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CHAPTER XIII.

I would fight with proad swords, and sink point on the first plood drawn like gentleman's.-The Chronicles of the Canongate.

earnest; the whole party sprang up as he set the example. The of fended leg gave three terrific stamps upon the ground, and I was immediately assailed by a whole volley of unintelligible abuse. At that time

I STROLLED idly along the Palais] the next moment he moved in good Royal (which English people, in some silly proverb, call the capital of Paris, whereas no French man of any rank, nor French woman of any respectability, is ever seen in its promenades) till, being somewhat curious to enter some of the smaller cafés, I went into one of the meanest of them, took up a Journal des Spectacles, and called for some lemonade. At the next table to me sat two or three Frenchmen, evidently of inferior rank, and talking very loudly over England and the English. Their attention was soon fixed upon me.

Have you ever observed that if people are disposed to think ill of you, nothing so soon determines them to do so as any act of yours, which, however innocent and inoffensive, differs from their ordinary habits and customs? No sooner had my lemonade made its appearance, than I perceived an increased sensation among my neighbours of the next table. In the first place, lemonade is not much drunk, as you may suppose, among the French in winter; and, in the second, my beverage had an appearance of ostentation, from being one of the dearest articles I could have called for. Unhappily I dropped my newspaper-it fell under the Frenchmen's table; instead of calling the garçon, I was foolish enough to stoop for it myself. It was exactly under the feet of one of the Frenchmen; I asked him with the greatest civility, to move he made no reply. I could not, for the life of me, refrain from giving him a slight, very slight push;

I was very little accustomed to
French vehemence, and perfectly
unable to reply to the vituperations
I received.

Instead of answering them, I therefore deliberated what was best to be done. If, thought I, I walk away, they will think me a coward, and insult me in the streets; if I challenge them, I shall have to fight with men probably no better than shopkeepers; if I strike this most noisy amongst them, he may be silenced, or he may demand satisfaction: if the former, well and good; if the latter, why I shall have a better excuse for fighting him than I should have now.

My resolution was therefore taken. I was never more free from passion in my life, and it was, therefore, with the utmost calmness and composure that, in the midst of my antagonist's harangue, I raised my hand and-quietly knocked him down.

He rose in a moment. "Sortons," said he, in a low tone, “a Frenchman never forgives a blow!"

At that moment, an Englishman, who had been sitting unnoticed in an obscure corner of the café, came up and took me aside.

"Sir," said he, "don't think of fighting the man; he is a tradesman in the Rue St. Honoré. I myself have seen him behind the counter;

remember that a ram may kill a butcher.'"

"C'est bien," thought I; "for once I'll behave handsomely."

The Frenchman made a desperate

"Sir," I replied, "I thank you a thousand times for your information. | lunge. I struck his sword from his hand, caught it instantly, and, presenting it to him again, said—

Fight, however, I must, and I'll give you, like the Irishman, my reasons afterwards perhaps you will be my second."

"With pleasure," said the Englishman (a Frenchman would have said, "with pain!")

We left the café together. My countryman asked them if he should go to the gunsmith's for the pistols. "Pistols !" said the Frenchman's second: "we will only fight with swords."

"No, no," said my new friend. 'On ne prend pas le lièvre au tambourin.' We are the challenged, and therefore have the choice of weapons." Luckily I overheard this dispute, and called to my second-"Swords or pistols," said I; "it is quite the same to me. I am not bad at either, only

do make haste."

"I think myself peculiarly fortunate that I may now apologise for the affront I have put upon you. Will you permit my sincerest apologies to suffice? A man who can so well resent an injury, can forgive one."

Was there ever a Frenchman not taken by a fine phrase? My hero received the sword with a low bowthe tears came into his eyes.

"Sir," said he, "you have twice conquered."

We left the spot with the greatest amity and affection, and re-entered, with a profusion of bows, our several fiacres.

"Let me," I said, when I found myself alone with my second, "let me thank you most cordially for your assistance; and allow me to cultivate an acquaintance so singularly begun. I lodge at the Hotel de-, Rue de Rivoli; my name is Pelham. Yours is-"

66

Thornton," replied my countryman. "I will lose no time in profiting by an offer of acquaintance which does me so much honour."

Swords, then, were chosen, and soon procured. Frenchmen never grow cool upon their quarrels : and as it was a fine, clear, starlight night, we went forthwith to the Bois de Boulogne. We fixed our ground on a spot tolerably retired, and, I should think, pretty often frequented for the same purpose. I was exceedingly confident, With these and various other fine for I knew myself to have few equals speeches, we employed the time till I in the art of fencing; and I had all was set down at my hotel; and my the advantage of coolness, which my companion, drawing his cloak round hero was a great deal too much in him, departed on foot, to fulfil (he earnest to possess. We joined swords, said, with a mysterious air) a cerand in a very few moments I disco-tain assignation in the Faubourg vered that my opponent's life was at St. Germain. my disposal.

