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OF CAUCHEMAR; all eyes have been riveted since she entered; the Madames are all brindling, and the Monsieurs are all bullying about her. She has been with that confounded Turk all day : he must be thinking of the line in Hafiz:
'Her heart is full of passion; her eyes are full of sleep.' Did you ever behold such a Chinese miracle? See how the cordon of strangers closes round; every body has some slight and select attentions to pay her. Look how the Grand-Duke salutes her! what an accolade of ceremony; she, all the while, looking as selfish as a sun-shade!
I succeeded in harpooning Ernest on the soft shoal of a divan, where he was playing satellite to a very twinkling evening-star,' with the aid of a most tremendous fan. The airing' ended in favor of a waltz, in which the lady was to join with a more favored partner —a formation of blue, brass, and nankeen, who strode up and reminded the 'star' of her 'engagement' with an air of exaction that seemed particularly unpalatable to my friend Ernest.
'Who is the great flandrin d'Anglais ?' inquired I, as the tall thing commenced gyrating heavily round the room.
"Oh! a cursed cockney! or rather an Anglo-Italian, who lives among horses in summer, and pictures in winter. You may see him any afternoon, season after season, driving a deformed tilbury on the Lichtenthaler Allée, with his great ham-colored countenance sandwiched between a huge stiff hat and a stiffer collar of the same dimensions. I have his card in my pocket - HONORABLE POPPEN J. BURDE. Oh! of all insupportables, any thing but a British dandy!- a suit of clothes personified ! Look at the confounded fool, chucking back his head like a goose gulping hot water! His cravats put me in mind of the war-horses in Job: How hast Thou clothed their necks in thunder!' He calls himself 'a bird of the first water'---a definition of peculiar indefiniteness. But he has been better described as a man disabled of the benefits of his own country, out of love with his nativity, and almost chiding God for making him of the countenance which he wore.''
And his discontent at the latter circumstance is not without good reason, me judice. But who is that feeling his button ?'
· BABBLETON BORE, another of my compatriots, the itinerant Angles. He is attached to Baden because he owes every body here, and in consequence is treated very kindly, for fear lest he should decamp. Beside, he is always waiting for funds to arrive which never come; and great is the disappointment he expresses. 'Shameful!' says he, 'the management of these damnationed mails ! my banker promised a remittance for certain on last Thursday, and here the d-d diligence must go and get robbed! If the thing continues much longer, I shall certainly go home and collect the funds for you myself. After this dubious proposition, the crustiest creditors always come down and declare that they are in no hurry whatever ; quite a pleasure to wait, etc.'
It appears to me that your countrymen, with all their denunciation of foreigners and foreign rascality, always find, when they travel, that it is generally some bold Briton who bears the palm of scoundrelism abroad.?
"The children of Israel did put a term to their wanderings, and settled
at last: I wonder if the children of Great-Britain will ever consent to follow their example! If the Anglo-Italians, the Anglo-Germanics, the Anglo-Francos, the Anglo-Russos, and the Anglo-Egyptians actually enjoyed their travels, it would be quite another thing, and I should be ready to wish them GoD-speed. But you must certainly have observed --I have, and with much pain-how poor, how pitiful, how 'flat, stale, and unprofitable,” is the issue of their tramps and trudges. They wander, they know not why; they see, they know not what. They go on, as it were, from a centrifugal impulse to flee, as far and violently as possible from the hated centre of home; that island-home which, with all their vaunted patriotism, is to each of them a mere kennel of ennui, where he leads the life of a dog. They make pilgrimages, distant and tedious, simply because the red-book, Murray's Guide, enjoins it on them; or because Richard says il faut admirer ceci or cela, they will cascade their affected raptures over hill, dell, ruin, and statue, for which they have about as much appreciation as the statue has for them. Does it not strike you as it does me, that an Englishman always voyages with a malicious blue-devil as his attendant-courier, who clings to him like the unhung slave that was stationed behind the chariot of Philip of Macedon, to be a sweet remembrancer' of mortality and misery. In travelling now-a-days, my chief marvel is, where the devil are the men of sense? Parbleu! I begin to suspect that they have sense enough to stay at home.'
* You are wrong, Ernest. A gentleman should always stand up for his countrymen and country while he remains abroad ; that's honorable patriotism: and he should immediately proceed to damn both in good set terms on his return home; that's independence. I'm afraid, however, that your luck at roulette has been rather noir than rouge this evening. But chapeau bas, and quash such kill-joy subjects; here approaches the sweet eynosure of the soul, the COUNTESS OF CAUCHEMAR. Has she a husband here ?'
