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I RESENTED IN M E M ri R V ' ■ 
ANNIE NELSON BAiLEY. Iti6<)-V-' 

R SON THOMAS A, B A 1 1- I-' '■' , ' -' V . ' ■- 



^ . /iU^ (1^ 



K 




A SERIES 

BY THE AUTHOR OF "JOHN HALIFAX," 

AND OTHERS. 



Messrs. Harper & Brothers beg to announce 
that they have completed arrangements with the 
Author of "John Halifax, Gentleman," for the pub- 
lication, at short intervals, of a Series of Books 
specially prepared for Girls — girls of all ages 
between eight and eighteen. The Volumes will 
be beautifully printed, and handsomely and uni- 
formly bound in Cloth extra, with Illustrations 
after original designs by Frolich, Sydney Hall, and 
other artists. They will be admirably suited for 
Families and School and Birthday Presents. 



ADDRESS. 

I am told every where of the great want there is" of Girls' 
Books. For boys and little children there are plenty, but for" 
growing-up girls, the mothers of the next generation, almost 
none ; none, at least, that can give them, at their most im- 



Books for Girls, 



pressible age, a true impression of what life is and what it 
may be made. 

People seem to think that " any body " can write for the 
young ; whereas there are few kinds of writing more difficult. 
It requires, first, that utmost art, ars celare artem ; next, quick 
sympathy, large experience, and exceeding caution. Yet all 
these at times fail, for lack of some mysterious key to that 
most mysterious piece of God's handiwork — an opening hu- 
man soul. 

I have written books for twenty-four years ; books which 
— I say it not in vanity, but in solenm, thankful pride — have 
been read half over the world, and translated into most Eu- 
ropean languages. Yet it is less as an author than as a wom- 
an and a mother that I rest my claim to edit this Series ; to 
choose the sort of books that ought to be written for girls, 
and sometimes to write them. 

I leave myself the widest range of selection, both as to sub- 
jects and authors ; merely saying that the books will set forth 
the opinions of no clique — I belong to none ; nor will they 
advocate any special theological creed — I believe only in 
Christianity. Indeed, there will be as little " preaching " in 
them as possible ; for the wisest sermon is usually a silent 
one — example. But they will be, morally and artistically, 
the best books I can find, and will contain the experience of 
the best women of all countries, used for the benefit of the 
generation to come. 

As for me, I was once a girl myself, and I have a little girl 
of my own. I think both mothers and girls may trust me 
that, I will do my best. 

THE AUTHOR OF ''JOHN HALIFAX:' 



Books for Girls, 



1. LITTLE SUNSHINE'S HOLIDAY. A 

Picture from Life. By the Author of " John Halifax, 
Gentleman." With Illustrations by Frolich. i6mo, 
Cloth, 90 cents. 

"Little Sunshine's Holiday" is a very charming picture from life, 
representing, as it does, the experiences and observations of a little girl 
who is taken out to enjoy a holiday trip. The lanj^uage is simple, and 
the style such as the young will delight in. — N. Y. Tifttes. 

This is the first volume of a series of books intended for girls. Miss 
Mulock has been appointed editor, and a better selection could not have 
been made, her pure taste, hearty, earnest, sympathetic nature, and large 
experience especially qualifying her for the work of addressing the rising 
female generation. Very appropriately she leads off the series with a 
story of her own, which will especially interest the younger portion of 
the clientele in whose behalf the publishers have projected their enter- 
prise. " Little Sunshine " is a bright, lovable, and quite human child of 
some three years, who is taken by her parents on a holiday trip of a 
month. What she saw and what she did, the pleasure her parents pro- 
vided for her, how she enjoyed them, and how she repaid their fond care, 
Miss Mulock narrates in a simple, lively fashion that can not but prove 
irresistible with the little ones, while the story, whether read to or by 
them, will leave a good impression. The book is issued in handsome 
style, rendering it peculiarly suitable for gift purposes. — Philadelphia 
Inquirer. 

Will certainly afford delight to all who love children, and many a 
mother will find in the sweet little heroine, with her yellow hair and 
winning ways, a portraiture of her own sunny child. — N. Y. Evening 
Post. 

The narrative is related in a style of flowing sweetness, and the ad- 
ventures of the tiny heroine a£ford a perpetual store of interest and 
amusement. — N. Y. Tribune. 

An exquisite little story, written by a woman who has studied well and 
carefully that wonderful piece of God's handiwork, an opening human 
soul. No woman now living is perhaps so well fitted to fulfill the plan 
and supply what has long been felt to be a real want — a good, pure, 
sensible library for girls of all ages. — Christian Union. 

2. THE COUSIN FROM INDIA. ByGEORv;- 

lANA M. Craik. Illustrated. i6mo, Cloth, 90 cents. 

The story is one of absorbing interest, and the lesson it teaches is one 
of the greatest importance, and which is probably better taught by ex- 
ample — real, or in lifelike iiction — than by an^ amount and degree of 
direct \xisXx\xii^\ox\.~ E xaminer and Chronicle. 



Books for Girls, 



Lively, natural, pure, and good in its teachings, and to be commended 
to the httle readers in all our family circles. — Sunday-School Times. 

** The Cousin from India " by turns is amusing and tender, moving 
the reader to laughter and to tears. The neat and demure-looking damsel 
who has come to live with her cousins soon proves herself mischievous 
and naughty, wild and deceitful : but the influences of her new home, 
and of loving Davie in particular, make their impression upon a heart 
which is not altogether hard, and before the story has ended Effie has 
begun a better life. The book will be a favorite with girls and boys 
alike. — Congregationalist, 

Is the story of a little girl, wild, untaught, and lawless, who makes an 
irruption into a family of quiet, well-bred children ; and the consequent 
commotions that ensue provoke alternately to laughter and tears. 
Sweet, sufifering little Davie's influence over the half-savage cousin is 
delightfully drawn, and in all the range of children's literature it would 
be hard to find any thing more touchiugly beautiful than the story of the 
long weeks of illness and death. Throughout the whole volume there is 
a comprehension of and sympathy with child thought and feeling that 
are almost as rare out of books as they are in. We wish that every little 
girl of nine or ten, and every mother of such little girl, might have the 
chance of reading thi^book. — Advance. 

'• The Cousin from India " is a very interesting story of a pretematu- 
rally clever and wicked little minx, who made her appearance in the 
quiet i&mily of her good aunt to make mischief and trouble, and in the 
long run to get converted from her wicked ways by the suffering and 
death of one of her little play-fellows, and to be put in the way of becom- 
ing a good and thoughtful as well as brilliant girl af^er all. The story 
is exceedingly well contrived, the character of the mischievous Effie 
being drawn with unusual skill. — N. Y. Times. 

The story of the untaught, neglected, but clever little Indian child who 
is thrown so suddenly into a well-regulated, happy Christian home is 
very fascinatingly told. Indeed, to girls of ten years old and upward, 
we should think it irresistible. Like the rest of this series, it is well 
worthy of a place beside those tender and true stories which have made 
this author a household benefactor. — Christian Union. 



3, TWENTY YEARS AGO. From the Journal 
of a Girl in her Teens. Edited by the Author of " John 
Halifax, Gentleman." Illustrated. i6mo, Cloth, 90 cts. 



yi^ir** Harper & Brothers will send either of the ^bove works by 

nutil, postage prepaid, to any part of the United 

States, on receipt of qio cents. 



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TWENTY YEARS AGO. 



FROM THE 



Sonxnal of a (Sl^irl in l)er S^ens. 



EDITED BY THE 



AUTHOR OF "JOHN HALIFAX, GENTLEMAN." 




NEW YORK: 
HARPER & BROTHERS, PUBLISHERS, 

FRANKLIN SQUARE. 
1872. 



■ • 



THE PKEFACE 

— Which will be only a few words. 

This book is — as it purports to be — the Ixmd 
fide Journal of a girl in her teens, kept by her 
during a short residence in Paris twenty years 
ago. It was put into my hands "just to amuse 
me," and I found it so interesting that I suggest- 
ed its being recopied, with any alteration of 
names or disguise of incidents that was thought 
advisable, and sent back to me, subject to what- 
ever editorial excisions I might deem necessary. 

This was done ; but my task has been light, 
for little was required. A few sentences con- 
densed or transposed, an explanatory line added 
here and there, and the general supervision of 
a practiced author over a work originally " not 
meant for publication" — this was all. I have 
let the girl speak for herself I have not even 
modified her passionate political opinions ; they 
are true to girl-nature and a part of herself. 

Neither have I omitted those portions of her 
Journal which describe the gay Paris life in 
which she mingled, the people she met therein, 
their sentiments and her own, on love, mar- 
riage, and otter subjects usually tabooed in 



10 THE PREFACE. 

girls' books. Why? Girls will think of 
these things — ay, and talk of them too. Is it 
not better that both their thoughts and their 
conversation should be guided so as to regard 
these mysteries, which each must soon find 
out for herself, earnestly, purely, sacredly? I 
believe so ; and therefore I have left the book 
just as I found it. It tells no story — it points 
no moral : it is simply a picture of a young 
girl's life, painted by herself, in what most girls 
will recognize as natural colors — as fresh now 
as then. If a little too vivid, too brilliant, they 
are still natural. Do not all thing looks bright- 
er and larger than reality, in our teens? 

There is a good deal of French introduced, 
for which I make no apology. Any young 
reader who finds this a difficulty — why, the 
sooner she takes her grammar and dictionary 
in hand and conquers it, the better. 

And so I give this girl's Journal to other 
girls, believing that it will do them no harm, 
but good, and only wishing that one day they 
may all be able to look back twenty years 
with as little need to be ashamed of their old 
selves as she who calls herself -Bea^nce Walford. 



CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER I. 

PAGX 

A Pakibian Soibee 13 



CHAPTER II. 
The Coup d'^at 60 

CHAPTER III. 
M. L£ Professeur 87 

CHAPTER IV. 
M. feuLE 104 

CHAPTER V. 
The Jour de l*An ^. 122 

CHAPTER VI. 
In the Faubourg St. Germain 183 

CHAPTER VII. 
Balls 164 

CHAPTER VIII. 
Paris in April 186 



13 CONTENTS. 

CHAPTER IX. 

PAOK 

The Luxembourg and the Conciergerte :i01 

CHAPTER X. 
Paris in Mat 211 

CHAPTER XI. 
A French Country House 229 

CHAPTER Xn. 
A French Village 268 

CHAPTER XIII. 
Friends and F^tes 283 

CHAPTER XIV. 
Autumn Days 314 

CHAPTER XV. 
Sibyl's Lot — ^and Mine 346 



TWENTY YEARS AGO. 



CHAPTER I. 

A PARISIAN SOIREE. 

MORE than twenty years ago I, Beatrice 
Walford, paid my first visit to Paris. I 
was very young, fresh, and ardent; open-eyed, 
open-eared, eager to enjoy ; prone to admire, 
and not unwilling to criticise. I started, to be 
sure, with a great contempt for the French 
character, believing that the men were mon- 
keys, and not to be trusted; the women vix- 
ens, and given up to dress. This was all the 
mental provision I had made for my two years' 
residence among them. I came to the coun- 
try almost in that state of innocence which 
finds it astonishing that the natives of France 
should speak French: I left it -as little of a 
Frenchwoman as could be expected from the 
stubborn British individuality ; but . I lived 
there after the great law of French existence 
— I amused myself as much as I could. It 



14 TWENTY YEARS AGO. 

seemed an idle life, but Fate will let no life be 
idle. I walked carelessly among scenes and 
characters as though they had been but pic- 
ture-galleries, and they turned into earnest stud- 
ies. And now, looking back, as across a gulf of 
endless separation, my present existence — on 
which they have not left the smallest outward 
trace — seems yet filled with the foreign, famil- 
iar faces; the strange, soon beloved tongues; 
with the curious histories learned, the romances 
watched to their sweet or sad conclusion I 

My first single emotion was one of delight 
at the radiant world in which I found myself. 
I was on a visit to a sister who, some six years 
before, had married a French gentleman of the 
petite noblessej had become a widow, and, hav- 
ing lived a good deal in Paris, preferred still 
to reside there, but was very glad to have me, 
as she said, to give a little liveliness to her 
^* iriste home." I did not myself think it at all 
triste when I arrived. It was in that bright 
bit of Paris, the Avenue des Champs ]filys6es, 
making one of a line of elegant houses, all glit- 
tering in their bright white stone, with their 
moulded and gilded fa9ades on each side of 
those broad, sunny walks, and their double av- 
enue of trees. And then my sister^s small, 
pretty aptartment opened on me like a tiny 



A PARISIAN SOIREE. 15 

fairy palace, as, entering the antechamber, I 
heard the gay piano sounding, and peeped into 
the bright drawing-room within, a little shrine 
played on by the sunshine, gay and fragrant 
with flowers. And, like the nymph of flowers 
and fragrance herself, came forth my graceful 
sister to kiss and smile on me. Then, when 
the first vague happy greetings were over, she 
made me sit by the fire, and, throwing herself* 
back in a low chair by my side (her favorite 
pretty attitude), played with her little baby, a 
red-aud-white darling with two dancing sap- 
phires of eyes. We were soon laughing to- 
gether, for she was excitable and easily amused, 
and, though older by some years, more of a 
child than I. 

The dear Sibyl ! I never could describe her, 
she was such a delicate blending of counter- 
elements. The admiring Frenchman, monsieur 
or ouvrzevy would pronounce her in the streets 
a blonde angelique^ and I have known a lecture 
or concert room fill, as she entered, with a gen- 
eral murmur of pleasure, followed by the loud- 
ly whispered word Anglaise, And English 
certainly, refined and idealized to almost an 
exceptional creation, was that white nymph-like 
figure, with transparent complexion. and gold- 
en-brown hair, and a kind of. celestial sweet- 



16 TWENTY YEABS AGO. 

ness in her eyes and still smile. But beyond 
that charm I do not know that Sibyl was par- 
ticularly British ; perhaps, indeed, she seemed 
most so to a foreigner, as she seemed most 
French to a compatriot. But to me there was 
in her a life and play, a subtle archness, a for- 
eign grace in dress, manner, and speech, that 
seemed to have been kindled in a warmer, 
more exciting atmosphere than oura Perhaps 
she was something of a coquette, but I did not 
mind that 

"Why, Sibyl," I said, as I leaned out on the 
light iron gnllage of the balcony, ** it seems to 
me that one can see all Paris without stirring 
from one's place. All the world appears gath- 
ered into a picture before these windows for 
our amusement. From that bronze fountain, 
with its silvery jet and foam-halo, in the Place 
down there, to the Arc de Triomphe cut out 
in the blue air, it is a picture in a dream." 

" There goes the president," said Sibyl ; and 
I looked, though the name was not then much 
of a spell (for this was just before December 
2, 1851). I saw a low-hung cdlMie with four 
horses, valets and postilions in livery of green 
and gold, and leaning back in it, with folded 
arms, a slight, inanimate-looking man, of clayey 
or rather leathery complexion, who, with wood- 



A PAItmiAN SOIREE. 17 

en, immovable face, touched his hat now and 
then to the scant greetings of the passers-by. 

This was twenty years ago. Then to me, 
as to the rest of that unforeseeing world, all 
was enjoyment — the enjoyment of eyes always 
pleased and never satiated. Our day was 
given, as were many after-days, to walking 
through this brilliant modern Paris, admiring 
her in her ordered and stately grace; then 
plunging into the ancient gloom and squalor 
of the older city, entering grand buildings, the 
shrines of past ages, hearing divine thunders 
and angelic voices in churches; then, at one 
step, plunging again into a torrent of human 
life, where the quick French nature seems to 
run like a light sound of laughter or music by 
our side. Sometimes we formed a party to 
dejeuner or dine in some shining, sumptuous 
cafiS; and then it was time to return. Our 
first walk home, in a frosty brilliant afternoon, 
was by the south terrace of the Tuileries, end- 
ing in a broad esplanade, below which lay 
spread out at our feet the whole fair Place 
de la Concorde. There on one side stood the 
Madeleine, with its beautiful encircling colon- 
nade, seeming to look across the granite obelisk 
and sparkling fountains of the Place to salute 
the pillared front of the Chamber of Depu- 

B 



18 TWENTY TEAMS AGO. 

ties, on tlie other side the river. The last sun- 
shine rested on the upper part, and turned the 
wreathing frieze and cornice to gold. In a 
side-view we caught a lovely bit of the Seine 
— a glimpse of rosy water, with a suspension 
bridge's aerial arch flying lightly across it. It 
was as if a majestic city square, with all its 
marble architecture and sculpture, should sud- 
denly open upon us from amidst stately woods 
— all clear and brightly calm in its framing of 
a wintry crystal atmosphere and a burning 
sunset. 

It was always a pleasure to come back to 
our own street, with its regular clean white 
houses, its row of windows d deux battants on 
the upper stories, all opening down to the 
floor upon light balconies of prettily carved 
and gilt iron-work, the white and green per- 
siennes thrown back against the walls, showing 
the muslin curtains within, and all shining as 
nothing in London ever shines. We approach 
our own house; the great double doors fly 
open at a touch of the bell and by the pull of 
a string, and before us appears a large, hand- 
some court, with two or three glass doors at 
the end — one into the concierge^ s lodge, the 
others opening on the great common staircase. 
Within is another large court, built round by 



A PARISIAN SOIREE, 19 

the four sides of the house. The outer court 
is adorned with flowers in boxes, dahlias, ole- 
anders, and orange - trees ; a marble Venus 
stands at the foot of the staircase. As we pass 
the conderge^s lodge I see through the glass 
door the comfortable-looking room, lighted 
with fire and candle, and that grim, respectable 
old dragon and his wife reclining at their ease 
in fauteuils placed opposite each other. In the 
lodge or the court is sometimes to be seen that 
prime French favorite, a superb Cyprus cat, 
with waving, plumy exuberance of fur. But 
when I inquire after him I am so often stern- 
ly told "Monsieur se prom^ne," that I have 
given up this dissipated gentleman as scarcely 
a respectable acquaintance. 

Then comes, the wide staircase, up whose 
smooth, well- waxed parqueted steps we trip so 
easily. But stop, I must learn to walk de- 
murely, at least when I ai?i alone ; for I am 
told by Sibyl's careful bonne, who watches 
over my morals, that on such occasions, "les 
demoiselles" must not run up stairs; they 
must go "la tSte 61ev^," and leisurely, to 
show they are not ashamed to be seen. I 
must be careful, too, short-sighted as I am, to 
see- the concierge, and to bow to him, for he is a 
man of lofty politeness, whose good manners I 



20 TWENTY TEARS AGO. 

ought at least to try to imitate ; and, as Ga- 
brielle says, nothing is so necessary to " de- 
moiselles," nothing so carefully taught them 
in France, as a gracious and amiable deport- 
ment. So up we pass, only bowed to by some 
stranger-focatoVe, should he pass at the same 
time, each landing-place exhibiting the safely 
locked door of some elegant asylum in which 
a family may be dwelling, joyous yet quiet, 
as much " at home " as in an English country 
cottage. We reach our own : Sibyl and I 
each take possession of a deliciously elastic 
caiLseicsey all soft and rich with crimson velvet, 
see our own pleased, tired faces in many a 
gilded mirror, and discuss the incidents of the 
day. 

" Now, you little barbarian," said Sibyl, a 
few days after my arrival, " I must take you 
into society this evening. Very often I have 
two or three friends who drop in, in a quiet 
way ; but to-night we must go to Madame. 
Gibbs's." 

"Who is Madame Gibbs?" I asked. 

"Oh, she is a queer little body — a French- 
woman married to an Englishman, who piques 
herself on being quite English, though you 
won't think so. Her society is very mixed, 
but the party will just suit you as a beginning, * 



A PAmaiAN SOIREE. ^1 

being quiet, yet very amusiDg. How do you 
think you shall like it, from the specimens 
you have seen to-day ?" 

" I must confess," I said, "I am not yet rec- 
onciled to black beards and mustaches, cigars, 
strange dresses, and prolonged stares. In fact, 
I long to kill every man I meet. But this 
you will say is illiberal." 

" It seems so to me," said Sibyl, candidly ; 
"but then I have been some years learning 
toleration. You know there are two things a 
Frenctman can never help using — his eyes 
and his tongue. As that dear M. Lamourette 
once said to me when, being younger, I ob- 
jected a little to the staring process, no imper- 
tinence is intended ; it is only an artless, spon- 
taneous tribute to one's charms. ^Un homme 
naif et ingemc comme moi^ as he was pleased to 
say, * can't help expressing his feelings.' But 
I have since grown so hardened and corrupted 
that when the more serious flmile asked me 
how I ventured to walk out alone, lest I 
should hear disagreeable things, I answered, 
with the innocence of fifteen, that what I 
heard was, to me, not disagreeable! But I 
don't wonder that you, Beatrice, are still per- 
plexed by hearing various conjectures as to 
your nationality, and candid information about 



23 TWENTY YEARS AGO. 

your * type,' your hair, and your complexion. 
Wait for this evening's experience. French- 
men in the street and Frenchmen in the sahn 
are very different. At any rate, don't utter 
these opinions of yours before Hermine, since, 
though she may very possibly think the same 
herself, she may also betray you to her coun- 
trymen." 

Speak of the sun and you see its rays. 
Just as Sibyl ceased the door opened, and in 
came two ladies — an elder and a younger. 
The latter caught at once my beauty-loving 
eyes. They were Madame de Fleury — Sibyl's 
stepmother-in-law, who lived in the same ho- 
tel on a lower floor — and her young daugh- 
ter Hermine, with whom I instantly made ac- 
quaintance. What a brilliant little French 
sylph she was, as she half tripped, half glided 
into the room, moving quickly and decidedly, 
her small, trim figure having just that happy 
degree of compression which gives slightness 
without stiffness I Her face I thought at first 
hard; young and fresh as it was, it had a me- 
tallic sharpness and clearness the very reverse 
of the soft, dreamy, veiled charm of youthful 
English beauty. She wore a smile — wore, I 
say advisedly, for she might have put it on 
with her dress — not soft or timid, but full of 



A PARISIAN SOIREK 23 

a gay, brilliant, conquering sweetness all its 
own. 

Hermine was very gracious to me. Had 
she met me in the street as a stranger, she 
would most likely have njeasured me with the 
eye of quick, unsparing criticism, which in a 
moment takes in the whole figure and dress of 
a person, in which not a spot, a wrinkle, or a 
fold, if out of the fashion, escapes observation ; 
then might have turned away with that slight 
derisive smile so singularly suited to discon- 
cert or provoke an Englishwoman. But now 
perhaps Hermine satisfied herself in that glance 
that my pretensions were not very formidable, 
my gown and bonnet having been obviously 
not made in Paris. Graceful and self-pos- 
sessed, she came up and made her " felicita- 
tions " in a tone of affectionate interest, and 
with her light, ringing, singing voice, and that 
air, so delicately empressS, which attracts, flat- 
ters, and caresses to the highest degree. A 
pretty Frenchwoman who means to please 
knows how to manage the briefest meeting, the 
slightest chance-intercourse, especially with the 
other sex, be it only a handing from a voiture, 
a making way for her in the street, acknowl- 
edged by a bow, a smile, a " Merci, monsieur." 
She can turn it all into a little sentimental pas- 



24 TWENTY YEARS AGO. 

sage, by means of that charming manner they 
seem all to have, more or less, from the high- 
bred young countess to the poor fruit-woman 
at her stall. Some see harm in this : I, Bea- 
trice Walford, never could. Is a peach less 
sweet for having a soft velvety cheek outside Z 
— that is, when it is a sound peach, as peaches 
should be. 

Hermine and I exchanged a few light sen- 
tences, I making in haste crude efforts to rival 
her manners, to smooth and refine my phrases 
into correct works of art, instead of trusting 
only to my downright sansfaqon English good- 
will, which felt quite put to shame by her ex- 
quisitely-polished conventionalities. But, alas ! 
we spoke in a language of which not one word 
would come straight to my tongue when I 
wanted it. To my relief, Sibyl soon inter- 
posed, saying that it was time to dress for Ma- 
dame Gibbs's. We withdrew together, leaving 
Hermine and her mother, who were already 
attired and prepared to accompany u& • 

"Just tell me a little about these soirSes,'*^ I 
asked of my sister. " You know I have lived 
so long in a lonely corner of Cumberland that 
I feel giddy at this sudden plunge into Paris 
life, and may disgrace you with my blunders." 

"Oh, the French are so indulgent," said 



A PARISIAN SOIREE. 25 

Sibyl ; " they regard a foreigner's first crudities 
just as pretty, ^'g^wan^ novelties; to the new- 
ly-arrived all things are forgiven. True, it 
will not do to depend too long on this claim to 
indulgence ; want of tact is regarded as a mor- 
tal sin, and we can be mechant enough when 
the first charm of novelty has worn ofil But 
I will tell you the sort of thing it will be. One 
evening in every week a lady receives com- 
pany, and her acquaintance, if once they have 
had an invitation, are expected always to come 
on that particular evening. However, they 
come or not as they like ; the party is large 
or small as may happen ; they dress as they 
please; they enter and depart with no cere- 
mony beyond that of greeting their hostess; 
they stay long if they find it amusing, or only 
a few minutes if it is not so, or if they want to 
go elsewhere. The same people get a habit 
of frequenting the same places; mutual ac- 
quaintances have also their evenings ; so that 
one often becomes intimate with a person whose 
family or even name one scarcely knows, and 
perhaps scarcely sees by daylight. There is 
no efibrt, no gine. People here meet to talk, 
and do it with all their hearts. There is al- 
ways the pleasant expectation of seeing again 
any body who has begun to interest one, and 



26 TWENTY TJSAHS AGO. 

the certainty of finding new faces and of 
watching foreign and amusing ways." 

" Well, I shall like that, if only I need not 
talk a word for at least the first three even- 
ings." 

So said I, not knowing my fate, or rather 
not knowing myself. 

Sibyl told me she should name no one be- 
forehand — it was much more amusing to find 
people out for one's self—" Except ;6mile de 
Fleury, who is a sort of relation ; he is Her- 
mine's cousin, has lately left the ;6cole Poly- 
technique, and is in the army. That is all." 

Our carriage rumbles and jumbles along the 
execrable pavements of the aristocratic Fau- 
bourg St. Germain, which is also the literary 
quarter, the colleges being chiefly there ; and 
in this class of society lay our present ac- 
quaintance. 

We stop at a large, old, dingy -looking house 
in the Eue de I'Universit^, once the handsome 
hotel of some " grand seigneur." Its various 
full-grown etages are now filled with artists, 
students, litterateurs. The porte-cochere is open ; 
we drive into the open paved court, where 
carriages are already standing. Three flights 
of stairs lead to the appartement of Madame 
Gibbs ; we are ushered into a nice little ante- 



A PARISIAN SOIBEM. 37 

room, where an open stove or brazier, with its 
white marble top, diffuses a delicious warmth, 
in compensation for the starry, frozen bitterness 
without Two smiling maidens take charge 
of the ladies' mantles, cachemires, capotes^ and 
all the rich winter wrappings that hide till then 
the still prettier winter dress below. The light 
chorus of voices from inside reaches the an- 
techamber where we stand, and in a few mo- 
ments we are among them. 

Madame Gibbs had just recommenced her 
weekly soirees. These were of a kind very fre- 
quent among the lettered, artistic, professional, 
and generally not too rich nor exclusively 
fashionable circles in Paris ; consequently very 
mixed, easy, and agreeable. There was no 
show, expense, or elaborate hospitality of any 
kind ; the majority of the guests, having long 
been in the habit of attending, were as much 
at home there as by their own firesides. Be- 
sides this regular and natural reunion of inti- 
mates, Madame Gibbs, being a brisk and vigor- 
ous society-lover, was at some pains to flavor 
it with a spicy ingredient or two — a new ar- 
rival, a foreign celebrity, a queer character, a 
known talker, who either became permanently 
added to her set, or just lighted it up for the 
winter, or perhaps only the evening, like a 



38 TWENTY YEAES AGO. 

passing meteor. As yet the season for gaye- 
ties, for balls and f^ies^ had not begun, the full 
flood of strangers had not poured in ; there- 
fore these soirees had more of a quiet, do- 
mestic character ; the parqueted dancing-room 
was not yet used, except perhaps impromptu. 
The ladies' dresses were only demi-toilets ; the 
young ones rejoiced still in their fresh, clear 
colors — pink, and white, and blue — unfaded by 
a long Paris campaign ; there were plenty of 
happy, idle men, the Chamber of Deputies not 
having yet opened, nor the college lectures 
begun. 

The rooms, though not large, were pretty 
well arranged for reception, well furnished, 
and well lighted. They consisted of two sa- 
lons, just of the right sociable size and shape, 
each warm and cheerful, with a sparkling 
wood fire in each, and couches and fauieuik 
scattered around in most inviting groups. 

The rooms are gradually filling, but the full 
choir of conversation is not begun. People 
stand, flit about unfixedly, exchange a word 
here and ther^; presently those who wish to 
meet find each other out, choose their places, 
and slip into a happy groove of talk, either in 
a duet or a group of three or four, changing 
as people leave or join it. Ere long the sa- 



A PARISIAN SOIREE, 29 

Ion seems to present nothing but a crowd of 
black -bearded, mustached men, and of white 
gloves waving eagerly through the room, with 
tongues incessantly going between talk and 
laughter. All are voluble, easy, self-possess- 
ed, and seem in high enjoyment, except here 
and there arises an insular form like a column 
above the rest, blonde-headed, reddish-whis- 
kered, good-looking, heavy — either silent or 
speaking quietly, perhaps with an air of g^ne^ 
and with looks and attitudes any thing but 
at ease. " English !" say I to myself at once. 
Besides these, there are bearded artists, pro- 
fessors with hrgnonsj a few militaires^ some se- 
rious-looking Italian exiles, some half-unna- 
tionalized travellers, citizens of all worlds, and 
many of them queer ones ; some suspected Jes- 
uits, with smooth smiles, softly joining every 
lively group of talkers, listening and seeming 
as lively as any. Here and there is a stray 
grand seigneur of the old school, known by his 
more quiet and polished manners, generally a 
zealous Catholic, devot perhaps without moral- 
ity, and a chivalrous Legitimist, doomed thus 
to elbow Red Eepublicans of the most emanci- 
pated type. Finally, as large an element as 
any are English girls ; often hahiiuees of Paris, 
but English all over in look, speech, and dress ; 



30 TWENTY TEAMS AGO. 

and, in their fresh beauty and joyous simplici- 
ty, great favorites with these cai/^^ie- loving 
gentlemen. French demoiselles make a very 
thin sprinkling, and, when they do appear, it 
must be owned their countrymen neglect them 
a little. 

There sits a knot of downright English 
maidens — a bouquet of two or three of these 
Northern lilies or island roses — and every now 
and then a sprightly-looking Frenchman slides 
up to them, hat in hand, and, with a smile, 
makes a couple of bows — the first at a dis- 
tance, reverential ; the second nearer, empress^ 
(for, however intimate, hands are seldom shak- 
en) ; and, after a most polite inquiry as to the 
health of the young lady he has singled out, 
which must be answered, as he will repeat it 
till it is, he opens at once an animated flirta- 
tion. The mixture of gay raillery with com- 
pliment only implied, the appearance of inter- 
est, the pretty turns of speech, showing just 
enough consciousness of their respective sexes, 
and not too much, the readiness to listen as 
well as talk, and the open-hearted, confiding 
frankness with which he communicates his 
feelings, his cares, or his sorrows — all this 
strikes the young English mind as very un- 
English indeed. 



A PARISIAN SOIREE, tl 

The favorite first topic is a laughing raillery 
of mademoiselle on her prejuges atroces against 
his nation, which he either playfully depre- 
cates or exaggeratedly confirms; and mean- 
while the English girl, if she be new and in- 
experienced, looks on the Frenchman with a 
mixture of doubt, suspicion, and curiosity; he 
is a mystery of which she finds the study far 
from disagreeable. Theoretically she has a 
horror of him as something wicked, worthless, 
dangerous ; yet, while drawn on by him to ex- 
press this, she finds her real, actual feelings to 
be surprise, amusement, and, above all, that 
delicious sense of gently gratified vanity. For 
the benefit of such-like innocent English girls, 
I may observe that this way of talking and 
style of manners is with a Frenchman a mere 
matter of course, and means very little in- 
deed. Of course my initiation into French so- 
ciety was somewhat on this wise ; but I missed 
a good many of the favorite personalities, from 
the fact of my not being precisely the blonde et 
caThdide Anglaise which is stereotyped in their 
imagination. Yet, though! was not in person 
of the peculiar English type (to use their pet 
phrase), I soon discovered that I was to them 
most abundantly britannique in character and 
manihre dHUre, I could after a while perceive, 



9B TWENTY TEAMS AGO. 

not indistinctly, that I was somewhat of a fa- 
vorite ; but I owed this chiefly to Sibyl's ex- 
treme popularity. There would come up to 
me one Frenchman after another, either led by 
Madame Gibbs or by the strong spirit within, 
to inquire in tender tones if I was not la soeur 
de cette charmante Madame de Fkury; and very 
good they were to endure all my sins of gram- 
mar and absurdities of pronunciation for her 
sake. 

So I sat and watched, when I could, Sibyl's 
.delicate gayety in her light passages of talk 
with divers kinds of people, her pretty caress- 
ing attentions to her female friends, her man- 
ners so carelessly serene to the gentlemen, 
young and old, who hovered round her. I had^ 
as I said, my share of introductions — for some- 
times it was a quick desultory succession of 
indiflferent persons. I scarcely caught a name; 
I hardly knew one face from another ; all was 
equally strange — an Englishman often wild 
and bearded like a foreigner,, a foreigner some- 
times speaking excellent English. 

Before long; there came up to Sibyl a young 
man, who at once detached himself, to my 
eyes, from that crowd of men, all so like one 
another, and whom she named as M. fimila 
He had decidedly a military air ; but the first 



A PARISIAN SOIREE. 33 

thing that struck me was his superiority in 
height, figure, carriage, and style of face to al- 
most all the other young men. He was from 
the north-east of France, and a tinge of Frank- 
ish blood may have modified his Celtic linea.- 
ments. There was in them an indefinable 
charm far beyond handsomeness, for he was 
not handsome. But the changing play of his 
mobile features, his fresh coloring, the rich 
chestnut of his hair and silky mustache, made 
him certainly not ugly. He approached Sibyl 
quietly, with an air of homage almost timid, yet 
very sweet ; then, on being introduced, bowed 
and addressed me with a kind of gentle for- 
mality ; but there was never any gaucherie. A 
Frenchman presents himself well, and stands 
or sits straight and at rest — all but his gesticu- 
lating hands ; his bow and smile bespeak one 
who knows he can sustain his part In the 
case of M. ;6mile, the gentleness with which 
he entered into conversation formed a kind of 
shelter from the exuberant and even noisy vi- 
vacity of the others ; and I soon found myself 
pleasantly floating along a stream of meta- 
physical, critical, sentimental, and other dis- 
course with the young soldier. He talked 
well, like most other Frenchmen ; but, though 
his smile was ready and sweet, and his re- 

C 



34 TWENTY TEAMS AGO. 

marks often playful, he yet seemed to me sub- 
dued in comparison with the others, so I took 
occasion of a break in our conversation to ask 
my sister if the young oflicer's heart had been 
blighted. . 

" No, I. think not," said Sibyl. " The state 
of his country and his own want of hope of ris- 
ing tend to depress him ; but you will often 
find him lively enough." 

This was sufficient, when M. [fimile, with his 
own quiet perseverance, again found a place by 
Sibyl and me, to make me begin to talk poli- 
tics. I asked him how he liked his present 
ruler. He shrugged his shoulders d la Fran- 
gaise, " You think him only better than an- 
archy?" I persisted, with English directness. 

"I am in his service ; I must not speak ill 
of him." 

I begged pardon for my indiscreet question, 
and was politely forgiven. Indeed, a dogged 
reserve was not in M. Smile's character, at least 
towards one in whom he began to place a friend- 
ly confidence; and he ere long betrayed feel- 
ings which made me say, "I am charmed to find 
you really a Eepublican." 

"You are the first that ever doubted it," 
replied he, in a gentle, injured tone. 

Still farther emboldened, I affirmed, " If T 



A PARISIAN SOIREE. 85 

were in your place I should tlirow my hrevet to 
the four winds." 

He appreciated the sentiment, but pleaded 
the necessity of a profession, the chance and 
hope of serving his country in some way or 
other, which a present surrender of his position 
would forever destroy, alleging reasons which 
I felt to be valid, but would not allow. I stood 
to my text, affirmed with easy heroism, " H 
n'est pas ndcessaire de vivre," and so on, till he 
was reduced to a smiling protesting, " Mais vrai- 
ment, mademoiselle ;" then broke off, wonder- 
ing at such " enthousiasme exalte ;" he had no 
idea he should find an Anglaise so democratic, 
etc. I liked to see him as he stood smiling 
down from his tall height, under his dark silk- 
en mustache — a pleased, amused, half-embar- 
rassed smile — crossing and uncrossing his arms 
in a light and gentle style of his own, as he en- 
tered his protest against my exaltaticm. 

Though liking him, I was a little displeased 
with M. !6mile for what appeared an absence 
of heroic consistency, a temporizing submission 
to circumstances ; but I did him wrong. 

It was perhaps fortunate for our nascent 
friendship that at this juncture there approach- 
ed a gentleman whom I did not know, a com- 
plete contrast to the quiet, thoughtful, low- 



36 TWENTY TEAMS AGO. 

voiced young officer. This person had been 
fluttering about, or rather had poised in his er- 
ratic flight a moment near us, and then, waiting 
for no introduction, plunged into the conversa- 
tion, wnich from that moment he seized up, car- 
ried on, and almost engrossed, with a torrent 
of esprit^ fun, laughter, and animation of look, 
tone, and gesture that I despair of describing. 
To say that he was amusing is little ; I was 
never in my life so amused before. To say 
that he was extremely noisy is also strict jus- 
tice ; and when, attracted by the flood of talk 
and outbreaks of laughter from our group, oth- 
er gentlemen from time to time joined in, till it 
consisted of five, six, or even seven at once, con- 
tributing their quota to the excitement, I felt 
myself at last in a bewildering fever of amuse- 
ment, surprise, and exertion. 

Sibyl at first gave me some aid, but she was 
called away by Madame Gibbs, and, left to my- 
self, I, unfortunate foreigner ! found my diffi- 
culty in speaking become ten times greater. 
But this mattered nothing ; the flattering po- 
liteness, the inexhaustible brilliancy, and the 
electrical good-humor of the unknown, covered 
and overpowered all encircled by these vehe- 
ment talkers. I could not and did not think 
of escaping, and nothing but my own final de- 



A PAMISIAN SOIREE. 37 

parture put an end to the game, which seemed 
so agreeable to these gentlemen, of astonishing 
the poor Anglmse, L must say that they were 
extremely well bred, and the quickness and 
courtesy with which the brilliant stranger list- 
ened to, understood, helped out, and replied to 
my very English French were perfectly charm- 
ing. 

As for recording one tenth of what he said, 
it would be impossible, nor, without the tone 
and manner, would it seem much worth re- 
cording; I can only collect some few stray 
drops from this Niagara of talk. I was at first 
(of course) rallied on my supposed prejudices 
against the French, and confirmed in them by 
the assurance that they were bavards, frivolous, 
foolish, and unreflective. Nothing could be 
more amusing than the way they ran. them- 
selves down, appealing constantly, in seductive 
tones, to "mademoiselle," for whose edification 
these tirades were uttered. They talked about 
national cruelty ; their ferocity, especially that 
of the nlilitary, was admitted without a dissen- 
tient voice ; but some one pronounced the cru- 
elties of the English worse, because they were 
committed in cold blood, while the French 
were hurried away by passionate excitement. 
Finallv. of all the excesses of all the most sav- 



38 TWENTY YEAMS AGO. 

age soldiery, those committed by the Austrians 
were said to be pre-eminent. 

Then the gentle M. ilfimile was rallied on the 
ferocity he had brought from one short cam- 
paign in Algdrie ; but, to allay the horror I 
might be entertaining of him, I was assured 
that he was the most humane of all, and that 
he had not "^gorg^ plus d'une douzaine de 
femmes, ni mang^ plus de quatre enfants." 
M. flmile then told composedly some stories 
of murderous adventure and horrible massa- 
cre in Algdrie; but when he tried to allay 
the effect by some touches of interesting inci- 
dent or picturesque description, he was un- 
mercifully laughed at by his friend, who bade 
me believe nothing he said, for that "M. Toffi- 
cier" was "romanesque, un pen sentimental 
m6me." " A defect from which you are quite 
free," I thought to myself It was great fun 
to see this lively man teasing his friend, and 
then consoling him with a patronizing, caress- 
ing good-nature which the tall young militaire 
took with his usual quiet serenity. IVom for- 
eign, they came to domestic cruelties, which 
they told apparently with great gusto. "Voi- 
la, mademoiselle, encore le tigre I" was the de- 
lighted wind-up. . 

Having thus lighted on politics, we pursued 



A PARISIAN SOIMEE. 39 

the theme with something more of earnestness 
than before ; and then my new friend, by cer- 
tain oratorical poses, betrayed himself as one 
accustomed to the tribune and to public speak- 
ing. All Frenchmen, I observe, who are in 
the habit of this make a point, when inter- 
rupted for but two minutes, of following 
Lamartine's celebrated example, and standing 
with their arms folded in an attitude of august 
calm. My friend's natural majesty was not 
much, but he did what he could. A pensive 
Italian joined the group; the sprightly pro- 
fessor — ^for so far I had made out what he was 
— instantly turned his fire of raillery on him, 
said something with much emphiasis about " le 
roi Bomba," and then, turning again to me, 
observed, "We have one comfort left; as long 
as the Neapolitans exist we can not be called 
the last of. nations" — which hit the grave 
young democratical litth^aieur took very well. 

Then he gayly quoted the president's late- 
reported saying, "H faut supprimer TAngle- 
terre," and asked me how I liked it. "Let 
him try !" I answered, scornfully, adding that 
it was very ungrateful of Louis Napoleon to 
the country which had sheltered him so long. 
This remark was politely approved of, and 
when I was threatened with being detained 



40 TWENTY "YEAJiS AGO. 

prisoner at Paris in case of an English war, 
and answered " Je resterai volontiers," smiles 
and bows acknowledged my reciprocal polite- 
ness. When, on being asked my political 
opinions, I confessed to the reddest of Bed 
Eepublicanism, adding " that I was ready to 
mount a barricade," M. le Professeur, with an 
air of chivalrous devotion, declared his deter- 
mination to mount behind me. A general 
shout of laughter informed him of his mistake, 
and it was in vain that he earnestly strove to 
improve it ; he got nothing but the credit of 
his first assertion. 

In the midst of the discussion my sister 
came to call me away. She was attended by 
a new Frenchman, whom she formally pre- 
sented to me, naming each to each as she did 
so. My name seemed to interest the audience, 
for the French gentlemen suspended their 
storm of discourse to let the small soft Chris- 
tian name in Sibyl's sweet accents slip in, and 
fill up the tiny interval. I bowed and van- 
ished, the last-named gentleman accompany- 
ing Sibyl and me to our carriage. 

And who, then, was this clever, impetuous 
talker, who had given me my first idea of 
French esprit? Why, he was the man most 
recherche in all that society ; still young, but 



A PARISIAN aOIREE. 41 

known as a charming talker, and a brilliant, 
rising man of letters — the pleasant and popu- 
lar Professor Achille Lamourette. After-ac- 
quaintance presented him in new lights; at 
present I rightly held him intensely agreeable. 
In appearance he was far more the French- 
man of one's imagination than M. flmile or 
any one else that I had seen — a lithe figure, 
electric movements, a whirlwind of gesticula- 
tion, an eye of restless light, smooth chin and 
slight mustache, features young but expression 
old, a face of lightning-like play, but strongly 
marked with those sensitive lines that betray 
a most nervous temperament, and speak also 
of days of sedentary, studious toil, a mercurial 
nature bowed down to drudgery, but always 
striving to escape, and compensating itself by 
brief, eager flashes of more vivid life. 

I have said that there were few French la- 
dies present; nevertheless, I did make ac- 
quaintance with one whom I think I shall like 
better than Hermine. In the first place, she 
had expressed a great desire to know English 
young ladies ; in the next, though she sat by 
her mother's side, she was not totally eclipsed 
in the ma^ternal shadow, but spoke for herself 
in a decided manner, as one accustomed to 
some independence. It is true she was about 



42 TWENTY TJEARJS AGO. 

• 

twenty-three. At first I thought her older, 
for her face was one of those which at first 
sight are dingy and heavy, but when animated^ 
lighted up, and especially in full dress and at 
happy moments, become really beautiful. It 
was a grand, melancholy face, with severe Eo- 
man features, ample brow, and large black 
eyes ; there were in it traces of physical, and 
I thought suppressed mental, suffering. Her 
whole manner had a -gracious self-respect, be- 
speaking her, what I believe she was, an hon- 
est, high-principled girl. 

She was Eulalie E^nand, daughter of a 
wealthy Protestant banker. She had been 
carefully brought up, was well-informed, and 
had much sense — of the dry, positive kind, 
perhaps, and attended by sufiicient confidence 
in herself; but she thought clearly, and spoke 
readily aiid well. She paid me some stately 
and gracious compliments on my poor French, 
expressed a desire of farther acquaintance, and 
a willingness to give me any information I 
might wish for. We fell into conversation, 
which turned by chance on the early marriages 
of French girls, about which I asked her maoy 
questions. She confirmed all my. previous 
ideas, but added, with a proud calm, " There 
are exceptions ; I am one, and I do not regret 



A PARISIAN SOLREE. 43 

it." I afterwards learned that she had formed 
and kept the romantic resolution never to 
marry unless she could do it d VAnglmse — that 
is, for love. 

But all this while I have said nothing of 
Hermine. Well, there was nothing to say. 
She sat at her mother's side, demure, like a 
kitten that may be playing madly next mo- 
ment. She looked quite a child, and a very 
pretty one, though dressed in a quiet-colored 
silk morning -dress. Gentlemen came up to 
her mother, but addressed not a word to her ; 
which was all exquisitely correct, of course. 
While watching her I saw her suddenly be- 
come ten times demurer; the only reason I 
could assign for this was the approach of an 
elderly gentleman, the same who was last pre- 
sented to me, and who escorted us home, Her- 
mine and her mother accompanying us. He 
was a specimen of a very different class from 
most of those around us, and in three points 
he certainly had the advantage. He used no 
furious gesticulations ; he had no fierce, disor- 
derly profusion of hair over lips and chin; and 
he did not breathe garlic and tobacco. He 
was, in fact, a rather elderly aristocrat, and of 
manners as aristocratically perfect as any I 
ever saw — not particularly sincere, nor con- 



44 TWENTY TEAMS AOO. 

veying any idea of genuine amiability, but 
simple, yet finished, easy, and agreeable. I 
honored what I saw as a last relic of what I 
am told is dying out in Paris — the manners of 
the anden rigime. A tranquil bow, a low even 
tone, and an immediate but very quiet flow of 
conversation — conversation, it must be owned, 
much in the same style as his younger rivals 
— that is, seasoned with compliments, raillery, 
and all the implements from the arsenals of 
flirtation which he may have used with suc- 
cess some twenty years ago, more, as I thought, 
to keep up still a character for galanterie than 
from any other feeling. I rather wished he 
had not that twinkling gray eye, nor that 
somewhat slippery smile. Still, I would have 
attentively studied this new zoological speci- 
men ; but I was so very, very — tired, was it? 
— and I was greatly relieved when, after bow- 
ing to me, and gracefully kissing SibyFs and 
Hermine's hands. Monsieur le Comte took his 
leave. 

" Well," said Sibyl, laughing at my exhaust- 
ed expression of countenance, "these soiries 
present a new tableau every time ; but the best 
of all was to-night. You, the shy, rustic En- 
glish girl, who can't speak a word of French, 
chattering away the whole evening with half a 



A PARISIAN SOIREE, 45 

dozen of the most colloquial Frenchmen, and 
looking the most desperately amused of them 
all! Tell me, now, what do you think of 
them?" 

" They are very amusing," I said, succinctly. 

" Yes," put in Hermine, with a slight laugh ; 
" and still more so, I should think, if you take 
for granted all that my countrymen say to you. 
They take a little advantage of you as a for- 
eigner, j ust pour s^amuser,^'^ 

" I think that very likely," I replied, though 
at the moment I was at loss for the particular 
allusion and the meaning of that slight tone 
of pique. I presently remembered that M. le 
Comte had, in a paroxysm of politeness, in- 
formed me that the very name Anglmse had to 
a Frenchman a mysterious charm, a spell, call- 
ing up an image of ideal perfection. This, no 
doubt, was provoking to a young Franqaise 
quite conscious of her charms. When Sibyl 
soon after enlightened me still farther by the 
private information that an alliance was on the 
tapis between M. le Comte and Mdlle. Her- 
mine, and that in a short time th^y would 
probably be declared Jianc&s^ I comprehended 
better still. 

Left alone, my sister and I fell into the usu- 
al English strain of comment on the French 



46 TWENTY YEARS AOO. 

marriage system, and wondered at, deplored, 
and abused it in general, while I grieved over 
Hermine's case in particular, though assured 
by Sibyl that Hermine would not be unhappy, 
as she had never expected any thing better. 
It was strange to have thus early before my 
eyes a veritable, living instance of those ma- 
riages de convenance which I had always heard 
of, but never quite realized. Here was a girl 
like myself — with a heart, I supposed, made 
by nature like mine, and, I was sure, charms 
enough to have a right to love and be loved, if 
any of us had — affianced, without any will of 
her own, to a man nearly twice her age. 

I looked on the bright, graceful little nymph 
with a new, painful interest, unable to regard 
her as other than a victim. Seeing my com- . 
passion still troublesome, Sibyl was at pains to 
say all she could for the system, which, as she 
observed, suits French people, and has some 
pleasant features in it. The romance of love- 
making, which with us ends, with them often 
begins, at marriage. The husband naturally 
conceives, a great interest in the young, timid, 
innocent creature thus confided to him, and 
takes pains, by tender attentions, to tame the 
shy, wild bird, conquer her fears, and win her 
heart. Often he succeeds; she loves for the 



A PABJSIAN SOntEE. 47 

first time warmly, and then, as often, Sibyl 
was forced to confess, the love-making ceases. 
But the wife adapts herself by degrees to the 
change. 

"I thinkj"said Sibyl, "Hermine will do as 
well as most under the circumstances. She 
has great good temper and good sense, and 
she is such a' taking little creature that if she 
chooses she may hold her husband captive a 
long time." 

I was silent, but my heart rebelled ; I was 
only eighteen, and I, an honest-hearted English 
girl, believed in love. 

We soon returned to considering the char- 
acters and incidents of the evening just past : 
Sibyl was of great use in helping me to ar- 
range my impressions, in making annotations 
and explanations. 

" Compared with this," I said, " what a com- 
monplace affair is an English evening party I 
How little of manners, still less of character, 
one would observe there ! What salient fea- 
tures, what strongly-marked individuality, what 
dramatic grouping of persons and situations I 
I came desiring only a niche whence I might 
see and hear something as to what a French- 
man and his talk might be like, and I find my- 
self undergoing a full initiation, seasoned by a 



48 TWENTY TEAMS AGO. 

curious contradictory charm — the piquancy of 
utter strangeness and the ease of long famil- 
iarity." 

I expressed also my surprise at their social 
imprudence and unreserve, the freedom of 
their strictures on others, their openness about 
themselves, and their apparent pleasure in an 
answering sincerity. 

