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teach her that modesty. She wanted to walk on the stage like a grenadier, and it required fifteen lessons to make her be ashamed of herself. It is in these things that the stage mimics the world, rather behind the scenes than before !"
"Bless me, how Braham is improved !" cried a man with spectacles, behind me; "he acts now better than he sings !"
"Is it not strange," said Asmodeus, "how long the germ of a quality may remain latent in the human mind, and how completely you mortals are the creatures of culture? It was not till his old age that Braham took lessons in acting; some three times a week has he of late wended his way down to the comedian of Chapel-street, to learn energy and counterfeit warmth; and the best of it is, that the spectators will have it that an Actor feels all he acts; as if Human Nature, wicked as it is, could feel Richard the Third every other night. I remember, Mrs. Siddons had a majestic manner of extending her arm as she left the stage. What grace!' said the world, with tears in its eyes, what dignity! what a wonderful way of extending an arm! you see her whole soul is in the part!' The arm was in reality stretched impatiently out for a pinch from the snuff-box that was always in readiness behind the scenes."
It is my misfortune, Reader, to be rapidly bored. I cannot sit out a sermon, much less a play; amusement is the most tedious of human pursuits.
"You are tired of this, surely," said I to the Devil; "let us go!" "Whither?" said Asmodeus.
"Why, 'tis a starlit night, let us ride over to Paris, and sup, as you promised, at the Rocher de Cancale."
Away-away-away-into the broad still Heavens, the stars dancing merrily above us, and the mighty heart of the City beating beneath the dusky garment of Night below.
"Let us look down," said Asmodeus; "what a wilderness of houses! shall I uncover the roofs for you, as I did for Don Cleofas; or rather, for it is an easier method, shall I touch your eyes with my salve of penetration, and enable you to see at once through the wall ?"
"You might as well do so; it is pleasant to feel the power, though at present I think it superfluous; wherever I look, I can only see rogues and fools, with a stray honest man now and then, who is probably in prison."
Asmodeus touched my eyes with a green salve, which he took out of an ivory box, and all at once, my sight being directed towards a certain palace, I beheld
"And what thought you of the last discussions on the Reform Bill?" quoth the Devil, as we cantered through the clouds to Dover. "Dull beyond measure. I took my seat under the Gallery-no spirit in the debate-and not one speech save Stanley's that did justice to the speaker. Macauley served up his old speeches as a hash,
and uttered some fearful sophisms for so fine an intellect. The worst of that House is, that a sophism or a common-place is absolutely necessary to produce a splendid effect. Heavens! how they yell on Croker when he is illustrating misstatement; the natural beauty of Truth grows fearfully darkened in that dim oak room. But let us not rush into that vetitum nefas-that most hacknied of all subjects. What is there new?"
"Faith," said Asmodeus, "I ought to ask you that! A demon caged in a bottle of lotion is in a pretty plight to learn news, truly! I amused myself with looking over a few new books on your table. I read them as attentively as a reviewer; viz. six volumes in a quarter of an hour. I perceived three satirical poems lying together. Ah, said I, Lays for the Lords* on the one side of the question, and the 'Tauroboliad' on the other.†”
"And the Tale of Tucuman,' more after my own vein than either," added Asmodeus, "for it hits devilish hard upon both sides. But how strangely times have altered in your poetical literature within the last twenty years; formerly, I remember well that no poetry was so successful as the satirical. A pamphlet of strong rhyme, with a liberal use of the mysterious asterisk, ran through half a dozen editions in a week. Now, what on earth are you all so indifferent to as satire, unless it be the satire of the Sunday newspapers? Here, for instance, is the Tauroboliad,' a poem of remarkable causticity and polish, and certainly equal in many parts to the Pursuits of Literature;' and not a bookseller could be found to publish it but Hatchard, and he, I fear, will not rejoice at his daring. The Lays for the Lords' is a tempting title, and the poem is rough and manly enough, one would think, to charm you Radicals into laying out half-a-crown upon the abuse of the Tories. But I fancy if you had many half-crowns to spare, you would be Tories also."
"As for the Tale of Tucuman,' said I, properly disregarding the illiberal sarcasm of the Devil, whom I suspect to be a Tory in his heart; "it has been largely and justly lauded by the critics, and evinces what is rare enough in a satirist-a mind that thinks rightly, and goes at once to the depth of things. The author has in him the stuff to make a very valuable writer, and I think he will do your cause harm yet before he dies."