‘Husband? Ah yes, Monsieur son mari, sans doute. You must know that a six-weeks star, culminating as she, is surrounded by too many satellites to have a visible consort. There is some one, however, who answers to that appellation ; a sort of deputy-husband; a respectable and responsible gentleman of the same name; insouciant as King Candaules, who escorts her in the same manner as the BARON VON BLUDGEONBORE attends his goddess of authority, having a face now far too wan to minister to blushing beauty. You have lived enough on the Continent to know what a matrimonial alliance is here. Reduced to parchment, it is, you know, neither more nor less than a virtual signing away of a man's original rights and powers. If he marries a belle, he is in the condition of a state merged into a general government. He virtually delegates his independent authority to a petticoat sovereign; his very existence becomes subsidiary to hers; hers are all the summa jura imperii : to frame ordinances; to make peace and war, friends and foes; to raise money on his credit; and all this, to say nothing of her unlimited liberty of forming what' manner of new alliances she pleases — an unbounded jurisdiction! Is this a prospect to allure a man with his eyes open? No, my friend ; careless as I seem, I have made observations
enough to convince me that the marrying-age has gone by. Poor CAUCHEMAR! I knew him well, Horatio; a fellow of infinite jest, in other and better days. He now gambles like Blucher. Duly and dutifully he provides for the COUNTESS, when he is able ; but as for obtruding himself any farther on her fair career, 'the camel of such an idea,' as the gallant Turk declares, 'never get crossed the great Sahara of his brain.'
' It is cool, to say the least, in young Amurath, to come and carry off the pearl of Christendom in our teeth. Can no gallant Frank be found to break a lance with him for such a prize ?'
He will not long repose on any laurels that flourish in such a fickle atmosphere as that of her eyes. Beside, the Grand-Duchess Sophie is not more than half pleased at the Countess's presence here.?
Why so ?'
"Why, in the first place, because all the Baden nobility have run mad about her, while her highness insists upon their running mad about the appalling BARONNE Von BLUDGEONBORE. In the second place, there is the Grand-Duke, old as he is. By the way, have you heard the last on dit, that our Turk here is a natural son of the Grand-Duke? There are fifteen proofs of it established within three days. He was taken an infant to Bayoukdere on the Bosphorus, and brought up quietly on attar of roses and ostrich-milk, which accounts for his complexion and sweet voice. The Baronne says it is evident he must be somebody's natural son, because he speaks French so well. I wonder, by the way, if the GrandDUCHESS SOPHIE has yet entered ? She only remains half an hour, on account of her principles. Her visit is a signal for the gaming-tables to instantly suspend operations; nor are they permitted to resume until she is gone. She declares she will never lend her countenance to this 'gulf of vice,' (gouffre de vice,) as she calls the trente et quarante games.'
Then why are they not suppressed altogether?'
'If circumstances independent of the disposition of the court would suffer it to proscribe these games for ever, do not suppose that it would wait till to-morrow, even; the edict would go forth to-night.'
"But who under heaven, then, has power to control these highly moral inclinations ?'
Interest, Sir; the interest of the whole State. It is not enough to boast of Badex as a delicious resort; every one knows it; but .
. . tell me, what is the vivifying principle ? what is it that imparts all this animation which is met with nowhere else? What is it but Play? Banish play from these halls, and you banish the gay company. The experiment has already been partly tried; it has wholly failed. Gambling is the sine qua non, the corner-stone of Baden's prosperity. A rotten foundation, you may say, for a country's treasury; but it is true. From June until the middle of August, all Europe seems to appoint a rendezvous on this ground. When this ceases to be the case, the State in which this immense accession of strangers squander thousands on thousands must be impoverished. No; her royal highness, the GRAND-Duchess SOPHIE, must yield to reason, as she does; although the banks are closed during her visits out of compliment, while she herself is regarded as something
more holy than lovely. Undoubtedly public gambling is a great evil
, but chiefly so because it is a necessary evil.'
• Bravo! Adam Smith has never gone deeper in policy in his Wealth of Nations.' I presume that, as a consequence of her scruples, her royal highness is expected to pay only angels' visits to the KURSALL — as • few and far between as possible.'
'Leaving the GRAND-DUChess alone I should say, if looks go for any thing, that the tall, noticeable man standing alone is something out of the common.'