"My dear," said Sibyl, "Hermine is partly 
right in saying that you must not take au pied 
de la httre all that you hear. Frenchmen are 
such an odd compound — they have such va- 
ried motives for what they say: a desire to 
please the foreigner, and a love of strong emo- 
tions and strong language makes them find 
fault with themselves, while their amour-propre 
and •quick sense of ridicule causes them to 
be severe towards others. Having discover- 
ed your English truthfulness, they are much 
amused at it — in an imaginative way ; attract- 
ed too. But in the long run, ma petite^ you 
will find yourself beaten." 

" Very likely," I said ; " I feel that I am no 
match for them." 

But in my heart I vowed boldly and gayly 
that I wcmld be a match for them ; that I too 
would be only observant and amuised ; that I 
would be charmed but for the moment, and no 



A PARISIAN SOIREE. 49 

more ; that I would fight the charming French- 
men cheerfully with their own weapons, anch 
return with vivid content to my own honest 
English home and English brothers — lovers I 
had none. 

"Even^ I," continued Sibyl, "who have 
known France so much longer, and whom you 
think so French, even I think sometimes what 
chance have I, or the simple downright En- 
glish nature, against this delicate subtlety, this 
persiflant criticism and deep arriere-pensee. 
They see through us, flatter us, charm us, and 
then laugh at and forget us — looking so open 
and innocent through it all !" 

" Do you include M. ilmile among them ?" 
I asked. 

"No," Sibyl answered, rather hurriedly. 
" Smile's nature is so golden, I think he may 
be relied on. Good-night, my child." 

And so we went to bed. 

D 



50 TWENTY TEAMS AGO. 



CHAPTER 11. 



THE COUP d'etat. 



THE week that elapsed between my first 
and second soir&es at Madame Gibbs's had 
some significance for France, if not for myself 
It was marked, in fact, by a revolution. 

One night Paris went to sleep a free and 
tranquil city, with all her plans and purposes, 
whether of pleasure or politics, in full flow, 
and waked to find herself gagged, invested, 
breathless, and motionless. An armed force, 
conjured up, as it seemed, like a night enchant- 
ment, beautiful-seeming, still and strong, filled 
up the city from end to end, girdled every 
square, closed up every street — all Paris at 
once compressed in one gigantic hand, that 
kept down every breast, restrained every move- 
ment ; and behind that glittering fence of bay- 
onets one man doing what he pleased with a 
dumb, prostrate population! Between night 
and morning a constitution had been stabbed 
dead — a nation's liberties strangled. 

But I must tell the story as we learned it, 
beginning with a piece of our own domestic 



THE COUP D'ETAT. 51 

• 

history. Just before this our circle had been 
enlarged by the advent of our cousin Horace, 
a very grave, good, middle-aged man. He 
took a room in the same house with us, and 
proved a most useful protector and chaperon 
in the following days of excitement. 

On the morning of Tuesday, December 2, 
Horace came in from his early morning walk 
with the news that the Champs fllys^es up to 
the Place de la Concorde was full of soldiers 
— ^five hundred lancers coming in in full trot 
— and that it was reported that Changamier 
was that morning arrested. Between nine and 
ten we went out and learned something more 
definite. We passed through the Champs ^ly- 
s^es, and saw Place, quays, avenues crammed 
with dragoons, leading their horses about among 
the trees, and evidently preparing for a perma- 
nent station there. In the Faubourg St Ho- 
nor^ we found people busy pasting up three 
proclamations — one from the pr^fet de police, 
two from the president himself — of which the 
first was short, giving in a few brief decisive 
sentences the facts of the case — that the Na- 
tional Assembly was dissolved, universal suf- 
frage established, the French people convoked 
to vote from the 14th to the 21st following, 
the Council of State dissolved, and all Paris 



53 TWENTY TEAMS AGO, 

and the environs in a state of siege. The sec- 
ond appel au peuple was couched in that pecul- 
iar style of eloquence that seems so pleasing to 
French minds, denouncing the Assembly just 
dismissed as a foyer de comphts^ and calling on 
the people to assist him — the prince-president 
— in forming a new government, of which the 
chief points are a chef responsabU named for 
ten years (who, he not obscurely hints, is to be 
himself), and two asseniblies, the one delibera- 
tive, the other legislative, and both elected by 
universal suffrage. This he says was the First 
Consul's system — this only can save France. 

The prdfet's proclamation conjured the "ha- 
bitants de Paris " to confide in the man whom 
six millions of votes had made their head, 
glorified the "grandeur de Facte" he had just 
performed, and the " calme imposant et solen- 
nel" of which he set them an example, iden- 
tified him with the people, and submitted his 
conduct to their judgment. 

At intervals along the street were posted 
triple rows of soldiers of the line ; the porte- 
cochire of the iUys^e was open, and we saw in 
the court staff- officers mounted and a great 
deal of movement to and fro. As we approach- 
ed the Place de la Madeleine more and more 
signs of military occupation appeared, soldiers 



THE COUP D'ETAT. 53 

in deeper masses, with bayonets fixed, and the 
Place all round the well-known church filled 
with, lancg:^, with their lances and waving 
pennons displayed, immovable on their horses. 
Presently cries of "Vive le g^ndral !" arose, and 
we saw a man in generaVs uniform, on a beau- 
tiful white horse, followed by ofiicers, ride by 
and take off his cocked hat to the salute of 
the troops. He was a stout, square man, with 
white mustaches, and a face of rather fierce 
energy and resolution. It was General Saint- 
Arnaud, the minister of war. 

The crowd increased, but there was no agi- 
tation anywhere. Paris seemed to take cool- 
ly enough the midnight trick that had been 
played upon her, and stood reading with faint 
amusement the placards on the walls that told 
her her freedom had been destroyed. While 
we were thus engaged, a young mustached 
French gentleman (a stranger) addressed us 
with great politeness, to assure us that " tout 
^tait fini," that there was no danger; and, on 
our making some inquiry about the expected 
review in the Champs Elysees, added, "Allez 
voir, allez voir ; les dames anglaises aiment a 
tout voir" — and laughing, with a low bow,- he 
left us. By his cheerfulness we concluded 
that he was a " Napoleoniste." Even the sol- 



54 TWENTY TEARS AGO. 

diers laughed and said something encouraging 
to us as we passed, but with perfect respect. 
Good-humor seemed the order of t^je day. At 
the Palais Eoyal, one of the courts was full of 
soldiers, peaceably cutting up big loaves and 
undeniably fraternizing with the people, at 
least as far as laughter, jokes, and a constant 
hand-shaking going on through the raUings. 

Growing timid, we went home through qui- 
et by-streets ; but in the afternoon, having the 
company of two friends, curiosity prevailed, 
and we went out again. On the Boulevards 
we found a deep, dense crowd, especially 
before all the great caffe, political clubs, etc., 
a crowd such as I had never seen in Paris 
before. Eound Tortoni's there was a perfect 
mass, knots of eager politicians of all classes 
and in all states of mind; wild excitement 
burning in those dark, bearded faces, fiery 
eyes, fierce, rapid gesticulation. Impetuous 
harangues were poured out by some popular 
orator, to whom the others listened as to an 
oracle. Oh, what strange groups I saw I what 
various types of excited faces 1 Several other 
ladies were passing, but all curiosity, all inter- 
est, seemed confined to us English ; French- 
women moved on rapidly, with ennuyk, looks ; 
they had had enough of revolutions. 



THE COUP D'ETAT. 66 

• 

The " Patrie," Louis Napoleon's especial pa- 
per, was being noisily sold and eagerly bought 
at every step ; we got one. A new proclama- 
tion had appeared, an address of the presi- 
dent's to the army, with whom he identified 
himself as the only upholders of the law and 
guardians of public liberty, bade them vote 
freely (for him) as citizens, but obey him un- 
conditionally as soldiers. He desired them, of 
course, to maintain a " calm and imposing at- 
titude," reminded them of their former wrongs 
from the people, how they had been "vain- 
cus" and their " d^sint^ressement h^roique fl6- 
tri" by calumny, and now "he wills that the 
army shall make itself heard." 

A report spread that the immense division 
of cavalry stationed in the Champs filys^es 
was preparing for movement, drums beating, 
dragoons mounting. We flew thither in time 
to behold a splendid spectacle ; all these regi- 
ments, seven or eight hundred in number, 
were mounted and in movement all down that 
long space from the Barri^re to the Place de la 
Concorde. The eye was filled with a multi- 
tudinous unity of splendid forms, a slow-mov- 
ing picture, varying, yet compact. Par as one 
could see those long avenues were one shining 
mass of helmets and cuirasses and sword-belts, 



5(> TWFXTY. YEARS AGO. 

which flashed back the sun as, from brilliant 
mirrors, with a sea of scarlet plumes above, 
and below a gay confusion of red and azure. 
There they were in three divisions, cuirassiers, 
carabineers, and dragoons, filling up the middle 
of that wide space to the extent of nearly two 
miles, ten or twelve abreast, moving on with 
the slow, regular tramp of their horses' feet, 
or wheeling all at once lightly, quickly, and 
noiselessly round, at the word of command 
given by some splendid aid -de -camp as he 
dashed alongside the glittering file, while 
drums and trumpets and bugles rang from the 
band which occupied the centre with their 
white horses, plumes, and sword-belts. 

Ere long appeared the president; he was 
received (of course) with shouts, and rode sev- 
eral times up and down alongside the troops 
at a swift gallop, with a brilliant staff saluting 
as they cheered ; they then slowly defiled off, 
to the sound of drums and trumpets, till the 
long, long succession of gorgeous figures had 
disappeared. It was, though nobody knew 
this, the president's last public appearance for 
a long while ; between this day of safety, ere 
the revolutionary storm had arisen, and the 
one when it had sunk to rest with all the 
wrecks and ruins it had made, he remained 
hidden in well-guarded security. 



THE COUP D'ETAT. 57 

This magnificent military spectacle I heard 
described by Sibyl, but I individually lost it. 
Before we entered the Champs ^filysees, I had 
become so tired -with over-excitement, that I 
chose indiscreetly to go home by myself — a 
much more difficult aflfair than we had reck- 
oned on, and I was dreadfully frightened. Al- 
most every public thoroughfare was closed, 
crowds of people were being forced back by 
the soldiers, and, as I went along the Eue St. 
Honor^, I was four times stopped by cordons 
of soldiers with an "Ou allez-vous, madame?" 
The answer "Chezmoi" passed me twice; the 
third time, after some hesitation and an addi- 
tional supplicatiion, I was again allowed to 
pass; but the fourth I was repelled by bay- 
onets fixed and presented, and firm, though 
civil, refusal. So I put myself under the pro- 
tection of an old woman near. She too had 
been turned back, and was crying with fright, 
weariness, and hunger, and she had been out 
all day. Nothing could exceed her amaze- 
ment at a demoiselle being out alone at such a 
time; but we held together, and at last, to our 
mutual thankfulness, got home by a sideway. 

The history of the Coup d'fitat has been told 
by many. I, a girl, shall tell only what I saw 
with, my own eyes — without comment, too, 



58 TWENTY TEARS AGO. 

which is safest ; for, though I was a girl, I felt 
like a woman — say rather a man. As I had 
told M. fimile, I was the fiercest of Eepublicans. 

We went out early on Wednesday morning 
to see another review, as we expected, from the 
number of soldiers filling the Champs filys^, 
a grand scene like that of yesterday. The 
cavalry were dismounted, and evidently get- 
ting themselves and their horses ready foT in- 
spection. The horses stood somewhat irregu- 
larly about in the road, their gay housings on; 
but they themselves were busy eating the hay 
brought from the great carts that stood all 
round. The men, some leading their horaes 
about, some feeding them, stood some loitering 
about, or getting their uniforms iij order, as 
was need, for their great boots were splashed, 
and they themselves looked cold and jaded, 
but inexhaustibly good-humored. There were, * 
as before, thousands of carabineers, cuirassiers, 
and dragoons, whose shining armor and gay 
colors, in the shifting picturesque confusion of 
their varied movements through all that far- 
extending line, made a most captivating sight. 

Desirous not to waste our morning, we ad- 
dressed a good-humored-looking young cuiras- 
sier who sat idle on a bench by the way -side, 
and asked him if the president was to appear, 



THE COUP D'ETAT. 59 

and when. " In about an hour," he said. So 
we determined to walk as far as the Place de 
la Concorde, and by the time we were back we 
calculated that we might see him riding, with 
all his staff, down that long Avenue de Ma- 
rigny. 

As we walked on, the place had more and 
more the appearance of a bivouac. The troops 
had evidently spent the night there ; all about 
the Cirque and Franconi's were the soldiers' 
little bundles neatly done up, bayonets stack- 
ed, bolsters, tin canisters, all most carefully ar- 
ranged. Stalls containing loaves and bottles 
of wine took the place of the usual stalls 
of Iruit and confectionery ; and in and out 
among the soldiers ran the smart vivandihes, 
distributing food from the little green-covered 
carts by the way-side, or wine from the caf^s. 
They were charming little figures in their fan- 
ciful costume of black round hat and feather, 
or perhaps a braided military cap, with the 
feminine addition of streaming bright ribbons, 
and abundance of fancifully plaited or ringlet- 
ed hair, black short petticoat, almost a military 
frock, tight red trowsers, and sword by the 
side. But trim as were their figures, their 
faces were not very young, or at all events not 
very fresh ; they looked somewhat weather- 



00 TWENTY YEAMS AGO. 

beaten and soldier-like. But I liked their gay, 
frank expression ; and heard "with pleasure that 
they mostly bear good characters, and are treat- 
ed with great respect by the soldiers. 

Still the horses continued eating the hay 
which was scattered all over the ground ; the 
soldiers still smoked, chatted, danced the polka 
in their great splashed boots, to keep them- 
selves warm; for, after a drizzling night, it 
was a raw, chilly morning, and, though nearly 
two hours had elapsed, things were no way 
advanced. As we walked slowly home, the 
same young cuirassier came up and apologized 
with great politeness for having misled us 
about the president's appearance. " But," said 
he, " we know no more than any one else; we 
are waiting like you ; and it is not very amus- 
ing either," he added, with a good-humored 
laugh. 

I asked him where he had spent the night. 
"Ici sur la terre," he said, pointing downward, 
" with that above us," pointing to the sky, and . 
cheerfully owned to being much fatigued. He 
was a herculean young fellow, with a black 
beard and mustache, through which his voice 
came with a mild grufFness ; and, but that he 
continued smoking while "mesdames" talked 
with him, he had very good manners. He 



THE COUP D'ETAT. 61 

was, too, a splendid figure, in the high brazen 
helmet and crest, the bright cuirass and white 
sword-belt, with all the gold tagging and trap- 
ping, which much increased his size. He ask- 
ed us if we were not acquainted with the pres- 
ident, and said, laughingly, " He is not much 
to look at: tr^s-petit, comme 9a," holding his 
hand a moderate way above the ground, with 
a smile that seemed conscious of his own large 
proportions; "no taller than you, madame; 
blond — ^^pas beau. Not like his uncle." 

At last the vast force was in motion ; the 
men mounted, and all moved up and down ; 
but the president came not ; and we observed 
that they all looked jaded and spiritless ; their 
fine, handsome faces had a sulky expression, 
and they scarcely sat upright on their horses. 
Presently we were joined by an acquaintance 
— a little, sprightly, brown -faced, gray-mus- 
tached man, of French family but English 
bringing up, and in the English army. He 
told us that there was fighting going on in the 
Faubourg St. Antoine, that barricades were up, 
and that two deputies who were leading the 
people had been shot ; and that there were or- 
ders given to shoot any deputy who might be 
in any way concerned with the rising. All 
the line consequently were there ; fresh regi- 



G2 TWENTY TEARS AOO. 

ments were constantly pouring into Paris, and 
there were now about 100,000 soldiers within 
the walls. It was dreadful to contrast this 
mere glittering show of war drawn up here in 
all its imposing pageantry, and the peaceable, 
idle, careless spectators merely staring as they 
passed, with the hot, bloody work, the wild and 
wicked passions that, if the report were true, 
were then foaming forth at the other end of. 
Paris. 

As we returned home with our friend, he 
said, pointing to the cavalry, who still per- 
formed the farce of riding up and down, "Look 
at those gay fellows; you would not think 
that in '48 there was just such a force assem- 
bled here, whom we saw in the course of the 
day lying about in heaps, dead and wounded, 
on the'pavement, or carried into the shops and 
private houses, streaming with blood." By 
way of a contrast, as we passed a gay cafS in 
the Avenue, with its "Commerce de Vins" 
conspicuous at the top, its walls painted in red 
panelling, and its muslin-curtained glass door, 
we saw three officers of the carabineers dis- 
mounted and proceeding towards the house. 
They turned round to look at us, and we rec- 
ognized among them our polite young friend 
of the morning. All were comets, as we knew 



THE COUP D'ETAT. 63 

from the one epaulette on the right shoulder, 
and very smart they looked, with their polish- 
ed spurs, and swords swinging in their em- 
broidered belts. All, too, were in high spirits, 
and very frolicsome, especially one fat gentle- 
man of thirty and upwards, who cut pirouettes 
with great agility, evidently to show off before 
as, giving each other the pas as they entered 
the open door with grotesque politeness, and 
evidently intent on getting extremely tipsy by 
way of wiling away the dull hours of duty. 

I asked where the president was all this 
time — was he at the scene of conflict ? " Oh 
no," I was answered ; " he's safe enough at 
the filys^e; Mil not come out to-day, depend 
on it." This proved true, and for many days 
afterwards. In fact, he took care through all 
that week to shroud himself in obscurity ; he 
never slept at the filys^e, thpugh the appear- 
ance of his being there was kept up. It is be- 
lieved that he never spent two nights in the 
same place. There was, no doubt, mortal ter- 
ror within those palace walls; the army was 
strongly suspected of a disposition to fraternize 
with the people, on whom it was thought they 
would assuredly not fire ; and there was cer- 
tainly in the soldiers a good-humored, indiffer- 
ent bearing, as well as in the people an ab- 



64 TWENTY TEARS AGO. 

sence of alarm or antipathy which did not 
look like much danger of a collision between 
them. 

Events thickened ; but I tell them only as 
they aflfected us. One evening we walked on 
to the Faubourg St. Germain, to pay a visit to 
a lady — a Republican — whom we found in a 
state of furious fermentation, burning with 
grief, rage, disgust, and yet a grim satisfaction 
at the state of things, as too bad to last, and 
fixing her whole soul on the hope of a steady, 
organized, legal resistance. 

She had just been, she said, to see the wife 
of a deputy, and found her and her husband 
in a state of frantic joy. The husband said, 
"I suppose you are come to congratulate us; 
I'm just out of prison." He had, in fact, been 
one of the two hundred deputies who were 
arrested in the mairie of the Rue Grenelle, 
where they had decreed the decheance of the 
president. 

They had just got the decree registered, 
when the Chasseurs de Vincennes surrounded 
the house and arrested them. From six in 
the morning till ten o'clock at night did that 
poor wife (like many others, no doubt) wait 
for her husband's return, without receiving a 
word of news; and then she went forth to 



THE aOUF D'ETAT, 65 

seek him. She was a timid, delicate woman, 
who had always been most carefully guarded 
and cherished ; yet, when asked how she dared 
run such a risk, she had said, "No, I feared 
nothing. If stopped, I should have said I was 
the wife of an imprisoned deputy, and called 
on all true Frenchmen to assist me ; and I be- 
lieve they would." At length she was direct- 
ed to the cavalry barracks at the Quai d'Orsai, 
where the prisoners had been temporarily con- 
veyed, and just caught a glimpse of her hus- 
band. Next day nearly all were set free : 
satisfied with having recorded their protest, 
they did nothing more. Though in words ten 
times more the president's enemies than ever, 
they were not on the barricades, nor among the 
victims shot or d&porth. Louis Napoleon's 
calculations, it appears, were right. 

While we were talking, our friend's husband 
came in, and reported that there was fight- 
ing about the Hotel de Ville, thirty-thousand 
insurgents were intrenched behind the hotel, 
blockaded by the cavalry, and the Place de 
Gr^ve was full of artillery. He said the peo- 
ple appeared to be rising to an extent which 
reminded him more of the insurrection in 1830 
than of any emeute since, but what the issue 
would be no one could know. Both the calm, 

E 



66 TWEltPTY YEARS AGO. 

sweet-natured husband and the passionate wife 
regarded this state of things as likely to lead 
to good ; Louis Napoleon, they said, had now 
deeply and hopelessly compromised himself, 
and united against him all parties and all the 
leading men of the country. It was whisper- 
ed that the army would not fight : if one of 
the generals — Cavaignac or Lamoricifere — 
could but escape, and show himself to the 
troops, the matter would be settled in a day. 

We were advised to go home by the smaller 
streets, which we were glad to do, as the Eues 
du Bac and de rUniversit^ were evidently in 
an excited state ; knots of people crowded the 
narrow trottair, and shoals o( gamins were mov- 
ing in one direction. In the Champs fllys^es 
we met our cousin, who gave us fearful tid- 
ings; the fighting was coming farther and 
farther west from the Faubourgs St. Antoine 
and St. Martin, where it had first begun : it 
had rolled up the Boulevards as far as the Rue 
Eichelieu, where barricadeis had been thrown 
up. All the troops were gathered in that part 
of the town, cannonading and musketry going 
on fiercely — a complete and terrible struggle 
being acted out in the streets of Paris. Hor- 
ace, as a true Englishman — Frenchmen kirow 
better than to thrust themselves as mere curi- 



TEE COUP D'ETAT, 67 

ous spectators into danger — bad got as near 
the agitated parts as possible, till be was driven 
back by the lancers, who rode down without 
scruple all passers-by. The scene of conflict 
was chiefly in the Boulevard de Montmartre, 
whence he heard the repeated terrible volleys 
of musketry, and where the barricades were 
forming. Were the people in truth fighting 
or not ? had there been, as was reported, shots 
fired from the windows ? 

In tbe evening my cousin left us for the 
reading-room, to ascertain what news the pa- 
pers gave. Luckily it was close by, and in a 
safe quarter; and we were left in a nervous 
agitation, taking every loud slam of a porte- 
cocMre down the street for distant cannon. 
Then came horses' hoofe down the Champs 
ifilys^es, and we learned that a detachment of 
dragoons had been dispatched to the scene of 
action. We sat still, and shuddered for all 
that was passing then. 

Just as, about midnight, I was writing to 
ray family in England that all was safe and 
quiet in our quarter, I was startled by sudden 
noises. We hurried to the balcony, and stood 
out in the dark night to watch in trembling 
suspense for tbeir repetition — dreadful and 
hitherto unheard sounds — volleys of musketry 



'A 



03 TWENTY TEARS AGO. 

and discbarges of cannon. How near they 
were we knew not; but the insurgent mass 
was evidently rolling on into the heart of the 
city, and it might be that the conflict was now 
laging round the Palais de r]6lys^e itself. If, 
I thought, he who, there hidden in his luxuri- 
ous abode, was throwing Paris into the horrors 
of civil war, were to be driven ignominiously 
thence, I could rejoice even in these terrible 
sounds. 

Three discharges came one after another; 
then they stopped, in five or ten minutes to 
begin again; and this lasted about an hour. 
Again and again we ran into the balcony "to 
listen ; with a shuddering, sickening horror we 
looked into the dark, still town, pierced here 
and there with silent, shining gas-light, and 
heard booming on the midnight air that huge 
voice of deliberate, unpitying slaughter. They 
came in solemn discharges, like slow, separate 
syllables of death. I had heard cannon be- 
fore, but never at night, never in the heart of 
a great city, and never as the voice of murder ; 
and I prayed never to hear such sounds again. 

In an hour, as I said, all was once more 
quiet; but it was long ere I slept; horrible 
images of bloodshed and death jostled each 
other in my brain. 



THE COUP D' ETAT. C9 

Next day (Friday) told, more or less dis- 
tinctly — for truth was hard to get at in those 
days of terror — the tale of Thursday, which I 
will here give, confirmed as it was by careful 
after-inquiry.* 

The spirit of Paris had, as we have said, 
been stirred at last. All her hopes seemed to 
he in the republican bourgeoisie^ of whom the 
deputies belonging to the Mountain were the 
leaders. The owvm?-5,' attracted by the prom- 
ise of universal suffrage, fancied Louis Napo- 
leon's sovereignty to be for their interest, and 
would not stir for the classes above them, 
whom they hated. The most respectable 
members of their class stood aloof, dreading 
nothing so much as the rouges^ and any popu- 
lar agitation which might bring that now cow- 
ering and stifled element to the top, so vivid 
was their remembrance of the horrors of June, 
1848, to which every one recurred as the cli- 
max of all evil. There was also the consider- 
ation, what had they to fight for? when they 
had overthrown the president, who was there 
to replace him? whom could they confide in? 

* All this has now become matter of history. Still it 
seems well to give it — given, too, as history so seldom Is — 
from the observation of an eye-witness, chronicled on the 
spot. — Editor. 



70 TWENTY YEARS AGO. 

what hope was there in the Assemblee or its 
knots of selfish, cowardly intriguers ? 

But the passionate energy of the Eepublican 
agitators began to excite others ; from an ear- 
ly hour in the morning there were immense 
crowds in the ordinary places of meeting ; and 
in the course of the day, as I said, masses of 
insurgents formed behind the Hotel de Ville. 
There was a tone of fear and vacillation in 
Louis Napoleon's proclamations; it was said 
that his heart was failing him. The army re- 
quired working up to a certain pitch ; their 
pay during these three days was doubled, and 
wine and food were distributed in abundanca 
The agitation went on ; a barricade rrumstre^ as 
the newspapers called it, recalling those of '48, 
arose in the Eue St. Denis ; there was a stir 
in the wealthy and fashionable Boulevard de 
Montmartre and the Chaussfe d'Antin, amidst 
a class not given to revolutionary movements. 

The Government was quietly watching, even 
encouraging by secret agents who mixed among 
the crowd, and by strange, carefully-circulated 
rumors, the assemblages who were thus grad- 
ually presenting themselves for the important 
collision that was certainly desired ; the troops 
were kept carefully withdrawn, looking on, and 
waiting till all was complete. At two o'clock 



THE COUP D' ETAT. 71 

volleys of artillery were heard to proceed from 
the barricaded quarters ; the emeutiers were in 
possession of the faubourg of St. Denis, which 
was evidently in sympathy with them. Those 
who defended the barricades were not, it is 
true, in number to oppose to any effect such 
masses of military ; they were mostly young 
men of good bourgeois families, who, desperate 
with rage and shame at this public disgrace, 
were determined by this deliberate offer of 
their lives to kindle the whole population, if 
possible ; if not, at any rate to fall in a last 
protest. 

The troops advanced; the slender groups 
that had collected about the barricades were 
fired on. These were most gallantly defend- 
ed, but after a more or less prolonged resist- 
ance all were taken, and by nine o'clock in the 
evening the desperate struggle was over. The 
heaps of dead were found to consist mainly of 
well-dressed young men, with gold chains and 
watches, and "yellow gloves," as the official 
reports contemptuously said ; the workmen 
who were found mingled among them were 
classed as "malefactors." One young man, 
who fell towards the end of the contest, was M. 
Denis Dessoubs, described at first as a depu- 
ty, but who proved to be the brother of one, 



T2 TWENTY YEARS AGO. 

a young " montagnard," then lying ill. Denis 
seized his brother's official scarf, and, thus per- 
sonating him, rushed to the top of a barricade 
in the very face of the troops, and, unarmed 
and unprotected, addressed himself to the sol- 
diers, crying, " Yive la E^publique I" and* ad- 
juring them to join him. 

The colonel, seeing his exaltation^ and wish- 
ing to spare him, said, "Eetirel" but the young 
man answered only, " Vive la E^publique d^ 
mocratique 1" was fired at by the whole troop, 
and fell dead on thie spot. These young men, 
whether wisely or not, at least sacrificed them- 
selves to a noble object, and morieover they led 
others into no risk to which they did not ex- 
pose themselves first of all. As for the sol- 
diers, an office less heroique (to use the word 
liberally bestowed on them by the Govern- 
ment) than that of shooting down their fellow- 
citizens can scarcely be imagined. Unfortu- 
nately, these were the men who had learned 
ferocity in Algeria; the Chasseurs de Vin- 
cennes were especially noted for that quality. 

But something yet was needed, beyond what 
the necessary force for dispersing the insur- 
gents called for — something to strike sudden, 
universal, crushing panic — and it was supplied. 
At three o'clock fearful discharges of artillery 



THE COUP D'ETAT. 73 

were suddenly heard on the Boulevards Bonne 
Nouvelle, Montmartre, and des Italiens, where, 
as I have said, crowds were collected, but there 
were neither barricades nor insurgents. These 
sounds, heard in the western quarters shut out 
by masses of soldiery, had led to the erroneous 
belief that the fighting had extended to the 
Bue Richelieu. It was in reality a massacre. 
The reports that oozed out next day of soldiers 
firing on the unarmed crowds in the streets 
and into the houses, were regarded by the ap- 
palled hearers as too terrible for belief; and 
though even Government reports, with all 
their reserves and palliations, confirmed these 
tales, the whole horrible truth was long in be- 
coming known to the world in general. But 
it is known now. 

At three o'clock, then, the crowd on these 
Boulevards, separated only by a few steps 
from the soldiers, were absolutely inoffensive 
and peaceable — men^ women, and children con- 
versing among themselves or with the soldiers. 
All of a sudden a round of musketry is pour- 
ed among them ; they start, huddle together, 
fall back astonished, struck with fright at the 
sight of the corpses dropping around them; 
they endeavor to fly, discharge follows dis- 
charge, and in a minute the streets present 



T4 TWENTY TEARS AGO. 

the appearance of a living crowd turned into 
heaps of dead and wounded. This was not 
all ; the soldiers then fired into the balconies 
and windows of those stately houses, where 
well-dressed groups were standing; in many 
cases the balls penetrated into the rooms ; the 
terror-struck inhabitants fled into the back 
rooms ; discharges of cannon mingled with the 
artillery and battered the walls. Their fury 
increasing, though no resistance was oflPered, 
the soldiers in many cases rushed into the 
houses, and arrested, shot, or bayoneted the 
inhabitants. 

m 

This scene of carnage lasted for twenty min- 
utes, when, at length, the firing was stopped 
and most of the troops retired ; but the Boule- 
vards remained in military occupation, and 
given up to a stupefaction of dismay. This 
impression quickly spread over the whole of 
Paris, and from that time resistance was no 

more. 

' 

Was there any immediate cause for this 
strange horror ? Official accounts spoke in a 
vague and self-contradictory manner of a shot, 
some said several shots, fired from the win- 
dows of one or more of the handsomest houses 
upon the troops, for which this general attack 
on the unarmed throngs and the peaceable 



THE COUP D'ETAT. 75 

houses was the retaliation. Eye-witnesses 
spoke of one or two stray shots heard in some 
unknown direction at the head of the column 
towards the Porte St. Denis, where the conflict 
was actually going on ; this was the whole 
cause, or rather pretext, of the massacre. It 
was said, and believed, that many of the sol- 
diers were intoxicated ; it is certain that they 
had had double rations, and were in a very ex- 
cited state. 

Among the cases talked of at the time, with 
grief and pity, were that of an English apothe- 
cary, who was merely crossing a street near 
Tortoni's, and stopping to speak to an old 
man, when both were fired at and fell dead ; 
of a librarian, who was shot sitting quietly 
with his family ; of a child killed while play- 
ing in the street. Twenty-seven corpses were 
seen in a heap before the door of the splendid 
Hotel Sallandrouze. The official accounts 
contained an appalling list of persons, each 
" tu^ chez lui." 

The Government lists of the slaughtered on 
this occasion varied considerably: from the 
final one given by the "Moniteur" the num- 
ber would seem to have been about two hun- 
dred. But there is every reason to suppose 
that it was really far beyond this, though the 



70 TWENTY YEARS AGO. 

full amount of slaughter can never now be 
known. The brigades employed in this busi- 
ness were commanded by General Canrobert. 

After this Louis Napoleon was called by 
himself and his admirers the ** Saviour of So- 
ciety." 

Next day all was tranquil ; it was the hush 
of terror. The Champs filys^es was compara- 
tively empty of soldiers; there were a few 
scattered knots, the remainder of those who 
had bivouacked there ; fires at which they 
were cooking their dinners were lighted here 
and there. Stacks of hay were on the pave- 
ment, the horses were drawn off and stationed 
among the trees ; but along the other side of 
the quays were troops of lancers and cara- 
bineers. 

Not a single lady was abroad, but numbers 
of idle men, especially workmen enjoying a 
holiday, and sauntering along with careless, 
insolent looks. Sibyl and I were much struck 
with the numbers of ill-looking persons out ; 
one could almost tremble at these strange sav- 
ages in blouses, with their small black caps, 
treading fiercely on, as if caring for nobody, 
with an intense unmoving stare in their eyes, 
as though dreaming of future murders. I nev- 
er saw them without saying to myself, "These 



THE COUP D'ETAT. 77 

are the men who, when revolution gets the 
upper hand, will one day drench Paris with 
blood." Never .did I behold such a look of 
smothered hell-fire — so to speak — as there is 
in these French eyes. 

Strangely, after all this, comes round the 
reception-night of Madame Gibbs. We had 
wished to go there to hear more on the ab- 
sorbing subject of the day; but our concierge 
and servants strongly advised us against it, 
as there was no knowing what disturbances 
might spring up again. Ill-disposed persons, 
they said, were sure to assault people in a 
carriage, and took particular pleasure in drag- 
ging out the occupants — if ladies, sometimes 
with great violence — and using their vehicle 
to form the barricades. We could, no doubt, 
have found some gentleman to accompany and 
protect us ; indeed, my grave English cousin 
was tranquilly ready for any act of fool-hardi- 
ness. But we did not think ourselves justified 
in exposing them to danger in order to protect 
us ; so we curbed our wild feminine courage — 
as well as curiosity — 9,nd staid at home. 

In the course of that day and the next we 
learned enough — only too much. 

In spite of the reserve produced by alarm, 
grief and anxiety could not be quite suppress- 



7S TWENTY TEARS AGO. 

cd. There were many women among the low- 
er classes whose husbands were out, and had 
not returned ; our cook and dress-maker were 
among these. 

A Greek gentleman of high character, whom 
we met occasionally, had himself heard the 
colonel of a regiment of chasseurs order his 
men to fire on any one who should obstruct 
their way in the streets, to his horror, for his 
own two boys were at a school at the end of 
it, and would be returning just as they passed. 
In spite of his entreaties, he was not permitted 
to go to them, but managed to send a message 
by a sergeant to bid the boys keep where they 
were till the streets were quiet While he 
waited he saw planks being laid along the 
streets to soak up and hide the blood. 

So all was quiet — and now came out a new 
proclamation. The prince-president congratu- 
lated Paris on the " fermetd et le d^vouement 
in^branlables," whereby he and that brave 
army (always, he says, foremost in preserving 
order) had defended them from the attacks of 
a factious rabble, and restored all good citizens 
to peace and security. " Whatever became of 
Am, the country was saved ;" and he appeals 
to the army to shed no more French blood ; if 
they did not wish for him they were to vote 



THE COUP D'ETAT. 79 

against him — he would gladly retire ; but in 
the mean time Paris had shown her unanimous 
devotion to him in the way she had combined 
to put down these partial and contemptible 
seditions. 

I collected a heap of these proclamations as 
specimens of the style of address most persua- 
sive to the French mind. One would scarcely 
have imagined a great, intelligent nation, and, 
above all, one keenly alive to ridicule, uniting 
to compose an4 accept such inflated, vain-glo- 
rious, self-contradictory productions as appeals 
to their reason and conscience, knowing, as all 
did, the source from which they emanated, and 
the motives betrayed at every turn by the act- 
ors. But all this, alas I seems nothing to the 
French ; be the mask as transparent as it will, 
let actor and spectator alike know the farce 
they are performing, so long as the mask is 
worn, so long as the farce imitates something 
grand and heroic, they are satisfied. How long 
will a great nation contentedly sanction this 
glaring contradiction between profession and 
practice ? and when will it cease to respond to 
intriguers, scape-graces, and imbeciles, who bla- 
zon themselves as heroes and men of genius ? 

And so the week was over, and all was over 
with Paris too — that is, she was quiet. Mur- 



80 TWENTY YEARS AGO. 

der had stilled her fierce, foaming streets ; in- 
stead of the barricades were heaps of corpses ; 
and she lay crouched at her master's feet, mak- 
ing him omnipotent by seeming to think him so. 

Yes, the struggle was over, and we stood 
looking on at its ashes, wondering what had 
become of the burning anger of which we had 
heard ^o much : had a few false proclamations, 
a few discharges of musketry, dispersed it iilto 
thin air? Alas! it had flamed but in the 
hearts of a few ardent young ^ men, and had 
been quenched in blood on those hopeless 
barricades, where they had stood passionate, 
though despairing, solitary marks in the face 
of the levelled muskets of a regiment, and had 
fallen, trying to kindle the people in a hopeless 
cause. 

All was over; and — with us strangers — a 
dreary, scornful surprise began to take the 
place of the strong, sad emotions with which 
we had watched those three days, feeling such 
deep sympathy for a nation that apparently 
could not feel for itself. 

On Sunday afternoon we ventured, under 
my cousin's escort, to visit the Boulevards, go- 
ing as far as the original scene of conflict, the 
quartiers St. Denis and St. Martin, a walk of 
about fivQ miles. The long, long boulevards 



THE COUP D'ETAT. 81 

were one sea of heads ; nothing else was to be 
seen into the far vista where they descend to 
the Porte St Martin, aud then again seem to 
mount and be lost in the air. The day after 
the conflict the pavement had still been soak- 
ed with blood; but all was now clean again, 
and the long line of beautiful houses, whose 
ground-floors were brilliant shops, and their 
upper stories the luxurious abodes of wealth, 
were setting forth, below, behind their wide 
plate-glass fronts, their glittering jewelry, lace, 
and silks, while above paper-stufied windows 
or blank empty frames and bullet-dinted walls 
told the frightful tale of so few days ago. 

It was strange with what lightness and vig- 
or Paris 

" Opened forth for fresh display 
The elastic vanities of yesterday," 

while all these splendid shops, cafds, bankers' 
houses, and private hotels stood full of holes 
as the most wretched hovels in the most squal- 
id streets. 

In the wide, handsome Boulevard des Ital- 
iens, the first object of interest was the Caf(^ de 
Paris, of which, it was said, all the inhabitants 
had been killed, not by firing from without, 
for the windows were untouched, but by mas- 
sacre within. 

F 



82 TWENTY TEARS AGO. 

m 

All the houses on the south side, and many 
on the north side, were injured ; and more and 
more were the raarkg of violence as we ad- 
vanced. The most dilapidated of all was the 
house from which it was at first falsely assert- 
ed that the fatal shot had come — ^the magnifi- 
cent Hotel Sallandrouze. In the Boulevard 
Montmartre the sight was still more frightful : 
round the corner was a tailor's establishment 
shattered by cannon ; then a porcelain shop 
with ruined door-posts, and shutters closed be- 
hind the empty frames, telling of death and 
mourning within. At last there was scarce- 
ly a house with windows unbroken ; most of 
them, with . their five or six stories, were rid- 
dled from attic to ground-floor. And these, 
be it remembered, were all in the scene, not 
of fighting, but of massacre. 

The Boulevards de Bonne Nouvelle and 
Poissonnifere, where street-fighting had been, 
were less injured ; but the Corps de Garde at 
the end, standing on the highest point of the 
hill that descends to Porte St. Denis, showed 
the rough handling of the insurgents, and the 
soldiers at the door looked very sulky. . It 
stirred my indignation, as we gazed on the 
sad sights all round, to behold two soldiers of 
the line st9pping to point at one of the most 



TKE COUP D'ETAT. 83 

ruined houses, and laughing with an air of 
triumph. 

At the bottom of the descent on the other 
side stood the now too renowned gates — the 
Porte St. Denis, the very centre and heart of 
the desperate struggle of Thursday; a little 
beyond is the Porte St. Martin, the space be- 
tween the two gates having been filled with in- 
surgents. At the door of a shop (a marchande 
de modes) stood a pretty young woman mak- 
ing up a cap. We spoke to her; she came 
forward, working and talking to us on the late 
events with a very surprising levity, which 
displeased us in spite of her pretty looks and 
nice manners. 

" Had there been much fighting ?" we asked, 
by way of a beginning. 

" Oh yes," she said, with a saucy smile ; 
" mais nous y sommes habitufe." 

The barricade, she said, had extended across 
the whole wide road, but it was not wqII 
made ; she evidently thought scorn of it com- 
pared with those of former Smeutes. She said 
there were messieurs leading the people, as was 
customary ; they would not rise of themselves 
without some such excitement. The troops, 
she said, fired into all the windows without 
any distinction, if any one looked o^t of them ; 



84 TWENTY TEAMS AGO. 

she had remained hidden in the house all the 
time. 

I observed, not very reflectively, that I 
should have been tempted to look out. 

" If you had, you would have been killed," 
she said, laughing. 

She would not own to having taken either 
part, saying that the best course on all such • 
occasions was to remain tranquil. During the 
whole conversation, though she was very po- 
lite, her laughing manner never ceased, and 
we quitted her, trying to find in her " nous y 
sommes habitufe " the apology not unneeded. 

Next day we went to the cemetery of Pfere 
la Chaise; and strange was the cold, dumb 
solitude of that place of sleep high over the 
blood-stained and agonized city. We asked 
our guide, as we gazed from the height at 
Mont St Val^rien, whether the generals were 
still confined there. He shook his head, and 
said, diplomatically, this was not the place for 
politics ; it was the only spot where all such 
things were shut out. Nevertheless, we asked 
where those who fell in the emeute had been 
buried, and he pointed to a spot far down, a 
portion of ground lately taken in, with rough, 
heavy, wet soil, where small white tombstones 
looked like pieces of chalk stuck about, and 



THE COUP D'ETAT. 85 

where ten or twelve bodies had been crowded 
in. But the greater part, he said, had been 
buried at Montmartre, where all the unclaimed 
bodies were conveyed: of the thirty -eight 
lately laid there all but three had been rec- 
ognized. The chef des barricades had been 
brought by his friends to P^re la Chaise, and 
buried as a martyr. He told us also of a Pol- 
ish count who had joined the rouges and fallen 
in the struggle. All this he said in English, 
for fear of being overheard. 

AH this time arrests were occurring almost 
daily, till the prisons were crowded with their 
inmates, and banishments and deportations fol- 
lowed in shoals: two thousand were, on one 
occasion, sent to Algeria. It may be imagined 
how often in those days social meetings were 
turned to scenes of sorrow. One could scarce- 
ly meet a French acquaintance who had not 
his tale to tell of dearest friends just seized, 
without warning, perhaps at night, and shipped 
off, unseen, untried, to deadly climates for cap- 
tivity or life-long exile. 

But these things were done in silence and 
spoken of in whispers. After the first blank 
terror a discreet reserve and sullen indifference 
seemed to prevail. This mixture of fear and 
apathy struck me so much that, discoursing on 



86 TWENTY TEARS AGO. 

it to our very clever and spirited bonne^ Con- 
stance, I permitted myself to say something 
about Mchete, Instantly her French blood 
was up, and she told me that an English de- 
moiselle knew nothing about it, and that it was 
extraordinary to find people of education so 
borjies, and that the poor had a much juster 
notions of things ; that we believed all we had 
heard in the salons, which was told us out of 
persiflage, and for our belief, in which we were 
afterwards laughed at. When she grew cool- 
er, she allowed that there was not much to be 
said for Louis Napoleon, whom she professed 
not to love pour sa personne; but it was still 
that terrible bugbear, les rouges, les rouges. 
Truly, by their own showing, the French are 
in a pitiable condition. Can it then be that a 
great, proud, brave nation has no alternative 
between putting its neck under a usurper's 
heel or giving its throat to a gang of monsters? 
What a sight, that of a whole people crawling 
to Louis Napoleon's feet, and piteously crying, 
"Take our liberties; only protect us from 
these dreadful routes, who are coming to seize 
our money and cut our throats !" 



M. LJS PR0FE8SEUR. 87 



CHAPTEE in. 

M. LE PROFESSEUB. 

WELL, the short and sharp struggle was 
over ; Paris was trampled in the dust, 
and her liberties were no more. But still she 
must meet and talk about her humiliation, if 
about nothing else. And we too went out, 
though only among those with whom we sym- 
pathized. We sought Madame Gibbs's demo- 
cratic salons, prepared to meet men who, we 
were told, felt with varied agonies of rage, 
grief, and shame, that France had now lost her 
place among the nations. As I entered I 
thought especially of M. Lamourette, who, I 
had heard, was in such deep dejection as to 
go about ashamed of being a Frenchman, and 
wishing himself un Anglais, As I well knew 
my friend's particular feelings about my coun- 
trymen, I did full justice to this expression of 
humiliation. 

The rooms were crowded, but as soon as I 
entered I recognized the voice of the sorrow- 
ing patriot ; I knew him at once by the loud- 
ness of his hilarity. He was there beside a 



S8 TWENTY TEARS AGO. 

fair, quiet young lady, who stood statue-like, in 
graceful calm, presiding at the tea-table, him- 
self pouring out words and gesticulation fast as 
shot, and evidently doing the intensely agree- 
able. The aspect of the whole party, indeed, 
was not other than that of men, I am glad 
to say, in excellent health and spirita To be 
sure, whenever we talked politics, the same 
strain would be renewed ; produced, as I 
thought, by the mortifying consciousness that 
they ought to have prevented the coup d'etat^ 
and had not done so. Formerly I had thought 
that keen sense of public deterioration a hope- 
ful sign. I knew not what to say of it now ; 
I wanted deeds, not words. 

But here comes the facetious professor, slid- 
ing up to me glass in eye, with a couple of 
bows, and the sprightly inquiry, " Eh bien, ma- 
demoiselle, gardez-vous toujours vos pr^juges 
atroces — etes-vous convertie k nous?" and I 
must prepare myself not tpv sympathetic polit- 
ical bewailings, but for a hurricane of wit and 
fun. So I plunged at once into warfare ; and 
in a little while he turned to a very clever- 
looking philosophical Frenchman, "who came 
up for a moment to listen, with " I can not 
persuade mademoiselle that we are not ser- 
pents." " Tandis que nous ne sorames que des 



M. LE PB0FE8SEUR. 89 

cjolombes," is the rejoinder, with the meekest 
air possible. 

Presently M. Lamourette put the trying ques- 
tion — the question of questions — " Did I think 
the French resembled monkeys ?" He would 
have an answer, he repeated, and urged the 
question. Driven into a corner, my politeness 
or my French failed me, or some demon im- 
pelled me to a caricature of sincerity ; I said, 
" Tin peu." It was very stupid of me, and I 
felt it so, when I saw his joyous expression 
change to a grave, even chagrined one. He 
went on to attack Englishwomen (almost seri- 
ously) as cruel and unfeeling. "As savages," 
he said, "wore suspended to their waists the 
heads of their enemies, so did the Englishwom- 
en take people's hearts, and hang them up as 
trophies." He took his revenge ; an English- 
woman's masculine beau-ideal, he asserted, was 
a tambouT-majeur (none of my French friends, 
I may observe, measured five feet seven) ; and 
who, with true insular brutishness, showed his 
devotion to the woman he loved by trampling 
her under foot on all occasions. 

After cohtradicting him moderately, I then, 
to soothe his injured feelings, allowed the 
French to be amiable, infinitely agreeable, full 
of talent. 



90 TWENTY YEAMB AGO. 

" Yes, yes, we understand all that," he inter- 
rupted, in tones of exaggerated humility, " gra- 
cieux, mais singes encore." 

Unfortunate confession of mine I when will 
it be forgotten? 

At last I took courage and said, "It sur- 
prises me to see you all so gay and enjoues af- 
ter having just gone through such frightful 
experiences." 

" Distinguons, mademoiselle," was his an- 
swer, in true French and professional style. 
"Je vais vous expliquer cela." On the sur- 
face, no doubt, and in the excitement of a sa- 
lon, we seem gay. But, were you to pass in 
the street the same men whom you have just 
seen laughing in a salon, you would meet one 
face more sombre, ferocious, and conspirator- 
looking than another, and when you came to 
the gloomiest of all, that would be mine. 

" Frenchmen," he continued, now very seri- 
ously, "are totally misunderstood. Their so- 
ciety-manners are all assumed ; in heart they 
are timid, diffident, prone to trust, to be im- 
pressed and carried away like children, credu- 
lous and innocent, with no strength of will, 
and made to be governed." 

"In that case," I said, "it is better to be 
a Frenchwoman." " C'est vrai, mademoiselle ; 



M. LE PBOFESSEUB. 91 

in all houses the women reign sovereign, and 
t;he men are absolutely passive. There they 
laave the good sense to know their nullity; 
T3Ut in the world they are always acting a 
part, and assuming a character to which they 
have no pretensions. One man will play mis- 
anthrope, an6ther will try to pass for a heart- 
less persifleur^ another for the subtle, unprinci- 
pled intriguer and conspirator — whereas they 
are incapable of conspiring, not being able to 
keep a secret, or to remain in the same mind 
for a day together." 

But the professor had at this moment an- 
other care which, I thought, weighed heavier 
on him than the public grief— a course of lec- 
tures which he had to deliver at one of the col- 
lies. He had just begun it, and was more 
troubled in his mind by it than I thought such 
a clever man need have been. He had return- 
ed unwillingly to his work, having put it off 
as long as he could, and, I fancy, occiipied 
himself in the interval with any thing but the 
appropriate studies. And now he was haunt- 
ed by the coming lecture — whether he rode, 
or danced, or chatted, it was always in his 
head. His only idea of paradise was to live a 
whole week without thinking; at present, he 
said, he was not an "etre humain" — only a 



92 TWENTY YEARS AGO. 

machine. He complained of the mass of facts 
which he had to read up for a lecture of scarce 
an hour's length, which he had no time to di- 
gest, and had all in confusion in his head. It 
kept him up all the previous night, he .said ; 
and in the morning he could not breakfast — 
his throat was dried up. " If I could only eat 
and sleep," said he, " I might do better." 

All this he seemed anxious to explain, to 
account for what he feared might be thought 
the insufficiency and want of interest of his 
lectures, Sibyl had attended one, and he was 
evidently fearful that she had not been suffi- 
ciently entertained. I said his subject had 
been a little dry. 

" Oh, but wait," he said ; " I am going to ' 
lecture on Shakspeare and on les drames <Je 
Famour, and then I shall be plus gai et im- 
p^tueux." 

I told him I was sorry he was to take 
Shakspeare for his subject, as I had a convic- 
tion it was one no Frenchman could under- 
stand. 

**Yous verrez! vous verrezi" he answered, 
with confidence. 

I now discovered in my friend a full share 
of what is affirmed of Frenchmen, that, with 
the appearance of the happiest self-conceit, 



. ^- ' 



Jf. LE PR0FE8SEUR, 08 

they are in reality sensitive, most uncomfort- 
ably self-conscious, and afraid of ridicule. He 
complained of the additional constraint caused 
by the nature of his audience, part of whom 
were deTrwiseUes^ before whom he was not per- 
mitted to discourse "sur I'amour et la jalousie." 
" Not," as he explained, " that I can perceive 
that the demoiselles object to it at all, but the 
mothers look indignant, and declare that their 
daughters know n<jthing, and ought to know 
nothing, of such things. Ah, ciel 1 c'est bien 
difficile pour un homme modeste et d^licat com- 
me moi de se bien comporter dans ces cas-ci." 

