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"And what is that?" asked
"It is nothing more or less," I replied, "than discarding your pantaloons altogether."
"The devil!" exclaimed Podder; "what, nothing at all!"
"I-I-believe-so," I returned, hesitatingly, for I was not quite certain whether any modification was permitted; "at any rate," I added, cheerfully, "it's better to err on the right side than the wrong; I do not feel disposed to make any compromise. No, Podder, I shall strictly adhere to the system."
"Well," said my friend, "if I had known this when I was on the other side of the water, much as I wanted to see this place, they should never have caught me here. To dance about the streets without-upon my life, it's too much."
In this grumbling way, Podder continued to make his toilet (the French phrase demi-toilette, would perhaps be more applicable to the case), and when our arrangements were completed, I rang the bell for breakfast. It was answered by a waiter, who, to my surprise, wore, as I remembered to have seen worn before, a pair of very full-plaited trousers.
No doubt he thought the effect of our tricolors very striking, for he stared at us very hard as we stood equipped in our boots, coats, hats, &c. "Je désire deux déjeûners pour moi et mon sécretaire," said I.
Qu'est ce que vous désirez avoir, monsieur? Du café, des œufs, des côtelettes ?"
"Oui, oui," I replied, with a nod; "non pas ici-down stairs-bas escalier-salon."
“Très-bien, monsieur; vous aurez ça dans dix minutes. Je viendrai Vous avertir quand le déjeûner est prêt."
"Until he returns," said I to Podder, "we may as well make the most of our time. Your duty as secretary must begin at once; take a pen and ink, and attend while I dictate a note to M. L-m-rt-ne, to ask for an audience."
Podder is a good penman, and his quill was quickly flourishing in his hand.
"Citoyen Ministre," I began, with my old friend Tibbins open before me, to correct poor Podder's inevitably bad spelling; "Je suis dirigé par les natifs de Peckham et Camberwell Vert, à presenter vous avec une addresse de sympathie pour votre glorieuse Revolution. Permittez-moi d'appeler sur vous aussitôt qu' agréable. "Votre sincèrement, "Au Citoyen Ministre, M. de L-m-rt-ne.”
This, I thought, would just do. It was explicit and to the purpose; unencumbered by diplomatic phrases, yet pregnant with meaning; courteous, yet free, and, as befitted r-p-bl-c-n institutions, fraternally familiar. As this last idea struck me, I ordered my secretary to add the three symbolical words which figure in every document, by way of postscript.
Podder had just given the finishing touch to the note, when the waiter re-appeared.
"Messieurs," said he, flourishing his napkin, "le déjeûner est servi ;" and he threw open the door to allow us to pass.
We rose and were quitting the apartment, when he raised a cry that was absolutely terrific.
"On allez vous, messieurs ?" shrieked he, capering like one suddenly possessed.
"A déjeûner," replied I, calmly, notwithstanding the frantic violence of his gestures.
“Quoi! vous allez descendre comme ça, dans un hôtel comme celuici!" He pointed towards our noble outlines as he spoke.
"Oui, mon brave," replied I, smiling; "nous sommes sans culottes." "Je le vois bien," he answered, drily; at the same time opposing our passage.
"Mon garçon," said I, in an expostulating tone, fearing he had not rightly comprehended me; nous sommes Rep-bl-ca-ns. Vive la R-p-bl-que! Liberté" He prevented me from finishing the
"Soyez R-p-bl-ca-ns, messieurs, autant que vous voudrez, mais vous n'avez pas le droit d'attaquer aux mœurs publiques. En Fr-nce, monsieur," continued he, addressing me particularly; "tout le monde s'habille comme il faut."
"What the deuce is the meaning of all this row?" inquired Podder, whose perceptions were not of the brightest.
"The fact is," I replied, "this fellow pretends to object to our Rp-bl-c-n costume-a concealed ar-st-cr-t, no doubt. He says, we must put on our pantaloons."
"I'm devilish glad to hear it," exclaimed my friend, "I shiver as if I had an ague."
“Well,” I returned, in an accent in which firmness and melancholy were beautifully blended; your blood be on your own head, Podder!" "What do you mean, Green?" asked he, his teeth chattering, from cold or fright, or perhaps both, as the Doge of Venice said.
"It's of no consequence," I observed, with an air of resignation; "I invited you to come with me to P-r-s to assist my views and attend to my wishes, and the first thing you do is to fraternise against me."
"I'm sure, Green," said Podder, beginning to whimper, for he saw that I was roused; "I am willing to any thing you wish."
"Enough," said I, sternly: "I have protested against the infraction of a citizen's rights; I shall offer no further opposition."
I then returned to my portmanteau and completed my toilette, Podder following my example.
