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to shave, to dress hair, to cook, to take care of horses, to drive a cabriolet, &c. &c. &c. I wished very much to know what could be included in the et cetera.
Here, and everywhere, there is such an eternal ringing of changes upon liberty, and whatever has any relation to it, that it is really fatiguing. Our hair-dresser, who is a member of the national guard, and a most zealous democrat, never calls the king anything but le pauvre homme, and the queen is commonly la coquine, la miserable femme du roi. If he be in a particularly complaisant humour, however, then it is la femme de Louis XVI; and if in a particularly sar. castic one, then la femme du pouvoir executif. No scruple is made of saying, that it was a very great pity the queen escaped on the sixth of October, when her fate was so nearly decided.
The people are in great alarm, lest the emperor Leopold should send troops into France. It is said, that a letter was lately laid under the queen's napkin, threatening that, in case her brother should dare to take any steps against French liberty, her liead should be sent to him upon a pike.
Some days ago, a dreadful scene took place at the opera. The piece performed was 'Iphigenia.' At the chorus chantons, célébrons notre reine, the duchess of Biron, and some others in the neighbouring boxes, clapped, and applauded extremely, and called encore ! encore ! which is not usual at the opera. The performers however ventured to repeat the chorus, when the duchess threw a laurel wreath upon the stage. This was enough, and more than enough, to rouse the people's fury. They hissed, they cried, they gave the duchess very opprobrious epithets; they got oranges, apples, and pears, both hard and soft, and pelted her, so that her box was soon like a fruit-shop, and she herself was all over bruises ; fortunately, a knife that was thrown, missed her. Some among the populace, more wanton than wicked, brought in a hundle of rods to chastise her before the eyes of the whole public. She had sufficient presence of mind to keep her seat, and let them go on, with perfect composure. Had she quitted her box, they had probably broken into the saloon; and had she attemped to say a single word, or to make any offensive gesture, they had probably broken into her box.
At length all was quiet. The duchess had all the apples, pears, and oranges, and above all, the knife, collected together, and sent thein the next morning to the marquis de la Fayette, with her compliments, and she had sent him some striking testimonies of French freedom, which she requested him to offer upon the altar of liberty, in her name.
On the following day, Enné, the player, who was the principal offender in the repetition of the chorus, was compelled to make a very submissive apology for his conduct, and to trample the laurel wreath under his feet. *
Proofs of the licentiousness of the people may be collected daily in abundance. The driver of the fiacre, in which we returned yesterday evening to the Russian and English hotel, where we lodge, called my companion mon ami. The latter asked with a smile, “Do you really believe me your friend?”—
Ah, bah! bah!” said the driver; we are all equal.”
Our valet de place also, after having called us a coach to go to the opera, desired leave, without any
* Without considering the conduct of the people as justifiable, yet surely the duchess de Biron's was highly censurable. It appears, that to encore at all was very unusual in such a performance, and to select for this purpose a passage, which, in the then temper of the times, must be obviously offensive to the populace, was throwing down the gauntlet, and absolutely inviting the disturbance that ensued, when no possible good effect could arise from it. If a person of her rank could so far degrade herself as to court a contest, was it to be expected that the less cultivated mass should decline it?-TRANSLATOR.
ceremony, to get in, “ because,” he said, “ the wea. ther was very bad.”
I was pleased with the opera itself, but several other things crossed and teazed me. Though we went by five o'clock, the house was already full, and we could only with difficulty get places in the balcony, that is to say in a sort of very large box of which there is one on each side the theatre. For these seats we gave ten livres, half a louis d'or-dear enough in my opinion. However, I should not have complained had we seen well, but that was by no means the case, for even this place was so crowded that it was impossible to see over more than half the stage.
In the boxes I must own, there was a considerable display of beauty, but it was artificial beauty. Ah! nowhere did I see a Frederica! nowhere the expression of artless goodness so conspicuous in every featrue of her face!
