Full Online Books
Authors Authors Short Stories Short Stories Long Stories Long Stories Funny Stories Funny Stories Love Stories Love Stories Stories For Kids Stories For Kids Poems Poems Essays Essays Nonfictions Nonfictions Plays Plays Folktales Folktales Fairy Tales Fairy Tales Fables Fables Learning Kitchen Learning Kitchen
Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional Free Classified Website Without Registration Free Classified Website Daniel Company
Twitter Twitter Add book
Full Online Book HomeNonfictionsRecollections Of Europe - Letter 9
Famous Authors (View All Authors)
Recollections Of Europe - Letter 9 Post by :pluc-affiliate Category :Nonfictions Author :James Fenimore Cooper Date :May 2012 Read :3192

Click below to download : Recollections Of Europe - Letter 9 (Format : PDF)

Recollections Of Europe - Letter 9


Royal Dinner.--Magnificence and Comfort.--Salle de Diane.--Prince de Conde.--Duke of Orleans.--The Dinner-table.--The Dauphin.--Sires de Coucy.--The Dauphine.--Ancient Usages--M. de Talleyrand.--Charles X. --Panoramic Procession.--Droll Effect.--The Dinner.--M. de Talleyrand's Office.--The Duchesse de Berri.--The Catastrophe.--An Aristocratic Quarrel.


We have lately witnessed a ceremony that may have some interest for one who, like yourself, dwells in the retirement of a remote frontier post. It is etiquette for the kings of France to dine in public twice in the year, viz. the 1st of January, and the day that is set apart for the fete of the king. Having some idle curiosity to be present on one of these occasions, I wrote the usual note to the lord in, waiting, or, as he is called here, "le premier gentilhomme de la chambre du roi, de service," and we got the customary answer, enclosing us tickets of admission. There are two sorts of permissions granted on these occasions: by one you are allowed to remain in the room during the dinner; and by the other, you are obliged to walk slowly through the salle, in at one side and out at the other, without, however, being suffered to pause even for a moment. Ours were of the former description.

The King of France having the laudable custom of being punctual, and as every one dines in Paris at six, that best of all hours for a town life, we were obliged to order our own dinner an hour earlier than common, for looking at others eating on an empty stomach is, of all amusements, the least satisfactory. Having taken this wise precaution, we drove to the chateau at half after five, it not being seemly to enter the room after the king, and, as we discovered, for females impossible.

Magnificence and comfort seldom have much in common. We were struck with this truth on entering the palace of the king of France. The room into which we were first admitted was filled with tall, lounging foot soldiers, richly attired, but who lolled about the place with their caps on, and with a barrack-like air that seemed to us singularly in contrast with the prompt and respectful civility with which one is received in the ante-chamber of a private hotel. It is true that we had nothing to do with the soldiers and lackeys who thronged the place; but if their presence was intended to impress visitors with the importance of their master, I think a more private entrance would have been most likely to produce that effect; for I confess, that it appeared to me has a mark of poverty, that troops being necessary to the state and security of the monarch, he was obliged to keep them in the vestibule by which his guests entered. But this is royal state. Formerly, the executioner was present; and in the semi-barbarous courts of the East, such is the fact even now. The soldiers were a party of the Hundred Swiss; men chosen for their great stature, and remarkable for the perfection of their musket. Two of them were posted as sentinels at the foot of the great staircase by which we ascended, and we passed several more on the landings.

We were soon in the Salle des Gardes, or the room which the _gardes du corps on service occupied. Two of these _quasi soldiers were also acting as sentinels here, while others lounged about the room. Their apartment communicated with the Salle de Diane, the hall or gallery prepared for the entertainment. I had no other means but the eye of judging of the dimensions of this room; but its length considerably exceeds a hundred feet, and its breadth is probably forty, or more. It is of the proper height, and the ceiling is painted in imitation of those of the celebrated Farnese Palace at Rome.

