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CONDUCTED BY WILLIAM AND ROBERT CHAMBERS.
word 'Anglaise.' But beyond that white charm, A PARISIAN SOIRÉE.
I do not know that Sybil was particularly English; Not very long ago, I, Beatrice Walford, paid my first there was a life and play, a foreign grace in dress, visit to Paris, and stayed there some time. I was very manner, and speech, that seemed to have been kindled young, very fresh, and ardent in those days. I was in a warmer, more exciting atmosphere than ours. I open-eyed, open-eared, eager to enjoy, prone to admire, believe that, nevertheless, the quick French eye could and not unwilling to criticise. I started, to be sure, discern, underneath, the English simplicity and sponwith a great contempt for the French character: I taneity which has so complete a charm of its own. knew that the men were monkeys, and not to be Perhaps she was something of a coquette, but I did trusted ; that the women were vixens, and given up not mind that. to dress. This was all the mental provision I had • Why, Sybil, it seems to me,' I said, as I leaned out made for my two years' residence amongst them on the light iron grillage of the balcony, “that one Otherwise, I entered almost in that state of innocence can see Paris without stirring from one's place. which finds it astonishing that the natives of France It is as if all the world was gathered into a picture should speak French. My first single emotion was below these windows for our amusement. From that delight at the radiant world I found myself in. bronze fountain, with its silvery jet-and-foam halo, I was on a visit to a sister, who, some six years in the Place down there, to that arch of triumph, so before, had married a French gentleman of the cut out in the blue air at the other end, it is all a petite noblesse, had become a widow, and having dream.' lived a good deal in Paris, preferred still to “There goes the President,' said Sybil; and I reside there, but was very glad to have me, as she looked, though the name was not then much of a said, to give a little liveliness to her 'triste home.' spell. I saw a low-liung, elegant calèche, with four I did not myself think it at all triste when I first horses, valets and postilions in livery of green and arrived. It was in that bright bit of Paris, the gold; and leaning back in it, with folded arms, a Avenue des Champs Elysées, one of a row of elegant slight, inanimate-looking man, of clayey, or rather houses, all glittering in their brilliant white stone, leathery complexion, who touched his hat now and with their moulded and gilded façades on each side of then, with a wooden, immovable face, to the scant those broad sunny walks and their double avenue of greetings of the passers-by. That tired and passion
And did not my sister's small, pretty apart- less man was patiently biding his time, sceing by the ment open on me as a tiny Peri palace, as on enter- light of his star-in what appeared to others the ing the ante-chamber, I heard the gay piano sounding, dark chaos of his future—a clear, sharp path up to and just saw into the bright little drawing-room strange power and grandeur for himself; and in the within, where the sun, shining in from the Champs dark silent workshop of his brain, forging with the Elysées, played on a little shrine, gay and fragrant hammer of his iron will the chain that he threw over with flowers. And like the nymph of flowers and France in a single hour. Was he laughing deep fragrance herself, came forward my graceful sister, down at the folly of those who despised him, because, to kiss and smile at me. When the first vague, unlike themselves, he knew how to form his own happy greetings were over, slie made me sit by the plans, and hold his tongue ? fire, and threw herself carelessly back in a low chair To me, as to the rest of that unforeseeing world, all by my side, playing with her little queen-baby, a rose- was enjoyment—the enjoyment of eyes ever pleased, and-white child with two dancing sapphires of eyes. never satiated. The day was given, as were many We were soon laughing together, for she was excit- after-days, to walking through this brilliant modern able and easily amused, and, thoughı older by some Paris, admiring her in her ordered and stately years than I, more of a child. The dear Sybil! I never grace; then wandering into the gloom and squalor of could describe Sybil, slie was such a delicate blend- the older city, entering grand buildings, the shrines ing of counter-elements—white nymph-like figure, of past ages-hearing divine thunders and angelic with ethereal complexion, and golden-brown hair, voices in churches; then, at one step again, amidst a and a kind of celestial sweetness in her eyes, and her torrent of human life, while the quick French nature still smile. The admiring Frenchman, monsieur or seemed ever running like a light sound of laughter or ourrier, would pronounce her in the streets a blonde music by our side. It was always a pleasure to come angelique ; and I have known a lecture or concert back to our own street, with its regular clean white room fill with a low general murmur of pleasure houses, its row of windows à deux battans on the as she entered, followed by the not whispered | upper stories, all opening down to the floor upon long
kno mee 2.5 m often gêne. heart meet you, foreig
light balconies of prettily carved ironwork, the white But I have since grown so hardened or corrupted
ses rayons !