"Et puis," he went on in tones more injured 
still, "there come elderly females with baskets, 
who in the middle of the lecture take out of 
them a bottle of wine, and bread and cheese, 
and eat and drink in my very face just when I 
am trying to be most interesting — cela me dd- 
range horriblement." 

Having relieved himself thus far^ the afflict- 
ed professor announced " qu'il fallait se sacri- 
fier," and went oflFto waltz and polk with sev- 
eral very pretty girls, to whom he surrendered 
himself with an admirably got -up air of en- 
joyment. I saw him at intervals flitting and 
whisking about the room, and, when for the 
moment he had no young ladies to talk to, 



91 TWENTY TEARS AGO. 

playing with his pocket-handkerchief like a 
kitten with her tail. 

But my part of confidante and consoler to 
Madame Gibbs's guests was not yet donee 
Two more sufferers engaged my attention — a 
struggling artist and a despairing Republican. 
The artist was a melancholy genius, interest- 
ing as a man of sensitive imagination, and ad- 
mirable because, by being steadfastly true to 
his own inspiration, he ^condemned himself to 
present ill -success and poverty. As for the 
Republican, no personal sorrow occupied him, 
no garrulous complaint soothed his pain, nor 
could any by-play of raillery, polking, or pret- 
ty young ladies distract it. / rather sought 
him out than he me. A quiet dejection sat 
on his countenance, he spoke little and very 
low, and seemed afraid to trust himself on the 
topic of the day; nor did his gentle nature 
deal in any phrases of indignation or despair. 
This was not from fear, for he had done much 
to compromise himself by continued inter- 
course with friends deeply concerned in late 
events, and in them his thoughts were now 
absorbed — in the fathers of families, who sat 
in prison, waiting, unconvicted and untried, to 
be shipped off into life-long and solitary exile 
— the enfants de famille^ those young men of 



M, LE PROFESSEUIt. 95 

good bourgeois houses who, stung by a gen- 
erous frenzy, had rushed into a struggle they 
knew to be vain, and now lay with other mur- 
dered bodies in the Cemetery of Montmartre. 
There, as he told me, he had spent the last 
night among thirty fresh corpses just flung 
there, and not yet buried, but covered up to 
the necks with earth. Among these ghastly 
projecting heads he had .wandered for hours, 
sometimes having to kneel on the breast of 
one corpse to look into the face of another. 

When my friend touched on these danger- 
ous topics, he turned from the company and 
spoke in under-tones ; for even here there might 
be spies. And certainly one neat Frenchman, 
of small size, whose name I did not know, was 
hovering by the whole time with a most com- 
ical air of perking curiosity, dodging behind ' 
us, and peeping at us over the back of the sofa, 
and between ourselves and the chimney-piece. 
But I hope no harm will follow to the dear, 
pure-hearted, tender-souled man, who, however, 
has been in prison two or three times already. 
The listener was, perhaps, a fancy Jesuit ; this 
is a species of fungus which has lately grown 
up very rapidly from the corrupt soil, a spe- 
cious tritramontanism being now decidedly 
the fashion. 



IW TWEXTY TE±R8 AGO. 

And now it grew time to depart, but not 
before exchanging a word or two more with 
M. le Professeur, and promising him and my- 
self to attend his next lecture, to try if the 
presence of an AngJaise can by any possible 
magnetism inspire him with a due appreci- 
ation of Shakspeare. Looking anxiously at 
Sibvl, he said, when first he saw her in the 
audience, he was frightened, knowing madame 
to be " un pcu moqueuse," but that her " air 
bienveillant" restored his courage; he hoped 
^Idlle. Beatrice would be equally merciful. 
Certainly, no one would have guessed M.La- 
mourette to be thus timid ; but human nature 
is a pn>blem. 

I kept my promise and attended the lecture, 
which, after all this confidence and condolence, 
was but decent feeling. Judging from what I 
alread}' knew of him, I expected clearness, vi- 
vacity, and happy delivery, rather than depth ; 
but I liked to go, because I liked the man, and 
heaixi general praise of his ability. The lec- 
ture was held in the large hall of a public col- 
lege, three-fourths of which were filled with 
young students, while in front,.just under the 
tribune, was a space railed off for lady-hear- 
ers, where sat the jeunes files whom he had 
described as "rangees tout en face de lui," and 



Jf. LE PR0PE8SEUB, 97 

across whom he carefully looked " vers les 
plus laids des ^tudiants." 

Gradually the room filled, yet the lecturer 
appeared not; he was called for repeatedly, 
but French impatience showed itself at first 
only in a playful form ; the students -stamped 
in polka time, and cut jokes. Still he was in- 
visible, and at last the audience grew turbu- 
lent and called fiercely for him. Unhappy 
man, he was close within hearing, in his little 
den behind the tribune, agonizingly scribbling 
the last words of his discourse. Symptoms of 
a row appeared, but were stopped by the lec- 
turer's at last rushing upon the platform, in a 
shy, hurried manner, flushed and fluttered, per- 
haps a little angry. He .carried three large 
books, and heaps of paper under his arm; 
these he dropped on the desk, bowed uncom- 
fortably, hid his face in his hands for an in- 
stant, wiped and put on his spectacles, in ex- 
change for the glass which he sports in private 
life, took a violent gulp at the indispensable 
eau siLcrie, uttered a faint and humble " Mes- 
sieurs," and began. 

The first words were an apology for being 
late, with a pathetic statement of the number 
of lectures he had weekly to prepare, and a sort 
of proud-humility appeal to their candor and 

G 



98 TWENTY TSARS AQO. 

indulgence. This pacified " la jeune France," 
who clapped its hands, and then M. Lamou- 
rette went into his subject 

Before the end of the first sentence all ti- 
midity vanished ; he grew fluent, rapid, joy- 
ous; if ever he hesitated for a word, it was for 
the best word, and the best in a moment was 
sure to come. His manner was as easy and 
eager as in conversation ; his hands, which by 
the way were small, white, and delicate, darted 
about everywhere, were clasped, twirled round, 
pointed up and down; and his face woried 
with the same electric play, till he came to 
the conclusion of some vehement passage, and 
would then throw himself completely back in 
his chair and smik benevolently up at the 
ceiling. 

As for the matter, it was well enough. Al- 
though upon poetical subjects, to my mind it 
was neither poetical nor philosophical ; I cer- 
tainly received no new lights, but I approved 
of the general justness of his opinions, the 
clearness with which they were expressed, and 
the pleasantries with which they were season- 
ed. But when he came to the promised sub- 
ject, the test, the touch-stone, Shakspeare, why 
then followed — just what I expected — some 
minute comparisons with Voltaire, allowing 



M, LE FR0FES8EUR, 99 

certain little points of superiority in the En- 
glish dramatist, of which the most important 
was that " his personages never addressed the 
audience, but always each other!" (though in 
his next lecture he apologized for having too 
much "sacrifi^ Voltaire k Tautel de Shaks- 
peare"); some patronizing praise of the En- 
glish poet's imaginativeness; and some stern 
justice dealt to his " d^fauts de gout " — 
" m6me vous qui adorez Shakspeare, vous con- 
viendrez qu'il est tr^-sauvage," etc. 

While I listened, I sat swelling with all the 
true English pride and worship of the divini- 
ty so witlessly profaned, not indeed with the 
ignorant contempt, the stupid sneers, the pe- 
dantic abuse of the old school, which one could 
but have enjoyed, but with the intended can- 
dor, the little, feeble, condescending praise, the 
finikin objections, the raengre analysis of a 
clever man of the present day, who only — 
didn't know what he was talking about! I re- 
volved answers, I rounded periods, and point- 
ed arguments, which I felt only too certain 
would fail me in the hour of need. My one 
consolation was, that there sat listening also an 
Italian gentleman whom I knew, and who 
knew Shakspeare as well as a German could, 
and who would, I also knew, when we came 



100 TWEXTT TEAB8 AGO. 

out, join me in criticism of the lecturer, and 
say, as indeed he did with mild scorn, "He 
does not understand Shakspeare." And when 
reminded that M. Lamourette had stated that 
his next lecture would be on a new subject, 
answered emphaticiiUj, "So much the bet- 
ter." 

Let me do M. Lamourette justice ; he took 
occasion to quote a well-known passage from 
an English writer on English constitutional 
liberty, and he did it with a clear ringing voice 
and bold emphasis, which pointed its applica- 
tion beyond mistake. But again — what hu- 
mor had seized him, I know not — he made a 
quite unnecessary hit at the poor Anglais in the 
application of the word sorcier, which I did not 
quite understand, but which his French audi- 
ence did, for they laughed rapturously. Then, 
looking down at us, he added, " Je demande 
pardon a tous les Anglais presents," at which 
his English audience laughed as heartily, to 
show that the pardon was given. The allu- 
sion was afterwards carefully explained to me 
by Hermine (who, I think, enjoyed it) as refer- 
ring to the noted ugliness of Englishmen — a 
fact which I thought required confirmation, 
but I would not dispute on matters of taste, 
and only smiled at my friend's rancor against 



M, LE PBOFESSEUM. 101 

"les Anglais" — "pas les Anglaises," as he 
had once, with a deep bow, explained to me. 

In the course of the lecture a dark cloud 
came over the lecturer's brow; he hesitated, 
stopped, fixed a jealous, upbraiding eye on a 
very retired corner of the room, then went on 
in sharp, exasperated tones, rasping out his 
words with superfluous emphasis. I looked 
too, and with difficulty discovered in a recess, 
quite in the shade, M. fimile, his hat drawn 
over his brows — I could not see his face, but 
the professor had, or had divined its secret — 
he was asleep I It seems some official duty oc- 
casionally obliges the militaire to be present at 
his friend's lecture, and on this occasion, feel- 
ing the approach of a natural infirmity, he 
tried hard to screen himself; but that sensi- 
tive gentleman, short-sighted as he was, had 
found him out. "What ! go to this lecture and 
— sleep ! It was too much ! Certainly my 
friend the professor is a most thin-skinned in- 
dividual, though not, I fancy, at all difficult to 
manage by one who understands him. This I 
begin to do, having discovered the ease with 
which he is mortified ; his vivid, yet artless 
jealousy of other men ; his suspiciousness, 
which causes him to look unhappy if a word 
of English is spoken before him, and, if a laugh 



ice ru'/;.V7i' yjuhs ago.. 

m 

or smile accompanv it, to inquire anxiously, 
" Ai-je dit quelque chose de ridicule ?" 

So, when next I met him en soiree, I deter- 
mined to be friendly and conciliating; and 
tirst I said polite things as to the interest of 
his lecture. lie recurred with animation to 
his passage from Burke, and asked what I 
thought of the translation. 

** It was verj- good, monsieur, and you gave 
it with great spirit ; but your lectures will be 
suppressed if you make any more such quota- 
tions.*' 

Uo looked intensely pleased at this, and 
said, **0h, pour cela, that must be as it may; I 
have no fear, moi ;'' and he went on triumph- 
antly, "In my opening lecture this year, I took 
care to say as follows: *0n the subject of 
politics, messieurs, you have already heard my 
opinions, and I have changed none of them 
since we met last/ Well, if for such state- 
ments I am to be destitue of my office, I can 
bear it." 

I honored the brave little man, and began 
quite mildly on the Shakspeare subject In- 
deed, it did not much signify what line I took, 
for M. Lamourette proved himself perfectly 
good-humored, very witty, and utterly invin- 
cible. Still, it was trying when another gen- 



M. LE PROFESSEUIi. 103 

tleman came up — one of whose intellect I 
thought highly, and who generally agreed 
with me most respectfully and admiringly — 
and who now tranquilly put. forward several 
of the worst French heresies on the subject, 
which, however, were the more pardonable in 
him, as he did not understand one word of 
English. 

I l9oked helplessly round for my Italian 
lilteraieur. How gladly would I, an English- 
woman, have put the cause of the English poet 
into the hands of an Italian, to be defended in 
French I But he was not there. So I suc- 
cumbed by changing the subject, and M. La- 
mourette, smiling, paid me the very finest of 
fine compliments, thereby proving that he 
thought me utterly vanquished. 



104 TWEXTY YEAMS AGO. 



CHAPTER IV. 

M. EMILE. 

I PERCEIVE that in my account of this 
last soiree I have not mentioned the young 
miUtaire. In truth, being detained by profes- 
sional business, he came late, and for but ten 
minutes ; but he escorted Sibyl and me home. 
There had been that day some fine govern- 
ment ceremonies, in which of course the sol- 
diers had played a conspicuous part. I asked 
M. fimile if he had been at the Tuileries, where 
the principal show took place. "No," he 
said, with a dry tone of disdain; "I was 
obliged to be on duty at first at Notre-Dame, 
but nothing obliged me to be at the Tuileries." 
Nothing can exceed the contemptuous in- 
difference shown by all the Frenchmen I have 
met for the grand f^tes and reviews with which 
they have of late been surfeited. This, no 
doubt, is to be expected of professing Repub- 
licans or Legitimists ; but even in the streets 
and among the common crowds I have seen 
little curiosity. It seems as if even the French 
mind can not always be fed through the eyes, 



M, EMILE. 105 

that there are wrongs too fresh and too deep 
to be healed with showers of comfits, that the 
spectacle forced upon them by a bayonet's 
point can be but moderately enjoyed, and that 
the command " Eat, drink, and be merry, or to- 
morrow you die," is not one to stimulate even 
a Paris populace to a very hearty appetite. 

But to. return to M. fimile. Though we 
miss him sometimes at the soirees^ we see a 
good deal of him at other times, as in the char- 
acter of Hermine's cousin he has free entry to 
us. Having discovered Sibyl's taste for harm- 
less amusement, like a good genius, he is al- 
ways coming with some agreeable suggestion 
or other. Schemes of pleasure always follow 
his appearance ; I can not say how they spring 
up. There is no formal arrangement, but his 
entrance, his presence, seem to let in a soft sun- 
shine, in which bright fancies and smiling 
schemes bud and bloom spontaneously, every 
thing organizing itself smoothly and complete- 
ly, as by light touches of an invisible hand. 
In no way does French inventiveness show 
mor| gracefully than in these delicate adorn- 
ments of daily life. 

Little as I yet know of M. Jfimile, I believe 
with Sibyl that he is to be trusted, and I look 
on him as a specimen of the best class of " In, 



IWi nVL'yTY YLAHS AOO. 

jeune France " — a class in which the fine quali- 
ties that made France's former greatness Qtill 
exist, and which, if its manhood be but true to 
its youth, may yet regenerate the nation. Of 
this class it has always struck me that young 
Bellot (the heroic sailor who sought for Frank- 
lin's grave and found his own) was a type, per- 
haps exceptionally perfect The golden trait 
is a generous, a chivalrous enthusiasm of feel- 
ing, giving to temperament and tendencies an 
almost ideal beauty. 

Such an one does £mile de Fleury appear 
to me ; a youth of a country family, brought 
up among domestic union and kindliness, and 
then, still fresh and pure, and ardent to excel, 
transferred to Paris, where he devotes himself 
to the studies of his profession, firmly confid- 
ing in his power of forcing his way from its 
lowly beginnings up to its most radiant heights. 
As frankly as he imparts all this, does he also 
display the more child-like parts of his charac- 
ter, unchecked, as an English youth might be, 
by a dread of the words " novice " or " egotist" 
He speaks of his home in the South, of family 
meetings, of moonlight rambles in the forests 
around his native place, prolonged amidst 
songs and tinkling of guitars; he talks even 
of the little brothers and sisters, or of the elder 



M. EMILK 107 

sister who, young and beautiful, chose to be- 
come a nun, and whom, when she sickens and 
grows feeble under too zealous austerities, he 
visits daily in her Paris convent with an un- 
failing gift of flowers. In deeper tones he 
confides to you all about his mother — how she 
was made up of a " bon sens exquis et d'une 
ang^ique douceur." How perfect a womanly 
picture do these two combined traits suggest ! 
As for his religion, he is a liberal Catholic, 
with more of devout feeling than of formular- 
ized creed. "As far as doctrines go," he says, 
" I could make you in half an hour as good a 
Catholic as I am." . Yet, then recalling the 
ffites of his childhood, the walks to church by 
his mother's side, the music and flowers, and 
her tender prayers, he would avow himself 
"Catholique depuis les racines des cheveux 
jusqu'aux plantes des pieds." Equally does 
he glow in speaking of episodes in his youth 
of wild and stern life, long months spent in 
solitude, perhaps in hardship, among mount- 
ains, but glorified by the hope of distinction, 
and softened by the delight of natural beauty, 
on which he will dwell with touches of the 
poet. He loves alike the sapins on the mount- 
ain, the hleuets in the corn-field, the balmy roses 
of a garden-bower, with a love which makes 



108 TWEXTT TFAJiii AGO. 

him sometimes impatient of a life shackled by 
rigid official duties. Stung, too, by the strag- 
gling contradiction between an ambition to rise 
in his profession and aversion to a connection 
with despotic government, the young brow 
will furrow, and the words escape in a sharp 
sigh, ^^Oh, mon ind^pendance 1 qui me la 
rendra?" A minute afterwards (these French 
are such strange beings) a perverse fit may 
seize him, and with a kind of pleasant sour- 
ness he will debiter much gloomy misanthro- 
py and cynicism; he will denigrer all these 
charms, rail at romance, and try obstinately to 
seem blase and insensible — nay, will almost 
persuade you to believe him, so prettily does 
he act it. 

Indeed, some temporary gloom may well be 
excused to a young man, mature in thought 
beyond his years, under his present circum- 
stances. Just wakened to real life from those 
shining visions and aspirations, at a period of 
peculiar darkness and discouragement to all 
good patriots — at the moment, too, of expe- 
riencing life's first and worst loss, a dearly 
loved mother's death — it is no wonder if he 
sometimes fancies himself disenchanted for life. 
But, no I that fine organization and fervid na- 
ture have heart and hope in them yet; though 



if. EMLLE. 109 

whether they will survive when youth's fair 
illusions are really gone, amidst the azote of 
that social and political atmosphere, may be 
sorrowfully doubted. From instances that I 
have seen, I could paint him as he rrvay be a 
dozen years hence, when the work of desUlu- 
stonnement is complete. He is already con- 
scious that he is not what he was, and can 
philosophize, half coldly, half lightly, on the 
change, although the fine natural qualities 
shed even yet a kind of half-painful lustre 
over the ruins. He feels a secret contempt for 
others, fostering in him a cynical pride not 
founded on any real self esteem ; the generous 
trust, the enthusiastic self-devotion, are no 
more; he may continue benevolent in action, 
but has ceased to be kindly in thought. With 
probity and independence at the core, he be- 
comes subtle and tortuous in his social rela- 
tions, his feelings run no longer straight on- 
ward in the daylight. He takes a sombre 
pleasure in defying scrutiny, misleading friend- 
ly conjecture, disappointing nascent confidence, 
and leaving an injpression of something much 
bitterer and harder than he really ia 

Yet even from such a fall I believe he might 
recover; should some great cause call aloud 
for heroic self-sacrifice, all his best nature 



110 TW£XTY TEARS AGO, 

would spring up, crying in answer to that 
trumpet-voice, "Here I am — ^send me." But 
if, instead of that stirring anguish and passion 
and strife, this deadly torpor of a debasing tyr- 
anny should deepen and strengthen over the 
nation, till its best hearts and brains yield to 
the hopeless spell — ah, what will he then be? 
Gladly do I return from such a fancy pic- 
ture to the reality of the young, generous, 
amiable ifimile as he is. At present, whatever 
mask he may choose to wear is but a transpar- 
ent one, and we two — Sibyl especially — ^know 
always how in a moment to make it drop com- 
pletely off. We have fortunately taught him, 
too, that Englishwomen can bear — nay, can 
welcome — truth, even when it is not sweet as 
flattery ; and he takes pleasure in speaking it 
to us. He will kindly warn me of social blun- 
ders; and when either of us — I through want 
of readiness, or Sibyl from her careless dislike 
to trouble — make slips in French, in accent, in 
idiom, or grammar, such as cause some cheer- 
ful misunderstanding, or some engaging or per- 
haps embarrassing mistake, M. ifimile will laugh 
at us freely, with fearless smile, and saucy, 
sparkling eye. "I could make a dictionary 
of the words you invent, mademoiselle," he 
once said. 



Jf. EMILE. Ill 

And when, on his granting that the particu- 
lar word I had coined was wanted, I said, " Je 
vous en fais cadeau," he answered, " I thank 
you; I shall value it so highly that I shall 
take care never to use it." 

But when invited to make mistakes in re- 
• turn, he is far too fin to give us this advantage, 
pleading total ignorance of English, even to its 
alphabet. 

This fondness of the Frenchman for support- 
ing a rdle in social intercourse is very marked. 
If he is brave, honorable, enthusiastic, he en- 
joys his own fine qualities as much as any one 
can ; without broadly making himself sa person- 
nage de rornan, he yet lets you conceive that 
.impression of him, and takes care to suppress 
any thing that may disturb it. Yet even these 
little artifices are part of the real naturalness, 
and please me accordingly. For, in spite of 
his instinct (rather than habit) of accommo- 
dating himself to his companion, so impres- 
sionable, so eagerly unreserved is he, that truth 
will often come out brusquely, or, as he him- 
self says, "brutalement" 

And then, too, the French dearly like ex- 
citement in conversation — it is a game which 
they play with all their hearts — so that contra- 
diction, raillery, even a little anger, will come 



112 TWENTY YEARS AGO. 

to add zest, and entertain the stranger who is 
on the look-out for national or individual traits. 
It is true-, one does not always keep cool one's 
self — one grows eager, emphatic, words come 
with an ardent yet hesitating eloquence, the 
heart beats, the cheeks glow, and one becomes 
frank and brusque too — and then, a pleased 
laugh, a quietly -bantering comment, or a bit of 
delicate criticism, tells one that the Frenchman, 
in his turn, is making his reflections and com- 
posing his theory. 

There is a piquancy in this intercourse like 
that of two hostile armies who, during some 
brief armistice, enter each other's camps, min- 
gle gayly, and make friendship even out of 
the grim warfare which has brought them thus 
together. 

In the course of my acquaintance with M. 
Lamourette, he published a volume of mem- 
oirs, on which I knew him to have expended 
a good deal of thought and research, and 
which, of course, I sometimes made the theme 
of my conversation with him. With a delight- 
ful simplicity he assured me that he was per- 
' fectly indifferent to its success. " Praise," he 
said, " only vexes me, and I would rather the 
work was not noticed at all. When it was 
read aloud in the Academic, and a vote of ap- 



M, EMILE. 118 

proval passed upon it, I could hardly persuade 
myself to open the report that announced it to 
me. Maintenant, quant a ce livre, je n'y pense 
jamais." 

I took all this gravely and respectfully. I 
knew the professor was a blighted, jaded, sa- 
tiated being; in England, perhaps, we might 
have hinted that he was an enfante gdte; but I 
chose to take him as he represented himself. 
When, a day or two after, he came to us en 
soirSe, his book was lying on a little table, and 
I saw his quick eye drawn and fixed as by 
magnetism on it. 

"What a pity," I said, "that you were not 
here sooner I A literary gentleman, interested 
in the subject you wrote of, has been here," 
and I named the gentleman, who was a writer 
of repute. " He saw the book, and asked ques- 
tions about it ; and I dare say would have 
liked to talk to you on the subject." 

For the rest of the evening, and for some 
days aflber, my friend could not get that gentle- 
man out of his head. I mentioned a slight 
critical remark that had been made on the 
work, and I saw him from time to time ap- 
proach and takie up the book, ask what " ce 
monsieur " had said, and recur to the subject, 
while I smiled internally with tender pleasure 

H 



lU T\V£yTT T£AIi8 AGO. 

at his innocent inconsistency. For indeed, my 
dear professor, you are really very thin-skin- 
ned, and the mask of indifference does not sit 
well on vou. You are like a child — while 
pleased, while amused, and to a certain extent 
flattered, no one can be more gay, good-hu- 
mored, and engaging than you are ; but let the 
required sweet aliment be withdrawn, or the im- 
mediate prospect of gratification be in another 
direction, or greater amusement to be found 
elsewhere, and you can, I suspect, become ill- 
mannered, even ill-bred, to a degree the com- 
posed Englishman could not be guilty of 

These charming French are mostly egotists 
— the word must be used, but it is no very 
branding one — and they would not be quite so 
charming if they were not For in the good 
natures this egotism flatters the egotism of 
others by an intelligent sympathy and a quick 
sensibility to all the small details of feeling. 
It gives the power of studying the souls of 
others alike with fellow feeling and the feel- 
ings of an artist 

Certainly they are superlative conversers. I 
know not how to describe it; I can only re- 
call having been held hour by hour, uncon- 
scious whether I talked or not, scarcely won- 
dering at the ease with which all kinds of 



M. EMILE. 115 

material were melted together in the stream of 
that multifarious talk, aware only of a sharp, 
crisp, piquant scent and flavor of delightful 
novelty. Never had I been so unreserved or 
heard such unreserved utterance before — all 
was new, yet all seemed quite natural, and suit- 
ed to the long-felt wants and vague concep- 
tions of one's own mind. It was a web of feel- 
ing and reasoning, just light enough for con- 
versation, across which anecdotes or illustra- 
tions were darted like sparkles and jets of 
light; or, still more interesting, a flow of rec- 
ollections out of a varied life, stories tragic 
and comic, bits of deeply-felt autobiography, 
with touches of thought — melancholy, sarcas- 
tic, or philosophic — and many an interruption 
of ingenious turn or piquant reply. Wherever 
he wills, the Frenchman leads you ; no path so 
deep and sinuous, no wood-shade so wild and 
dim, but you follow undoubtingly. In the met- 
aphysics of the heart no one surpasses him; 
no such philosophic sentimentalist, no such 
soul-analyzer and connoisseur of the passions 
as he. And into the trying, tempting maze he 
draws you unawares, luring you on with ever 
and anon some glancing sun-streak of allusion 
to his own experience. I often have read (in 
novels especially) of this kind of conversation. 



116 TWENTY TEAB8 AGO. 

but never realized it till I beard it from a dev- 
er and sympathetic Frenchman. I know not 
how much art there was in all this — if art it 
was, it was perfect as nature. 

Of course, with all this charm, there were 
certain things which had a great tendency to 
provoke the Britannic mind, or, if it were in a 
proper state, to amuse it They arose mostly 
from the all but impossibility to the French 
mind of understanding foreign nations and 
foreign languages, or looking at any thing 
from other than a French point of view. 
That French ignorance on English subjects 
continued to me a daily source of astonish- 
ment, just as it was in the first bloom and 
dawn of my perception thereof It might be 
mortifying, were it not, as I believe, just as 
crasse on every foreign subject. It may be 
our English mistakes on things French are 
equally stupendous to their eyes ; still I think 
we, at any rate, know a little better what 
views they hold on subjects differently related 
by the two nations, and so escape that naivdi 
of ignorance which they display. 

There are topics which, for the sake of one's 
serenity of mind, it is good to avoid. What 
were my feelings when the candid, intelligent, 
well-informed M. ^fimile made the (as I after- 



M, EMILE, 117 

wards found) common assertion that the En- 
glish were beaten at Waterloo I When, with a 
vehemence which almost prevented any satis- 
factory reasoning on the subject, I combated 
this stupefying statement, nothing could ex- 
ceed the mild condescension of the smile and 
tone with which I was kindly informed that 
"it was permitted to a demoiselle to be not 
very an fait upon military matters." 

Why is it that all technicalities and facts 
fail one just at such times? and why does the 
French language, in which a hundred times be- 
fore one has been pert and pugnacious enough, 
fail as well ? But let it pass ; we have no bus^ 
iness to boast of Waterloo, no more right to be 
proud of it than the French of a gallantly -sus- 
tained defeat. It was a miserable thing that it 
had to be fought at all, and if it still stands as 
a barrier against the perfect friendship of two 
brave nations, I could rather be sorry for it. 

Another time, Jfimile insisted that England 
had made a good thing of the war with Na- 
poleon, her whole object in it having, indeed, 
been to increase her possessions; and when 
humbly entreated to say what possessions she 
had gained by it, he promptly answered, " Ja- 
maica." When, however^ with vehemence be- 
yond strict courtesy, we complained of these 



118 TWEXTY TEARS AGO. 

" queer French notions," 'most disarming was 
the candid reply, " C'est trop vrai ; we are but 
moderately informed about other nations, and 
England is, perhaps, not the one which we un- 
derstand best" 

But enough of these irritating and foolish 
topics, which had better never arise between 
French and English, each of whom, of course, 
can but look on that side of the shield whose 
glittering metal is next to their eyes. The 
habit of reading in history only what tells best 
for our national pride will never be conquered 
while national feeling has a root in our hearts; 
but I hold that with strangers the modest or 
well-bred man will no more vaunt his country 
than he will his family or himself. 

Still, leaving party questions aside, it is curi- 
ous how shamefully, how grotesquely inaccu- 
rate they often are in their statement of facts, 
even when there is no object to be gained by- 
it, and when one would have thought it much 
easier to be accurate. In history or biography 
their preference of fancy to fact, their disregard 
of dates, their disfigurements of names and ti- 
tles — here Michelet, Lamartine, Sainte-Beuve, 
rise up before me as first-class oflFenders — is 
something past speaking of. These mistakes 
do not come from want of imagination ; there 



M. EMJLE, 119 

is but too much of that quality in the rapidity 
"with which half-impressions are seized on and 
>«rorked up ; they are run away with by a the- 
ory, and generalize to a wonderful extent; and 
then their national conceit satisfies them that 
tibey are quite right, and seeks no more infor- 
mation to correct first ideas. Nor with them 
is it, as with the Irish, produced by confusion 
of head ; they are quick and exact, hgiques in 
their mode of reasoning, pellucidly clear — nay, 
mathematically precise — in their forms of ex- 
pression; there are no muddled half-concep- 
tions in the fire and crystal of the French 
brain. Nor is it from any incapacity for pa- 
tient, continued application ; this can be most 
eminently exercised when results can be ob- 
tained no other way. 

Is it then symptomatic of the often imputed 
French insincerity? and is that charge a just 
one ? I can not yet say. I suppose while hu- 
man nature is human nature, the masses as 
well as individuals will find some object for 
whose sake they think it worth while to sacri- 
fice truth, or, as I have heard it philosophical- 
ly defined, " to postpone the recognition of the 
fact to the exigencies of the moment.;" and 
to the vain, sensitive French nature "effect" 
seems that powerful temptation. This tend- 



120 TWrXTY YEARS AGO. 

onoy glares on us fiom the proclamations on 
their walls, from the language of the Senate, 
the Bar, the Academy, and the Pulpit, from 
the pages of their public journals and their 
most "standard" histories. To produce an 
"eflfect" they will employ false coloring, will 
suppress and add, and, if that effect be a clap- 
trap grand sentiment or a piece of showy patri- 
otism, will confess to it even with pride. Many 
a piquant instance of this is full and fresh in 
my memory at this moment, but I will not en- 
large farther on a fact generally acknowledged. 
But, as to personal and social insincerity, I 
think we are apt to be unjust to the French, 
from not understanding their manners as well 
as they do themselves. They are not neces- 
sarily untruthful in their expressions of liking 
or interest, only we must not expect the feeling 
to last Every moment is with them taken up 
with vivid interests — in succession; for they 
are too strong to be simultaneous. There is 
not room for all at once, and, as they say 
themselves, "la vie de Paris est d^vorante." 
The amiable French manner is also mislead- 
ing; because that is universal, and because 
generous, unselfish goodness is not universal 
with them any more than in England, we 
hastily conclude that fine show, as we call it, 
to be always pretense. 



Jf. EMILE, 121 

Still, were one to judge from certain small 
traits, one would conclude that the French 
standard of honor was not quite so high as our 
own. "Petits mensonges," or "white lies," 
are things they are not a bit ashamed of; 
" mensonge " is not the least an impolite an- 
swer to even a lady's assertion; listening at a 
door, and panegyrizing one's own book in a 
public journal, are proceedings I have heard 
avowed by a most estimable gentleman ; and 
conventional politeness is carried so far that 
it scarcely deceive^ What with us is mere 
honesty, is with them hrutalite^ for which one 
gains no sort of credit 

I feel as if I ought to apologize for the de- 
cisive tone and rapid generalization exhibited 
in this critique on a nation whom I know, after 
all, but in glimpses. As a stranger and for- 
eigner, I dwelt chiefly in the outworks of 
French society. But then they are a people 
whose life is so much external that the stran- 
ger may see and learn much without going 
farther than those outworks. And if I can 
not myself pronounce a judgment, I am at 
least very qualified to report their own ; for 
hardly a day passed that some French man or 
woman did not treat me to an opinion or as- 
sertion about themselves. 



laa TWENTY yeajrs ago. 



CHAPTER V. 

THE JOUR DE l'aN. 

WELL, the elections are finished. Those 
of Paris were over in one day ; those of 
the country took five or six days. The result 
is of course the same in both, and Louis Napo- 
leon is confirmed by more than seven millions 
against about six hundred thousand. Nothing 
could exceed the quiet with which it all took 
place; no one could guess that the votes of 
a nation were being given. The abstentions 
were so numerous, that, had they been added 
to the nons^ the ouis would have been out- 
voted. 

So France has secured her ten years' dicta- 
tor ; and all joy to her on her choice. The 
news has been received with a kind of sulky 
indifference ; no guns firing, no illuminations; 
and meanwhile arrests continue, societies are 
suppressed, espionnage is diligently practiced, 
military law of the severest kind reigns in the 
provinces, and Paris sets to her task of usher- 
ing gayly in the new year with what skill she 
ma v. 



THE JOUR BE L'AJSr. 128 

The Boulevards, as usual, are turned into a 
fair, with a succession of stalls full of articles 
for etrennes; but there are great fears about 
their sale, the money-market is in so anxious a 
state. Terrible scenes, Sibyl tells me, are wont 
to be exhibited on the Boulevards at this time, 
children wanting all the splendid things with- 
out exception that they see there — crying 
loudly for them — rolling on the ground. 

But there is to be a greater show on New- 
year's-day, for the president is then to be pro- 
claimed, not for ten years, but for life, at No- 
tre-Dame, with great pomp, but, as is expected, 
not too great enthusiasm. Meanwhile, I am 
making trial of Paris in winter; and as for 
four-fifths of the year she deserves to be paint- 
ed en beau in colors of gold and azure, we may 
pardon her uncommon disagreeableness for this 
fifth. Certainly she is very dreary when giv- 
en up to incessant rain, and when our sources 
of amusement are restricted to what we can 
see from the windows of her at her dingiest — 
sloppy pavements and streaming spouts, a few 
busy women lifting their dresses in the uncom- 
promising manner of all true Paristennes in* 
rain and dirt, a few soldiers in gray cloaks, all 
the scanty world under umbrellas, and gloom 
and dreariness everywhere. 



VM TWEXTY YEAES AGO. 

If, weary of in-doors, we steal out at some 
tolerable interval, the result is not enjoyment. 
The streets are now a bed of thick rich mud, 
and there is little to choose between the 
greasy, slippery trottoir and the pavS, with 
pools formed round every stone. The cross- 
ings are almost impassable, the water from 
spouts and projections drips on one as one 
creeps along the narrow bit of trottoir close to 
the wall, shrinking from the carts and omni- 
buses, whose huge wheels almost touch the 
windows, as they plough through and splash 
up the mud. The Place de la Concorde, with 
its extent of swimming asphalt, is a lake of 
mire; the Seine runs turbid, thick, and dull 
green under its now misty bridges, in fine 
weather so glitteringly aerial; the public build- 
ings look grim and desponding, and seem to 
wear mourning. Ah, fair Paris I how like you 
are — in these two phases — to some beau- 
ty first seen in her f^te-days, all smiling and 
charming, made up of graces and good-humor, 
and the same beauty wearing a shabby dress- 
ing-gown and a sulky face, in a disorderly bed- 
room at home I 

Paris is rather less intolerable when the 
weather is only windy and cold. Sibyl and I 
then persist in our English habit of walking 



THE JOXm DE VAN, 125 

forth in the Champs !6lys^es — not merely in 
the dress -promenades of the afternoon, but in 
the early morning, when one meets few but 
some determined men, who, cloaked, furred, 
and hooded up, with all the careful and gro- 
tesque contrivances of the Parisian winter toi- 
let, glare on us with double energy from their 
forests of beard and hair. 

There goes a hat blown suddenly from the 
Pont de la Concorde into the river ; the young 
owner laughs a little ruefully as it disappears, 
and passes on his way bare-headed with a 
merry-faced grisette. There goes another I the 
sleety wind, blowing sharp as a thousand nee- 
dles across the Place, has driven it far on, but 
it is picked up and restored, and the picker-up, 
as he passes on, observes to us, confidingly, in 
a discontented tone, " II a bien peu me dire 
merci." Seel there is an old woman timidly 
descending some steps from one of the Tuile- 
ries terraces ; a young man in a blouse walking 
some way behind runs on, gives her his hand, 
helps her carefully down, and leaves her with 
a bow. 

I shall not soon forget that winter's day 
(New - year's - day, 1852) when I went to wit- 
ness the inauguration of the Saviour of Socie- 
ty (now self-named for life) in a mixed relig- 



I'X TWLWTY YEAHii AGO, 

ious and political service at Notre-Dame. I 
went with one companion, the best I could 
have wished for, and one whose feelings on 
the subject of the great show were, I knew, 
the same as mine. We went out with some 
degree of excitement as to what we should 
see : it was a remarkable day, at any rate ; it 
might be made one not to be forgotten by 
some pistol-shot which should point the moral 
of the pageant, and settle accounts with the 
chief actor — a thing which some at least 
thought not impossible. 

It was a day of thickest fog ; there was, too, 
a damp, poisonous, cruel chill; the mist was in- 
cessantly drizzling, and condensing to ice-drops 
upon us ; the wind cut like a sword-edge, and 
my hands were stung with intolerable cold. 
At the Place de la Concorde the fountains 
were frozen ; the naiads, covered with icides, 
were shivering in their winter bath ; the wood 
walks around the Tuileries were a mystery ; 
the only things distinctly seen being the troops 
crossing our path, dragoons, chasseurs^ and the 
line. When the mist cleared a little, the trees 
appeared completely clad in a foliage of white 
frost-work, full and graceful as their former 
mantle of green ; all down the avenue they 
exhibited this snowy fancy garniture. As we 



THE JOUR DE L'AN, 127 

passed the Suspension Bridge, we saw between 
its planks the dull, deep, smooth green of the 
river, and pieces of ice came drifting down the 
still stream. The poplars and willows along 
the river-side were in stiff white spikes, or 
hung with white beads, the boughs looking 
like so many silver strings, while the iron and 
bronze gates and railings were all powdered 
with pearla 

When we entered the lU by the Petit Pont, 
we found the entrance to the Place de Notre- 
Dame choked up with a crowd of commisy 
blouses^ gamins^ so that we could not even get 
a sight of the soldiers filling the Place. But 
my friend, with calm reliance on the chivalry 
of French soldiers, assured me that if we could 
squeeze near enough to be seen by them we 
should be sure to be let into the square. And 
so it happened ; and on the perron of the Hotel 
Dieu, opposite the west front of Notre-Dame, 
we stood and commanded the whole scene. 

The mist w^ still so intense that the three 
splendid portals opposite us, the great rose- 
window, and the round-arched galleries, stood 
out as if from a gray blank. The Place was 
full of soldiers only, every inlet carefully 
guarded. A bustle of preparation began ; 
now and then the people carelessly cried, " II 



138 TWUXTr YEAB8 AOO, 

vienti" and criticisms, sometimes disparaging, 
were exchanged on the " £lu du Ciel." 

At length the great bells of Notre-Dame be- 
gan to rhig and then came a clash of military 
music, but the loud tolling sound swelled over 
trumpets and drums. Then there rushed upon 
the scene a splendid troop of lancers, suddenly 
springing out of the mist, all borne forward at 
one proud bound, like so many strong waves 
heaving one after another. On they came, 
three or four abreast, their lances held up tall 
and straight, the flags quivering with one 
slight thrill together — then seemed to vanish 
again. In reality they wheeled round to the 
other side of the Place. Then arms were pre- 
sented, the dragoons raised their long, terrible 
broadswords — and then, almost invisible, came 
the president's carriage, closely invested by a 
double ring of lancers, "joliment escort^," as 
the people said — safe enough from any possi- 
bility of a shot 

So came the hero of the scene; he was 
dressed in a general's uniform, and bowed his 
cocked hat, not out of, but inside, the closed 
windows. It was well that the drums beat 
their loudest to drown the vivats that should 
have been uttered, but were not The front 
rank of soldiers only shouted, and that with no 



THM JOUR DE VAN, 129 

accordant faces. Six civilian hats were taken 
off (I counted them), and three voices cheered ; 
as on other occasions, there was no enthusiasm 
that was not paid for. The new-made absolute 
ruler vanished into Notre-Dame, and we were 
left to moralize over this rather appropriate 
climax to the whole thing — Louis Napoleon 
inaugurated in a fog. 

For a cold hour we waited, and admired the 
front of the cathedral hung with banners, the 
endless crowd of carved angels, saints, and pa- 
triarchs looking from the three beautiful por- 
tals in calm, sad scorn at that insolent blazon- 
ry, and on the gay central scroll whereon, in 
huge, . triumphant, gilded figures, glared the 
well-known number 7,000,000! The world 
without amused itself as well as it could ; the 
dragoons dismounted, danced and "skylarked " 
in their big boots; the officers gossiped with 
each other and arranged their long, flowing 
plumes. The infantry chatted with the crowd, 
lighted cigars from their neighbors, helped old 
women up the steps with a polite " Madame, 
permettez ;" then, all feeling extremely cold, 
a simultaneous stamp went through the line, 
and the people took it up in good time. 

The crowd meanwhile continued its small 
comments: "Ce n'est pas aujourd'hui le so 

I 



180 TWENTY TEAMS AGO, 

leil d' Austerlitz," said one ; another, express- 
ing the then common feeling that our premier 
was the general advocate of freedom, observed, 
" Mais Lord Palmerston n'est pas mort, Dieu 
merci !" They did not imagine that he had al- 
ready claimed a kindred spirit in the " prince- 
president," and appreciated the successful coup 
d'etat 

At last the doors re-opened, again bells toll- 
ed and drums beat, again that fine troop of 
lancers swept by ; the dragoons jumped to 
their saddles, their swords ringing as they did 
so, and galloped into position. The Elected 
of Heaven reappeared, in the same safe state 
as before, and vanished — as he had come — in 
a mist. 

When all was over, the world outside want- 
ed to get into Notre-Dame, which at first they 
were permitted to do ; but the sergents-de-viUe^ 
who were in an exceedingly bad humor, turn- 
ed savage, and, growling forth prohibitions in 
every form, thrust us violently out Judging 
by' their faces, they ought, as my friend ob- 
served, to have been hanged long ago. They 
looked like men conscious of having taken 
part in a failure, and disposed to revenge it on 
the passive populace. We heard nothing save 
that the religious ceremony had taken place, 



THE JOUR DE L'AN, 181 

the maires of the several arrondissements ap- 
plauding loudly. 

On the Suspension Bridge we stopped to 
buy a mSdaillon of Louis Napoleon from peo- 
ple selling saucerfuls of a plated and gilt, faith- 
less and flattering likeness. Also a programme 
of the day's doings, a rudely -printed half-sheet, 
with a very coarse portrait of the president in 
the middle, over his head a representation of 
the Holy Ghost as a dove, the Saviour on the 
cross on one side, and the Almighty himself 
on the other — all, as it were, in a family-party 
together! The programme was conceived in 
terms to match ; and, to add interest to the oc- 
casion, a wonderful, almost miraculous discov- 
ery was announced — made in the course of 
repairs to the cathedral porch — of documents 
hid in a pillar, of so primeval a date as the 
reign of Louis XV. I 

As we returned home along the quays, we 
met the special correspondent of one of the 
London papers, who somehow had failed to be 
at his post in time, and asked us for an account 
of the day. He told us two facts: one, that 
the president, in his reception at the Tuileries 
last night, had in his speech kindly promised 
the people " a constitution in accordance with 
their democratic instincts;" the other, that 



183 TWENTY TEAB8 AGO. 

there was a new decree ordering the arrest of 
any one who talked politics in the streets, to 
be handed over, not to the regular courts, but 
to the police — that is, to summary punishment, 
without examination or appeal. 

We reached home at last, the bitter cold and 
mortal fatigue of the three hours* walking and 
standing being almost forgqtten in our friend's 
fascinating conversation. And as I lay that 
evening on the sofa, quite worn out with fa- 
tigue, I went months back in thought. Who 
would have told that I — long shut up amidst 
the deep quiet of my secluded English home 
— should on this day be witnessing the instal- 
lation of the new Napoleon, having for my com- 
panion — oh, what good-fortune for a hero-wor- 
shipping girl ! — a poet I thus living through a 
chapter of history with — I will not name him 
— but he is now the greatest English poet of 
our day. 



V 



m THE FAUBOURQ ST. GERMAIN, 183 



CHAPTER VI. 

IN THE FAUBOURG ST. GERMAIN. 

AFTER all these literary and republican 
soiries, I had a glimpse of the Parisian 
aristocratic world. In some things it was very 
unlike the world in which I had lived many 
months; which fact I discovered in the very 
first party of the kind which Sibyl and I at- 
tended, soon after the coup d^etat. 

"We had left salons filled with wrath, de- 
spair, and tumult, mutiny as of the Titans 
against the new Jove ; I found here dwellers 
on the Olympian heights of indifference, meet- 
ing in an atmosphere of Elysian calm. The 
first person who greeted me was M. le Due 
de Montorgueil, a proud aristocrat in grain, 
though he affected to be much besides. He 
assumed devotion, patronized literature, was 
something of a visionary philosopher, who 
spun fine theories about virtue, justice, and lib- 
erty, about which he loved to harangue. I 
spoke to him with a heart full of what I had 
seen and heard, only pitying beforehand what 
he must feel even more deeply than I. 



184 TWENTY YEAKIS AGO, 

An air of grand-seigneur msoueiarvce and a 
thin strident laugh put all " heroics " to flight 
I asked him if he had voted (it was during the 
elections). He said, carelessly, " Non ; je me 
suis abstenu." 

"Why?" was my surprised inquiry. 

" Because I know of no right that they have 
to impose a vote on me." 

And then, professing an easy belief that the 
Eepublic was still to be (he, though an aristo- 
crat all over, was yet a sort of theoretic fancy 
Republican), and passing by Louis Napoleon 
with the lightest and calmest disdain, he pro- 
ceeded to descant on some book of elegant 
philosophy which was just then the vogue. 

The plan of "abstention" is that which 
most of the grands seigneurs (especially the 
Legitimists) have followed; it is a protest 
which the system of ballot renders impercepti- 
ble, and which only helps to swell the presi- 
dent's majority. 

I almost fancied — strong Legitimist as the 
marquis was — that he was not wholly discon- 
tented with the event that had put an extin- 
guisher on "ces gueux de E^publicains," as, 
with a good-humored, quiet intensity of scorn, 
he called them. He denied the cruelties of 
which Paris yet bore the crimson tokens, say- 



IN THE FAUBOURG ST. GERMAIN. 185 

ing politely that the worst stories were im- 
possible, for that no Frenchman could hurt a 
"woman or a child, hoped that these little inci- 
dents would not frighten me away from Paris, 
and altogether appeared as if all this had noth- 
ing to do with him. As the room began to 
fill, and Sibyl, Hermine, and I drew our chairs 
together to make room for the new-comers, 
Sibyl said, in her thoughtless way, "Nous 
faisons une barricade." 

"Ah," answered the gallant aristocrat, "s'il 
y avait sur les barricades de tels petits ob- 
jets, tout le monde s'empresserait de les at- 
taquef." 

This is one way, certainly, of taking the 
doom of one's nation. 

But I will pass from those first dark winter 
days, when, after a brief spasm, France ac- 
cepted her fate. The months passed on, and 
she was bearing it as well as she might, sur- 
prised, perhaps, to find how bearable it was ; 
and now spring and summer were smiling on 
the renewed Paris gayeties. There was a 
grand hotel in the Faubourg St. Germain 
which we occasionally frequented, one of those 
which distinguish the Eues Grenelle, Varenne, 
St. Dominique, amidst the choked mass of 
houses, and narrow, gloomy lanes which com- 



136 TWENTY TEARS AGO. 

pose that quarter of learned institutions, quaint 
antiquities, and hideous squalors. 

See, there it is ! one of those solemn, state- 
ly old hotels, with its great arched doors rich- 
ly carved, the spandrels filled up with fretted 
iron-work, the columns surmounted by stone 
Cupids, or figures in bronze, the grand solid 
balconies, with their mouldering rich stone or- 
naments. Through the porte-cockh-e appears a 
stately court, full of orange-trees and flower- 
beds ; while a low stone wall lets us see the 
large garden belonging to it, crowding togeth- 
er its masses of foliage, while a profusion of 
white-blossomed acacia boughs hangs over the 
wall, so that the street is scented like a wood- 
land grove. This particular hotel belonged to 
Madame de Mailly, an aged grande dame, who 
owned the whole house, though she occupied 
only the ground-floor. She loved to collect 
what she considered a select society, so of 
course we feel flattered at being included. I 
believe we owed this distinction originally to 
Monsieur le Comte, Sibyl's -quiet, indolent 
adorer, for, in spite of the match on the tapis 
with Hermine, one can see whose society he 
finds the most agreeable. 

Madame de Mailly had bad health, occa- 
sional bad spirits, which, in speaking to us, she 



• IN THE FATJBOUUQ ST. QEBMAIN. 137 

cjalled, by way of accommodating herself to 
our English ideas, "le spleen" — a malady 
which the- French still firmly believe to be 
paramount among us — a lofty manner, and a 
great deal of benevolence, as well as a love of 
patronizing genius after a crotchety fashion of 
her own. This latter taste varied our herd of 
beatified immortals (I mean sleepy legitimist 
aristocrats) with a few notorieties, who were a 
great deal more amusing to me. As for ma- 
dame's own opinions — political, social, or re- 
ligious — all that belonged to her as an old 
aristocrabe^ royaliste, and devote — a " vieille de la 
vieille" — I will say nothing. I will not ex- 
pose* the inevitable results of that elegant ex- 
ile from the world, that conservative trance of 
existence, that tender and touching nursing of 
old illusions and clinging to an impossible 
state of things. I will not surprise nor amuse 
my readers with any of the bitiseSj of which 
some chance report, straying beyond the ring- 
fence of that unspeakably respectable fau- 
bourg, so much delights all the othera 

I will only say that they were for the most 
part graceful, kindly, engaging people, though, 
with the exception of this genius-patronizing 
grande dame, the ladies were mostly inaccessi- 
ble. The grands seigneurs one met every now 



138 TWJSNTY YEAM8 AGO, 

and then at mixed soirSes, but their wives 
prided themselves on having exclusive socie- 
ties. It is probable that the gentlemen had 
chosen best, and went wherever they found 
themselves best amused. When one of these 
stray lambs, such as M. de Montorgueil or M. 

de T , came forth to browse a while on the 

grassy patches of our wild democratic com- 
mon, I used to follow them back in reverent 
fancy to the solemn, ineffable beatitude and 
repose of their own regal stalls and rich park- 
pastures, and wonder how it was with them 
there. 

This May evening of which I am going to 
speak, we walked, as we not unfrequently did, 
to the house of Madame de Mailly. It was a 
dark, sultry, stormy evening ; the purple sky 
closed .the dense, dark walls round the spires 
and domes of Paris, massing them all into one 
blot; sudden lightnings showed us the Pal- 
ace of the Corps L^gislatif, across the bridge 
on which the blind flute-player continued his 
year-long serenade. 