We found this noble room divided, by a low railing, into three compartments. The centre, an area of some thirty feet by forty, contained the table, and was otherwise prepared for the reception of the court. On one side of it were raised benches for the ladies, who were allowed to be seated; and, on the other, a vacant space for the gentlemen, who stood. All these, you will understand, were considered merely as spectators, not being supposed to be in the presence of the king. The mere spectators were dressed as usual, or in common evening dress, and not all the women even in that; while those within the railings, being deemed to be in the royal presence, were in high court dresses. Thus I stood for an hour within five-and-twenty feet of the king, and part of the time much nearer, while, by a fiction of etiquette, I was not understood to be there at all. I was a good while within ten feet of the Duchesse de Berri, while, by convention, I was nowhere. There was abundance of room in our area, and every facility of moving about, many coming and going, as they saw fit. Behind us, but at a little distance, were other rows of raised seats, filled with the best instrumental musicians of Paris. Along the wall, facing the table, was a narrow raised platform, wide enough to allow of two or three to walk abreast, separated from the rest of the room by a railing, and extending from a door at one end of the gallery, to a door at the other. This was the place designed for the passage of the public during the dinner; no one, however, being admitted, even here, without a ticket.

A gentleman of the court led your aunt to the seats reserved for the female spectators, which were also without the railing, and I took my post among the men. Although the court of the Tuileries was, when we entered the palace, filled with a throng of those who were waiting to pass through the Gallery of Diana, to my surprise, the number of persons who were to remain in the room was very small. I account for the circumstance, by supposing, that it is not etiquette for any who have been presented to attend, unless they are among the court; and, as some reserve was necessary in issuing these tickets, the number was necessarily limited. I do not think there were fifty men on our side, which might have held several hundred; and the seats of the ladies were not half filled. Boxes were fitted up in the enormous windows, which closed and curtained, a family of fine children occupying that nearest to me. Some one said they were the princes of the house of Orleans; for none of the members of the royal family have seats at the _grands couverts_, as these dinners are called, unless they belong to the reigning branch. There is but one Bourbon prince more remote from the crown(11) than the Duc d'Orleans, and this is the Prince de Conde, or, as he is more familiarly termed here, the Duc de Bourbon, the father of the unfortunate Duc d'Enghien. So broad are the distinctions made between the sovereign and the other members of his family in these governments, that it was the duty of the Prince de Conde to appear to-day behind the king's chair, as the highest dignitary of his household; though it was understood that he was excused, on account of his age and infirmities. These broad distinctions, you will readily imagine, however, are only maintained on solemn and great state occasions; for, in their ordinary intercourse, kings nowadays dispense with most of the ancient formalities of their rank. It would have been curious, however, to see one descendant of St. Louis standing behind the chair of another, as a servitor; and more especially, to see the Prince de Conde standing behind the chair of Charles X.; for, when Comte d'Artois and Duc de Bourbon, some fifty years since, they actually fought a duel on account of some slight neglect of the wife of the latter by the former.

(Footnote 11: 1827)

The crown of France, as you know, passes only in the male line. The Duke of Orleans is descended from Louis XIII., and the Prince de Conde from Louis IX. In the male line, the Duke of Orleans is only the fourth cousin, once removed, of the king, and the Prince de Conde the eighth or ninth. The latter would be even much more remotely related to the crown, but for the accession of his own branch of the family in the person of Henry IV. who was a near cousin of his ancestor. Thus you perceive, while royalty is always held in reverence--for any member of the family may possibly become the king--still there are broad distinctions made between the near and the more distant branches of the line. The Duke of Orleans fills that equivocal position in the family, which is rather common in the history of this species of government. He is a liberal, and is regarded with distrust by the reigning branch, and with hope by that portion of the people who think seriously of the actual state of the country. A saying of M. de Talleyrand, however, is circulated at his expense, which, if true, would go to show that this wary prince is not disposed to risk his immense fortune in a crusade for liberty. "Ce n'est pas assez d'etre quelqu'un--il faut etre quelque chose," are the words attributed to the witty and wily politician; but, usually, men have neither half the wit nor half the cunning that popular accounts ascribe to them, when it becomes the fashion to record their acts and sayings. I believe the Duke of Orleans holds no situation about the court, although the king has given him the title of _Royal Highness, his birth entitling him to be styled no more than _Serene Highness. This act of grace is much spoken of by the Bourbonists, who consider it a favour that for ever secures the loyalty and gratitude of the Duke. The Duchess, being the daughter of a king, had this rank from her birth.

