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There will she show that light supreme,
That now would blind our earthly gaze; There, wakened from Earth's wildering dream,
We enter Life within her rays. Orford, (Ohio,) April 15, 1851.
Sketch-Book of Je, Meister Karl.
CHAPTER THE SIXTE.
6 Arnou de k'ha doui. Dak'hou bah lideleïweh.' - LAWS OF THE AVOIAUNG.
INTRODUCTION AND PROTEST !
BY THE MEISTIR.
Paris, FEBRUARY, 184–. READER, there are several items in this work for which I, the compiler thereof, do hold myself in no wise responsible. For having intrusted the revision and publication of the same to the arch-rogue WOLF SHORT, he at once went to work with scissors and paste, not only cutting out and expurgating nearly all that I had written, in imitation of the Chevalier Bunsen, Thomas à Kempis, Chalmers, and Tillotson, but actually interpolating (by way of improvement, as he kindly informed me) divers platitudes of his own invention; preëminent among which is the following chapter, which all true friends of mine are respectfully requested to skip, as I always do myself. And as I propose in my next edition striking out all these interpolations, and substituting therefor select biographical notices of, and extracts from, the works of Sterne, Swift, Rabelais, Sydney Smith, Abraham a Santa Clara, Gerundic de Zerotes, Schiller's Friar, Taulerus, Dow's Patent Sermons, and other approved and orthodox theologians and theological works, (including of course an abridgment of the • Predicatoriana,') I trust that no one will find extra fault with the succeeding pages, especially as I distinctly and openly denounce them as not the genuine Meister Karl. If you doubt - le voilà !
A DINNER IN THE RUE CADRT:
FRANCS amis de la bombance,
Enfants du quartier Latin,
Rose Pompon, (bis)
Rigolette, et Frisette,
• Vive la Chaumiére,
Où a des cosquets.' – LA GRISZTTE. I FOUND myself one afternoon walking up the Rue Vivienne with a Polish friend, the most eccentric genius, Í verily believe, at that time in Paris. He seemed to have been born for the purpose of illustrating the total amount of singularity, oddity, whimsicality, and contradiction which a human brain is capable of entertaining. Attired the day before in a dress which would have been refused admission to a ball of the Barrière, with manners to match, he was now mis en grand seigneur, (dressed
like a lord,) and bore himself with the grace and dignity which became his title.
"Well, mon ami,' I asked, 'where do we dine to-day ?'
I know that you like to see life in its different forms, and will not stick at a trifle.'
This was the last word he spoke, until we arrived at a dusty, desolatelooking house in the Rue Cadet, at which he rung. The summons was directly answered, not by the concierge, but a trim, pretty-looking girl, who scrutinized us closely.
Well, Melanie, is dinner served ?'
The girl burst into a laugh. "Tiens! c'est donc vous, Monsieur, (ha! it is you, Sir.) Ma foi, how you are changed since the last time! No wonder I did n't know you. Oh, mon Dieu! how handsome he is in gants de paille, (straw-colored gloves,) and his moustache en gomme!' (gummed.)
"I did it, petite, that I might get a place in your heart. Do n't let me be dégommé,' (ungummed, or • dismissed from his situation.')
• Blagueur !' (idle-talker.)
With this epithet of endearment, she ushered us up a difficult pair of stairs into a large room, already occupied by a dozen ladies, most of whom were strikingly attractive, and three or four gentlemen. The females, I at once perceived, were artistes, id est, actresses, and inferior stars of the opera. As for the men, they might have been any thing, from spies of the police up to diplomatists ; for I could perceive nothing in their appearance or language which afforded the slightest indication of their condition, with the exception, indeed, of one rosy, merry, tight little fellow, called by the rest Monsieur l'Abbé, whose loud ringing laugh and droll twinkling eyes were too eminently, positively, and exquisitely theological to admit a doubt as to the character of his earlier studies.
“Gentlemen and ladies!' exclaimed Melanie, ushering us in, 'permit me to introduce Monsieur le Polonais, who will perform to-day in the farce of the Converted Ragman,' or the Fop of Paris.' As he has never practised or rehearsed it previously, the refined and illustrious audience are requested to pardon all small errors — tra la, la, la, la !
'Permit me,' exclaimed my friend, 'to present with my right hand my ami très deochicandard, (my very up-to-snuff friend,) Monsieur Charles; and placing my left on my heart, to disclaim the possibility of my committing any of those small errors which Melanie talks about.'
We thank you kindly for your friend,' replied a superb girl, with blue eyes and black hair; .as for the rest, Dame ! all the world knows that the Polish gentleman has no small errors or vices.'
Va, tu m'embêtes,' (go, you annoy me,) was the elegant reply of my friend. “But I own myself floored, Mamselle Eloïse, truly enfoncée,' (used-up.)
'Enfoncée !' cried all the ladies, and sung in merry chorus :
Sacré boutique, ventre biche et troun de l'air !' roared my Pole. • What, ho! holà there, Madame; bring these ladies their soup, and stop their mouths !'
Stop your own profanity,' said Eloïse, and know that nothing immoral or improper is tolerated here — except yourself!
At this stage the potage made its appearance, and was speedily dispatched. The dinner was excellent, the wine exquisite. Long before the conclusion, I had satisfactorily determined that my knowledge of the French language, as well as of French nature in general, might in this seminary, if not improved, be at least very materially extended.