During this brief altercation, the waiter had disappeared—apparently to mention what had occurred, for, as we left our room, we met the master of the hotel and one or two others in the passage. I saluted them proudly, but silently, and not a word was uttered, but I could perceive by their countenances that they were agitated by my aspect. Podder said something to me about hearing them laugh, but I desired him to hold his tongue, nor did he venture to speak again till he had done breakfast.
Although the S-v-y-rds, like the native workmen of P—r—8, have petitioned the Pr-v-si-nal G-v-rnm-nt to allow them five fr-ncs a day out of the immense national resources-a trifle which might well be afforded to them, yet while the question is pending some few are still to be found who will condescend for the sum I have named to carry a note or message, and one of these I obtained to be the bearer of my note to M. L-m-rt-ne.
During his absence, Podder and I turned out to have a look at P—r—s, which I had not seen since the palmy days of the former possessor of the thr-ne.
The first thing that struck me was the vast number of tall, scraggy, withered trees which we met at every turn. I was at first quite at a loss to understand how they got there, and my classical recollections coming to my aid, I began to think with Ovid that a considerable part of the Fr-nch population had probably been transformed into poplars; but as this opinion would have been at variance with the well-known origin of the notion when Latona changed them all into frogs, I determined to ask the meaning of the first citizen I saw. I addressed myself, therefore, to a gentleman, with a spade in his hand-one of the "unemployed"whom we met issuing from a wine-shop, where, to judge by his countenance, he had probably been passing the morning, and to him I said, Citoyenne, je demande pourquoi ces hauts batons dans les rues ?" The fellow was so overcome with the champagne and burgundy which the M-n-st―r of the Int—r—or causes to be provided daily for the P-r-s-ns-free of expense (except to the dealers), that if I had not pointed in the direction of one of these withered poles as I spoke, he might not perhaps have been able to comprehend my question. But as the Fr-nch, like monkeys, interpret gestures as readily as words, the ouvrier, steadying himself on his spade, replied,
"Quement! ça? Est-il bi'n eveillé, donc! Ca-c'est l'arb d' la Liber-té; c'est connu."
"The tree of Liberty!" I exclaimed, turning to Podder, "how extraordinary that it should have shot up to such a height so quickly!"
"Perhaps," he replied, timidly, as men always do when they are advancing some absurd proposition; " perhaps these trees have only just been transplanted, the cold weather may have been too much for themthey look quite dead."
"Talk sense, while you are about it, Podder," I answered, rather sharply, "don't you know that the tree of Liberty, as you see it now before you-is indigenous to the Fr-nch soil. It always comes up in that state, done brown immediately, as I may say; no doubt it will very soon become green-perfectly green. If you wish to preserve my friendship, Podder, let me hear no more of these ridiculous remarks; they are not only painful to my intellect, but injurious to the character of the people whose guest you are at the present moment."
Leaving the Rue C-st-gl-ne, we turned along the Rue de R-v-li, in the direction of the P-1-s R-y-l. As we passed the T-1-r-s, I pointed out to Podder the identical archway through which it is supposed L-s Ph-1-ppe emerged on the 24th of February, when he crossed the garden after abd-c-t-ng, and embracing the eagle of Fr-n-ce in the presence of the old guard. The marks of his footsteps are no longer visible; indeed, I am assured, they were carefully erased by a few faithful followers, so that all trace of his flight was cut off, and the m-n-rch was thus enabled to effect his escape.
I could not but heave a sigh when I thought of the dispersion of the gallant family with whom I once passed so merry an evening. Though I was about to give in my adhesion to the R-p-bl-c, that was no reason, I thought, why I should close the doors of my mansion at P―kh-m -m against the ex-1-d pr-nc-s, and I inwardly resolved to ask them all to dinner as soon as I got back to L-nd-n.
I could not help noticing, notwithstanding, there were a great many people in the streets, singing, amusing themselves by reading the placards on the walls, and otherwise engaged in doing nothing, that at least one-half the shops were shut up, and as trades-persons never do this except when there has been a death in the family, it was clear to me that a vast sacrifice of life must have been made by the P-r-s-ns for the recovery of their liberty. At a rough guess I should imgaine that not less than fifty thousand citizens were killed in the three days of F-br-ary, but on this point I cannot be positive. One thing, however, is certain, that the Fr-nch nation not only bury their dead very quickly but forget them as speedily.
