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From Sir Charles Darnley,

MY DEAR Marquis,


In your last letter, you have criticized somewhat severely the dinner and quadrille parties of London, not to speak of your comments on the matrimonial speculations of our mammas and misses. I am about to make a generous return by giving you an account of an entertainment at Paris, of which I can only speak in terms of unqualified praise. You have no doubt heard, that Bals Costumes or in other words balls, at which the company appear in fancy dresses, though not in masks, have been much, the, fashion during the present winter in the French capital.


(who you know

Mde. de is celebrated for contriving new methods of enlivening her house), determined that the juvenile branches of her acquaintance should partake of a diversion, which appeared to be so popular among their elders. She accordingly issued cards for a "Bal Costume, donné aux enfans de ses amis." This lady, who, by similar attractions, has the talent of drawing into her circle the most distinguish ed inhabitants, as well as visitors of Paris, collected on this occasion, besides almost every French person and foreigner of renown, eighty of their children; and no expense had been spared, either in the dresses of these youthful exhibitors, or in the pleasures prépared for them. The whole entertainment was more novel, more gay, and more characteristic than any thing of the kind which I have yet witnessed. In a large and elegant saloon, brilliantly lighted and decked out on the occasion, with every possible additional ornament, accompanied by their respective parents (who were still in the full enjoyment of manly vigour, or the bloom of female beauty) appeared the destined representatives of some of your most illustrious houses, all of whom personated an assumed

to the Marquis de Vermont.

character, and wore an appropriate garb. A lovely Duchess held in her arms a little girl, scarcely six months old, who was clad in the full attire of a superannuated lady of the last century, with a fly cap, long ruffles, stiff stays, and green spectacles. Besides an infant Hercules, a baby Alexander, and a pigmy Achilles, we had Presidents au mortier of the parliament of Paris, who (though the eldest was not more than eight years of age,) preserved the full appearance of a gra vity so becoming the robes of magisterial office.

We had smart little Abbés, scarcely three feet high, who aped not unsuccessfully the effeminate manners and pert loquacity of those once well-known members of French society. We had Monks whose pillowed rotundity reminded us of the jolly friars of former days. We had miniature dames presenteés de l'ancien régime, with trains two thirds longer than the persons of the wearers, high toupies, high feathers, long lappets, powdered heads, and brilliant jewels. We had also Marèchaux de France, both of the old and new school; Cardinals, Statesmen, Legislators, Financiers, Merchants, Peasants, Turks, Jews, running footmen, flower girls, savants, et savantes, all correctly dressed and correctly acted, though very few of the exhibitors had reached their tenth birth day. But the most striking feature of the whole evening was the performance of a real quadrille, (such as the courtiers of Louis XIV. were in the habit of dancing), by a party of youthful masqueraders, correctly dressed after the best pictures of that age.

Before they made their appearance, papers, of which the following is a literal copy, were distributed among the company, in order to prepare them for the coming sight.

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While these bills were dispersing about the room, a well-chosen band of musicians (also dressed in character) struck up the tune of an ancient march, when, preceded by their pages, the four boys, who represented the four Seigneurs, made their appearance, accoutred in long and laced coats, black wigs, with long ringlets which fell down their shoulders; stockings with red clocks, which were tied above the knee, and hats à l'Henri IV. They moved forward from an adjoining room with becoming solemnity, each giving his hand to his allotted partner. The young ladies who played the parts of the celebrated women, already named, were no less appropriately dressed. They wore gowns with long waists, powdered hair, rouged cheeks, high heels, &c. Proceeding forward in measured time, the youthful dancers took their places in the centre of the saloon. The pages now with bended knee approached their respective lords, received their swords, and then after several bows retired. The Seigneurs began their task by making a profound reverence to the company assembled, and then repeated the same compliment to their partners individually.

The music now changed to the air appropriate to the quadrille, which was admirably executed, with its ancient figure and ancient steps; nor did the exhibitors lay aside for one minute the gravity which they had thought it right to assume.

While the performance was going Eur. Mag. Jan. 1823.


Mde. La Duchesse de Lonqueville. Mademoiselle de Montpensier. Mde. La Duchesse de Montbazon. Mde. La Marquise de Sevigné.

Compositeurs de la Musique. Lully, Rameau, etc.

forward I could not help casting an eye on the brilliant circle of spectators which was formed round the dancers; and in those, who com posed it, I recognised more than one immediate descendant of those illustrious visitors to the Hotel de Ram bouillet, whom we now saw before us as in miniature, and this circumstance added no trifling interest to the scene which was representing.

When the dance was finished the music changed to a march, the pages came forward and returned the swords, in a submissive attitude similar to that in which they had received them, to their respective Seigneurs; who, after renewing their bows to the company and their partners, gave the latter their hands, and conducted them out of the room with the same solemnity which they had observed on entering it.