We arrived : the antichambre was full of hats 
and great -coats; yet, on entering the great 
drawing-room, a dimly -lighted, empty, silent 
space met our view ; all the visitors appeared 
to have been mysteriously swallowed up. The 



m THE PAUBOUJRQ ST, QEMMAIN, 189 

<3rawing-rooin windows were all open; we 
looked into the dark garden ; a sudden purple 
lightning-flash sculptured, as it were, in a mo- 
ment a group of people sitting on chairs and 
<x)uches under the lime-trees, on the grass. 
'We are lost for an instant in the twilight as- 
semblage, but the stately figure of our hostess 
raises itself aloft from the couch on which it is 
her habit to recline, and solemnly greets her 
guests. There are but a few, after all ; the 
soiree is not begun. Madame is enjoying a lit- 
tle quiet intellectual talk with her gentlemen 
intimates. 

There is the editor of an intensely orthodox 
and legitimist journal, fiery in its hatred of 
England, infantine in its devout credulity ; he 
himself is gay, audacious, unscrupulous, at once 
good-humored and deliberately insulting — ar- 
rogant par cdlcul, reckless and insulting also 
on system. One sees and hears in him in five 
minutes the dashing, brilliant, wholly untrust- 
worthy Ultramontanist. 

There, again, is a melancholy, superstitious 
devotee, physically strong and daring, mental- 
ly a cramped, timid, blinded slave; at the 
Church's bidding he dares all dangers and 
endures all hardships, yet covers from society, 
under a shy mask, his secret ardor. He is not. 



140 TWENTY YS±R8 AOO. 

like the first, a flint-stone with sparkles on its 
surface, but a granite rock with fire at its core. 

And there is a third divot^ of another type ; 
on the smooth, fair features plays a stereo- 
typed smile ; of those placid eyes one can nev- 
er tell whether the expression be craft or niai- 
serie; he pours forth banalitis, and laughs with 
a false air of enjoyment So bland, quiet^ and 
watchful is he, that sometimes I suspect him of 
being not only a covert Jesuit, but a spy : he 
has been heard, I am told, to utter liberal opin- 
ions. His general line is conversion ; he was 
introduce'd to me as a great theological doctor; 
but I think my faith can stand his arguments, 
just as well as my feelings can resist the com- 
monplace galanteries (not much sillier) with 
which he interlards them. 

Suddenly Madame de Mailly says, in rather 
an awakened tone, as if sure of giving pleasure, 
" Mdlle. Beatrice, M. le Due ;" and I am aware 
of a figure, seen but in outline, bowing to me 
straight formal bows, with that punctilious, 
solicitous air which accompanies French fine 
breeding. For a moment I try to remember 
who, of all the titles that haunt this salon, it 
may be ; till another opportune lightning-flash 
reveals more clearly the small, bowing figure, 
attired in nankeen trowsers, after the manner 



m THE FAVBOWRQ ST. GERMAIN. 141 

of French summer-simplicity. Straightway I 
recall M. de Montorgueil, whom I had met 
several times at diflferent houses, but of whom 
some months' interment in his chateau of 
ProvenCe had caused me wholly to forget the 
existence. Now, he was one to whom I had 
a very fine apd perfect antipathy. He was 
of the vieiUe noblesse and the old school, and, 
while much superior in mere finish of manner 
to those of a newer class, was yet much less 
prepossessing. He devoted himself, of course,' 
in society to the young ladies, but, though sin- 
gle and pertinacious in his purpose, was never 
obtrusive, and would sit in well-bred patience 
till he had an opportunity. He was fond of 
intellectual and literary subjects ; he express- 
ed himself easily and clearly; this was, as he 
said, because he thought clearly — in fine, he 
was a capital instructor in French conversa- 
tion. But I soon felt that his good manners 
were merely the accident of his station, a les- 
son taught so early that it was now a habit 
quite unconnected with himself; and that his 
intellectual tendencies were not much more 
Teal. He added to this a sham Bepublican- 
ism and sham devotion, each a mere brain-be- 
lief ingrafted on a cold egdiste disposition, pre- 
ceded, I imagine, by a youth and middle age 



143 TWENTY YEARS AGO, 

of Parisian license (though, probably, always 
of a cautious, cold-hearted, imaginative sort), 
and all pervaded by a something of petty com- 
monplace suiting well with a sharp, clear, but 
borne understanding. He professed to have be- 
gun by believing nothing, but to have known 
in his youth the sufferings which result from 
ardent passions, which drove him to religion. 
I observe, by the way, that in French litera- 
ture the revolt of youthful minds from estab- 
lished theological dogmas is always represent- 
ed as the accompaniment and result of a vi- 
cious life, skepticism, in short, meaning immo- 
rality ; whereas in England it happens that the 
young men most disposed to question or throw 
off orthodox beliefs are generally as strict and 
pure in their morals as they are daring in their 
speculations. 

The form of piety which M. le Due had em- 
braced was a most extreme Eoman Catholi- 
cism ; he went every day to mass, though he 
said he found it penibk, and sought much to 
convert young ladies ; but his outward mani- 
festations did not much recommend his creed 
or the kind of piety which he talked by heart 
He had, too, a sort of pedantic sentimentality ; 
he said other nations might likcj but the French 
only could love. He spoke of the passions of 



m THE FAUBOUJtO ST. GEBMAIN. 143 

-the heart and of the head, and how that the 
Iforthern nations had neither, but lived most- 
ly " par I'estomac ;" with him I suspected pas- 
sions and affections existed only in that small 
portion of the brain which communicates with 
the tongue. He harangued against manages 
de convenance, and advocated conjugal love ; he 
meant to write a book on the subject, and so 
went about among his acquaintances collect- 
ing facts to illustrate the baneful effects of 
loveless marriages; for which, I suppose, he 
was only looked upon as an unpardonable old 
gossip. In the mean while, he lived with his 
wife on terms of the most orthodox indiffer- 
ence.- Madame la Duchesse never appeared; 
she remained at the chateau from April to 
December, while he was amusing himself in 
Paris, and, if she was asked after, he always an- 
swered only, " Madame est souffrante." Once, 
when he was describing to me the rural de- 
lights of his chateau-life, I took the opportuni- 
ty of asking him, "Have you any children?" 
and receiving an answer in the negative, said 
"it was a pity." "Non," he answered, very 
decidedly. " Ce n'est pas dommage, je ne les 
ddsire pas ; les enfants me d^rangeraient dans 
mon travail." 
Having given all this long description, to 



144 TWENTY TEAB8 AGO, 

show why I had that disinclination towards 
M. le Due, I can only conjecture that it was 
on account of that same antipathy that I felt 
driven, as by an uncontrollable necessity, to 
show that gentleman more friendliness than I 
felt for him or wished him to believe in. He 
was in amazingly good spirits at his return to 
his beloved Paris, though he had flourished in 
the country; a something of bucolic joviality 
was added to his tint and dimensions. 

Not quite recovered from the first confusion 
of having quite forgotten him, I held out my 
hand, which, by-the-bye, is a very particular 
mark of favor here. It was taken with a 
murmur of delight, and held so long that I 
began to wonder when I should have it back 
again. 

Having nothing else in particular to say, I 
observed, " My sister and I were speaking of 
you to-day, and wondering when you would 
reappear." This was true, but I did not add 
that we had expressed our perfect resignation 
at his absence, and had straightway wholly for- 
gotten him again. I felt a little ashamed when 
he answered, in much delight, "Ah, vous avez 
pens^ ^ moi ? H y a done de la sympathie en- 
tre nous? Que c^est touchant!" 

He had been busy, he told me, in organiz- 



IN THE FAUBOURG ST. GERMAIN. 145 

ing on his estate a girls' school, of which it was 
evident he was extremely proud. 

"What was the school - mistress ?" I in- 
quired. 

"La perfection!" he answered, with anima- 
tion; "une religieuse, si jolie, si gracieuse;" 
and here the Frenchman of the world shone 
out to the extinction of the philosophical devot 
Jl thousand compliments on the kind interest 
1 took in his poor humble attempts to do good 
followed. 

Ere long, as soft-falling rain-drops had fol- 
lowed the lightning, we all took refuge in- 
doors ; the small circle gathered together, and 
our hostess remained invisible in the depths 
of a profound arm-chair, where she was wont 
to hold equally or still profounder discourse 
with some pet savant or artist whom she had 
called to her side. By-and-by the circle widen- 
ed, and guest after guest dropped in, till the 
large room was full of feathers and white 
necks, and full floating dresses, and gentlemen 
standing up, black and tall, or circulating from 
one radiant group to another. 

I asked one of my friends — the orthodox 
journalist I mentioned before (whom I shall 
call M. Jules) — why there was so much more 
splendid an assemblage than usual : there 

K 



146 TWENTY TEARS AGO. 

must have been especial invitations for this 
evening. 

" You are right," he said ; " we are to have 
a treat — the debut of a lady who is going upon 
the stage. As a journalist, I am infinitely in- 
terested in rising talent ; I am always prophe- 
sying its splendid development, but I don't see 
much of it after the first year. This lady is to 
declamer some scenes of tragedy and comedy. 
Mon Dieu! the tragedy and comedy will bci 
doubly supplied, for you must know she is an 
especial ^o%ee of maddme our hostess; conse- 
quently, all the other protegees and clients are 
jealous of her, some for her beauty, some for 
her talents. Moreover, there is here a dame 
who boasts to be quite as clever in her way, 
and of quite as much social influence as our 
hostess, but they hate each other — like dear 
friends — and I suspect there will be a party 
got up against this unfortunate Ermengarde. 
You know an unestablished talent of this kind 
is very easily run down, and I expect the or- 
deal here will be as severe as on the boards of 
the Frangais or the Gymnase. Pour moi, I am 
her friend, and have engaged to do my best for 
her ; I am to lead the applause, and we are to 
arrange the pit so as to get a good body of 
claqueurs. I shall place you, mademoiselle, be- 



IN THE FAUBOXmO ST. GJERMAIN, 147 

^ide me; you must take your cue from me, and 
^-J)plaud fervently. Think," he was pleased to 
^xdd, " you will be doing it for a lady, young, 
l:>eautiful, and gifted as yourself, who, hav- 
ing sank into poverty, is obliged to earn her 
'bread." 

Young — beautiful — gifted! I was so used 
to French compliments now that I only smiled 
— unoflfended and unmoved. "Who is Er- 
mengarde ?" I asked. 

"She is the wife of a public official once 
highly favored and esteemed, now ruined by 
enemies and a fatal combination of circum- 
stances ; this generous and devoted woman is 
resolved to raise him again to his natural and 
just position. You will admire and be inter- 
ested in her, I know ; vous avez le coeur bon 
et sensible, a heart which does homage to 
goodness and talent, and which will not be 
rendered cold and hostile by charms which 
you need not fear, but which are almost nec- 
essary to her success in the path she has 
chosen." 

In spite of all this fine sentimentality and 
superb flattery, I was puzzled by the expres- 
sion of my friend's eye, which bordered on 
the comic; but I knew he was one who sel- 
dom chose to be perfectly serious, and I deter- 



148 TWENTY YEAB8 AGO. 

mined to reserve my opinion till I saw and 
had learned something of the fair Ermengarde. 
In the mean while, till she should appear, I 
amused myself with watching the various per- 
sonages in the room, which I could do the 
more easily as most of them were as yet un- 
known to me. 

It was a sufficiently varied assemblage ; rank 
and talent had joined their forcea There is 
a fine French poet, a sweet English poetess — 
there is the opponent of Ermengarde and of 
her patroness, as yet unsuspicious of the coun- 
ter - manoeuvres preparing against her, and 
looking supreme satisfaction at herself and 
supreme scorn of all but the small clique 
which she kept under her command. This 
same opponent was none other than Madame 
de Fleury — Hermine's mother. She was a 
woman of a small, elegant figure, and a fSaoe 
whose irregular, queerly twisted features had 
an odd but pleasant effect in good-humor, 
though they were more quickly transformed 
to actual ugliness by an unamiable emotion 
than any I ever saw. Their most characteris- 
tic expression was a compound of conceit^ arro- 
gance, and intense malice ; but her manners, 
whenever that familiar domon of spite was not 
uppermost, were gay, witty, and flatteringly 



IN THE FAUBOURO 8T, GERMAIN, 149 

polite. Hermine had a kind of delicate resem- 
blance to her mother ; her bright young face 
exhibited some of the same traits, but in her 
they looked attractive. 

In the same group were two or. three other 
young ladies, friends of Hermine^ with their 
gorgeous mammas. One of these girls was a 
superb beauty, though not of a kind to inter- 
est one long, as her charm was simply that of 
lines and colors. Intensely black eyes and 
hair, pencilled dark arched eyebrows, set off 
by a dazzling carmine complexion and the 
rich red flowers she wore on her head, with a 
ruby ribbon passed under the glossy front 
bands, gave that most un-English effect of 
beauty which is the best kind that one sees 
here, and of which the only expressions ad- 
mitted of are a rapid coquettish play, a regal 
smile, or a hard, imperious pride. 

I did not much admire the manners of 
these young ladies, least of all those of the 
beauty, who was called Laure, and who seemed 
full of vain self-consciousness. They laughed 
loud, made a noise, moved their chairs, tossed 
their heads, shook their dresses, tapped their 
mothers, borrowed fans, and seemed trying to 
attract notice. I do not think they could 
have been la crime de la crime — they must 



150 TWENTY TEABS AGO, 

have been wealthy aspirantes. Several young 
men certainly approached near Mademoiselle 
Laure, but — strangely enough, though I sup- 
pose most correctly French — talked entirely 
to her handsome mamma, who seemed well 
inclined to keep them, while her daughter 
amused herself by looking a little scornful. 

However, as Hermine and the others were 
meantime talking and laughing most gayly 
with me, the lofty Laure bent forward, and 
said, "AUez-vous beaucoup dans le monde, 
mademoiselle?" Presently we found our- 
selves discussing the great subject of the day, 
the empress-elect, whom Mademoiselle Laure 
began describing to me with great animation 
and minuteness, though it soon appeared that 
there was no particular good-will felt towards 
her. The young ladies, especially the beauty, 
betrayed a sense of insult that a foreigner had 
been chosen for that place of honor. I did 
not intrude on them my eccentric English 
view of its being rather a place of dishonor. 
They cordially agreed to my conjecture that 
they considered themselves every bit as wor- 
thy of empress-ship as Mademoiselle de Mon- 
tijo, made game of parts of the Emperor'B 
matrimonial speech, and were altogether rath- 
er lofty and scornful about it I presently 



IN THE FAUBOURG ST. GERMAIN. 151 

^thered that the fair Laure, though of noble 
Legitimist family, would have no objec- 
n to figure in the plebeian court firom which 
^fiBtmily prejudice as yet excluded her. 

While we were still talking, I was again 
stddressed by M. de Montorgueil, who had left 
rne promising to return — a promise I could 
Have excused his not keeping. He was won- 
derfully smitten with the charms of Mademoi- 
selle Laure, and inquired of me, aside, who was 
"bliat "belle personne?" was she French? for 
slie was of the Spanish, at least of the meridio- 
'nal type. 

I said, I thought pure French ; still he per- 
Bisted she must have Spanish blood in her. 
So I turned to her, and put the question di- 
rect. She laughed, and said " Yes ; her moth- 
er was a Spaniard, and her father was of the 
south of France, and she herself by birth a 
Marseillaise." When I conveyed this back to 
M. le Due, he began praising her grace and 
beauty in detail. " Look," says he, " how sup- 
ple she is ; look at her wrists and hands as she 
plays her fan ; none but a Spaniard has that 
graceful pliancy." 

Of course I agreed, as it was all uttered in 
a voice which I was convinced was meant to 
meet her ear, as it could hardly help doing, 



153 TWENTY YEAM8 AGO, 

and seemed to have done, by the graciousness 
of her adieux to me when her party took leave 
shortly after. 

But I must not look only at handsome 
women, especially just now when the very 
handsomest man I ever saw is close by, mak- 
ing his way to Sibyl's side, and next moment 
bowing to me. . He too is of the south, but his 
style is far softer and more ideal. His imperi- 
ally tall figure, the superb curl and blackness 
of his mustache and hair, the straight pale fea- 
tures, the suppressed ardor of his large black 
eyes, the languid haughty grace of his manner, 
his twenty-two years, his title of marquis— do. 
not all these things make the very hero of a 
French romance ? I don't know if he is, or 
wishes to be one ; I can discern that he is ac- 
customed to conquer, and to believe himself 
irresistible, and I think I can read underneath 
all an intense self-worshipping pride, and that 
cold calmness against which passion may break 
its heart in vain. He is " trying it on" now 
with Sibyl ; I wonder if he thinks he has suc- 
ceeded. I can't fancy any man having so con- 
ceited an idea ; with all that innocent sweet- 
ness, there is something so puzzling, so almost 
hopeless in her. A word can touch and inter- 
lest her ; a frank, cordial manner delights her, 



IN THE FAUBOURG ST. GERMAIN. 15i{ 

and all the folds of reserve drop aside ; but 
power over her heart, her soul, no one seems 
to have, except her child and myself. She can 
no more be caught and detained than a bird 
that lights for a moment on a blossomed 
spray ; and all she does is so utterly, uncon- 
sciously unpremeditated, one wonders what 
delicate instinct so frequently guides her right ; 
but one scarcely wonders that every one seems 
to take up the protection of one who will not 
protect herself. 

Suddenly symptoms of distraction and amuse- 
ment appear in the expectant circles. Differ- 
ent groups pause in their talk, look sideways, 
struggle with suppressed smiles, with undenia- 
ble laughter. The cool, clever journalist, who 
was at that moment arguing some subtle theo- 
logical point with me, suddenly parenthesized 
in the very core of the argument, and in pre- 
cisely the same tone, "Look at that man, he 
comes from the Tuileries ;" and then he went 
on unmoved as before. 

I looked, and beheld a little man enter, look- 
ing like a wizen and bedizened ape. He was 
a man I knew as perhaps the most curiously 
ugly of my acquaintance, but had difficulty in 
recognizing under his present metamorphosis ; 
though the fine uniform, with epaulettes, gold 



164 TWENTY TEAMS AGO. 

braid, little sword, and Legion of Honor ribr 
bon, made his frog-like figure, his stiff black 
wig, his immense green spectacles, and huge 
mouth, look more of a caricature than ever. 

The secret was that he had just received 
an oflSice — a place, I think, in some new coun- 
cil the great ruler had chosen to create, and, 
knowing the weakness of man's heart, had ap- 
pended thereto a gay costume. As it was, 
many had had the unaccommodating folly to 
resist the offer of this distinction even as an 
insult ; but M. Ledindon was not one of these, 
and so one who ought only to have been a 
crack-brained savant was turned into a poli- 
tician — and here he was among us, an Impe- 
rialist, an enemy, a spy I " Let us take no no- 
tice of him — he wants to be admired," said one 
sensible, tranquil man. So we continued talk- 
ing as usual, not very freely perhaps (no one 
did so- in those days), but still, not suppressing 
any side hit, disdainful tone, or cynical smile, 
from regard to the neighborhood of one who 
had just been breathing semi-imperial air. 

The effects. produced by this remarkable ap- 
parition were various. One queer, plain-spoken, 
impetuous lady, stopped in what she was say- 
ing by seeing her companion's eye fixed else- 
where, turned sharp round, beheld that pre- 



IN THE FAUBOURG ST. QEHMAIN. 155 

posterous vision, gave a rapid stare, exclaimed 
in a jerk, "Mon Dieu I" — then, turning abrupt- 
ly round and choking down her emotion, re- 
sumed her talk with only a fiercer and more 
vigorous vivacity. I suffered much from a 
violent desire to laugh, which my companion's 
perfectly unmoved face made me conceive it 
my duty to suppress. He inquired gravely 
what I saw remarkable about that gentleman, 
and seemed so wholly unconscious of any rid- 
icule attaching to him that I had to relieve 
myself by commenting on the ugliness of the 
uniform. ** Oui," said he, demurely, " mais la 
personne Tembellit, Vous paraissez beaucoup 
occup^ de ce monsieur," he observed, and po- 
litely, but quite unfoundedly, added, " Et lui 
aussi, il parait beaucoup occup^ de vous." I 
envied some gentlemen who, retired on a sofii 
and screened from observation, indulged them- 
selves in the refreshment of unrestrained 
laughter. 

All this while never was ball-room beauty 
sending her first thrill of admiration through 
a crowd more utterly satisfied than this little 
monster. To one who had the cold-blooded 
malice to congratulate him (it was my cynical 
journalist, who wished, I suppose, to crown 
my admiration) he spoke modestly of "ce 



156 TWENTY TSARS AGO. 

compliment qu'on m'a fait," described with 
reverent gusto the brilliant soiree he had just 
left, and the mild and gracious majesty of S. 
A. B., and, in short, perfumed that free atmos- 
phere with the incense of a court 

It was a very different apparition that came 
next. A young and handsome woman enter- 
ed, leaning on the arm of an elderly man, a 
thin, pale, bent figure. " Voil4 Ermengardel" 
was gently buzzed around. I looked atten- 
tively at both — I scarcely knew which of the 
pair struck me most. 

The husband (whose misfortunes were im- 
puted to misdoing) was, in face, features, and 
expression, colorless and unmarked, yet not 
from original stupidity, but as if worn out by 
years of trouble and struggle ; the stamp might 
once have been strong, but constant attrition 
had half effaced it. When I knew his history, 
I did not wonder at the look. It was the air 
of one who, tossed about on the sea of life, 
shipwrecked often, battered and bruised, had 
lost all standing-place, and, floating uncertain* 
ly about, clung here and there, and only hum- 
bly sought leave to rest, awhile, to use the mo- 
mentary shelter and support ere he was wash- 
ed off again to trust to chance whether to sink 
or swim. With this look as of an unrecog- 



IN THE FAUBOUBQ ST, OERMAJN, 157 

^ized vagrant in society he attended his wife, 
^hose youth and bolder spirit pushed her for- 
ward • to something more like a distinctive 
placa Yet in her, too, I perceived a lurking 
uneasiness arming itself in haughty defiance, 
and stinging her to desperate resolve. Cer- 
tainly, when she entered she was pale and 
nervous, and very quiet : I saw that she ex- 
pected hostility, and pitied her. 

As for what I thought of her, I could not 
for some time make up my mind. "How 
handsome! how disagreeable! yet how very 
striking!" were my successive impressiona 
Ermengarde is a splendid - looking creature, 
but she is (for me) too strongly of the French 
actress type — and yet what strength, what 
deep-rooted individuality, what stern and con- 
centrated will, may be read there ! 

That that strength failed for a moment, and 
the proud face and figure looked almost timid- 
ly shrinking before the assembly where she 
felt she had no place, made her touching in 
my eyes. Otherwise, I might have more cold- 
ly admired the severe outline of face, the strong 
black arch of the almost meeting eyebrows, 
close over her magnificent eyes (great orbs 
full of a dark radiance), the strong nose and 
full voluptuous mouth, the great rolls of shin- 



158 TWENTY TEAMS AGO. 

ing black hair wound round and round her 
head under a coronet of black velvet and lace, 
the figure full, firm, and noble, robed in a rich 
amber silk, cut very low on the shoulders, 
which, with the face at present so pale, looked 
as if carved in yellow ivory. 

I half suspected our hostess of an eccentric 
wish to see a little drawing-room warfare. I 
believe it was only her wonted indolent pas- 
siveness ; but certainly she did not manage as 
she might have done. Many in the room 
were her enemies, and those who sympathized 
with her were not in a position to help her. 
She took refuge beside an English lady to 
whom she had just been introduced, a lady at 
once good and gifted. It was the best place 
in the room, though the contrast was great be- 
tween the grand, stormy, prononcie -looking 
French actress, and the small, quiet, but pure, 
sweet, and saintly-looking little English poet- 
ess, who spoke to her with gentle kindness. 
The troubled face grew calm, the half-bitter, 
half-humbled look began to melt away. 

Things, moreover, began to improve for her. 
The benevolent had been properly primed, the 
groups were arranged on the right plan, my 
friend M. Jules was to make the signal for the 
applause, and the gentleman who was to give 



IN THE PAUBOURQ ST. GERMAIN. 159 

'kier the ripUque in the scenes she was about 
tio declamer entered at last. This was a most 
^xcelle^^t, soft-hearted old gentleman of high 
rank and illustrious lineage, who was, in fact, 
Ermengarde's chief patron, and at whose en- 
trance she smiled with a look of relief and 
hope. The good old soul took his stand 
against the wall, arrayed in black velvet shorts, 
a pair of thick silver-rimmed spectacles over 
his broad nose, book in hand, full of honhxymie^ 
but of no dignity. 

A grand Kussian princess was to be ike 
great judge of the performance : she sat in an 
arm-chair opposite the actress, looking pomp- 
ous and critical. Sibyl and I sat at the end 
of a sofa a few paces from Ermengarde, curi- 
ous and even anxious, but very passive and 
modest, as became strangers and foreigners. 
Just opposite me was a large mirror, in which 
I could watch not only the countenance of the 
actress, but all the by-play of the various spec- 
tators. Madame de Fleury retreated instantly 
to a distant part of the room, where she gath- 
ered her own clique around her, and began 
operations by yawning and looking another 
way. The .handsome marquis stood towering 
in the background, arms folded, eyes burning- 
jy riveted on the performer the whole time 



160 TWENTY TEAB8 AGO, 

with a sombre expression that left no doubt of 
his intense admiration. He seemed to forget 
for the moment that he too might be looked 
at, and dropped the soft sentimental mask 
from a face that then seemed to me to betoken 
the pride and passions of a tyrant. 

The shyest man in the room, a great trav- 
eller, had contrived, as shy men so often do, 
to get into the very most conspicuous position, 
the empty central space between mirror and 
fire-place, where Ermengarde was to perform. 
But suddenly awaking, with a look of dismay, 
to a sense of his position, he started up and 
cowered into a place on the sofa by Sibyl and 
me, and there felUnto a deep, gloomy abstrac- 
tion, which rendered him unconscious of the 
whole performance. 

The lady stepped forth, her paleness chang- 
ing into a deep crimson, and began to " de- 
claim," first from "Ph^dre," to whose scenes 
of deep, lurid, guilty pathos her rich voice 
and passionate tones, as well as the rapid, 
sweeping, stormy movements of her fine fig- 
ure, and the meteoric flashes of her glorious 
fiery eyes, certainly did justice. Then came 
the usual stage tricks, the starting forward, the 
rushing back, the cowering about the stage, 
the striking of forehead and heart, and espe- 




IN THE FAUBOUMO ST. QEBMAIN, 161 

cially the stretching forth of the arm and the 
quivering of the forefinger; and when these 
x-eached their height there came from the 
IFrench part of her audience a momentary ap- 
2)lause. But I, who had my own deep, pre- 
cjonceived ideas bf what was the proper acting, 
s,nd who had once in my life seen it realized, 
jfelt chilled by what might "be very suitable to 
IFrench and violent organizations, and pleas- 
"ing to kindred eyes. I was full of benevo- 
lence, but unable to say that my idea of 
•' Fhddre " was in the least realized. If I was 
passive, however, others were not ; for, at one 
of the most impassioned parts, I saw one or 
"two persons of the clique referred to turn 
9way, not to hide, but to exhibit, a laugh. Er- 
jnengarde's husband, who had fluttered about 
in nervous suspense all the time, when it was 
over glided from group to group, watching 
timidly the expression of every face, and, 
'wherever he thought he discerned symptoms 
of good- will, pausing in the hope of a compli- 
ment I pitied the poor humbled man, who 
lad once had no need to hold the hat for his 
^fe's earnings. 

The second specimen was from the " Misan- 
thrope." C^lim^ne is a very French character, 
and she did it, after the French style, exceed- 



162 TWENTY YEARS AGO. 

ingly well ; she gave the part a new and ef- 
fective coloring, derived, no doubt, from her 
own personal sensations. Under the saucy 
smile, the* artificial graces, the brilliant gayety, 
there lurked something of scornful bitterness^ 
like the proud, rankling sense' of wrong; and 
one passage especially, where the saucy co- 
quette retorts on her jealous detractors, she 
gave with such gusto and spirit, such haughty 
smiles, and such triumphantly blazing eyes, 
that the audience fairly broke into a buzz of 
pleasure. The good old duke, who had splut- 
tered away the different parts of young lover 
and censorious prude, and every now and then- 
good - naturedly interrupted himself to cry, 
"Bravo! charmant! tr^s-bien 1" looked really 
delighted now, and the hostile party corre- 
spondingly sulky. But, after all, it was a pain- 
ful exhibition, and I was glad when the scene, 
with its by -play of real life and under-mean- 
ing, was over, and Ermengarde, complimented 
by our hostess and led back to her seat by the 
paternal duke, closed it, amidst pallors and 
flushings, and agitated breath, with a far more 
natural and gratified smile than had yet risen 
to her lips. . 

A short time after this she appeared at the 
Th^tre Frangais, and, to my surprise, found 



r 



m THIS FAUBOURG ST. QEBMAIN. 163 

one of her bitterest critics in the very gentle- 
man who had appealed to my "coeur bon et 
sensible " to help to champion her against en- 
"vious detractors. Madame de Fleury won a 
't^riumph. How she achieved it I know not; 
"but there was so much love and hate continu- 
Sillj lost and won in these smiling salons, that 
JC need not have wondered at any change. 
TZThe French vanity, at one time so amiable, 
<2onfiding, loving, and chivalrous, can at others 
Toe rabid, cruel, and bitterly ungenerous; and 
^^i^th this powerful lever, no doubt, she had 
"'^?7orked. Or was he perhaps all the while an 
nemy in the guise of an admirer? 



104 TWENTY TJfAJSS AGa 



CHAPTER Vn. 

BALLa 

AS the season advanced we varied the prose 
of Paris society with some of its ppetry, 
and quitted the mere terra firma of such par- 
ties as I have just described for the aerial re- 
gion of the soiree dansante. Talking glided 
into dancing, high silk dresses melted into 
ethereal muslins and tariatans, and the agree- 
able middle-aged men vanished before a crop 
of half-grown, slender-mustached, small young 
men, chiefly pupils of the ficole Polytechnique, 
who danced demurely, as is the French fash- 
ion, discoursed with their partners discreetly 
and politely, and, laboring under a conviction 
that all the most charming of their young lady 
acquaintances were deeply in love with them, 
made ingenuous confidences on that head to 
elder men, to be cynically laughed at in conse- 
quence. 

All this was entertaining, no doubt^ and then 
perhaps the rooms were better, the dancing 
more graceful, and the dresses, if not t&e faces, 
prettier than in ordinary London ball-rooms. 



BALLS. 165 

But a ball is not the scene where national 
character is best displayed ; besides, I went to 
no public ones. These latter had at that time 
a political character by which the humblest 
individual in it could not exempt himself from 
being influenced, and we had no wish to emu- 
late the forty devoted English whose names 
appeared in the papers a few days after the 
coup cCitat as having "dined at the Elys^e." 
So my sense of honor kept me away from the 
most superb of balls given by the prdfet of 
the Seine to the prince-president at the Hotel 
de Ville. 

It is true I went to see the building a few 
days after; and when I found myself in the 
saUe de bal, alas I I, a girl in my teens, could 
not help thinking with envy of the happy 
groups who had had a chance of exhibiting 
their gay dresses and joyous spirits, their grace 
and their dancing in this Aladdin's Palace. 
How grand 'must have been the long galops 
through each lofty space between the triple 
rows of arches and fluted and gilded columns, 
under a ceiling all blazing with pictures and 
chandeliers that were so many festoons of pend- 
ulous gold, dropped with rainbows, between 
walls all painted with airy, fanciful arabesques, 
with mirrors that glittered back a hundred 



166 TWENTY YEARS AGO. 

nymphs for one, every inch of the whole a 
crowded paradise of rich color and enjoyment I 
Ah I what Olympian flirtations, of what super- 
seraphic grace and refinement, should have 
been held in that hall of halls I A vision of 
De Mornays, Persignys, Princess Mathildes, 
and a leathery -looking, dead-eyed Idol whom 
these obsequious phantoms encircled, dispersed 
that first fair dream. 

Private balls I did sometimes, however, at- 
tend, but I will describe only one of them, as 
having been rather more distinctive than the 
others. It was a Greek ball, given by a Greek 
princess, and the company, except a veryfew 
Englishwomen and Frenchmen, were wholly 
Greek and Wallachian. How did we all come 
together ? and how did we manage to mix so 
easily and so agreeably ? As I recall this, and 
other such scenes, there rises in an instant be- 
fore my sight, like rosy morning clouds in the 
wide sky, a crowd of young, beauteous heads 
of many races, princesses by birth or by beau- 
ty, some dark-haired, radiant and royal from 
the South, some angels of the North, blonde 
and ethereal, with the gold crown of their 
Saxon hair. And the men, with all their sep- 
arate spells of genius, high birth, or wild, in- 
tense individuality, bringing from all parts of 



BALLS. 1G7 

the world all kinds of histories and destinies, 
each solitary among crowds, yet naost of them 
drawn to other new-found existences, and 
some passionately striving to draw those ex- 
istences to themselves, putting forth temporary 
tendrils and winning transient power. 

At one of these romantic evenings, I saw the 
meeting of two wild, bearded men — half En- 
glishmen, who had been over half the world, 
and were now pursuing art and literature in 
an interval of their adventurous lives. I knew 
both well, but, though they accidentally met 
^hile each conversing with me, it was as 
strangers, till one suddenly exclaimed, " Did I 
not meet you six years ago in a slave-market 
at Bagdad?" 

This produced inquiry and final assent. 
" Will you allow me to press your hand ?" re- 
sumed the first, in his strange, solemn way and 
foreign phrasa The second slowly produced 
that member from his waistcoat-pocket, it was 
shaken, and then they began talking of beau- 
tiful Circassian slaves whom they had seen. 
I did not think the second man liked the first 
one. A young Italian joined the group, and, 
the conversation turning on love, the first, 
in his strange, vehement, labored tones, pro- 
nounced. "Non v' h schiavo cosi sprezzabile 



168 TWENTY TEAMS AGO, 

come un uomo che ama." I listened and 
thought, " Tour history is nevertheless in those 
words." 

A few weeks after, and this man, on whose 
brow, if ever on any, was written a birth-curse, 
and whose perplexed destiny must, it seemed 
to me, evolve finally in disaster, lay assassin- 
ated on a public staircase. The other return- 
ed to distant and savage regions, and has nev- 
er since been heard of There was a mystery 
in all this ; but it is not I who may unravel it 
It was biit one of many facts whereby I learn- 
ed that this bright, white-palaced Babylon of 
Paris was built over naphtha lakes, from whose 
boiling mass escaped from time to time lurid 
exhalations even through the smooth pave- 
ment our sandals trod so lightly. 

However, no gloom of this kind shadowed 
the lively picturesque Greek ball I began to 
speak of As we entered the house in the 
Kue Varenne, we heard quadrilles going on 
merrily ; an old Greek, with a very big head 
and a most romantic name, who acted as a 
sort of friend, agent, and major-domo to the 
princess, advanced to meet us. His propor- 
tions were colossal, and did not prepare me for 
the next apparition, that of the princess, a lit- 
tle dwarfish woman, with a round smiling face, 



BALLS. 169 

quick sparkling eyes, and a bird-like vivacity 
of gesture, well suited to the soft mouse-color- 
ed silk that trimly encased her tiny form. She 
leS us to a seat, holding us by the hand, with 
many kind words and affectionate attentions, 
which I supposed to be Greek, because they 
seemed to me neither French nor English. 
She took us through the four rooms prepared 
for dancing and supper; in the middle and 
largest room a ring of ladies gradually formed, 
sitting formally all round it on benches. 

Then stepped or, rather, skipped forward, 
her daughter, amusingly like her mother, only 
smaller and nimbler still. There was no pos- 
sible guessing of her age ; she was a perfect 
pigmy, with manners that you might regard 
either as the formed and conscious ease of 
womanhood, or the familiar vivacity of a child. 
She was all over kindly life and good-humor, 
a sparkling little thing with bright eyes like 
her mother, the prettiest, most caressingly at- 
tentive manners, and an air of irrepressible 
happiness. She did the honors as no English 
girl would or could have done ; she came fly- 
ing across the room, seeing me standing chair- 
less at the other end of it, to bring me to her 
and seat me by her side. Then she entered 
into bright, laughing conversation, her words 



170 TWEXTY YEAMU AGO. 

running into each other like the gay chatter- 
ing notes of a bird. "How long have you 
been in Paris? How can you have learned 
so soon to talk such good French? I am 
studying it too ; I have been four months en 
pension to learn it ; I must try to be good and 
industrious like you." 

Then she pointed out to me her mother's 
sister, another princess, and a very splendid- 
looking woman, her daughter, whom my little 
friend perfectly adored, and eagerly asked if I 
did not admire her too. She was not new to 
me ; I had met her and her mother at Madame 
de Mailly's, and been much attracted by the 
girl. She was a slight young creature, sitting 
alone at a table, turning over a book, apparent- 
ly quite content with her isolation, quite inac- 
cessible to any gentleman who might approach 
her, but not unwilling, when occasion arose, to 
flavor society with her own strong individuality. 

I thought she might be a character worth 
studying, judging first by \\i2X piquanie rather 
than pretty face, by the coal-black, rippling 
hair, drawn tightly from the square temples, 
yet protesting by its crisp curl against that 
constraint, by the small, pointed features, with 
their indifferent smile, and the slight yet strong 
and elastic form, round which fitted closely 



BALLK 171 

the square-cut body of her scarlet plaid dress. 
I fancied that there was under her girlish re- 
serve and simplicity a nature firm, self-concen- 
trated, even proud, almost fierce — a nature as 
yet half known to herself, coiled up, like some 
. wild animal, in some shady recess of that sun- 
ny girl-life. I thought she must have inherit- 
ed her father's character, for just of that stuff 
should a patriot insurgent be made, and he 
was one of those who had won Greece's liber- 
ties. I learned afterwards that Mademoiselle 
H^6ne had a brother who, though a pupil in 
the ficole Polytechnique, had chosen, like an 
ill-considered young foreigner as he was, to be 
at the top of a barricade during the two fear- 
ful days, and that she had hardly been kept by 
force from rushing out, in the passion of her 
sisterly affection, to join her brother there. 

She was of Athenian race, born in Constan- 
tinople, brought up in Kussia, living in Paris, 
.yet Greek all over; and when she spoke of 
her classic studies (she was then in Sophocles), 
it was in a tone of more thorough interest than 
she had used about any thing else. Wishing 
to try how national she was, I asked her how 
she liked her king (Otho). "Our king?" 
she answered, with a quiet laugh ; " we have 
none yet; that will come by-and-b^f." 



IW TWENTY YEARS AGO. 

None of the Paris fine gentlemen seemed to 
suit the fair H^l^ne; she constantly turned 
away with an air of shy pride, very piquant 
and very hopeless. She danced a litUe, it is 
true, but it was silently and carelessly, with 
the air of a mere looker-on. I only saw once 
a look of animated observation ; it was on the 
entrance of M. Ledindon, whose appearance in 
a new costume I related in a former chapter. 
He observed on it to me afterwards with some 
surprise: "Do you know that as I passed 
Mademoiselle H^l^ne, she laughed, and point- 
ed me out to her mother. I don't know what 
she could have noticed in me; peut-Stre," he 
added, reflectively, passing his hand across the 
stiff, straight hairs of a most palpable and un- 
deniable black wig, "peut-^tre mes cheveux 
dtaient un peu d^rangfe." 

M. Ledindon is, I am assured, on the look- 
out for a wife, and has been so these twenty 
years; she must be young, handsome, and, 
most especially, rich, and English ; and " chose 
remarquable," as he himself says, he has not 
got her yet. 

But I am forgetting the ball-room — that 
bit of Greece in a Paris frame-work. It was 
filled with Greeks, those who were not pure 
Hellenes being Wallachians, Moldavians, and 



BALLS. 173 

Hungarians — handsome barbarians disguised 
in civilized attire, with tall forms, straight 
noses, and strong curly beards, like statues 
of antique heroes. All round the room sat a 
circle of dark-eyed classic girls, clustering like 
so many bouquets of pinks, blue and white, and 
modest as daughters of Britain, in all ^he po- 
etry of their floating, girlish robes, contrasted 
A?\^ith their statuesque Greek faces. The gen- 
tlemen grouped themselves in the centre and 
in the ante-rooms, talked merrily, and played 
good-humoredly with various sprightly, well-- 
Ibehaved juvenile Hellenes ; and a strange mu- 
sical language was heard from every group ; 
the sound as of grand old Homeric hexame- 
ters kept ringing past me, just like a clear 
stream running over pebbles. But never did 
the speakers approach any of us forbidden 
blossoms of beauty till the music struck up. 
Then one by one they timidly drew nigh the 
charmed ring, each picked out a girl, danced 
silently with her, and, dancing done, as silent- 
ly restored her to the same place. In spite of 
this chilling ceremonial, the Homeric heroes 
went through waltz, polka, schottische, ma- 
zurka, and redowa with vehement glee rather 
than grace ; the girls seconding them in inno- 
cent-looking, soft, decorous enjoyment. 



174 TWEXTY YEABS AGO, 

But all was not in keeping; there, in the 
midst of these fine-looking Greeks, with their 
honest, hearty, simple ways, stood la jeune 
France, cold, keen-eyed, and sneering. And I 
must confess there were specimens of barba- 
rian eccentricity, uncouth form, and grotesque 
physiognomy, which fairly provoked the ridi- 
cule of the one or two malicious Parisians 
present. Especially contemptuous was M. 
Lamourette, who found himself there in one 
of his most capricious and petulant humors. 
I do not know why he had come at all, unless 
he was really a little jealous as well as con- 
temptuous; or, perhaps, from having lately 
had a great deal of hard work to do, his 
nerves and temper had got into a state of ir- 
ritation which he found a certain savage pleas- 
ure in expressing. In this mood of vivacious 
sourness he was quite as amusing as in his for- 
mer brilliant good-humor; but, perhaps, less 
likeable. No doubt it was " aggravating " to 
see two or three charming girls whom he con- 
sidered his exclusive property engrossed by 
Messieurs les Sauvages. He professed, indeed, 
entire indifference, and when one and another 
came up to claim these elegant creatures, he 
resorted to me in the intervals of my dancing, 
and, throwing himself in a chair by my side. 



BALLS, 175 

'with his usual nonchalant vivacity, professed 
that now he need not sacrifice himself any 
longer, he need not talk nor trouble himself 
about all these gens, and might resign himself 
to his only object of desire, " de ne rien faire." 
But I knew better, and was not at all sur- 
prised when he instantly began to abuse one 
Unfortunate Wallachian gentleman in specta- 
cles, who, with an air of ineffably imbecile be- 
atitude, was dancing with the Princess H^l^ne. 
** Can you imagine," he asked, **how a man 
oan succeed in making himself so absurd? — 
3Vf on Dieu 1" he added, seriously^while follow- 
ing him with his eyes, as if subdued with as- 
"tonishment, "c'est d'un ridicule fabuleux; a 
B^renchman, Dieu merci ! could not achieve it 
"vvith his utmost efforts!" 

I might have had my own ideas as to what 

St Frenchman could achieve, but I remained 

passive while he pursued his unconscious vic- 

tdm with arrows of malice ; and then another, 

"who, he declared, made on him the effect of 

51 hanneton, because he was dancing with our 

hostess's daughter. He pronounced this nice 

little thing a ^^ coquette effrinee, who promised 

"but did not fulfill," because in her universal 

impulsive good-nature she had sometimes said 

*'Yes" to more claimants for her hand than 



178 TWENTY TEARS AOO. 

she could possibly gratify. Thus he went on 
till a third, in a naval uniform, with sharp dog- 
like features and an intensely red face, came 
to carry me off; and when I returned to my 
place, the abuse was transferred to him, or 
rather to me, for the improper encouragement 
I had given him. "Were I your brother," he 
said, with solemn energy, "I should feel it my 
duty to prevent you from dancing with him." 

"If you could," laughed I. "But why, 
when it amuses me ?" 

"Bon I bon!" he said, with severe dignity; 
"n'en parlong plus. I am sorry that your 
taste is not more correct; voila tout No 
doubt I make myself enemies by my plain 
speaking, but I can't help it. Truth is my 
weakness ; I must speak truth or not at all ; 
c'est 1^ ma manifere," and here he threw him- 
self still more back in his chair, as if overpow- 
ered at this view of his own singular excel- 
lence. Somewhat piqued by my not exhibit- 
ing the same emotion, "Au reste," he said; 
" if I have enemies, I don't care ; their dis- 
pleasure does not affect me. All I wish is to 
please myself," which latter assertion I believed 
to be perfectly true. 

" Then, monsieur, you frankly avow your- 
self an egotist ?" 



x 



BALLS, 177 

" Sans doute, we are all egotists ; but there 
are different ways of pleasing one's self — the 
best is by pleasing others, and I shall be satis- 
fied if I attain that degree of enjoyment with 
those I care for." 

In spite of this, I wondered a little at the 
turn M. Lamourette's egotism had taken ; I 
scarcely knew then how violently jealous a 
i^renchman is of another man. 

I continued amusing myself with the brill- 
iant scene around until it was time to depart. 
And then the small demoiselle came, with her 
still smaller brother, to beg us, to entreat, al- 
most to force us to stay. Finding it in vain, 
she accompanied us to the door with a thou- 
sand gentillesses, and the boy cloaked us with 
much gravity and care. After many adieux 
and au revoirs^ she declared she must "em- 
brasser " me, and stood on tiptoe to give me 
the prettiest little kiss in the world. I won- 
der on how many of her some hundred guests 
the good little thing found it necessary to be- 
stow the same cordialities. At any rate, it was 
a pleasant and artless way of doing the hon- 
ors, and I know some ladies who would be 
none the worse for taking a hint from it. 
' When I returned, I told Sibyl, who had not 

accompanied me, about M. Lamourette's un- 

M 



178 TWENTY TEAMS AGO, 

usual petulance. She laughed a little saucily, 
and only said, " We need not puzzle ourselves 
about it, for I don't think we shall see much 
more of him." In effect, he disappeared from 
our usual parties, and it was two or three 
months ere we met him again. When he re- 
appeared he totally ignored Sibyl and me, and 
devoted himself ostentatiously to Madame de 
Fleury, who had chosen to make public her 
disagreement with my sister, and to set up an 
obvious rivalry with her. Our friend [femile 
told us, with a kind of pitying condescension, 
that " ces professeurs " were a class apart, who 
had not good manners, and must not be too 
harshly judged. But my own observation 
helped me to the chief cause of the professor's 
vagaries. He had always had a fluttering, 
ostentatious admiration for Sibyl, which she 
received with the gayest indifference, knowing 
well in how little danger all these grandes pas- 
sions involved the susceptible French heart. 
But one day M. Lamourette was pleased to- be 
more serious, and risked a rejection, which, 
though very kindly given, wounded at once 
his love and his self-love very considerably. 
The* consequence was that he returned to Ma- 
dame de Fleury's clique (to which he original- 
ly belonged) with a tolerable dose of bitterness 



BALLS. 179 

against his stony-hearted idol — my sister. I 
don't think it was a deeply rancorous feeling, 
for at heart he was hon enfant^ after all. But 
Madame de Fleury had no notion of wasting 
so much precious resentment; so she petted 
and nursed his angry confidences till he had 
committed himself to a breach with Sibyl, and 
an alliance with her venomous little stepmoth- 
er-in-law. I was, of course, included in the 
ban, and from that time, I dare say, as long as 
he remembered us, he ridiculed with bis coun- 
trywomen " ces deux b^gueules anglaises." 

I have said enough, I think, to show that 
these soirees were not composed of a society 
of seraphs, or held in a garden of Eden, I be- 
came gradually aware that my first bright im- 
pressions of '* the world " required modifying. 
"Tenir un* salon" is a great mystery, an im- 
portant science in Paris, and it has been laid 
down as an axiom that the prestige of a salon 
lasts only two years; for some undefinable 
cause it then declines, the best people leave it, 
and all the mistress's exertions will not get it 
up again. !For, eminently sociable as the 
Frenchman is, this curiously organized being 
is as capable of ennui as any Englishman of 
them all, but he shines in the candid and petu- 
lant vivacity with which he expresses the same. 



180 TWENTY TEARS AGO, 

His light spirit and nervous sensitiveness are 
soon liable to depression ; a thing pleases him 
heartily, it is true, but not for long; it must be 
unfamiliar enough to allow him to idealize it. 

And then both hosts and guests have hu- 
man hearts and prides and vanities, which, if 
they do not rasp the surface, still strongly af- 
fect the springs that work beneath it. It looks 
such a light, easy, pretty play; people come 
and go, and nothing seems smoother ; but ah I 
the cares and pains of the hostess, the continu- 
al beating-up for new recruits, the trapping of 
lions, the interference and tyranny of favorites, 
the putting down and driving out of some and 
the courting of others, the secret jealousies and 
hostilities of the smiling demoiselles^ the perfect 
insight, the calm, critical, I should rather say 
pleased and sarcastic, observation of the lynx- 
eyed men on it all I If even a half-initiated 
stranger could see these things, what must be 
the wearisome experiences of the hackneyed 
habitue ! 

On these private jealousies I will not dwell 
much, but I may observe that they came more 
across my notice from the fact that Sibyl, a 
half-foreigner and undeniably more charming 
than many of the natives, was a good deal ex- 
posed to them. I •was often anxious, pained, 



BALLS. 181 

and indignant for her; but she winged her 
way delicately through all the mazes, the ad-* 
miration, and at times the love, the envy and 
misrepresentation that threatened to entangle 
her way. She went past adoring glances and 
hands stretched out, half violence, half prayer, 
like a bird of Paradise safe in its charmed 
flight, or like a dove, which, with all its way- 
ward, rapid flutterings, yet settles down on 
some light spray at last, so softly as not to 
loosen one petal even from a fading rose. To 
speak less poetically, she had a true, warm, 
home-loving heart of her own, and her joy in 
having me, her only sister, with her at last, 
gave her such a strength of security and indif- 
ference as made her, I almost thought, blind to 
what was going on around her. 

I don't know how to describe the feeling 
which animated Madame de Fleury, whom I 
have described as something of a fairy-demon. 
She was, I believe, keenly jealous of Sibyl ; 
the root of this jealousy was the fact that M. le 
Comte {now JiancS to her daughter) had begun 
by admiring my sister, and this was embittered 
by numberless other little triumphs of poor 
Sibyl's, of which she had been unconscious, or 
only pleased as a child may be with its own 
success. The mechancete exhibited in conse- 




183 TWENTY YEAM8 AOO, 

quence was of a thoroughly French character, 
such as in its slighter forms is the light malice 
born of a vain heart, an acute brain, and a gay 
temper, relieving the tastelessness of perfect 
amiability, and deeping out amidst serious ten- 
derness, even sublime devotion. It does not 
violate, though it checkers, friendship, and it 
at least refines the coarseness of enmity. Ma- 
dame de Fleury was much too well-bred to 
exhibit enmity in its broader form ; and as for 
Hermine, happy, admired, f^ted little creature 
as she was, her vanity generally bore her along 
comfortably, and only permitted occasional bou- 
deries and child-like impertinence. 