The orchestra was playing when we entered the Gallery of Diana, and throughout the whole evening it gave us, from time to time, such music as can only be found in a few of the great capitals of Europe.

The covers were laid, and every preparation was made within the railing for the reception of the _convives_. The table was in the shape of a young moon, with the horns towards the spectators, or from the wall. It was of some length, and as there were but four covers, the guests were obliged to be seated several feet from each other. In the centre was an armchair, covered with crimson velvet, and ornamented with a crown; this was for the king. A chair without arms, on his right, was intended for the Dauphin; another on his left, for the Dauphine; and the fourth, which was still further on the right of the Dauphin, was intended for Madame, as she is called, or the Duchess of Berri. These are the old and favourite appellations of the monarchy, and, absurd as some of them are, they excite reverence and respect from their antiquity. Your Wolverines, and Suckers, and Buckeyes, and Hooziers would look amazed to hear an executive styled the White Fish of Michigan, or the Sturgeon of Wisconsin; and yet there is nothing more absurd in it, in the abstract, than the titles that were formerly given in Europe, some of which have descended to our times. The name of the country, as well as the title of the sovereign, in the case of Dauphine, was derived from the same source. Thus, in homely English, the Dolphin of Dolphinstown, renders "le Dauphin de Dauphine" perfectly well. The last independent Dauphin, in bequeathing his states to the King of France of the day, (the unfortunate John, the prisoner of the Black Prince,) made a condition that the heir apparent of the kingdom should always be known by his own title, and consequently, ever since, the appellation has been continued. You will understand, that none but an _heir-apparent is called the Dauphin, and not an _heir-presumptive_. Thus, should the present Dauphin and the Duc de Bordeaux die, the Duke of Orleans, according to a treaty of the time of Louis XIV., though not according to the ancient laws of the monarchy, would become _heir-presumptive_; but he could never be the Dauphin, since, should the king marry again, and have another son, his rights would be superseded. None but the _heir-apparent_, or the _inevitable heir, bears this title. There were formerly _Bears in Belgium, who were of the rank of Counts. These appellations were derived from the arms, the Dauphin now bearing dolphins with the lilies of France. The Boar of Ardennes got his _sobriquet from bearing the head of a wild boar in his arms. There were formerly many titles in France that are now extinct, such as Captal, Vidame, and Castellan, all of which were general, I believe, and referred to official duties. There was, however, formerly, a singular proof of how even simplicity can exalt a man, when the fashion runs into the opposite extremes. In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, there existed in France powerful noblemen, the owners and lords of the castle and lands of Coucy or Couci, who were content to bear the appellation of Sire, a word from which our own "Sir" is derived, and which means, like Sir, the simplest term of courtesy that could be used. These Sires de Coucy were so powerful as to make royal alliances; they waged war with their sovereign, and maintained a state nearly royal. Their pride lay in their antiquity, independence, and power; and they showed their contempt for titles by their device, which is said to have been derived from the answer of one of the family to the sovereign, who, struck with the splendour of his appearance and the number of his attendants, had demanded, "What king has come to my court?" This motto, which is still to be seen on the ancient monuments of the family, reads:--

"Je ne suis roi, ne prince, ne duc, ne comte aussi;
Je suis le Sire de Coucy."(12)

(Footnote 12: "I am neither king, nor prince, nor duke, nor even a count; I am M. de Coucy.")

This greatly beats Coke of Holkham, of whom it is said that George IV., who had been a liberal in his youth, and the friend of the great Norfolk commoner, vexed by his bringing up so many liberal addresses, threatened--"If Coke comes to me with any more of his Whig petitions, _I'll Knight him_."

