Samuel, with great solemnity.
Oh! but it must be, returned Caroline. You ought to feel proud, and honoured, that a lady, of her beauty, will be at the trouble of brushing you up, and spending your fortune. I long to see what sort of a dandy you will make. Mary Callam means you to become a member of the Whip-Club, as soon as you return to England!
I’ll not marry her, said Samuel, with steady firmness; at the same time, thrusting his hands into his waistcoat pocket, and placing himself in an attitude of defiance.
What do you mean? You are only joking now. You are to have an opera-box too!
Nay, then my conscience will not permit me to marry her.
You are to drive Mary about Hyde Park, every Sunday, in a dashing curricle, with cocks à la Romeo Coates, and built on the new principle.
Verily, shall I be d–––d, if I marry her!
Oh! fie! for shame! said Caroline, stifling a laugh. The fact is, I thought it best to acquaint you with these things, feeling convinced, that you were not calculated to make each other happy; but mind, you must not betray me. Act with firmness, my dear brother. You are rich, and of age. Wait till after our masquerade, on wednesday, and, then, tell, our mother, boldly, that the match was never of your seeking, and that you must, and will decline having a wife, forced on you; I likewise, will do my best to coax her out of this mania.
Do so, Caroline, answered Samuel; for thou hast more influence than I. Try to convince her, that it was all nothing but vanity, and vexation of spirit, and that, in fact, I could not, exactly, learn the quadrilles, if I would.
I will do my best she replied; but remember! It is now, almost, time we were dressed for dinner.
I am going, said Samuel: but, turning back, remember I will not marry the girl.
Never fear rejoined Caroline, as she went into her dressing-room.
Poor Clementina Callam’s too susceptible heart was, all this while, nearly broken, by the provoking inattention of Mr. Walkup, who, had wheeled about to the Brussels heroine, the moment that the Clementina-bank had stopped payment.
He had, however, here, made a very great miscalculation; for the Brussels lady was playing, or trying to play, the same game, with a rich Armenian, whom she wished to force to love her, whether he would or no. In vain, did she sigh, and bemoan his absence; for the Armenian thought as much about her, as the Pope: so this game was never played out with him. I am, credibly, informed, that it was a very different, and a much more degrading traffic, this lady carried on, in Brussels, and, about which, I will, one day, inform my readers, when I have more time to spend upon such a disgusting subject. Mais comme disoit mon ami l’editeur, elle est une femme terrible, menteuse, et très méchante. Elle se broule avec tout son monde. Personne n’y va plus, et elle se grise toutes les soirées, seule, et, pour se dedommager de ce bel Armenien, elle reçoit un brave Russe.
Rosabella would often rate her sister, for her folly, in advancing to Mr. Walkup, such large sums. Harsh words would ensue, and sisters, in the heat of consanguinity, often forget what is due to decorum. Clementina actually accused her sister of being in love with Monsieur Julien, her chasseur! This was beyond the patience of the most pacific maiden breathing; so Rosabella called her maiden-sister, a ——: but, there are two reasons why, I may not soil my virgin-white paper, with Rosabella’s appellation. In the first place, it was a very shocking one; in the second, there exists such a laudable scarcity of the letter double u, in the French printer’s office, that I have been waited on, and earnestly requested, by the printer, to be as economical of them, as possible.
However, Clementina was, as she declared herself, quite in heaven, chez Madame Beaumont, where she was permitted, to follow the dictates of her innocent mind, unobtruded on, by such coarse and disagreeable remarks; for Mrs. Beaumont, was too much a woman of the world, not to treat her with infinite politeness.
Clementina repaid her civility, by flattery, and the most persevering attentions.
Any news, my dear Mrs. Beaumont? Clementina enquired one morning, after giving her friend, due time to peruse a long, English letter, which had just been handed to her, by the post.
It is from my old friend Mrs. Pemberton, and written in that lady’s usual, worldly style, answered Mrs. Beaumont, handing Clementina, the following epistle.
From Mrs. Pemberton of Fitzroy Square, to her friend, Mrs. Beaumont.
My dear friend Mrs. Beaumont,
By this time, you are, I trust, safely arrived, and comfortably settled, in the gay, and beautiful city of Paris! How I envy you! a Mr. Villers, who is now in Paris, was presented to us, a short time ago, when we attended Epsom races. Do you meet him? If so, tell me what you think of him, as a speculation for one of my daughters. I have heard various reports about him, that he is rich, poor, secretly married, mad, &c.; but, all the ladies agree that he is superlatively beautiful, and very fascinating. For my part, I protest, I don’t know what the word means. It is so disgusting, and absurd, as applied to a man. Indeed, I was much puzzled as to the degree of encouragement, I ought, as a prudent mother, to have given him. If I mistake not, my daughter Clara loves him.
I always dreaded the softness of Clara’s disposition, though I am constantly telling her how impossible it will be, for me, to get her comfortably, and brilliantly established, unless she preserves her indifference.
Mary is tolerably obedient; but she is idle, and neglects her dancing. Indeed, my dear Mrs. Beaumont, a mother, who labours to keep up appearances, with so small a fortune, in order to secure the future welfare of her family, has an arduous duty to perform, and it is truly heart-breaking, when wilful, young girls, insist upon being blind to their own interest.
If this Mr. Villers is worth securing, it would be abominably provoking to let him slip through our fingers, and Lord Northern believes him to be a man of immense fortune. Advise me, my friend. Shall we follow him to Paris? He certainly admired my daughter Clara, greatly.
I beg you to present my kind compliments to the Cleavers! How well that girl married, and all, by her own, prudent management. I inclose you the pattern of the collar, for Caroline. As to fashions, I see nothing new, that I recollect, in this moment of hurry. We are at home, to night, and Jackson can do nothing, without my superintendence. No taste whatever, in the arrangement of ice and jelly, &c., and one is afraid to change one’s servants. Jackson dresses fashionably too, which is a great point.
Mustachios are come in, for old gentlemen, of the cloth, be they tailors, or clergymen. The navy too are coaxing them; but the Germans, and real dragoons, cut them.
Waltzing is coming in, and nodding is going out, for men. Their present mode of salutation is this, they stare hard, and, being about to nod, they change their minds, think better of it, resume the erect position of their heads, and with a jerk, snatch off their hats, à la mode Parisienne, just too late for the ceremony to be observed.
The rage for married women, is over; but they are not out, merely negatives, like the Tilburies, or the three Mr. Clock-cases, who, by the bye, still drive tilburies, as do the Piccadilly butchers.
Wigs are all the rage, and mustachios, for the wig-makers. Lady Topknot is trying to make rose-colour, and yellow, go down; but it does not take, this year. The rose-colour had something of a run; but it won’t do with yellow.
Girls, my dear Mrs. Beaumont, virtuous girls, are in the back-ground this season; but I tell mine to keep up their spirits, for times may mend. Clara shall try the wig à la Maintenon, in the autumn.
Apropos, Mrs. Nesbit’s corsets give the most natural em bon point of any, I ever saw. No rouge, tell Caroline, and languid apathy takes a good deal, lately, particularly, with very young men, while timidity does more with men of a certain age.