"My cause!" said Asmodeus, stopping short in despite of the strong winds that now almost blew us away in the Straits of Dover. "My cause! Ah, you mortals wrong us devils,-upon my honour, you do the origin of human evil is ignorance; and who was it that put it into your ancestor's head to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge ?"
"Grant me patience !" cried I; "here have I avoided all the world to have a respite from philosophers, and the march of intellect; and I cannot even form an acquaintance with a devil without being plagued with the origin of evil-ignorance and the tree of knowledge. Signor Don Asmodeus, if you are going to be metaphysical—” "I beg your pardon," interrupted Asmodeus, very humbly, "I was thinking of Holland House."
* Effingham Wilson, 1831.
Effingham Wilson, 1831.
We got on most famously, as the reader will believe, while Asmodeus and I were thus chatting, now on one thing, now on the other sometimes of the Emperor of Russia, sometimes of Captain Marryatt's last novel which, as we were crossing the sea, was the more apropos subject of the two, (and which, by the by, I can recommend to the reader as a capital thing,*)-sometimes of war, sometimes of love, sometimes of the great wonders in the deep beneath us, and sometimes-though the Devil was shy here-of the happy stars, that twinkled their bright eyes so cheerily above. We paused a moment over the town of Boulogne to recruit ourselves and change our steeds; (for we were mounted on a pair of Mr. Croker's notions of French politics-and they could never go a step farther than Boulogne.) As the Devil looked aslant on that little nest of English imperfections, his heart seemed to swell within him— "Oh, Sentina Gentium!" cried he aloud-"sink of impurities-reservoir into which, through the mighty drains of the ocean, England pours off the most fætid of her humours; who can look at thy little, turbulent, gambling, black-legged, duelling, swaggering world, without amazement and emotion? Botany Bay of society-living gazette of bankrupts, whether of character, hope, fortune, or health-in whose small page is crowded so voluminous a list! how pleasant it is to look upon thy motley varieties, and to feel that we may indeed go farther, but we can never fare worse! Paris is the Circe of the world, and Boulogne is her pigsty!"
I smiled at the Devil's panegyric, and looking down I beheld a multiplicity of scenes that fully proved its impartiality. There, in the High Town, I saw a fraudulent trader giving a ball from the profits of a bankruptcy; and in the next house, two captains on half-pay were exchanging shots across a table. In a small garret, in the lower part of the town, sat a squalid family, whom the bankrupt had ruined; the children crying for bread, and the father cursing for brandy, and the mother wishing herself dead. Far by the solitary shore was a smuggler's vessel, which dark forms were crowding with various goods-here a box of French lace for a duchess; there a chest of human corpses for the surgeons; here, spirits for a wine-merchant who was a miser; there, indecent prints for his son, who was a spendthrift. "That vessel," quoth the Devil," is a type of the town!"
"And of the world, too!" said I. "Let us canter on."
We had mounted on a couple of schemes for Saint Simonizing Paris, which the Devil caught out of the soul of a French waiter, and we were up in the clouds in an instant.
"Damn it!" quoth the Devil, very profanely, "we shall be in the moon presently. When a Frenchman does speculate, he takes good care to do it in right earnest: Earth's lost sight of before you can say Jack Robinson.”
"And, pray, my dear Don, what think you of all these schemes that fluctuate throughout France-this visionary lust of change-this non-contentment-this shifting tendency to all excitation-this shotsilk colouring of the public mind, that changes hue in every light
Newton Forster," Cochrane and Pickersgill.
that you look at it-does it not portend ultimate benefit to us miserable mortals ?"
"Humph!" growled Asmodeus, "I know nothing of the future; but, as a devil of sense, though no prophet, I think it is not so dangerous to the present generation in France as in England. If you don't take care, and settle that stupid Bill of yours very shortly, you will sink at once from the highest commercial nation in the world into a fifth-rate power. A trading people, who are only great artificially, and are prosperous upon credit, cannot long bear an excitement that unsettles commerce, makes debtors pressing, money scarce, tradesmen sore, farmers grumbling, and the desire for change so habitual, and at last a great change itself so necessary, that moderate change will be but a thimbleful of water on the fire. The soil of your greatness, compared to that of France, is like the soil of your land compared to hers. A war devastates France, ruins her harvests, crushes her vineyards, and in two years afterwards all is as fertile as before-thanks to Nature !-but your light, thin, sandy stratum-one vast hothouse of skilful forcing—if an army passed over it, would take a dozen years to recover-thanks to Art! So is it with your moral condition, equally artificial as your soil. What agitates France now, injures her not to-morrow. What agitates England now, if not speedily removed, will do the evil work of a century. Look to yourselves in time, and if you must have excitement, prefer the agitations of freedom to the fever of discontent."