A very polite young man who stood next to me, shewed me madame Gouverné, who, he said, was esteemed the handsomest woman in Paris. He might be right. She did indeed appear extremely handsome, and had much of that gentleness and grace, without which no woman can be attractive in my eyes.
The performance was · Les Pretendus, a comic opera. The music and singers were excellent, and the latter were also good actors and actresses, which is seldom the case on our German stage, and is a great disadvantage to the piece. The entertainments of the evening concluded with the splendid ballet of
Psyche,' at present a reigning favourite with the public. The general impression it made upon me was not powerful, but with particular passages, and parts of the machinery, I was 'extremely charmed. I must instance particularly that where Psyche is carried away by a zephyr, in a cloud, from the top of a rugged rock, when just as she disappears, a long and beautiful stream of light is left behind—again, where she is sitting at her toilette, with little cupids fluttering round her—and where also she appears as the scholar of Terpsichore. All these made, in part a strong, in part a pathetic, impression upon my senses.
To the dancing, that is to say, to the throwing the arms and legs about, and the jumping and bounding, I am not very partial, nor could I feel much pleasure even in Vestris's solo and pas-de-deux as Amor. But I was extremely pleased with the zephyrs, which indeed seemed rather to fly than to move as human beings. Hercules was the very counterpart of the stone-eater we had seen in the morning. Some things appeared to me too horrible for a ballet. For instance, the manner in which Psyche is pulled about, and the contortions into which her body is thrown when she falls into the hands of some dozen or two of devils, as well as her being precipitated from a high rock into the burning Phlegethon. The woman who played Psyche was a lovely creature indeed, and assumed so much innocence in her appearance, that no one could have supposed her a dancer at the great opera at Paris.
I could not at last decide whether the performance, take it altogether, was worth half a louis-d'or; but this I know for certain, that I would not for ten louis d'ors endure again what we went through after the entertainments were finished. We had prepared ourselves for waiting half an hour, before the crowd could be sufficiently dispersed to permit the leaving our box; but alas ! we had to spend another fatiguing half hour in the saloon ere we could venture to seek our servant in the hope of getting away. Here we stood, surrounded on all sides by draughts of wind, and if we attempted to get out of them by going into a box, we were almost suffocated by the smell of extinguishing the lamps. To complete the matter, when we did find the servant, no fiacre was to be had, which considerably prolonged our torments, and when, at last, even this difficulty was surmounted, we were assailed with such a piercing wind and snow, blowing
directly in our faces as we came out of the house, that for myself, poor hypochondriacal valetudinarian as I was, I thought it would have sent me again to the brink of the grave.
At getting into the carriage, I was presented with a new trait of French vanity, at which, notwithstanding my ill-humour and my frozen cheeks, I could not forbear smiling. A Savoyard came up, begging some. thing to drink, as he had procured the carriage. I told him that was done by my own servant. He asserted to the contrary, when at length the lacquey confessed that he did not like to dirty his stockings, so had sent the Savoyard instead of going himself. I told him that he was very welcome to send whom he pleased, but then he must be pleased also to pay him himself. In this he acquiesced after some opposition, and we proceeded homewards.
We had not gone many steps, before we were stop, ped by a voice of complaint, when our driver begged that we would permit a gentleman, who was going to the Palais Royal as well as ourselves, to take the fourth place in the carriage, the third being occupied again by our valet. We very readily consented, and a well-dressed man got in, who with the true French ease was acquainted with us in a moment, and had run over every possible topic of conversation in a quarter of an hour.
We expressed a wish to be present at a debate in the national assembly. He told us that we could not be admitted without tickets, but as he was himself a deputy, he should have very great pleasure in procuring them for us : an offer which we accepted with many thanks. I do not even now know who this man was, for 'tis one of my sheepish follies that I never can ask any person his name, and I as little like to give my own to another. I did however give him both that and my address, and hope to hear farther from him.
Our fellow-countryman Schulz lodged in the very