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Mizzen invited us four bachelors to spend the evening on board the Fun, and the attractions of our fair friends proved stronger than those held out by Mademoiselle Eulalie. There was an addition to our party in the person of O'Wiggins, who invited himself on board, and served as an assistant laughing-stock to poor Groggs. There was, consequently, a bond of union between the two-similar to that of two donkeys in a cart, both being lashed with the same whip. In the course of the evening O'Wiggins heard of Groggs's adventure, and, clapping him on the shoulder, assured him that he would take care it should not be his fault if he lost the lady.
We had all day been waiting in expectation of the arrival of the President, every craft being decked out with flags, and every gun loaded to do him honour. At the hour he was expected, enthusiasm was at its height; but as time drew on, it waxed colder and colder. People had come from far and wide to see a sight which was not to be seen; they had expended their time and money, and had a right to complain. Complain, therefore, they did, ashore and afloat; and had it at that time been put to the vote whether he should longer remain President, I fear he would instantly have been shorn of his honours.
At last the bright luminary of day sunk behind the dockyard, the commodores of the English craft fired the sunset gun, the flags were hauled down, and night came on. We had begun to fancy that the President's carriage must have broken down or been upset, or that he was not coming at all, when a gun was heard, and then another, followed by such a flashing, and blazing, and banging of artillery, and muskets, and crackers, and rockets, that we could have no doubt that the great man had indeed arrived.
Thus ended our first day at Cherbourg.
Gay Scene in Cherbourg Harbour-The O'Wiggins again-Aquatic VisitingGroggs discovers that he is not Eulalie's First Love-O'Wiggins the Perfidious -A Disciple of St. Impudentia-How to banquet uninvited-The Ball-A Prince in Exile, and a President on his Chair.
By the time the world was up and had breakfasted on Friday, the harbour of Cherbourg presented a very gay appearance. The water was covered with hulls of vessels, and on the decks of the vessels were crowds of gay people, and above them a forest of tall masts, surmounted by flags innumerable, showing all the hues of the rainbow, while in every direction were dashing and splashing boats of every description, menof-war's boats, and shore boats; and faster moving than all, yachts' boats, which, like comets, seemed to be flying about in eccentric orbits, without any particular reason, and for no definite purpose. O'Wiggins made his appearance on board the Ripple, foaming with rage and indignation at not having been invited to the grand banquet to be given that day to the President.
"Neither have I, nor Mizzen, nor any other of the owners of yachts, except the commodores and a few noblemen."
Faith, but that's no reason at all, at all, why I shouldn't!" exclaimed our Hibernian friend, drawing himself up; "and, what's more, I intend to go in spite of their neglect."
We laughed, as usual, at his unexampled conceit; but fancying that he was joking, we thought no more about the matter. He soon took his departure, carrying off Groggs, who had conceived a high respect for him. O'Wiggins had promised to conduct him to the feet of the fair Eulalie, which was an additional temptation to the poor man. Never, perhaps, was there so much paying and receiving of visits as there was in the course of the day. The yachtsmen paid visits to each other, and then to the men of war; and to do the French officers justice, they treated us with the very greatest attention. I must say that all the French naval officers I have met are as gentlemanly a set of fellows as I know; they are highly scientific, and as brave as any men one would wish to meet.
It appeared as if all the inhabitants and visitors of Cherbourg were on the water also paying visits; and a report having got abroad that the owners of the English yachts were happy to show their vessels to all comers, we were all day long surrounded by visitors. The general joke was to send them all off to O'Wiggins's craft, the Popple. Her cabins were, certainly, very gaudily and attractively furnished. It was hinted to the townspeople that he was a very important person, and that he would be highly offended if his vessel was not the first honoured by their presence. O'Wiggins was at first highly flattered with the attention paid him, and had actually prepared luncheon for the first comers; but he soon discovered that he had more guests than he could accommodate, and in a little time he was almost overwhelmed with visitors, who, for hours after, crowded his cabins, without a possibility of his getting free of them. Among others, while Groggs was on board, came the fair Eulalie and her respectable sire, habited in the costume of the National Guard, and looking very military and dignified. Groggs hurriedly advanced to receive the lovely maid; her surprise equalled his delight; when O'Wiggins stepped out from an inner cabin. There was a mutual start and a look of recognition, and Eulalie sunk back, almost fainting, into the arms paternal, open to receive her, while, with a look which would have annihilated any man but O'Wiggins, she exclaimed the single word," Perfide!" M. de Marabout, with paternal solicitude, endeavoured to remove his daughter to the fresh air of the deck, but she recovered without that assistance, and exhibited signs unmistakable of a wish to abstract one or both of the eyes of the O'Wiggins from his head.
