A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy

The Temptation. Paris - Paris


When I alighted at the hotel, the porter told me a young woman with a bandbox had been that moment enquiring for me. - I do not know, said the porter, whether she is gone away or not. I took the key of my chamber of him, and went upstairs; and when I had got within ten steps of the top of the landing before my door, I met her coming easily down.

It was the fair fille de chambre I had walked along the Quai de Conti with; Madame de R- had sent her upon some commission to a marchande des modes within a step or two of the Hotel de Modene; and as I had fail'd in waiting upon her, had bid her enquire if I had left Paris; and if so, whether I had not left a letter addressed to her.

As the fair fille de chambre was so near my door, she returned back, and went into the room with me for a moment or two whilst I wrote a card.

It was a fine still evening in the latter end of the month of May,- -the crimson window curtains (which were of the same colour as those of the bed) were drawn close: - the sun was setting, and reflected through them so warm a tint into the fair fille de chambre's face, - I thought she blush'd; - the idea of it made me blush myself: - we were quite alone; and that superinduced a second blush before the first could get off.

There is a sort of a pleasing half guilty blush, where the blood is more in fault than the man: - 'tis sent impetuous from the heart, and virtue flies after it, - not to call it back, but to make the sensation of it more delicious to the nerves: - 'tis associated. -

But I'll not describe it; - I felt something at first within me which was not in strict unison with the lesson of virtue I had given her the night before. - I sought five minutes for a card; - I knew I had not one. - I took up a pen. - I laid it down again; - my hand trembled: - the devil was in me.

I know as well as any one he is an adversary, whom, if we resist, he will fly from us; - but I seldom resist him at all; from a terror, though I may conquer, I may still get a hurt in the combat; - so I give up the triumph for security; and, instead of thinking to make him fly, I generally fly myself.

The fair fille de chambre came close up to the bureau where I was looking for a card - took up first the pen I cast down, then offer'd to hold me the ink; she offer'd it so sweetly, I was going to accept it; - but I durst not; - I have nothing, my dear, said I, to write upon. - Write it, said she, simply, upon anything. -

I was just going to cry out, Then I will write it, fair girl! upon thy lips. -

If I do, said I, I shall perish; - so I took her by the hand, and led her to the door, and begg'd she would not forget the lesson I had given her. - She said, indeed she would not; - and, as she uttered it with some earnestness, she turn'd about, and gave me both her hands, closed together, into mine; - it was impossible not to compress them in that situation; - I wish'd to let them go; and all the time I held them, I kept arguing within myself against it,- -and still I held them on. - In two minutes I found I had all the battle to fight over again; - and I felt my legs and every limb about me tremble at the idea.

The foot of the bed was within a yard and a half of the place where we were standing. - I had still hold of her hands - and how it happened I can give no account; but I neither ask'd her - nor drew her - nor did I think of the bed; - but so it did happen, we both sat down.

I'll just show you, said the fair fille de chambre, the little purse I have been making to-day to hold your crown. So she put her hand into her right pocket, which was next me, and felt for it some time - then into the left. - "She had lost it." - I never bore expectation more quietly; - it was in her right pocket at last; - she pull'd it out; it was of green taffeta, lined with a little bit of white quilted satin, and just big enough to hold the crown: she put it into my hand; - it was pretty; and I held it ten minutes with the back of my hand resting upon her lap - looking sometimes at the purse, sometimes on one side of it.

A stitch or two had broke out in the gathers of my stock; the fair fille de chambre, without saying a word, took out her little housewife, threaded a small needle, and sew'd it up. - I foresaw it would hazard the glory of the day; and, as she pass'd her hand in silence across and across my neck in the manoeuvre, I felt the laurels shake which fancy had wreath'd about my head.