By the time we had been the round of the P-1-s R-y-1, the B-rse, and the B-1-v-rd It-1-n (so-called out of compliment to the dist-rb-nc-s in L-mb-rdy), I felt anxious to return to the hotel to learn what answer had been given to my diplomatic note. The S-v—y―rd was sitting on the borne beside the porte cochère, and handed me a letter, which he took out of his cap of liberty, once red, but now brown. I saw at a glance that the reply was favourable. It was couched in very courteous language, and informed me that the Pr-v-s-n-1 M-n-st-r for F-r-gn Aff-rs would be happy to receive the P-ckh-m deputation on the "lendemain" at one o'clock. Podder asked me if the "lendemain" was the square of which I had told him in front of the Hôtel de Ville, but, after looking into my dictionary, I told him he had made another of his absurd mistakes, for that the word which had puzzled him meant "next day."
"G-v-rnm-nts may be overturned in Fr-nce, and time-honoured institutions perish like mushrooms," said I to Podder, with an impulse of philosophical excitement, "but petits-pâtés, as Byron says, cannot be swept or worn away, as long as appetite exists in P-r-s, and r-v-lutt-ns do not usually put an end to that. Let us go, then, and lunch at Felix's in the Passage des Panoramas, and afterwards I will show you a little of life; few saw more of it than I did when last I was here."
Accordingly, we sallied forth, and, thanks to my skilful pilotage and the remarkable local memory with which nature has endowed me, we soon reached the celebrated pâtissier's, where Podder certainly did justice to the produce of his oven,-nor were either of us unregardful of the Curaçoa which we took by way of chasse,―a term, which it may be interesting to my readers to know, is derived from hunting, at which sport a "toss-off" is, with Fr-nchm-n, a very frequent accompaniment.
Reinvigorated by this process, we now began to look about us in
"You have a soul for the Fine Arts, I suppose ?" observed I to Podder.
"I am fond of pictures and Jullien's concerts," answered Podder; "not that I am much of a judge, but I like a thing if it pleases me."
"As to your not being a judge, Peregrine," said I, kindly, "that is no fault of yours, but it would be a real misfortune if I were not slightly gifted that way. You have only to admire what you hear me praise, and you will be all right. I have some idea of making a few purchases before I go back, to add to my gallery at Peckham, as I hear pictures are
remarkably cheap just now in P-r-s; we shall probably meet with something good where I am going to take you."
"Where's that?" asked my friend.
"To the L-vre," I replied; "where, as no one has any thing to do now, the working-classes generally pass the greater part of their time. They are encouraged to do this by the Pr-v—s—nal Ĝ—v▬rnm--nt, who desire that they should have as much amusement as possible. On the same principle the theatres are all thrown open gratis, and nobody pays the
"How do the actors like that?" inquired Podder.
"The actors! oh,-that has nothing to do with the question,-they are obliged to like it. What would be the use of a R-p-bl-c, if the people couldn't do as they pleased?”
"Well, but, if every body is equal, the actors have as much right to please themselves as those who go to see them."
"Podder,” said I, impressively, "take my advice, don't venture out of your depth. It is impossible for you to understand Fr-nch politics; it is sometimes as much as I can do to master them, and observations like these throw me off my balance. Come along to the L-vre."
"What is that large building, with a flag flying on the top of it?" demanded Podder, as we emerged from the passages into the large square in which the B-rse stands.
“That,” replied I, "is the Royal Exchange."
"I thought," said he, "that every thing r-yal was abolished." "Do you wish to see the interior?" asked I, not noticing his hypercritical remark.
"Very much," was his reply, and, accordingly, we ascended the steps of the broad frieze which forms the front of the edifice, and depositing our sticks, in exchange for which we received wooden counters, entered the Hall of Commerce. It is a wise regulation, by the way, to adopt this precaution, for as there is nothing people quarrel about so much as money, they might very soon do each other a great deal of mischief if every body were armed; besides the stick-money forms no slight addition to the revenues of the country-and, if I may be allowed to make a pun on such a subject, I should say, that since every man of property is cutting his stick the more money they make the better.
As there has been no business done at the B-rse since the three glorious days of F-br-y, we were not troubled with the usual crowd of stock-jobbers; in point of fact, there were only three or four persons on the parquet, who, having nothing else to do, appeared to be selling themselves bargains. Podder was of opinion, from the surliness of their behaviour, that they were bears; I, on the contrary, saw at once that they belonged to another department of natural history, their looks. evidently showing that a rise would be agreeable to them. In consequence of this pleasing solitude, we were enabled to examine the interior at our leisure, and, at Podder's request, I explained to him the meaning of the hieroglyphical paintings (for such I consider them) on the walls. Podder took them at first for statues, and it was not till we got completely elose to them in the gallery above that I could undeceive him. However, I took no credit to myself for my superior discernment, though I flatter myself I might have done so without being indebted to Galignani's Guide, which I always carry about with me and refer to on these occasions.