Imágenes de páginas

dirtiest parts of the town. The hour of Mr. Melville's arrival was not the most favourable for entering that city; it had been dark some time, and in driving along through several compressed, ill-lighted streets, the only objects he could see were great gateways, or porte-cochères, which, together with the scarcity of windows, gave every house the appearance of a warehouse, and in fact, it struck him altogether very much like some of those streets in the city running along the Thames, the buildings in which are wholly devoted to mercantile purposes. His ideas of Paris had been raised high, and, like all persons who have formed too great an estimate of what they are to enjoy, he was disappointed; he was also somewhat tired, and out of humour; and on arriving at their hotel, he expected to find it corresponding with his fallen ideas of Paris; he was not however very sorry, to find himself mistaken, and to meet with excellent apartments, furnished in the most comfortable style,


but at the same time with an air of luxury through the whole, which made him remember that he was in a city devoted to pleasure. Several dishes, cooked to the turning of a minute-glass, and some excellent claret, very soon put all remaining vapeurs noirs to flight; and going to bed, he let his head sink into the one immense pillow placed for its reception, and gave all his fatigues notice to quit against the next day.

As soon as breakfast was over the morning after, he sallied out with Mr. Wilmot, and proceeding down the Rue de la Paix, crossed over the Boulevard, and then without quitting it, turned to the right towards the Rue Fauxbourg Mont Martre. The sight that was presented to Charles Melville was novel and entertaining. Though the month was February, the day was clear and mild, the sun shining as hard as he could shine, considering the weakness of his infant beams at that time of year; it was also at the moment when his rays


have most power, a little after twelve-a moment when the greater part of the male population of Paris contrive some excuse to shew themselves on the Boulevards, either to take a bath, a game of billiards, or a cup of coffee at Tortoni's, to read the journals, or to meet their friends.

The whole place seemed a garden of violets, and Charles found the very air he breathed perfumed with those flowers that, heaped into large baskets, actually lined the broad walk along which they passed. Wherever he turned, there were girls offering little bunches, tied neatly up, to place in the buttonhole, and who would scarcely take any refusal.

One of these little, smiling, black-eyed, demoiselles, before he knew what she was about, had adorned his coat in this fashion, and when he took the flowers from his buttonhole, saying he had no sous, she made him a graceful inclination, sayingN'importe, monsieur, un autre fois."


Charles could not resist it, and gave her a franc.

“ If you are so liberal,” observed Mr. Wilmot with a smile, “ you will raise the price of violets. I think,” he added, somewhat more gravely, “ that it is almost a duty people of large fortune owe to those who have less, never, by an overstrained liberality, to raise the value of any thing above its natural level: when we wish to be generous, we ought to bestow any thing as a gift, and never to pay above the just worth of what we receive, for if we do otherwise, we not only make those we oblige ungrateful, but also imposing."

The groups on the Boulevards now attracted Charles's attention, and as, by the frequent bows and looks of recognition which he received, Mr. Wilmot seemed to be acquainted with the principal persons they saw, Charles asked him for some account of those who composed the motley crowd amongst which they were mingled; and as his companion explained to him, in his calm but pointed manner, their various characters, Charles compared it in his own mind to the human chaos lady Rodolpha describes in the Man of the World.

The first he pointed out was the king's physician, an old man, with a powdered wig, black coat, and three orders of merit at his breast; a celebrated London watchmaker, whose business went better than his timekeepers, was the next, and Charles was surprised to hear that he was here possessed of one of the most magnificent hotels in the place, and lived in a style of luxury surpassing many of the first nobles of the land; a French marquis succeeded, who, during the course of his life, had dexterously managed to change sides in politics five times; his variations in religion, Mr. Wilmot observed, had never been counted, as he was never supposed to have had any with sincerity; two or three colonels and two or three counts came next, with long mustaches, spurs, earrings, and crosses: an English solicitor, who became trustee


« AnteriorContinuar »