I have often thought that this simplicity of the Sires de Coucy furnishes an excellent example for our own ministers and citizens when abroad. Instead of attempting to imitate the gorgeous attire of their colleagues, whose magnificence, for the want of stars and similar conventional decorations, they can never equal, they should go to court as they go to the President's House, in the simple attire of American gentlemen. If any prince should inquire,--"Who is this that approaches me, clad so simply that I may mistake him for a butler, or a groom of the chambers?" let him answer, "Je ne suis roi, ne prince, ne duc, ne comte aussi--I am the minister of the United States of Ameri_key_," and leave the rest to the millions at home. My life for it, the question would not be asked twice. Indeed, no man who is truly fit to represent the republic would ever have any concern about the matter. But all this time the dinner of the King of France is getting cold.

We might have been in the gallery fifteen minutes, when there was a stir at a door on the side where the females were seated, and a _huissier cried out--"Madame la Dauphine!" and, sure enough, the Dauphine appeared, followed by two _dames d'honneur_. She walked quite through the gallery, across the area reserved for the court, and passed out at the little gate in the railing which communicated with our side of the room, leaving the place by the same door at which we had entered. She was in high court dress, with diamonds and lappets, and was proceeding from her own apartments, in the other wing of the palace, to those of the king. As she went within six feet of me, I observed her hard and yet saddened countenance with interest; for she has the reputation of dwelling on her early fortunes, and of constantly anticipating evil. Of course she was saluted by all in passing, but she hardly raised her eyes from the floor; though, favoured by my position, I got a slight, melancholy smile, in return for my own bow.

The Dauphine had scarcely disappeared, when her Royal Highness, Madame, was announced, and the Duchess of Berri went through in a similar manner. Her air was altogether less constrained, and she had smiles and inclinations for all she passed. She is a slight, delicate, little woman, with large blue eyes, a fair complexion, and light hair. She struck me as being less a Bourbon than an Austrian, and, though wanting in _embonpoint_, she would be quite pretty but for a cast in one of her eyes.

A minute or two later, we had Monseigneur le Dauphin, who passed through the gallery in the same manner as his wife and sister-in-law. He had been reviewing some troops, and was in the uniform of a colonel of the guards; booted to the knees, and carrying a military hat in his hand. He is not of commanding presence, though I think he has the countenance of an amiable man, and his face is decidedly Bourbon. We were indebted to the same lantern like construction of the palace, for this preliminary glimpse at so many of the actors in the coming scene.

After the passage of the Dauphin, a few courtiers and superior officers of the household began to appear within the railed space. Among them were five or six duchesses. Women of this rank have the privilege of being seated in the presence of the king on state occasions, and _tabourets were provided for them accordingly. A _tabouret is a stuffed stool, nearly of the form of the ancient cerulean chair, without its back, for a back would make it a chair at once, and, by the etiquette of courts, these are reserved for the blood-royal, ambassadors, etc. As none but duchesses could be seated at the _grand couvert_, you may be certain none below that rank appeared. There might have been a dozen present. They were all in high court dresses. One, of great personal charms and quite young, was seated near me, and my neighbour, an old _abbe_, carried away by enthusiasm, suddenly exclaimed to me--"Quelle belle fortune, monsieur, d'etre jeune, jolie, et duchesse!" I dare say the lady had the same opinion of the matter.

Baron Louis, not the financier, but the king's physician, arrived. It was his duty to stand behind the king's chair, like Sancho's tormentor, and see that he did not over-eat himself. The ancient usages were very tender of the royal person. If he travelled, he had a spare litter, or a spare coach, to receive him, in the event of accident,--a practice that is continued to this day; if he ate, there was one to taste his food, lest he might be poisoned; and when he lay down to sleep, armed sentinels watched at the door of his chamber. Most of these usages are still continued, in some form or other, and the ceremonies which are observed at these public dinners are mere memorials of the olden time.

I was told the following anecdote by Mad. de ----, who was intimate with Louis XVIII. One day, in taking an airing, the king was thirsty, and sent a footman to a cottage for water. The peasants appeared with some grapes, which they offered, as the homage of their condition. The king took them and ate them, notwithstanding the remonstrances of his attendants. This little incident was spoken of at court, where all the monarch does and says becomes matter of interest, and the next time Mad. de ---- was admitted, she joined her remonstrances to those of the other courtiers. "We no longer live in an age when kings need dread assassins," said Louis, smiling. A month passed, and Mad. de ---- was again admitted. She was received with a melancholy shake of the head, and with tears. The Duc de Berri had been killed in the interval!