At one of the periodical pauses, a black-eyed little witch, who sat beside the Abbé, and to whom he seemed remarkably attentive, cried out:
• But, Monsieur l'Abbé — Monsieur le Farceur (Mr. Joker) – finish the story you began before the Polish gentleman entered.'
What, about my German enemy? As thou wilt, O beautiful child ! but let me forewarn thee, that it is a defeat, and not a victory, of thy best friend that I am about to sing.'
• On ta donc flouée, (somebody cheated you then,) pauvre Abbė !' cried the witch, laughing, and pretending to cry.
• Listen! Several of us were obliged at a Concurrence to present essays to the dean on a subject - n'importe quoi ! My principal adversary was a great beer-barrel of an Alsatian. The essays were to be printed, and I, fearing that my Alsatian, who understood the subject as little as a Spanish cow does Latin, might obtain one, gave orders to the publisher to print only a limited number, and on no account to deliver a single copy to any person but myself. Eh bien! my Alsatian heard of this, and did his best to obtain one. He tried bribery, but the printer's devils were all French, and spurned with indignation the wages of infamy. And what did the scélérat do? He drew on a pair of white linen pantaloons, and entering the office, looked around until he found the essay set up in type and freshly inked. Being as broadly-built as a Flemish ship, he sat down upon it, as it were inadvertently, and rising, ran home unperceived, with four quarto pages printed on his pantaloons.
The dessert over, Eloïse turned smilingly to my Pole and said: 'Well, mon ami, will you lose a cup of coffee and a petit verre with me at cards, or would you prefer paying for it now?' 'Pas si jobard,' (not so green,) grumbled the Pole; that is to say, wolves do n't eat each other, belle amie, so keep thy teeth from me!' • Tais toi, gros serein! (IIold your tongue, great stupid.) Oh, what a terrible spectacle to behold such sordid avarice lodged in so young a heart!'
Will Mamselle permit me to offer her a gloria,' (coffee and cognac,) I said, “as a sacrifice to the divinity of her beauty ?'
"There, Monsieur le Pole,' cried Eloïse, “there's an example for you in your excellent friend! Oh, what goodness of heart! Bravest, best of men, suffer me to embrace thee!!
Which I actually did, to the intense delight of the Pole, and the heartfelt satisfaction of the abbé, who wafted his blessing by putting his elbow on the back of his left hand, and waving the right up and down, (a gesture borrowed, I believe, from the Cancan,) and offered to marry us on the spot for a cigar. But Eloïse drew herself up proudly, and with the air of Rachel exclaimed:
"Monsieur is worthy of a queen — an empress might be proud to wed him; but I have sworn to remain a vestal !'
Here the Pole abruptly caught up his hat and cried : ‘Fly! let us save ourselves ; this is too holy a spot for an unworthy sinner like me.'
We bade adieu to the company, and receiving many pressing invitations to return soon, took our departure.
It was night, and as we strolled lazily along the Boulevards, the Pole drew his hat over his eyes, and muttered to himself from time to time. At last he broke out:
Volage — changeable — fickle! Poor butterflies of an hour — poor children, lost — for ever. The flowers sprung up in cool gardens, or beneath the pleasant green-wood, and the spoiler came and cut them away, and bore them in gilded vases to heated saloons, that they might exult for a few short hours in their beauty, and on the morrow be cast out, wasted and worthless, to rot by the way-side. Telle est la vie!''
“The fault of society,' I suggested, without reflecting, as a mere common-place.
The Pole glared upon me, almost fiercely, and exclaimed:
• It is not the fault of society! Who declared that society should be the scape-goat to bear away the sins of the weak and wicked ? Is not the progress of the world the work of God, and is it not slandering God to declare his work the cause of sin? Breathes there a man or woman on earth, to whom it has not in one form or the other been revealed, “Thou shalt resist temptation;' the nature of which temptation has also of its kind been made manifest? But go and ask those children, those lost ones whom we have just quitted, and they will all sing you the same song : • We are not to blame; oh no, we are not bad; the world and man made us what we are !!
With this the Pole spoke no more for a full half-hour. Suddenly calling a coupé, he entered with me, and said:
Let us go to the CHAUMIERE. Drive on, coachman!'.
On, along the brilliant Boulevard, gay with a thousand lights and thronged with myriads. Before the cafés, at little tables, sat crowds sipping their iced lemonade, and listening to itinerant harpers and guitar-girls. There was the portly citizen with his family, the lover and his dear one, all unconscious, it would seem, of the marketable vice and sin for sale,' which swam along mixed with the flood of life. At intervals a solitary sergent de ville, in his long frock-coat, cocked-hat, and rapier, strode silently on, a gloomy man without a will, alone in the gay throng. And above all, and in all, and through all, circulated the elements of blood and fire and death. They were there in the rapid glancing of eyes, the pressure of hands, in short words and hasty signs. In their distant quarters, in dens of vice, of squalidness and debauchery, the dangerous classes' were laughing with fierce glee, and there was much meaning in the 'nous verrons' of those days. For the great revolution of 1848 was then at hand. Down the Rue Richelieu, along the Quai, over the Pont