"And for once you interpret well. That man might be Mephistopheles, for aught known to the contrary. Ordinarily, mystery is the very slightest claim to distinction here; but to him mystery is what poison was to Mithridates of Pontus- his nourriture, his fame, his idiosyncrasy. There is a report, nay, it is currently believed in mystic Germany, that by certain subterranean dealings he has contrived to exist during three or four centuries. You need n't sneer; I state nothing but what is proved, parole d'honneur. When you go to Dresden, you will see a picture in the grand gallery as like him as it can stare; that picture is over two hundred
old. There are men in Silesia, now tottering to the grave with old age, who knew him at the beginning of their lives, when he appeared precisely as now. But he travels so much, and alters his dress so often, from militaire to bourgeois and ecclesiastic, beside all the diversities which fashion can suggest that he escapes the pursuit of observation. * I tell the tale as 't was told to me;' I ask you to believe nothing more than you please; but he is certainly an unaccountable inan. Go where you will, you meet him with that same Brutus head and great black eyes, wrapped in spectral reminiscences of the past, cadaverous as a corpse, but never looking a day older. You may laugh as you please, but Eugene Sue has taken him as the hero of his WANDERING Jew.' It is bard to believe in a ghost in a ball-room, I admit; but confess the truth that you would n't care to encounter that man on the Hartz mountains. He always addresses you after the manner of one of Homer's heroes. If you wish a crowning evidence of his diabolical dealings, observe his diabolical luck at play. He broke a bank at Turin only a month ago, and from the assiduity with which he frequents the tables where the fairest and foulest of mankind gather, I judge that he proposes to break another bank here. You may surmise, whether, with his peculiar reputation and prodigious run of luck, he is not a living dog and dead lion in one. Dost thou like the picture?'
'I am afraid you are become corrupted by intercourse with Count Passim Partout; but, to tell the truth, although I believe implicitly every word you have uttered, I have been laughing at your Satanic friend's coat. He must want to be exorcised of his infernal attributes to place himself under that blessed douche-bath of melted wax — look!'
The next moment Ernest F— had dropped his affected gravity, and was far gone in a cachinnatory spasm. A carrera goddess, who smilingly humiliated her statueship by supporting a tremendous candelabra, bristling with flaming bougies, had adopted a mode of ingenious revenge by dripping with no chary hand libations of melted wax upon every black coat within her reach. It was no litany-language that flew from the lips of gentlemen who found themselves thus unexpectedly and gratuitously garnished by the profuse nature of the nude lady's favors. I have often remarked the exquisite sensitiveness of the black-coated gentry at the imposition of this ball-room abomination. The inventors of heathen hell should never have omitted to catalogue this torment of the frail bumanity of fashionable natures among at least the third-class tortures of inferno. To find one's self trepanned into a friend's house under pretext of a pleasure-party, or to pay your way into a public ball, exulting with fond anticipations of waltzing and conquest; your Phidian figure gracefully encased in your crack coat, radiant in immaculate vest and invulnerable boots; your mind as clear of presentiment as the June heaven of cloud, and then — and then! sneer not, cold railer, at the slender stock of pleasures which mankind can at best enjoy. And then! to see with secret misyiving some sardonic friend trip blandly across the room and lisp in your ear the hateful question which suggests his Mephistophelian smile: Eh! mon cher, and pray is that a habit de fantasie you wear ? pardon my obtrusion, but from the effect across the room, I thought it was some new style of coat; your well-known taste — pardon, eh! eh!'
Oh then! to turn upon yourself like the scorpion girt with fire, aghast at heart, to discover your crack coat transmuted into a harlequin vestment, the collar like ice on ebony! To feel like a private undertaker; to feel like a fretful porcupine, the cursed wax all clotted in your glistening hair; to feel yourself the laughing-stock of the room; to feel powerless to face the pitiless world before you, and yet ashamed to turn your back upon which the melted mass of infamy sits like Sinbad's old man of the sea; to feel waxed all over! to feel LYNCHED! Oh! there may be weightier ills than this; there are tar and feathers; there are calamities which affect life and reputation; woes will occur which blanch the hair for ever; but what is more villainous to bear than a trial of temper! What, what is more dire to temper than to have one's high hopes hurled down, as it were, from the pleasure-pinnacle of a bright Mont Blanc in an avalanche of wax!!! Was Job the Grand a dancing man? You slink out like the ghost in Hamlet before a hooting pit-host is very sorry, the accident will not be repeated. Aye, 'there's the rub!' you slink out. A servant plays rubbers of whish-whish on your devoted back. He scrapes your acquaintance with an instrument like an ancient strigil. He currycombs you like a racer after a three-mile heat; he claps a heated iron between your shoulders. You give flunky his shilling, and sidle back into the ball-room, musing on the frail tenure which a dancing-man must possess on the world's esteem, when a mere inscription of wax can blot out his every claim to distinction.
Thanks to the zeal of four flunkies in huzzar-uniform, who hawked at the lights with the fury of owls; this exhibition of d-d dissolving views,' as Ernest emphatically called them, was soon extinguished. Scarcely, however, had the desirable consummation taken place, when a commotion of a different nature arose in the upper end of the salon.
A prolonged oath, a sharp remonstrance, seasoned with laughter sev eral octaves higher than strictly accorded with the key of etiquette, all at once saluted my ear. A push, a rush, a parting of the crush,' soon revealed the cause. It then appeared that one of the hot-water pa