A few gentlemen, who did not strictly belong to the court, appeared among the duchesses, but, at the most, there were but six or eight. One of them, however, was the gayest looking personage I ever saw in the station of a gentleman, being nothing but lace and embroidery, even to the seams of his coat; a sort of genteel harlequin. The _abbe_, who seemed to understand himself, said he was a Spanish grandee.

I was near the little gate, when an old man, in a strictly court dress, but plain and matter-of-fact in air, made an application for admittance. In giving way for him to pass, my attention was drawn to his appearance. The long white hair that hung down his face, the _cordon bleu_, the lame foot, the imperturbable countenance, and the _unearthly aspect_, made me suspect the truth. On inquiring, I was right. It was M. de Talleyrand! He came as grand chamberlain, to officiate at the dinner of his master.

Everything, in a court, goes by clock-work. Your little great may be out of time, and affect a want of punctuality, but a rigid attention to appointments is indispensable to those who are really in high situations. A failure in this respect would produce the same impression on the affairs of men, that a delay in the rising of the sun would produce on the day. The appearance of the different personages named, all so near each other, was the certain sign that one greater than all could not be far behind. They were the dawn of the royal presence. Accordingly, the door which communicated with the apartments of the king, and the only one within the railed space, opened with the announcement of "Le service du Roi," when a procession of footmen of the palace appeared, bearing the dishes of the first course. All the vessels, whether already on the table, or those in their hands, were of gold, richly wrought, or, at least, silver gilt, I had no means of knowing which; most probably they were of the former metal. The dishes were taken from the footmen by pages, of honour in scarlet dresses, and by them placed in order on the table. The first course was no sooner ready, than we heard the welcome announcement of "Le Roi." The family immediately made their appearance, at the same door by which the service had entered. They were followed by a proper number of lords and ladies in waiting. Every one arose, as a matter of course, even to the "jeunes, jolies, et duchesses;" and the music, as became it, gave us a royal crash. The huissier, in announcing the king, spoke in a modest voice, and less loud, I observed, than in announcing the Dauphin and the ladies. It was, however, a different person; and it is probable one was a common huissier, and the other a gentleman acting in that character.

Charles X. is tall, without being of a too heavy frame, flexible of movement, and decidedly graceful. By remembering that he is king, and the lineal chief of the ancient and powerful family of the Bourbons, by deferring properly to history and the illusions of the past, and by feeling _tant soit peu more respect for those of the present day than is strictly philosophical, or perhaps wise, it is certainly possible to fancy that he has a good deal of that peculiar port and majesty that the poetry of feeling is so apt to impute to sovereigns. I know not whether it is the fault of a cynical temperament, or of republican prejudices, but I can see no more, about him than the easy grace of an old gentleman, accustomed all his life to be a principal personage among the principal personages of the earth. This you may think was quite sufficient,--but it aid not altogether satisfy the _exigence of my unpoetical ideas. His countenance betrayed, a species of vacant _bonhommie_, rather than of thought or dignity of mind; and while he possessed, in a singular degree, the mere physical machinery of his rank, he was wanting in the majesty of character and expression, without which no man can act well the representation of royalty. Even a little more severity of aspect would have better suited the part, and rendered _le grand couvert encore plus grand_.

The king seated himself, after receiving the salutations of the courtiers within the railing, taking no notice however, of those who, by a fiction of etiquette, were not supposed to be in his presence. The rest of the family occupied their respective places in the order I have named, and the eating and drinking began, from the score. The different courses were taken off and served by footmen and pages in the manner already described, which, after all, by substituting servants out of livery for pages, is very much the way great dinners are served, in great houses, all over Europe.