Hermine had certainly some occasional justi- 
fication for resentment, as far as regarded her 
cousin fimile, with whom she liked very much 
to flirt in a cousinly way, but who had a way of 
expressing his admiration of the Anglaises in 
phrases which seemed negatively to imply a 
want of those particularly admired qualities on 
the part of his countrywomen. One day, after 
he had left the room, and finished a panegyric 
on the fearless independence of Englishwomen, 
which he thought guarded them better than 
the most careful surveillance, Hermine ex- 
claimed, rather petulantly, "My cousin may 
say what he likes ; I can not contradict him, 



BALLS. 183 

for I know nothing about it. Je suis toute in- 
nocente," she added, with a most artless air ; 
" je ne sais rien que je ne puisse dire." 

And oflF she ran to play battledoor with her 
little brother, while Sibyl assured me that 
there was nothing at all really of the child 
about her. It is true Hermine was kept un- 
der that strict discipline the tendency of which 
is to produce either a characterless doll or a 
corrupted slave. But the French character, 
keen, intense, and vigorous, will burn like 
smothered fire under a coating of restraint 
which would stifle any other ; and Hermine, 
who possessed a full share of the esjmt of her 
race and sex, while patiently and cheerfully 
awaiting her day of development, was a very 
finished little being, on whose thorough exact- 
ness, harmony, and grace the eye and the mind 
could find pleasure in dwelling. 

It is not wonderful that she should now and 
then pay back her countrymen's strictures 
with a hit at us. Sometimes she would pat- 
ronize us and tell us we looked almost " Pari- 
sieane ;" then, when a wicked fit was on her, 
she would jump up and imitate our style of 
walking and talking — not very exactly, I 
thought, though enough so to send both her 
mother and herself into fits of laughter. Her- 



3ixne irai^ fiZ^ rersuiiLSiiL Hke most French- 
Tpznifzru :£ ier :wi. ir.zz'r^ sapesvcmtj in out- 
7X71 TTarrrrera. wiicli eLiizi I used to let pass 
iae:aKsa*c. jc :a£^ ;is jfaec cot to damage oar 
sroaracter ir rciixateas. or Imng forward a 
3t*v pf-xf ?c -TOT itclonble insolar deficiency. 
SostoeSv I *cicii^as well esoogli of my own 
vX«iacr7TrT::ai«?c ccl ^ry^r^r groonds. to be will- 
ia;i X" I*ec Fr^acinrocKxi ciberish in peace thdr 
itsle sccuil zLcrr. 

Eirgliisa izd Fr^ccti giri hare probably a 
scrcng claa^rTjsec: clance. in ^ite of national 
vrJ5e!vncv?& Bocc* no docbc are ^ignorant 
arvi f-tvclccs ejicci:h.~ 3s Mr. Bennett says in 
*- Prrue ind Pr^f i-iice** — that is^Yerr nndeyel- 
opei jLsd cbsocio. Li ^e English girl there 
ii^ C!K%?^\'- a naturalnessw which, in a shy nation 
like oarsw oifben sires her manners a timid awk- 
wmrUness; an abmpc staceritr, a something of 
ec^dness. bat which in the higher natures often 
eseapies in the shy expression of some deep 
Idling or idea, unconscious of its depth, com- 
insr sofUv and doabtfullv from the bottom of 
the heart or mind, some high conception^ rich 
in its rery Tagueness* simply expressed, yet 
wise in its simpleness^ in which we discern the 
twilight that will brighten more and more to 
the perfect day. 



BALLS. 185 

But such as these are no doubt exceptional ; 
SIS exceptional, perhaps, is the perfect type of 
the Frenchwoman, who to the brilliant grace 
and fascinating sweetness so universal among 
them adds the tenderness of soul, the refine- 
ment of feeling and intelligence, the delicate 
yet kindly penetration, and the playful loving- 
ness, which make up a whole as near the ideal 
woman as any I have ever seen. That such 
Frenchwomen exist — charming alike without 
and within — ^I not only suspect, I know. God 
bless them! They are enough to^ ennoble a 
whole race. 



186 TWENTY TEARS AGO, 



CHAPTER Vin. 

PARIS IN APRIL. 

THE bright days of Paris are begun, and 
she looks like a young beauty dressed 
and decked out to receive the homage of a 
thousand lovers. Hitherto I have spoken only 
of salons and soirees^ yet there was an outdoor 
and daylight life equally bewitching. 

It is a blue, sunshiny April afternoon, and 
Sibyl and I look out from our lofty traisihne on 
the bright city all alive and awake. Below us 
lie the Champs filys^es, with their ever-passing 
swarms like ants covering the shining pave- 
jnent between the avenues of trees. . How gay, 
open, and fresh every thing looked, from the 
Arc de Triomphe to the Eond Point I little 
was visible save wide, smooth, shady avenues, 
broad pavement, circling trees, and blue skies. 
There is Franconi's just before us, in a perfect 
bosquet; the chestnut -trees all round it, now 
dotted with soft, green buds, will in a month 
conceal it in a perfect veil of foliage. All the 
groups that pass below look neat and cheerful, 
move lightly and alertly, all are talking, smil- 



PARIS JN APRIL. 187 

ing, and bowing to each other, and wear that 
look of being so consciously hien mis that only 
the French rejoice in. 

On the ground-floor of our house is a shop, 
where a great steam-engine constructs gauffres 
and plamrs (a sort of light, crisp patisserie) all 
day long. On the bright pavement in front 
chairs are placed, where well-dressed family- 
groups sit and enjoy their cakes. How these 
French love to be out-of-doors ! There enters 
a couple of ladies ; it is my new friend, Mdlle. 
Aur^lie, and her mother, come to make their 
luncheon of gauffres; she looks handsome, 
well -dressed, and quietly resolute as usual, 
when making her courses en ville, . Consider- 
ing that at eight o'clock in the morning they 
had their cup of coffee and brioche, at eleven 
their dejeuner cL la fourchette, and will at six 
have their substantial dinner, and that they are 
now revelling in cakes, I think these French 
ladies, at least, need not deride the English for 
the number and solidity of their meals. Per- 
haps they will call — for the French, when they 
become intimate, make it a point of friendship 
never to pass your door without coming in ; 
and a hcmne causerie with Mademoiselle Aur^- 
lie is always welcome. 

Sibyl is now busy arranging bunches of Par- 



188 TWENTY TEARS AOO. 

ma violets, which M. Jfimilp has just brought 
her, in spite of my protest against the imperial 
flower. "Violets were created long before 
Louis Napoleon," says ifimile. "And we won't 
let him have every good thing to himselij" 
adds Sibyl. This settled, we go forth to enjoy 
more of this pleasant life. Close outside is a 
dense, unmoving ring, which has stood there 
all the afternoon, composed of workmen, wom- 
en, and children, and those childish, idle sol- 
diers of the line, with their short figures and 
boyish faces, around the ever -new, ever -de- 
lightful feats of some juggler, or tumbler, or 
dancing dog. 

What varieties of human life there are in 
this promenade, becoming daily more crowd- 
ed, the charming Champs !lfilys6es! They ex- 
tend from the honest hourgeoise^ in large cap, 
coarse stuff gown, thick apron and immense 
pockets, accompanied by a clean, prim child, 
the countrywoman with her yellow-and-red- 
striped handkerchief round her head, the shab- 
by, bearded men in blue blouses, and Eepub- 
licans in conical caps, young and wicked-look- 
ing, to the handsome, staring dandies of all na- 
tions, old Orientals in a perfect robe of snow- 
white beard, soldiers, soldiers everywhere, and 
numbers of small, white, curly dogs held to- 



PAMIS IN APRIL. 189 

gether in a leash, or following elegant women 
in all kinds of soft,* beautiful velvets and furs. 
And the flower- w6men ! they beset our way 
with fragrant snares ; they offer, smiling and 
confidently (for well they know Sibyl's weak- 
ness), and with coaxing phrases and terms of 
endearment, lovely bouquets of violets and 
moss-roses. And there is the neat bonne^ and 
children in enchanting little dresses, white hat 
and feather, braided white frock, and muff of 
snowy fur, as often as not talking English with 
their nurses. 

The most remarkable among these street fig- 
ures are, perhaps, the meridionavx^ a race apart, 
which one soon learns to distinguish, who are 
very tall, often very handsome, in a dark, lurid 
style, with hard features, and physiognomies 
full of fierce fire. I almost shrink from those 
volcanic-looking men of the South. 

We passed through the Place de la Con- 
corde, and entered among the groves of the 
Tuileries gardens. Here spring was coming 
on fast^ the white marble gods and goddesses,* 
heroes, centaurs, fauns, and nymphs began to 
be enshrined, each in its own leafy bower. I 
looked back, and dazzling in sky and sunshine 
appeared the stately Place, with its guardian 
giant of an obelisk, strange talismanic-looking 



IW TWENTY TEAJR8 400. 

columns towering in the middle; While the 
aerial-looking Arch of Triumph closed up the 
distance, like a dream, cut out in crystal, 
through which you see the pure azure back- 
ground of sky. It looks like a vision, only 
that it never melts away. 

And now we are in the Tuileries gardens, 
formal parterres, full of lilac-trees, that now 
are covered with purplish-brown clusters : one 
day more, and these buds will be hundreds of 
full pink fragrant flowers. As I approach the 
palace, I see a Municipal Guard, his back turn- 
ed to me, with a broad yellow stripe across it, 
his bayonet fixed, his sword by his side, stand- 
ing stoek-3till, and looking immovably up at 
the gn?at stone lion on the right feide of the 
entrance arch, with its foot on the globe and 
a look of imbecile sweetness. What does he 
think of it? He has seen it a thousand times 
already. 

In a day or two there was a special excite- 
ment — the fete of Longchamps was to take 
place. This is the fete which the Parisians 
keep with the most pious ardor for three days 
of the " Semaine Sainte," its height being on 
Good-Friday. This "Semaine Sainte" is in- 
deed a whirl of excitement, slightly differing 
in form, but not in nature, from the usual Paris 



PARES IN APRIL. 191 

dissipation. Every day there is the perfection 
of church- music and church -oratory in the 
morning, and balls, operas, and theatres in the 
evening — and on Good-Friday especially there 
is first High Mass, last a Benedicite — and Long- 
champs between. This name is derived from 
a habit of the Paris heau monde, of a century 
or so ago, of repairing to a little chapel of that 
name in the Bois de Boulogne to perform their 
devotions. These devotions now consist in a 
continual promenade up and down the Champs 
^felys^es in full dress, exhibiting new fashions 
and superb equipages. The worship contin- 
ues, but it is transferred from God to Mam- 
mon. 

The weather was beautiful ; under the splen- 
did sun and warm air the chestnut-trees rushed 
into preternatural bud and leaf, and all Paris 
swarmed over the sunny asphalt like so many 
spring butterflies. On each of these three 
days, at four o'clock, a stream of carriages be- 
gins to roll along the wide thoroughfare of the 
Champs filys^es ; on the side are pedestrians, 
chiefly consisting of eye-glassed, bearded, and 
mustached men of all nations; and on the 
edge of the walk stand chairs for the more de- 
termined and indolent fldneurs in the broad 
sunshine between the two torrents of foot-pas- 



193 TWENTY TEABS AGO, 

scngcrs and carriages. In those dazzling car- 
riages are high-dressed women, glittering like 
rainbows ; between them caracole young men 
on horseback. 

There among the pedestrians goes an Italian 
prince whom we know, walking in his usual 
style, his hrgnon in his eye, his chin supported 
by his stick held upright, his looks fixed on 
the skies in solemn vacancy. He neither sees 
nor wishes to see any one, for he comes from 
his usual afternoon visit to a French lady 
whom he admires; and one can judge by his 
air of solem^ beatitude or listless gloom wheth- 
er he has been admitted or not. In the pres- 
ent case he is evidently unwilling to efface the 
image in his mind by the sight of any meaner 
mortal. 

Soon we fall in with a pale, light- haired 
young Englishman, somewhat a man of fash- 
ion, with an air half slangy, half military, who 
has lately broken a few bones in a steeple- 
chase, and who, while waiting for his horse to 
join the sublime procession, condescends in a 
light quizzing tone to point out to us some of 
the most distinguished belles in the carriages. 
These we find (for the Second Empire has 
introduced many novelties in the way of les 
moeurs) are for the most part actresses of the 



PAIUS m AFRIL. 193 

Palais Eoyal and such -like dashing dames, 
and, I must own, they looked their character. 
There in that low, light coupe, cushioned in its 
rich silk lining, thrown back on soft cushions, 
look at that young, graceful form, the rainbow 
parasol over the fairy bonnet, the face, of which 
one catches a side-view, dazzlingly handsome, 
with its strongly crSpe bands of black hair, its 
carmine brilliancy, and those dark eyes, with 
their sidelong, subtle, languishing glance, and 
lurking shut-up smile, and that mouth with its 
small, full, lovely lips. She sparkles all over 
with esprit, esjn^krie, suppressed indications 
of angry passions, all armed in a bold, triumph- 
ant, scornful grace; or she wears perhaps a 
mask of demure reserve. But the hard, bold 
forehead, whence all the freshness of youth 
has been rubbed off, tells a truer tale. There 
was much food for compassionate melancholy 
in all this. 

Our informant, perceiving his horse at last 
awaiting him, mounted, beginning to light and 
smoke his cigar before he had left us, which 
caused Sibyl involuntarily to exclaim, " What 
a snob I" The rest of the time we were joined 
by M. ifimile, whose refined and clever conver- 
sation quite drew away my attention from the 

restless, yet monotonous scene before us. He 

N 



IW TWENTY YEARS AGO. 

began by telling us that his official duties re- 
quired from him every four weeks an attend- 
ance which kept him a close prisoner. "In 
truth, I am at the mercy of the changes of the 
moon." 

" It is the type of your nation," said L 

"Comme Mademoiselle Beatrice, nous fait la 
guerre !" he answered, with a smile of entire 
pleasure. 

We talked a little of the passing scene, 
we compared French and English beauty, we 
agreed as to the metallic clearness and sharp- 
ness of the French physiognomy, "des traits 
d^licats et durs, comme leur caract^re." • In a 
mild denigrant tone he criticised the prominent 
foibles of his countrywomen. "Nevertheless," 
he said, " French women have more heart than 
French men. Some — perhaps the majority — 
have none at all ; but those who have never 
love by halves. The result," he added, in 
lower and graver tones, " is almost always de- 
plorable." 

Then he turned as from a painful theme to 
the more welcome one of English women, who 
were contrasted on the same points with the 
French. First came their droiture of expres- 
sion, the naivete of their manners and conver- 
sation. It is true, this droiture often puzzles, 



PAMIS IN APRIL. 195 

and this ndiveiA amuses ; but in his heart, phi- 
losopher or no, the Frenchman considers Ixi co- 
quetterie a necessary feminine attribute, and the 
English simplicity and earnestness please him, 
as a fresher, and therefore more piquant, form 
of that coquetterie (I do not attempt to trans- 
late the word, for "coquetry" no way repre- 
sents it). Then, warming into poetic feeling, 
M.fimile dwelt on the intellectual affection, the 
elevated purity, and the serene calm of us En- 
glishwomen, adding, "It is angelic, as your 
fair hair and blue eyes," turning, as he spoke, 
to Sibyl, who certainly corresponded to his 
picture, but who only laughed at his idealizing 
eloquence.. 

It is the truth, as I believe, that most of this 
fine ideal was drawn from the fact that we 
abused the present ruler, took in "L'Avenir 
du Peuple " (a Republican journal quickly suf- 
focated), and knew two or three languages; 
that was enough for a clever sentimental 
French generalizer. 

In spite of ourselves, our talk wandered to 
deeper and sadder topics, and I saw, with pity, 
yet with pleasure, that our friend felt, as a 
high-minded man must feel, what I hesitated 
to call the political and social degradation of 
his nation. His face changed, his voice sank 



196 TWENTY TEAB8 AGO, 

and deepened as he uttered a few bitter^ 
broken sentencea By way of excuse, I said, 
" I can not imagine how a brave and proud 
nation like yours could submit to such abase- 
ment." 

" There is the misfortune," he answered ; 
"we have not pride enough. We are not 
proud, we are vain ; and there is a vast differ- 
ence between these two qualities." 

Sibyl gravely, but rather maliciously, told 
him of an engraving she had that day seen in 
a print-shop, entitled, "La Cl^mence du Pr^ 
sident," illustrating an incident at a review 
the day befora It represented a young lady 
kneeling to Louis Napoleon, with a petition 
for her condemned brother; he bows stiffly, 
and — hands the petition over to an aid-de- 
camp ! M. l^mile was silent for a moment ; 
then he muttered, " What an abomination 1 I 
should like to make sure of it" 

One was, indeed, disposed to wonder at the 
slough of humiliation (and no one who was not 
then in Paris can tell how deep it was) through 
which a fiery and powerful nation had permit- 
ted itself to be dragged, to repose at last under 
the hefel of an armed tyranny. But day by 
day we received sad proofs of so vast a want 
of pure public feeling, especially in the public 



PARIS IN APRIL. 197 

men, that one was at last obliged to cease won- 
dering. Nevertheless, one can not quite de- 
spair for France when there are yet such men 
as ifimile in it — men whose warm heart and 
vivid imagination unite with a clear head and 
straightforward sense of duty. Perhaps one 
xegrets that these men have not protested still 
more by acts ; but I do not know the difficul- 
ties, and can not judge. I do know those who 
have quietly barred forever- all advance in their 
professional career by a vote against the Coup 
d'lfetat; others who, in a public chair, when the 
Empire had just set down its triumphant foot, 
distinctly renewed their confession of faith ; 
and others, who abandoned their sole means of 
livelihood rather than condescend even to an 
acquiescent silence, and went forth impover- 
ished exiles to foreign lands. 

In spite, then, of a general want of moral 
courage, a too exclusive devotion to gain, and 
to that order and tranquillity which insures 
gain, a hlas& indiflference, as of men just recov- 
ered from a fever-fit, to the abused terms of 
law and liberty, whence sprang, I suppose, 
that " Oui " of seven millions — in spite of all, I 
would fain do justice to the saving trait! of the 
French character — a chivalry of feeling re- 
sulting from that • exquisite sensibility which 



108 TWESTY YKAMS AGO. 

makes their souls respond, like a finely-strung 
instrument, to every beautiful touch; this gives 
a captivating charm to their generosity, a ro- 
mance to their friendship, a touching sweet- 
ness to their love. 

Thus we conversed — with only occasional 
interludes, such as a piece of rudeness from a 
French lady, who refused to move an inch to 
relieve Sibyl from a painful pressure, where- 
on we were warned never to ask a favor of a 
French lady in a public place — till we went 
home, and !lfimile took leave of us to begin his 
week of invisibility, adding, in pathetic tones, 
" Pity the poor prisoner." 

And so, I reflected, on quitting Longchamps, 
to be where the monde congregates, to exhibit 
new dresses and criticise one's neighbors, to 
lounge for hours together on a fine day in the 
open air, perfectly idle, eyes and tongue in full 
play, amidst dust, heat, and enormous noise — 
this is life for a Parisian. We, being there in 
the character of philosophical observers, were 
not open to our own criticism. . 

This being, however, nearly all the philoso- 
phy I could extract from this famous scene, I 
went to a very different one — vespers in No- 
tre-Dame ; one of those scenes where the Ro- 
man Catholic religion wooes us through heart 




PAHIiS IN APRIL. 199 

arid senses with every devotional luxury. The 
organ, out of which seas of triumphant music 
rolled, then died suddenly, that one lovely ten- 
or might fill the silence and make all forgot- 
ten save itself, then joined in again, with gasp- 
ing fragments and tremulous sighs, till all ran, 
twisted, melted together into one cry of rap- 
ture; the vision of fifty white -robed female 
forms gliding all round the church, behind the 
Virgin's silken banner, like a dream of nuns ; 
the procession of the Host, with its tall tapers 
and its tinkling bell ; then the picture of the 
rich altar, flower-garlanded and forested with a 
hundred lights, and on the altar-steps all those 
priestly forms then knelt, as in a picture, in 
robes of black and white and gold - embroid- 
ered crimson, the only movement being the 
censer swung now and then slowly on higt, 
and filling the church with clouds of rich per- 
fume. The delicious choral singing, that in- 
spired me with profound sadness like the pip- 
longed prayer of the despairing, ever more 
and more earnest, and ever in vain! Then 
the deepening twilight, in which all seemed to 
float off" into air ; then one grand crash of mu- 
sic, at which the procession swept out by a 
side-door, the altar -lights were extinguished, 
and half the church left in a divine darkness. 



dOO TWENTY YEARS AGO. 

We went borne; and I could but bope tHat 
tbe worsbippers believed in it all, and tbat 
eacb movement, eacb genuflexion, eacb lifting 
of tbe Host, was to tbem a sacred act. To me, 
wbo believe in a spiritual, not a material De- 
ity, tbe wbole appeared tbeatrical and pagan, 
in spite of an effect tbat I could not but feel, 
of wbicb balf was upon tbe senses, balf upon 
tbe imaginative emotiona 



THE LUXEMBOUMO, 201 



CHAPTER IX. 

THE LUXEMBOURG AND THE CONCIIRQERIE. 

I HAVE already mentioned the Comte de 
T , one of Sibyl's most frequent visit- 
ors, though his projected marriage with Her- 
mine, it was expected, would soon take place. 
Of the latter lady and her mother I have said 
little, because we saw little. Their circle of so- 
ciety was very different from ours ; their days 
were spent in the grand monde and in the in- 
cessant exertions of what is called pleasure. 
For this sort of life Sibyl had neither health 
nor inclination ; she loved to be amused, but 
in a quiet way, and preferred a small circle of 
chosen and agreeable friends to indiscriminate 
gayety on a large scale. 

This easy mode of intercourse seemed very 
agreeable, too, to many of her acquaintances, 

among others to the Comte de T , whose ^ 

intimacy permitted him to pursue it without 
(I suppose) endangering his interests with 
Hermine, who on her part seemed perfectly 
content with his business-like courtship of 
herself. 



.\»J TWL\\Ty YEAJiH AGO. 

He is said to be one of the last of the good 
talkers of Paris, and certainly is an excellent 
specimen of the manners of the old school, 
lie has not even "fine" manners — they are too 
calm and unobtrusive for that; he is only 
very agreeable ; rather plain, with a quiet arch 
twinkle in his eye, and a voice of the laziest 
enjoyment. One afternoon he came to us, 
bringing two bunches of roses and a proposal 
of a visit to the Luxembourg gardens— and 
the lilacs there — and the Conciergeria It 
was rather before the time of lilac-blossom; but 
perhaps, with an aristocratical magnificence 
worihv of Louis XIY.'s time, M. de T-r — 
thought he could control nature by way of a 
(jahifitcnc to (^v? dames, and so it was arranged. 
Ilermine was included in the party, and he 
was content and I ver}- much amused. 

Sibyl was not over-well that day, and Her- 
raine, for some reason, slightly out of humor, 
but neither difficulty could interrupt the even 

and happy flow of M. de T 's spirits nor 

stop his conversation, which he dealt out pret- 
ty equally to all three. His " hommage aux 
dames,'' which is expressed in pleasantry tem- 
pered by respect, is of a thorough, genuine, 
unremitted kind, unlike that of many modern 
young men, an efibrt of flirtation with one in- 



THE LUXEMBOURG. 208 

dividual, or for a single soirie; his devotion 
extended to all women, and lasted all his life. 

We arrived at the Conciergerie, and the 
greffier showed us over it. To my surprise, 

M. de T had never had the curiosity to 

visit it before, and scarcely even knew the 
present use of it, which is for the detention of 
those awaiting trial. These gay grands seign- 
eurs have a very narrow worid of interest; 

still it surprised me in M. de T , because 

he is supposed to be an intense Legitimist; 
however, I don't think he troubles himself 
much who rules in Paris, or honors Louis Na- 
poleon with more than a quiet joke or a little 
domestic scandal. 

. We entered by that gloomy old archway 
where the prisoners of the Terror passei on 
tumbrils to the guillotine, and thence came 
into the Salle, old as Jhe time of Louis IX., 
dark and cold, the ceiling supported by im- 
mense massive ribs, the walls of mediaeval 
strength and thickness. Then we went into 
the cell of Marie Antoinette, a spot which 
touched me profoundly, and impressed even 

M. de T- with the solemn feeling of its 

melancholy and, for him, humiliating associa- 
tions. 

The room has been much altered ; but low. 



304 TWENTY TEABS AGO. 

dark, dreary it still is, only twelve feet by ten, 
yet curtained oflF into two divisions, one of 
which just held the poor queen's bed ; the oth- 
er contained her guards, who never quitted her 
day or night, or lost sight of her, save at her 
toilet. A sorrowful picture at the end shows 
us the poor forlorn woman, who has ceased to 
struggle, ceased almost to feel, perhaps even 
to pray, sitting on her low pallet just beneath 
the small iron-barred hole high in the wall, 
which supplied the place of a window. Two 
more pictures represent the parting with her 
friends and the last confession. An altar has 
been raised with a monumental inscription, 

which M. de T read through with silent 

devotion ; on it stands the crucifix which 
Maift Antoinette always used. It is easy, 
and in some sense just, to talk of the crimes 
and follies of the old r^ime and the necessity 
of destroying it, of the righteous vengeance 
of an oppressed people, and the glorious fruit 
of the great Revolution, and easy to say that 
the sufferings of a queen are not to be -pitied 
more than those of a working- woman ; but 
human nature, while not hardened, has in it 
sympathetic emotions which will be touched 
more keenly in proportion as the individual 
case of suffering is brought more vividly be- 



THE LXIXEMBOURO. 205 

fore us, and will feel how that suffering is en- 
hanced by a sense of sudden and utter /aZZ. It 
ivill, too, distinguish between the guilt of those 
who were but what they were born to, neces- 
sarily unable to shake off the prejudices they 
had been cradled in, and all unknowing how 
to meet the new, strange circumstances, a 
world in chaos, wildly raging against them, 
and those deliberate malefactors who, for their 
own selfish purposes, turn disorder into car- 
nage and slavery. Nor will the calmer judg- 
ment — in the long, unnecessary system of ig- 
noble persecution and horrible vengeance in- 
flicted on powerless victims — see any thing to 
the credit of the heroes of the Eevolution and 
their loudly proclaimed principles of freedom, 
patriotism, and brotherhood. 

Sibyl, who had vainly struggled against ill- 
ness all day, became so faint that we were 
obliged to leave the place and seek fresh air. 
The \\YQ\ygreffieT asked "if the impressions of 
the place were too much for madame," saying 
that this often happened when people visited 
it for the first time. As we passed out, we 
took a look at the room where criminals sen- 
tenced to death were placed the night before 
their execution. Oh me I it was a dreadful 
place! so stony cold, so black, so pitilessly 



206 TWENTY YEAMS AGO. 

Strong, SO utterly forlorn ! Even M. de T 

shuddered, and said it was " assombrissant." 

Then to the Luxembourg gardens, where 
we all strolled up and down the terrace, now 
shady with trees, sat on a bench beneath them, 
looked at the lilac-trees (the blossoms were so 
disobliging as to remain yet buds), and enjoy- 
ed the smiling, shining day. But certainly it 
did not much signify where we were or what 
we saw ; for M. le Comte came there evident- 
ly to talk and fascinate us, not to let us see 
any thing. He pointed to the Hall of the 
Luxembourg, and gave us his reminiscences 
of the conflicts of June in '48, all in such a 
genuine Faubourg St. Germain manner that I 
had a double enjoyment. 

" There," he said, " we had to sleep all night 
on beds of straw. I was one of the National 
Guard, and was called out with about a hun- 
dred more to protect the palace from the insur- 
gents. It was on the fourth night, and there 
was still a dense mass roaring all round, from 
the Pantheon to the Hotel de Ville. We 
heard cannonading and musketry going on all 
night, and knew, though it was too dark to 
see, that there was a ferocious multitude out- 
side thirsting for our blood, who might massa- 
cre us in the dark, before we could even see 



THE LUXEMBOURG. 207 

them : it was not a pleasant idea." But he 
shrugged his shoulders much more, and dwelt 
with much greater sensibility on the personal 
discomforts than on the horrors and dangers 
of that bivouac-night. 

"At last," said he, "at about three o'clock 
in the morning, we were called out on a sud- 
den alarm — the insurgents were going to at- 
'tack us. We were hurried out into the court, 
formed hastily, oi«dered to load ; as for me, I 
tnew nothing about that business, and I don't 
"believe many of my companions did, although 
some of them had been twenty years in the 
INational Guard. I found myself, therefore, 
xnucb embarrassed by the order to load with 
cartridge. I turned to my next neighbor, and 
asked if by any chance he knew how to load. 
* Yes,' said he. * Then will you be so obliging 
SIS to load mine for me?' *With the greatest 
pleasure,' he replied. And oh how relieved I 
"wasl But no doubt we were more dangerous 
to our friends than to our enemies. There we 
stood drawn up in the dark, on a cold, wet 
night, no moon, no lamps, nothing but the pale 
stars overhead, expecting every instant to en- 
gage. But after some hours' waiting we were 
told- that the barricade was taken, and that we 
were no longer required. We were very glad 



208 TWENTY TEAMS AOO. 

to get home, putting, no doubt, the just value 
on our services." 

He then described the aspect of Paris when 
he walked out next morning, the boulevards 
a perfect solitude, the houses in ruins, in some 
of the more distant streets, where the fighting 
had been fiercest, the blood flowing like water. 
He described the furious passions of both par- 
ties, the horrid, demoniac aspect of the insur- 
gents, the remorseless rage. of those who got 
the better, in which all justice, all generosity, 
all pity, seemed flung to the winds. " Never- 
theless," said he, " I believe I was the chief 
means of saving one man's life. He had fired 
at an officer of the National Guard and wound- 
ed his man ; he was instantly seized, dragged 
into the Luxembourg gardens, and numberless 
furious voices demanded his instant death. I 
put up my lorgnon and was interested by his 
appearance. He was a very tall young man, 
with a mass of waving hair, black beard and 
mustache, and a pale, stern, determined face ; 
he was not an ouvrier; he wore a black coat, 
very threadbare, and shabby trowsers ; he was 
probably an artist of enthusiastic Republican 
principles. I thought it a pity that he should 
be killed, and I made them a speech. I told * 
them that they were now excited ; that what 



THE LUXEMBOUBG. 209 

they felt now they would not feel a month, a 
^eek, a day hence ; that it was a shocking 
thing to kill a man in a state of excitement, 
^hich resembled intoxication, and left no time 
for the operation of reason ; that, after all, he 
lad not committed murder, that he had only 
wounded a man, and that death was too dread- 
ful a penalty for this. Enfin que sais-je? J'ai 
dit tant de belles choses. About half a dozen 
persons agreed with me, and joined in trying 
to save the man; the passions of the others 
. then turned against us, and we were for a 
labile in some danger. Meanwhile the young 
man stood in the midst, towering head and 
shoulders above the rest, and looking down on 
us with calm indifference, as if all this was not 
bis affair at all. At last we got him into an- 
other room, where we locked him up, and by 
this respite finally saved him. I believe he 
was afterwards tried, but certainly not put to 
death — probably transported." 

Having told all- this little episode (which by- 
the-bye did him much credit) in a well-bred, 

indifferent way, M. de T , in precisely the 

same manner, glided into his favorite quiet 
badinage, chiefly addressed to Mademoiselle 
Beatrice as the krangire^ mixed with disserta- 
tions on love and matrimony as practiced in 



310 TWENTY YEAB8 AGO, 

England and France. Having put down two 
of the ladies at their own door, he accompanied 
the third to a house some way farther on, po- 
litely observing that he only wished it was far- 
ther still, and proposing first to take a turn or 
two in the Champs ^filys^es, which, as it was 
then most gayly crowded and we were in a 
common fiacre^ was a courageous proposition 
on the part of M. le Comte, and such as would 
scarcely have been made by an English man 
of fashion. The young lady, doubting how fer 
the public promenade in the cab with a grand 
seigneur would please Us rrwe.urs in a French 
point of view, declined, and so ended our day. 



PARIS IN MAT. 211 



CHAPTER X. 

PARISINMAY. 

WE have now a succession of blue, dry, 
burning days, which fill the Champs 
filys^es with dust and gay crowds ; a haze of 
heat rests on the air, the bridges, the domes 
and steeples on the other side. The fountains 
send light silver clouds into the turquoise air; 
organs, dancing dogs, tumblers, and Punch 
abound; the limonadiers go about with their 
tinkling bell, the lemonade or sherbet-making 
machine strapped to their backs and the metal 
drinking - vessels in front. The crowds of 
chairs under the trees are filled by lounging 
newspaper readers ; the little tables are set in 
front of the wine-shops, with wine, coffee, lem- 
onade, and ginger-beer thereon.* 

One May -day I well remember. It had 
been sunny, hot, sultry, and we had kept with- 
in doors, purposing to pay a quiet, pleasant 
evening visit at the end, and finish with a 
moonlight stroll in the Bois de Boulogne. 
But the still, glaring day gave signs of ending 
in storm ; the hot sky drew over itself a veil 



213 TWENTY TEARS AGO. 

of thick gray cloud, then came slowly down 
great, ponderous, silent drops of rain. I look- 
ed into the court, which began to wake up to 
its evening life ; it was a large and handsome 
quadrangle inclosed by regular buildings. 
On the side opposite us the rez-de-chaussee con- 
sisted of stables and coach-houses ; above were 
the low, wide, entresol windows ; then three 
stages of handsome appartements^ and the attic 
windows at the top with flower-pots on the 
ledges, and canary-cages, covered each with a 
cool green leaf from the sun. All the neat 
Yfh\iQ persiennes are flung bact and the 
windows open ; sounds of life are constantly 
heard. On the rez-de-chaussee, in one part bill- 
iards have been going on for hours; some- 
times musical bells or glasses tinkle their pret- 
ty tunes. Towards the evening,* screaming 
voices, laughter, and singing announce revels 
of no refined sort as going on on the lower 
story ; while in the handsome rooms above, the 
folding windows thrown wide open display a 
cheerful blaze of lamps and a bright little par- 
ty clustered at dinner. 

Yes, in this house, as in all others, the hu- 
man history, chapter by chapter, is being read, 
low or loud, listened to or not, as it may be. 
All are strangers to each other, and yet here 



PARIS IN MA T. 213 

and there stray words of that history sound 
startlingly across our path. On the floor be- 
low us resides a due, of ancient lineage, and of 
overflowing wealth ; he has a wife, a daughter 
by a first marriage, and a son by the second. 
The day we entered a domestic fete was going 
on ; it was the daughter's wedding-day. Her 
husband, strange to say, was her own choice, 
she being of age, of independent mind and in- 
dependent fortune. He was a baron, an excel- 
lent young man, and with a good property, 
but the match was not splendid enough for her 
haughty father, and he would not honor it 
with his sanction or his presence. So he staid 
at Eome, where he, has long resided without 
his wife. 

A few, a very few carriages assembled in 
the court as the wedding-party set forth. We 
saw the bride come forth with her stepmother 
and the two take their place together. The 
stepmother looked young and kind and good ; 
the bride was more striking than pretty, a pale, 
calm face, with an expression in it of courage 
and will — perhaps not unneeded. She w^ 
magnificently dressed, but greatly scandalized 
the French female spectators by her scarlet 
and gold-embroidered scarf; she was at once 
concluded " original e." There was 'no splen- 



314 TWENTY TEAMS AGO, 

dor of any kind, and the wedding was pro- 
nounced a "triste aflfaire;" but I hope the brave 
young woman, who thus followed the dictates 
of her heart and reason, found her happiness in 
that chateau of hers jin Normandy whither she 
was going to reside witb her bridegroom. 

The next little occurrence that brought the 
ducal family before us was a very peaceful 
one. We had, by word of mouth, instructed 
our clever cuisinikre how to make a true En- 
glish plum-pudding ; she had turned out one 
success, and was making another. The fame 
of it (the spiritual perfume, as it were) had 
spread through the hotel, and one morning I 
found in our kitchen the ^piart/emT/ie de cham," 
bre of Madame la Duchesse, for whom her mis- 
tress had begged permission to watch the 
growth of the foreign wonder. We sent a 
porjbion of the result to the lady, to satisfy her 
as to its merits. 

And now another kind of solemnity has 
taken place there. I was wakened at mid- 
night by shriek upon shriek rising from be- 
low ; they were the cries of the duchess over 
the dead body of her son. He was her only 
child, and the heir of all that wealth and that 
historic title; a boy of nineteen, gentle and 
amiable, bis mother's darling, and, I fear, like 



PARIS IN MA Y, 315 

most such high-born darlings, too little watch- 
ed or controlled in the rapid rush of his Paris- 
ian life. He had become consumptive, and a 
galloping decline had in a month brought all 
his bloom of youth to the grave. The poor 
mother at the moment of his death was in -her 
own room ; pfa hearing the news, she tore her- 
self wildly from those who would have held 
her, and, leaving a fragment of her dress in 
their hands, flew like a mad woman to the 
corpse. And the father? He was at Eome? 
he had not chosen to come when recalled on 
account of his son's illness, and now they tele- 
graphed to him the news of death. 

Next day, on descending into the court to 
go out, we saw there the hearse waiting to be 
taken out. The drap Tnortuaire — a white one, 
to signify that the dead was unmarried, with 
his initial "C" embroidered on it — hung all 
over the porte-cochere^ so that we should have 
had to lift it up to pass out We were warned 
not to do so till the bier was removed, or 
we should be considered ridiculed, A priest 
prayed kneeling by the bier, and in the after- 
noon we- saw the funeral procession moving 
away ; among the mourners walking after the 
poor boy's bier we recognized our old friend 
M. de Montorgueil. 



ai6 TWENTY YEAMS AGO. 

We strolled one day, a little before sunset, 
into the Tuileries gardens. The chestnut-trees, 
like palaces all magnificent with flowers, were 
illuminated by the sun into so much shimmer- 
ing, twinkling, green and gold drapery, while 
behind, arch after arch of foliage looked like 
pieces cut out of rich green velvet. The fount- 
ain of the large reservoir in the middle was in 
full play, and the great column of spray, with 
its waving arch, was all colored from clear sil- 
ver into bright smoke. The drops, as they 
fell off from the curve, shivered into sparkling 
gems, like stars struck off from a haze of light. 
All the windows of the long Tuileries front 
were dipped in fire by the setting sun oppo- 
site, the Arch of Triumph stood out before the 
orange west with the' sunset molten on its fairy 
architecture, while the moon was just lifting her 
foam-white crescent over the shining curves of 
the Seine. 

" Let us go and call on Madame E^naud," 
said Sibyl. " Aur^Iie will like to walk in the 
Tuileries gardens with us, all the more that it 
is not often that she gets out without that 
good mother of hers." Horace .{omv. grave 
English cousin, who was then with us) made 
no objection, and we went to the Rue d' Agues- 
seau, where Madame de Renaud received us 



PARIS IN MA Y. • 317 

kindly, but told us poor Aurdlie was too ill to 
go out. She had been ailing some time, she 
did not know why. At last Aurdlie came in 
to us, but she was terribly changed. That 
spiritless melancholy was very unlike her us- 
ual ready, decided, almost-superbly patronizing 
manner; and there was an increased but va- 
rying brilliancy in her usually pale complex- 
ion, which reminds one that she is, as I fear, 
pulmonique. What ails poor Aur^lie? I 
know nothing of her secrets, but I have no- 
ticed lately a troubled look in her large black 
eyes, which, joined to her serious, unyouthful 
manner, seems to me — a girl in my teens — to 
tell the story of a heart that has felt warmly 
and suffered much. Horace admires her, I 
know; they seem to have a sort of silent un- 
derstanding with each other, for he is too shy 
and too unversed in French to enter on much 
conversation ; but he manages to talk with his 
eyes, and she, with her grand, gracious manner, 
knows how to draw him out. There is noth- 
ing whatever on her part but a sort of patron- 
izing kindness, quite consistent with a heart 
already occupied ; on his, I suspect, there is 
something more. 

Aurdlie was at length induced to accom- 
pany us into the Tuileries gardens. The sun 



218 t TWEl^TY YEAMS AGO. 

had set, and we sat chiefly on a retired stone 
bench in the mingled shade of beech and 
chestnut. In those stately groves and walks, 
now darkening with twilight, there was a 
sumptuous gloom, a languid, luxurious beau- 
ty, which defied expression, but which, if it 
found melancholy in the heart, was sure to 
deepen it. Sentimental themes were danger- 
ous ; so we tried some of those fruitful topics 
which form ready battle-fields between French 
and English, and found how safe and pleas- 
ant those fearful materials of eternal political 
bitterness, those vexed, burning questions of 
statesmen, become when handled with the 
cheerful superficiality of friendly young men 
and women. 

Aurdlie is very decided in the expression of 
her opinions, and amused me by her confident 
assertions, and even contradictions, about ways 
and manners in England, where she has never 
been. We talked of what at that moment waF 
almost the only "household word" — "UncL 
Tom's Cabin." She boldly avowed herself a 
advocate of negro slavery, alleging that all tl: 
English supposed philanthropic exertions f 
its abolition were simply dictated by a desi 
to ruin Qidr colonies. But then she turn 
smilingly to Horace, who was looking duml 



PAMia IN JdAT. 219 

and dreadfully scandalized at her assertions, 
and confessed that they were made with a de- 
liberate intention to " faire naitre une guerre " 
between us. I have observed that the tone of 
the French feeling is very much below that of 
the English on this subject ;* they seem never 
to have forgiven the revolt of the blacks in 
San Domingo. Toussaint is with them not a 
hero to be admired, but an ignorant barbarian 
to be laughed at. 

" There is one thing," said Aur^ie suddenly 
to me, when Sibyl and Horace were otherwise 
occupied, "in which I give you all advantage; 
it is in the position of your young women with 
regard to love and matrimony. The English 
marry always for love, and not for money — is 
it not so?" 

I did not like t© disenchant my French friend 
of this fair belief, or I might have answered, 
"Not always." But it happens often enough 
to justify the theory, that at any rate an En- 
glishman is supposed to marry for love; so 
that, even if he does select a lady for her for- 
tune, he pays her the compliment of seeming 
to seek her for herself. 



* This was written before the civil war in America, when 
the '^ domestic institution " became suddenly such a favorite 
with the English press and "genteel" society. 



^30 TWENTY YEAMS AOO. 

I talked about the engagement of a young 
lady of my acquaintance, in which I felt ami- 
ably interested. " She tells me M. de H. loves 
her," I said, and was proceeding with some ro- 
mantic statement, when Mdlle. Aur^lie inter- 
rupted me by throwing herself back in her 
seat with a fit of laughter, as she exclaimed, 
"All these are pretty conies which nobody be- 
lieves; every body knows that there is no 
love whatever in these sort of marriages. It 
is simply an affair of business; Mdlle. Ga- 
brielle has 30, 000. francs, and M. de H. noth- 
ing — consequently it is the utmost simplicity 
to believe that the desire of her fortune was 
not the predominant feeling." 

I was startled, and betrayed it. 

" Nonsense ! You must look on these things 
from a different point of view in France," said 
Aur^lie. Then she went on to recapitulate 
the history of various love affairs — if the word 
can be so used — among our acquaintance, and 
described how more than one charming French- 
man, whom we knew, was coquetting with 
some charming girl or other, paying her de- 
voted attentions perhaps for a whole year; 
in love, yes, very much in love — up to any 
amount save that of breaking his h^art or of- 
fering his hand. • And, then, presently it will 



PARIS m MAT. 321 

be another young lady, also lovely and ineligi- 
ble, till, when he has exhausted all the pleas- 
ures of this butterfly career, he makes, calmly 
and leisurely, a mercenary match. French- 
men generally marry late. "They love," as 
one of them sentimentally said to me, "to 
gather first all the flowers of life." 

When I expressed my wonder at the really 
cold hearts that these professedly enthusiastic 
Frenchmen must have to carry on this system, 
she again dismissed the remark with a cool, 
contemptuous laugh. 

"/ do not mean to yield to it," she observed 
at length. " I will at least have du goik for 
the person I marry." 

"Taste is not enough," ventured I; "you 
ought to love the man." 

" Oh, as for that," she returned, in a cold, 
calm tone, which I nevertheless fancied much 
at variance with her expression, "I can dis- 
pense with a grande passion ; it causes nothing 
but unhappiness. I suppose once in life such 
a thing is inevitable ; but once is enough." 

" But you must not think," she added, pres- 
ently, " that all marriages in France are these 
cold, mercenary afiairs. There are, especially 
in the country, such things as matches origin- 
ating in an affection which begins in youth 



:.>a3 TWENTY YEARS AGO. 

and lasts till age. My own father and mother 
were instances of this ; they were Protestants 
of the south of France, and had loved each 
other all their lives. But Paris is not the 
place in which to look for any thing good," 
Then, rising suddenly from her seat to resume 
our promenade, she said, in a brief energetic 
tone, " Les hommes de Paris sont d^testables." 

Horace escorted Mdlle. Aur61ie home; and 
Sibyl and I, turning back to our own quarters, 
were joined by a friend, a tall French artist of 
daring cleverness, a jolly, good-humored, sans- 
soudant character, with plenty of amusing, slap- 
dash conversation. He was the professed and 
determined adorer of most of the agreeable 
women he knew, and, whether successful or 
not, contrived to keep his spirits up, and paint 
away energetically all the time. He was tall 
and vigorous in form, with keen iron-gray eyes 
and a determined mouth. Horace called him 
an "old file;" and, with all his good-humor, I 
suspect there was something of hard iron, as 
well as of keen, biting steel, in him. 

Scarcely had we entered than a ring at the 
door -bell announced another guest, and in 
came M. de Montorgueil, with his precise fig- 
ure, neat gray head, silvery imperial, and thin, 
(ilear, sharp voice. With some doubts as to 



PAMI8 IN MAT. 228 

French proprieties, I introduced our guests to 
each other. I had no doubt then that M. le 
Due (who, by-the-bye, is a professed Eepublic- 
an) considered the artist as too much canaille 
for his acquaintance. Misled, perhaps, by the 
introducer's pronunciation, M. Madier mistook 
the name. 

" Monsieur is the Due de M ." 

" Non, monsieur, De Montorgueil," was the 
cold, dry answer, and hot a word more did he 
vouchsafe him. M. de Montorgueil then pre- 
sented me with a copy of a work of his, which 
is to convert me to Eomanism and to his po- 
litical dreams. He was also occupied in im- 
proving his acquaintance with a fair young 
English friend of ours whom he has once met 
at our house. " Ces vieux grands seigneurs," 
says a shrewd old lady friend of ours, " passent 
la vie £l papillonner autour des demoiselles." 
" She is very spirituelle," he said ; this, from 
a Frenchman, means "she is very pretty." 
"Would her family consider it a breach of 
etiquette if he were to call ? He did not know 
English usages; he referred himself to us." 
He was assured that he might call, which he 
did, inquiring of Horace, whom he met at the 
door, if "eZfe," without any other distinguish- 
ing mark, was at home, and, finding that she 



234 TWENTY YEARS AGO. 

was not, and that they were just leaving Paris, 
conveyed to her "les adieux du coeur." 

After settling these important matters, our 
patrician visitor departed, and the artist con- 
soled himself by abusing him in a hearty, 
cheerful way. Meanwhile, it was such a beau- 
tiful summer night that we went forth once 
again to see the fairy capital in its last, 
strangest, most bewitching phase. The artist 
walked forth with us; he was in a would-be 
sentimental mood, about as comical as the 
"jolly " style more usual to him, which, as it 
was, broke out from time to time. He rallied, 
complimented, joked, and laughed aloud; then, 
heaving a huge sigh, would smite his chest 
and say, "Ah, pauvre n^re 1" and protest that 
he was " malheureux comme une pierre." I 
suppose one of his numerous affaires de cosur 
was in an unprosperous stage. 

Paris was changed now ; where by day was 
a great crowded city, all seemed dark with 
forest ; the Place de la Concorde was marked 
only by its guardian giant of an obelisk, dim 
and tall in the centre, while figures like phan- 
toms crossed over its vast smooth field of pave- 
ment turned by the moonlight to snow. The 
fountains in the Tuileries gardens rose against 
the solid black marble of the night air in soft 



PARIS IN MAT, 205 

clouds of magical foam, aud fell again on each 
side like liquid lace, like a watery bride-veil. 
Those myriad lights in the great square began 
their fantastic manj^-figured dance above, be- 
yond, and across each other ; then gathered, as 
it were, and shot forth along the Champs !l6ly- 
s^es in double glittering lines that suddenly 
seamed to converge and close in a bright point 
at the Arch of Triumph. Along the river 
glittered a file of stars, reflected like a succes- 
sion of pillared arches, of lighted-up houses in 
the water, whose dark bosom appeared actually 
expanding into a lake. Look still — the banks 
appear receding from each other — the bounds 
melt suddenly away as the basin of water 
spreads. It*is a moving picture, a Fata Mor- 
gana. 

The city grew yet more joyous as night 
came on, and now the cafes chantants came into 
play. These are small gay tribunes painted 
white and gilded, placed close to the cafds, 
among the trees, where public singers began 
early in the evening; and sang on half the 
night long. Strange, sparkling world of Par- 
is, where the voice of pleasure ceases not day 
or night, and every thing is tricked out like a 
pilgeant or plaything 1 

As we strayed slowly along we stopped to 

P 



226 TWENTY TEAMS AGO. 

listen to a clear and powerM warbling poured 
out on the soft summer night The singers 
are young women, aspirantes probably for a 
role at the opera, and making themselves 
known the while on a stage nearer by many 
steps to their original position in lifa One or 
two sat in evening dress on the steps of the 
tribune, waiting; they fingered their ringlets, 
arranged their ribbons, tossed their bouquets, 
and flung side glances into the crowd, where 
the givers of these bouquets probably stood. 

Soon one rose to sing, a girl in a white mus- 
lin dress with a broad, rose-colored sash ; her 
voice was sweet and well-trained, her face 
young and pretty, and there was a smile on 
her lips. Was it fancy, or that irifetinct of dis- 
cernment that comes sometimes like an inspira- 
tion, that saw in those violet eyes and on that 
pale, passionate face deep shadows of despair, 
and wild, wandering lights of something -yet 
worse, that saw the fixed smile become a sneer 
of scorn at the world and at herself, who each 
knew each other only too well ? Perhaps her 
thoughts glanced from the time when, an in- 
nocent peasant-child, she ran by her mother's 
side to join her companions at the FSte-Dieu, 
and, for the first time, with them flung flowers 
before the curd going to mass, looking first to 



PARTS IN MAT. 227 

m 

see how the others did it — ^to the future day 
when she might be lounging in a gay calhhe 
among the brilliant groups of Longchamps — 
and which picture would seem to her the 
wildest illusion ? 

But when she finished, when the wild, sad 
notes were over, she sat down, settling her 
dress, and shaking her flounces with a vain 
and jaunty air, then glanced a bold glance at 
the audience, said something to one of her 
companions, and smiled. 

Then slipped out on the steps a lanky lit- 
tle girl, with long, bare arms, short frock, and 
springy feet; she treats us to a prematurely 
pert and practiced look, sings saucily a low, 
comic song, and pantomimes at the audience. 
What an actress she will be in time I I have 
surely seen her twin -sister as the child -hero- 
ine of "La Maman Sablonneur." The profits 
of the concern are made by the consomma- 
turns which are expected from those who have 
taken their seats, and of which the tariflf is 
handed round to them. 

We walked on to enjoy one last, most per- 
fect picture, from the high platform opposite 
the Bridge of Jena, with the Champ de Mars 
below us. There it lay at our feet, a dream- 
Paris, an illuminated world, all bright in the 



228 TWENTY TEARS AGO. 

darkness, the Seine curling like a milk-white 
serpent between its dazzling banks, the clus- 
ters of lights that marked out places, avenues, 
public buildings, the bridges like so many 
pathways of stars, the domes and spires pierc- 
ing sombre through the blue night air. 