I must now mention as a curious instance of national character early acquired, (for certainly you are the first actors in the world) that these young people on being called upon to repeat the whole of this exhibition, at the request of an illustrious stranger who came too late to see the first performance, achieved the second task required from them with equal propriety, and without losing for a moment that self-possession and command of countenance which had already excited so much applause.

I should mention, before I conclude this imperfect sketch of a most amusing evening, that at ten o'clock the eighty children, who had ap


peared en costume adjourned to the eating-room where a splendid repast had been prepared for them.

I was very much pleased with the politeness of the little Frenchmen, who, instead of rushing forward as so many English boys would have done, selected their favourite belles, and led them to the supper table.

Nor did they forget to put their napkins through their button-holes, in doing which they reminded me of my friend, the bon-vivant at Beauvilier's, who never begins his meal till this ceremony is performed.

Here, however, their regard for good manners seemed to cease; for no roturiers' sons could have eaten more ravenously than did these children of la haute Noblesse. They were waited on by their bonnes (or nurses) who wore their provincial dresses, which added another curious feature to the scene. I smiled at remarking, that not a few Marshals of France, Cardinals, and Presidents of Parliament, received a friendly

hint from these good women, not to make themselves sick by eating too much; a piece of advice which, like most counsels, seemed to be but little attended to.

Among the many circumstances which threw a charm round this gala, I must add that the mothers of the juvenile exhibitors were still young themselves, and contained in their number some of the handsomest women at Paris. Their beauty, animated by viewing the performances and merry faces of their children, was seen to great advantage; but I must do them the justice to say, that I believe they were all too much occupied at this moment with the charms of their offspring to think of their own.

Altogether, few things I have seen in France have pleased me more than this little fête, for it displayed at once a union of innocence, gaity, and maternal affection.



From the Marquis de Vermont to Sir Charles Darnley, Bart.


I FEAR, my dear Darnley, that you will think me very ill-natured, but, having promised to give my opinion candidly and without disguise, I must confess that I am, every day, more and more sur prised at the contradictions which I discover in the character of your countrymen. They have the reputation of being fond of retirement, yet they are for ever in public; they are said to be simple in their habits yet their establishments, their equipages, their tables, their plate, and their jewels, display the most ruinous contempt of prudential considerations. They boast of the advantages they enjoy of living under a government of law and Jiberty; yet, when a disposition is displayed by other countries to struggle for similar blessings, they support and justify their oppressors. They cultivate literature more than all the nations of Europe, and I believe the books published yearly in London greatly exceed

the aggregate number of those, which issue from the united presses of the rest of the civilized world; and, certainly, information is no where more generally diffused, yet science and letters are very rarely made the subjects of conversation. The English are the liberal patrons and professed admirers of musical talent, and, at an immense expense, tempt to their shores the most celebrated performers of Italy; yet neither at the Opera-House, nor at public or private concerts, is it possible to enforce that necessary silence, without which the charms of soft sounds cannot be enjoyed. Your ladies are said to be domestic; yet, as I have had occasion before to observe, they waste their mornings in the lounges of Hyde Park or Bond Street, and their nights in crowded assemblies, where the youngest and most beautiful of them, after exhibiting their only half-veiled persons to the gaze of five hundred spectators in the quadrille or less delicate waltz, seem to feel no sense of impropriety in seating themselves with their

partners in some distant corner of the room, far removed from the eye of their husbands or mothers, where, without a blusk, they listen to all the silly nonsense which passion or folly whispers, and vanity and in experience so greedily devour.

You are strict moralists, and severely condemn our Government for checking some of the evils of gaming, by taking it under its direction; and, as vice cannot be avoided in a great city, for making it at Paris available to beneficial purposes, in applying the profits of the Salon and other similar establishments to the support of our hospitals and houses of relief for suffering poverty. Yet your Parliament yearly sanctions the drawing of a Lottery of all kinds of gaming decidedly the most pernicious, and one by which the lowest orders of society are lured to their rain by an irresistible bait. In spite, too, of the pretended strictness of your manners, the most abandoned women are allowed to throng your streets, and to fill the lobbies and upper boxes of your national theatres.

You are a religious nation, and particularly rigid in the rules you lay down for the observance of the Sabbath. Indeed, I have often heard Englishmen complain of the little respect paid to that day at Paris, though the amusements which you condemn, and which we think innocent, are not suffered to commence till after the hour at which the churches are closed. Well-in spite of all the extreme severity of opinion, 1 remark many contradictions in your manner of "keeping holy the seventh day." Your playhouses and shops are shut, but your eatinghouses of all descriptions are thrown open. It is the day in the week chosen preferably to all others for country excursions; and those who remain in town loiter away several hours on foot, on horseback, or in carriages, while the evening service is still performing, at no great distance from the promenade in which they take their exercise-and while you hold it criminal to ask your friends to card parties or balls, Lords, Ministers, Judges, and Bishops, give dinners on Sundays; and at those dinners, I believe there is no less wine drank by the gen

tlemen, and no less scandal spoken by the ladies.