A strap had given way in her walk, and the buckle of her shoe was just falling off. - See, said the fille de chambre, holding up her foot. - I could not, for my soul but fasten the buckle in return, and putting in the strap, - and lifting up the other foot with it, when I had done, to see both were right, - in doing it too suddenly, it unavoidably threw the fair fille de chambre off her centre, - and then -


Yes, - and then -. Ye whose clay-cold heads and luke-warm hearts can argue down or mask your passions, tell me, what trespass is it that man should have them? or how his spirit stands answerable to the Father of spirits but for his conduct under them?

If Nature has so wove her web of kindness, that some threads of love and desire are entangled with the piece, - must the whole web be rent in drawing them out? - Whip me such stoics, great Governor of Nature! said I to myself: - wherever thy providence shall place me for the trials of my virtue; - whatever is my danger, - whatever is my situation, - let me feel the movements which rise out of it, and which belong to me as a man, - and, if I govern them as a good one, I will trust the issues to thy justice; for thou hast made us, and not we ourselves.

As I finished my address, I raised the fair fille de chambre up by the hand, and led her out of the room: - she stood by me till I locked the door and put the key in my pocket, - and then, - the victory being quite decisive - and not till then, I press'd my lips to her cheek, and taking her by the hand again, led her safe to the gate of the hotel.


If a man knows the heart, he will know it was impossible to go back instantly to my chamber; - it was touching a cold key with a flat third to it upon the close of a piece of music, which had call'd forth my affections: - therefore, when I let go the hand of the fille de chambre, I remained at the gate of the hotel for some time, looking at every one who pass'd by, - and forming conjectures upon them, till my attention got fix'd upon a single object which confounded all kind of reasoning upon him.

It was a tall figure of a philosophic, serious, adust look, which passed and repass'd sedately along the street, making a turn of about sixty paces on each side of the gate of the hotel; - the man was about fifty-two - had a small cane under his arm - was dress'd in a dark drab-colour'd coat, waistcoat, and breeches, which seem'd to have seen some years service: - they were still clean, and there was a little air of frugal proprete throughout him. By his pulling off his hat, and his attitude of accosting a good many in his way, I saw he was asking charity: so I got a sous or two out of my pocket ready to give him, as he took me in his turn. - He pass'd by me without asking anything - and yet did not go five steps further before he ask'd charity of a little woman. - I was much more likely to have given of the two. - He had scarce done with the woman, when he pull'd off his hat to another who was coming the same way. - An ancient gentleman came slowly - and, after him, a young smart one. - He let them both pass, and ask'd nothing. I stood observing him half an hour, in which time he had made a dozen turns backwards and forwards, and found that he invariably pursued the same plan.

There were two things very singular in this, which set my brain to work, and to no purpose: - the first was, why the man should ONLY tell his story to the sex; - and, secondly, - what kind of story it was, and what species of eloquence it could be, which soften'd the hearts of the women, which he knew 'twas to no purpose to practise upon the men.

There were two other circumstances, which entangled this mystery; - the one was, he told every woman what he had to say in her ear, and in a way which had much more the air of a secret than a petition; - the other was, it was always successful. - He never stopp'd a woman, but she pull'd out her purse, and immediately gave him something.

I could form no system to explain the phenomenon.

I had got a riddle to amuse me for the rest of the evening; so I walk'd upstairs to my chamber.


I was immediately followed up by the master of the hotel, who came into my room to tell me I must provide lodgings elsewhere. - How so, friend? said I. - He answered, I had had a young woman lock'd up with me two hours that evening in my bedchamber, and 'twas against the rules of his house. - Very well, said I, we'll all part friends then, - for the girl is no worse, - and I am no worse, - and you will be just as I found you. - It was enough, he said, to overthrow the credit of his hotel. - Voyez vous, Monsieur, said he, pointing to the foot of the bed we had been sitting upon. - I own it had something of the appearance of an evidence; but my pride not suffering me to enter into any detail of the case, I exhorted him to let his soul sleep in peace, as I resolved to let mine do that night, and that I would discharge what I owed him at breakfast.

