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of another people, are susceptible of being distorted into ludicrous and nonsensical shapes. The thing is pretty thoroughly done in the volume before us. The author has caught the true spirit of English logic in treating the subject of English customs; and, as we are certain that none of his humorous misrepresentations can do any harm, we wish his book might be translated into our own language and put into the hands of every individual in the United Kingdom. Our author professes to have been in England only fifteen days at the end of 1815, and never to have been there before;-yet with the genuine philosophy of tourists, he draws universal conclusions from single facts, and charitably finds fault with the very best institutions, merely because they are not on the model of similar establishments in his own country. Thus, the clerk at the Alien Office thrust the pen behind his ear; therefore all English clerks have the pens behind their ears. He could get no napkin at the tavern in Dover; and he concludes, as a traveller should,—that napkins are an article unknown in England. The same logic runs through the whole book. I followed her (the chamber maid, says Mr. ***) through a small, and very narrow stair-case-like most of the stair-cases in England, &c. • It had undoubtedly made an agreeable diversion at tea; of which the custom-house officers (douaniers), like all other Englishmen, drink plentifully every morning.' part of the rich Englishmen have French cooks, &c. &c.
But the great merit of our author consists in the ingenuity with which he exalts the worst institutions in Paris at the expense of the best in London,-and in finding a thousand plausible faults in those very circumstances which the English themselves have been accustomed to think were granted on all hands to be without spot or blemish. He goes into no political discussions; and our examples must therefore be taken from subjects about which few will think it worth while to quarrel. It cannot be seriously pretended for a minute, that the streets of London, which have side-walks, are much more commodious than those of Paris, which have them not; and yet when we have read the following description of English trottoirs we see they are nothing but a perpetual annoyance to the footpassenger; nor do we perceive in the first perturbation of our reason, that it is much better to be run against by a wheelbarrow than to be run over by a coach,--and that the hazard of getting a drop of milk upon one's clothes is a trifle to the certainty of being spattered all over with mud.
• Nor must you imagine that one can walk peaceably upon the famous trottoirs of which so much is said. You are aloof, it is true, from horses and from carriages; but you have not the less
• The great
need of all your attention to guard against the dangers with which you are threatened at every step, from wheelbarrows-milk-pails, the shovels and pickaxes of street-sweepers-bakers' and cooks' baskets—the materials and instruments of all professions (particularly of the masons,) but above all from the ladders of the lamp-lighters,—who, as soon as evening commences, begin to run like madmen from lamp to lamp, with the ladder on their shoulders, and at the risk of overturning every thing before them. And when the lamps are lighted, they only serve to render obscurity visible; the wicks being so small and give so little light, that they might well be compared to those insects which, in the darkness of a beautiful summer's night, display the little sparks with which nature has provided them.—But it does not suffice that you look before you-behind you--and on all sides of you: take very good care how you put down your feet. A precipice awaits you before every house. All the side-walks are hollow, and have trap-doors all along on the top. They are circular or square, and are placed in the middle of the trottoir as a door for the admission of coal. If one is unfortunately open when you pass, and you dont take care where you step, you may break your leg: but that is nothing. If the iron or wooden grate should chance to be open, you may break your neck; which is something. At least, the reader will say, 'one may go a foot upon those side-walks?' Without doubt, when the weather is good; but, in the contrary case, they are covered with about a half of an inch of mud; which neither the cleaners of the streets, nor the owners of the neighbouring houses, ever think of clearing away;-insomuch that the men are always in boots or in gaters, and the approach of a woman is announced by the noise of the iron patins with which her feet are armed.'
Policies of insurance are another institution with which Englishmen have an idea that no sort of fault can be found; and yet our sojourner contrives to make it little better than a curse to the city. We translate a part of the chapter entitled L’Incendie.
· Fire! fire! fire!-Such was the frightful cry which about midnight arrested me from my bed just as I was going to get into it. I threw on my gown in haste, and ran into my little salon which looked into the street; where I saw the flames issuing with violence through the windows of a neighbouring house. The proprietor of the house on the other side of the one in which I lodged,—though he had comparatively nothing to fear as he was farther off the fire,—was nevertheless very busily engaged in removing his furniture: and I could not conceive the reason of the tranquillity which reigned in our own dwelling. These good people are asleep,' thought I, or they are not acquainted with the truth that
Tua res agitur paries cum proximus ardet.'
I thought I must sound the alarm; and accordingly played ono after the other the two bells with which my room was furnished. My hostess ran up immediately, and asked in the most calm and tranquil toneWhat do you want, sir?' • Why, to advertise you of the danger which threatens your house. Don't you see the fire is in the next house?'-Oh! is that all! We knew that before. My husband and myself had not gone to bed. You had better pack your things in your trunk; for it is possible that the fire will be communicated to this house. It sometimes consumes three or four before they can get it under:'-— But what means the tranquillity in which I see you? Why don't you take yourself the good council which you offer me?'- (h! I have nothing to fear. You see by the sign over the window that my house is insured. It is very old; and if it is burned, they will pay me; so I run no risk.'—That is very well for the house. But your furniture?'— Is insured too? I am in no uneasiness. I have only prepared a little packet of linen, which we shall carry out at the last moment.'—- All London is insured then?'-- Yes; and life too. You can get yourself insured for sixty or sixty-five years; and if you die before that age, the contracted sum will be paid to your heirs.' At this moment the rafters of the burning house fell in, and the fire seemed to acquire a new force. •I hope nobody has perished!' exclaimed I. No,' she said. "Do you see that large man in an over-coat, with arms crossed, leaning against the wall of the other side of the street, in front of the house which is on fire? It is the owner. I see close by his wife, his three infants, and his servant, who were the sole occupants of the house.'— I need not ask you whether his house is insured: his air of tranquillity convinces me of that. He reminds me of an ancient philosopher, who warmed his hands over the burning ruins of his house, saying, it was the last service which it could render him.'-At length the fire was mastered. It is a fine thing—this insurance, thought I, in returning to my bed; but it may be the cause of great mischief, by making the owners of houses less solicitous about fire, and less careful to take the proper measures to pre. vent it. Is it not possible, also, that villains may get their houses, their goods, and their merchandize insured,--and then set them on fire with their own hands in order to receive the stipu. lated sum of insurance?'- In the morning I suggested this reflection to my hostess. But she answered that, in the first place, the crime was punished with death,--(about eighteen months before a man had been hung for it;) and that, on the other hand, after having given an insurance, the company causes your house, your furniture, and your goods to be estimated, and may renew that estimation as often as they please. This answer satisfied me but imperfectly;--for the day after the valuation, the insured might cause to disappear the best part of his furniture, and goods: so that no estimation can completely prevent the rascallity of which insurances are the occasions.'