I am hurried to death, and must now take leave of my dear friend, anxiously expecting to receive a good account of her. En attendant, she will believe me, ever,
Her most affectionate friend,
Mrs. Beaumont took very little time to send the following answer:
My dear Mrs. Pemberton,
As you seem anxious for my answer, by return of post, I send off, merely, a very few lines, to acquaint you of the little I know of Mr. Villers. He is, undoubtedly, rich, voila le principal, and, I know, he possesses a valuable West India property. Au reste, I am told, his parents died, when he was very young; never heard they were mad; believe Villers to be somewhat of a bon vivant, possessing great talents, without being the least ambitious, to shine, in any thing; but the women will tell you that every word and attitude are studied to charm them, while he has not the slightest intention of returning their passion. In short, he has the character of a male coquet, among the ladies here, and I never saw a man dress in a more outré style of fashion, in my life. Adieu, pour le moment. With kind thanks for the pattern of collar, and remembrances to all your family,
Believe me, truly, your friend,
No.—, Champs Elysées.
Ma foi! les maitres Anglais sont assez aimable, thought Monsieur Gustave, Viller’s valet, as he was equipping himself, in his gayest suit, determined to subdue Madame Beaumont’s fair suivante. Already, he had contrived to ascertain that the femme de chambre, Hannah, was in the constant habit of going to market, every morning, at nine o’clock. Gustave was not personally acquainted with Hannah, neither did he know her, by sight; but he took it for granted, that she was tant soit peu gentile, and, being of a very sanguine temperament, he was already half in love, by instinct: was sure he should know her, even if the basket, she was in the habit of carrying, on her arm, had not been described to him.
Only half past eight o’clock, in the morning, and Gustave had already taken his station at Mrs. Beaumont’s door. Ah! ah! la voila! mais non! mais si!! c’est elle! ma foi! est-ce qu’elle ne sort pas donc? were ejaculations, which he made to himself, aloud, as often as the porte cocher, of Mrs. Beaumont’s hotel, moved on its hinges. Just as Gustave had begun péste! in good earnest, the thin, boney, erect form of Hannah Pure, issued from the house, with her market basket, on her arm.
Hannah was a brown, thin, harsh-featured, ill-favoured woman, in her forty-second year. In short, though there existed many women, who might be judged uglier, it were difficult, perhaps impossible, to find one more calculated to calm, and quiet the passions of the other sex.
Diable! Elle porte un panier celle là! said Gustave. C’est elle, sans doute. Messieurs les Anglaise sont droles? Que veut-il que je fasse avec ça? N’importe c’est une Anglaise toujours. He made up to her.
Bon jour, Mademoiselle, said he, with a gracious bow.
Pray what is your business, with me, young man? Hannah asked, drawing herself up, primly.
You are de praty virgin of de moon, Miss Hannah, and it is not beesness, vat for, I vant you, but de pleasure, vich is de only sarioos beesness vat seenefees, of de life, Miss Hannah.
These French are, really, polite creatures, thought Hannah, who could not listen to compliments, for the very first time, in her life, unmoved; and she cast a side-long, smirking glance at Gustave, half methodistical, half—my readers know what! but she felt quite no how, and odd.
Oh! you letil chaste Vanoos! you very vanting letil Diane, Diana, I believe you call her. My dear Hannah, vat praty, letil, nice Hecate you is! continued Gustave, who was afraid to cut the thread of his nonsensical discourse, lest his courage should fail him, when it might be prudent to take it up again.
This is a very respectable, young man, I make no doubt, thought Hannah; and then, addressing him, pray what is your name, young man?
My name is Monsieur Gustave, you letil black angel, and I am de gentilman of von gentilman, as you call it, in your contra.
And what is your master’s name?
Oh! for my mastare, he is not at all mastare even of himself, Dieu le garde! He is one slafe to de bootifool eyesbrow, of de yong lady, in you ouse, Mees Mary Callam.
Indeed! said Hannah.
In short, you dear letil, nice ting, I tell you we are both, moi et mon maitre, two letil infortunés and our tender, letil, soft hearts have been broke to death, between your bootifool sharm, and de sharm of Mees Mary.
And where did you see me, Mr. Gustave? enquired the pious lady, bridling.
Gustave, malgré sons savoir faire, was puzzled by this question.
See you, Miss! ver did I see you? Oh! ma foi, always every where about de vorld, you letil Hecate.
I see you, continuellement, in my dream, every night, vat I go into my bed.
Well, Mr. Gustave, I must say, you are the most well-bred gentleman, I have met with, in France; but I must now wish you a good morning, nevertheless.
Stop a minute! attendez donc, ma belle! said Gustave, seizing hold of her dry, yellow hand.
For shame! Fie! For shame, Mr. Gustave, let me alone! I never yet suffered one of your sex to lay hold of, even my finger. Fie Sir!
Stop! stop! I tell you, den, my queen of de bootifool furies! vous me déseperez. You–you despair me! Look at dis letil ting, said he, drawing a small, unloaded pistol, from the corner of his pocket.
Vat shall you tink of dis letil ting?
Hannah almost screamed, Lord be merciful unto me, sinner that I am! Is the man going to shoot me, after all his fine speeches?
Doucement! doucement! Vat for I shall kill de angel! de Hecate of de vorld! I vould kill ten tousand men, rader dan kill myself. You understand! dat is to say, j’aimerai mieux être tué cent fois, que de tuer une belle femme.
Why do you show me that shocking pistol then ?
Because, because, I shall tell you, because, vat for I bring de pistolet, in my pocket, is dis. My master—ecoutez donc—my master have it, in his pocket, de letil broder of dis pistolet, vid de bal, and de poudre, all quite complete, ready to shoot himself, in de troat, if you not, tell to him ver he can speak to Mees Mary directly.
I shall not risk to cause such a dreadful crime, by concealing that Miss Clementina Callam accompanies her niece, to the entrance of the Bois de Boulogne, every morning, at about half after nine, or ten o’clock; but, as to your master finding Miss Mary alone, I think it will be out of the question, to expect it.
Et vous? ma belle! quand est ce qu’on vous trouvera seule?
Monsieur Gustave, en vrai Parisien, thought it incumbent on him to ask this question, inwardly praying, that the English woman might turn out to be as virtuous as she was ugly.
Surely, Monsieur Gustave, said the damsel, you will not insist, on my committing myself with a stranger? Consider my good name!
Ma foi! Ma belle et charmante Hannah, vous m’avez touché! Je vous respecte, trop pour insister. Helas! Mes dames les Anglaises sont si vertueuses!! et moi, je vous avoue que je suis infiniment délicat sur le rapport de l’honneur. You understand?
Not in the least, Sir!
I tell you, I am very mush indeed, delicat, as to your honneur, and I must run away from your great sharm. Adieu, adieu. He was hastening away from her, delighted at the idea of having obtained the end he proposed, without parting with a single franc of the money, which his master had given him, to be presented, to the abigail, as a bribe.