I should not have minded, Monsieur, said he, if you had had twenty girls - 'Tis a score more, replied I, interrupting him, than I ever reckon'd upon - Provided, added he, it had been but in a morning. - And does the difference of the time of the day at Paris make a difference in the sin? - It made a difference, he said, in the scandal. - I like a good distinction in my heart; and cannot say I was intolerably out of temper with the man. - I own it is necessary, resumed the master of the hotel, that a stranger at Paris should have the opportunities presented to him of buying lace and silk stockings and ruffles, et tout cela; - and 'tis nothing if a woman comes with a band-box. - O, my conscience! said I, she had one but I never look'd into it. - Then Monsieur, said he, has bought nothing?- -Not one earthly thing, replied I. - Because, said he, I could recommend one to you who would use you en conscience. - But I must see her this night, said I. - He made me a low bow, and walk'd down.

Now shall I triumph over this maitre d'hotel, cried I, - and what then? Then I shall let him see I know he is a dirty fellow. - And what then? What then? - I was too near myself to say it was for the sake of others. - I had no good answer left; - there was more of spleen than principle in my project, and I was sick of it before the execution.

In a few minutes the grisette came in with her box of lace. - I'll buy nothing, however, said I, within myself.

The grisette would show me everything. - I was hard to please: she would not seem to see it; she opened her little magazine, and laid all her laces one after another before me; - unfolded and folded them up again one by one with the most patient sweetness. - I might buy, - or not; - she would let me have everything at my own price: - the poor creature seem'd anxious to get a penny; and laid herself out to win me, and not so much in a manner which seem'd artful, as in one I felt simple and caressing.

If there is not a fund of honest gullibility in man, so much the worse; - my heart relented, and I gave up my second resolution as quietly as the first. - Why should I chastise one for the trespass of another? If thou art tributary to this tyrant of an host, thought I, looking up in her face, so much harder is thy bread.

If I had not had more than four louis d'ors in my purse, there was no such thing as rising up and showing her the door, till I had first laid three of them out in a pair of ruffles.

- The master of the hotel will share the profit with her; - no matter, - then I have only paid as many a poor soul has PAID before me, for an act he COULD not do, or think of.


When La Fleur came up to wait upon me at supper, he told me how sorry the master of the hotel was for his affront to me in bidding me change my lodgings.

A man who values a good night's rest will not lie down with enmity in his heart, if he can help it. - So I bid La Fleur tell the master of the hotel, that I was sorry on my side for the occasion I had given him; - and you may tell him, if you will, La Fleur, added I, that if the young woman should call again, I shall not see her.

This was a sacrifice not to him, but myself, having resolved, after so narrow an escape, to run no more risks, but to leave Paris, if it was possible, with all the virtue I enter'd it.

C'est deroger a noblesse, Monsieur, said La Fleur, making me a bow down to the ground as he said it. - Et encore, Monsieur, said he, may change his sentiments; - and if (par hazard) he should like to amuse himself, - I find no amusement in it, said I, interrupting him. -

Mon Dieu! said La Fleur, - and took away.

In an hour's time he came to put me to bed, and was more than commonly officious: - something hung upon his lips to say to me, or ask me, which he could not get off: I could not conceive what it was, and indeed gave myself little trouble to find it out, as I had another riddle so much more interesting upon my mind, which was that of the man's asking charity before the door of the hotel. - I would have given anything to have got to the bottom of it; and that, not out of curiosity, - 'tis so low a principle of enquiry, in general, I would not purchase the gratification of it with a two- sous piece; - but a secret, I thought, which so soon and so certainly soften'd the heart of every woman you came near, was a secret at least equal to the philosopher's stone; had I both the Indies, I would have given up one to have been master of it.

I toss'd and turn'd it almost all night long in my brains to no manner of purpose; and when I awoke in the morning, I found my spirits as much troubled with my dreams, as ever the King of Babylon had been with his; and I will not hesitate to affirm, it would have puzzled all the wise men of Paris as much as those of Chaldea to have given its interpretation.


It was Sunday; and when La Fleur came in, in the morning, with my coffee and roll and butter, he had got himself so gallantly array'd, I scarce knew him.