But of all your contradictions, it appears to me, that the greatest is that deference (I am almost disposed to say homage), which is paid to rank in this country. The writers on the British Constitution boast, and boast with reason, that all Englishmen are equal in the eyes of the law, and that though your Peers have sundry privileges, these privileges are less beneficial to themselves than to the public; that they. constituting your only real nobility, are not a caste or exclusive order marked and separated from the rest of the people by an insuperable barrier:

that most of them before they became Peers were Commoners, while their children remain such, during their life-time, and have no legal superiority over the rest of their fellow-subjects. Well, in spite of these assertions, which are certainly founded on truth, I know no country in which the hierarchy of rank is so rigidly observed.

I should, a few years since, have attributed this circumstance to the value set every where on that which is rare. But when we consider the vast number of Peers created by George the Third, and more particularly under the administration of Mr. Pitt-when we recollect the vast augmentation which the Order of the Bath lately received, and the countless Knights and Baronets whom the military and naval achieve ments of the last war have been the occasion of decorating with titles, it can no longer be said, that lofty names are scarce, even in England. Indeed, I never go into company without being jostled by numerous Englishmen, bearing some of these courtly denominations, or decked out in one or more of those badges of distinction, which mark the members of a chivalrous order. Besides these, also, there are abundance of foreign noblesse, who, in the respect paid them here, receive the full value of the exchange for their continental honours.

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A propos. When I first arrived in England, finding myself frequently placed by the lady of the house at the tables where I dined, I attributed this politeness to the

general urbanity of your countrymen towards strangers, and was far from suspecting what I have since discovered, that I owe all this distinc tion to the title which I happen to bear:

I believe you are sufficiently acquainted with our manners to know that a man's importance (even according to the etiquette of the old court) depends principally on the antiquity of his family, and that members of noble houses are indiscriminately called Marquises, Counts, Viscounts, Barons, or Chevaliers, -without the difference of appellation producing any in their rank. It is, however, to the accidental circumstance of my possessing the first of these denominations that I am indebted for the precedence so undeservedly bestowed.

M. le Marquis is translated into the English Lord Marquis, and treated as such. I am given every where the pas after Dukes; and, indeed, I often blush at being received in this manner, while, perhaps, a countryman of mine, over whom I have no pretension to arrogate the slightest superiority, is placed at the bottom of the table, because his title of "Chevalier" is considered only tantamount to that of a simple Knight. Nothing has surprised me more altogether than observing in a country, celebrated for the liberality of its institutions, so servile an attention to distinctions of this kind. To collect together as many great people as possible seems the ambition of the donor of an entertainment, while little attention is paid to the moral character, talents, or acquirements of the company I before told you how extraordinary it appeared to me, when I was first invited to an English table, to see the guests marshalled to their places according to the strictest etiquette of heraldic precedence; but, in my experience of your customs and usages, I find that the gratification of vanity, and not the enjoyment of society, is the business of all such meetings; and as at Paris we try to form a circle of friends or of persons of congenial habits, so in Lonon your aim is, to give yourselves a borrowed import ance by the stars and titles of your guests. Indeed, though well acquainted with your language, it was

long before I understood the jargon of fashionable life. When I was told that at a house at which I was about to visit, that I should find “a delightful party," I expected to meet ladies of graceful manners or extraordinary beauty, and men of sense, wit, and information. Think then of my disappointment, when, in going to one of these promised defightful parties, I found the following company: three or four Dowagers long past the meridian of life, and more remarkable for their contempt of all that is estimable in the female character, than for any of those qualities which throw a charm round the presence of truly amiable and truly agreeable women; half a dozen Lords, who could talk of nothing but their horses, their dogs, or their amours, except when the flavour of the wines, or the excellence of the sauces, claimed the admiration of their epicurean taste; an Earl's younger son, much taken notice of at this time, he having lately paid considerable damages for crim. con. with the wife of his most intimate friend; another "Honorable," who, after ruining a host of tradesmen (while he indulged in the most undue extravagances) had just been discharged from the King's Bench Prison under the Insolvent Debtor's Act, and a dashing Baronet lately deprived of his commission, for having deprived a brother officer of a considerable sum at the gaming table; and lastly, of a Comic Actor from one of the Theatres, who, knowing the price which he was expected to pay for his dinner, endeavoured by the grossest buffoonery to raise the drooping spirits of the high-titled, but very unprincipled, and very tiresome personages, who composed this" delightful party.”"

I make a similar remark respecting those motley crowds in which you pass your nights, rather than your evenings. When invited to one of these entertainments, after waiting a considerable time in approaching the door of the house in which the assembly is given, at no little risk to the safety of my carriage, and with some to that of my person, when I at last make my way into this much talked of gala, what do I find? A mob of six or seven hundred persons, all

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