she looked, as she half-tripped, half-glided into Then comes the wide staircase, up whose smooth the room. She moved quick and decidedly, with a well-waxed parquetéd steps we trip 80 easily. But grace half-careless, half-coquette; her small, trin stop, I must learn to walk demurely, at least when I figure had just that happy degree of compressica am alone; for I am told by Sybil's careful bonne, who which gives slightness without stiffness. Her face watches over my morals, that on such occasions les I thought at the first moment, young and fresli as is demoiselles must not run up stairs; they must go la was, was hard; it had a metallic sharpness and clear. tête relevé, and leisurely, to shew that they are not ness, the very reverse of the soft, dreamy, reiled ashamed of being seen. I must be careful too, short- charm of young English beauty. She wore a smile, sighted as I am, to see the concierge, wherever he may not soft or timid indeed, but full of a gay, conquering be, and to bow to him, for he is a man of lofty brilliant sweetness of its own. politeness, whose good manners I ought at least to Hermine was very gracious to me. Had she met try to imitate; and, as Gabrielle says, nothing is so me in the street as a stranger, she would most likely necessary to demoiselles, nothing so carefully taught have measured me with the eye of quick, unsparing them in France, as a gracious and amiable deport- criticism, which, in a moment, takes in the whole ment. So up we pass, only bowed to by some stranger figure and dress, and which not a spot, a wrinkle, or locataire, should he pass at the same time, each land- a fold of it, if the fashion, escaped; and then turned ing-place exhibiting the safe-locked door of some away with that slight derisive smile, so singularly elegant asylum in which a family may be dwelling, calculated to disconcert or provoke an English woman. joyous, yet quiet, as at home in some English But now, perhaps Hermine satisfied herself in that country cottage. We reach our own. Sybil and I glance that my pretensions as a rival were not each take possession of a deliciously elastic causeuse, formidable, my gown and bonnet having obviously all soft and rich with crimson velvet, see our own not been made in Paris. At any rate, coming up to pleased tired faces in many a gilded mirror, and me, graceful and self-possessed, she made her felicitadiscuss the incidents of the day.
tions with a tone of affectionate interest, in her light, Well, you little Anglaise,' said Sybil, a few days ringing, singing voice, and that air, so winningly after my arrival, 'I must take you into a little empressé, which attracts, flatters, and caresses to the society this evening. Very often I have two or three highest degree. A pretty Frenchwoman, who means friends myself, who drop in, in a quiet way; but to please, knows how to manage the briefest meeting, to-night we must go to Madame Gibbs.
the slightest chance-intercourse, especially with the • Who is Madame Gibbs ?' I asked.
other sex-be it only a handing from a voiture, a “Oh, she is a droll little body—a Frenchwoman, making way in the street, and with but a bow, a married to an Englishman, who piques herself on smile, a ‘Merci, monsieur,' so as to turn it all into being quite English, though you won't think so. Her a little sentimental passage; and this charming 'l society is very mixed; but the party will just suit manner they all have, more or less, from the highyou for a beginning, being quiet, yet very amusing. bred young countess to the poor fruit-woman at her How do you expect to like it, from the specimens of stall. humanity you have seen by day?'
Hermine and I exchanged a few light sentences; 'I confess,' I said, 'I am not yet so far reconciled | I making crude efforts to rival her manners, to smooth to black beards and moustaches, cigars, absurdly cut and refine my phrases as prettily as I could, instead clothes, and prolonged stares. Not that I long to kill of trusting only to my downright sans façon English every man I meet; but this, you will say, is illiberal ; good-will, which was quite put to shame by her and perhaps it is.'
exquisitely polished conventionalities, and all this in 'It seems to me so,' said Sybil candidly; but a language of which not a word came straight to my then I have been some years learning toleration. As tongue when I wanted it. Sybil soon relievingly for staring and talking to one, you know, there are interposed that it was time to dress for Madame two things a Frenchman never can help using, his Gibbs. We withdrew together, leaving Hermine eyes and his tongue. As that dear Monsieur and her mother, who were prepared to accompany us. Lamonette once said to me, when, being younger, I Will you put me up a little to these soireés ? objected a little to the process—no impertinence is I asked of my sister; 'you know I have lived so long intended ; it is only an artless, spontaneous tribute. in a lonely corner of Cumberland, I shall feel giddy “Un homme naïf et ingénu comme moi," as he was at this sudden piunge into Paris life, and disgrace you pleased to say, “can't help expressing his feelings." | by my blunders.'