I had covenanted at Montreuil to give him a new hat with a silver button and loop, and four louis d'ors, pour s'adoniser, when we got to Paris; and the poor fellow, to do him justice, had done wonders with it.

He had bought a bright, clean, good scarlet coat, and a pair of breeches of the same. - They were not a crown worse, he said, for the wearing. - I wish'd him hang'd for telling me. - They look'd so fresh, that though I knew the thing could not be done, yet I would rather have imposed upon my fancy with thinking I had bought them new for the fellow, than that they had come out of the Rue de Friperie.

This is a nicety which makes not the heart sore at Paris.

He had purchased, moreover, a handsome blue satin waistcoat, fancifully enough embroidered: - this was indeed something the worse for the service it had done, but 'twas clean scour'd; - the gold had been touch'd up, and upon the whole was rather showy than otherwise; - and as the blue was not violent, it suited with the coat and breeches very well: he had squeez'd out of the money, moreover, a new bag and a solitaire; and had insisted with the fripier upon a gold pair of garters to his breeches knees. - He had purchased muslin ruffles, bien brodees, with four livres of his own money; - and a pair of white silk stockings for five more; - and to top all, nature had given him a handsome figure, without costing him a sous.

He entered the room thus set off, with his hair dressed in the first style, and with a handsome bouquet in his breast. - In a word, there was that look of festivity in everything about him, which at once put me in mind it was Sunday; - and, by combining both together, it instantly struck me, that the favour he wish'd to ask of me the night before, was to spend the day as every body in Paris spent it besides. I had scarce made the conjecture, when La Fleur, with infinite humility, but with a look of trust, as if I should not refuse him, begg'd I would grant him the day, pour faire le galant vis-a-vis de sa maitresse.

Now it was the very thing I intended to do myself vis-a-vis Madame de R-. - I had retained the remise on purpose for it, and it would not have mortified my vanity to have had a servant so well dress'd as La Fleur was, to have got up behind it: I never could have worse spared him.

But we must FEEL, not argue in these embarrassments. - The sons and daughters of Service part with liberty, but not with nature, in their contracts; they are flesh and blood, and have their little vanities and wishes in the midst of the house of bondage, as well as their task-masters; - no doubt, they have set their self-denials at a price, - and their expectations are so unreasonable, that I would often disappoint them, but that their condition puts it so much in my power to do it.

BEHOLD, - BEHOLD, I AM THY SERVANT - disarms me at once of the powers of a master. -

Thou shalt go, La Fleur! said I.

- And what mistress, La Fleur, said I, canst thou have picked up in so little a time at Paris? La Fleur laid his hand upon his breast, and said 'twas a petite demoiselle, at Monsieur le Count de B-'s. - La Fleur had a heart made for society; and, to speak the truth of him, let as few occasions slip him as his master; - so that somehow or other, - but how, - heaven knows, - he had connected himself with the demoiselle upon the landing of the staircase, during the time I was taken up with my passport; and as there was time enough for me to win the Count to my interest, La Fleur had contrived to make it do to win the maid to his. The family, it seems, was to be at Paris that day, and he had made a party with her, and two or three more of the Count's household, upon the boulevards.

Happy people! that once a week at least are sure to lay down all your cares together, and dance and sing and sport away the weights of grievance, which bow down the spirit of other nations to the earth.


La Fleur had left me something to amuse myself with for the day more than I had bargain'd for, or could have enter'd either into his head or mine.

He had brought the little print of butter upon a currant leaf: and as the morning was warm, and he had a good step to bring it, he had begg'd a sheet of waste paper to put betwixt the currant leaf and his hand. - As that was plate sufficient, I bade him lay it upon the table as it was; and as I resolved to stay within all day, I ordered him to call upon the traiteur, to bespeak my dinner, and leave me to breakfast by myself.

When I had finished the butter, I threw the currant-leaf out of the window, and was going to do the same by the waste paper; - but stopping to read a line first, and that drawing me on to a second and third, - I thought it better worth; so I shut the window, and drawing a chair up to it, I sat down to read it.