"What means all this, my dear sir?" inquired Groggs, with a somewhat faltering voice, for suspicions most unpleasant were beginning to take possession of his imagination.
"Ask the lady,” replied O'Wiggins, looking out for a mode to secure
The lady saw that he was cowed, which of course gave her courage; so, releasing herself from her father, she sprung towards him. The skylight hatchway was the only available outlet; so he sprung on the table, and from thence was endeavouring to leap on deck, when she caught him by the leg. He struggled hard-for expose himself to her fury he dared not, and he did not like to summon his people to his assistance. At last he was obliged to do so; when, as the seamen, with shouts of laughter, were hauling him up, off came his shoe and a piece of his
trousers; and he was spirited away and stowed safely in the forepeak before the irate damsel could gain the deck, where she instantly hastened in the hopes of catching him. Of the distracted and astounded Groggs Eulalie took no further notice, and having in vain sought for the object of her just anger, whom she supposed to have escaped in a boat to the shore, she and her father and friends took their departure, and Groggs saw his beloved no more. How O'Wiggins had thus mortally offended the damsel remains a secret, as do also the reasons which induced her to visit England, and the means by which her journey was accomplished.
When O'Wiggins discovered that Eulalie was in reality gone, he retired to his cabin, to compose himself and to change his tattered garments for a magnificent uniform of some corps of fencibles, or militia, or yeomanry, of which he professed to be colonel; the said uniform being added to and improved according to his own taste and design, till it rivalled in magnificence that of a Hungarian field-marshal, or a city lieutenant's.
We had been giving the ladies a pull about the harbour, and were passing the Popple, when her owner made his appearance on deck. The previous account, it must be understood, we received afterwards from Groggs, who recounted it with a simple pathos worthy of a despairing lover. On his head O'Wiggins wore a huge cocked-hat, surmounted by a magnificent plume of feathers, which, waving in the wind, had a truly martial and imposing appearance, while the glittering bullion which profusely covered his dress could not fail of attracting the notice of all beholders. With the air of a monarch he stepped into his gig, which was alongside, manned by a grinning crew, and seizing the yoke-lines, he directed her head up the harbour. He was too much engrossed by his own new-fledged dignity to observe us, so we followed him at a respectful distance, to watch his movements. The boats of all descriptions made way for him as he advanced, and the men-of-war's boats saluted, every one taking him for a foreign prince, or an ambassador, or a fieldmarshal, at least. At length he reached the quay, and with a truly princely air he stepped on shore, taking off his plumed hat, and bowing to the admiring and wondering crowds who stood there to welcome him. A space was instantly cleared to allow full scope for the wave of his cocked-hat, and as he advanced, the crowd made way, bowing to him as he progressed. In execrable French he signified his wish to know the way to the mayor's hotel, where the banquet was to be held; and an officious official instantly thereon, perceiving the gestures of the great unknown, stepped forward, and, profoundly bowing, advanced before him.
"Some dreadful mistake has doubtlessly occurred, and by an oversight which no one but I can remedy, no one has been deputed to conduct the prince to the banquet. For the honour of my country I'll tell a lie." So thought the patriotic official, as he observed, in an obsequious tone, "I have been deputed, mon prince, by monsieur the mayor, who deeply regrets that his multifarious duties prevent him from coming in person to conduct you to the banqueting-hall, where the great President of the great French republic will have the satisfaction of meeting you."
"I am highly pleased at the mayor's attention," answered O'Wiggins, with an additional flourish of his hat, and wondering all the time whom he could be taken for, that he might the better act his part. "A prince,
at all events, I am, and that's something," he thought; so he walked on, smiling and bowing as before.
