« ZurückWeiter »
MR. JOLLY GREEN'S VISIT TO PARIS SINCE THE FRENCH
THREE months only have elapsed since I felt it my duty to my country to come forward with a plan for its defence, which, I am proud to say, met with unqualified approbation from the most competent authorities, and will, I have no hesitation in saying, be carried into execution whenever the necessity for its adoption shall arise. To predict the precise period of that event, is a course to which I shall not, at present, commit myself, for, really, the occurrences of the last two months have been of so startling a nature that, I fairly confess, they have taken me by surprise; it would not, therefore, be advisable for me to hazard my reputation on an issue of so doubtful a kind as the probability of a general war; though there is a gentleman, a traveller like myself (and not unlike me in other respects), who confidently asserts that Free Trade has put a complete extinguisher upon the warlike propensities of every nation in Europe. This question, then, I shall not disturb, my object in once more coming (not unsolicited) before an admiring public, being rather to record my impressions of the Past than to speculate on the chances of the Future.
It will at once be perceived, by all persons of discernment, in spite of the guarded language which (from motives of delicacy) I feel called upon to observe, that my observations will most likely be made to bear upon the rem-rk-ble ch-ng—s which have recently taken place in a ne-ghb-rỡng chẳntry, where a kẳng (my own personal acquaintance) has been d-thr-ned, and a R-p-b-c established. I thought, when I passed that pleasant evening at the T-I-r-s in the bosom of the R-y-1 E-m-ly (which, I trust, is still fresh in the recollection of my readers), that in less than a couple of years those cr—wn—d h-ds would be f-g-t-ve ex-les, and that p-l-ce converted into an asylum for inv-l-dw-rkm-n! Peace to their manes, as the ancient Britons used to say! Whatever resentment I may have felt when I have called to memory the dead set which, I am convinced, was made at me at lansquenet on that occasion, when a certain personage won so much money from me; whatever may have been my patriotic indignation on the occasion of the M-ntp-ns-r m-rr-ges, both are forgotten now, and consigned to the tombs of the Montagues and Capulets. It is not in the nature of Jolly Green to trample on a fallen foe. I have thought that this explanation was necessary in once more touching on the delicate subject of Fr-nch P-1-t-cs, lest it should be supposed that I am influenced by any undue bias in narrating the particulars that have fallen under my own observation.
As it happened, I was not in P-1-s during the three eventful days of F-b-ry, but that spirit of inquiry which has always animated me, and that desire to afford information to my fellow-countrymen which has ever been the pole-star of my aspirations, were sufficient inducements with me to set out for that capital on the first lull of the p-1---1 tempest, in order that I might rectify the erroneous statements which are sure always to be made by those on the spot who are not capable of forming an opinion.
To accomplish this purpose, my own intimate acquaintance with the localities, and my profound knowledge of the Fr-nch character, would, of themselves, have been sufficient; but “to make assurance double sure," as they say at the Sun Fire-office, I resolved to take with me an intelligent friend on whose acuteness and ability I could rely, and I flatter myself the result will be found -- but no, the public shall judge of that.
The friend whom I selected to share the dangers and partake the labours of this important undertaking, was one long dear to my heart, and were he sufficiently well known, he would be equally so to the whole British nation. His name has not yet figured in any very conspicuous manner in his country's annals, but I think I indulge in no unwarrantable anticipations when I prophesy that-after these revelations--the day is not very remote when Fame and Peregrine Podder (so is my friend called), shall go down hand in hand to posterity! Independently of the services which I looked for at his hands, for I am not altogether selfish (no man, indeed, is wholly so), I was desirous of giving poor Podder a treat, and as he had never before been in Fr-nce, and couldn't speak a word of the language, I rightly judged that I could scarcely offer him a greater gratification than in taking him with me, at such a moment, to the scene of such bewildering excitement.
The preparations which I made for our journey were very simple. Aware of the risk one runs in troublesome times from being overloaded with specie (and five-fr-ne pieces, as all the world knows, are excessively cumbrous), I took the wise precaution of providing myself with Fr-nch bank-notes, which I could conveniently dispose about my person. I obtained them, after paying a moderate premium for the accommodation (a trifle over five per cent.), from a most respectable money-changer in the neighbourhood of the Haym-rk-t, who was so good as to say he could supply me to any amount in exchange for British coin. I procured, however, only as much as I thought necessary for the period of our sojourn, well knowing that, as Fr-nch paper is not a lawful tender in this country, it was useless for me to take over more than I was likely to spend. A man does not go abroad for nothing, and this was a bit of experience I had picked up on my travels. A hundred pounds or so was, therefore, all I changed, reserving some twenty sovereigns for expenses between the two c-p-t-Is.