It was in the old French of Rabelais's time, and for aught I know might have been wrote by him: - it was moreover in a Gothic letter, and that so faded and gone off by damps and length of time, it cost me infinite trouble to make anything of it. - I threw it down; and then wrote a letter to Eugenius; - then I took it up again, and embroiled my patience with it afresh; - and then to cure that, I wrote a letter to Eliza. - Still it kept hold of me; and the difficulty of understanding it increased but the desire.

I got my dinner; and after I had enlightened my mind with a bottle of Burgundy; I at it again, - and, after two or three hours poring upon it, with almost as deep attention as ever Gruter or Jacob Spon did upon a nonsensical inscription, I thought I made sense of it; but to make sure of it, the best way, I imagined, was to turn it into English, and see how it would look then; - so I went on leisurely, as a trifling man does, sometimes writing a sentence, - then taking a turn or two, - and then looking how the world went, out of the window; so that it was nine o'clock at night before I had done it. - I then began and read it as follows.


- Now, as the notary's wife disputed the point with the notary with too much heat, - I wish, said the notary, (throwing down the parchment) that there was another notary here only to set down and attest all this. -

- And what would you do then, Monsieur? said she, rising hastily up. - The notary's wife was a little fume of a woman, and the notary thought it well to avoid a hurricane by a mild reply. - I would go, answered he, to bed. - You may go to the devil, answer'd the notary's wife.

Now there happening to be but one bed in the house, the other two rooms being unfurnished, as is the custom at Paris, and the notary not caring to lie in the same bed with a woman who had but that moment sent him pell mell to the devil, went forth with his hat and cane and short cloak, the night being very windy, and walk'd out, ill at ease, towards the Pont Neuf.

Of all the bridges which ever were built, the whole world who have pass'd over the Pont Neuf must own, that it is the noblest, - the finest, - the grandest, - the lightest, - the longest, - the broadest, that ever conjoin'd land and land together upon the face of the terraqueous globe.

[By this it seems as if the author of the fragment had not been a Frenchman.]

The worst fault which divines and the doctors of the Sorbonne can allege against it is, that if there is but a capfull of wind in or about Paris, 'tis more blasphemously sacre Dieu'd there than in any other aperture of the whole city, - and with reason good and cogent, Messieurs; for it comes against you without crying garde d'eau, and with such unpremeditable puffs, that of the few who cross it with their hats on, not one in fifty but hazards two livres and a half, which is its full worth.

The poor notary, just as he was passing by the sentry, instinctively clapp'd his cane to the side of it, but in raising it up, the point of his cane catching hold of the loop of the sentinel's hat, hoisted it over the spikes of the ballustrade clear into the Seine. -

- 'TIS AN ILL WIND, said a boatman, who catched it, WHICH BLOWS NOBODY ANY GOOD.

The sentry, being a Gascon, incontinently twirled up his whiskers, and levell'd his arquebuss.

Arquebusses in those days went off with matches; and an old woman's paper lantern at the end of the bridge happening to be blown out, she had borrow'd the sentry's match to light it: - it gave a moment's time for the Gascon's blood to run cool, and turn the accident better to his advantage. - 'TIS AN ILL WIND, said he, catching off the notary's castor, and legitimating the capture with the boatman's adage.

The poor notary crossed the bridge, and passing along the Rue de Dauphine into the fauxbourgs of St. Germain, lamented himself as he walked along in this manner: -

Luckless man that I am! said the notary, to be the sport of hurricanes all my days: - to be born to have the storm of ill language levell'd against me and my profession wherever I go; to be forced into marriage by the thunder of the church to a tempest of a woman; - to be driven forth out of my house by domestic winds, and despoil'd of my castor by pontific ones! - to be here, bareheaded, in a windy night, at the mercy of the ebbs and flows of accidents!- -Where am I to lay my head? - Miserable man! what wind in the two- and-thirty points of the whole compass can blow unto thee, as it does to the rest of thy fellow-creatures, good?

