Obrazy na stronie

or roast meat of some kind dried to a cinder. If it were not for potatoes, which we have regularly every day, we might often rise hungry from table. The wine is as bad as it is dear, and the water, even when filtrated, milky, muddy, and of a sweetish taste.

Sixthly.-- The beds are another grievance. They are as hard as the benches in an alehouse, and he who is of a plethoric habit, would stand but a bad chance in them, since there is nothing to support his head but a little round thing much like the pillows we use upon our sofas. I have always been obliged to lay my coat and cloak underneath it, to raise my head only to a level with my feet.

Seventhly.—He who has been in the habit of going to bed regularly at ten o'clock, if he adhere to his practice, will in vain hope to sleep, till he become accustomed to the eternal rattle of carriages, which never ceases till two in the morning. It seems as if the Olympic games were celebrating under the windows, and all the fiacres in Paris were running for the prizes.

Such are the evils experienced within doors. If a man venture out, a thousand new ones are to be encountered.

Supposing the expedition is to be made on foot, he must wade through a black mire all the way, and expect to be run against first by a water cask, then by a fishwoman—first by a crier, then by a sedan chairor to be spattered all over with mud by the carriages -or to be assailed by a hundred beggars-or tor. mented by a hundred ladies of pleasure-or to be stopped by a hundred Savoyards with something or other to sell, who always take all foreigners for Milords ready to throw their money into the streets, and whom they can consequently dupe at pleasure. Then, if surmounting all these obstacles, he have got the length of one street, before he can cross into another it may perhaps be necessary to stop a quarter of an hour watching an opportunity to escape without being run over. I, who am never more given up to fancy than when walking along the streets, find these things intolerable.

Then, if to avoid these inconveniences, he get into a carriage, the chances are ten to one that in the narrow angular streets, from the concourse of other carriages, he may be amused not unfrequently with a stop

of many minutes, ere it be possible to pass; all which time is spent freezing to death with the winds that draw in at every corner in these airy vehicles, and upon the rack with impatience. And when at last the coachman, by great dexterity, gets through this labyrinth, and arrives safely at the place of destination, it is scarcely possible to escape under a quarter of an hour's wrangle with him, since he constantly insists - upon more than is his due. It is well known that the drivers of facres never were distinguished for their politesse, and it will hardly be supposed that in the present rage for liberty they are improved in this respect.

But one of my greatest grievances is the air of Paris. Let the heavens be ever so clear and serene, still an eternal mist hovers over the town, nor is it possible to see any object the length of a street. The composition of this mist is principally a pungent smoke, arising from the profusion of cooks' shops, and which, in passing them, has often affected my head so much as to make my eyes water. Indeed, the effect has frequently continued when the cause no longer existed, and I hold this steam therefore to be of an extremely pernicious quality.

Two things more yet remain to be noticed. The insufferable egotism of the inhabitants, which is to me offensive beyond expression and their propensity to fraud and imposition.

He who does not look well to what he is about, may depend upon being cheated of his money in all possible ways; and this in so gross and shameless a

manner, that it cannot but excite in every honest bosom the deepest contempt and disgust at so profligate and mercenary a race.

I bought a little Spanish dog one day in the Palais Royal. It was then of a beautiful brown colour, but it had not been many days in my possession before this changed to a dingy yellow, and at length to a perfect white. The animal in fact was painted. For myself I cared little about the matter, but I felt indignant at having been made the object of such a petty contemptible fraud.

All these things make Paris daily more and more insupportable to me, and as I revolved them over in my mind this morning, I suddenly came to the resolu. tion of leaving it to-morrow.

But leave Paris without going to the national assembly?-No, that cannot be. Monsieur l'abbé de R— had indeed repeatedly made liberal promises of getting us tickets of admission, yet, like most of his countrymen, had put us off with fine words only, But since we could not be immediately aware, that to promise and to perform were with him two things, we had been prevented seeking them by other means. Happily, however, a man may have anything here for money, and even tickets for the national assembly are made a lucrative branch of traffic ;-traffic that can hardly be concealed from the representatives, and which for their own credit they ought to suppress. Our servant procured us, without difficulty, two tickets for three livres each.

We were obliged to alight at some distance from the place where the sittings are held, and had two or three courts to wade through before we reached the hall. In one of these we were in imminent danger of sticking fast in the black mire, and another was so full of water, that the Savoyards had laid planks along it, which we must pay for going over. Perhaps they had themselves drenched it with water with this very design. These things began, even at the outset, to lessen my

ideas of the assembly of their twelve hundred majesties.

We now approached the room itself. And hark! the shouts of liberty resounded in our ears. At the distance of at least two hundred steps we were saluted with a tumultuous burst of laughter, proceeding from the assembly. We were conducted into a gallery, which was already occupied by people three deep, so that we did not get even a convenient place for our six livres. The hall is very long and wide, and on each side benches for the members are ranged in an amphitheatrical form. Many, however, walk about, and many also stand in the area in the middle, or run first to this side, then to that, with tablets in their hands, in which they write from time to time.

The debate was very animated. As we entered, a young man upon the left hand was speaking. He declaimed vehemently against the clergy, and spoke of a priest who had subjoined the following limitation to his oath : “ Conformably to what was ordained hy the bishop of Lydda.” This occasioned a great commotion. They all began talking and exclaiming together, and bandied jokes and sarcasms backwards and forwards, laughing at them all the time most unmercifully. This tumultuous laughter, which was very often repeated, appeared to me truly unworthy the dignity of such an assembly, honoured with the title of representatives of a great nation. I confess, that were I a member of it, these witticisms and this mirth would drive me out again, as quickly as I was driven out now, when only an auditor; for, after a solemn resolution was passed that the clergy should swear without reservation, and the assembly proceeded to discussing in what manner witnesses should be examined in future, I was so little interested that I went away. I entered the hall with great expectations, but departed with very petty impressions upon my mind.

In the evening we packed up our trunks, which occupied us to so late an hour that we could not get

places at the opera, which I wished to visit for the last time. We therefore went to the Théâtre de la Nation, where was represented Turcaret,' a pretty little comic opera, abounding with wit. It was so admirably performed, that I quitted the house fully con. vinced that the French actors cannot be exceeded in comedy by those of any nation.

An anecdote which I learned this afternoon, from very good authority, must not be omitted. When the duke of Orleans was at court on new-year's day, and was standing to warm himself by the chimney, one of the courtiers said to another, in a sort of half whisper, yet taking care that the duke should overhear him, “ What business has that Ravaillac here?” The duke, however, was so prudent as to turn a deaf ear to the remark.

January 4. At six o'clock we quitted Paris in the famous diligence. I was somewhat better reconciled to it in this journey than in my former, since there was only a single passenger besides ourselves ; a printer, going to Petersburgh, very silent and modest in his de. meanour, consequently in no way troublesome to us. We were seated very commodiously, could stretch out our legs and arms at pleasure, had no disputes about opening or shutting the windows, were not obliged to listen to miserable jokes and common in. sipid diligence-conversation, and had, to crown all, most charming weather. All these advantages put us into good humour, and gave us spirits and strength to contend with the few inconveniences that re. mained, and which could not by any means be obviated.

When we had turned our backs upon Paris about an hour, and began again to breathe pure and uncontaminated air, I felt as if a rock had been removed from off my heart. If my feelings were not happy, they have at least not for a long time been so composed as on the two first days of our journey. The

« PoprzedniaDalej »