I mused, as we re-entered, on the chiaroscuro 
of this strange Paris, how inextricably bound 
with every one of its witcheries was a sting, 
a pang, a suspicion of something one shrank 
from. Is it so, then, that the bright veil of 
this Parisian life is a gay curtain so painted 
with joyous scenes and figures as to look solid, 
but the moment you stop to regard it, in spite 
of its waving play, you perceive that it is 
full of holes and tatters, underneath which are 
darkness and corruption, which once discover- 
ed, you see no more the splendor, only the holes 
and tatters, and the dismal reality behind ? 



A FRENCH COUNTRY HOUSE. 229 



CHAPTER XL 

A FRENCH COUNTRY HOUSE. 

IT may be guessed from my last words that 
, we were not very sorry when the time 
came at which all Paris turns out and spends 
in the country as much of its summer as it can 
resign itself to wasting in that way. We, for 
our parts, were heartily glad to be out of the 
noise, heat, and glare of that excited and ex- 
citing world ; but it did not suit us to move 
very far. However, we forbore to imitate the 
generality of our friends, who could not pre- 
vail on themselves to go farther than the Lac 
d'Enghien and Montmorenci, and, establishing 
themselves in a colony in some gay hotel or 
boarding-house, lead a life as much like that 
of their dear Paris as possible ; their exercise 
confined to promenades in the garden and very 
moderate picnics; their amusements to dan- 
cing, singing, and perpetual gossip and flirta- 
tion. Thus they spend their time of genteel 
exile, and hasten gladly back again when fash- 
ion permits. Some, no doubt, there are who 
go to watering-places, or even as far as the 



230 TWENTY TEAB8 AGO. 

Pyrenees, to the Eaux Chaudes, or Luchon, but 
mostly aiming to combine society and amuse* 
ment with health. 

No, we really wished to bury ourselves in 
the country, and we did it. We spent six 
months in a quiet village and a secluded coun- 
try-house, which, although only a feyr miles be- 
yond Versailles, was so little visited or known 
of, that a dweller there asked us how we came 
to find out \his pays perdu. 

The house, called Les Eosiers, stands in a 
tiny hamlet of the same name; the village 
proper lies in the valley below. Our house, 
approached at the front by the small rude 
street, stands on a height, encircled with woods, 
green prairies, and orchards, where the eye 
steals through all the near greenness into 
charming vistas of more distant rock, or dell, 
or forest. 

We enter through a great shabby wooden 
gate in a stone wall, amidst the barking of 
dogs, and are charmed at once with our new 
domain. We find ourselves in a large walled 
garden or court, half smothered in trees; a 
large unshaven lawn in the centre, with a 
group of noble walnut-trees on it ; all around 
a gravel -walk edged with orange -trees and 
oleanders in full blossom, the inclosing walls 



A FRENCH COUNTRY HOUSE. 831 

overgrown with vines and other straggling 
fruit-trees ; all down one side a set of offices 
which are nothing but picturesque rubbish, a 
long, low, uneven line of crumbling stone cot- 
tages, one of which is inhabited by the garden- 
er, who is also concierge, with his wife and hiaf 
little soh and daughter. 

Through all this we reach the house — once 
an old convent of the Bernardines — ^built all 
of stone, constructed for strength and warmth, 
as one sees by the thickness of the walls, the 
solid beams, and the double doors, though, in 
the usual French style, all is clumsily put to- 
gether and ill .secured. But the long, low, fa- 
9ade of white stone that presents itself across 
the waving grass and walnut-boughs, and all 
the green picturesque confusion, how charming 
it is, with its tiled roofj stained green and yel- 
low with moss ; its wide upper windows with 
their white persiennes; the ground-floor win- 
dows, long and large, with their great wooden 
whitewashed shutters flung back against the 
wall, opening on the gravel- walks, and the or- 
ange-trees in rows ! On the other, the north 
side, is a still wilder, greener garden, one scene 
of rural confusion, full of limes, catalpas, aca- 
cias, laburnums, a wilderness of blossoming fo- 
liage, and a very kingdom of song-birds. We 



232 TWENTY TEAMS AOO. 

descend, by a succession of slopes, through 
paths almost hidden in the 'thickets of lilac, 
syringa, and honey-suckle, down mossy stone 
steps, through a little open gate in a low wall 
masked by copses of Spanish chestnut and 
hornbeam, till at last, passing through a gap 
in a hawthorn hedge, we quit these romantic 
grounds, and find ourselves at the top of an 
orchard or prairie, descending among its scat- 
tered fruit-trees into the valley basin below, 
where, across meadow -ranges, lies half seen the 
village with its tiny river, while the red, wood- 
covered rocks spring up, a sudden boundary, 
on the other side. 

The orchard is inclosed on three sides by 
low walls, dividing it from rich, luxuriant, 
grassy, flowery prairies ; on the w'est an aque- 
duct rises, at the end of the valley, out of a 
thick background mass of forests towards Bue 
and Yiroflay, with tempting paths winding 
through it, all delicious for summer loitering. 
This orchard slope will become dear to us, 
I foresee, with its thick woods, and smiling 
meadows all ready for the mower, the air 
echoing with happy sounds, the cuckoo's soft 
voice breathing out every minute from the 
copses around, bees humming their self-con- 
gratulations among the clover, yellow trefoil. 



A FRENCH COUNTRY HOUSE. 388 

large ox-eyed daisies, poligulas pink and blue, 
blue salvias, and other flowers new to us, which 
enamel the slope, and all fragrant with the 
balmy blossom of the trees. All here is still, 
though about the premises those shrill French 
tongues are forever going, in accompaniment 
to their cheerful domestic activity. 

But for the house itself, of which we have 
taken the rez-de-chaussie: it is large, straggling, 
and airy, full of doors and windows, and with 
numberless rooms. The large hall, drawing- 
room, and dining-room are very pleasant ; the 
glass doors of the hall and the large windows 
at each end of the drawing-room let us see 
into both gardens filled with waving trees; 
the stone benches just outside the windows 
are our favorite seat. 

We took, as I said, the rez-de-chaussie and 
the premwr^ the latter containing five charm- 
ing bedrooms. Our party consisted of Sibyl 
and myself, SibyFs baby-girl, with her English 
nurse, and our excellent bonne, Honorine ; also 
of Cousin Horace, who was to be a frequent 
guest. The rest of the house — a cross-piece 
running out from the main body, and a hex- 
agonal conical-topped tower in the middle — 
was either not tenanted, or only transiently, 
by a few passing lodgers, or by the propriitaire 



384 TWENTY YEARS AGO, 

and his wife, who came down from Paris from 
time to time to look after their aflEairs. As 
for the society of this deeply secluded neigh- 
borhood, there was a rich banker's fine bouse 
and grounds a mile or so off, but the family 
were never there ; there was a chanping fami- 
ly of quiet people, half French, half Swiss, in 
the little village ; the cur^ whose brother was 
the village tailor ; and a world of peasantry, 
small farmers, almost all more or less land-hold- 
ers, masons, etc. But of these, though highly 
amusing people, whose various histories were 
a source of constant interest, I am not now 
going to speak. My present business is only 
with the little world within the country house. 
A few days of intense quiet Sibyl and I .en- 
joyed at the beginning, when, the first little 
troubles of installment over, under the energet- 
ic management of Honorine, we could wander 
from abine to shade among leaves and birds 
and all dream-like things, or occupy the seat 
under the walnut-tree at the top of the prairie, 
with our feet in the long grass, our eyes fixed 
on that little green bit out of the great pas- 
toral spread out around us, our talk on sad 
sweet things with which that scene, till then so 
strange, will henceforth be iiiextricably inter- 
twined. For we had come to a piassage in our 



A FRENCH COUNTEY HOUSE. 335 

lives which would necessarily leave bitter-sweet 
memories through years to come ; and yet we 
traversed it half-blind, understanding the pres- 
ent scarcely better than the future. 

But Saturday morning brings too soon our 
proprietaires from Paris for a few days: we 
see them from the garden on their walk from 
the little cabaret below ("Au Bon Coin"), 
where the omnibus stops, then coming reso- 
lutely up the orchard -slope, followed by a 
maid, bag and baggage, and very soon the 
premises are resounding for some hours with 
the thin screaming voice of the lady, which at 
a distance is almost like a child's treble, and 
with the soft, oily, coaxing under-tones of the 
gentleman. 

Monsieur and Madame Churlier claim to be 
gentry, and to have fallen from a better posi- 
tion through losses in one of the revolutions. 
It is amazing what use is made of some one or 
other of the revolutions by every one whose 
present appearance js not brilliant The fa- 
ther of M. Charlier was, we are told, one of 
Napoleon's generals, and he himself has been 
in Algeria, and was connected with the army 
by some office in the commissariat, till some 
unfortunate sottise^ as we heard it called, rela- 
ting to money affairs, caused his temporary 



288 TWENTY YEARS AGO, 

water. The ladies, with a bad Parisian air, 
more frequently English and American than 
French, in gay dresses, and with very little 
youth or beauty, saunter about under their 
fine parasols, sometimes sing, and mingle in 
noisy flirtation their bold shrill voices with 
the coarse, deep masculine tones. They have 
tried hard to make acquaintance with us, and, 
being constantly repulsed, now take their re- 
venge by staring at us and intcj our rooms as 
they pass, repeating our names and talking of 
us as if we were wild animals. At six o'clock 
they repair to their dinner au second^ or in the 
orangerie^ a queer bit of building in the grounds, 
occasionally let to tenants; after which they 
return to the gardens, and sit on chairs on the 
lawn just under our windows, all jumbled to- 
gether, smoking and talking in the beautiful 
moonlight half the night, till, to our great joy, 
we hear a tumultuous interchange of "Bon- 
soir, mesdames," and six or seven loud En- 
glish good-nights, and they stream off their 
separate ways. 

After this deluge of doubtful gentility, it is 
a decided relief to see an honest blouse, or a 
woman in great clattering satots and handker- 
chief-coiffure go by, the gardener or workmen 
in their shirt-sleeves, whistling innocently, Zoe 



A JFRENCH- CO UNTR T HO USE. 237 

coquetry still hanging about her. She trips 
actively about, singing in a cracked voice, with 
much would-be childish vivacity. Her face is 
generally pleasant and good-humored, but we 
have reason to know that it can in a moment 
look quite otherwise ; and in the sprightly in- 
fantine voice there is a sharp intonation which 
may easily rise into a virago-like scream. Ho- 
norine, with the usual spirit of French servants, 
entered at one* and the same time into posses- 
sion of her new premises and a fierce war with 
madame, even before the latter had had time 
to do any thing wrong. We, however, take 
care to have no quarrel. 

But the most objectionable part of these 
people is the train of friends, or lodgers in 
their pension at Paris, male and female, low 
English or lawless French, which generally 
follows them, and for a short period quite 
spoils the sweetness of our summer retreat. 
Forthwith the lawn is taken possession of, and 
the lovely garden filled with boisterous talk 
and laughter. The gentlemen slink about 
with cigars, in straw hats and white linen 
coats and trowsejs — very cool and comfort- 
able, no doubt; their mode of whiling away the 
bright afternoon is stripping the cherry-trees 
without permission, and drinking brandy and 



388 TWENTY YEAB8 AOO. 

water. The ladies, with a bad Parisian air, 
more frequently English and American than 
French, in gay dresses, and with very little 
youth or beauty, saunter about under their 
fine parasols, sometimes sing, and mingle in 
noisy flirtation their bold shrill voices with 
the coarse, deep masculine tones. They have 
tried hard to make acquaintance with us, and, 
being constantly repulsed, now take their re- 
venge by staring at us and int<4 our rooms as 
they pass, repeating our names and talking of 
us as if we were wild animala At six o'clock 
they repair to their dinner au second^ or in the 
orangerie, a queer bit of building in the grounds, 
occasionally let to tenants; after which they 
return to the gardens, and sit on chairs on the 
lawn just under our windows, all jumbled to- 
gether, smoking and talking in the beautiful 
moonlight half the night, till, to our great joy, 
we hear a tumultuous interchange of "Bon- 
soir, mesdames," and six or seven loud En- 
glish good-nights, and they stream off their 
separate ways. 

After this deluge of doubtful gentility, it is 
a decided relief to see an honest blouse, or a 
woman in great clattering satots and handker- 
chief-coiffure go by, the gardener or workmen 
in their shirt-sleeves, whistling innocently. Zee 



A FRENCH COUNTRY HOUSE, 339 

i\Le jardinihe^ always busy, or our own nice, 
clean, quiet honne Honorine, in her pink cot- 
ton Sunday gown, stopping to give us some 
confidential asides. I feel then in congenial 
society. 

But I propose to describe a day in this 
French country house when it is in its normal 
and unexcited state, with only a few hcataires 
besides ourselves. We, the only family who 
t)bserve country hours, have just finished our 
eight o'clock breakfast in the large, sunny, un- 
furnished dining-room, and sit in the low, wide 
window-seat, watching the busy little world of 
Les Kosiers beginning its summer-day career. 
• The sun is shining over the south garden or 
/ court; on the broad gravel -walk before the 
house kittens and puppies are tumbling about 
in full play, lying in ambush behind the green 
box of the biggest orange-tree, or jumping up 
to the stone bench where Sibyl and I have 
taken up our work to enjoy the mignonnette- 
scented air and the brightness all round, and 
the gambols of dear little May under her 
nurse's care. The long row of stone buildings 
on one side begins with the gardener's cottage 
and ends in the basse cour^ where the poultry 
run, a square stone -walled tank, hidden in 
trees, the rose-acacia drooping over it its long 



240 TWENTY TEARS AGO, 

pink -blossomed boughs, and the porte-cochkre^ 
a great, high, wooden gate, fixed in two thick 
stone props, whose projections are hollowed 
out into dog-kennels, and studded with that 
mysterious assortment of bolts, beams, bars, 
and great clumsy locks that French mechan- 
ism delights in. Every thing is in disrepair, 
and betrays the tale of our proprietaire's diffi- 
culties. He is a rash, sanguine man, who, not 
content with his pension in Paris, chose five 
years ago to go and purchase this place, un- 
known to his shrewder wife, and to her great 
disgust absorb all the gains of that more pros- 
perous business in this unlucky bargain. 

There passes out to the kitchen-garden the 
meek little gardener's wife, with her small fig- 
ure and quiet, pensive faca She seems to con- 
cern herself with nothing but her duties, and 
to keep apart from the busy, tattling, quarrel- 
ling world around. Or again, with a great 
straw hat perched on the top of her wren-like 
figure, she is on a ladder gathering orange- 
blossoms for that odious traffic in orange- 
flower water that Madame Charlier delights 
in. Then there is the gardener in shirt- 
sleeves and bare feet, who cries to the sitters 
in the window, "Prenez garde de I'eau, mes- 
dames I je vais arroser les arbres !" and up 



A FRENCH COUNTRY MOUSE, 241 

goes one of two big pitchers, and down on a 
great orange -tree descends the splashing* cas- 
cade. Very pretty did these seventy orange- 
trees look, ranged round in their boxes, their 
bright leaves glittering with the sun and the 
dripping water. 

One by one, or in twos, the various lodgers 
appear and exchange good-humored bows or 
bonjours with each other ; but after that they 
pursue their occupations apart. The proprii- 
iaire is the first of all on foot, with his round, 
mustached face, and features insignificant to 
nullity, his thick neck, and characteristic walk, 
as of a man with much to do, beset with cares 
and perplexities, yet trying to aflfect the degagS 
air of a do-nothing gentleman. He holds con- 
ference with gardener or master-mason, whom 
he can not pay, or curiously counts his wall- 
fruit, his peaches and grapes secured in' great 
bags, to be sure that his various lodgers, to 
whom he is willing to sell them at something 
beyond the market price, have not secured 
them at a much cheaper rate. "Julie! tu as 
touchy mes p&hes !" is a frequent discourteous 
affirmation. And truly such an accident is 
not impossible, as one feels on beholding that 
giddy young couple who bound into the gar- 
den, Jules and Julie — cousins, I believe, though 

Q 



388 TWENTY TEAB8 AGO. 

water. The ladies, with a bad Parisian air, 
more frequently English and American than 
French, in gay dresses, and with very little 
youth or beauty, saunter about under their 
fine parasols, sometimes sing, and mingle in 
noisy flirtation their bold shrill voices with 
the coarse, deep masculine tones. They have 
tried hard to make acquaintance with us, and, 
being constantly repulsed, now take their re- 
venge by staring at us and int<4 our rooms as 
they pass, repeating our names and talking of 
us as if we were wild animala At six o'clock 
they repair to their dinner au second^ or in the 
orangerie^ a queer bit of building in the grounds, 
occasionally let to tenants; after which they 
return to the gardens, and sit on chairs on the 
lawn just under our windows, all jumbled to- 
gether, smoking and talking in the beautiful 
moonlight half the night, till, to our great joy, 
we hear a tumultuous interchange of "Bon- 
soir, mesdames," and six or- seven loud En- 
glish good-nights, and they stream off their 
separate ways. 

After this deluge of doubtful gentility, it is 
a decided relief to see an honest blouse, or a 
woman in great clattering satots and handker- 
chief-coiffure go by, the gardener or workmen 
in their shirt-sleeves, whistling innocently. Zee 



A FRENCH COUNTRY HOUSE, 339 

\he jardiniere^ always busy, or our own nice, 
clean, quiet honne Honorine, in her pink cot- 
ton Sunday gown, stopping to give us some 
confidential asides. I feel then in congenial 
society. 

But I propose to describe a day in this 
French country house when it is in its normal 
and unexcited state, with only a few hcataires 
besides ourselves. We, the only family who 
t)bserve country hours, have just finished our 
eight o'clock breakfast in the large, sunny, un- 
furnished dining-room, and sit in the low, wide 
window-seat, watching the busy little world of 
Les Rosiers beginning its summer-day career. 
• The sun is shining over the south garden or 
/ court; on the broad gravel -walk before the 
house kittens and puppies are tumbling about 
in full play, lying in ambush behind the green 
box of the biggest orange-tree, or jumping up 
to the stone bench where Sibyl and I have 
taken up our work to enjoy the mignonnette- 
scented air and the brightness all round, and 
the gambols of dear little May under her 
nurse's care. The long row of stone buildings 
on one side begins with the gardener's cottage 
and ends in the basse cour^ where the poultry 
run, a square stone -walled tank, hidden in 
trees, the rose-acacia drooping over it its long 



288 TWENTY TEAB8 AGO, 

water. The ladies, with a bad Parisian air, 
more frequently English and American than 
French, in gay dresses, and with very little 
youth or beauty, saunter about under their 
fine parasols, sometimes sing, and mingle in 
noisy flirtation their bold shrill voices with 
the coarse, deep masculine tones. They have 
tried hard to make acquaintance with us, and, 
being constantly repulsed, now take their re- 
venge by staring at us and int(j our rooms as 
they pass, repeating our names and talking of 
us as if we were wild animala At six o'clock 
they repair to their dinner au second^ or in the 
orangerie^ a queer bit of building in the grounds, 
occasionally let to tenants; after which they 
return to the gardens, and sit on chairs on the 
lawn just under our windows, all jumbled to- 
gether, smoking and talking in the beautiful 
moonlight half the night, till, to our great joy, 
we hear a tumultuous interchange of "Bon- 
soir, mesdames," and six or seven loud En- 
glish good-nights, and they stream off their 
separate ways. 

After this deluge of doubtful gentility, it is 
a decided relief to see an honest blouse, or a 
woman in great clattering satots and handker- 
chief-coiffure go by, the gardener or workmen 
in their shirt-sleeves, whistling innocently. Zee 



A FRENCH COUNTRY HOUSE. 339 

the yarc?^V^^ere, always busy, or our own nice, 
clean, quiet bonne Honorine, in her pink cot- 
ton Sunday gown, stopping to give us some 
confidential asides. I feel then in congenial 
society. 

But I propose to describe a day in this 
French country house when it is in its normal 
and unexcited state, with only a few locataires 
besides ourselves. We, the only family who 
t)bserve country hours, have just finished our 
eight o'clock breakfast in the large, sunny, un- 
furnished dining-room, and sit in the low, wide 
window-seat, watching the busy little world of 
Les Rosiers beginning its summer-day career. 
The sun is shining over the south garden or 
/ court; on the broad gravel -walk before the 
house kittens and puppies are tumbling about 
in full play, lying in ambush behind the green 
box of the biggest orange-tree, or jumping up 
to the stone bench where Sibyl and I have 
taken up our work to enjoy the mignonnette- 
scented air and the brightness all round, and 
the gambols of dear little May under her 
nurse's care. The long row of stone buildings 
on one side begins with the gardener's cottage 
and ends in the basse cour^ where the poultry 
run, a square stone -walled tank, hidden in 
trees, the rose-acacia drooping over it its long 



246 TWENTY YEARS AGO. 

plain to us ; I suggested that probably he had 
been waked from sleep. " Qu'est-ce que 9a me 
fait?" she said, scornfully; '4t's his business; 
il est pay^ pour cela." Hearing these words 
from the garden, the gardener broke in, bawl- 
ing from the distance with angry loquacity; 
and then these two French spitfires went on 
shooting out their abuse like discharges of ar- 
tillery, their words racing after each other as 
fast as they could go. We tried to moderate ; 
the gardener said, " It's a hard thing for a man 
who has worked all day to be called up when 
he has just gone to bed." 

" We have called you up sometimes, have 
we not?" said Sibyl, in her gentle tones. 

" Oh madame, pour vous et mademoiselle, 
volontiers ; mais pour une domestique — non !" 

He did not see the want of logic involved in 
the distinction ; and we let the affair go, wish- 
ing that Honorine were not one of those ex- 
cellent but dangerous servants who, serving 
us with zeal, take care that no one else shall 
do so. 

Presently M. Charlier saunters down to his 
present grand business — a construction, or new 
building, on the north side, at the end of one 
of the terrace- walks, which is to contain a sdUe- 
d-manger, a kitchen, and two bedrooms. Why 



A FRENCH COUNTRY EOUBE. 247 

he is doing this it is difficult to say, seeing that 
he can hardly let what he has, and is too poor 
to pay his workmen ; but I suppose the fever 
of building or the dream of speculation has 
seized him. The materials are furnished by 
the old crumbling stone wall which ran along 
the upper side of the terrace — a strange, slov- 
enly mode of building, and one can hardly fan- 
cy that a house made of these old stones, so 
roughly put together, will stand ; but that is 
his affair. 

The first part of the process — clearing the 
ground for the new building — presented a live- 
ly scen^. All the young population were at 
work, or rather at play, there — that is, doing 
the ouvriers' business for pure amusement. 
The three boys — and even the young Julie — 
were busy digging and shovelling spadefuls of 
earth into the wheelbarrow, which M. Charlier 
wheeled away. Soon the wall rose, the floor- 
ing was begun, and some of the beams were 
already fixed ; and here, amidst this skeleton 
frame-work, M. Charlier, in a gorgeous blue 
dressing - gown, generally took his station. 
Passing underneath, we see his feet solemnly 
depending over our heads from among the 
beams ; we look up, and behold his broad fig- 
ure perched there in profound silence and im- 



348 TWENTY YEARS AGO, , 

mobility ; and so it remains for half the day. 
One of the elder boys is generally there besi'de 
him, in the character of a deeply interested 
amateur. The planks cover the pathway, and 
intercept our progress down by the mossy stone 
steps to the prairie ; but the workmen are al- 
ways polite, and show us where to step, en- 
couraging us with a " VoiE, mademoiselle, un 
beau chemin : vous pouvez passer, vous sautez 
bien." 

One of the workmen is Hippolyte Langlois, 
the young handsome mason, of whom I shall 
have more to say, whose attentions seem so 
equally divided between our Honorine and the 
young, blooming, smiling honne of our friends 
in the village. It is true, he takes advantage 
of this close neighborhood to pay many a visit 
to our kitchen-window ; but then it is also true 
that, in the absence of her employers, the pret- 
ty Louise spends much of her time helping her 
friend Honorine. So it is still an open ques- 
tion which is preferred. 

But the life of Les Eosiers does not go on 
energetically under this increasing heat. It is 
one of those grave, burning days that march 
flamingly, relentlessly by, one after another, 
like a succession of Eastern tyrants, till life, 
soul, body, seem to expire under the weight 



A FRENCH COUNTMY HOUSE. 349 

of heat that each pitiless hour piles upon it. 
Our usually restless neighbors are quiet, most 
of them shut up during the burning weather in 
the orangerie like bottled wasps. How those 
builders can go on as they do, carrying long 
planks of newly-sawn wood, making their ham- 
mers ring on falling pieces of stone, shouting 
to each other every minute, " Leopold ! Mau- 
rice! Hippolytel" with their untiring labor, 
and still more untiring clatter of talk, is some- 
thing unfathomable. 

In the afternoon, as Sibyl arid I sat in the 
hall, seeking half a degree less heat, there pass- 
ed by, and looked in, the maitre'maq(m^ the 
father of the admired Hippolyte, a broad, 
rough-looking old fellow, in the usual shirt 
and blue trowsers, all splashed with lime and 
mortar. He stopped, gave the usual " bon- 
jour," and asked whether we would like to 
buy a "jolie propri^tS" that he had to sell. 
We made some civil reply, and he strode into 
the hall, seated himself on a chair by us, and, 
quite undisconcerted by his elementary cos- 
tume, entered into loud and voluble conversa- 
tion. The subject was a detailed and profuse 
eulogy of this house, to be had, with one " ar- 
pent de terre" and fifteen rooms, for three 
thousand francs. He invited us to come and 



250 TWAWTY YEARS AGO. 

see it on Sunday evening, praising every 
thing, and appealing to me at every turn with 
**N'est-ce pas, mademoiselle? vous I'avez vu ?" 
a broad grin on his great red face, as he re- 
peated the same words twenty times over, in- 
terspersing it all with "Vous aurez quelque 
chose de bien, allez ! Madame, je vous pro- 
mets une maison superbe. Je puis dire que 
vous aurez le corps de bStiment le plus joli du 
monde. Vous aurez tout ce que vous voudrez, 
et ga ne sera pas une grande coutance pour 
vous." He then went on enthusiastically to 
describe its perfections — its two pits and its 
cistern, where water never lacked— how sum- 
mer and winter a gardener close by would sup- 
ply us with vegetables — and ended by implor- 
ing us to go and see it " Mademoiselle Hono- 
rine ira avec vous, et vous montrera la maison 
— n'est-ce pas, mademoiselle ?" turning to her. 
He moved off to the Hall-door several times, 
but as often returned to repeat the same words ; 
and finally, on an inquiry of Sibyl's as to the 
progress of the " bStiments en bas," he answer- 
ed mysteriously, " Qa est commenc^ madame, 
mais 9a n'avance pas." And then, resuming 
his chair, but moving it confidentially closer, 
and lowering his voice to a whisper, he con- 
tinued, "M. Oharlier et moi, nous.ne sommea 



A FRENCH COUNTRY HOUSE. • 351 

pas d'accord. Je ne veux pas continuer de 
bStir k ce prix; il ne me paye pas assez, et 
nous sommes m^contents tons! II ne me 
donne que trois francs le jour — ^oui, madame, 
rien que cela ! et si je suis a la t^te de tons les 
ma§ons comme de raison, si j'ai k les trouver, 
les faire travailler, leur payer leurs gages, il 
me faut plus. J'attends k lui parler. Dites 
done," to Zo^*, who passed by, " M. Charlier, 
est-il en haut ou en bas ?" At last he fairly 
took his departure, to our considerable relief, 
and Honorine instantly assured us that she did 
not think the house would do at all, that all 
the repairs it would cost would certainly raise 
the rent, and she suggested our buying this 
place instead — a tempting vision to those 
whose hearts yearn after this quiet loveliness, 
and this land of many hopes and dreams. 

These republican manners (indeed this so- 
cial equality is the only trace of republican 
liberty left in France) do not displease us at 
all, for the people are always civil and respect- 
ful to us, simply* as ladies, not as people richer, 
or grander than themselves. 

At length the cool evening draws on, and is 
spent variously by our various parties. For 
myself, on going down to the prairie to seek 
for my. sister, I met M. and Madame Charlier 



252 TWENTY YEARS AGO. 

sauntering arm-in-arm : after years of quarrel- 
ling, they occasionally enact the part of lovers. 
They were both in high good-humor, especial- 
ly monsieur, who took me to task, and asked 
me why I did not run, and especially why I 
did not go and play with the young ladies at 
the orangeries, who, as they said, were very gen- 
ttlleSj and whose agreeable society would give 
me all thg spirits I wanted. I made some 
civil excuse, and observed of one of them — a 
young English girl — that I should not have 
thought her English, her air was so altogether 
French. 

"Ah ! to be French is what every one aims 
at," replied M. Charlier; and then, supposing 
me to share in this universal passion, he add- 
ed, "You, too, mademoiselle, might have a 
French air if you would ; but the way to ac- 
quire it is to have abandon, not to think of 
your dignity, but to associate with other young 
people ; that is to be French. For me, I amuse 
myself also with young persons and children. 
I run, I laugh with them. People say, *Ahl 
see that gentleman, he is mad ;' but I do not 
care." 

All this was said by himself, and acquiesced 
in by madame with such determined affability, 
and such bland facetiousness, that I replied, as 



A FRENCH COUNTRY HOUSE. 268 

well as I could, in the same vein, and, though 
I could not promise any great amendment, we 
parted good friends. 

Perhaps one- cause of this apparent harmo- 
ny in monsieur and madame is that their re- 
spective mothers are this evening come down. 
Honorine, who knows every thing about every- 
body, draws rather a "spicy" picture of these 
two ladies. Apparently, by a curious law of 
nature, the mother of our imperious, energetic 
landlady is a gentle, passive old body, who has 
never done any thing in her life, not even nee- 
dle-work, and who yields to every one ; while 
the mother of the meek, smooth-spokett hus- 
band is a most domineering dame, who sadly 
tyrannizes over the poor, mild old lady, her as- 
sumed superiority being founded on her great- 
er wealth. It seems that in her early days 
Madame Charlier the elder was very poor; 
that her husband, who had risen to a colonel's 
rank, was killed gallantly defending an unten- 
able position, for which, after his death, he was 
made a general, and his widow is at ease on her 
pension. She has one other son, who has mar- 
ried a millionnaire's daughter, with whom this 
mother-in-law is forever quarrelling, because 
she will live in the drudging style to which she 
in the days of her youth was accustomed. 



354 TWENTY TEAMS AGO. 

This grim old lady passed us, and certainly 
she resembles nothing so much as an old bull- 
terrier as she stumps by, short and puflfy, her 
features stiffened and screwed up, and her 
voice at its softest a growl. However, she 
was gracious to me, to whom she seems to 
have taken a fancy, and taking hold of my 
hair — long ringlets are an unspeakable mys- 
tery to the French mind — said in playful 
irony, "Dites-moi, ils sont tr^-commodes, ces 
grands boucles I" 

The other old lady we also made acquaint- 
ance with : as. we sat in our window, watching 
the games of the young people in the dim gar- 
den, there waddled up to us the " contrary of 
the terrier," as Sibyl characterized the good- 
humored one of the two mesdames mh'es, and, 
sitting down on the stone bench outside, en- 
tered into conversation with us. Apropos of 
some remark that I incidentally made, she lec- 
tured me, obviously with a purpose, on the 
propriety and advantage of being sociable in 
the country — how that young people ought to 
"courir,jouer, danser k la ronde" — how there 
ought to be no pride nor exclusiveness, but 
perfect equality — -how we ought not to consid- 
er whether our neighbors are richer or poorer 
than ourselves, but join in their amusements, 



A FRENCH COVNTBY HOUSE, 265 

and be all cheerful together — how, when she 
was young, she sang and danced, laughed and 
enjoyed herself. And, indeed, when I looked 
at her face, with features still beautiful at sev- 
enty-five, I can well imagine her youth, even 
amidst poverty, to have been gay and bright 
enough to fulfill a Frenchwoman's notion of 
happiness. Why the good lady does us the 
honor to hint, in apparent reference to us, at 
the pride of wealth, I do not know, unless our 
reserve, the fact of our being English, and our 
having taken both the rez-de-chaussee and the 
premier have given us that reputation. 

In spite of all these reasonable admonitions, 
we let a tumultuous game of cache-cache fill the 
dusky, shady garden without our help. For 
the most part, the two pale, grave young girls, 
Eulalie and Julie, wandered about with the 
little Jules, finding their own amusement in. a 
quiet way; perhaps seated with the good-na- 
tured homely old grandmother in the moon- 
light, on a bench, or crouching together like 
young birds in some shadowy corner. And 
there they remain, to roam the garden as long 
as they like, and go to bed as late as they 
please, wasting, in consequence, these beautiful 
summer mornings in bed till eight o'clock. 

As for the older ones, we find that on those 



266 TWENTY TEARS AGO, 

social occasions when the Paris pensionnodres 
are down here they retire to the billiard-house, 
and " m^nent," as a peasant expressed it, " une 
vie terrible." He, being up late in a prairie 
tending a sick cow, heard a "tapage furieux 
de messieurs et de dames," who all of them 
"smoked like dragoons," drank, and laughed 
till midnight. This being confided to Hono- 
rine as the proceedings of her maitres, drew 
from her an emphatic disclaimer of having 
any thing to do with that establishment. 

When all is quiet in our neighborhood we 
steal through the garden into the prairie, to 
gaze at the relics of the sunset, which still 
glows orange over the aqueduct, and bathes 
that end of the valley in a rain of gold light, 
the arches standing out from a sea of glowing 
vapor which makes them too look unreal. 
And then, as we stand on this meadow-slope, 
where there is always a cool fresh whisper of 
wind to revive us after the sultry heat, we see 
the lovely valley melting away through soft 
shades of grayness; and then, turning to re- 
ascend, we behold at the top before us, niched 
in the arch of two tall trees, one pure gold 
star. But wait, and we shall see the moon 
slowly rise behind the trees that border the 
field to the east, till she mounts over their 



A FUENCH country souse. 257 

tops, and throws silver fretwork across the 
gray slope, and turns the wall on the other 
side to a glittering wliite, when the aqueduct, 
as if newly created of snowy marble, starts 
up phantom-like from its basement of trees. 
Look to the vale, where the poplars, the red 
rock, and the houses make no longer a molten 
mass together, but slowly and softly detach 
their separate forms, and stand out in a new 
and delicate relief. And then, to enjoy this, 
we creep into our favorite, warm, still verdant 
nook, and ask each other if we wish to return 
to England. 

Once more, let us wind up with a look 
into the court, now all stillness, embalmed by 
orange fragrance, with the bright mpon look- 
ing through the great walnut-trees. We look 
at our house-front : there is our drawing-room 
lamp in the rez-de-cliaussee^ a shaded light in 
Sibyl's nursery on the premier^ another in one 
of the small rooms in the second, where Ma- 
dame L^onini and her sons dwell, and Hono- 
rine's candle, in her high tower-room behind 
and above ; these appear but as a few scatter- 
ed sparks amidst a general sleepy dusk. And 
so, as Les Eosiers seems to have fallen asleep, 
we will wish it a peaceful good-night. 

E 



258 TWENTY TEARS AGO. 



CHAPTER XII. 

A FRENCH VILLAGE. 

IN this village, which belonged to Les Eo- 
siers, or Les Eosiers to the village — which 
you will — we gradually became quite at home. 
At first our chief link of communieation was 
Honorine, who, with great spirit and corre- 
sponding success, has fitted herself for her posi- 
tion here, and is an invaluable help to us. An 
excellent servant, faultlessly punctual, of mem- 
ory never-failing, excellent alike at bargaining 
and cooking, quiet and regular in all her ways, 
there is no domestic like Honorine. Her sub- 
jects of interest are limited, but on those in 
which she knows her strength she is abundant- 
ly positive. Besides procuring us the good- 
will of many of these worthy villagers, she 
provokes occasional breezes with ofiicials, and 
even sometimes with ouTproprietaires; however, 
these serve to vary the monotony of existence. 
Like a true Parisian (though Picard-bom), 
she has great contempt for country manners 
and intelligence, especially for the specimens 
here. She complains of their way of talking, 



A FRENCH VILLAGE. 259 

which is certainly rugged and unintelligible, 
and says, " On a ici la gorge tr^s-forte." Apro- 
pos of a very neat green checked gown of 
hers that we were admiring, she told us that 
as she went into the village the people by the 
way laughed at. her, and told her it was a 
gown to go to the Carnival in. This we sup- 
posed was rather a compliment ; but she as- 
sured us that it was in allusion to the rags and 
tatters which at that time are carried about 
for sale, and that such allusions were always 
meant for insolence. She said she had mads 
no answer, for they would not have under- 
stood her, " tant ces gens du pays sont b^tes." 
She could have said, "C'est trop bon, monsieur, 
pour aller au Carnaval avec vous. Mais k 
quoi cela servirait-il ? They would only have 
replied with some new insolence." 

"It is," she added, "que les gens du pays 
n'aiment que les couleurs voyantes, les robes 
^carlates et tout ce qu'il y a de plus gai ; quant 
aux couleurs de Paris qui sont plus distin- 
gufe, ils les trouvent mesquines. Et c'est le 
m6me pour les figures, ils n'aiment pas les 
teints pSles, ils les admirent quand ils sont 
rouges comme les pavots." 

One day I found iu the kitchen a tall, very 
handsome man, dressed like a gentleman, evi- 



260 TWEHfTY TEARS AGO. 

dently intensely conscious of his attractions, 
talking in a mincing dovjcereux tone, and ap- 
parently bringing his Adonis-ship to aid in 
his bargaining. He came to propose selling 
us butter, represented himself as k proprieixiire^ 
and talked a great deal about his grounds, 
his horse, and himself. Honorine, who enter- 
tained a hearty contempt for him, took him 
off afterwards for our satisfaction, mimicked 
the niais air and soft, drawling tone of his ad- 
dress. "Bonjour, mademoiselle. Est-ce que 
madame veut du beurre ou autre chose 1 J'ai 
de bon beurre, d'ex-cel-lent beurre ;" and then, 
said Honorine, disdainfully, he went on about 
his "six arpents de terre, sa maison et son^jar- 
din, qui ^taient magnifiques." What did that 
signify? she said. " What was the good of so 
many words, when he only came to talk about 
himself?" I asked, was he a farmer? " No," 
she said, "il n'a achet^ une vache que pour 
s'amuser." She described his manneft as "bas- 
ses," his " fagon de parler grasse, comme s'il 
avait du beurre ou du bouillon dans la gorge ;" 
and, in spite of his " air pieux talk, as if he 
were saying his prayers," she pronounced him 
to have the look of an intrigant^ such as in 
Paris enter one's house on some pretext and 
carry off the spoons. 



A FRENCH VILLAGE. 261 

She was one day very indignant because M. 
Charlier had given to the concierge a message 
for us, which she, more delicate, did not like 
to deliver, viz., that we were to gather no more 
flowers, in spite of his first spontaneous prom- 
ise, but be content with two very common 
bouquets once a week. She declared this 
" trds-petit, tr^-plat — si c'^tait k moi, ce serait 
passable, mais donner de tels ordres ^ des 
dames et demoiselles, les traiter comme des 
enfants dans la rue — viol^ ce qu'ils sont, ces 
gens — c'est ce que je n'ai jamais su ailleurs." 

A slight difference one day took place with 
madame la propri^taire, on occasion of her send- 
ing some people, without any warning, to take 
away the piano from our drawing-room, a com- 
mission which the good-natured gardener and 
workmen executed very unwillingly. 'The 
postman was so interested that he stopped 
twice as he passed the window, to look in and 
repeat, " Quelle m^chancet^ !" I remonstrated 
a little, not very wisely, as she was perfectly 
"dans son droit;" but, behold I the tigress 
started up in a moment, the French claws 
were out like lightning, the eyes flashed fire, 
and the voice was raised to a perfect peacock's 
scream of angry self-justification. Seeing her 
in this excited state, I said little or nothing. 



^62 TWENTY YEAM8 AGO. 

and turned quietly away, she bawling after 
me, "Personne ne m'apprendra les usages!" 

All this was uttered on the stairs, and was 
audible all through ^the house, so unmanage- 
able was the lady's enthusiasm. Soon after, 
we heard her raging to her husband, her wrath 
being now turned on Honorine, who had ex- 
pressed her opinion the most decidedly of all, 
and who now heard her say, "Attends un peu, 
pendant que j 'arrange Honorine dans la cui- 
sine." The latter, like a true French game- 
hen, was not a bit dismayed by the prospect, 
but prepared herself, with great glee and spir- 
it, for an equal combat. Taking my sister 
aside, she rehearsed to her what she meant to 
say, with the most animated gestures and a 
perfect theatrical effect, waving her arms and 
throwing worlds of emphasis into her voice* 
The whole was in a style of polite and cutting 
irony, and wound up with a sharp hit in the 
way of allusion to her guests, with the words, 
" une maison si peu respectable." It was 
amusing to see Honorine, who is ordinarily a 
quiet and peaceable person enough, so trans- 
formed. However, the great fight did not 
come off; for madame had thought better of 
it, and in a few hours came to our window, the 
smiling, courteous little Frenchwoman once 



A FRENCH VILLAGE. 2C3 

more, to explain and apologize for what she 
called her " vivacity Franjaise." 

However, let us now pass out of the porie- 
cochhre^ and find ourselves in that little rude 
village street which makes up Les Eosiers. It 
is highly picturesque, as the cottages are most- 
ly crumbling and tumbling at every corner. 
They were almost all built from the ruins of 
the hunting chateaux which the noblesse in the 
olden days used to occupy here, and ^re of 
solid stone, roughly put together, with sloping 
thatched roofs, and crumbling stone steps out- 
side. Though low, they have a good deal of 
extent in the way of odd ins and outs, wings, 
gables, pent -houses, yards, and out -houses. 
The street ends in a little place, with the 
church on one side, the mairie on the other, a 
large stone reservoir, and the green gates of a 
maison bourgeoise, with its pretty garden, which 
holds a family who are to become, though as 
yet we know it not, valued friends — ^that of M. 
Gerard, a pasteur of. the Protestant Church in 
Paris. 

The church is a plain little old building, 
with a cock for vane. "Venite ad me om- 
nes" is written over the porch, and beside it 
are a stone Virgin and Child in a niche. The 
school-house joins on to it, and next that is a 



264 TWENTY TEARS AGO. 

little cabaret, with a bush and a small picture 
of a party drinking at a table over the door, 
and a China rose blooming between the win- 
dows, kept by the M6re Dubois. The mairie 
is the most imposing building in the village, 
but it is only a low cottage with a long white- 
washed front, defaced by various old ajffkhes 
half torn oflF, such as " Vente du Mobilier de 
Madame Veuve," " Adjudication d'une Maison 
Bourgeoise, Jardin et Cour," "Le Prefet aux 
habitants de Seine-et-Oise. On r^pand k Paris 
de fausses nouvelles sur I'^tat de la province ; 
on doit r^pandre en province de fausses nou- 
velles sur r^tat de Paris. L'^meute est siTppbi- 
MEE dans la capitale; toutes les nouvelles des 
D^partements sont excellentes." And again, 
fresh and conspicuous over all, "Louis Na- 
poleon, President de la Edpublique, au Peuple 
Frangais," and then that long address of De- 
cember 2. 

The one or two respectable houses of this 
homely little village rejoice in tiled roofs, 
whitewashed walls, and persiennes, have little 
gardens in front, with vines and sweet peas, a 
cherry-tree or so, and vegetables enough for 
themselves ; for there are none to be bought 
here. Of these hoiises is the curb's, with its 
gabled front and four small windows ; nothing 



A FRUNCH VILLAGE. 265 

can be plainer and poorer, but his garden is 
well tended, and I believe he is not poor. HiS 
sister has married the village tailor, and his 
niece makes our dresses. 

From the place a steep lane, embowered in 
wild roses, brings you down to the valley, to 
the somewhat large but still ipost rural village 
nestling in it, with the little cabaret whence 
starts the omnibus for Versailles, to the little 
stream creeping through, and the aqueduct on 
its smooth green ridge. At the other end of 
Les Eosiers you descend by apple orchards 
and sloping hay-fields, now fragrant with new- 
mown grass, to the same vale. Among the 
woods in the neighborhood are various farm- 
houses called bouillis, and inclosed by a wall. 
These in the time of Louis XIV. were all roy- 
al property, and occupied by the enfants de la 
couvj as they called the Due de Maine, etc., 
who were brought up there in seclusion, and 
fed, as was customary, on bouilli: hence the 
name. 

During the first part of our stay we received 
several visits for the day from Paris friends, 
but as summer went on almost all departed 
for foreign homes and distant tours ; and when 
the last went, I thought, "And we shall spend 
the next five months in one unchanged scene 



266 TWENTY YEARS AGO. 

of deep solitude, to behold the summer days 
Due after the other rise and set over these 
wooded heights and valley-meadows, to hear 
the same birds' voices in the same acacia-trees, 
to see the same long poplar-shadows in the 
field below, to see the same gold sunsets bathe 
the red rocks and the arches of the aqueduct, 
to have for our daily incidents the same regu- 
larly recurring tradesmen— the baker's - girl, 
M^lanie, bringing the croissants^ which we have 
taught them to make, at eight o'clock; the 
postman, in a blue blouse, passing the window 
at ten ; the boucher^ the jardinier, exchanging 
good-humored words with iis, and sometimes 
giving us a bouquet; to hear that regular 
school-bell which gives a few solemn strokes 
twice or thrice a day ; and to have, by way of 
variety, an occasional visit for the day from our 
proprietaires, wound up by sarcastic comments 
from Honorine on their behavior and alarms 
of new hcatairesr Yet such a life in so love- 
ly a spot, with an under-current of dream or a 
sun -touch of hope to gild its calm surface, 
might have much in it for the heart ; and so 
we found it. 

Never shall I forget those delicious sum- 
mer mornings when it was my wont to ram- 
ble out before breakfast to enjoy the few cool 



A FMENCH VILLAGE. 867 

• 

hours of the day. The known, familiar land- 
scape seemed then changed into a fresh-crea- 
ted paradise, bathed in its first gold dew, with 
its ethereal elements not yet quite resolved 
from a rich confusion of mist, lights, shadows, 
and pearly liquidness, into clear and separate 
form I I went down through the orchard and 
the prairie (I am describing but one of these 
many walks), out by a little gate that never 
shuts, half hid in thick hedges, into the corner 
of a small green lane leading out into the thrae 
roads to diflferent villages. I passed along, 
and took my way onward to a favorite knoll, 
on whose grassy top all was dewy sunshine 
and emerald shade, and under whose knot of 
tall birch-trees I gazed down on the whole 
valley. It slept below, pillowed on woods, 
with wreaths of bright, vague mist softly hang- 
ing over it, the aqueduct at one end shining 
boldly out, in the middle rich meadows, pop- 
lar-bounded, the big village looking only like 
a few houses pressed together in the centre of 
the valley, and a delicate dream of blue dis- 
tance between woods and rocks closing up the 
prospect. In the flood of pale translucent 
turquoise above, that slowly deepened into 
solid sapphire, the little snowy spot of moon 
still hung, but white and evanescent as a dy- 



'3» TWENTY TEARS AOO. 

iDg fiice ; there was a soft stir in the air like 
the poise of momiDg life. 

Bat soands are beginning to wake up 
around, like the tinkling of small bells, ring- 
ing the world back to life and business — ^the 
birds with laughing, whispering, screwing, or 
bubbling notes ; the creaking of cart-wheels, 
the whetting of scythes ; the voices here and 
there of the hay-makers, or of the women and 
children watching the cows, secured as usual 
by a string. These animals belong to differ- 
ent owners, and are generally stall-fed, though 
allowed for a few hours in the day to graze 
in the field of some richer proprietaire. I talk 
to their keepers (they have to be guarded, be- 
cause mostly there are no fences or hedges to 
French fields) and hear the praises of the beUes 
vacfws, and admire the gay groups of the 
younger ones that run about pursuing the 
more self-willed of the charges over the dewy, 
sunny prairie-slopes, while others sit in the 
shade eating their breakfast. Eosalie, a poor 
folle, kindly treated by all, who fancies she too 
is tending cows, is always to be found here, 
with wild looks and grotesque attire. As a 
proof of her /oZ^'e,. she wears a bonnet, actually 
the only one in the village : a strange, sun- 
burnt, shapeless thing it is. Kow she stands 



A FMENCff VILLAGE, 269 

and calls to me, triumphantly waving a thick 
leafy sapling-stem like a sceptre. 

It is pleasant, as one "takes one's walk 
abroad," to exchange friendly words with 
these peasantry. An old woman will discuss 
flowers with us, and talk of those which are 
most "distingufe," and how we remind her of 
an English lady who was alone in the pension 
last year, and spent all her time in solitary 
walks, searching for wild flowers. The old 
goat-herd, as I pass down the wide pastures 
and look at his two beautiful white goats, the 
only objects breaking those shining slopes, 
smiles and says, "Vous faites votre promenade 
de bonne heure, mademoiselle I" Even the 
pretty little boy, of four or five, who sleeps 
curled up under a hay-stack, opens his blue 
eyes with that sweet, doubtful smile which 
takes the heart captive, and warbles out, 
" Bonjour, madame !" 

On this occasion I explored a new way, and 
arrived at a certain cottage, a lonely, aban- 
doned, poetic cottage, which stands on its own 
knoll of green sward, in its own circle of trees, 
and among its own meadows, so charmingly 
situated, but so hopelessly forsaken, and to 
which there seems no possible access till one 
has found a,nd followed the scarcely visible 



270 TWENTY TEARS AQO. 

track upward, and come close to it. A light 
white garden-gate, left neglectedly open, and a 
green walk, lead to the cottage ; a superb wal- 
nut-tree and Spanish chestnut embower it ; a 
vine grows on one of the walls, its neglected 
grapes fast ripening. Closed windows, barred 
doors, grass-grown court, a blank look, and 
signs of growing disrepair, speak of the sixteen 
years it has been left thus. It stands so close 
on the brow of the hill it looks as if a touch 
would push it down into the vale, whose beau- 
tiful secrets it seems leaning over to behold. 

In a hollow below I once saw a girl tending 
two cows — the nymph of the solitude. I ac- 
' costed her* She had a sweet little piquante 
face, with the usual grave, plaintive expression 
of young womanhood here ; her large brown- 
black eyes were full of grave, latent passion, 
like the eyes of a mulatto ; but her voice had 
a clear, young music in it, and her replies were 
cheerful. She was fourteen years old; her 
name, Louise Mouly; she was servant to M. 
Deschamps, a farmer at Les Hosiers, and kept 
his two cows here from early morn till night- 
fall, her mistress assisting her to tend them in 
the morning, and to drive them in at dusk. 
Adieu, then, Louise Mouly ; pursue, as yet, in 
innocent solitude, your life of pastoral duty; 



A FRENCH VILLAOR 271 

some day your cows will be left to stray, 
while those eyes of still flame talk with other 
eyes. 

But the sun grows high and hot, and I re- 
turn home up the hill through a hay-field, and 
by a narrow, romantic, red, stony path, hidden 
under the great branching arms of some most 
noble marronniers (horse-chestnuts). There, 
again, led now by the old man's wife through 
clustering honeysuckles, are the white goat 
and its beautiful snowy kid, that leaps over 
the young shrubs and butts at its mother. I 
admire it much, and the old woman concludes 
that there were no goats in England. The 
good old man (of ninety) apologizes for not 
hearing quite well. 