As the notary was passing on by a dark passage, complaining in this sort, a voice call'd out to a girl, to bid her run for the next notary. - Now the notary being the next, and availing himself of his situation, walk'd up the passage to the door, and passing through an old sort of a saloon, was usher'd into a large chamber, dismantled of everything but a long military pike, - a breastplate,- -a rusty old sword, and bandoleer, hung up, equidistant, in four different places against the wall.

An old personage who had heretofore been a gentleman, and unless decay of fortune taints the blood along with it, was a gentleman at that time, lay supporting his head upon his hand in his bed; a little table with a taper burning was set close beside it, and close by the table was placed a chair: - the notary sat him down in it; and pulling out his inkhorn and a sheet or two of paper which he had in his pocket, he placed them before him; and dipping his pen in his ink, and leaning his breast over the table, he disposed everything to make the gentleman's last will and testament

Alas! Monsieur le Notaire, said the gentleman, raising himself up a little, I have nothing to bequeath, which will pay the expense of bequeathing, except the history of myself, which I could not die in peace, unless I left it as a legacy to the world: the profits arising out of it I bequeath to you for the pains of taking it from me. - It is a story so uncommon, it must be read by all mankind; - it will make the fortunes of your house. - The notary dipp'd his pen into his inkhorn. - Almighty Director of every event in my life! said the old gentleman, looking up earnestly, and raising his hands towards heaven, - Thou, whose hand has led me on through such a labyrinth of strange passages down into this scene of desolation, assist the decaying memory of an old, infirm, and broken-hearted man; - direct my tongue by the spirit of thy eternal truth, that this stranger may set down nought but what is written in that BOOK, from whose records, said he, clasping his hands together, I am to be condemn'd or acquitted! - the notary held up the point of his pen betwixt the taper and his eye. -

It is a story, Monsieur le Notaire, said the gentleman, which will rouse up every affection in nature; - it will kill the humane, and touch the heart of Cruelty herself with pity. -

- The notary was inflamed with a desire to begin, and put his pen a third time into his ink-horn - and the old gentleman, turning a little more towards the notary, began to dictate his story in these words: -

- And where is the rest of it, La Fleur? said I, as he just then enter'd the room.


When La Fleur came up close to the table, and was made to comprehend what I wanted, he told me there were only two other sheets of it, which he had wrapped round the stalks of a bouquet to keep it together, which he had presented to the demoiselle upon the boulevards. - Then prithee, La Fleur, said I, step back to her to the Count de B-'s hotel, and see if thou canst get it. - There is no doubt of it, said La Fleur; - and away he flew.

In a very little time the poor fellow came back quite out of breath, with deeper marks of disappointment in his looks than could arise from the simple irreparability of the fragment. Juste Ciel! in less than two minutes that the poor fellow had taken his last tender farewell of her - his faithless mistress had given his gage d'amour to one of the Count's footmen, - the footman to a young sempstress, - and the sempstress to a fiddler, with my fragment at the end of it. - Our misfortunes were involved together: - I gave a sigh, - and La Fleur echoed it back again to my ear.

- How perfidious! cried La Fleur. - How unlucky! said I.

- I should not have been mortified, Monsieur, quoth La Fleur, if she had lost it. - Nor I, La Fleur, said I, had I found it.

Whether I did or no will be seen hereafter.


The man who either disdains or fears to walk up a dark entry may be an excellent good man, and fit for a hundred things, but he will not do to make a good Sentimental Traveller. - I count little of the many things I see pass at broad noonday, in large and open streets. - Nature is shy, and hates to act before spectators; but in such an unobserved corner you sometimes see a single short scene of hers worth all the sentiments of a dozen French plays compounded together, - and yet they are absolutely fine; - and whenever I have a more brilliant affair upon my hands than common, as they suit a preacher just as well as a hero, I generally make my sermon out of 'em; - and for the text, - "Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia," - is as good as any one in the Bible.