We Rue de grand with ar porte ce open ce ing. Madan room, marble tion fo smiling cachem that sl
dress w reached were at
Mada soirées, the let very ric consequ able. hospita having as muc Besides Madam lover ingredi a queer perman for the meteor. fêtes, ha
not pou more of
"Oh, these people are so indulgent,' said Sybil: dancing-room is not made use of, except by an
betwixt talk and laughter. All are voluble, easy, self-
and there an insular form, rising like a column above
good-looking, either silent or speaking quietly, per-
un-nationalised travellers-citizens of all worlds, and
school, known by his more quiet polished manners-
the second near, empressé-however intimate, hands are
horror of him, as something wicked, worthless, danger- to depress him; but you will often see him lively ous; yet, while drawn on by him to express this, she enough.' finds hier real actual feelings to be those of surprise, This was enough. When M. Emile, with his orn amusement, interest, and, above all, that delicious one quiet perseverance, again found a place by Sybil and of gently gratified vanity. For the benefit of such me, to make me begin to talk politics, I asked him innocent English girls, I may observe that this way how he liked his present ruler. He shrugged his of talking and style of manners is with a French- shoulders à la Française. You think him only better man a mere matter of course, and means very little than anarchy?' I persisted, with English directness. indeed. Of course, my initiation into French society 'I am in his service-I must not speak ill of him,' was somewhat on this wise; but I missed a good many he replied. of the favourite personalities, from the fact of my not I begged pardon for my question indiscrète, and being precisely the blonde et candide Anglaise which was politely forgiven. Indeed, a determined reserve seems stereotyped in their imaginations. In fact, I was not in M. Emile's cliaracter-at least, towards was not in person of the peculiar English type (to one in whom he began to place a friendly confidence; use their pet word), though I soon discovered that I and he ere long developed feelings which made me was to them most abundantly britannique in character say: 'I am charmed to find you really a repuband manière d'étre. I could, after a while, perceive, lican.' not indistinctly, that I was somewhat of a favourite, Mais vous êtes la première qui en auriez douté,' and that I owed this solely to Sy bil's extreme popu- he said in a gently injured tone. larity. There would come up to me one after another, Still further emboldened, I affirmed: "Si j'etais either led by Madame Gibbs or by the strong spirit à votre place, je jeterais mon brevet aux quatre vents.' within, to inquire, in tender tones, if I was not · La He pleaded the necessity of a profession, the chance sæur de cette charmante Madame de F-;' and and hope of serving his country in some way or other, very good they were to endure my sins of grammar which a present surrender of his position would for and absurdities of pronunciation for her sake. ever destroy--alleged reasons which I felt to be valid,
So I sat by Sybil's side, and watched her innocent, but would not allow. I stood to my text-affirmed, delicate gaiety in the light passages of talk she had with easy heroism, 'il n'est pas necessaire de vivre, with divers kinds of people, hier pretty caressing and so on, till he was reduced to a smiling, protesting attentions to her female friends, hier manners, so mais vraiment, mademoiselle;' then to break off won. carelessly serene to the gentlemen, old and young, who dering at such enthusiasme exalté— he had no idea he came up to her. I had, as I said, my share of intro- should find an Anglaise so democratique,'&c. I liked to ductions ; for some time, it was a quick desultory see him as he stood smiling down from his tall height succession of indifferent persons. I scarcely caught under his dark silken moustache, and pleased, amused, a name, I hardly knew one face from another-all was half-embarrassed smile, crossing and uncrossing his equally strange, an Englishman often wild, and arms in a light and gentle style of his own, as he bearded like a foreigner, a foreigner sometimes entered his protest against my exultation. I was a speaking excellent English.
