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dishments of vice are conjured up, and spread before him. Of this melancholy truth, you cannot have a more complete confirmation, than from the detail of what I saw in the village.
St. Cloud being in the neighbourhood of Paris, and only a pleasant promenade from that capital, it is of course frequented by the Sunday devotees of pleasure, who assemble here with their mistresses to drink the sparkling champagne, or who frequent the place to meet their Phrynes and Aspasias. But it is chiefly the resort of young persons of both sexes, who after wandering about the charming walks, retire to an auberge, at the foot of the bridge, where there are a number of little hermitages, in the style of English tea-gardens, in which they procure refreshinents. These hermitages are, however, refinements on the dull, insipid morality of British rural architecture, because in France it is a prevailing maxim, that elegant vice is preferable to dull virtue; a maxim, which is in every respect, simple and clear, because it is fashionable. Into one of these little boxes we were ushered, for the purpose of taking some refreshment! After we had rested awhile, as I was throwing my eyes about the apartment, I perceived a small door; which seemed to invite the hand of curiosity. I opened it, when behold!
The English language is extremely defective in that amenity of diction which enables a Frenchman to delineate in so .sprightly a manner, the
objects objects that give pleasure to his lascivious and polluted soul. I must therefore lengthen my monosyllables. Confounded at what I saw, I resolved to pursue my researches, and see whether we might not have been introduced into the hut by mistake. Accordingly, I issued forth, and examined successively, above twenty other of these caverns of iniquity. They were all precisely upon the same plan, and with the same views, only a few surpassed the rest in decoration and libidinous scenery.
A very little examination soon convinced me for what nefarious purposes they were constructed; and on my inquiring of the mistress of the place, why so many little bed-rooms were annexed to these boxes, which seemed by no means calculated for rest, she replied with a cool, unruffled countenance, untainted by the blush of modesty, that they were for the accommodation of such ladies and gentlemen who came to St. Cloud to regale themselves with a private tête-à-tête together.
From this haunt of sensuality we hastened through the wood on foot, and arrived at a gate exactly opposite the celebrated Porcelain manufactory of Seve, which is at all times open to the inspection of the public. The manufacture of Porcelain is in every respect well adapted to the genius of the French; they possess more than any other people, dexterity in getting up small wares, and they excel all nations in the fabrication of
brittle articles. For a long period of time they have directed the fashions of Europe, and, according to all appearances, they will maintain their empire for ages to come. Whatever is light, airy, and elegant, suits the vivacity of this people; while they neglect domestic comforts, they are passionately fond of external appearances, which they indulge in to an excess that often deprives them of more substantial enjoyments. Hence, the commercial genius of the nation is directed chiefly to the manufacture of pleasing baubles, by means of which they give the ton to Europe, and levy contributions of praise and money on the most saturnine of its inhabitants.
In the knowledge of their own capacities, and in the perseverance with which they pursue the means of turning them to account, the French are entitled to much commendation. Give them only time and fair play, and their ingenuity and industry will accomplish miracles. All the manufactories which I have seen in France have a reference to this principle. They are ambitious of becoming rich by pleasing the world, and they are most pleased with themselves when they find they are the instruments by whom pleasure is communicated to others.
After these remarks, you will almost anticipate the observation which I have to offer on the manufactory of Seve; that it contains not a single 4
article articles a sepa
article that is useful or necessary to the comforts of social life. It is one blaze of ornament and luxury; but it is not the less respectable on this account, for this species of luxury never injures a nation; on the contrary, it contributes essentially to its wealth and prosperity, by giving employment to vast numbers of people, and whatever creates industry, extends, at the same time, the empire of morality.
The range of apartments in which the Porcelain is exhibited, is extensive; a few groupes of figures of exquisite beauty and workmanship, are in glass cases, but all the other articles are exposed to the touch of the visitor; and you are allowed to handle and examine them as long as you think proper. In general, the price is affixed to each article, and no abatement whatever is made to purchasers by retail. At present, there is no great demand for the Porcelain manufactured here; the person who exhibited the manufactory, complained that the trade was very dull and heavy, but he expected that the general peace would open a vent for the articles. The prices have risen 20 per cent in consequence of this expectation, which, in my opinion, is a very injudicious policy, for this advance must operate as a total exclusion to a very numerous and important class of Society, who would otherwise give the preference to the articles of this manufactory. Besides, the duration of the late war has caused an overstock of articles, which ought at all hazards, to be put into immediate circulation, as the expence of finishing the Porcelain is considerable ; and so much capital, interest, and profit laying dead, must defeat the advantages to be derived from the manufactory. It is this circumstance alone, that is the true cause of the stagnation which they lament. If they were to reduce the value of their manufactures until they had brought them into demand, they might afterwards raise their prices gradually, and the wives and mistresses of all those legislators, prefects, generals, commissaries, and other freebooters, who are gorged with the spoils of conquered countries, would frequent Seve, much in the same manner as Bond Street is the favourite lounge of our ladies of haut-ton, and our demireps of fashion. The highest price of any article we saw, was 201. sterling for a single plate, a sum that my companions, who are better judges than I can pretend to be, thought exorbitant.
I maintain, that the Porcelain manufactured at Derby will stand a comparison with that at Seve. If the latter be more pellucid and delicate in its white colour, the finishing of the figures is equal, if not superior, at the former. I saw, some years ago, at Derby, a desert-service, manufactured for the Prince of Wales, each plate having