"My dear Devil, what a libel on yourself and your brethren to say you can't speak truth!"
"It is so," answered Asmodeus; "we speak truth exactly becausé that is the very way to make mankind run into error. Truth is the true Cassandra-fated never to be believed till too late!"
Away-away-away-with the dull English lord in his calêche and four creeping behind us, and the breath of the mail's panting horses dying on our track-away through that gladsome air which dances over the valleys of France, and mounts into the brain like a glorious wine-away above the lamplit towns, with the husband already asleep, and the lover for ever waking-away, below the gay moon that has just come out, to smile at once upon Joy and Sorrow, Innocence and Crime, the fair stoic of Heaven. We are in PARIS !
"There is a change," said Asmodeus, as we sat perched on the dome of the Invalids, "there is a change in Paris since you were last here. Observe how serious the salons have become; the champagne of society has lost its sparkle."
I looked into the old remembered houses: Asmodeus said rightpeople were gambling, and talking, and making love as before, but not with the same gaiety; the dark spirit of change worked vividly beneath the surface of manners; circles were more mixed and motley than they had been; men without the "De" mixed familiarly with those who boasted the blood of princes; a tone of insolence seemed substituted for the tone of intrigue; and men appeared resolved rather to command the attainment of their wishes than to wheedle themselves into it.
"Fit subjects!" quoth the Devil, lighting his cigar, "for a king who rides bodkin in an omnibus!"
From these scenes I turned with great interest to one that contrasted them forcibly. Apart-alone, in a quiet chamber, sat a man somewhat stricken in years, with a fine and worn countenance, that spoke genius in every line. He leant his head on his hand; papers and books strewed the table at which he sat, and I noted especially one pamphlet, entitled "De la Nouvelle Proposition relative au Bannissement de Charles X. et de sa Famille."
"Wonderful power of pen and ink!" said Asmodeus. "Great ruler of human hearts 1-talk of the authority of despots-the quill of a goose is the true sceptre. You see there a man who, by the mere charm of his pen, has made himself a fourth estate: a visionary in his youth, a quack in his old age, he is yet the most remarkable being that France can now boast of. But as for you Englishmen, locked up in your own little island, and reading Mr. Hunt's speeches about Preston, you absolutely do not know any thing more about M. de Chateaubriand, and his present influence in France, than that he wrote a pamphlet the other day, which pamphlet has never been even translated in London, and has been read in the original by at most six Londoners. And yet this pamphlet, which you, I fancy, conclude to be the same sort of thing as 'What will the Lords do next?' raised its author at once into a throne of opinion, and made a greater sensation in France than the finest poem of your Byron ever created in England." *
"The more the pity for France. I was in hopes she had passed the time when fine words could set her feelings against her principles.' "You are still mounted on a chimera," said the Devil sarcastically. "France can always be won by addressing her heart, just the same as eloquence with you must be addressed to the pocket. You speak to the one of her national greatness, to the other of her national debt; but it is unfortunate for you English, that you do not pay more attention to foreign literature and foreign politics. You ought to hear what the rest of the world say of you;-you ought to see how grand, how true the views, which, from a just distance, Frenchmen in particular, form of your present situation. You are like a man who can only talk of himself, and to himself; one great National Soliloquist wrapt in a Monologue!"
With that Asmodeus threw away the stump of his cigar, and we alighted at the door of the Rocher. Small, cheerful chamber, do I see you again, with the large brown sleek cat in the arm-chair! Stir up the fire-make haste with the Chambertin and the Sauté-where is the playbill, and the Figaro? Oh, Asmodeus! in this city I find again the pleasures of youth! Can you restore to me also the health, -the heart to enjoy them?"+
The writer of the article on Talleyrand considers that great diplomat, we think with great felicity, the " Voltaire" of politics-M. de Chateaubriand is the Rousseau.
To be continued.