But, Mr. Gustave, said Hannah, following him up; Mr. Gustave, I say, how am I to be quite certain, that you have quite given up your dreadful intention?
N’ayez pas de l’inquiètude, ma chère dame. Don’t you be frait, not noting at all, my praty letil Vanus.
Nay then, I cannot possibly trust you. Return, Mr. Gustave! Charity, my pious young master assures me, is a first-rate virtue. Come back, then; I dare not trust you out of my sight, with that dreadful instrument in your pocket.
Sacré nom de Dieu! Mais elle me veut, malgré moi! Que diable lui dirai-je? Ma belle, Je jure devant le bon Dieu, et par cette jolie main, said he aloud, falling on his knees, and pressing her dried, boney fingers, to his lips, oui, je jure…
Hannah thought she might trust him, was all of a fluster, as she called it, and a tremble.
A declaration, in full, was coming, no doubt. Paris was, then, a lucky place, for finding a husband. While these ideas were passing in her brain, Gustave continued his rhapsody.
Oui mon ange! je jure—again he paused.
Speak out, Mr. Gustave!
Vous me permettez?
Je jure, donc, de vivre le plus long temps possible, pour vos beaux yeux. Dat is, I swear to live upon your fine eye!
Gustave now darted on his feet, and was out of sight, in an instant.
Much good may it do him, with his gibberidge. I can’t understand these mounseers, and what’s more, I never could abide them, muttered the pious Hannah, as she resumed her walk, vers la halle, in high dudgeon.
It is all settled, and all right, my dear Mary, said Caroline, jumping into the room. We are both free as air! As for you, my brother declares, he would as soon be wed to Beelzebub, as to you!
Mary, in the gratitude of her heart, could not help clasping her young school-fellow, in her arms, and giving her a fervent kiss.
How very good this is of you! said Mary.
And how excessively rude this is of you! retorted Caroline. One would think, from all this rapture, that you had escaped the black gentleman himself, instead of my excellent brother.
Mary really begged pardon, was quite ashamed of being so inattentive, so………
Oh! don’t tell me, I am not in the humour to listen to fine speeches. I have just discarded Hairbrain for ever! It cost me a few tears; but I have brushed them away, and I am now free.
How is it possible you could drive away such a very old attachment, which has almost grown with your growth? asked Mary.
But weakened with my strength, added Caroline. Hairbrain is a heartless, unfeeling creature, who, as mamma says, is unworthy of a thought: since he does not, even, take the trouble to conceal his intrigues, from me. He, actually, yesterday, drove past my window, with that impudent Lady Sinenough: but let us change the hateful subject! I have cut him dead, for ever. Now we will consult about our masquerade dresses, Caroline tried to rattle upon Turkish turbans, precious silks, French laces, and all the rest of such things; but the effort, she made, to appear gay, was evidently forced.
We will venture just to look in upon young Hairbrain, after putting on our invisible belt, merely to ascertain the style of Caroline’s letter to him, and whether he survived, and how he supported the dreadful news, which it contained.
Misfortunes never come single. Hairbrain had lost a heavy sum, at play, on that very morning, besides being, absolutely, dunned and persecuted, with the too ardent love of my Lady Sinenough, whose acquaintance he had only made, pour passer le temps. He was sitting at the window of his hotel, in a musing, and very melancholy attitude, when his groom-tiger-boy, Tom, presented him a letter.
From my darling sweet comforter, Caroline! said he, pressing it to his lips, as soon as he recognized the hand-writing. I knew she would never forsake me, good for nothing as I am; but I will be faithful! I’ll reform, from to-day! Had we been, but united, I had not got into this scrape. He then broke open the seal, and read as follows:
My object, in writing, is not to reproach you; yet I cannot, though it is my mother’s wish, request you to return me my letters, and the portrait, I bestowed on you, in a moment of childish folly, without stating to you that your affair, with Lady Sinenough, is public. I feel the subject to be an improper one; yet, I conceive, any thing is preferable to the imputation of caprice which, but for the knowledge of this circumstance, I should deserve. Mamma will permit me to see you alone, to-morrow, half an hour before dinner-time, for the purpose of receiving my own letters, and returning your very sincere effusions. We shall, afterwards, I trust, continue to live in friendship towards each other. When two persons are agreed, on such a subject, there can be no reasonable cause for animosity.
No. —, Champs Elysées.
Faithless, unfeeling Caroline! said Hairbrain, throwing down the letter, and stamping his feet. This is contempt, not jealousy. She despises me. I’ll send her letter back, by Tom. Here, Tom.
Do you want me, Sir?
No Sir, who the devil wants you?
I will be cool, and gentlemanlike. Hem! My affair, as she calls it, with Lady Sinenough; yet I have been carrying on a very unreserved intrigue, with this bold lady! I am a wretch! that’s certain, continued Hairbrain, striking his forehead; and I have lost all my money: but I could never have been happy, with a woman of this methodical character. I want to be adored as I am! Nay, I would have my very faults cherished; because they are mine. I am a terrible coxcomb, and not such a particularly handsome fellow, I begin to suspect. I have a mind not to dine with them to-morrow, and yet, if I don’t, Caroline will flatter herself, I am enraged at being jilted!
Hairbrain’s profound cogitations were now, interrupted, by the entrance of his friend, Villers, who declared that he had a very earnest request to make to him.
My very good fellow, answered Hairbrain, you could not have chosen your time worse; for I am in a devil of a humour, I tell you. He then forced on Villers’s impatient ear the story of his losses, and misfortunes, and concluded by handing him Caroline’s last letter.
Villers declared, upon his honour, that, had he loved, as man ne’er loved before, such an indifferent letter, from his affianced bride, would have made him heart-whole, in an instant.
Oh! you are right! You are right, said Hairbrain, plucking up all his spirit. I am a wretch! a sneak! a very Jerry Sneak! but wait, my good fellow, and see me send her a proper answer.
Little Hairbrain, immediately, dispatched Tom, with the following laconic reply to Caroline’s letter.
Mr. Hairbrain will feel great pleasure in complying with Miss Beaumont’s request; for which purpose, he will do himself the honour of waiting upon her, according to her appointment, to-morrow.
And now that business is settled, said Villers, I must put your friendship, for me, to the test.
Well! how am I to serve you?
I will tell you. Old Miss Clementina Callam, accompanies her niece, Mary, every morning, between nine and ten o’clock, to the entrance of the Bois de Boulogne, for the benefit of her health. Luckily, the old lady is bilious, and requires exercise. Now I want you to contrive to pay some little attention to the good aunt, which may lead to conversation, and then you must flatter her vanity, and compliment her, till you have completely called off her attention from her young charge. Do you understand me?
My dear Villers, the thing is out of the question. I know nothing, in the shape of a personal compliment, which would not appear burlesque ridicule, when addressed to such an object as Miss Clementina. My spirits just now are but indifferent. I wish I could oblige you; but, upon my soul, I hope you won’t insist on my making myself so truly ridiculous.
I did hope, Hairbrain, that, where the happiness of my life was at stake, you would not have scrupled to make some trifling sacrifice of inclination.
