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Breakfast.— Warmth of French Expression.—Rustic Eloquence.— Curious Cause assigned for the late extraordinary Frost. — Madame R . — Paul I. — Tivoli. — Frescati.
In the morning we breakfasted in the drawing room, in which the murderous myrmidons of Robespierre had been regaled. It was beautifully situated. Its windows looked into
a grove which Monsieur O had formed of valuable
american shrubs. His youngest daughter, a beautiful little girl of about five years of age, rather hastily entered the room with a pair of tame w ood pigeons in her hands, which, in her eagerness to bring to her .father, she had too forcibly pressed, who very gently told her, it was cruel to hurt her little favourites, more particularly as they were a species of bird which was remarkable for its unoffending innocence. The little creature burst into tears, " my little Harriet, why "do you weep?" said her father, kissing her white forehead, and pressing her to him. "Why do you rebuke me r" said the little sufferer, "when you know I love you so much that I "could kiss your naked heart."
I mention this circumstance, to show how early in life, the french children imbibe the most charming expressions, by which their more mature conversation is rendered so peculiarly captivating. During our repast, a circumstance occurred, which produced an unusual vivacity amongst all the party,
and WARMTH OF FRENCH EXPRESSION. 129
and afforded a specimen of the talent and pleasantry of the Chap.
. V T T T
french country people. The gardener entered, with the paper," and letters of the day. Amongst them, was a letter which had been opened, appeared very much disordered, and ought to
have been received upon the preceding day. Monsieur O
seemed much.displeased,.;and called upon his man to explain the matter* The gardener, who possessed a countenance which beamed.with animaUqn^afld good humour, made a low bow, and without appearing to be, in the least degree, disconcerted, proceeded to unfold the affair, with the most playful ingenuity. He stated that the dairy maid was very pretty, that she made v.every. body. (ini love with her, and was very much in love herself, that she was accustomed to receive a great number of billet doux, which, on account of her education having been very far below her incomparable merits, she was not able to understand, without the assistance of Nicolene,. the groom, who was her confident, and amanuensis; that on the day before/ he gave her the letter in question, with directions to carry it to his master, that under the (influence of that thoughtful absence which is said to attend the advanced stages of the tender passion, she soon afterwards conceived that ,it was no other than a customary homage: fcoln.■one of her many admirers, upon which she Committed. the supposed depositary of tender sighs and brittle vows, to the warm .'Custody of her'glowing bosom, than which, the gardener, (vvlK)r at; this moment saw his master's eyes ;iwerc engaged by the sullied appearance of the letter). declared that. nothing wa$; fairer,; " he; again proceeded, by observing,
130 kfcSTIC ELbQWE-Ntfe
Chap. that in the course of the preceding. evening, as she was stoopxin* ing to adjust her stool in the nseadow, the cow kicked, an4 the epistle tumbled into the milk pail; that she afterward* dried it by the kitchen fite, and gave it, for the reasons before assigned, to her confidential friend; to explain to her, wh# soon discovered' it to be a fetter of business, addressed to his master, instead of ail. impassioned; love ditty £ob the tender Marie; that, finally, all the 'pfcincipals concerned in this unhappy affair were overwhelmed with distress, on account of the sad disaster, and that the MteliCTi had lost all its vivacity eve* since. No advocate could have pleaded more eloquently. All the family, from its chief, to little .'Harriet,/ Whose tears were not- yet dried, were in a continued fit of laughing. The gardener, whose face very largely partook of the gaiety winch he had so successfully excited, was commissioned, by his amfr able master, to tell the distressed dairy maid, that love always carried his pardon in his hand for all his offences,. and that he cheerfully forgave her, but directed the gardener, t© prevent: a recurrence of similar accidents, not again to trust her with his letters until the tender disease was radically removed. The rustic orator gracefully bowed; and left us to finish our breakfast with increased good humour, and to carry forgiveness and consolation to poor Marie and all her condoling friends in the kitchen. Before We had completed our repast, a little deformed elderly lady made her appearance, whose religion had been shaken by the revolution, into a crazy and gloomy superstition. She had scarcely seated herself, before she began a very rapid and voluble comment upon the change of the
times, CAUSE OF THE LATE EXTRAORDINARY FROST.
times, and the devastations which the late extraordinary frost had committed upon the vineyards of France, which she positively asserted, with the confidence which only the arrival of her tutelar saint with the intelligence ought to have inspired, was sent as an appropriate judgment upon the republic, to punish it, for suffering the ladies of Paris to go so thinly clothed. Monsieur O heard her very patiently throughout, and then observed, that the ways pf Heaven were inscrutable, that human ingenuity was baffled, in attempting to draw inferences from its visitations, and that it did not appear to him at least, that an offence which.was assuredly calculated to inspire sensations of warmth and tenderness, was appropriately punished by a chastisement of an opposite tendency, to which he added, that some moralists who indulged in an endeavour to connect causes and effects, might think it rather incompatible with their notions of eternal equity, to endeavour to clothe the ladies, by stripping the land to nakedness—-here the old lady could not help smiling. Her amicable adversary pursued the advantage which his pleasantry had produced, by informing her, that prognostications had been for a long period discountenanced, and that formerly when the ancient augurs, after the ceremonies of their successful illusions were over, met each other by accident in the street, impressed by. the ridiculous remembrance of their impositions, they could not help laughing in each other's faces. Madame Y\ u.jii laughed too; upon which Monsieur Q-*> «, very good hu* mouredly told her, that as a soothsayer, she certainly would not have smiled, unless she intended to retire for ever from
s 2 the MADAME R .
the office. Previous to my taking leave of Monsieur O
and his charming family, we walked in the gardens, where our conversation turned upon the extraordinary genius, who in the character of first consul of the french, unites a force, and extent of sway unknown to the kings of France, from their first appearance, to the final extinction of monarchy.
He told me that he had klie'honour of knowing him with intimacy from his youth,- and extolled, with high eulogy> his splendid abilities, and the great services which he had rendered. France^ ,He also related -Several amiable anecdotes of the minister Talleyrand,'who, when in America, had lived with him a considerable time under the same roof.
At length the cabriolet, which was to bear me from this little Paradise, approached the gate, and the moment arrived when I was to part with one of the most charming families to be found in the bosom of the republic/
As Monsieur O—— pressed me by one hand, and placed that of his little Harriet in my other; a tear of exquisite tenderness rolled down his cheek, it deemed to express that we should never meet again on this side the grave. Excellent being! if it mustbe so, if wasting and unsparing sickiiess isi destined to tear thee ere long from those who delight thine eye, and soothe thine heart in the midst of its sorrows, may the angel of peace smile upon thee in thy last moments, and bear thy mild and generous, and patient spirit, to the realms of eternal repose! Adieu! dear family of la Reine.
Upon my return to Paris, I proceeded to the hotel of
Monsieur R-< . Curiosity led ine to view the house,