little displeased with M. Emile for what appeared an Before long, there came up to Sybil a young man, absence of heroic consistency-at least a temporising who at once detached himself to my eye from the submission to circumstances; but I did him wrong, crowd of similitudes, and who was vamed by her as as his conduct on an after-occasion proved. M. Emile. He had decidedly a military air; but the It was perhaps fortunate for our nascent friendslip first thing that struck me was his superiority in that at this juncture there approached a gentleman height, figure, carriage, and style of face to almost whom I did not know, a complete contrast to the all the other young men. I had not then learned quiet, thoughtful, low-voiced militaire, and who had to distinguish at once a 'meridional' from a true been fluttering about, or rather had paused in his Parisian, or son of the north, and did not know how erratic flight a moment near us, and then waiting for characteristic of M. Emile's half-Spanish race was no introduction, plunged into the conversation, which the tall, slender form, the superb curl and splendid from that moment he carried on, and almost engrossed black of his hair, beard, and silky small moustache, with a torrent of spirits, esprit, badinage, laughter, the pale olive hue of the south relieved by the soft- and animation of look, tone, and gesture that I despair ness of the expression, and the depth of the large of describing. To say that he was amusing is little; black eyes. He approached Sybil quietly, with an I was never in my life so amused before. To say air of homage almost timid, yet very sweet; then, on that he was extremely noisy, is also strict justice; being introduced, bowed and addressed me with a kind and when attracted by the flood of talk and éclats of of gentle formality; but I noticed in him, as indeed in laughter from our group, other gentlemen from time most Frenchmen, an ease and propriety of attitude to time joined it, till it consisted of five, six, or eren which gaucherie or nonchalance too often hinders an seven at once, contributing their quota to the exciteEnglishman from attaining. A Frenchman presents ment, I felt myself at last in a bewilderment himself well, and stands or sits straight and at rest and fever of amusement, surprise, and exertion. -all but his gesticulating hands: his bow and his Sybil at first gave me some aid, but she was called smile, without being empressé, have the air of one away by Madame Gibbs, and left to herself, the unforwho means to please and be pleased. In the case of tunate'étrangere' found her difficulty in speaking M. Emile, the gentleness with which lie entered into become ten times greater. But this mattered conversation, formed a kind of shelter from the exu- nothing; the flattering politeness, the inexhaustible berant, noisy vivacity of the others, and I soon found conversation and electrical good-humour of the myself pleasantly floating along a stream of metaphy- unknown, covered and overpowered all. Encircled sical, critical, sentimental, and other discourse with by these vehement talkers, I could not and did not the intelligent young militaire. He talked well, like think of escaping, and nothing but my own final other Frenchmen; but though his smile was ready departure put an end to the game, which seemed so and sweet, and his remarks often playful, he yet agreeable to these gentlemen, of astonishing the seemed to me subdued in comparison with the Anglaise. I must say that they were also extremely others; and I took occasion of a break in our con- well-bred, and the quickness and courtesy with versation, to ask my sister if the young officers which the unknown in particular listened to, underheart had been blighted.
stood, helped out, and replied to my very English "No, I think not,' said Sybil ; 'the state of his French, was perfectly charming. country, and his own want of liope of rising, tend As for recording one-tenth of what he said, it
would be impossible; not without the tone and earnestly strove to improve it to devant vous;' he manner would it seem much worth recording ; I can got nothing but the credit of the first assertion. only collect some few stray drops from this Niagara In the course of the conversation on various of talk. I was first (of course) rallied on my sup- subjects, the Italian littérateur, with a placidly proposed English prejudices against the French, and fessorial expression and in a tone of the mildest confirmed in them by the assurance that they were inquiry, suddenly asked: Quelle est la plus belle bavards, frivolous, foolish, and unreflective: the mort dont parle l'histoire ?' This produced several Gallic cock, snid my new friend, was the exact emblem instances, none of which I thought perfect, chiefly of the national character. Nothing could be more on account of their public, and even ostentatious amusing than the way in which they ran themselves character, and brouglit forward the negro slave in down, appealing constantly, in seductive tones, to the wreck, who gave up his place in the life-boat to
mademoiselle, for whose edification these tirades his master's two little sons. When I had begun this were uttered. They talked about national cruelty; story, I became aware how little competent I was their ferocity, especially that of the military, was to bring it to a conclusion, and heartily wished I admitted without a dissentient voice; but some one had never thought of it; but my hesitating narrative pronounced the cruelties of the English worse, be- was received with as much silent, courteous, apparcause they were committed in cold blood, while the ently interested attention, as if it had been le plus French were hurried away by passionate excitement. beau morceau d'eloquence au inonde. I was sorry when Finally, of all the excesses of all the most savage Sybil summoned me away. soldiery, those committed by the Austrians were said to be pre-eminent. Then the gentle M. Emile was rallied on the ferocity he had brought from one