There is a long dark passage issuing out from the Opera Comique into a narrow street; 'tis trod by a few who humbly wait for a fiacre, {2} or wish to get off quietly o'foot when the opera is done. At the end of it, towards the theatre, 'tis lighted by a small candle, the light of which is almost lost before you get half-way down, but near the door - 'tis more for ornament than use: you see it as a fixed star of the least magnitude; it burns, - but does little good to the world, that we know of.

In returning along this passage, I discerned, as I approached within five or six paces of the door, two ladies standing arm-in- arm with their backs against the wall, waiting, as I imagined, for a fiacre; - as they were next the door, I thought they had a prior right; so edged myself up within a yard or little more of them, and quietly took my stand. - I was in black, and scarce seen.

The lady next me was a tall lean figure of a woman, of about thirty-six; the other of the same size and make, of about forty: there was no mark of wife or widow in any one part of either of them; - they seem'd to be two upright vestal sisters, unsapped by caresses, unbroke in upon by tender salutations. - I could have wish'd to have made them happy: - their happiness was destin'd that night, to come from another quarter.

A low voice, with a good turn of expression, and sweet cadence at the end of it, begg'd for a twelve-sous piece betwixt them, for the love of heaven. I thought it singular that a beggar should fix the quota of an alms - and that the sum should be twelve times as much as what is usually given in the dark. - They both seemed astonished at it as much as myself. - Twelve sous! said one. - A twelve-sous piece! said the other, - and made no reply.

The poor man said, he knew not how to ask less of ladies of their rank; and bow'd down his head to the ground.

Poo! said they, - we have no money.

The beggar remained silent for a moment or two, and renew'd his supplication.

- Do not, my fair young ladies, said he, stop your good ears against me. - Upon my word, honest man! said the younger, we have no change. - Then God bless you, said the poor man, and multiply those joys which you can give to others without change! - I observed the elder sister put her hand into her pocket. - I'll see, said she, if I have a sous. A sous! give twelve, said the supplicant; Nature has been bountiful to you, be bountiful to a poor man.

- I would friend, with all my heart, said the younger, if I had it.

My fair charitable! said he, addressing himself to the elder, - what is it but your goodness and humanity which makes your bright eyes so sweet, that they outshine the morning even in this dark passage? and what was it which made the Marquis de Santerre and his brother say so much of you both as they just passed by?

The two ladies seemed much affected; and impulsively, at the same time they both put their hands into their pocket, and each took out a twelve-sous piece.

The contest betwixt them and the poor supplicant was no more; - it was continued betwixt themselves, which of the two should give the twelve-sous piece in charity; - and, to end the dispute, they both gave it together, and the man went away.


I stepped hastily after him: it was the very man whose success in asking charity of the women before the door of the hotel had so puzzled me; - and I found at once his secret, or at least the basis of it: - 'twas flattery.

Delicious essence! how refreshing art thou to Nature! how strongly are all its powers and all its weaknesses on thy side! how sweetly dost thou mix with the blood, and help it through the most difficult and tortuous passages to the heart!

The poor man, as he was not straiten'd for time, had given it here in a larger dose: 'tis certain he had a way of bringing it into a less form, for the many sudden cases he had to do with in the streets: but how he contrived to correct, sweeten, concentre, and qualify it, - I vex not my spirit with the enquiry; - it is enough the beggar gained two twelve-sous pieces - and they can best tell the rest, who have gained much greater matters by it.


We get forwards in the world, not so much by doing services, as receiving them; you take a withering twig, and put it in the ground; and then you water it, because you have planted it.

Monsieur le Count de B-, merely because he had done me one kindness in the affair of my passport, would go on and do me another, the few days he was at Paris, in making me known to a few people of rank; and they were to present me to others, and so on.

I had got master of my SECRET just in time to turn these honours to some little account; otherwise, as is commonly the case, I should have dined or supp'd a single time or two round, and then, by TRANSLATING French looks and attitudes into plain English, I should presently have seen, that I had hold of the couvert {3} of some more entertaining guest; and in course should have resigned all my places one after another, merely upon the principle that I could not keep them. - As it was, things did not go much amiss.

