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when they ought to feel, and reduce all to the standard of their own mediocrity.
Paris, 31st.-Always gay and pleasant, but frivolous Paris ! where to amuse oneself seems to be the sole business of life with all thine inhabitants, from the elegant duchesse of the Faubourg St. Germain, down to the piquante grisette of the Rue St. Denis. These people possess surely a most mercurial temperament, and give way to its excitements with a most philosophical laissez aller. We English are, or fancy we are, wiser. Are we happier ?
Are we happier ? Does the forethought that impels us to pass half our days in acquiring means for enjoying the other half, leave us in a state to appreciate its advantages when they arrive ? And are not the French wiser, who snatch at the present, and abandon the future to the arbitrement of chance ? How thoroughly English it is of me, to enter into this grave and hypothetical disqui. sition ! while a bright sun is shining through my windows, numberless carriages rattling past them, and crowds of well-dressed people flocking to the Tuilleries' gardens in front of my abode.
I have just returned from a visit to my old friend the Baron Denon, who was, as all my French acquaintances profess themselves to be, “ charmed to see me.” I like this warmth of manner, even though it may not always spring from the heart. It is at least an amiable deception calculated to give pleasure, and to injure no one; though we English denominate it by the harsh term of insincerity. The good Denon is a most amusing man, a compound of savant and petit-maitre ;
one moment descanting on Egyptian antiquities, and the next passing eulogiums on the joli chapeau or robe of his female visitors. He seems equally at home in detailing the perfections of a mummy, or in describing “le mignon pied d'une charmante femme;" and not unfrequently turns from exhibiting some morceau d'antiquité bien remarquable, to display a cast of the exquisite hand of Pauline Borghese.
His anecdotes of his idol Napoleon are very interesting, and, of course, are coloured by his partiality. He told me, that on one occasion, Napoleon wished him to make a sketch of Marie-Louise, for a statue which he intended to have executed by Canova. She was to be represented as a Roman Empress, with flowing drapery, bare arms, and a tiara. Denon was in her apartment, endeavouring to place her in a graceful posture; to accomplish which he found to be, if not an impossible, at least a difficult task. Napoleon, who was present, appeared mortified at the total want of natural grace of the Empress; and when he next met Denon alone, remarked, “ that it was strange that a person so perfectly well shaped, should be so remarkably stiff and gauche in all her movements.”
May not grace be considered to be the esprit of the body?
Denon would be nothing without his collection. His house is a perfect museum, and furnishes him with an inexhaustible topic on which to expend his superfluous animation and scientific discoveries. Delighted with himself, and grateful to all who seem to participate in his self-adoration, he is the most obliging of all egotists; and, what is rare, the least tire
“ L'Empereur et moi” forms the refrain of most of his monologues; and it is evident that he thinks one in no degree inferior to the other. His vanity, always harmless, is frequently very amusing. It consoles him under every change, and solaces him under every privation. It also renders him observant of, and indulgent to, the vanity of others; which he conciliates, by a delicate and judicious flattery, that seldom fails to send his visitors away no less satisfied with him than with themselves. He resembles certain mirrors, in which, though we know our image to be too favourable, we take an infinite pleasure in contemplating it.
September 1st.-My Birth-Day.-I could be triste and sentimental, were I to give way to the reflections which particular recollections awaken. In England, I should experience these doleful feelings, but at Paris tristesse and sentimentality would be misplaced ; so I must look couleur de rose, and receive the congratulations of my friends, on adding another year to my age; a subject far from meriting congratulations, when one has passed thirty. Youth is like health, we never value the possession of either until they have begun to decline.
There is no place where privacy is so little to be enjoyed as at Paris; unless one uses the precaution of locking one's door. I allude of course to an hôtel garni. Every five minutes some garçon en veste, frotteur sans veste, or laquais de place, looks into the salon, or chambre-à-coucher, mutters a “Pardon, madame," and retreats, leaving one quite mystified as.
to what could be the excuse for the intrusion. The horloger who regulates the pendules of this hotel walked into my chamber, sans cérémonie, this morning, ere I had left my pillow; wound up the timepiece on the console most methodically, and then withdrew, without a word of excuse, to my great astonishment and to the horror of my femme-dechambre, who followed him to the ante-room, to explain the indecorum of his conduct.
An English clockmaker would be quite as much embarrassed, could he find himself in such a position, as the lady into whose room he had intruded; but a Frenchman is never embarrassed, and considers another person's entertainment of this feeling as a proof of gaucherie.
Oh! the noises of every description that assail one's ears, from early morn to midnight, in a Parisian hotel! The neighing of horses in the court, the rumbling of carriage wheels, the swearing of coachmen, the grumbling of the porter, shrill voices of the female domestics, and occasional snatches of songs of the laquais ; with the chirping of birds, talking of parrots, yelping of dogs, mewing of cats, and ringing of bells ! How often, since my short sojourn here, have I been tempted to wish that “I had the wings of a dove, and could flee away and be at rest,” for this perpetual din confuses and overpowers me.
There are many English here; and almost all are full of complaints of the extravagance of the charges, badness of the dinners, and total want of comfort. Those accustomed to even a lavish expenditure at home, are disposed to be parsimonious abroad ; and murmur at charges in Paris that in London would be
esteemed very reasonable. But the truth is, we English are prone to murmur; it is the safety-valve of our bilious temperament: and the moment we are out of England, and are deprived of our never-failing topic for complaint, our climate, we vent our national discontent on other subjects.
2nd. - There is something peculiarly light and agreeable in the air here, and the animals, as well as the people, seem influenced by it. The trees in the Champs Elysées and Tuilleries have assumed their rich autumnal hues; and the ladies have added to their summer costume a warm shawl, thrown over the shoulders with a grace peculiar to Parisians. The animation of their countenances, elegance of their tournures, and smallness of their feet, are remarkable; and, joined to a certain air dégagé, equally free from boldness as from awkwardness, render them extremely attractive. It strikes me that French women are more formed to be admired than loved ; and English women vice versa. The constitutional gaiety and animation of the former, with their quickness at repartee, and love of society, while it serves to render them very agreeable, is not conducive to the creation of the soft and grave sentiment of love: hence the tender passion is more talked of than felt in France, and intrigues of gallantry are more frequent than attachments founded on strong affection. Society is the paramount object of life with a fine lady in France. For this she dresses, thinks, talks, and arranges her house, all of which she does à merveille ; and no where, consequently, is society better understood, or more agreeable. A perfect