Well! well! if you really can think of no other means of speaking to Mary, I will be with you, at nine to-morrow, and do my best; but, with the most eager desire, in the world, to serve you, I tell you, before-hand, I know I shall not, in the present state of my mind, be able to keep it up more than five minutes, and, as to kissing the leathern fist of that ridiculous, old witch, without laughing, I am sure the thing is impossible. Now, what say you to a drive in my cabriolet?
With all my heart.
Come then, let’s try and meet your rival Samuel! Why don’t you call him out? It would be capital fun, and very safe, I imagine. Suppose I carry him a challenge to-morrow morning! Come, don’t look so melancholy, man. You are worse than I am, and your face is as long as Bob Hopeless’s was, when he performed the ghost, at our Westminster play. He could never get a single line of Latin, by heart, in his life.
I have a great mind, said Villers, to call on this methodistical quiz, and ask him whether he is an accepted lover.
Come along, then, answered Hairbrain, turning his horse, and guiding him towards Samuel’s residence; and, before Villers had made up his mind, as to what he meant, or wished, little Tiger-Tom had rung the bell of Mrs. Beaumont’s hotel, and enquired for Mr. Samuel.
What the devil shall I say to him? said Villers.
Little Tom returned, before Hairbrain had time to reply to this question, and informed his master that Mr. Samuel was at Versailles, that he had spoken to the coachman, who had informed him, he had received orders to take the carriage down, at night, in order to bring up his master, the next day, to attend at Mrs. Beaumont’s large dinner-party.
Let’s have him upset on the road, said Hairbrain.
How the deuce is that to be managed?
Trust to me, whispered Hairbrain, and then, jumping out of the cabriolet, he beckoned Samuel’s coachman aside, and addressed him to this effect.
My good fellow, you are to drive up Mr. Samuel Beaumont from Versailles, to-morrow, I believe?
Yes, Sir, answered the coachman, touching his hat.
I say, you—you must upset him!
Upset my young master!
Yes; overturn him! don’t you understand me?
Why, really, Sir, I can’t exactly say I do.
You need not break his neck, you know, continued Hairbrain, slipping a hundred francs, in gold, into his hand. There are plenty of nice soft places, after the rain. I only want to make him arrive too late for dinner to-morrow. And, I say, if you succeed, here’s another hundred francs for you.
Why Sir, said the coachman, pocketing the gold, why, true sir, as you say, it won’t do him no great matter of harm, after the rain.
Enough! I depend on you. Mind, he must be neat and clean all over: a decided upset; but safe, and the carriage ought to go on to Paris. Never mind the mud.
You shall be satisfied, Sir, said the coachman, and Hairbrain joined Villers, in the cabriolet.
My readers must now be acquainted with Miss Clementina’s conquest, of a certain beau militaire, the self same hero qui fesait l’aimable, chez Madame la Comtesse de Bienpassé, on the night of her soirée. He had followed her from the Thuilleries, watched her window, next day, from the Champs Elysées, and, lastly, had addressed her a most romantic love-effusion in rhyme.
The writer of these elegant lines, must certainly possess an exquisite sensibility! ejaculated Clementina, after she had read them. Indeed, added she, they are all soul! She was strongly agitated! Females were much to be pitied, who dared not give their tender feelings vent, though their little, fluttering hearts were bursting. She wished nature had made her less susceptible.
What dress shall I lay out for you, madam? enquired Mrs. Beaumont’s woman, the pious Hannah Pure, who had presented Clementina with the letter, containing the copy of verses, and was retiring.
Any thing you like. The yellow. No, the blue. In short, what you please, good Hannah. I care not what I wear. I am unwell.
You do look a little languid, madam. I wish my angelic, young master was here. His pious discourse would surely do you good.
Not just now, my good woman! not just now. Did you enquire who delivered the letter, I have just received?
Yes, madam; it was a gentleman, in a military cloak, who put it into the hands of our Swiss, and disappeared, without uttering a single word.
Mysterious being! Hannah! I would I could calm this nervous fluttering of my heart!
Shall I read to you, madam? I have some excellent books, in my apartment, which cannot fail to delight, and quiet your soul. I read them over and over again, with renewed rapture.
No doubt there are many books, well calculated to sooth the present disturbed state of my mind.
Let me recommend to your attention, Madam, the sufferings of the Holy Martyr, St. Gemini, who was broiled on a gridiron!
By no means, Hannah: my feelings are not equal to any thing of the kind.
Shall I bring you the martyrdom of St. Lincoln, who carried his head under his arm, a considerable distance, after it had been cut off?
Mercy on me! No! said the fair Clementina, and immediately dismissed Mrs. Beaumont’s provoking Hannah Pure, whom she vowed, had no soul, to enter into her feelings.
In the evening, when Miss Clementina took a stroll, down the Champs Elysées, to cool her blood, she was accosted by the said beau militaire, who had, probably, ascertained that she was in comfortable circumstances, and who addressed her in very respectful language.
I, by no means, affirm that this beau militaire was a French officer, or a French man at all, out of the high consideration I have for their merits as soldiers. I merely state that he wore a uniform, and might have been an English, or an Irish, or an Italian, or a Dutch, or any other adventurer, for any thing, I know to the contrary. Such as he was, his professions, to Clementina, were so exaggerated and ridiculous, that, had she not been the silliest, of all silly, vain, old fools, she must have seen through them at once. As it was, she gently bade him adieu, after promising to consider his proposals, and return a decided answer, as to declining, or accepting his suit, in a few days.
Bless me! said Miss Clementina, to her companion, Mary Callam, as she entered the Bois du Boulogne, on the very morning after Mrs. Hannah Pure’s interview with Monsieur Gustave, bless me! Mary, what a heavenly place is this! how soothing to a mind, torn with emotion, is this sweet, retired spot!
Well! I protest, answered Mary, that I have little taste for retirement, and these woods, which, for our sins, we parade every morning of our lives, would not be the less endurable, if we were accompanied by some gay, and dashing beau, to praise our charms, and the lovely tint, such excursions, lend to the tips of one’s noses. But…my dear aunt, who comes here? I spy two charming, elegant-looking, young men. Good heavens! Surely he, on the left is Mr. Villers. Mary now trembled from head to foot.
What, that impertinent, silly fellow! I dislike him now of all things! but who is his companion? I fancy it must be young Hairbrain! Bless me, I wish I had put on my rose-coloured pelisse! How unlucky, that we should be seen, by fashionable people, in this dowdy style!
Your most obedient, ladies! said Villers. This is, indeed, a most agreeable surprise! Who would have imagined this happiness? at such an unfortunate hour too! For my part, I happened to get up, in the middle of the night, pour passer le tems!
Do you know, said Hairbrain, addressing his night-mare, do you know Miss Clementina, that your present bloom, and beauty, may somewhat account for the remark, I made to Villers, just before we recognized you both for our acquaintances!
Is it treason to ask what that remark might be? enquired Clementina, bridling.
