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PARIS IN 1771.
On looking over a box of old papers a short time back, in search of somo memoranda of consequence, I found several letters written by an ancestor of mine (an officer in the navy) during a visit to France in the year 1771 ; thinking that his descriptions of the Court and customs of that country between sixty and seventy years ago, are not unlikely to afford amusement to the readers of the New London Magazine, I have selected one of the letters for the present number, and will continue them at intervals.
C. S. This
“ Paris, September 1, 1771.
Pursuing my original plan I have beaded this letter like my former ones, with the day and date of the occurrences which it parrates. The morning proving very fine and bright, at nine o'clock Captain A
Master C- ihe Abbé, and myself set off in a coach and four for Versailles, determined to see all the lions of the day that might be visible. As the road for some part of our journey passed by the left bank of the river, with several noblemen's and gentlemen's villas scattered on the right, some of them cresting eminences, and others deeply embosomed in woods and forests, we found the ride extremely pleasant, particularly the glimpse we caught of Belle Vue, formerly belonging to Madame Pompadour, most delightfully situate, now in the possession of Mons. K—, a farmer general, who is reported to be immensely rich; by the bye, those gentlemen seem to be getting into all the good houses and bandsome villas in this country.
We reached Versailles about eleven, and put up at l'hotel Juste ; then, like true Englishmen, our first care was to bespeak our dinner, which, in consequence of the crowded state of the hotel, could only be eaten in a garret, but that we did not so much mind, as we had, like old campaigners, taken steps to secure the needful of all things—a dinner. That point being settled, we hastened to the palace, the road all the way lined by crowds, who, like ourselves, were bent on sight seeing. The entrance to the palace from the main road is by no means striking, the whole forming an irregular mass of buildings, seemingly without connection or design, and much out of repair we walked through several apartments all very superb, but owing to the great mass of people, we had little opportunity of making remarks, except in the Dauphiness's dressing room, (open only to a select few, and among the number to your humble servant and friends, through the interest of the Duke de Fronsac); here the toilette was laid out, and the clothes she was to wear at dinner ; here also we saw the present Emperor of Germany's picture, done in needlework, a most elaborate performance, the colours so vivid that they surpassed painting ; we were told it was a striking likeness : at any rate, it was an extraordinary piece of art in its way. From hence we went to the gallery of the Chapel Royal, where we had to wait two bours (oh ! patience) for the King's appearance, and at length he came, with all his kingly pomps and vanities, to offer up his homage to that power wbo, while on earth, was the very essence of meekness and lowliness. Two large folding doors flew open, leading to his seat, which was in a gallery that took up one end of the Chapel ; then“ Le Roi” resounded from all sides, and eight Bishops appeared, two and two, after them the King, (Lewis the Fifteenth), followed by his entire suite. The moment he appeared within the doors, a noble band of martial music struck up, and an anthem was sung by some most
exquisite voices, accompanied by the organ. The effect was wonderful perfect illustration of the sublime and beautiful together. His Majesty is a very well looking dark man, tall, with his head hanging a little over the left shoulder—a habit of the Bourbon family it seems—his eyes large, black, and piercing ; upon the whole I thought him handsome for his age (sixty one), and not unlike the Duke of Kingston. He was dressed in a coat of plain lilac-coloured watered silk, a waistcoat of blue silk embroidered with silk, but no jewels about him, except those of his order (the Holy Ghost). At the elevation of the Host, during the service, his guards made us all kneel, which it seems every one must do in his Majesty's presence. I felt sorry for several English ladies who were obliged to conform to a custom, in my thouglıts, ' more honoured in the breach than the observance,' though I avoided it by leaning against a pillar, and thus saved myself from the hard-hearted marble with which the chapel was paved. As none other of the Royal Family were present we felt ourselves rather disappointed, but still the sight, upon the whole, was worth the kneeling penance and the tedious waiting we had gone throagh. The roof of the Chapel, painted by Coypel, is very beautiful, representing, God in all his glory : the high altar of the finest marble, and the gallery that runs round the Chapel, nine feet wide, paved with handsome marble, and railed in with very curious iron rails, richly gilt. Just before the conclusion of the service we got out through a dreadful crowd, and took our stand in the grand gallery of the palace, magnificently painted by Le Brun ; fortune threw a chair in my way, upon which, like the little fellow in the Scripture, I mounted, but not with his success, for I saw not the King upon his return from the Chapel, as he did not pass that way ; however, as a sort of recompense, I got a transient view of Madame Provence, a little plain woman, her nose I think rather à la Pug, I beg her pardon if I am wrong, as the short sight I bad of her might lead me into an error : soon after had a full view of her husband, the Count de Provence (the late Louis the Eighteenth), a tolerably handsome face and eyes, but with a stiffness in his gait, owing to a weakness in one of his knees; as he is not yet sixteen he may grow out of it. A sedan chair, waiting for Madame the Dauphin's eldest sister, I took my stand close to it, by which means I had a full view of her when she got into it ; she is fair, and has a very pretty face, but is one of the fattest girls for her age I ever saw, being only twelve. From this gallery we hurried off to the Dauphin's apartments, for the purpose of seeing him at dinner ; this point we gained with great perseverance, and almost Herculean labour, the want of which sent back several of my countrymen and women as bootless as they came, not chusing to run the risk of a Calcutta entertainment, or a mess of soup in their pockets-a treat which I narrowly escaped (thanks, I believe, to my uniform), till I accomplished a stand within five yards of the Prince and Princess. The Dauphin (Louis the Sixteenth) is just turned seventeen, thin, his face long and sallow, and he looked in tolerable good temper, though that is said not to be his natural failing; he did not seem to take much notice of, or speak often to, bis spouse ; his dress was very rich, the coat and waistcoat light rose coloured silk en suile, embroidered with silver and covered with precious stones ; on his left sat the Dauphiness, a small well made woman, handsome, fair, with beautiful hair, hand, and arm, hér eyes appeared to me rather weak; she was dressed in light blue silk, with a silver gauze over it, a large bouquet of diamonds at her breast, and her hair full of them, very prettily arranged. I remarked that they both feed indelicately, and drank frequently with their mouths full.* A Duchess performed the duty of butler, and, according to the etiquette of this Court, the service of waiting was executed by ladies only. The Swiss guards, with their hats on, brought in the dishes, which they delivered to the ladies, who placed them on the table and did everything requisite to be done afterwards. In about half-an-hour the Dauphin rose from the table to wash, which is never done as it is in this country, for which reason they say they are cleaner than us with our water-glasses and
What would the silver fork gentry say to such feeding in these days ?