Neither did I think it desirable that either Podder or I should encumber ourselves with much baggage. I had several reasons for coming to this conclusion, but the principal was, that as the Fr-nch nat-n are now, like their ancestors, sans-culottes, it would have been absurd to fill our portmanteaux with articles of raiment that had fallen under the ban of popular opinion. One pair a-piece would be quito sufficient for the journey; when once we reached P-s-s there would, of course, be no further occasion for them. It was true, the weather was rather inclement when we set out, but what a Highlander can do for pleasure, surely a Briton can achieve from a sense of duty! The space which these integuments would have occupied I devoted to another purpose (having needfully observed the signs of the times), and laid in a couple of dozen of tri-coloured shirts, a few scarfs to match, some flags to mount on our walking-sticks as soon as we landed on the opp-s—te c-st, and six or eight red-worsted night-caps—I mean c-ps of l-b-rty!
May.-VOL. LXXXIII. NO. CCCXXIX.
Our arrangements being thus completed, and having learnt that a steamer would leave F-lk-st-ne at m-dn-ght, I took two places in the mail train, and set off on my adventurous journey.
I shall not detain the reader at B-l-gne so long as we were ourselves detained at the Dou-ne, though, I must say, we were treated by the officials with great respect; a fact attributable, of course, to the arrangements I had made with regard to our costume. There was, it is true, one little drawback, and that was the rigidity with which the custom-house officers exacted the payment of rather heavy duties on our wearing apparel, on the plea that every article was perfectly new; as there was, they said, a great demand just then for tri-coloured objets, it was not impossible that messieurs (so they called us) might be disposed to speculate a little in the sale of them. I indignantly repelled this insinuation, asserting that the things were all for our own personal wear, but the officers were either so obtuse as not to understand what I said (though I spoke the very best P-1—s Fr-nch), or so obstinate as to persist in their opinion, in spite of my asseverations. The consequence was, that I had three fr-ncs to pay for every chemise, and in proportion for the scarfs and flags; I expected that the c-ps of l-b-rty, at least, would have escaped, but as woollen articles are taxed higher than any other species of manufacture, their cost was pretty nearly doubled when they finally passed through the Dou--ne. This last transaction strongly impressed upon my mind the philosophic truth, that to obtain l--b-rty it must be always dearly paid for.
It was not without some feelings of emotion that I cast my eyes in the direction of the column, at the base of which I had made my first essay in arms, shortly after my arrival in Fr—nce, nor will it, I hope, be considered an unpardonable instance of vanity, when I state that I described to my friend Podder the full particulars of that memorable duel It is true, he had heard them before, but not on the spot. The man who has traversed a battle-field well knows how great is the difference between any description, however vivid, and actual observation, and will fully appreciate the value of my remarks on this occasion. A familiar example of this kind of thing presents itself in the case of G-rge the F-rth's visit to W-t-rloo, accompanied by the D-ke of W-11--ngt-n. I have been considered like his gr~ce in many particulars, but I make no comparisons; the d-ke is undoubtedly a good smld—r, but he is not the only, nor the most infallible p-l-t-e-n in Eur-pe!
But I feel that I am lingering too long on the threshold, and must hasten on with the rapidity of the railroad which conveyed us from N—fch-t-1 (famous for its Parmesan cheese) to P---s. The old d-mg—nce, in which I formerly travelled, has now become an exploded vehicle, and it was not without satisfaction I reflected that its history had been preserved for posterity in my own memoirs. A few years hence and the world will ask, what was a d-l-g-nce? The question will not be made in vain so long as the name of Jolly Green is held in remembrance. It was a delightful thing to witness the freshness and simplicity of my friend Podder as we journeyed along; every thing presented itself to him under an entirely novel aspect, and, as Sterne said of the dead ass at Nanpont, I almost “envied him his feelings.” It was something, however, to be able to impart information, and this I did very freely, acquainting him with many particulars of local history of which he had not previously the slightest idea. But for me he would never have known that it was at Abb-v-le, the capital of G-sc-ny, the celebrated lit de justice was made which furnished the model for the
very excellent beds we met with everywhere in Frắnce ; that the bière de Mars was invented by the fabulous god of war, and is, on that account, always served out to the Fr~nch armies preparatory to their going into battle, a circumstance which may in some degree account for the courage and spirit of the troops ; that the g-b—lle was a tax imposed upon houses with gable-ends, so numerous in this part of the country; and that the tour de beurre of the aforesaid cathedral of Am-ns was, as its name implies, originally built of butter.
Podder was very grateful for this information, and, I observed, took notes on the sly-not that I should have objected to his doing so openly, for any book that he or any other man might write would, I imagine, be somewhat different from one of mine. I pitied Podder, but I did not on that account despise him.
