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fans if they dropped, negligent of performing any of the mille petits services, auprès des dames, which every well-bred man is too happy to fulfil. Oh, I shall never forget it!
By the by, chère amie, you would be not a little shocked, could you but witness the free-and-easy style of the men of fashion here. It positively amounts to insolence; yet they do not mean it. No, they only mean to be at their ease; but this precludes any wellbred woman from feeling at hers, in their society. They are at once nonchalant and familiar; make no ceremony of talking of the House of Commons, the political questions of the day, their hunting or shooting, or, in fact, all that peculiarly concerns themselves; rarely, if ever, introducing those topics which are generally supposed to be most agreeable to
The Comtesse Hohenlinden told me, that
here the ladies are obliged to study the tastes and pursuits of the gentlemen, in order to find favour in the eyes of those lords of the creation. Is not this a dreadful degradation to our sex? Only fancy women talking of horses, and not only talking of, but visiting them in their stables! Fancy their betting, and keeping books in which are entered not les douces pensées des dames, but the wagers they have made, and the odds pour et contre! This would not be believed in France; mais c'est un fait, je vous jure.
Here, a lady who wishes to captivate, relies, not on her charms, but on her tact, and the weakness to which it is to be opposed. Is the man who is to be won a politician?—she reads all his speeches, an operation painful and impracticable to all save one impelled by a predominant motive. She does more,ceeds in remembering some portions of them, and quotes them with eulogium ; when, unless he is the most ungrateful of his sex, she is rewarded by his preferring her to all things save himself and his speeches.
The only chance of defeat consists in the number of competitors for his favour.
If a man is devoted to hunting, the ladies who wish to please him are suddenly struck with admiration for that amusement.
“ They dote on horses ;” they delight in driving to the cover-side; they pat the necks of the “ beautiful animals,” and praise the red coats of their masters. Nay, examples have been known of their donning scarlet habits, and risking their necks, to attract some coveted Nimrod.
If a man be fond of theatricals, then each lady who aspires to win him is dying to act too. She discovers that the amateur far excels the best actor on the stage. His tragic acting is so affecting (affected, she means); and, having persuaded him that he is the only Romeo alive, she hopes to be selected as his Juliet.
Military men are courted, by the female aspirants flocking to reviews, and doting on martial music. Yachters are vanquished by delicate women, who tremble at the bare idea of a storm, and turn pale at a high wave, declaring, that “ they are nowhere so happy as at sea ;” that “ a yacht is infinitely preferable to a house, and a sailor's life the most agreeable thing in the world, except that of being his wife.”
It is thus that ladies in England administer to the weaknesses of the “sterner sex," and subjugate them (apropos of the word subjugate, a man said, two days ago, that subjugate and conjugate were synonymous); while you, in la belle France, exact that deferential homage which is woman's due, and to which she cannot resign her claims, without being guilty of a want of respect towards
her whole sex. I attribute the mauvaise manière
of the Englishmen of fashion to the want of dignity of the women.
The long war took so many men away, that, owing to their scarcity, they became more in demand, and the claimants were so numerous, that the claimed grew saucy. This, I imagine, first led to the unnatural system of the men being courted instead of courting ; a practice to which they have now become so used, that I know not how it is ever to be eradicated. A French grisette would expect — ay, and exact, too more attention than a London fine lady dreams of meeting from the men of her circle.
Am I not a voluminous, if not a luminous correspondent? One thing I am sure I am, and that is, chère Delphine's affectionate friend,