As I approached the hamlet I remembered 
that I wanted some poppies to complete a 
bouquet of wild flowers I was painting; and 
seeing some in a corn-field just above the road, 
I entered it, and made two steps into the wheat 
to secure my spoil. Sudcienly a voice called 
'* Mademoiselle !" and up started, as it seemed 
from the ground, a white-bearded, stooping old 
peasant, who told me that I must not walk in 
the corn, that it did a great deal of harm, that 
the proprieiaire would be very angry, etc. I 
made all sorts of apologies, pointed out that I 



272 TWENTY TEARS AGO. 

had done no damage, and went my way. In 
our own grounds I found the workmen, con- 
versing in some excitement about something 
or other, and soon learned that the subject of 
discourse was that the garde • champStre had 
caught mademoiselle in the corn, and was 
about to make a proch-verbal about it, and 
have her fined. We consulted M. Charlier, 
and found, to our surprise, that, instead of be- 
ing a mere extortion, the whole proceeding 
was perfectly justifiable by law. The garde- 
champitre is a sort of public oflEicer, as much 
so, he said, as a gendarme^ paid by the com- 
munity to guard all their fields ; that a single 
step off the path is a trespass, which the garde 
is bound to report ; and that it is at the own- 
er's choice to exact what sum he thinks prop- 
er, or "faire dresser un proofs-verbal" — that 
is, lodge a complaint at the Cour de la Justice, 
and summon the offender to stand his trial. 
Though a suit might have been very amusing, 
especially if one Ijad appeared one's self, in- 
stead of paying an avocat, yet, as it was not 
quite worth the trouble and expense, I con- 
sented to pay the amende, M. Charlier prom- 
ised to persuade the injured owner to be mod- 
erate in his demand, and in due time the garde- 
champetre appeared with a dirty bit of paper. 



A FRENCH VILLAGE, 273 

on which M, B^dard had made an ill- spelt 
statement that I owed him fifty sous. 

No doubt the excessive rigor with which 
property is guarded in France has its justifica- 
tion. The land is uninclosed, and the majori- 
ty of proprietors ^e poor, depending wholly 
on those few acres for their subsistence, so that 
injury is very easily done, and would be se- 
verely felt. It is against law even to step off 
the public path to gather a flower at all in a 
field; to pluck a single ear subjects one to 
a two-francs fine. So it seems I was quite 
"dans mon tort." The same penalties await 
the walking in a hay-field before it is mown ; 
if, after it is mown, the owner means to get a 
second crop off it, he sticks up a bundle of 
straw and a piece of wood in one corner. If 
this warning is unseen or disregarded, the in- 
evitable garde-champ^ire^ and the fine or the 
proc^-verbalj follow. 

This incident seemed a pleasing excitement 
in our small world. M. Charlier, who, I think, 
enjoyed it the most, praised the liberality of 
the man in not insisting on the proch-verhal, 
and told us some little stories of his own suf- 
ferings by the law — how that once he had a 
horse who got loose from the servant, and ate 
some grass by the side of the path, which, 



274 TWENTY YEARS AGO. . 

however, as M. Charlier saw, it, did not ouce 
leave, yet, threatened with a proch, he paid at 
once five francs to escape it. Also, how that 
one day driving to Versailles he bought a lit- 
tle pig by the way, put it for convenience into 
his carriage, and drove on into the town. 
Thereupon a clamor arose, his carriage was 
surrounded, and the octroi duty demanded for 
the little grunter; he refused to pay, was 
charged with attempting to cheat the law, his 
carriage and horse were seized, and he had to 
walk home, and pay finally double the price 
of his pig. 

Having told these cheerful stories, he wound 
up by adding, with his oiliest smile — ^probably 
by way of revenge for the two or three roses 
we have taken from his garden — " Vous voyez, 
mademoiselle, ce que c'est que de cueillir ctes 
fleurs — les coquelicots content cher — hein?" 
and then he laughed playfully. 

So I, with* my noble Anglican spirit, said 
" I did not imagine people would be so hard 
on a demoiselle who did not know the law, and 
had done no mischief. A Frangaise would not 
be treated so in England ;" whereat he laugh- 
ed still more. 

Next morning, as I returned from my usual 
walk, the gardener cheerfully accosted me 



A FRENCH VILLAGE. 275 

with " Eh bien, mademoiselle, vous ^tiez done 
attrapp^e hier — n'est-ce pas ?" 

The cur6, who called soon after, treated the 
affair as a mere extortion, and said the man 
was a vieux ivrogne^ who only wanted some- 
thing to drink — "voil^!" The thing is also 
condemned in the village on a chivalrous 
point of view, and a message was sent to me 
by one of its inhabitants, that he was very 
sorry I had been so treated, " pour le credit de 
la France," and that he hoped I would come 
and gather as many flowfers from his garden 
as I liked. 

This resulted in a visit from Sibyl and me 
to the peasant-proprietor, who is quite a great 
man in his way, and is no other than M. Lan- 
glois, the master-mason, whom M. Charlier em- 
ploys. The visit was originated by Honorine, 
who accompanied us; she delights in being 
associated with our doings, and is always ea- 
ger to take us about and introduce us to her 
friends. The house is a solid, picturesque 
stone cottage, whose entrance and exterior 
would be considered shabby in England, 
though the proprietors are rich and have 
taken pains to make themselves comfortable ; 
but good building, at least good finishing off, 
seems a thing unknown in French country- 



278 TWENTY TEAMS AGO. 

life. We entered through a low dark door, 
by a passage darker still, then through a low, 
large empty room where cider is made, and 
emerged into a good-sized garden 'at the back, 
with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and nice flow- 
ers, and a beautiful view over the valley. 

Madame told us with pride that it was kept 
up entirely by her son, who, as he worked 
with his father on M. Charlier's grounds, had 
only an hour or two in the early morning or 
the late evening to devote to it The young 
man presently appei^red, and blushed his mod- 
est pleasure at our praise of his labors, though 
only venturing now and then to join with a 
word or two in the conversation. He is about 
twenty years old, tall and slight, and has a 
charming face, with something of the sweet- 
ness and modesty of a girl's expression, a fem- 
inine gentleness of manner, and withal so 
good, true, and simple a look, that one can not 
imagine any thing but innocence in the soul 
within. I have not unfrequently met this 
type among the peasant-boys here, a delicate, 
almost Eaffaelesque beauty of feature, with an 
equally beautiful expression. 

The good woman then showed us over all 
her premises; her husband bought the place 
sixteen years ago, and they made it, garden 






A FRENCH VILLAGE 277 

and al], entirely themselves. ' When I asked 
her if she was fond of it, she said that to her 
there was no such place in the world I They 
have, besides, six arpents de terre^ consisting of 
a meadow whence they get hay, and which 
is full of fine old apple-trees, used for cider. 
This they sell in large quantities, and make a 
great profit by ; it is the only article of their 
produce that they sell. She insisted on our 
tasting her cider, which is very goo^ 

After this we went into the yard, inspecting 
the nice clean greniers^ fragrant with hay, and 
full of the great wooden vessels, pails, and bar- 
rels used for cider-making and other purposes. 
Then we went to the cow-house, and admired 
a very beautiful creature, cream-colored, some- 
thing like an Alderney, but large and vigor- 
ous. It was stall-fed, as is the custom here, 
being turned out only for an hour or twp in 
the day. All these concerns — garden, cider- 
press, cow, and farm -yard — are managed by 
the indefatigable son, who winds up his. day 
with the accounts. The drawing-room (never 
used) and the best bedroom were also shown 
us ; these were furnished as in the houses of 
the gentry, especially the latter, which was in 
fact the real sitting-room. 

We parted with many mutual politenesses, 



278 TW£:iTY TEARS AGO. 

and much pleasure ou our parts at this glimpse 
of a character unknown in England — the 
peasant -proprietor, completely a peasant, yet 
wealthy, possessed of all the comforts consist- 
ent with his social position, and not aspiring to 
more. The good woman herself was dressed 
like the hmnbl^i paysanne ; the handkerchief 
coiffure^ the loose body quite untrimmed, the 
short bed-gown petticoat, blue stockings, and 
coarse shogs — all of the plainest cut and tex- 
ture, and all, though not unbecoming to youth, 
bloom, and a light figure, seemingly made to 
show off the advances of age. 

One day we performed a very necessary but 
rather rare expedition ; we went shopping to 
Versailles. We took the omnibus to go there, 
and returned walking in the cool of the even- 
ing. We went down to the Bon Coin Al- 
lardjs, the little cabaret at the bottom of the 
lane, to await the small yellow omnibus which, 
announced by its horn as it came winding 
along the shady road from Montbrun, rattled 
up to the cabaret, with its crimson curtain 
and its one gray horse, and its good-humored, 
good-looking, stammering conducteur. There 
stepped in with us another party, who quickly 
attracted our notice. It consisted of an elder- 
ly gentleman and a pretty, graceful girl of sev- 



A FRENCH VILLAGE. 279 

enteen, evidently his daughter. Sibyl talked 
with the father, I with the young girl, who 
strongly took my fancy. How charming she 
was in her fresh youth, the fair face and its 
happy, serene smile, the neat girlish toilet, of 
which the fancy -straw bonnet, coquettishly 
lined with pink, set off her. clear colorless com- 
plexion, and the bouquet of flowers she held 
in her hand. I began admiring it, which at- 
tention she took very prettily, and said, smil- 
ing, she should tell her Paris friends, to whom 
she was bringing it, " qu'on avait admir6 son 
bouquet." Among her roses was a York arid 
Lancaster rose, of which I told her the English 
name, and, presuming on a natural ignorance 
of our history, was explaining its origin, when 
she at once rejoined, "Oui, la guerre des 
Koses." So I guessed, and accurately, too, 
that she had been well brought up by careful 
and intelligent parents. 

Sibyl meanwhile had discovered that these 
were our neighbors in the place, the G^rards, 
and that they meant to call on us. The fa- 
ther, an earnest and conscientious man, and 
liberal theologian, was, as I have said, a Prot- 
estant clergyman of Paris. Though the little 
house here belonged to them, and they come 
to it for the summer, so much of their time 



280 TWENTY YEABB AGO. 

was spent in Paris that our intercourse with 
them proved fitful and irregular, though al- 
ways pleasant. 

We entered Versailles, stopped at the Ave- 
nue de la Mairie, and spent two hours shop- 
ping in the Eue Satory. It is a great, unat- 
tractive place, this Versailles, with its wide, 
hard, stony, and sandy thoroughfares, mostly 
at faultless right angles with each other; its 
glare of white buildings, in which long dull 
barracks predominate; its want of life, of well- 
dressed people, and carriages — this aspect of 
straight uniformity being but little relieved by 
the formal avenues of trees which intersect it. 
The whole looks like a military town provided 
with shops only for the use of the garrison. 
There is not in the whole place an object of 
interest that I can discover, except the Cha- 
teau and the Trianon. It strikes one, too, 
how very few people there are in a town built 
for 30,000 inhabitants ; all looks dull and 
empty and fine. Finally we leave it by the 
Eue Chantier, a long, rough, ill-paved, detest- 
able street, where one sees nothing but detach- 
ed magasins of the least engaging sort — re- 
mises, stables, timber-yards, marchandise de vin, 
de tahac, etc. — with constant gaps filled by 
mere waste places. 



A FMENCH VILLAGE, 281 

But, once past th^Barri^re, we soon find our- 
selves in the forest- way home, which consists 
of a pleasant walk of forty minutes through 
the Bois de Gouarts, with shade above us all 
the way — long vistas before and on each side 
of the wider wood-walks cut like green ribbons 
through the trees. At first we avoided the 
temptation of those narrow paths, that seem 
stealing secretly away to some green paradise 
that they alone know of; but now that we 
have metered the geography of this wood, we 
fearlessly follow them, diving up and down' 
between banks of fern, moss, and heath, with 
many an aromatic dry wood -scent, golden- 
broken bits of sunshine, and islands of the li- 
lac-blushing west at intervals. Besides, if we 
became bewildered, there was, to reassure and 
direct us, the ^fitoile — ^a great open grassy cir- 
cle in the middle of the forest, from which di- 
verge ten green roads like spokes of a wheel, 
with the obelisk-like guide-post in the middle, 
covered all round with the names of Buc, Bou- 
lie, Monteuil, etc. And all the way the black- 
caps sang out deliciously, as if proud to have 
the woods to themselves, with no real nightin- 
gales to moct their imitation, or as if minded 
to make their last songs their best. And the 
cuckoo, whose pertinacious voice is heard ev- 



28S TWE2fTY YJCABS AGO. 

QTj day through rain and shine, who began the 
first, and has survived the nightingale and all 
the brief passionate joys of spring, unchanged 
amidst all these changes, goes on with those 
two passionless notes of his that seem repeat- 
ing " Life is very weary." But patience, poor 
dull cuckoo! another year, and better times 
will come yet. 



FRIENDS AND FETES, 288 



CHAPTEE XIII. 

FRIENDS AND FETES. 

THE Gdrards paid their promised visit, and 
thus began an acquaintance which was to 
become a happy friendship. The young Lu- 
cile accompanied her father on the first call, 
and, with her bright face looking out from the 
large straw hat and its blue ribbons, resembled 
(I must use French words to describe a French 
girl) a petite rose des huissons haignee de rosie. 
She had charming manners, not at all shy, and 
full of vivacity, but fresh and natural as possi- 
ble, and marked by a modest grace. Her eyes 
and mouth talked in smiles, and her fresh 
young voice joined to them the music of lively 
words. She brought me a pretty bouquet, be- 
cause I had admired the one she had with her 
in the omnibus. She looked like one secure 
of a happy future, giving as much to hope as 
she can spare from a sunny present. 

From this time our intercourse became fre- 
quent and easy ; we drank tea at each other's 
houses, and made acquaintance with an elder 
married daughter, who was less of a graceful 



284 TWENTY TEAMS AGO, 

vision than Lucile, but had plenty of character 
and brain. In one of our visits I learned that 
M. Gerard had an ardent desire for his daugh- 
ter to learn English, and had promised her a 
visit to England when she could speak and 
understand it tolerably. I gladly offered my 
services as instructress, and was accepted ; but 
he doubted her fulfilling the conditions: "EUe 
6tait trop nigaude." 

" EUe en a bien Fair," said Sibyl, laughing 
and looking at her ; she confirmed her father's 
statement in words, while her speaking face 
and beaming eyes laughed an animated con- 
tradiction. 

From this time forth for many weeks it was 
an almost daily pleasure to see the tall, elegant, 
girlish form come in at three o'clock through 
the south garden, in her white* muslin jacket, 
her pretty hat on her head or in her hand, 
then enter the drawing-room and stand grace- 
ful and womanly while she did the first cere- 
monial salutations, being always carefully po- 
lite, like a true Franqaise. Then I put up 
my painting materials, put on my hat, and we 
wandered out to our favorite resort at the top 
of the prairie. Here we sat under the great 
walnut-tree, and did our lesson most conscien- 
tiously, Lucile pleasantly distorting her pretty 



FRIENDS AND FETES, . 285 

little mouth in the painful task of repeating 
our harsh verbs. My system was of a very 
easy, accommodating sort ; instead of crushing 
my pupil at the outset with grammar, syntax, 
and exercises, I took a light, conversational 
book, made her read first in English as a 
conversation-lesson, then translate it word by 
word into French; then I questioned about 
the words in each sentence, and when she 
went home, with the help of a dictionary she 
wrote out the whole lesson in French, and 
brought it to me the next day to correct. My 
method answered so far that the parents as- 
sured me Lucile would never have got on so 
well with any one else. I was, indeed, pleased 
with her progress. "But wait," I thought; 
" this is but the outset, and we are in the 
country, and there are no f^tes, no dances, to 
disturb her mind; we must not be too san- 
guine." 

We were very conscientious, as I said, in 
doing our lessons, but that left plenty of time 
to talk, and plenty of talk accordingly we had ; 
my sister often joined us, and we made a mer- 
ry trio, spending the time in playful quarrels, 
long discussions, curious inquiries about man- 
ners and customs, and a good deal of innocent 
village commerage. On all these subjects Lu- 



286 TWENTY TEAMS A&O, 

cile talked with bright intelligence ; she was, I 
found, by no means fenced in with that passive 
infantine ignorance generally imposed on de- 
moiselles of her age. She was, however, very 
carefully shielded from harm, her reading 
strictly supervised, her society limited and 
selected, and, indeed, her whole talking and 
thinking was pure as a stream running over 
pebbles. 

Sometimes Lucile was pleasantly rallied on 
various youthful qualities ; once, when she was 
rq^ding to us from Dumas's " M^moires," the 
following sentence occurred: "Je soupgonne 
fort la curieuse de dix-sept ans d'avoir col\6 
son visage blond et rose centre la porte pour 
entendre la conversation." Sibyl maliciously 
interposed, "Take notice, mademoiselle — la 
curieuse de dix-sept ans." 

" D'abord, madame," she answered, with vi- 
vacity, "j'ai 'honneur de vous avertir que 
j'avais" hier dix-huit ans, et puis — ^mais oui, je 
suis un peu curieuse, U faut Tavouer." 

Sometimes I rallied Lucile on her idleness, 
my pleasantries being, as may be supposed, of 
the most soft and stingless description; but 
she would defend herself smartly, and appeal 
from n^e to madame, the moderator and medi- 
ator, who, as she said, was always anxious that 



FMIENDS AND FETES. 387 

no one should be hurt, and took care to inter- 
pret every thing in her favor. Dear little Lu- 
cilel who in good earnest could hurt her? 
But certainly Sibyl came nearer to the aimahle 
French type than I, who must have presented 
a great contrast to that same type, in the true 
English girl that I then was, with the timidity 
often carried to gaucherie, the anxious self-con- 
sciousness, the abrupt sincerity and wild tastes, 
the whole earnest, sometimes harsh, sometimes 
interesting individuality. Lucile, with all her 
artless sweetness, had in her the germ of the 
charming finished woman of the world. 

After all, I had not been more severe on her 
than I had .upon one to whom, during these 
village f^tes, our attention had been directed, 
as one of the best and steadiest, as well as the 
handsomest, young men of the place — Hip- 
polyte Langlois, now at work both at the G6- 
rards' and our house. She told me how one 
day she and her sister, with a great parade of 
application, took their chairs and their books 
and work out on the lawn, but after an hour 
or so*s apparent studiousness all they got by it 
was that this young ouvrieT called out in an 
innocent manner to his fellow- workmen, "Dites 
done, Maurice, n'est-ce pas une belle chose que 
la faineantise bien pratiquee?" 



288 TWENTY TEARS AGO. 

Just now this young village wit is, as I said, 
an object of interest to us, on account of the 
f(§tes which are beginning at Les Rosiers, and 
of which"^ our respective bonnes^ Honorine and 
Louise, are the most distinguished ornamenta* 
We sympathize warmly with their dresses and 
their successes, and, like grave and experi- 
enced chaperonnes^ discuss the characters and 
fortunes of their admirers. 

The fSte, for which all the world is now pre- 
paring, is that of St. Eustache, the patron saint 
of our little church, and is the most important 
in the year except the F6te-Dieu, which took 
place in June. There will be a grande messe 
in the morning, with a ball in the evening; 
our proprietaires have invited a number of 
people for that week, and the dignity of the 
church proceedings will be enhanced by the 
presence of the Archbishop of Chalcedoine — 
in what partibus infidelium situated my geog- 
raphy books do not inform me, but I conclude 
Asia Minor — who is come to stay with M. 
le Curd 

The said cur^ called one afternoon, his ob- 
ject' being to borrow a crimson cushion for use 
in the church of monseigneur the archbishop. 
The prelate is a Smyrniote by birth, and has 
a negro servant whom he bought in the slave- 



FRIENDS AND FETES. 989 

market of Smyrna, and whose face is marked 
with three scars, inflicted by his mother at his 
birth, which, it seems, is the fashion of the boys 
of the tribe to which he belonged. The cur^ 
is a meek little man, whose relations are among 
the peasantry of the village, his niece having 
married the village tailor. We see his small, 
straight, black figure from time to time steal- 
ing along our garden walks, through the 
trees, and sometimes into the house, with the 
stealthy quietness of his class. The gliding, 
black-robed form looks strange to us Protest- 
ants ; but I perfectly acquit this peaceable lit- 
tle priest of any designs towards our conver- 
sion or destruction. The Sunday before the 
f<§te we had a business visit from M. le Bedeau 
(beadle), M. le Maire, and M. le Tailleur. Their 
object was to collect a new black coat for the 
beadle — not before it is wanted, as I can testi- 
fy. He came humbly in a blouse, and there- 
fore did not present the petition himself, that 
being appropriately done by the tailor. 

But our chief interest at present is about the 
toilet of our Honorine for the evening dance, 
which is a grand event in her quiet, contented, 
hard-working life. And here we can not help 
noticing that a change has gradually been 
coming over her. In spite of her Parisian 

T 



290 TWENTY TEARS AGO. 

scorn for the paysans^ there is one blouse 
whom I had early noticed as more frequently 
than the others passing our drawing-room to 
the kitchen on errands that seem to me some- 
what frivolous, who stays longer, at parting 
repeats more often, and in softer tones, the 
" Bonjour, mademoiselle " — a blouse whom, in 
short, as Sibyl expresses it, she has found too 
blue for her peace. The symptoms are, she 
now wears constantly her best dress, and that 
lace cap, with its coquette ribbons, for which 
she paid six francs; and sometimes, like us, 
she has a tea-rose in her band, when, her day's 
work done, she wanders about the garden with 
the white kitten in her arms. Also I meet 
her on the stairs, too deeply preoccupied to 
see me, moving without her usual buoyant ac- 
tivity ; and when I rally her on her " air s^- 
rieux," she can only repeat, hurriedly, " Mais, 
mademoiselle ; je pensais." I connect all this 
with the secret excitement, veiled in laughter, 
with which she told me of " deux messieurs " 
in the village who had engaged her as a part- 
ner for this f(§te a month beforehand. The 
person whom I suspect is of course Hippolyte 
Langlois, the peasant-proprietor's son : at any 
rate, he is always the person meant when she 
speaks casually of " un jeune monsieur," and 



FRIENDS AND FETES. 291 

is certainly a legitimate object of attraction. 
It is proudly told of him that at the conscrip- 
tion three years ago he was drawn, and bought 
off at the unusally high sum of one thousand 
three hundred francs, on account of his supe- 
rior physical qualifications; this shows, too, 
his value to his family. 

Well, we questioned Honorine about her toi- 
let, and found she had nothing but an old, 
faded, pink cotton gown, and was too econom- 
ical to buy another. So we have done our 
best to make her helle^ by buying a very pret- 
ty gay blue print, that looks like muslin, and 
gives her great satisfaction ; and the curb's 
niece is set to work at once to make it up. 
Likewise I gave her a commission to Versailles 
to* get herself small additional items ; she is so 
grateful and easily satisfied that it is a pleas- 
ure to help her. 

The great day of the f<§te began, unfortu- 
nately, with pouring rain, much, I fear, to the 
detriment of the chateau arrangements {we are 
the chateau, I should observe). These, how- 
ever, have gone on with great bustle and ener- 
gy all the day ; servants, gardeners, workmen, 
pass our windows every moment, carrying 
down the materials for a grand dinner in the 
billiard -house on the second terrace, where, 



20e TWESTT TEARS AGO. 

fortunatelj for uSj the rerels are to be held. 
First, oar great dining-table is borrowed ; then 
the UDJostlj seized piano is hauled down 
through the soaking rain, and a confusion of 
French voices raised to their highest pitch. 
From time to time carriages drive in, and dis- 
charge ladies in gay dresses, prepared for a 
holiday in the country. M. and Madame 
Charlier, en grande tenue, equal to the occasion, 
and apparently in the highest spirits, pass to 
and fro, and civilly ask us to join their party 
at tea, which we civilly decline, having a bet- 
ter fete in view — that of the villagers in the 
Place. 

The village, too, is getting on with its prepa- 
rations for the grande messe and the f(Ste. The 
former was preceded by a procession of chil- 
dren, the first sign of which was in the garden- 
er's cottage, which, I should mention, has now 
new occupants, as our musical and choleric 
friend has been dismissed, and a good old 
couple with a pretty little son and daughter 
installed instead. I looked in, and found the 
mother putting the last touches to little Au- 
gustine's toilet, as she was to join the proces- 
sion. The white garland which was to crown 
her was hanging up ; I tried it on for a mo- 
ment, which produced a burst of delighted 



FRIENDS AND FETES. 293 

laughter from all present, even the gardener 
joining, as they declared "Mademoiselle va 
se marierl" and explained that it was a bridal 
wreath. The gardener's wife showed me her 
own bridal bouquet of white flowers, and 
wreath of orange -buds, kept under a glass 
case, and said, "Quand Augustine se mariera, 
si le bon Dieu le permette, elle portera une 
couronne et un bouquet comme 9a." Then 
she began with great animation telling me 
about village weddings : the/^fes des noces last 
two days ; dancing is kept up till four o'clock 
in the morning. She promised to inform me 
when next a wedding takes place, that we 
may see it. 

Meanwhile, Augustine's toilet was finished ; 
and very pretty the little thing looked, in her 
fresh white frock of cambric muslin, with her 
smooth golden-brown hair wreathed with white 
flowers, and her little feet in tiny gray boots. 
She held in her hand a basket of roses, whicli 
her mother was showing her how to fling, as 
she would have to do ; and she, first a little 
pale with timidity, then blushing as we looked 
at her and praised her dress, flew off like a 
little bird to the church. I staid a moment 
to finish the chat with the jardini^re^ Augus- 
tine having joined the party, as well, as the 



2W TWENTY TEARS AGO. 

little boy Alexandre, in his blouse, still pret- 
tier than his sister, who listened with evident 
enjoyment to the conversation. They were all 
at full laughing and screaming pitch ; the jar- 
dinih^e, honest woman ! has a particularly good- 
humored unmusical cackle. 

I followed to the church with Honorine, and 
found the village preparing for the great event 
— that is to say, suspending clean sheets on a 
line by wooden pegs, just as if it were wash- 
ing-day, all along the street. Some of the 
sheets had a rose or a bunch of sweet peas 
stuck into the middle of them, but that was 
all. 

We found the little church gayer and pret- 
tier than we had expected, with flowers, pic- 
tures, candles, and crucifixes, and the little 
girls in white seated in order. There stood 
the cur^ at. the altar, in his chasuble of crim- 
son brocade, with a great gold cross down his 
*back ; and the Archbishop of Chalcedoine sat 
beside the altar, in his cope of purple watered 
silk, with his face darkened by Southern suns, 
his gleaming good-humored eyes, his portly 
figure, and a fine diamond ring. And there 
was the hedeau in the new coat to which we 
had contributed our mite. 

There was chanting of the howling descrip- 



FRIENDS AND^ FETES. 295 

tion, a short prdne, and the usual ceremonies, 
done more gorgeously in Paris churches, the 
young choristers, in red and white costume, 
chanting, flinging the censer, ringing the bell, 
bearing tapers, which it was pretty to see the 
little ones trying in vain to hold upright. At 
last the procession moved forth, three priests 
carrying the Host, whose crimson canopies 
were decked at each corner with paper cut to 
look like plumes, the priests' dresses looking 
like bedroom curtains cut up into copes and 
stoles, and their faces certainly not ideal. A 
man in black and white yobes, and spectacles, 
performed the chanting in fearful wise. Then 
followed the twelve white -robed little girls, 
throwing flowers, and I observed little Augus- 
tine looking first carefully at the others, to see 
how they did it. At one or two stations, or 
reposoirs as they are jcalled, the train stopped 
and knelt, the white muslins taking care not 
to spoil their freshness, and only pretending to 
kneel. 

At two o'clock came the ceremony of carry- 
ing round the gdieau, made of pain benit A 
separate one is carried to each house ; but, as 
it is merely looked at and paid for, it is, I sup- 
pose, only a way of raising contributions for 
the Church. The office of carrying round the 



396 TWENTY YEAJtS AGO. 

cake is eagerly sought for by the young men, 
who make a great deal of amusement out of it. 
This time the cake, which, in consideration of 
our religious scruples, was not blessed before 
it was brought to us, was carried by the young 
mason in full dress, blushing a great deal, and 
Honorine of course stood by us, conscious and 
interested. 

At half.past eight in the evening Honorine 
went to her f(§te, accompanied, at her request, 
by us. We could not persuade her to go ear- 
lier, as she was determined to finish all her 
work for us, and get our tea ready first She 
wore her gay blue print, in all its first gloss 
and freshness, with short hanging sleeves and 
lace cuffs, a nice steel brooch, yellow silk 
gloves, a handkerchief which I perfumed for 
her witb eau-de-cologne, neat gray brodequins, 
and her dark hair beautifully done, with its 
plaited coils behind and its smooth braids in 
front. We eyed her all over, and agreed that 
the right effect had been produced. She look- 
ed fresh and well-dressed without being fine, 
and her pleased, modest looks were in keep- 
ing. Her personal attractions, besides, are 
youth, health, a fresh complexion, and anima- 
ted eyes. 

So we set out for the place where the tent 



FlUENDa AND FETES. 297 

had been put up. The ground was laid with 
planks, benches were set all round, lamps hung 
from the ceiling, and some thirty people col- 
lected and dancing quadrilles — ^the only dance 
practiced by French country people — 'to very 
lively airs from a double-bass, cornet-jt-piston, 
and violin. 

The young mason, who seemed to act as 
steward, met us at the entrance ; he was dress- 
ed like a gentleman, and so did not look quite 
so well as in his blue blouse. He spoke to 
Honorine, his long -engaged partner, but her 
lateness caused him to be engaged with sev- 
eral others already. We found our way to a 
bench, and for some time she had to sit still 
with us ; I was in pain for her, lest the only 
two partners she had secured should fail her, 
and all her nice toilet and her happy isxpecta- 
tions come to nothing. In time she too began 
to look a little anxious, as the dance grew gay- 
er and more strenuous, and more people drop- 
ped in, but no partner appeared. 

In the mean while, I must confess, the dan- 
cing was more lively than elegant, the usual 
step being a galop, with various attitudes and 
additions not recognized in salons, and some- 
times breaking into a decided romp. The 
women were generally neat, though not pretty 



298 TWENTY YEARS AGO, 

(even the good-looking ones here so soon grew 
hard - favored) ; some were in flounced clear 
muslin with sashes, but most in light-colored 
indienne and percaline. They were generally 
very quiet : a few, who made themselves con- 
spicuous, came, I was told, from Paris and Ver- 
sailles. The men danced with their hats on 
(lest in that mixed assemblage there might be 
some unscrupulous characters), in good time, 
executing their steps very carefully, and with 
great energy, but with an entire absence of 
lightness and grace. They rushed, stamped, 
kicked, and figured about till the effect was 
perfectly grotesque. 

At last, to my joy, the long quadrille Was 
ended; there was a rest. Another began to 
form, and then the tall young Hippolyte ap- 
proaches, takes off* his hat, makes a low bow, 
and murmurs a few words with the respectful 
empressement of French gallantry. He offers 
his arm ; Honorine is too shy or too pleased 
to say any thing ; but she blushes and smiles, 
and is led off, looking modestly happy. And 
now I am at leisure to notice the rest, and chat 
over balls in general, and this in particular, 
with the thre^ Gerard ladies, who have just 
come in. 

Among the spectators was the archbishop's 



FMIENDS^ AND FETES. 299 

negro servant, whom the old women of the 
village facetiously called M. le Blanc ; he stood 
up tall, conspicuously black, and even more 
conspicuously ugly. He was very much at 
his ease, talking and playing the fine gentle- 
man. They offered to introduce him to a 
damsel in want of a partner, but he answered 
magnificently, " Soyez tranquilles ; je ne veux 
pas danser," and continued his discourse. Then 
there was a demi'monsieur^ as Lucile with much 
disapprobation pronounced him,mustached and 
bearded, with a gold chain, full of airs, and 
dancing disagreeably — probably a Paris com- 
mis-marchand. M. le Tailleur was there, tall 
and large, in a gray wide-awake, and gray coat 
and trowsers, as his manner is, dancing very 
joyously, and a great deal with his pretty lit- 
tle wife. I watched to see how Honorine per- 
formed, and soon recognized her, looking all 
modest, natural reserve, dancing quietly and 
well, and no way conspicuous, save for good 
behavior. I was amused, in the intervals of 
the dances, to see the young men whispering 
and flirting, and admiring their partner's bou- 
quets, just as they do in salons. But the pret- 
tiest sight was that of half a dozen children, 
Augustine among them, in the white frocks of 
the morning, and their pretty little caps, dan- 



300 TWENTY YEARS AGO, 

cing in the glee of their heart spontaneous 
dances invented by themselves. 

Mademoiselle Lucile has, as she owns, the 
true French passion for dancing. She was 
never regularly taught till last winter, though 
her sister and she had learned the polka step 
merely from seeing it once danced by bears on 
the stage. I complimented her on the distin- 
guished grace she must have acquired from 
\iQT professeur^ M. TOurs. She has not yet been 
to any balls, and indeed at seventeen there is 
time before her. 

We went away when the room grew hot, 
and the dancing furious. Honorine returned 
at two o'clock, after an evening of much suc- 
cess, having danced four times with the youDg 
mason, besides having promised two others for 
the next evening, which was to close the fSte. 
She highly disapproved of the manners of the 
town importations, and said she never went 
to 'public balls at Paris because of these mau- 
vaises habitudes^ which there could not be es- 
caped from. 

Some time after the f6te of St. Eustache, 
Honorine told us of a hal de noces that was to 
take place in the village. The occasion was 
the marriage of Mndemoiselle Allard, daughter 
to tfie auhergiste of L'fitoile du Nord, to an ar- 



FMIENDS AND FBTE8, 801 

chitect of Paris. The bride, who has delighted 
Honorine and Louise with a special invitation, 
is a pretty girl of eighteen ; she has had many 
offers, but prefers this one, and has made, we 
are told, a regular love-match, that wonder and 
joy of all French female hearts. Now came 
a toilet anxiety; at a wedding ••ball it is cfe 
rigueuT for a demoiselle to wear white muslin. 
Honorine is too good a Frenchwoman to think 
of violating the convenances; but she has no 
white muslin dress, and no time to buy and 
make up one. I consulted Mademoiselle G^ 
rard, and resolved to do what she proposed for 
Louise — to lend a muslin skirt for the occa- 
sion. Never was offer 4nore welcome, or more 
gratefully accepted, Honorine explaining, with 
true French tact, that the invitation was a com- 
pliment to us^ as they scarcely knew her, and 
she wished to do us credit on the occasion. 

But, alas ! next day came a letter summon- 
ing Honorine to her dying mother in Picardy. 
It was dictated by the poor woman, and was 
as follows : 

" Ma chbre Fillb, — ^Je te souhaite le bon- 
jour et en m6me temps pour m'informer de ta 
sant^. Quant k moi, il faut me lever k deux 
et me coucher £t deux ; voil^ quinze jours que 



302 TWENTY TEARS AGO. 

cela m'a pris. Ma pauvre fiUe, je suis dans 
une triste position. Ma pauvre Honorine, si 
tu voulais venir me voir avant de mourir, cela 
me ferait un plaisir sensible, surtout, ma pau- 
vre fille, je voudrais te voir avant de mourir, 
car je suis dans une triste position. Bien h. 
te dire pour le moment que des compliments ; 
surtout, ma fille, viens, je t'en supplie. 

"Josephine Eosier." 

So here ended poor Honorine's expected 
fSte ; she went off tearful but quiet, thinking 
of us, and arranging things for us, even amidst 
the hurry of her departure. Lucile candidly 
wished that the letter tad come a day later, 
that the poor girl might have had her ball 
first, especially as Louise, unless she can get 
some other companion, will not go. French- 
women of all classes are, it appears, exceeding- 
ly particular about proper chaperonage. 

On coming in from a walk we were invited 
by Madame Allard to step in and see the wed- 
ding dinner and the bride. The latter was 
seated at a little table apart, with the bride- 
groom, his friend, and her demoiselle cChonneur, 
while at the large table they were singing 
songs. She looked pretty in her bridal dress, 
as well as extremely frightened. 



FRIENDS AND FETES. 303 

Honorine came back in a day or two in 
mourning, for her mother was dead. She was 
mucH subdued, and had lost all vivacity of 
manner, but she set to work in her usual in- 
defatigable way* 

The first subject in our present world in 
which she began to express again some inter- 
est was poor Z^lie, who had been to me always 
an interesting and touching, though rather un- 
known, personage. She was the wife of the 
ex-gardener, who, having acquired a general 
character for drinking, incurring debts, quar- 
relling, and giving offense, had been dismissed; 
but, as they had for the present no situation, 
M. Charlier allowed them to inhabit the little 
unused building, called the manege^ at the bot- 
tom of the prairie. Most of the young women 
about here have a melancholy, suffering ex- 
pression, but Z^lie's is that of despondency. 
She is a small, delicate figure, with a pale- 
brown face; always at work, always quiet, 
keeping to herself, smiling gently with that 
meek, sad face when spoken to, and answering 
in a sweet, low voice, very unlike the usual 
tones of her class, and' especially those of her 
boisterous husband. When first I saw her I 
thought she was one whose lot in life had 
been blighted, and Honorine says that she was 



dM TWENTY TEAMS AGO. 

forced five years ago to marry this man, and 
had never been happy since. 

I asked if she had loved another ; Hon6rine 
did not know, but thought it likely, because 
she had once heard her say, " It's a great mis- 
fortune to love, because sometimes one does 
not marry the person one loves, but picks up 
somebody one does not love — and then one 
is mxil marieey She looks older than she is, 
"A cause," says Honorine, "de ses chagrins." 
Heaven forgive me ! but when the other day 
her husband fell from the cherry-tree and lay 
a moment stunned on the ground, though she 
ran up and stood gravely and silently looking 
at him, it did cross my mind — ^I knew not why 
— ^that it would not be her worst misfortune if 
that fall set her free from her wedded state, and 
that perhaps she thought so too. Anyhow, 
her conduct is irreproachable ; she lives only 
for her duties, and one never catches " un mot 
plus haut qu'un autre." 

Poor thing ! she has no children to console 
her ; instead of which she takes great care of 
the animals, who are her constant society. The 
other day, seeing the door of the cottage where 
they then lived open, and no one visible, I 
looked in ; it was so beautifully clean, so still, 
empty, and peaceful, with the large fire-place. 



FRIENDS AND FETES, 805 

the neat curtained bed, the clean brick floor, 
the few tables and chairs so well arranged. 
As I stood admiring, a voice asked me if I 
wanted any thing, and there, at the window 
behind the door, sat Z^ie working, and there 
probably she had been working for hours, in 
the only enjoyment which her weary body and 
spirit seemed to seek — rest and calm. 

Z^ie's sad story dwelt in my mind, and I 
went to visit her in her wretched quarters — ^the 
manige. This building consisted of a square 
stone tower, very ruinous, of which the ground- 
floor was a large, dreary, dark room, earthen- 
floored, with naked stone walls, and a few 
arched grated holes for windowa Here once 
was the windlass which, turned by a horse, 
conveyed the water from a tank close by up 
to the house, but now the over-toiled horse 
was dead, and a woman fetched it. 

I began to ascend the dark, steep, narrow, 
broken stairs, to which there seemed no end, 
without coming to any thing, till, from the very- 
top, I heard Z^lie's voice. She welcomed me 
to the shabby loft, turned by her neat arrange- 
ment of their furniture into a bedroom ; but 
she said that it was very triste all alone there, 
that she heard the wind all night, and that it 
made her head ache. Her husband is much 

U 



S06 TWENTY YEARS AGO. 

given to staying out all night, and so she is 
left to the solitude of her own sad thoughts, 
which, unoccupied as she is now, must be ter- 
rible. I invited her to come up and sit with 
Honorine in the evening, and, seeing a pretty 
book on the table, which she said had been 
lent her by the young Julie, I determined to 
add to her store. She said she was extremely 
fond of reading, and had plenty of time for it 
now. There was not the least complaining in 
her manner ; she seemed to like the visit, and 
thanked me much. 

To vary to a livelier subject — there was 
soon another wedding in the village, which, of 
course, Honorine begged us to come and see 
with her. It was that of a young man named 
Brou, son to our porteuse cCeau, whose sister 
has married the village tailor, nephew to the 
cur^; the bride is Een^e, nursery-maid in a 
bourgeois family of Montbrun, with, as it hap- 
pened, no connections at all, being an enfant 
trouvee, whose parents had never been discover- 
ed. It was not a grand affair, and there were 
to be no noces — that is to say, no dinner and 
ball. 

On arriving at the little Place, we found 
that the wedding party were inside the mairte, 
getting through the previous civil marriage; 



FMLEND8 AND FETES. 807 

we waited therefore at the door. There was 
a long delay at the mairie^ owing to difficulty 
in finding papers, the usual preliminary for- 
mula — which makes the civil marriage in Par- 
is a very short affair — not having been gone 
through. This was owing, not only to provin- 
cial awkwardness, but to difficulties made by 
the father, who disliked the match, and would 
now do nothing to help it — all out of pure me- 
chanceie, it was said. 

The young man came out and ran off to fetch 
some paper or other. " Voyez! il pleure," said 
Honorine : " c'est parce que son pfere a fait des 
difficult^s ; ce mariage ne s'arrangera pas vite." 
He was a gentle, quiet, rather timid-looking 
young man, with smooth straight black hair, a 
black coat, and a red rose at his button-hole. 
We criticised the color of his coat ; the Char- 
liers' maid -servant, who had joined us, a fat, 
fair, vicious -looking young creature, shutting 
one eye languishingly, and munching some- 
thing, after her invariable custom, gave her 
vote peremptorily for black, as the most distin- 
gue. I liked the young man's appearance, but 
it seems he is in some disrepute, having re- 
fused to pay a wager of five francs which he 
had lost to another young man of the village 
on the subject of his marriage — a " vrai scan- 



808 TWENTY YEARS AGO. 

dale," as Honorine remarked. The wager 
took place at the f(§te of St Eustache, whither 
Een^e the bride had come, and there first made 
acquaintance with young Brou. 

At last the bridal cortege began. to assemble. 
The bridegroom's two sisters, round - faced 
country maidens, blooming and smiling, saucy 
and coquettish, in white jaconet, blue sashes, 
and lace caps, appeared, carrying a banner 
with a pictured Virgin upon it; this was for 
the bride. Then came the bedeau, in grande 
ienuel the new black coat, gay cane, cocked 
hat, great steel chain, gold ear-rings embellish- 
ing a face of most grotesque ugliness. He car- 
ried a banner, inscribed **St Eustache." The 
saucy maidens teased him incessantly, criticis- 
ing every thing he did, and mocking at him 
unniercifully, he opposing to them a face and 
manner so ridiculously angry as must have 
much encouraged them to go on. They chief- 
ly abused the way he carried his banner, man- 
aging their own with active rustic grace, and 
looking very piquantes in their scornful liveli- 
ness and confidence. 

And now the wedding party was under way 
— bride and bridegroom hand -in -hand with 
lifted arms, he taking tender care of the bride's 
veil. She was in a white robe, with a long 



FRIENDS AND FETES. 309 

white veil and wreath of orange-buds, but, oh 
grief I she was old for a Frenchwoman — that 
is to say, twenty -five, plain and homely, with a 
thick figure, a broad face, red, not blushing, 
trying to get up an air of becoming bashful- 
ness, and looking all the worse for her tight 
finery. The bride and bridegroom knelt at 
the altar before two great tapers; the rest of 
tlie party sat round. There was the gray- 
haired maire; one of the sisters, as demoiselle 
dChonneur; and, curiously enough, the bride- 
groom's father and mother, who have long 
been separated, now met, but sat apart. I 
knew the father at once by his face and bear- 
ing; he sat, at the farther end, not in the circle 
round the altar, never once looking at the bri- 
dal pair, with a hard, surly, contemptuous face, 
that never changed nor smiled. His wife, a 
good, hard-working creature, told us once that 
he had mange all they had, and driven her out- 
of doors by force of his J^es, which had beg- 
gared his family. The bride wept much ; the 
bridegroom also was moved; the gay sisters 
kept on, even there, persecuting the unfortu- 
nate hedeau in a sly way — for example, when 
he was folding up the canopy which he had 
held over the heads of the pair, which they 
evidently thought he was doing very badly. 



310 TWENTY YEARS AGO. 

The service was wonderfully long aud dull, 
though the marriage ceremony itself was short; 
the priest addressed them as monsieur and 
mademoiselle, the ring was given and put on, 
and, after nearly two hours' endurance, they 
went into the sacristie to finish there, and we 
took our departure. 

I had wished the bridegroom a fairer and 
more winning lady-love, but the history Hono- 
rine gave afterwards took off from his attrac- 
tiona It seems thair, besides refusing to pay 
his wager, he had still more exasperated the 
same young man by having " dit de gros pro- 
pos au sujet de Mademoiselle Louise" (the G^- 
rards' bonne)^ whom he had sneered at as a cook : 
" chose ridicule," says Honorine, with much es- 
prit de corps, "when all the world knows that 
a cuisini^re is much more distingu^e than a 
bonne d'enfants, as Een^e had been." 

Moreover, he had even had the bad taste 
to ridicule Julie's personal appearance, on ac- 
count of her embonpoint — and this the other 
young man could not stand. So young Brou 
was kicked, knocked down, struck on the face, 
which latter was so oMme that he was obliged 
to keep his bed two days; and all this hap- 
pened six days before the wedding, and in the 
Place before all the world, so that pritre, maire. 



FRIENDS AND FETES. 311 

and garde-champitre had to interpose and sepa- 
rate the combatants. The victor would have 
gone to prison but for his superior position 
and character, which influenced people in his 
favor. 

" It seems," said I, with a wonderful flash of 
sagacity, " that this young man is a lover of 
Mademoiselle Louise's." 

" Justement, mademoiselle; c'est son amou- 
reux." 

"Qui est-il done?" was the next demand. 

Honorine laughed, colored excessively, and 
would only reply, "C'est un jeune homme du 
village." 

" You will not tell me his name ; but I shall 
soon learn it." 

"C'est possible," she said, laughing and col- 
oring still more ; and no doubt was left on my 
mind that the champion was the young village 
hero, Hippolyte Langlois. I should not have 
expected such fiery elans from that gentle,- 
smiling face; but where there is so much 
brightness and honesty, spirit can not be want- 
ing. I suspect young Brou's spite to have 
been the fruit of a rejection by the fair Louise. 
The young men are of the same trade, but 
while Langlois works here under his father, 
the master-mason, Brou works for some one 



312 TWENTY TEARS AGO. 

at Versailles. A beateo bridegroom is not an 
imposing figure, and certainly the young man 
looked as if conscious of humiliation. 

" Did you remark," said Honorine, present- 
ly, **how pale M. le Cur^ was? C'est que lui 
aussi, il a ^t^ frapp^; un autre jeune homme, 
de Montbrun, a dit des b^tises sur cette de- 
moiselle (la marine) et, ce qui est pis, sur ses 
metres. Alois M. le Cur^ lui a fait une bonne 
remontrance ; mais, au lieu de se soumettre, il 
a pris M. le Cur^ par le devant de sa soutane 
et Ta pouss^ dans I'estomac. Some think," 
continued Honorine, whose bias is evidently 
against the bridegroom, the cure^ and their set, 
"that it does not become a priest to mix in 
quarrels, that his only business is in the church 
or the house; for me, I know nothing of it, 
but I find it very ill-mannered to strike a priest 
like that." Poor little M. le Cur^ ! No doubt 
his personal appearance and his humble con- 
nections do not inspire much respect, but I am 
sorry he should be beaten. 

There is to-night a little dance at the M^re 
du Bois, but wind and rain deter us, nor is 
Honorine eager to go, seeing that the young 
mason will not be there. I told her plainly 
who I suspected the nameless young man to 
be, and she acknowledged it very gayly. 



FBJDENDS AND FETES. 813 

"So then he is Louise's admirer? But, 
Honorine, I thought he was a little yours ?" 

"Oh non, mademoiselle, il ne Test pas; je 
n'ai jamais eu cette pretention — et que voulez- 
vous? Mademoiselle Louise a ^t^ ici deux 
ans, et ce n'est pas pour moi, la derni^re- venue, 
de lui enlever ses bons amis." 

" Mais quelquefois, 9a arrive sans que Ton 
s'en doute." 

" Oui, mademoiselle, s'il m'aime, je ne puis 
pas Pemp&jher, mais je ne ferais rien pour le 
detacher d'elle." 

All this conversation was evidently highly 
pleasing to the girl, so that I remained a little 
in doubt as to how matters really stood. I 
confess my reason rather resisted the idea that 
Honorine had carried it against the much pret- 
tier and younger Louise. 

Enough for the present of village gossip. I 
must return a little to Sibyl and myself. 



314 TWENTY YEARS AGO, 



CHAPTER XIV. 

AUTUMN DAYS. 

WE came, as I have ^id, to this summer 
nest of Les Rosiers, expecting and in- 
tending to find our life very retired, and to de- 
pend on our own resources. For, besides that 
society, there was next to none around us, and 
we were not rich enough to entertain, except 
in very moderate degree. The Paris world, at 
least our Paris world, was generally flown, to 
the Pyrenees, to England, to Switzerland — in 
a hundred different directions. 

At first, however, especially when Horace 
was with us — and a great comfort and aid was 
the presence of that good, grave man to us — 
our quiet weeks were broken every now and 
then by a guest for the day or the night ; and 
I, for my part, was very happy. Alone or 
with visitors, every day of that new life was 
to me like a page of a novel, traced by sum- 
mer sunbeams on a green ground, and I won- 
dered that Sibyl did not seem to feel as I did. 
She who had cared so moderately for Paris 
gayeties, who I knew so dearly loved fresh air 



AUTUMN DATS. 315 

and trees and flowers, why did she seem — not 
exactly unhappy, but a little triste and dis- 
traite? 

Our most frequent guests for the first month 
or two were M. ilmile, who, as a near connec- 
tion, had a kind of right to come, but whose 
military duties necessarily left large intervals 
between his visits ; and another, a very differ- 
ent person, the handsome Marquis de Cl^ri- 
mont, whom I mentioned as an acquaintance 
out of the Faubourg St. Germain. In Paris 
our intercourse had been very slight, but it 
turned out that he had a chateau some ten 
miles off, and used consequently to ride over 
to us every now and then on some pretext or 
other. 

I confess ;6mile's visits were much more in- 
teresting to me, whatever they were to Sibyl. 
It was with agreeable expectation that I used, 
from the great walnut-tree at the top of the 
prairie, to look out for him entering by the 
little gate in the wall, and quickly ascending 
through the orchard to our breezy seat. He 
brought with him a thousand piquant sensa- 
tions : fresh from the world we had forsaken, 
and from the strenuous and vivid interests of 
a larger and more busy life, he yet threw him- 
self intensely into our innocent country do-^ 



816 TWENTY TEARS AGO. 

ings. Our custom was to loiter through the 
hot bright hours in the garden, under the 
shade of the lime and catalpas, we making use 
of him to gather the forbidden roses and jessa- 
mines, which he, a privileged favorite, dared 
do, without rebuke. Or we rested in the large, 
airy drawing-room, wh^n Sibyl would some- 
times sing and play, and I paint flowers, and 
our guest talk all manner of talk, literary, 
philosophic, political ; or simply poetic, friend- 
ly, and tender. He had a wonderful store of 
tales drawn from real life, from his own or 
other people's adventures, mostly, I am bound 
to say, of a tragic description, especially those 
relating to love. He was a strange character ; 
manly as he was, one could talk to him as if 
he were a sister. No one made more day- 
dreams out of the flowers and sunshine and 
songs of the birds than he; and he entered 
into all our little fancies and feelings as no 
Englishman, unless he were a professed poet 
or a very young, dreaming, soft-hearted man, 
could do. When the day grew cool our long 
rambles began, in the prairies, through the 
woods, by the stream in the valleys, and our 
sittings on our favorite birch-crowned knoll 
from gold sunset to gray twilight. Or we 
wandered through the corn-fields, and he gath- 



AUTUMN DAYS. 817 

ered the flowers, inhaled with delight the odor 
of the neighboring pine-groves, and recalled 
the days of his childhood. 