I remarked, madam…I was saying…madam…My dear Miss Clementina! d—n it, what do I mean? what shall I say? (after a little thought)…Oh! I merely remarked to my friend, just as you bent your steps towards us, that your stately deportment brought nearest to my fancy, my conception of the fair Helen, whose beauty once set the whole world in arms, and whom Homer so well describes, in the two following lines:
What winning graces, what majestic mien!
She moves a goddess, and she looks a queen!
It’s very common-place, thought Hairbrain; but, (looking towards Villers, who had already coaxed Mary to some distance) he saw it answered the purpose.
Mr. Hairbrain, said Clementina, your gallantry is notorious. You are, I must confess, a very pleasing flatterer!
Dear Miss Clementina, you really do yourself injustice. Could you…I declare, madam, I wish you could read my heart. Excuse me if I, humbly, intreat for a moment’s privacy with you. (and he led her farther away from her niece and Villers) I have long wished, long desired this opportunity of explaining to you—of—in short—in short—(I can’t stand this much longer, said Hairbrain to himself, looking anxiously, after Villers.)
Be more collected, said the compassionate Miss Clementina, observing his confusion. I will not, added she, with dignity; I will not, with the usual affectation of my sex, pretend to misunderstand your feelings, nor will I doubt your honourable intentions! (This is pleasant, thought Hairbrain, while Clementina went on) but circumstances of a delicate nature, added to the abruptness of your declaration, compel me to say, I cannot bid you hope!
Madam, interrupted Hairbrain impatiently, Madam, I beg you will not—
Hear me, interposed Clementina, hear me out, Mr. Hairbrain. Though I have said I could not bid you hope; yet I have not said that you must absolutely despair.
I assure you, Madam, upon my honour, said Hairbrain, looking anxiously after Villers, you have completely mistaken—in fact, I—
Courage, young man. Faint heart never won fair lady. Troy, you know, did not fall in a day. I will be frank with you. My father was in the soap-line, as honest, painstaking a soap-boiler, as any in Whitechapel; nothing more, and the reward of his industry was, at his death, divided between my brother, my sister, and myself.
And so, fancied Hairbrain, and so, for a few ridiculous speeches, here am I, on the brink of matrimony, with a woman too old for my mother! who is the daughter of as honest, pains-taking a soap-boiler, as any in Whitechapel!!
Miss Clementina, said he, endeavouring to address her with firmness, Miss Clementina, you have entirely misunderstood me, that is, I mean—indeed, I assure you, Madam, added he, suddenly bolting off, towards Villers, in whose ear he whispered that, upon his soul and body, he could not keep it up any longer, being so horridly ashamed of the ridiculous part he was playing; and so, continued Hairbrain, do for God’s sake, come home to breakfast, or I shall faint!
What a moment to talk of vulgar breakfast! I am in heaven!!
And I in ——! I’ll tell you what Villers, it is utterly impossible to stand this sort of thing: I really am not up to it.
Nay, my prince of good fellows, said Villers, pushing him towards Clementina, who was advancing, for God’s sake, don’t spoil every thing. Go and give her a few more flourishes! You got her into such a line!
A precious line you have got me into, grumbled out Hairbrain, as he proceeded to join Miss Clementina Callam.
Dear Madam, said he, to her, pardon, I ask many pardons, make many apologies. You have, I fear, misconstrued some trifling observations of mine, which really were not meant to convey…but we are observed. He had just perceived le beau militaire, who was watching them, behind a tree. It was the identical, poetical gentleman, who had made his declaration to Miss Clementina, in the Champs Elysées. He, too, had ascertained her usual hour of walking, and had gone there to follow up his chance.
The case seemed desperate; for Hairbrain was strikingly handsome. From long experience, he had ascertained that a duel was a never failing passport to female favour, and, in the very bad state of his finances, it was not, for him, to stick at trifles; so accosting, Hairbrain, fiercely, before he could recover from his surprise, he declared that no power on earth, save death, should compel him to give up his claim to that lovely woman’s hand.
There will be murder, screamed out Miss Clementina, and fainted in the arms of young Hairbrain!!
Mary, being within hearing of her aunt’s screams, now ran, hastily, towards her. What is the matter with my poor aunt? she enquired eagerly.
God only knows, exclaimed the mortified Hairbrain. At this unlucky moment, as though his evil genius had conspired against him, his eyes caught a glimpse of Caroline, who, with her mamma, was observing him with astonishment; but, the instant they caught his attention, they turned back, and were soon out of sight.
What the devil am I to do with her, Mr. Thingumbob? If this lady is a favourite of your’s, for heaven’s sake, take her off my hands, and I’ll fight you at any other time, you like. I am just in the humour, now, to blow somebody’s brains out. Give me your card, man, and here, take hold of mine, and the lady too, or I really must let her go!
The fair Clementina now, languidly, opened her eyes.
Oh! I am glad you are better, Ma’am, said Hairbrain, relieving himself in such haste, that, but for the supporting hand of the beau militaire, who hastened to her assistance, she might have reeled, or tottered, at least.
Now, Sir, said Hairbrain, I have not a minute to spare; but you have my card. I will wait at home, for you, till four o’clock.
Pray leave us gentlemen, said Mary, much ashamed of the ridiculous figure, her aunt had cut, in the presence of Villers.
Villers and Hairbrain complied with her earnest request; but first, Villers called out to Miss Clementina, declaring himself au desespoir to see her so accablée and so isolée, without one of her countrymen to protect her; but, ma belle, if I meet any body, in your line, at all, I will send them after you, added he, kissing his hand to them, with much affectation.
And so I am to be shot through the head, to-day, by way of a winding up to the ridiculous part you made me play, said Hairbrain, half sulkily, half laughing, the moment they were alone.
Oh! no danger, my good fellow, no danger. The man must be some adventurer. He wants to make money, not to be shot at, take my word! Who the devil else would propose to such a thing as Miss Clementina?
And yet you set me at it; but, if ever you catch me making such an ass of myself again, for Caroline to show me up to ridicule, my name is not Hairbrain!
Never mind, my dear fellow, I will, at any time, do as much for you, on such a pinch. I am quite convinced of Mary’s disinterested principles, and also of the excellence of her understanding; for she has assured me, that she could not continue to respect me, unless I would leave off making a fool of myself. In the mean time, she will surely refuse me, in spite of my riches; at least, I think so, and I am determined to put the matter beyond a doubt, on the very first opportunity.
The friends now took leave; but Villers fully acquainted Hairbrain with all his proposed movements, for that day, in case he might be wanted in the character of a second; which idea did not at all alarm Villers, who knew the world too well, not to distinguish bullying from courage, and felt persuaded that his friend would receive no challenge from Monsieur le Militaire, as he called himself.
Villers was right. Hairbrain waited, in vain, till past five o’clock, for the hero, and then set off, in his cabriolet, to keep his appointment with Caroline, accompanied by that fair lady’s miniature, and an immense bundle of letters and trinkets.
Caroline sat waiting for him, at the window, absorbed in melancholy reflections. She had never dreamed of receiving such a cutting answer to her letter, from one, who had deserved her reproaches, and his indifference wounded her beyond the power of rallying.
Your most obedient, Madam, said Hairbrain, entering the room, with a large bundle of letters in his hand.
