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like a grand bonbonniere, and all the sublime and beautiful ideas of the French, like bonbons, which they take into their mouths, suck, and mumble about, by which their palate is gratified, but which produce no effect upon
the interior. The daily affiches generally contain, among other articles, one liead, entitled, “ Goods lost and found.” The superscription is inaccurate, it should be only “ Goods lost," since I never could learn that any were found again. No great recommendation of Parisian honesty.
To indemnify us for the ennui we had experienced the preceding evening from the Comediens de Beaujolois, we went to-day to the grand opera, and I must confess that I have seldom received such varied pleasure from any entertainment, partly arising from the splendour of the spectacle itself, partly from adventitious circumstances.
We went at four o'clock, that we might secure good places, and accomplished our view. We had providently furnished ourselves with books to amuse the time of waiting. The opera was Gluck's 'Alceste,' a most delicious treat both for the ear and eye, though not indeed a balsamatic medicine to my heart. Scarcely had the piece begun, before my diseased fancy employed itself in tracing similitudes to my own situation. In Admetus I saw myself: Admetus was in a state of sickness, so was í–his wife had sacrificed her life for his; I was obliged to travel for the restoration of my health, my wife accompanied me, and lost her life upon the journey. Had she not sacrificed her life for me? Might she not have been now alive, had she been left behind ?-I myself smiled, at this enthusiasm, while tears at the same time ran down my cheeks, and whoever can smile otherwise at this passage, for God's sake let him shut the book!
The orchestra, the music, the singing, the dresses, the decorations, vie with each other in taste and splendour. The band consisted of about a hundred and eighty persons. The costume was in general extremely well preserved, both in the dresses and the building, but why must the effect of the whole be always in some measure destroyed by omissions in trifles ?-Is there no one whose proper business it is to order the dresses of the singers and dancers ? or am I the only one whose feelings are hurt by the least thing that lessens the deception? Parturiunt montes, perhaps many will say upon what I am going to observe, and think the criticism indeed a mouse. I cannot help it, but the large broad new-fashioned buckles worn by the dancers, in which they were dancing before Admetus in a Grecian palace, offended me terribly, and awakened my senses from the delusion in a very unpleasant manner. I would fain have forgotten them, but they were so conspicuous that it was impossible, and the more I wished to keep my eyes away, the more they involuntarily strayed towards them. A distempered fretfulness took possession of me, which pursued me even to the temple of Apollo, and before his flaming altar, for wherever I looked, I could see nothing but monstrous newfashioned buckles.
The ballet that followed the opera was taken from the History of Telemachus,' and contained nearly the first book of Fénélon. It was divided into three acts. Monsieur Gardel, the composer of Psyche,' was its author, and indeed he has produced two things that may almost be pronounced perfect in their way. But “Telemachus' must have been the most difficult task, since, excepting Telemachus, Mentor, and the little Cupid, the dancers are entirely women.
• Telemachus, like · Psyche,' keeps all the senses in a kind of fascination. How charming is the grouping of the lovely nymphs! how exquisite is their dancing! what grace is in all their motions ! yet I must consider their wearing under garments of Aeshcoloured silk, as a superlative refinement in coquetry.
But nothing entertained ine more in this evening than the astonishment of my Ehstonian servant, whom I had taken with me, that the poor fellow might have some amusement; for, since he does not understand a syllable of French, he sits moping by himself the live-long day, and must be intolerably tormented with the vapours. I previously gave him the choice of the money or the diversion. He chose the latter, and returned home so extremely delighted, that he did not appear by any means to repent his choice.
I made him sit by me, the better to observe his feelings, which indeed changed with as much rapidity as the decorations upon the stage. He looked anxious and distressed at Telemachus's shipwreck, but his countenance was illumined by a smile of expressive satisfation at his rescue. 'When the nymphs began their race, and the most beautiful reached the summit of the rock, and soon after with her arrow shot a milk-white dove upon a pole, he appeared quite in ecstasies, and began talking eagerly to himself. But when Venus and Cupid descended in a cloud, his eyes were fixed, and he remained motionless with astonishment. Nor did he appear less forcibly impressed with the burning of the ship, or Telemachus's being thrown from the rock. To con. template the natural workings of an uncultivated mind at such representations, is always to me matter of great interest.
December 29. The public prints of to-day announce a tutor wanted for a young man of rank, who must be of a religion eclairée. What is meant by this enlightened religion is not however explained.
We went towards noon to the institution for the relief of the blind, to be present at their public exercises. Schulz has described this institution so well, and so circumstantially, that little remains for me to add. I must confess, that though I cannot but admire the ingenious manner in which they are taught to read, to write, to print, &c., yet on the whole it appears a very useless kind of sport.
To read with the fingers is, even to the most prac. tised, so extremely difficult and tedious, that no blind man can ever acquire much taste for it. And indeed it would rather he matter of regret that he should, since there are so few books for him, that in a hundred years his library could scarcely amount to ten volumes. Of what use, then, is this mode of reading? -merely an idle waste of time.
It is precisely the same with printing. One of these blind people would set about three words in the time that a practised compositor would set an octavo page. Useless again.
With music 'tis no better. As they can only read the notes with their fingers, it must naturally take a very long time to learn a new piece, unless assisted by the ear. None of them, however, appeared to receive much pleasure from music; they all played very ill, and seemed scarcely able to perform anything but the usual chorus, which they are obliged to scrape twice in the week to gratify the curiosity of strangers.
Of geography the same must still be said. I may be surprised to see a blind man point out a town or country in a map, but I must still recur to the original question, cui bono?-Accounts might appear at the first glance to be an exception to this general condemnation, yet from all I saw, I am of opinion that a man might reckon much more quickly by his head alone.
But what appears to me worse than useless, truly laughable, is, that these blind people are set to instruct children who can see. In reading, this might pass tolerably, since when the child knows the letters, his blind instructor has only to follow him with his fingers to know whether he be right or not. By what means they first teach the letters I did not comprehend. When, however, we hear a fine hoy of not more than four years old examined in grammar by a blind man, it is difficult to say whether our pity or laughter be the most excited. The poor infant is required first to run over the names of the parts of speech, and then to explain what is meant by a noun, a pronoun, a verb, &c. &c., all which is done with such rapidity, question and answer succeeding like blow and retort, that it is too apparent the whole is gabbled by heart on both sides. What then can be said of such things, but that they are mere charlatanerie.
Far however be from me any wish to derogate from the merits of the founder of this institution, who appears so happy in the enjoyment of his good work. Enough is still left to procure the worthy man a place in the kingdom of heaven. The spinning, the making belts, the knitting, all the manual employments, are extremely useful, and are very tolerably executed here. They contribute towards the maintenance of these unfortunate people, and keep them from idleness and begging about the streets. One
little anecdote I must relate. Two blind men were to bring us a specimen of their printing, and the inspector desired us to give them a short sentence. I gave, Vive la liberté. They began immediately to set it, when one brought indeed his Vive la liberté, but the other produced-quand elle est sans abus. Perhaps the inspector had, unobserved by us, whispered him to do this.
At the conclusion, one of the oldest members repeated us a poem, which, he said, was his own composition.
Hence we went to the place where the Bastille formerly stood. Scarcely is a trace of it to be discerned. No remains of the high and gloomy wall, nothing horrible, nothing that makes the soul involuntarily shudder. 'Tis now a fine area, where only a heap of stones here and there give any indication of its ever having been the scite of a building, and even these vestiges we found many people employed in removing.