napkins. After he had washed, which was the signal for retiring, we went into the gardens, from which we had a full view of the Palace. Here, I must confess, it made a noble appearance, and looked like what it is the residence of a great King. I shall not here enter into a particular description of the gardens, fountains, water works, &c., which are beautiful and grand, though rather too formal for my ideas of what gardens ought to be ; at any rate, they are well worthy of the mansion they adorn.
The appearance of an approaching storm, joined to hunger and fatigue, drove us to our garret, where we sat down to a soup that looked like the rinsings of a kettle, three half-starved chickens, and a small trout, with a dessert of the same stamp as the dinner, washed down by two tolerable hottles of Burgundy, for which they had the modesty to charge us a crown a-head: but as this kind of visit forms a harvest for the hotel keepers, we submitted with as good a grace as we could. During our dinner we had a violent thunder tempest, with rain and hail in drops as large as marbles ; but as that was soon over, and the weather clear again, we made the best of our way back to Paris, and drove to the French Comedy, when the justly famous Preville (the Garrick of France) and his charming wife performed in the comedy of Le Surprise de l'Amour, in which Preville, Madame, and Bellcour were admirable. The petite piece was Le Mercure Galant, in which Preville played again as a drunken soldier, a counsellor, and an abbé, and was great in all three. Returned home from thence, highly delighted, and supped en famille with only the abbé.
we go to St. Cloud and the porcelain manufactory there, which they say is well worthy of inspection.
TO LO V E.
II. III. 183
THE PERSIAN ROBBER.
The plains of Teheran possessed no cottage more cleanly than that which sheltered the gentle Sulema and her widowed mother, though the hand of poverty lay heavy on them and it was with difficulty that they could by the aid of their spinning-wheel gain sufficient for a scanty subsista bice, Sulema had just attained her seventeenth year and her beauty, like the opening blossom, was just expanding with modest loveliness that steals upon our senses and commands our admiration.
She was one day employed at her spinning-wheel whilst her mother had gone to the city to dispose of the produce of their joint labours, and had been for some time expecting her return, when as she turned with a look of anxious enquiry towards the door she observed an aged man advancing towards it, his head was white with the snow of many winters, yet the freshness of unexhausted health was still on his cheek. Sulema drew dack on the approach of the stranger, but seeing him assume the attitude of entreaty she remained, “Gentle maid,” said he, “I have traversed mountains and plain's to-day without repose, spare me therefore. I beseech you, some food to recruit my strength ” “Alas !” replied Sulema sweetly“ the cottage of Mandara boasts not the power to give, yet if you want repose, our shelter shall be yours, and I will prepare for you a little rice that still remains.” The old man seated himself
in the cottage, and Sulema set before him a small bowl of rice and some dried grapes, which had been destined for her own supper. As soon as he had finished his meal the stranger rose to depart. “Fair maid” said he“thy benevolence shall be rewarded, take this ring and with it an old man's blessing; if any misfortune should befall you or your scanty means of subsistance should fail, apply to the Cadi of Teheran, and on it being shown to him, your wish shall be granted.” Sulema received with pleasure the good will offering of her guest and he departed. Her mother soon returned from the city with the small sum she had recieved for her work, Sulema related what had passed with her good guest, and they were rejoiced at the thought of having relieved his distress with their simple means, and they retired to rest with those buoyant spirits that ever accompany those that relieve the distresses of their fellow mortals.
In the neighbourhood of the cottage, stood in an elevated situation a noble Castle surrounded by a fine wood, in whose umbrageous shade the weary traveller might find a rest and shelter from the mid-day sun. The owner of this noble pile had not long been a resident there, for its former possessor having died without issue it fell to the state, and its present proprietor, whose pame was Kandor, had purchased it. Nothing was known of his history, for he came as a stranger and was likely so to remain, for everything except his name was involved in obscurify; he appeared to be rich, but he;kept aloof from his neighbours, fortified his castle, and kept a band of armed men within its walls ; suspicions were excited by these means that all was not right as many robberies had lately been committed near the outskirts of the city, and at length the officers of justice were on the alert to trace the robbers to their stronghold.
As Sulema resided near the castle she had been seen by Kandor while one day returning to her cottage. He was struck with her beauty, and from that moment he determined to possess her; he applied to Mandara for her consent to espouse her daughter, but she gave him her refusal (for she knew Sulema's heart had long been bestowed on the young and noble Zemor the son of the merchant who purchased the produce of their spinning-wheel.) He was a soldier in the Schab of Persia's army, and had seen the lovely maid in his short abşence from his duties, unknown to his father, and was