As soon as the king was seated, the north door of the gallery, or that on the side opposite to the place where I had taken post, was opened, and the public was admitted, passing slowly through the room without stopping. A droller _melange could not be imagined than presented itself in the panoramic procession; and long before the _grand couvert was over, I thought it much the most amusing part of the scene. Very respectable persons, gentlemen certainly, and I believe in a few instances ladies, came in this way, to catch a glimpse of the spectacle. I saw several men that I knew, and the women with them could have been no other than their friends. To these must be added, _cochers de fiacres in their glazed hats, _bonnes in their high Norman caps, peasants, soldiers in their shakos, _epiciers and _garcons without number. The constant passage, for it lasted without intermission for an hour and a half, of so many queer faces, reminded me strongly of one of those mechanical panoramas, that bring towns, streets, and armies, before the spectator. One of the droll effects of this scene was produced by the faces, all of which turned, like sunflowers, towards the light of royalty, as the bodies moved steadily on. Thus, on entering, the eyes were a little inclined to the right; as they got nearer to the meridian, they became gradually bent more aside; when opposite the table, every face, was _full_; and, in retiring, all were bent backwards over their owners' shoulders, constantly offering a dense crowd of faces, looking towards a common centre, while the bodies were coming on, or moving slowly off the stage. This, you will see, resembled in some measure the revolutions of the moon around our orb, matter and a king possessing the same beneficent attraction. I make no doubt, these good people thought we presented a curious spectacle; but I am persuaded they presented one that was infinitely more so.

I had seen in America, in divers places, an Englishman, a colonel in the army. We had never been introduced, but had sat opposite to each other at _tables d'hotes_, jostled each other in the President's House, met in steam-boats, in the streets, and in many other places, until it was evident our faces were perfectly familiar to both parties; and yet we never nodded, spoke, or gave any other sign of recognition, than by certain knowing expressions of the eyes. In Europe, the colonel reappeared. We met in London, in Paris, in the public walks, in the sight-seeing places of resort, until we evidently began to think ourselves a couple of Monsieur Tonsons. To-night, as I was standing near the public platform, whose face should appear in the halo of countenances but that of my colonel! The poor fellow had a wooden leg, and he was obliged to stump on in his orbit as well as he could, while I kept my eye on him, determined to catch a look of recognition if possible. When he got so far forward as to bring me in his line of sight, our eyes met, and he smiled involuntarily. Then he took a deliberate survey of my comfortable position, and he disappeared in the horizon, with some such expression on his features as must have belonged to Commodore Trunnion, when he called out to Hatchway, while the hunter was leaping over the lieutenant, "Oh! d--n you; you are well anchored!"

I do not think the dinner, in a culinary point of view, was anything extraordinary. The king ate and drank but little, for, unlike his two brothers and predecessors, he is said to be abstemious. The Daupin played a better knife and fork; but on the whole, the execution was by no means great for Frenchmen. The guests sat so far apart, and the music made so much noise, that conversation was nearly out of the question; though the King and the Dauphin exchanged a few words in the course of the evening. Each of the gentlemen, also, spoke once or twice to his female neighbour, and that was pretty much the amount of the discourse. The whole party appeared greatly relieved by having something to do during the desert, in admiring the service, which was of the beautiful Sevres china. They all took up the plates, and examined them attentively; and really I was glad they had so rational an amusement to relieve their _ennui_.

Once, early in the entertainment, M. de Talleyrand approached the king, and showed him the bill of fare! It was an odd spectacle to see this old _diplomate descending to the pantomime of royalty, and acting the part of a _maitre d'hotel_. Had the duty fallen on Cambaceres, one would understand it, and fancy that it might be well done. The king smiled on him graciously, and, I presume, gave him leave to retire; for soon after this act of loyal servitude, the prince disappeared. As for M. Louis, he treated Charles better than his brother treated Sancho; for I did not observe the slightest interference, on his part, during the whole entertainment; though one of those near me said he had tasted a dish or two by way of ceremony,--an act of precaution that I did not myself observe. I asked my neighbour, the _abbe_, what he thought of M. de Talleyrand. After looking up in my face distrustfully, he whispered:--"Mais, monsieur, c'est un chat qui tombe toujours sur ses pieds;" a remark that was literally true tonight, for, the old man was kept on his feet longer than could have been agreeable to the owner of two such gouty legs.