I am proud, you see, Madam, to obey your commands: and, then, he added, in an under voice, I look like an attorney’s clerk, or a general post-man, bundling up stairs, with this immense profusion of papers. It would be adviseable for young ladies, of your very fickle disposition, to bestow less weighty favours on their humble admirers.
You wrong me, Sir, answered Caroline, much hurt, though striving to speak calmly. I am not fickle, nor ever dreamed of avoiding my engagement with you, until you, openly, insulted me.
Miss Beaumont, had it so happened that you had honoured me with your fair hand, in marriage, I believe that my conduct would have been ever such, as you would have had a right to expect. In the mean time, I never affected any particular stoicism, you know.
Neither, retorted Caroline, have I ever sought to discover your secrets, Sir, till publicity obliged me to notice them.
With regard to their publicity, indeed Caroline! I mean Miss Beaumont, the publicity was not of my seeking. The object is too old for vanity to feed on. That was her doing. However, we are losing time; for, as you say, in your letter, very properly, when two people are perfectly agreed, as we are, on a subject, it is folly to discuss what might have been—
True, Sir, said Caroline, turning from him, to conceal her agitation, while she searched in her reticule for Hairbrain’s letters.
You are quite right, Sir. These Sir, are your letters, which I beg leave to return to you.
And here, Miss Beaumont, is the lovely portrait, you honoured me with, pursued Hairbrain, determined not to be out-done, and searching, alternately, in all his pockets. This is—what the devil is this? Oh! this is the sketch, you took, of my black horse, Timour the Tartar. This is—this is, you recollect, the tooth-pick case, and here is the ring. Stay, I have got a ringlet of your hair, some where. Oh! this is the pin, an antique. You remember giving it me, when a child. I am like the guard of a mail-coach, rummaging about, in all my pockets, for all these parcels, and trinkets. Enfin, voila tout. Mille pardons, I forgot the ringlet. Here is the lock of hair, which I am permitted to prize no longer; and now, fair lady, we are friends.––N’est-ce pas? perfectly good friends! excellent friends!!
Poor Caroline, in extreme agitation, was obliged to turn away her head, to conceal her tears.
Nay, fair lady, your hand, give me your hand, to seal our bond. I have it in your own fair writing. Are we not friends, Caroline?
Oh yes! friends, certainly, perfectly friends, of course! Why not? said Caroline, in hurried, sobbing accents, holding out her trembling hand towards him, while she was forced, with the other, to conceal her tears, in her handkerchief.
Hairbrain could no longer doubt his power.
My sweet, dear, angel, Caroline! for God’s sake, love me, and forgive me, or I shall go mad! said he, half devouring her little hand with ardent kisses.
Gently, gently, said Caroline, smiling on him, through her tears, gently then, it were adviseable for gentlemen not to bestow such very weighty favours.
We will never quarrel again, said Hairbrain, pressing his future wife, in his arms. At this critical moment, they were disturbed, by a summons to dinner.
Pray, said Hairbrain, with affected carelessness, had Mr. Samuel arrived from Versailles?
No, Sir! Mrs. Beaumont has waited half an hour for him, and has now ordered dinner.
The dinner was brilliant. There was, amongst the company, little Mr. Boot-jack, the amateur opera writer. He was just returned from Italy and Germany, and would do nothing but sing couplets, and talk of an impromptu, he had made, so often, that the polite part of the company could not help requesting him to repeat the following nonsense, much as they would have preferred his silence.
Having fixed his die-away eyes upon his fair hostess, he, thus, began:
In painting, thy sweet reality,
I borrowed, from immortality,
The attributes I most admired,
Till my own imagination fired.
Ah! ah! I’m caught! I’m your Apollo.
This is no fable, which I borrow.
By turns, I was all gods, to thee,
Except your feathered Mercury!
Charming, said every body at once. People must be polite.
And so you are pleased with my rhymes? said Boot-jack. What I do, you see, is off-hand. No pedantry! eh!
None in the world, said Caroline and Hairbrain, in a breath. They were now in such a happy humour that they could, willingly, have flattered Miss Clementina herself, with all her fainting, &c.
Just as the desert was placed on the table, Samuel Beaumont made his appearance, with the flaps of his coat pinned, tight, round his waist, and covered with mud.
Mercy on us! What is the matter? exclaimed Mrs. Beaumont, jumping up.
It hath pleased Providence that I should be upset in the midst of the mire! answered Samuel, with solemn gravity.
His kind mamma duly condoled with him, and apologized, to her party, for requesting he might be allowed to refresh himself, before he went up stairs to dress.
Don’t make two dressings of it, Samuel, pray, said Mrs. Beaumont, or there will be no end to it. Every body comes to Paris to waive ceremony; but you may as well unpin your coat, you know, Samuel; because it looks so odd behind.
Samuel assured her, in a whisper, that the humidity of his pantaloons, behind, would spoil the lustre of the cloth of his coat-tails, which were new.
Never mind then, said Mrs. Beaumont; but remember you must positively attend the masquerade.
Nay, that may not be. It is a wicked recreation, and Satan, I fear, will be busy among ye! turning up his sanctified eyes.
No! no! Satan is prohibited: he frightened the ladies, so terribly, at my last masquerade, in town.
Really, mother, you must excuse me. I am not exactly a gay man, and I do not, you know, understand these things.
You must begin then brother, Samuel, observed Caroline. Pray do, to oblige me, who have certainly done my best to serve you, recollect, lately.
Samuel declared he was afraid ill would come of it, and, further, he expressed the impossibility of his keeping up any character.
Try Harlequin, said Boot-jack, tapping him on the shoulder, or, what think you of Cupid?
Nay friend, Cupid was a child, and, but that thy years have surpassed thy wisdom, I would venture to recommend the part to thyself.
The masquerade was more brilliant than the dinner, and, among the motley group, Boot-jack was a prominent character, as Apollo, flitting about every where, now on his knees at the feet of a foreign princess, then whispering soft rhymes, or tuning his lyre, in an attitude, before a milk-maid or a flower-girl.
Villers was in his glory, and performed the part of a French dancing-master, du tems passeé-à merveille!
Mary took up the character of a school-girl, which was Villers’s motive for being a master: in short, they were inseparable, and Mary was convulsed with laughter, at the admirable humour, he displayed.
A friar, with a long beard, now attracted the attention of every one. He was hunted, up and down the room, by a noisy, gigantic woman, in a red cloak, with a squalid, hideous child, at her back.
Ah! the grey old villain! Ah! the deceiver! to turn his back on his own offspring! Oh! the wicked lascivious monk, she cried.
What is the matter? What is the matter good woman? said a counsellor, in a long white wig.
May it please your honour, answered the woman, dropping a low courtesy, that grey-beard there, one unlucky night, got the better of my virtue! Alas! it never happened to me, but once before, and I became pregnant; when the hard-hearted monster forsook me, to carry on an intrigue with the candle snuffer’s daughter, of his convent.