It was late when the train reached the P—r-s station—not, however, more than three hours behind time, which is a trifle on a Fr-ch railroad, and a good deal of time was consumed in the examination of the baggage, the chief object of the inspectors being, as I have remarked on a former occasion, to ascertain the actual quantity of new-laid eggs, beetroot, and soft cheese which Fr-nch travellers are in the habit of stowing away amongst their shirts and stockings. They found nothing of the sort amongst our effects, and having ordered a fiacre, we drove off to an hotel in the Rue de la P-X. I observed one thing, that the charge for conveying us was much higher than when I was last in P-r-s, for on offering the customary two fr-nes, the driver, a gentleman in a blouse and long beard, who drove, by-the-bye, very badly, knocking the fiacre against every thing he came near, replied, in a horrible kind of patois,
“Dam ! ça n' s'peu' pas ; on n'écrase pas l'monde comm' autr’-fois ! V'yez-vous bi'n, à pr's 'nt c'est Liberté, Fraternité, Egalité !' faut m'donner six francs !"
I afterwards understood that the equality asserted in this increased rate of charge was meant to place the cab-drivers of P--r-s on the same footing as their brethren in L-nd-n, an approximation which, I think, is for many reasons undesirable.
I had expected that there would have been some difficulty in procuring accommodation at that late hour, but in this I was agreeably disappointed, for though we had to wait some time before the door was opened, the delay arose from the doubt as to whether the summons was a hostile or a friendly one, it not having entered into the head of the proprietor of the hotel that two such distinguished strangers as Podder and myself would present ourselves at his gates. There might have been another reason, for as we went up-stairs to our bed-rooms, we met a servant in livery carrying down the remains of some supper on a tray, whom I strongly suspect to have been one of the ex-m—n—strs in disguise, that being the character which their training under Lo-is Ph--l-ppe best qualified them to assume. The man quailed beneath my eye, but his fears were groundless, for I am the last person in the world to betray the unfortunate, even when guilty. In that respect I consider myself a second Boscobel ! Fatigued with the journey and the excitement which the sense of my
mission had caused, I decided at once upon postponing all active proceedings until the next day; for though I was aware that the members of the Pr-y-s-n-1 G-v-rnm- -nt had never shaved or taken off their clothes since the 24th of February, and that they always slept in armchairs at the Hôtel de Ville (which I explained to Podder was the meaning of a séance permanente), I thought it was better not to ask for an interview with M. de L-m-rt-ne too abruptly, lest, eloquent as he is, he should feel himself at a loss to make a suitable reply to the address which I intended to present in the name of the inhabitants of P-ckh-m. I therefore ordered a hasty supper, to which, with a couple of bottles of champagne, we did ample justice, and crowning the whole with some stiff brandy-and-water, which Podder said he really could not do without, we retired to rest in, I need scarcely say, a double-bedded room, for as I had appointed Podder my secretary, it was, of course, necessary that he should never be out of iny sight.
I was awake early the next morning, but my slumbers, though brief, had quite recruited my frame, and my mental perceptions were as vigorous as
After a short interval given to reflection,—the constant practice with all great men preparatory to action—I roused my companion.
“ Podder," I exclaimed, in the language of the immortal bard, sitting up in bed—“ Podder, get up."
These stirring words were not ineffectual ; he raised his head slowly from his pillow, rubbed his eyes, yawned drowsily, and then demanded what was the time of day?
I was aware that he put the question in a metaphorical rather than a literal sense, and promptly replied that it was time to be up and doing, “ for,” said Í, “ the eyes of all Eur—pe are upon us.”
“ All Eur—pe," returned Podder, with another yawn, "had not such a night-cap as mine was, or it would not be so devilish wide awake.”
“ Podder,” said I, impressively ; “no levity. This is a solemn occasion, we have a great duty to perform. In the first place I must tell you, who have never been in Fr—nce before, that the P-r-s--ans are very particular in point of costume, and the slightest inattention in that respect might be fatal. To prove the truth of what I say, I need only remind you that the first act of the Pr--s--n-16-y-rnm-nt was to decree the national colours,-in other words, to set the fashions, without which it is
very well known no government in Fr-nce could exist an hour. This great principle I have constantly kept in view, and, of course, intend to act up to it. It seems a cold, raw morning, and the wind is higher than I like, but duty must be done. You are aware, Podder,” continued I, “of the name of the great section of citizens, the dominant party in fact, of the first Fr-nch Ř—v—l—tion. You know what they were called ?"
Podder, who is not very deeply read in history, admitted that he did not.
I was prepared for this, but, without reproving his ignorance, mildly answered:
They were the Fr-nch Highlanders, sometimes called “ La Montagne,' on account of the elevated district they inhabited, but more familiarly known, for a particular reason, as the Sans-culottes. Precedenr, Podder, is every thing, and, of course, what was done in-never mind the date, I don't exactly remember it—what was done then will be repeated now; in short, it is the fashion for every body to be a sansculotte."