The Duchesse de Berri, who sat quite near the place where I stood, was busy a good deal of the time _a lorgner the public through her eye-glass. This she did with very little diffidence of manner, and quite as coolly as an English duchess would have stared at a late intimate whom she was disposed to cut. It certainly was neither a graceful, nor a feminine, nor a princely occupation. The Dauphine played the Bourbon better; though, when she turned her saddened, not to say _cruel eyes, on the public, it was with an expression that almost amounted to reproach. I did not see her smile once during the whole time she was at table; and yet _I thought there were many things to smile at.

At length the finger-bowls appeared, and I was not sorry to see them. Contrary to what is commonly practised in very great houses, the pages placed them on the table, just as Henri puts them before us democrats every day. I ought to have said, that the service was made altogether in front, or at the unoccupied side of the table, nothing but the bill of fare, in the hands of M. de Talleyrand, appearing in the rear. As soon as this part of the dinner was over, the king arose, and the whole party withdrew by the door on the further side of the galery. In passing the _gradins of the ladies, he stopped to says a few kind words to an old woman who was seated there, muffled in a cloak, and the light of royalty vanished.

The catastrophe is to come. The instant the king's back was turned, the gallery became a scene of confusion. The musicians ceased playing, and began to chatter; the pages dashed about to remove the service, and everybody was in motion. Observing that your ---- was standing undecided what to do, I walked into the railed area, brushed past the gorgeous state table, and gave her my arm. She laughed, and said it had all been very magnificent and amusing, but that some one had stolen her shawl! A few years before, I had purchased for her a merino shawl, of singular fineness, simplicity, and beauty. It was now old, and she had worn it on this occasion, because she distrusted the dirt of a palace; and laying it carelessly by her side, in the course of the evening she had found in its place a very common thing of the same colour. The thief was deceived by its appearance your ---- being dressed for an evening party, and had probably mistaken it for a cashmere. So much for the company one meets at court! Too much importance, however, must not be attached to this little _contretems_, as people of condition are apt to procure tickets for such places, and to give them to their _femmes de chambre_. Probably, half the women present, the "jeunes et jolies" excepted, were of this class. But mentioning this affair to the old Princesse de ----, she edified me by an account of the manner in which Madame la Comtesse de ---- had actually appropriated to the service of her own pretty person the _cachemire of Madame la Baronne de ----, in the royal presence; and how there was a famous quarrel, _a l'outrance_, about it; so I suspend my opinions as to the quality of the thief.

If you like this book please share to your friends :

Recollections Of Europe - Letter 10 Recollections Of Europe - Letter 10

Recollections Of Europe - Letter 10
LETTER XRoad to Versailles.--Origin of Versailles.--The present Chateau.--The two Trianons.--La Petite Suisse.--Royal Pastime.--Gardens of Versailles. --The State Apartments.--Marie Antoinette's Chamber.--Death of Louis XV. --Oeil de Boeuf.--The Theatre and Chapel.--A Quarry.--Caverns.--Compiegne.--Chateau de Pierre-font.--Influence of Monarchy.--Orangery at Versailles. To R. COOPER, ESQ., COOPERSTOWN, NEW YORK. We have been to Versailles, and although I have no intention to give a laboured description of a place about which men have written and talked these two centuries, it is impossible to pass over a spot of so much celebrity in total silence. The road to Versailles lies between the park of St. Cloud and the village

Recollections Of Europe - Letter 5 Recollections Of Europe - Letter 5

Recollections Of Europe - Letter 5
LETTER VParis in August 1826.--Montmartre.--The Octroi.--View of Paris. --Montmorency.--Royal Residences.--Duke of Bordeaux.--Horse-racing. --The Dauphine.--Popular feeling in Paris.--Royal Equipage.--Gardes du Corps.--Policy of Napoleon.--Centralization. To R COOPER, ESQ., COOPERSTOWN. We were not a fortnight in Paris before we were quietly established, _en bourgeois_, in the Faubourg St. Germain. Then followed the long and wearying toil of sight-seeing. Happily, our time was not limited, and we took months for that which is usually performed in a few days. This labour is connected with objects that description has already rendered familiar, and I shall say nothing of them, except as they may incidentally belong to