Detain that hoary sinner, at the suit of the plaintiff here, till the action is tried, called out a judge, and, behold the learned counsel, several in number, seated in rows, shaking at each other their powdered wigs, while one, the most celebrated, in a loud and audible voice, addressed the assembly, and my lud judge.
May it please you, my lud, and gentlemen of the jury, yon fair, and delicate female, has been a victim to the vile lust of the hoary sinner, at the bar, who, by wicked spells, my lud, and gentlemen of the jury, contrived to overcome her virtue; and, to the disgrace of humanity, be it spoken, the hypocritical priest abandons, and turns his back, gentlemen of the jury, upon the fruit of his own bowels.
All this while, the persecuted friar seemed to be in violent agitation. At last, he was seen, by Mary, to raise his mask, for an instant, and discovered the features of poor Samuel Beaumont.
The little pocket-Apollo, Boot-jack, now diverted the attention, not only of the learned counsel, but also of the judge himself. He was kneeling at the feet of the goddess Flora, and his suit of flesh-coloured silk, was so tight, that it would have been quite indecent, only he was but an Apollo in miniature. Flora acted coy modesty, such as seemed to add fuel to his flame. At last, a fine, noble-looking creature, who also represented Apollo, but this man looked the real god, from which the other had sported the like costume, in very humble imitation—one looked like nature, the other like nature’s journeyman—The said Apollo, the great, just when Apollo the little was most pathetic, and still on his knees, softly snatched the wreath of laurels, from his temples. Little Apollo was about to fall into a rage, when the arch rogue, Apollo the great, fastened, on his head, two large assinine ears!! The little hero, fully believing that his laurels were replaced, amused himself, quietly, in arranging this interesting bandeau, prettily, over his left ear. He proceeded with his gesticulations, which were meant to express, to his fair Flora, admiration, rapture, and delight. Now, pressing one hand to his heart, and holding it down, fast with the other; shrugging up his little shoulders, and drawing in his toes at the same time; then, audibly sighing. At a most critical moment, a gay, young Harlequin snatched off Flora’s wig-wreath, and mask, together, this discovering, in the gay, youthful garb of the goddess, the shrivelled features of Miss Clementina Callam!
Sure such a pair was never seen,
So justly formed, to meet, by nature!
Cried Harlequin, and disappeared, closely pursued by the furious virgin, who chased him up and down the room, in search of her wig and mask, to the infinite amusement of all the company, save Apollo the great, who, not only forced young Harlequin to render up what he had purloined, but, further, took the liberty of giving him a few severe blows, over the shoulders, with his wooden wand, pour lui apprendre à vivre.
I need not acquaint my most sagacious readers, for ye are all wise and sagacious, and prove your wisdom by reading my work, I need not, I say, inform people of such tact, and in such a masquerading country, that it was beau Villers, who had changed his costume to that of Apollo, with the malicious intention of placing a pair of well-grown ass’s ears, on the temples, where laurels had been sown, in vain. Not five minutes after this occurrence, Apollo the little was seen, true to his first vocation, of maitre de danse, dans les vieux tems passé, fiddling away, on his little kit, or singing his instructions, to beginners, to the time of the minuet de la cour.
Sur le-le-le-le point du pied, lal la lal la lal la Ma-de-moi-selle An-gé-lique. Tour-tour-tour-nez le pi-ed gauche un peu. Fi donc! Ma-de-moi-selle. Ploy-ez, ma belle, lal la lal-la. Un, deux, trois, tal lal la. Bon! bien! lal la. Vous me de-vez un ca-chet, Made-moiselle. Tal lal lal lal, un, deux, trois, ployez donc. Bon, bon, bon, de la de la semaine passée, passée. Tal lal lal la.
I must, now, my fair, or unfair readers, draw this little sketch-book, or any other named-book, you please, to a conclusion. I am obliged to go to Calais, to meet my Publisher, from London, and I leave this merry city, Paris, at five o’clock, this very afternoon; but, hurried as I am, and with my femme de chambre waiting, for me to show her what is to be placed in my travelling bag, yet it will not do to leave my heroine, Mary Callam, taking dancing-lessons, and in such a state of uncertainty; but I really am puzzled how to make the best of a heroine.
They married, and lived happy all the rest of their born days, and used to have a child once a year! This is ending a book, in such common routine; and, if I kill her, that too is à l'ordinaire, in France, where fair heroines are sure to die.
This little work, which I began eight days ago, had, ’ere now been finished, and before the public, but that I knew not what to do with my heroine, and now my mind is as uncertain as ever. However, decided it must be, and the toss-up of a halfpenny shall settle, whether she continue an old maid, or I marry her; so, to use my friend, Lord Clanricarde’s elegant words, here goes.
T’is heads for maids,
And tails for wives.
A Newmarket-toss. Now for it! There it is done, and the conclusion will show whether it turned up heads or tails.
In the mean time, since it is possible, provided printers, and translators look sharp (regardezaigu, as an Englishman said to his French valet, when he wished him to be quick one day) that this little book may be published in French before my return, I beg to assure Messieurs et Mes Dames les Français, et Françaises that I have not written a single line with intentional disrespect, towards any individual of their nation. Above all, I respect, and always did so, the well known courage of their troops. As a woman I can know very little about military discipline, or etiquette, or dress; but a French soldier, whether a cuirassier, or lancer, or hussar, or a foot-soldier, appears, to me, always dressed well, and better than our own troops; because they seem dressed, always the same, and always as if they were, that moment, ready to fight. Their clothes sit easy on them, and do not appear to inconvenience them, and are, by no means ill-made, whereas, our troops wear their clothes, tight and straight-laced, and appear to be in a kind of pillory; and, I have seen some lancer-officers, who feared, absolutely, to sit down, lest they should crease the knee-parts of their trowsers. To conclude, in good earnest;––The masquerade went off famously.
Villers contrived to reconcile Clementina, to herself, by his attentive kindness; for which Mary loved him more than ever. As for Villers, it was impossible for him not to suspect that he was beloved, by Mary, yet so many mothers, like Mrs. Pemberton, had laid siege to his fortune; so many widows and damsels, had angled for him, among the heartless, and mercenary; that, between them all, they had spoiled the natural frankness of his character. Mary might, and he believed she did fancy him:—c’est à dire qu’elle lui avoit monté la tête: but, naturally domestic, he wanted such a wife, who would have scorned the richest, and handsomest man alive, unless he joined to those attractions, such solid virtue as must insure her respect.
Alas! poor human nature!
Who is wise at all times?
Mary’s heart was warm, and pure, and her understanding excellent, for her years; but she was not yet eighteen, and she loved for the first time. It was true, that she believed Villers to be a vain coxcomb; but she had witnessed the goodness of his heart, in the attention, he paid, to poor Clementina, under her disaster, and then his talents, had never been concealed from her. Was it in human nature, that she should refuse to marry him?
Villers, in his usual affected way, and in his most tawdry suit, proposed to Mary Callam, on the following morning, and was accepted with undisguised rapture.
I am not worthy to be your companion, said the blushing, warm-hearted girl, and yet, as far as may depend on all my exertions, through life, I am sure no woman on earth, can better deserve you.