Of all nations in the world, the French are certainly the greatest admirers of a uniform, and the most easily humbugged by any one who will flatter their vanity, and certainly republicans are the greatest worshippers of titles. On walked the great O'Wiggins, admired equally by the vieux moustache of the Imperial Guard, by the peasant-girl, with her high balloon starched cap, by the dapper grisette, by real soldiers of the line, by shopkeeping national guards, by citizen gentlemen and ladies in plain clothes, and the queer-shaped seamen and boatmen, of whom I have before spoken. His step was firm and confidentjas he approached the hall, and as he got near, he saw with dismay that the guests arriving in crowds before him were admitted by tickets. This we also observed, and fully expected to have seen him turned back, shorn of his honours, amid the shouts of the populace. But the knowing doorkeeper, equally knowing as the officious official, who now, with a glance of pride, announced him, could not dream of insulting a prince by asking him for his ticket, only bowed the lower as he advanced, bestowing on them in return some of his most gracious nods. The act was accomplished. He was safe in the banqueting-hall; but still there might be a turn in the tide of his affairs; some one who knew him might possibly ask how the d-l he got there, and the mayor might request his absence. But O'Wiggins was too true a disciple of St. Impudentia thus to lose the ground he had gained. Having begun with blusters and bold confidence, he now called in meek humility and modest bashfulness with an abundant supply of blarney. Stowing away his cocked-hat in a safe corner, he retired among a crowd of betinselled officials, and earnestly entered into conversation with them, expatiating largely on his satisfaction at the sight he had that day witnessed, assuring his hearers that in Turkey, Russia, or America, or any other of the many countries he had visited, he had never seen anything to equal the magnificence he had beheld in this important part of la belle France. He endeavoured also to bend down, so as to hide his diminished head among the crowd, and thus, as he had calculated, more wisely than a well-known wise man we have heard of, he passed undetected.
Dinner being announced as served, he found himself, much against his will, forced upwards close to the English naval officers and yacht commodors; but by a still further exertion of humility he contrived to take his seat a few persons off from those who knew him and might put awkward questions. The French, however, could not fail to admire the admirable modesty of the foreign prince, and the liberals set it down to the score of his respect for republican institutions, while the royalists fancied that he was afraid of assuming on his rank before his republican host. From the information I could gain, and from his own account afterwards, his impudence carried him through the affair with flying colours, for no one detected him, though many wondered who he was; and even some who were acquainted with him by sight, failed to recog nise the O'Wiggins in the gaily-decked militaire before them.
Having seen him enter the hall, we returned on board the Fun, to give an account of what had happened to our fair friends; and of course we did not fail of making a good story of the affair, and surmising that
O'Wiggins would be discovered and compelled to strip off his feathers. After dinner we prepared to go to the ball, to which the ladies wisely would not venture. Poor Groggs was very downcast at the events of the morning, and with the discovery that he could never with propriety make Eulalie Mrs. Groggs. As we were going on shore we met O'Wiggins pulling off in his gig with four highly bedecked officers of National Guards, whom he had invited to visit the yacht. He had selected them for the gayness of their uniforms, which he fancied betokened their exalted rank. They had discovered that he was not a prince, but still were under the impression that he was at least a Mi Lord Anglais, imbued with liberal principles. He nodded condescendingly to us as he passed.
"I'm going to show my craft to these officers whom I brought from the banquet, and I'll be back soon at the ball," he exclaimed, with a look of triumph.
It is understood-for I cannot vouch for the truth of the statementthat he made the officers very drunk, and then changing his gay uniform for his usual yacht dress-coat, he made his appearance at the ball, where he boasted of the polite manner in which the President had asked him to the banquet, quoting all the speeches which had been made, and many other particulars, so that no one doubted that he was there.
The ball-room was crowded to suffocation, and dancing was out of the question. I looked at the President with interest. The last time I had seen him was in a London ball-room, and at supper I had sat opposite to him and his cousin, the very image of their uncle. At that time, neither had more influence in the world than I or any other humble person. They were little lions because they had the blood in their veins of the most extraordinary man our times has known; but any Indian from the East, with a jewelled turban, created more interest. Now I beheld the same man the head of a great nation-the observed of all observers— dispensing his courtesies with a truly regal air. One could not help feeling that a mockery as he may be, and unstable as is his seat, that there must be more of his uncle's spirit in the man than one was before inclined to suppose. A considerable number of ladies' dresses and men's coats were torn, and purses and handkerchiefs abstracted from pockets, and the ball terminated. I have not given a very lucid description of it; but a crush in England is so very like a crush in France, that my readers who have endured one may easily picture the other.
Another Day at Cherbourg-Scenes in the Harbour-The Visit of the President to his Fleet-A large Expenditure of Gunpowder-An Address to British Economists-A few Remarks on Affairs in General-The Ripple and Fun sail -Matrimony the happy Conclusion of the Tale.
MRS. MIZZEN and her charges were anxious to sail to get back to Plymouth for Sunday, but we induced them to stop till the afternoon, by promising then to accompany them, that they might see the President visit the fleet, which it was understood he was to do on Saturday. The day was lovely, and every craft afloat, from the big Valmy to the smallest yacht, did her best to look gay, and to add to the brilliancy of the scene. The piers were crowded with people, and so were the decks of the vessels,