Our Fifteen Days has often reminded us of the Sentimental Journey; and the following description of a French artist who had been reduced to poverty in London, and whom our author accidentally encountered at an eating-house, is a good deal in the manner of Sterne.
While they were preparing my dinner, a man who sat at the same table with me called to the boy for the purpose of paying his reckoning. The account was not long. Two pence worth of bread-two pence worth of beer, and a penny's worth of cheese, composed the whole of his bill. He took six pence out of a little purse which appeared very light; and, after giving the boy a half of the surplus penny, returned the other half into the purse with a long-drawn and profound sigh. He was a man about five feet five inches high. His legs (nothing but spindles) were covered with a pair of black gaiters,--through the buttonings of which you might discover that a pair of stockings were not considered as an indispensable article of his toilette. His breeches, which were of the same colour, and of which it was impossible to divine the stuff,--they were so much worn --covered two legs that were not much larger than a sheep's: a jacket striped with blue and yellow flapped over the part of his body, in which one yainly searched for the semblance of a belly; and the whole was covered with a black garment patched at the two elbows with white thread, which had been blackened with ink in order to disguise the colour. His cheeks, entering his jaws on each side, seemed to endeavour at hiding themselves, and his front was covered with wrinkles which appeared to be rather the work of chagrin than of age. Nevertheless he carried his head high; and his brilliant and sparkling (spirituels) eyes announced a sort of fierceness. I eyed him with great attention; for his features appeared not altogether unknown to me. As chance would have it, he throwed a look towards the place in which I sat; and he immediately approached me: "Ah! what brought you to London; and is it really you whom I see in this sumptuous hotel?'— Yes,' I answered; but I protest, I seek in vain to Recognize me? I can easily believe it. I am greatly changed from what I was three years ago, when you last saw me.--I am Croquis.'--I then recognized him,--notwithstanding the incredible metamorphosis which his whole person had undergone. Mr. Croquis was a French painter who, without being elevated to the ranks of the first artists, had nevertheless enjoyed a considerable reputation. His conduct had always been regular: I never knew him to be guilty of a fault; and I could not divine the reason of the miserable state into which he was fallen. I got him to sit near me, and invited him to partake of my dinner. I have dined,' said he, with a smile mixed with bitterness, and I have no need of any thing.' I prevailed over his scruples, however; and from the manner in which he used his knife and fork (officia), I perceived
that he had not eaten to appease his appetite--but to save himself from starvation.'
M. Croquis' story is then told. He had been enticed to London by the hopes of extensive patronage; had hired a convenient room in the fashionable part of the town, for the exhibition of his pictures; was visited by all the amateurs, and seemed at first to have a fair prospect of success.
But it was soon overshadowed. His funds were small; and the
first picture he undertook was spoken for by a man who became bankrupt before he had finished it. The native artists, too, attacked him on all sides; and he was finally driven into a garret, where he could make no display of his art, and could but just keep himself alive, by painting a few pictures and teaching a few pupils. He had a rich uncle in France, who he knew would take every pains to meliorate his condition; and as he had some time previously made him acquainted with his necessitous case, expected there was at that
time an answer in the post-office,-but protested that he had never inquired, because he could not get money enough to pay the postage. Mr. *** went to the office with him; found the letter; and paid the postage, in a delicate way, by only lending Croquis the money. It contained an invitation to France, with a bill of four hundred francs drawn on a London banker; and--to cut short a long story-our French artist and French traveller took the same Diligence in their departure for the continent,
We must now accompany the author into an English coffeehouse.
We entered a large room, in which my olfactories were regaled with the smell of tobacco-smoke,—which to me is not the most agreeable in the world. My eye-sight was not more agreeably struck with the appearance of fifteen or eighteen tables ranged along the walls, and covered with napkins (c'est un meuble qui n'est pas en usage dans les auberges Anglaises. p. 11.) extremely soiled. Every one was occupied very seriously with the business which attracted them to the place; and the word-boy! pronounced now and then, was almost the only sound which could be heard in this Palace of Silence.--While the boy was preparing our coffee, I threw my eyes around upon the company. On my left was a man of the middle age; who was well enough clothed-had a very large body, with a mouth to the ears—and was tossing into his throat, one after another, enormous mouthfuls of beef, pretty much as they pitch bundles of hay into a loft.—On my left a young man, dressed in a thread-bare black coat,— whose visage was twice as long as it was broad, and who might have been taken for a skeleton in clothes, if his hands and his face had not been covered with a pale and livid skin,-- was tête-à-tête with a twopenny pint of beer, out of which he now and then sipped an eco