There was something so radiant, and purely benign, in the expression of Mary’s clear gazelle-like eyes, that Villers was restrained only by an effort, from clasping her in his arms, and addressing her by the endearing appellation of wife: yet, one more trial he would make: It could not hurt his cause, if his cause were worth gaining.
Alas! my dear Mary, said Villers, you know not to what, or to whom, you bind yourself. You believe me rich!
And are you poor? enquired Mary, in a tone of sweet compassion.
Mary! I am a ruined man!
Oh! what will become of you dear Villers! You who have been bred up in extravagance, and riches, and in the enjoyment of every luxury! Alas! the fortune my father can give me, will be enough for moderate comforts only; but then I shall be cheerful, and could be very industrious, and
* * * * *
Do you accept me then? enquired Villers, eagerly.
Mary opened her fine dark eyes, in astonishment, and fixed them on his face, Villers, said she, after a pause, you are mysterious, and I abhor mystery.What do you mean? Have we not already pledged our faith to each other, for ever.
Villers called her his dear, disinterested angel, his wife, his darling-wife, and clasped her to his heart.
Mary’s spirits sunk, from that hour! You have suspected me of being a mercenary creature, then? said she, despondingly.
Forgive me, dearest, that I have made this hard trial of your virtue! Thank God, I have riches to offer you. Neither is, your husband the silly fop which you imagine: on the contrary, he despises foppery.
Mary turned her thoughtful eyes to the earth. Her glowing cheek, and the violent panting of her bosom, shewed the agitation of her mind.
Villers was thunderstruck, and called on her, by every endearing name, to explain to him, the cause of this sudden alteration, in her manner?
Villers, said Mary, at last, in a low, melancholy voice, you have greatly wounded me. I was never so affected before. I feel for the suspense I must leave you in; but, indeed I cannot help it. If I become your wife, I must give myself to you, wholly and for ever, and I must give you all the affection, my heart, is capable of feeling. At this moment, I am offended with you, and cannot decide in anger. Before this evening, you shall certainly hear from me. In the mean time, I cannot, will not be detained. God bless you, Villers! and Mary disappeared before he could recover from his surprise. He would have followed her, but that she had joined her mother, in her dressing-room. He would have immediately applied to her parents, but that he was oppressed, by a certain presentiment, of having seen Mary for the last time. He felt a weight on his mind, which almost rendered him inanimate. He could decide on nothing. The atmosphere was too heavy and dead, for him, to breathe in. He flew out of the house, and bent his hurried steps towards the Bois de Boulogne, where, exhausted with the violence of his feelings, he stretched himself on the grass, where he lay, concealed, by the thick branches of the trees, which form a complete shade, in this delightful wood.
I cannot exactly tell my readers how Villers passed the whole of that, to him, melancholy day; but I have ascertained that he scribbled over, at least, a quire of best vellum, in attempting to address Mary, and that he sent messenger, after messenger, to her house, every five minutes, imploring her to put an end to his cruel suspense, by allowing him to see her, if but for a minute.
The only answer he obtained, was, that Miss Mary would certainly write to him, before the day was concluded.
It was nine in the evening when Villers received the following letter from Mary.
I will not attempt to describe the painful sensations, which the idea of causing you any uneasiness, occasions me; but, believe me, the conviction that, in refusing to become your wife, I shall contribute to your future good, is alone, what gives me courage to say, to one who has honoured me, far beyond my deserts, that I never can be his.
Had our loves been spontaneous, had we loved, and trusted each other, had your feelings sympathised, with mine, and your heart glowed, with the same truth and ardent affection, my happiness must have been too pure, and my devotion to you might have rendered me neglectful of those ties of friendship, in which I have hitherto gloried. I knew nothing of life or the world. To you, I devoted my whole soul, and the freshness of my first affections were yours, at once! Alas! all this while, when I would have laid down my life for you, you were scrutinizing my character, and suspecting me, at seventeen years of age, of the mercenary intention of affecting love to secure your fortune. While my heart gave itself, to you with pure devotion, you made me serve an apprenticeship, before you could give me credit for being better than the lowest hireling.
You have taught me a lesson, which has sunk deep into my heart. You have made me feel that the face is not the index of the mind, and that, as a matter of prudence, and foresight, I ought to have looked on you with suspicion, and given you no credit for even the feelings of an honest man, till I had tried you.
The illusion is destroyed. I never wished to become the wife of any man before, and since I have discovered that our present feelings are liable to be suspected, and misinterpreted, so grossly, I shall, perhaps, now continue, to the end of my life, single. Sure of the purity of my parents’ affection for me, I will devote my life to them, and my first faith, which has been pledged to you, shall never be broken.
Farewell, then, Villers! You shall have my earnest prayers for your happiness. Do not, however, deceive yourself by false hopes. Let your own pride restore you to happiness. My parents can inform you that, as a mere child, I ever evinced unusual firmness of character. You suspected me of being vile, at that moment, when I gave you my whole heart, and I, now, love you no longer.
Accept my forgiveness. Believe my assurance that I shall feel, for no other mortal being, such love as you once inspired, and that I shall never change either my name or my nature.
May every happiness, which this life can impart, be yours, and may God bless you!
I will not attempt to describe Villers’s state of mind, on the receipt of the above letter. Time alone could heal the wound, Mary had implanted, in his breast. However, he felt so deeply, both from pride, and sincere regret, that he never once attempted to alter Mary’s resolution.
Whether Clara, the fair and amiable daughter of the match-making Mrs. Pemberton, who had long encouraged the most sincere passion for him, was ever rewarded for her constancy, I know not; but Villers did not die. Life is too tough, and fights a hard battle with despair, in the breast of a beautiful, and accomplished, young man.
The amiable Mary, was invited, by her early friend, Caroline, to act as bridesmaid, and accompany her and Hairbrain, to the country-seat of the latter, in Hampshire.
Eliza Callam loved Villers no longer than he played the part of a first-rate beau: her passion was for the filigree buttons.
Clementina married Monsieur le beau Militaire, who, being of a very mild temper, and feeling really grateful to one who relieved him from extreme penury, rendered his wife tolerably comfortable, in the civil way. The good Mr. Callam returned to London, with his family, in high spirits; for he longed to talk of the Lions, he had seen, amongst his, less favoured neighbours.
Mrs. Callam hoped to return, some day or other; because she was so fond of made-dishes, and wood-fires. Peter declared Paris a dead bore, and was in raptures at the thoughts of seeing Kean again.
Rosabella was seen driving, furiously, through one of the barriers of Paris, in a dashing, and gay equipage, with four horses, and post-boys, in scarlet jackets, and new, leather breeches, in the company of a fine looking foreigner, with a black moustache. The carriage, however, passed on so rapidly, that there was no such thing as ascertaining, positively, whether her companion, was a chasseur, en bourgeois, or a lord chamberlain!
Au reste, mes lectures me permettront, maintenant, de leurs saluer, tous, Anglois et François, avec beaucoup de respect, espérant, toujours, qu’ils daigneront me souhaiter un bon voyage.
Printed and Published by J. J. STOCKDALE,
24, Opera Colonnade.