Then we returned to a late tea, and after 
that found ourselves again in, the orange-per- 
fumed gardeti, under the moonlight, strolling 
through walks and bowers of alternate light 
and shade, till, perhaps, it was too late for him 
to catch the night train back, and he had to 
put up with a little room on the second^ if he 
could get it, or a bed at the " fitoile du Nord." 

There was in one respect a change. M. 
ilmile talked a great deal more to me in par- 
ticular. Whether it was that he found Sibyl 
inaccessible, I do not know, but she certainly 
seemed to avoid him ; at any rate, she devoted 
herself mostly to her little May, and left him 
quite contentedly to me. 

In consequence of this, I suppose, I never 
found him so engaging as now. He talks 
more seriously and confidentially to me than 
he used to do; it is true he also somewhat 
patronizes me, and will laughingly call me en- 
fant in all the condescending scorn of his six 
or seven more years. I feel him justified, for 
there is a grave manliness of air and tone of 
thought growing upon him, owing, no doubt, 
to increased professional responsibility. He 



818 TWEJiTY TEARS AGO, 

has lately risen — by force of necessity, it 
seems, not favor — to a somewhat higher, at 
any rate a more active and anxious, official po- 
sition ; and the habit of command has certain- 
ly come upon him. 

Besides patronizing, he also lectures me ; we 
are by no means always on silk and velvet 
terms ; our weapons of national and personal 
warfare are sometimes sufficiently sharp, and 
I hear dignified reprimands of my English rai- 
deur and prejudice, and hints that, from my 
pride and obstinacy, had I been then in heav- 
en I should certainly have been one of the an- 
gels who fell. Nor is the habitual mild and 
quiet manner quite invariable ; he will some- 
times abuse the emperor, and even his own 
nation, in language of military fervor, and 
then beg pardon for his energy, and own that, 
though he says such things himself, he should 
not like to hear them from a foreigner. 

In spite of these occasional vivacities, how- 
ever, his habitual bearing is that of a grave, 
though subdued, sadness, far more decided than 
ever it used to be, which is accounted for by 
the state of his country — regarding it, as he 
does, as that of final and hopeless degradation 
— and of his own professional prospects. Lov- 
ing his profession as he does, he continues to 



AUTUMN DATS. 819 

setve ; but he looks forward to no promotion, 
he says, nor does he regret it ; the second of 
December had closed his personal and polit- 
ical future. Few careers, he observed once, 
destined to so early and complete a close, had 
opened more promisingly. While still quite 
young, he had accepted a commission which 
isolated him for two years in a lonely mount- 
ain district, making fortifications — a work of 
some novelty and difficulty, the bestowal of 
which on him had been no slight compliment, 
and which it was expected would be followed 
by distinction and rapid promotion ; but he 
had professional enemies, who had taken ad- 
vantage of his two years' absence to do him 
mischief; I suppose the weapon made use of 
was the Eepublicanism which the young mUi' 
taire had always frankly avowed. 

In spite of his dash of melancholy, however, 
his visits were to me the great pleasure of our 
country life, the chief drawback being their 
uncertainty, and the frequent prolonged ' ab- 
sence caused by his military duties, and his 
extreme dislike to ask favors of a superior, 
who would very likely refuse merely for the 
pleasure of refusing. 

Another drawback, to me at least, were the 
visits of the handsome marquis. Their motive 



820 TWENTY TEAB8 AGO. 

was quite obvious : the attraction, began in the 
soirees of the Faubourg St. Germain, had deep- 
ened, and the determined lady-killer was do- 
ing his best to captivate my sister. My prej- 
udice against him was such that, knowing his 
reputation, and always finding something false 
and hollow in his soft tones and sweet, sad 
smiles, I could hardly give him credit for sin- 
cerity in his suit to Sibyl, or at any rate for 
even a purpose of constancy. But I am bound 
to say he acted earnestness in a way that might 
deceive any one; I thought, too, that Sibyl 
was attracted, interested, even touched. In 
her slight delicate way she even encouraged 
him ; in fact, I began, with infinite dismay, to 
surmise that she would in time love him. HoW 
could this be ? He was in no way worthy of 
her, rank and prestige apart : though his con- 
versation had a certain sparkle and charm, his 
understanding was certainly narrow arid shal- 
low ; and as to his heart, I was very sure that 
he had none. 

I said to myself that I could not have be- 
lieved it of Sibyl. I knew her susceptibility 
to personal charms, grace of manner, and pol- 
ished and witty conversation ; nor was a brill- 
iant social position indifferent to her, though 
she was the most disinterested person in the 



AUTUMN DATS, 381 

world. But all this puzzled me. I longed to 
hint a remonstrance, but was fairly afraid of 
doing it; nor was I certain that I understood 
Sibyl, or read her aright. For with all her 
artless, almost child-like, frankness on some 
points, there were others *on which her reti- 
cence was complete; and love and lovers, as 
personal to herself, were among these. 

It was most of all annoying when the mar- 
quis and ;6mile happened to make their vis- 
its together. These two men were obviously 
quite unsuitable, and did not like each other. 
The marquis — the cr&me de la crime of aristoc- 
racy, whose very slight Bourbonism had ac- 
commodated itself to the present state of things, 
with his calm, high-born pride and self-com- 
placence, his elegant epicurism and Lucretian 
sangfroid — and ifimile, the flower of young 
Eepublicanism, ideally enthusiastic, with his 
dreams of devotion to cause and country, his 
bitter scorn of those who lived for " inglorious 
ease," and the something heroic which lay sup- 
pressed, but to be divined, in him — were cer- 
tainly not the men to bScome friends. Not to 
mention that two Frenchmen, in the society of 
ladies whom each strives to please, are seldom 
in much charity with each other. 

All then used to go on as disagreeably as 

X 



822 TWENTY TEAB8 AGO, 

possible; the young marquis generally en- 
grossed the conversation, and M. ifimile was si- 
lent and scornful ; unless, as presently became 
his usual resort, he conversed apart with me. 
Every now and then Lucile was with us on 
these occasions, and her bright girlish presence 
made a pleasant diversion. I could perceive 
that she liked fimile much the better of the 
two; indeed she frankly told nie so when we 
were, as girls will, discussing the two men. I 
had seen once her look of bright young scorn 
when the sentimental marquis was dilating on 
la coqueiterie as the most truly feminine of all 
the feminine attributes, without which a wom- 
an could not be complete, which was the spring 
of all her charms, and almost all her virtues, 
etc. She told me afterwards that she knew 
the marquis had been talking "des b^tises," 
but she had not cared to express any opinion 
of her own on the subject, though he had more 
than once appealed to her, not because she 
minded "lui marcher sur les pieds," but be- 
cause "la coquetterie" was not a subject for 
"les jeunes filles." Of M. fimile she spoke 
much more respectfully and admiringly, ob- 
serving, very justly, that he had "le regard 
doux et pur," and adding that she made no 
scruple of praising him to us, because he was 



AUTUMN DATS. 323 

our "relation" — a very distant one, it must 
be owned, seeing that he was only the cousin 
to Sibyl's stepsister-in-law. 

fimile, meanwhile, as if in contrast with tfre 
marquis's graceful sentimentalism, began by 
fits to disclose to me glimpses of fiery abysses 
in his nature, such as I had not expected, and 
which,. though they might not alarm me in an 
Englishman, yet in a Frenchman, considering 
all that I knew, and more that I did not know, 
excited apprehension together with interest. 
In discussions on moral and social questions 
he would allow too much to passion, almost 
justifying even a crime that might be commit- 
ted under its influence ; but then he said it 
must be such a passion as is rarely known in 
life, " qui domine toute la vie," which is felt 
but once, and never again. I knew that he 
was wrong, and trusted that he was not ex- 
pressing his real convictions, the more so that 
in calmer moods he expressed himself very dif- 
ferently. A profound appreciation 'of the ex- 
cellence of purity, of domestic happiness, an 
ardent looking to marriage as the goal of his 
desires and the completion of his being, and an 
intense aversion to the unprincipled laxity of 
Parisian society, incliiding a determination to 
marry only one who had been brought up to 



824 TWENTY TEARS AGO. 

regard domestic virtue and aflfection as all in 
all, were his leading opinions on the subject. 
These were so often and strongly expressed, 
Sometimes with earnest strenuousness, some- 
times as by an involuntary betrayal, and ac- 
corded so well with the habitual -seriousness 
and imaginative refinement of his whole char- 
acter, that one could not possibly suppose that 
in speaking thus he was but suiting his con- 
versation to his hearer. I wished I could fully 
understand him. 

The marquis, who seemed beiit on amusing 
us, proposed a good many rides and drives to 
explore the neighborhood, in all of which M. 
ifimile declined joining. In this manner we 
saw the palace of Versailles — a good specimen 
of majestic, symmetrical, extensive dullness 
outside, a vast, splendid, shining world of halls, 
chambers, galleries within; Port Koyal — a 
mere handful of ruins in a deep wild dell, the 
hills rising like walls and towers to cover the 
once sacred spot, where skeletons of old gate- 
ways, broken pillars, and a quiet little old 
dove-cote alone remain of the ancient convent 
and chapel, now replaced by the vine-trellised 
walls and thatched roofs of the little farm- 
houses and cottages; L*a Chevreuse — an ex- 
quisite valley; and Les Granges — the home 



AUTUMN DAYS. 325 

of those thoughtful and gifted solitaires, whose 
chambers are still left just as they were. 

In the midst of these pleasure excursions 
;6mile vanished from the scene. He was dis- 
patched by his superiors on some military sur- 
vey in a distant part of the country, and could 
not tell us how long it would be, or when we 
should see him again. 

In our last parting walk he was in a mood 
of melancholy which he seemed trying to con- 
ceal, or, when he could not do that, to disguise 
under fits of gayety. When I asked him if 
he would prefer one direction to another for 
our walk, he answered spiritlessly, "Here or 
anywhere ; all is the same to me ; all's right." 

"Or all's wrong?" I asked, half smiling. 

" Yes, all wrong," he answered, as spiritless- 
ly as before. 

" Every thing is wrong with you to-day, I 
think," I rejoined. 

" Well, perhaps it is," he returned quickly, 
and seemed about to add more, but stopped. 

He alluded to his professional non-prospects, 
and when I suggested his throwing all up, and 
leaving France for some more hopeful sphere, 
he said, " No, not till my heart is quite broken. 
So long as I have a gale, and my sails are 
not torn to pieces, I must go on ; there will be 



326 TWENTY YEAMS AGO. 

time enough afterwards to stagnate in har- 
bor." 

On my seeming still unsatisfied, he explain- 
ed that no profession save that of the army 
was open to him, and that were he to give up 
his commission, it would be to quit his profes- 
sion forever, and lose all hope of ever again 
serving his country in future, even under a 
government that he should approve of. "Af- 
ter all," he said, " I consider myself, as a sol- 
dier, in the service of my country, not of the 
president; I am known to profess no loyalty 
to him, and to be entirely aloof from politics. 
Should any iniquitous work be required of 
me, I am free to resign, and find, perhaps, in 
retirement and literature I'oubli du pass^ et 
I'indiflKrence pour J'avenir." 

The marquis, on the other hand, continued 
his visits at the rate of once or twice a week, 
till he, too, was summoned away — by some 
call of social pleasure, no doubt. But he ex- 
pressed intense regret, and earnestly solicited 
leave to renew his visits when this brief period 
of enforced exile was over. Sibyl gave it with 
her usual careless ease, and I felt I could not 
read her feelings at that moment. 

But as time passed on, and the expected 
month of absence was over, and yet the ardent 



A UTUMN DA YS. 337 

lover made no sign, I noticed in Sibyl a fever- 
ish restlessness quite unlike herself, .and very 
painful to see. It made my heart ache, and I 
almost wished for a renewal of the visits which 
had alarmed and annoyed me before. 

Is there a sadder lot than to be condemned 
to wait in vain ? How can a man ever inflict 
such torture on a woman's heart, if he has but 
the merest suspicion that he has gained it? 
The momentous visit has been paid, and leaves 
her expecting it to be renewed ; she is filled 
with memories as yet pleasantly confused, re- 
quiring time and quiet to think over. So the 
week passes well, and the day of hope comes, 
bright, sunshiny, full of promise and dream. 
She wakes, feeling her heart fresh and buoy- 
ant, she puts on her most becoming toilet, she 
adds a flower or two, she arranges the room, she 
flutters about winged with pleasant thoughts, 
full of subdued smiles. 

But he does not come — she is disappointed 
and damped ; but it was an accident — a day is 
nothing-^ of course he will come to-morrow. 
No, he does not, nor the day after ; time comes 
and goes, she is kept in suspense from day to 
day, till she is surprised to find how many 
have passed. Still she finds reasons and ex- 
planations, and the longer the delay the better 



328 TW£L\TT YEARS AOO. 

reasons she finds ; but though she still expects, 
the spring, the charm of expectation, is broken. 
She wearies of putting on her .pretty dress, of 
keeping things to do with him, of treasuring 
up things to say to him — things that now seem 
mouldering away in a useless heap in her mind; 
she could not say them now — they are not liv- 
ing, they are dead I Sometimes she will won- 
der, chide him in her heart, determine that if 
he condes now she will receive him coldly; 
but all this resolution is thrown away, and 
leaves her so depressed and worn out that she 
is much more likely to cry than to practice 
that dignified indifference. 

And the worst of it is that iie can not now 
undo the impression of his long absence ; the 
indifference can 'not be explained away. At 
first she had consoled herself with thinking of 
all the tender things he had said, the tenderer 
ones he had implied, the tenderest of all that 
he had only looked — and she had felt that he 
had loved her. But the longer she has to 
think of them, the fewer they appear, the more 
doubtful their significance. How very few 
and slight they were, after all ! And at last, 
from thinking only of how and when she 
should repay his love, she has come to think 
of him as not her lover at all I 



A UTUMN DA YS. 329' 

Nervous and weary, she can . not employ 
herself; mortified pride and shame and de- 
spondency are eating her heart's core. Days 
are like years; she is growing old without 
him I She looks no longer into her future; 
all is blankness and grayness there. And 
while she, shut up in a dreary country house, 
with no change, no movement, pines for the 
sight of one person, he is occupied, amused, in 
the world, free to come and see her — and he 
never comes. 

Some divination told me that this, or some- 
thing like this, was passing in Sibyl's secret 
soul. For though a widow, her widowhood 
had been, I now knew, one of those saddest 
griefs of all, a loss which is not a heart-break. 
Married at sixteen, and her husband dying 
immediately after, little May, a posthumous 
child, was the sweetest and almost the only 
trace her brief wedded life had left behind. 
She loved now — I was sure of it — but she 
kept it to herself, and would not let her sad- 
ness cloud others. She was still sweet and 
kindly as ever, played with her little girl; who 
grew and bloomed marvellously in this pure 
sweet air, exerted herself to talk cheerfully 
with me, and made herself the favorite of the 
whole village. 



830 TWENTY YEAHS AGO. 

Once more ]6mile came to see us, unexpect- 
edly, and when we had ceased to look for him, 
in the mid-autumn. He staid but a few hours, 
and struck me as altogether and strangely 
changed. To us personally he was courteous 
and gentle as ever, but on all other points a 
gloomy and bitter cynicism overwhelmed him. 
The state of politics, to which he just once al- 
luded with almost fierce despair, and his own 
prospects, seemed to have finally conquered 
that once bright temperament. He told us of 
the hostility of his chef immediat, a man who 
had identified himself with the present regime, 
and would therefore indulge in the rancor he 
had always felt against a proud, not very sub- 
missive, and avowedly Eepublican subordinate. 
This enmity had reached a point — so he was 
privately informed by friends — which threat- 
ened him with serious danger ; at the least, his 
professional career might be crushed, and him- 
self banished into obscurity. But he laughed 
scornfully over it all, and said he had by this 
time attained to such a fortunate apathy that 
if he were to hear that the ruler of the country 
were dead (" et Dieu sait," he coolly interject- 
ed, "si je Taime") it would not make his pulse 
beat quicker. This indifference seemed to ex- 
tend to every thing, and I doubted if he any 



AUTUMN DATS. 831 

longer cared for us. It pained me to see him 
so changed ; but Sibyl seemed to notice noth- 
ing. I feared it was because her thoughts 
were engrossed in the Marquis de Cl^rimont. 

When ifimile left, I said, with a faint hope of 
extracting something more definite and friend- 
ly, "Shall we see you in Paris this winter?" 

"Who knows? I do not," he answered, 
abruptly. 

"But you intend to be there, do you not?" 

"I never intend any thing; I do not care 
enough about what becomes of me." And so 
we parted. 

Left to ourselves, there seemed a kind of 
barrier between my sister and me. Sibyl's 
melancholy did not appear diminished; she 
cared for nothing but little May, who, ever 
bright, active, and happy, kept up glimpses of 
the sunny past. I too was sad, but that was 
my own affair ; I told Sibyl nothing about it 
I looked anxiously forward to the return to 
Paris, which I hoped might rouse her from 
her depression. She seemed indifferent to the 
prospect 

A small incident occurred to vary the still- 
ness of our existence. A review of six caval- 
ry regiments took place on the plains of Sato- 
ry (the first of a long series of famed Napole- 



332 TWENTY YEARS AGO. 

onic reviews on that spot, till then known to 
me only for its profusion of apple-trees), and 
the soldiers were billeted for the night over 
the neighborhood. M. Charlier's share con- 
sisted of three officers and six soldiers, as well 
as twelve horses. The garden was soon filled 
with a party of horsemen; a young officer 
rode up, billet in hand, to the drawing-room, 
and addressed my sister in the usual brusque, 
word-saving style of his class, which I suppose 
originated the epithet cavalier — " Madame, M. 
Charlier?" 

But the worthy proprietor was gone to Paris, 
to escape, I suppose, his compulsory guests; 
so they had to arrange with his respected and 
grim old mother. The billets de logement had 
been made out by the maire; the business was 
conducted by the tall bulky marichal des logis^ 
with his coarse voice and bluff manners. He 
complained that there was not room for the 
horses ; and the result was all that noise and 
length of discussion which the French seem»tp 
find indispensable — every body coming up to 
join in it. 

Then came the question — to them, I imag- 
ine, a most important one — their dinner. They 
coolly asked for the bill of fare, which they 
did not consider satisfactory. The house was 



AUTUMN DATS. 888 

not provisioned to meet the vast demands of 
three herculean young cavalry officers — I sus- 
pect the deficiency was intentional — and they 
wisely determined to dine at Versailles. I 
dare say, too, they felt out of luck at being 
assigned quarters where there were no good 
fellows nor jolzes dames to bear them company. 
We, the only lodgers in the house, kept re- 
ligiously to our own apartments, but watched, 
at a respectful distance, the stabling of horses, 
the doffing and donning of uniforms, the 
picketing of lances, the loud, brief calls and 
gruff voices of our gallant friends. The little 
Victor, the small nephew of our proprietaire, 
ran about among them, sharing in their pro- 
ceedings with that serious sympathy and sense 
of partnership felt by every male animal in 
France, of the smallest size, with red coats and 
swords. Once or twice we, too, met some dra- 
goons riding, and were abruptly asked, " Par- 
don, madame — pour aller k St. Marc?" or were 
saluted at the door by the three young officers, 
who bowed and waved their caps round their 
heads with a grave extravagance of courtesy. 
They are handsome youths, with brown curl- 
ing mustaches and beards, fair fresh faces, and 
an appearance of gay, reckless spirita 

The last time I had seen any great number 



884 TWENTY TEAMS AGO. 

of French military was at the coup d^etat^ 
when, before related, several regiments of cav- 
alry and the line bivouacked in the Champs 
!6lys6es. I must confess, though one is re- 
minded by such scenes of the capture of 
towns, that these formidable beings were here 
very tame and quiet, and seemed not to have 
the remotest intention to egorger little Victor, 
or insult old madame, called the " terrier." 

The evening was spent jollily by the six 
privates at dinner in the gardener's cottage; 
the officers, I presume, were no less jolly at 
Versailles. Honorine, who does not menager 
her words, unhesitatingly pronounces all these 
militaires "tr^s gourmands." She alone, of 
all the bonnes here, has not found it necessary 
to hold any intercourse with them. One very 
young officer was quartered all alone at the 
G^rards', the family being absent, and the 
house kept by an old gouvernante and Louise. 
The poor boy found it so dull that he went 
to bed at six o'clock. Louise, however, was 
charmed with his pretty face, pronouncing him 
an " amour d'officier," and with his politeness, 
for he expressed much regret at inconvenien- 
cing them. 

At midnight returned our friends from Ver- 
sailles in an excess of good spirits. They had 



AVTUMN DAYS. 835 

to wait long at the door before it was unlock- 
ed, and amused themselves with talking to the 
kitten and the gardener's wife. They were 
not at all tipsy, but simply light-hearted, chat- 
tering like children, and laughing at nothing 
at all. 

Next morning we lost our guests; a soldier 
was brushing his officer's uniform all the morn- 
ing outside our door, and talking to himself 
over^ it ; and finally they rode forth, giving 
the last bright look to our quiet bowers, as 
their red plumes, polished shakos, the shining 
lances and tricolor flags, and the dark-blue uni- 
forms, with white sashes and facings, glanced 
through the yellowing shrubberies. Little 
Victor was appropriately solemn as he looked 
his last at those who, in the course of a day 
and night, had become his sworn friends ; and 
M. Charlier, who had reappeared, in his wide- 
awake, with his broad back and shoulders, 
flung wide open the porte-cochh-e in a state of 
very genuine satisfaction. 

In the intervals of such manly pleasures as 
these, little Victor condescended to cultivate 
me. He came down o.nly a day ago, but, be- 
ling no shyer than most French children, ap- 
proached our window at once, addressed us on 
the subject of the white kitten, furnished his 



886 TWENTY TEAMS AGO. 

name, age, and parentage, and promised to be 
an excellent friend of mine. He presently in- 
quired what I was going to do, seemed disap- 
pointed when I told him that I was going to be 
very busy, and finally found himself, to his en- 
tire delight, established beside my table, using 
my paints upon the men, horses, and houses 
I had drawn for him, and making all manner 
of wonderful discoveries in the science of col- 
or. While busy with the house, he asked me 
to "arranger" for him "un petit paysage." I 
said I should not have time to do it that morn- 
ing, whereon he shrewdly observed, " You can 
be doing it now, instead of looking at me, while 
I finish the house." Finally the modesty of 
true genius came upon him, and he inquired, 
doubtfully, " Tout ce que je fais, ce n'est qu'un 
barbouillement, n'est-ce.pas?" 

Soon after he brought me a paper of pic- 
tures containing the history of Punch, which 
he read to me very fluently, with various ju- 
dicious comments, such as, when I observed, 
"You see this wicked Punch would not let 
himself be punished, but hanged the bawrreau 
instead," "Pourquoi non," he 'asked, "since 
the executioner was going to hang Mmf% 
" Mais," he observed, finally, with great satis- 
faction, " le diable ^tait plus fort que lui." A 



AUTUMN DATS, 887 

great part of his time he spent in playing with 
our little May, of whom he was passionately 
fond, and whom he patronized with all the 
wisdom of six years. 

The young Julie, who used to interest me, 
seemed, alas ! being gradually spoiled by her 
corrupt elder associates, and had acquired a 
bold unchild-like expression in hier once inno- 
cent eyes. Her mother, poor woman ! whom 
we sometimes met in the prairie on the watch 
for her worthless husband's return from Paris, 
complained to us that her child was quite 
spoiled, that she was all day idling with bad 
companions, that her father let her do just as 
she pleased, and that she had learned to dis- 
regard and disobey her mother. About this 
time the whole party left finally for Paris, and 
so this group of Bohemians vanished from our 
path of life. 

Nothing after this occurred save the regular 
progress of defacement and decay in all nature 
— ^yellowed and bare trees, weeping skies sheet- 
ed with dusk clouds, wild howling winds, that 
screamed through those ill-secured doors and 
windows, and made one lie drearily awake at 
night. • I confess I looked anxiously forward 
to a return to that bright centre of life, sump- 
tuous, sparkling, bewitching Paris. We pur- 

Y 



888 TWENTY TEAB8 AGO. 

posed io be there by the end of November if 
we could find ah appartement. The only one, 
I suspected, who would not be glad to leave 
was Honorine, who led here a very agreeable 
life, with plenty of air, exercise, freedom, and 
society, especially that of the young mason. It 
seemed he had now fairly settled the question 
between her and Louise, and that his prefer- 
ence was no longer doubtful. Poor Louise 
was very unhappy ; her once smiling, bloom- 
ing face became dark and sad. " Pauvre fille," 
said Honorine, compassionately, " elle est bien 
trouble." But I suppose no unfair arts had 
been used to supplant her, as the friendship 
continued undiminished, and Louise was as 
frequently in Honorine's kitchen as ever, till 
she went with her maitres to Paris. Honorine 
then wandered pensively about, carrying the 
cat as a "petite soci^t^," and owning to feeling 
ennuySe. 

It appeared that, though the young man had 
made no explicit declaration to either, Hono- 
rine had the parents in her favor. They con- 
stantly invited and encouraged her, and told 
her they should much prefer her to Louise as a 
daughter-in-law. Perhaps Louise being Swiss 
and Protestant had something to do with it; 
also, though much the prettier, she was less act- 



AUTUMN DATS. 839 

ive and laborious than Honorine, and was oft- 
en not neatly chausseej which is a point of the 
utmost importance to the French inind, high 
and low. 

What Honorine's secret feelings might be 
she had too much feminine finesse to betray. 
She went about her work cheerfully and stout- 
ly as ever, and seemed completely mistress of 
her will and thoughts. Hippolyte, too, was 
cautious; on hearing that she was going to 
Paris, he only said, " C'est malheureux," and 
that he should come and see her. Honorine, 
indeed, always maintained "qu'il n'^tait ni 
pour elle, ni pour Louise, qu'il ^tait trop riche, 
qu'il ne regarderait pas les domestiques," and 
that therefore she never thought of him, " au- 
cunement ;" even affirming — Heaven pardon 
her the falsehood ! — that if she were never to 
see him again she would care no more than 
the first day she met him. As for his inten- 
tions, however, as the conferences were more 
frequent and prolonged than ever, I could 
only hope that she was deceiving us, and that 
he was n8t deceiving her. I should like, I 
thought, to see Honorine mistress — in prospect, 
at least — of a very pretty homestead, with gar- 
den, orchard, meadows, cow, cider-press, a nice 
house, charming granaries, well-stocked farm- 



340 TWENTY TEARS AGO, 

m 

yard, and "eveiy thing to make life desir- 
able." 

A day or two before we left Les Rosiers M. 
Charlier came down to go over the inventory 
with us, and, we supposed, to fleece us accord- 
ingly. Knowing by Paris experience how 
keen-eyed and exacting are French proprie- 
tairesj we were surprised, on the whole, at his 
moderation. At any rate, the affair was court- 
eously conducted, which it might not have 
been by his sharper wife. Honorine attended, 
bristling her feathers, fiercely on the watch 
to do battle for us, and full of the most repub- 
lican equality in manners and language with 
M. Charlier, whom she considered neither Juste 
nor raisonnable. In one matter, where she ac- 
cused him of having gone back from his prom- 
ise, she afterwards mimicked, with great spirit, 
the scene which she conceived to have taken 
place between him and the " dame k Paris," 
whom she justly regarded as his prompter, and 
gave especially her termagant tones and furi- 
ous advice. She expressed utter scorn of his 
subjugation to his wife; a man,*she says, 
should never allow a woman any part in his 
affairs, and especially should never break his 
promise for a woman. A woman's word, says 
she, "c'est frivole, ce n'est rien," but a man's 



AUTUMN DAYS. 841 

ought always to be sacred. On these subjects 
her views certainly differed much from those 
of Constance, a former servant of ours — a sen- 
sitive creature, of fiery temperament, vehement 
convictions, and esprit almost amounting to 
genius. She stood up earnestly for her own 
sex; and when I repeated to her a French 
gentleman's assertion that in every French 
household the women governed, she said, 
"Very true, and quite right too," and strength- 
ened her opinion by historical and political ex- 
amples. " Voyez Napoleon," she said ; " did 
not all go wrong with him when he divorced 
Josephine? And when Madame Adelaide 
died, did not Louis Philippe fall into errors 
and lose his throne ?" 

But I must return to Les Eosiers — only, 
however, to leave it, for we set off at last, with 
every incident that could unsentimentalize our 
parting. A foggy, drizzling, unlovely day hid 
from sight all the beauties that winter had 
spared to our knolls and dells ; and we had a 
good deal of trouble in the demenagement, as 
the man who undertook it did not perform it 
properly. Hence ensued a farewell scene of 
French screaming — the same thing said fifty 
times over, only in different accents and with 
different gestures, and tempers, to judge from 



342 TWENTY YEAJR8 AGO. 

appearances, all boiling over to exasperation. 
Honorine's withering " C'est ridicule " was 
promptly applied ; but at last she "judged the 
case, too bad for even that, and stood by in 
silence with her arms crossed — the last and 
most desperate resource of French sensibility. 
The^orfeti5e dleau^ who had been trying to out- 
bargain us in the morning, moved by a small 
present, testified so much sympathy for us as 
also to stand by with her hands under her 
apron/ A hint from Honorine about going to 
the Tnaire finally brought the voiiurieT to rea- 
son, and, fetching a second cart, he took away 
the effects and herself, who I hope forbore 
from quarrelling with him all the way up to 
Paris. 

We waited a long while at the " !6toile du 
Nord," and might have waited forever, our 
driver having no idea of keeping his appoint- 
ment. He had gone off instead to St. Cloud, 
where there was a concourse of people, 
"gone," said Madame Allard, "to fetch Louis 
Napoleon to Paris." This suddenly recalled 
to us the little insignificant fact that the Em- 
pire was to be proclaimed that day. So we 
waited for the omnibus, and discoursed with 
the jolly old landlady, who was very conver- 
sationally disposed, and )^ho, while eating her 



AUTUMN DATS. 843 

dinner without any discomposure, and with 
hearty enjoyment, gave us worlds of gossip on 
all possible subjects. I began with inquiries 
after her newly -married daughter, who, she 
assured us, was perfectly happy, pleased with 
Paris, her lodgings, her husband, who was 
very good to her, and a fort aimable gargon. 
" Je vous as^re, madame," she said, " qu'il 
n'est pas possible d'avoir plus de bonheur." 

Musing on the varieties of female destiny, 
we went on our journey, and in a few hours 
were installed in our pleasant bppartement in 
the Eue St. Dominique ; and from that time 
Les Eosiers, with its green, sunny solitudes, its 
woods and gardens, its roses and orange-trees, 
was no more to us than a dream. 

I may as well here wind up Honorine's ctf- 
faire de coeur^ which began like a true ro- 
mance,, and ended — ^like a French one. One 
day Hippolyte came to see her at Paris, and 
brought her flowers. Another day Louise 
came, and talked earnestly and gloomily with 
her. The next day she told us, with scornful 
laughter, that M. Langlois was going to marry 
a girl of nineteen, who had a petite proprieie. 
From that time I withdrew' all my interest 
from the engaging young mason, whom I re- 
garded as an utter flirt. But as my regard for 



844 TWENTY TEAMS AGO. 

our good Honorine went on increasing, I was 
glad to learn, some time after we had left 
Paris, that she was married to a man whom 
she described as the "meilleur homme du 
monde," and that she had "bien tomb^ dans 
son manage." 



\ 



SIBYL'S LOT'-AND MINE. 346 



CHAPTEE XV. . 

sibyl's lot — AND MINE. 

OUE life in Paris this second winter was 
just like the last, except that we beheld 
the Empire proclaimed and the emperor mar- 
ried. I shall not soon forget my momentary 
vision of that young girl Eugenie hurrying 
along the shining quays to her strange fate, 
and to the dangerous palace that beckoned her 
onward — a snow-pale bride, from head to foot 
white as a lily, with a look of misgiving, even 
terror, on her fair face, that suggested she would 
fain have driven back again. Well, she was 
nothing to us, and we had our own cares and 
pleasures, hopes and regrets. One trouble was 
that .we now saw and heard nothing of M. 
;6mile. He had been relegated, as he expect- 
ed, to a garrison town in a remote department, 
and, as we did not expect, had ceased to cor- 
respond with us. 

As for our other friends, some changes were 
going on among them. Hermine had married 
her elderly comte, and was a leader of Paris 
fashion — just the gay, spirituelle, dazzling little 



S46 TWENTY TEAMS AQO. 

dame that I had anticipated. She kept up 
scanty relations with us, whom in truth she 
had never been really fond of, having proba- 
' bly never quite forgiven her lord's persistent 
admiration of Sibyl. Aur^lie ere long fulfill- 
ed my half-formed expectation, and is now the 
wife of my cousin Horace. I hope she had 
for him something more than the liking she 
professed to consider sufl&cient in marriage ; at 
any rate she is an excellent and attached wife, 
and, if perhaps a little condescending, and dis- 
posed in a quiet way to manage for them both, 
fulfills all her duties as I should have expect- 
ed from an upright and high-minded character 
like hers. He has a good foreign chaplaincy 
in a considerable German town, With a pleas- 
ant society. 

The Marquis de C16rimont met us in society 
now and then, but Sibyl was so decidedly chill- 
ing that he could not renew his former possi- 
bly homage. He took to flirting with others, 
and, I believe, at last with all deliberation made 
a mariage cPargent. 

And now the time drew near when I must 
needs return to my English home. -When at 
last I spoke of it decidedly to Sibyl, she sud- 
denly burst into tears, and exclaimed, " Bea- 
trice, I must go to England with you." 



SIBYL'S LOT— AND MINE. 347 

A cold trembling seized me ; at first I was 
bewildeired — the next moment I understood. 
After some fencing in the dark, some broken 
words and attempted reserves, she told all her 
story. Jfimile had loved her — as she believed 
and as she said — intensely, and she had refused 
him. This happened just before we left Paris 
for Les Eosiers. 

I asked her why she had done it? 

" Oh, I don't know," she said ; " I thought 
him too young, I lielieve ; and then I had al- 
ways said so positively that I should never 
marry again, certainly not a Frenchman. I 
wanted to return to my English life, and to 
shake myself free from the Fleury family. I 
suppose he had not then quite laid hold of 
my heart ; anyhow I refused him ; I believe I 
even got angry with him. I had forbidden 
him to say any more about it ; and I believe 
at Les Eosiers he felt quite hopeless. He cer- 
tainly never ventured, even by a look, to be- 
tray any feeling — and yet, Beatrice, I was be- 
ginning then to be haunted by him." 

"But the marquis?" I inquired. 

Sibyl colored very painfully, hesitated, and 
said, " I tried to divert my thoughts, which 
were sometimes too bitter, and I believe in my 
pride I wanted to disguis^them from ^fimile, 



348 TWENTY TEAMS AGO. 

• 

whom I was almost provoked with for not in 
the least trying again to win me. But I could 
not go on, and, after !lfimile had gone, I con- 
trived without any actual iclaircissement to put 
an end to the affair. I was very wrong, I 
know, in thus playing false to my heart, and 
I knew I deceived others. I saw that you 
noticed my sadness after the marquis left, and 
mistook the cause. But I knew I had done 
him no harm — as for others, I hope not Bea- 
trice," she added, after a •pause, "did :6mile 
ever make Iqjce to you ?" 

" Never !" I earnestly replied. 

"Well," she resumed, "that was another 
thing — another complication going on at the 
same time. I saw him, as I thought, about to 
console himself with you, and I tried to be 
pleased to think it was all very right, and to 
hope that you would like him. But that, too, 
I found I could not do; which first showed 
me the whole truth — and oh how I cried all 
those weary weeks! But I felt piqued, and 
only made myself more cold and disagreeable, 
and in that one last visit— do you remember 
it? — when he was so changed, I almost felt 
to dislike him. Oh, Beatrice ! how men and 
women do misunderstand and plague each 
other !" # 



SIBYL'S LOT— AND MINE, . 849 

" Can nothing be done?" I asked. 

Sibyl shook her head. "It has gone too 
far," she said ; " he has made up his mind to 
it at last, and I have no right to torment him 
any more.". 

Yet a kind of opening was given, which I 
ventured to avail myself of. Jfimile kept up 
some correspondence with our good friends 
Aur^ie and her mother, and in a letter of the 
latter's I inserted a kind message, which pro- 
duced one or two letters from him. In the 
last of these he spoke plainly. He used, in 
speaking of Sibyl, language of the tenderest, 
even the most passionate admiration ; but he 
avowed that he had given her up. 

"I have loved her, I acknowledge," he said. 
"One does not see so beautiful a (hing for 
nothing. At once, before one has thought of 
loving her, she becomes, for wonder and for 
worship, the Venus — what do I say? — the 
Madonna of one's imaginings. Henceforth in 
one's most aerial dreams, in life's strangest 
events, in the world's most exciting commo- 
tions, one places in the midst that figure of 
divine gayety and grace ; across all storms she 
shoots like a lightning-glance; in play or poem 
she is the enchanting heroine. You will think 
me raving; but in truth Sibyl seems to me a 



860 TWENTY TEARS AGO. 

being one might see but once, and go mad on 
the remembrance o£ I never saw — I may just 
have imagined — such a woman, but my dream 
did not half paint her ; the reality adds ever a 
light, a shade that I could not have divined. 
Sometimes I think it would be enough to sit 
and watch her for life. 

" Now that I have said all this, mademoiselle, 
I must add that I have wholly given up the 
hope of marrying her. The very extravagance 
of my language is a proof that my feeling is 
not one on which to ground a life-long union. 
I could not make such a woman happy ; she 
could never love me, and would have a" thou- 
sand wants that my inferior nature would not 
supply. I trust you, therefore, not to betray 
to her what I have just said ; I should blush 
for her to read the ravings of such a delirium. 
And if I were tempted to try to work on her 
feelings, and create an affection, she is now far 
from having for me, I should be only selfish. 
My prospects are too unsettled. I am coming 
to a crisis. My former enemy has gained the 
ear of the Minister of War ; an order of arrest 
was once actually made out against me, and its 
execution was only delayed by the good ofl&ces 
of a friend. But if I do not fall in this coming 
campaign, which is very probable, and which I 




SIBTL^S LOT—Am) MINE. 361 

shall not much regret, I shall be a deporti to 
Cayenne, and I could not possibly even wish 
to associate a tender creature like your sis- 
ter with such a lot. No, I have subdued the 
worst of my pain, and have resigned a vision 
which probably could never have been real- 
ized." 

I wondered that ifimile should not have dis- 
covered, under the ideal charm of Sibyl's ex- 
terior, that, with her warm tender heart and 
sweet temper, she was the easiest possible 
person to live with — that she was thoroughly 
bonne enfant I also felt that such romantic 
idealization prevented one's judging of the 
real seriousness and depth of his attachment, 
which alone could justify a great sacrifice on 
Sibyl's part. 

Bound by his injunction, I read only the 
latter part of this letter to Sibyl, expressing, 
however, my own conviction of his undying 
attachment. But she only answered, mourn- 
fully, "It inust not be altered; it is best as 
it is." She was, perhaps, secretly hurt at his 
tone of complete acquiescence to fate. 

We went to England, and there from time 
to time we heard of fimile— once heard from 
himself; and I judged with pain, from various 
indications, that something — I know not if I 



852 TWENTY TEAMS AGO. 

should call it deterioration, but something that 
took from the fresh charm of his nature — was 
growing upon him. His cynical bitterness 
was now a fixed quality ; he assumed a hard, 
worldly tone ; he seemed to despair of every 
thing ; his past, he said, was " mort et ense- 
veli," and he did not wish to revive it. He 
ridiculed his youthful enthusiasms, and ex- 
pressed a disbelief in all goodness ; he was not 
gloomily or ostentatiously misanthropic, but 
quietly and coldly cynical. 

One thing was certain ; he still never bowed 
the knee in Rimmon's temple ; indeed, his con- 
tempt for those who did — that is, for the socie- 
ty he lived amidst — was only too marked* for 
his safety. And with all this alteration, there 
was yet in him, as his friends described, at 
times a fascination beyond that of a roman- 
tic and ardent youth — beautiful flashes, like 
magic northern lights, across his desolate win- 
tery life. 

Well, I must not linger over this painful 
period. The crisis came in a year or two. A 
small fraternity of ardent liberals had for some 
time been watched by the Government; one 
of these, more indiscreet than the others, had 
let drop in public words betraying revolution- 
ary designs, ^mile, who was not compro- 



SIBYL'S LOT— AND MINE. 353 

mised, and could have escaped, rallied to his 
friend's side, did his best first to save him, and 
then to share his doom. Both were arrested, 
and, after a brief though rigorous imprison- 
ment, ifimile was degraded from his rank in the 
^rmy and sent enperpetuite to Algeria. 

He had wished not to let us know his fate ; 
oppressed by sadness and consequent ill health, 
he had expected soon to die there, and de- 
sired that we should not be saddened with 
the knowledge. But Sibyl's loving vigilance 
could not be balked, nor could his heroic con- 
duct, which she contrived to discover from 
his friends, fail to nerve that tender nature 
to equal heroism. 

" I am so glad, Beatrice," she said, " that all 
doubt is put an end to now ; for the future I 
feel that my place is by ifimile ; and oh, if I 
can in any way soothe or help him, what a 
blessing will he not be to me ! If there is any 
thing good and noble in me — ^I am sure I have 
given little reason to suppose there is — he 
awakened and called it forth." 

Sibyl and I — I could not leave her now — 
went accordingly to Algeria, under the care 
of Horace and his wife, ifemile and she were 
married, and love each other to this day with 
that love which alone suflBces for happiness, 

Z 



8M TWENTY TEAMS AQO, 

He has at last returned to his crushed, tor- 
tured, distracted France, to do for her what a 
man may. 

•K- -Sf « « « « 

This sentence — added lately — forms a fit 
conclusion to my old journal of twenty years 
ago. Of course all is changed since then — ex- 
cept that what was my principal interest then 
has resulted now in the perfect union of two 
well-matched and beautiful natures. I myself 
have not been so happy. I do not complain, 
nor greatly wonder ; under the apparently ran- 
dom destinies of various individualities there 
is a moral order, clear as inevitable, did we 
but know it. Sibyl's nature was one predes- 
tined to and deserving happiness. The unself- 
ish sweetness, the patient serenity with which 
she accepted life and its cares, in the end usu- 
ally secure the smiles of that not quite irra- 
tional divinity. Fortune. I was diiSferent. I 
am Beatrice Walford still, and I have fetched 
all these pictures of the past out of ghost-land. 



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The volumes are sufficiently large to allow each history to comprise 
all the lending facts in the life of the personage who is the subject 
of it, and thus to communicate all the information in respect to him 
which is necessary for the purposes of the general reader. 

Such being the design and character of the works, they would 
seem to be specially adapted, not only for family reading, but also 
for district, town, school, and Sunday-school libraries, as well as for 
text-books in literary seminaries. 

The plan of the series, and the manner in which the design has 
been carried out by the author in the execution of it, have been high- 
ly commended by the press in all parts of the country. The whole 
series has been introduced into the school libraries of several of the 
largest and most influential states. 



Adbaham Lincoln's Opinion op Abbotts' Hibtokies. — fn a con- 
vermtion with the President just before his death, Mr. Lincoln said: "/ 
leant to thank you and your brother for A bbotts* series of Histories. I 
have not education enough to appreciate the profound works of volu^ 
minous historians; andif Ihadf I have no time to read thenu But 
your series of Histories gives me, in brief compass, just that knowledge 
of past m,en and events which I need. I have read them with the great- 
est interest To thf^m I am indebted for about all the historical knotol- 



Books by the' Abbotts. 



CYBXJa THE GREAT. 
DARIUS THE GREAT. 



ALEXANDER THE GREAT. 
ROMULUS. 



JULIUS C2ISAR. 

CLEOPATRA 

NERO. 

ALFRED THE GREAT. 

WILLIAM THE CONQX7EROR. 

RICHARD I. 

RICHARD n. 

RICHARD III. 

MART QUEEN OF SCOTS. 

QUEEN ELIZABETH. 

CHARLES I, 

CHARLES IL 

JOSEPHINE. 

MARIA ANTOINETTE. 

MADAME ROLAND. 

HENR7 rV. 

PETER THE GREAT. 

GENGHIS KHAN. 

KING PHILIP. 

HERNANDO CORTEZ. 

MARGARET OF ANJOU. 

JOSEPH BONAPARTE. 

QUEEN HORTENSE. 

LOUIS xrv. 

LOUIS PHILIPPB. 



Books inf the Abbotts, 



THE LITTLE LEARNER SERIES. 

A Series for Very Young Children. Designed to Assist in 
the Earliest Development of the Mind of a Child, while under 
its Mother's Special C^re, during the first Five or Six Tears 
of its Life. By Jacob Abbott. Beautifully Illustrated. 
Complete in 5 Small 4to Volumes, Cloth, 90 cents per Vol. 
Price of the set, in case, $4 50. * 



LEARNING TO TALK ; or, Entertaining and Instruct- 
ive Lessons in the Use of Language. 1 70 Engravings. 

LEARNING TO THINK : consisting of Easy and En- 
tertaining Lessons, designed to Assist in the First Unfold- 
ing of the Reflective and Reasoning Powers of Children. 
120 Engravings. 

LEARNING TO READ ; consisting of Easy and En- 
tertaining Lessons, designed to Assist Toung Children in 
Studying the Forms of the Letters, and in beginning to 
Read. 160 Engravings. 

LEARNING ABOUT COMMON THINGS; or. 

Familiar Instruction for Children in respect to the Ob- 
jects around them that attract their Attention and awaken 
their Curiosity in the Earliest Years of Life. 120 En- 
gravings. 

LEARNING ABOUT RIGHT AND T77RONG; or, 

Entertaining and Instructive Lessons tor Young Children 
in respect to their Duty. ^Ci T£,w^tw\t\^?». 



Books by the Abbotts. 



KINGS AND QUEEN& 

SINGS AND QUEENS ; or, Life in the Palace : con- 
sisting of Historical Sketches of Josephine and Maria Lou- 
isa, Louis Philippe, Ferdinand of Austria, Nicholas, Isa- 
bella II., Leopold, Victoria, and Louis Napoleon. By 
John S. C. Abbott. With numerous Illustrations. 12mo, 
Cloth, $1 76. 



A SUMMER IN SCOTLAND. 

A SXTMBflER IN SCOTLAND r a Narrative of Ob- 
servations and Adventures made by the Author during a 
Summer spent among the Glens and Highlands in Scot- 
land. By John S. C. Abbott. Illustrated with En- 
gravings. 12mo, Cloth, $1 75. 



THE ROMANCE OF SPANISH HISTORY. 

THE ROMANCE OF SPANISH HISTORY. By 
John S. C. Abbott, Author of '*The French Revolution," 
"The History of Napoleon Bonaparte," &c. With Illus- 
trations. 12mo, doth, $2 00. 



SCIENCE 
FOR THE YOUNd 



By JACOB ABBOTT. 



WITH ILLUSTRATIONS, 



\ 12mo, Cloth, $1 50. 
LIGHT. 12mo, Qoth, $1 50. 
TVATER AND LAND. 12mo, aoth, $1 50. 



Few men enjoy a wider or better earned popularity aa a writer 
for the yonng than Jacob Abbott His series of histories, and sto- 
ries illustrative of moral tmths, have famished amusement and in- 
Btrnction to thousands. He has the knack of piquing and gratifying 
curiosity. In the book before us he shows his happy faculty of im- 
parting useful information through the medium of a pleasant nar- 
rative, keeping alive the interest of the young reader, and fixing in 
his memory valuable trtXhs.— Mercury, New Bedford, Mass. 

Jacob Abbott is almost the only writer in the i;nglish language 
who knows how to combine real amusement virith real instruction 
in such a manner that the eager young readers are quite as much 
interested in the usefol knowledge he imparts as in the story which 
he makes so pleasant a medium of instruction.— £u/a{o Commercial 
Advertiser, ^ 

• • • Mr. Abbott has avoided the errbrs so common with writers 
for popular effect, that of slurring over the difficulties of the subject 
through the desire of making it intelligible and attractive to un- 
learned readers. He never tampers with the truth of science, nor 
attempta to dodge the solution of a knotty problem behind a cloud 
ofpJansible illnstrfttions.— X. Y.Tribtme. 



POPULAR HISTORIES 

BT 

JOHN S. C. ABBOTT. 



HISTORY OF FREDERICK THE GREAT. 

The History of Frederick the Second, called Frederick the 
Great. By John S. C. Abbott. Elegantly Illastrated. 
8yo, Cloth, $5 00. 



THE FRENCH REVOLUTION. 

The French Bevolution of 1789, as Viewed in the Light of 
Bepublican Institutions. By John S. C. Abbott. With 
100 Engravings. Svo, Cloth, $5 00. 



NAPOLEON BONAPARTE. 

The History of Napoleon Bonaparte. By John S. C. Ab- 
bott. With Maps, Woodcuts, and Portraits on Steel. 
2 vols., Svo, Cloth, $10 00. 



NAPOLEON AT ST. HELENA. 

Napoleon at St. Helena ; or. Interesting Anecdotes and Re- 
markable Conversations of the Emperor during the Five 
and a Half Years of his Captivity. Collected from the 
Memorials of Las Casas, O'Meara, Montholon, Antom- 
marchi, and others. By John S. C. Abbott. With Il- 
lustrations. Svo, Cloth, $5 00. ,^ 



By JOHN S. C. ABBOTT. 



CHILD AT HOME. 

The Child at Home ; or, the Principles of Filial Daty famil- 
iarly Illustrated. By John S. C. Abbott. Woodcuts. 
J6mo, Cloth, $100. 

The duties and trials peculiar to the child are explained and il- 
lustrated in this volume in the same clear and attractive manner 
in which those of the mother are set forth in the "Mother at Home." 
These two works may be considered as forming a complete manual 
of filial and maternal relations. 



MOTHER AT HOME. 

The Mother at Home ; or, the Principles of Maternal Duty 
familiarly Illustrated. By John S. C. Abbott. Engrav- 
ings. 16mo, Cloth, $1 00. 

This book treats of the important questions of maternal responsi- 
bility and authority ; of the difficulties which the mother will ex- 
perience, the errors to which she is liable, the methods and plans 
she should adopt ; of the religious instruction which she should 
impart, and of the results which she may reasonably hope will fol- 
low her faithful and persevering exertions. These subjects are 
illustrated with the felicity characteristic of all the productions of 
the author. 



PRACTICAL CHRISTIANITY. 

Practical Christianity. A Treatise specially designed for 
Young Men. By John S, C. Abbott. 16mo, Cloth, 
$100. 

It is characterized by the simplicity of style and appositeness of 
illustration which make a book easily read and readily understood. 
It is designed to instruct and interest young men in the effectual 
truths of Christianity. It comes down to their plane of thought, 
and, in a genial, conversational way, strives to lead them to a life 
of godliness.— TTotcAf^uin and Reflector. 

It abounds in wise and practical suggestions.— iV: Y, ComrMreidl 
Advertiser. 



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