A PLEA FOR THE EYES. short campaign in Algérie ; but to allay the horror I The eye of the workman is assuredly one of the might be feeling for him, I was assured that he was choicest of his working-tools-the one, indeed, most the most humane of all, and that he had not deserving to be cherished and protected; and yet how egorgé plus d'une douzaine de femmes, ni mangé great and prevalent is the carelessness regarding this plus de quatre ou six enfans.' M. Emile then told exquisite instrument! Men in after-life have too often composedly some stories of horrible massacres and to pay dearly for not minding their eyes in their early murderous adventures in Algérie; but when he tried days. It is eminently proper that the Society of Arts, to allay the effect by touches of interesting incident after a hundred years of usefulness, should take up this or picturesque descriptions, he was unmercifully matter; seeing that few greater contributions could be laughed at by his friend, who bade me believe made towards the advancement of arts and manufacnothing he said, for that M. l'officier was 'romanesque, tures, than a set of practical, sensible suggestions ou peu sentimentale même.' You, at anyrate, are tending to the preservation of eyesight on the part of not, I thought to myself. It was great fun to see those who are engaged in industrial avocations. Some this lively man teasing his friend, and then con- time ago, the Society appointed a 'Committee on soling him with a pntronising, caressing good-nature, Industrial Pathology on Trades which affect the Eyes,' all of which the militaire took with his usual amiable consisting of Dr T. K. Chambers, Mr Simon, and Mr serenity. From foreign they came home to domestic Twining. The course which this body pursued was, to cruelties, which they told apparently with great gusto. send a circular of printed queries to all classes of • Voilà, mademoiselle, encore le tigre,' was the de- persons, in all parts of the kingdom, who appeared lighted wind up.
likely to afford useful information on the subject Having thus lighted on politics, we pursued the under consideration. Some of the persons thus applied theme with something more of earnestness than to made no response; while others dilated upon before, and then my new friend, by certain oratorical irrelevant matter-sending, in fact, a streamlet of text poses, betrayed himself to be one accustomed to the in a nieadow of margin. Much valuable detail, nevertribune and to public representation. All Frenchmen, theless, was forwarded; and the committee made a I observe, at all in the liabit of public speaking, make report to the Society, embodying the chief facts laid a point, when interrupted for but two minutes, of before them. By condensing these facts, and throwfollowing Lamartine's great example, and standing ing them into a different order, it may be possible with their arms folded in an attitude of august calm. to render the general bearings of the subject easily My friend's natural majesty was not much, but he intelligible. did what he could. A pensive Italian joined the The inquiry separates itself into two parts: what group; the sprightly professor-for so far I had eye maladies are incident to particular trades? what made out what lie was—instantly turned his fire of eye maladies are due rather to injudicious manageraillery on him, said something with much empliasis ment than to the exigencies of the worker's employabout 'le roi Bomba, and then turning again to ment? me, said: "We have one comfort; so long as the In relation to the first question, there are undoubtNeapolitans exist, we cannot be called the last of edly numerous trades that seriously atfect the eyesight. nations,' which hit the young democratical littérateur Artisans occupied at furnaces, such as smelters, glasstook very well. Then he gaily quoted the president's blowers, and assayers, suffer in the eyes from excess of late reported saying: 'Il faut supprimer l'Angleterre,' light; and it is difficult to see how this can be remedied; and asked me how I liked it. 'Let him try!' I for the use of any kind of tinted spectacles that would answered scornfully; adding, that it was very ungrate- modify the glare, would at the same time interfere with ful of him to the country which had sheltered him the workman's power of ascertaining when the glass or so long. This remark was politely approvedl of; and metal bad arrived at its proper state of fusion-a point when I was threatened with being detained prisoner mainly to be determined by the intensity of light at Paris in case of an English war, and answered emitted from the molten substance. Chips of metal "Je resterai volontiers,' smiles and bows acknowledged frequently cause injury to the eyes of metal-turners, my reciprocal politeness. When on being asked my fitters, hammermen, cutlers, and others, either by political opinions, I confessed la rougeur la plus striking against the eyeball, actually entering the eye, foncée,' and that I was ready to mount a barricade, or burning it when the particles are red-hot. Sparks M. le Professeur, with an air of most chivalrous are often very disastrous to foundry-men and blackgallantry, declared his determination de la monter smiths, sometimes burying themselves in the very derrière moi.' A general shout of laugliter informed substance of the cornea, whence they have to be picked him of his mistake, and it was in vain that he out. Chips of stone are sources of much eye-injury to