I had the honour of being introduced to the old Marquis de B-: in days of yore he had signalized himself by some small feats of chivalry in the Cour d'Amour, and had dress'd himself out to the idea of tilts and tournaments ever since. - The Marquis de B- wish'd to have it thought the affair was somewhere else than in his brain. "He could like to take a trip to England," and asked much of the English ladies. - Stay where you are, I beseech you, Monsieur le Marquis, said I. - Les Messieurs Anglois can scarce get a kind look from them as it is. - The Marquis invited me to supper.

Monsieur P-, the farmer-general, was just as inquisitive about our taxes. They were very considerable, he heard. - If we knew but how to collect them, said I, making him a low bow.

I could never have been invited to Mons. P-'s concerts upon any other terms.

I had been misrepresented to Madame de Q- as an esprit. - Madame de Q- was an esprit herself: she burnt with impatience to see me, and hear me talk. I had not taken my seat, before I saw she did not care a sous whether I had any wit or no; - I was let in, to be convinced she had. I call heaven to witness I never once opened the door of my lips.

Madame de V- vow'd to every creature she met - "She had never had a more improving conversation with a man in her life."

There are three epochas in the empire of a French woman. - She is coquette, - then deist, - then devote: the empire during these is never lost, - she only changes her subjects when thirty-five years and more have unpeopled her dominion of the slaves of love, she re- peoples it with slaves of infidelity, - and then with the slaves of the church.

Madame de V- was vibrating betwixt the first of those epochas: the colour of the rose was fading fast away; - she ought to have been a deist five years before the time I had the honour to pay my first visit.

She placed me upon the same sofa with her, for the sake of disputing the point of religion more closely. - In short Madame de V- told me she believed nothing. - I told Madame de V- it might be her principle, but I was sure it could not be her interest to level the outworks, without which I could not conceive how such a citadel as hers could be defended; - that there was not a more dangerous thing in the world than for a beauty to be a deist; - that it was a debt I owed my creed not to conceal it from her; - that I had not been five minutes sat upon the sofa beside her, but I had begun to form designs; - and what is it, but the sentiments of religion, and the persuasion they had excited in her breast, which could have check'd them as they rose up?

We are not adamant, said I, taking hold of her hand; - and there is need of all restraints, till age in her own time steals in and lays them on us. - But my dear lady, said I, kissing her hand, - 'tis too- -too soon.

I declare I had the credit all over Paris of unperverting Madame de V-. - She affirmed to Monsieur D- and the Abbe M-, that in one half hour I had said more for revealed religion, than all their Encyclopaedia had said against it. - I was listed directly into Madame de V-'s coterie; - and she put off the epocha of deism for two years.

I remember it was in this coterie, in the middle of a discourse, in which I was showing the necessity of a FIRST cause, when the young Count de Faineant took me by the hand to the farthest corner of the room, to tell me my solitaire was pinn'd too straight about my neck. - It should be plus badinant, said the Count, looking down upon his own; - but a word, Monsieur Yorick, TO THE WISE -

And FROM THE WISE, Monsieur le Count, replied I, making him a bow,- -IS ENOUGH.

The Count de Faineant embraced me with more ardour than ever I was embraced by mortal man.

For three weeks together I was of every man's opinion I met. - Pardi! ce Monsieur Yorick a autant d'esprit que nous autres. - Il raisonne bien, said another. - C'est un bon enfant, said a third. - And at this price I could have eaten and drank and been merry all the days of my life at Paris; but 'twas a dishonest RECKONING; - I grew ashamed of it. - It was the gain of a slave; - every sentiment of honour revolted against it; - the higher I got, the more was I forced upon my BEGGARLY SYSTEM; - the better the coterie, - the more children of Art; - I languish'd for those of Nature: and one night, after a most vile prostitution of myself to half a dozen different people, I grew sick, - went to bed; - order'd La Fleur to get me horses in the morning to set out for Italy.