CHAPTER XIV.

Erat homo ingeniosus, acutus, acer, et qui plurimum et salis haberet et fellis, nco candoris minus.*-PLINY.

I Do not know a more difficult was among the most instructive, he character to describe than Lord Vin- was also the boonest, of companions. cent's. Did I imitate certain writers, When alone with me, or with men who think that the whole art of pour- whom he imagined like me, his traying individual character is to pedantry (for more or less, he always seize hold of some prominent pecu- was pedantic) took only a jocular liarity, and to introduce this distin- tone; with the savant or the bel esprit, guishing trait, in all times and in all it became grave, searching, and sarscenes, the difficulty would be removed. castic. He was rather a contradictor I should only have to present to the than a favourer of ordinary opinions : reader a man, whose conversation was and this, perhaps, led him not unoften nothing but alternate jest and quota- into paradox: yet was there much tion-a due union of Yorick and soundness, even in his most vehement Partridge. This would, however, be notions, and the strength of mind rendering great injustice to the cha- which made him think only for himracter I wish to delineate. There self, was visible in all the productions were times when Vincent was earnestly it created. I have hitherto only given engrossed in discussion in which a his conversation in one of its moods; jest rarely escaped him, and quotation henceforth I shall be just enough was introduced only as a serious occasionally to be dull, and to present illustration, not as a humorous pecu- it sometimes to the reader in a graver liarity. He possessed great miscel-tone. laneous erudition, and a memory perfectly surprising for its fidelity and extent. He was a severe critic, and had a peculiar art of quoting from each author he reviewed, some part that particularly told against him. Like most men, if in the theory of philoso-knowledge: if we are wise, we may phy he was tolerably rigid, in its prac- thank ourselves; if we are great, we tice he was more than tolerably loose. must thank fortune. By his tenets you would have considered him a very Cato for stubbornness and sternness yet was he a very child in his concession to the whim of the moment. Fond of meditation and research, he was still fonder of mirth and amusement; and while he

"He was a clever and able man-acute, sharp-with abundance of wit and no less of candour-COOKE."

Buried deep beneath the surface of his character, was a hidden, yet a restless ambition: but this was perhaps, at present, a secret even to himself. We know not our own characters till time teaches us self

It was this insight into Vincent's nature which drew us closer together. I recognised in the man, who as yet was playing a part, a resemblance to myself, while he, perhaps, saw at times that I was somewhat better than the voluptuary, and somewhat wiser than the coxcomb, which were all that at present it suited me to appear.

In person, Vincent was short, and

familiar, or distant, just as the whim seized him; never was there any address less common, and less artificial. What a rare gift, by the by, is

define-how much more difficult to impart! Better for a man to possess them, than wealth, beauty, or even talent, if it fall short of genius—they will more than supply all. He who enjoys their advantages in the highest degree; viz., he who can please, pene

ungracefully formed-but his countenance was singularly fine. His eyes were dark, bright and penetrating, and his forehead (high and thoughtful) corrected the playful smile of his that of manners! how difficult to mouth, which might otherwise have given to his features too great an expression of levity. He was not positively ill dressed, yet he paid no attention to any external art, except cleanliness. His usual garb was a brown coat, much too large for him, a coloured neckcloth, a spotted waist-trate, persuade, as the object may coat, grey trowsers, and short gaiters: add to these gloves of most unsullied doeskin, and a curiously thick cane, and the portrait is complete.

In manners, he was civil, or rude,

require, possesses the subtlest secret of the diplomatist and the statesman, and wants nothing but luck and opportunity to become "great."

CHAPTER XV.

Le plaisir de la société entre les amis se cultive par une ressemblance de goût sur ce qui regarde les mœurs, et par quelque différence d'opinions sur les sciences; par là ou l'on s'affermit dans ses sentiments, ou l'on s'exerce et l'on s'instruit par la dispute. *-LA BRUYERE.

THERE was a party at Monsieur de V- -e's, to which Vincent and myself were the only Englishmen invited accordingly, as the Hotel de V. was in the same street as my hotel, we dined together at my rooms, and walked from thence to the minister's house.

The party was as stiff and formal as such assemblies invariably are, and we were both delighted when we espied Monsieur d'A- a man of much conversational talent, and some celebrity as an ultra writer, forming a little group in one corner of the room. We took advantage of our acquaint

*The pleasure of society amongst friends is cultivated by resemblance of taste as to manners, but some difference of opinion as to mental acquisitions. Thus while it is confirmed by congeniality of sentiments, it gains exercise and instruction by intellectual dis

cussion.

ance with the urbane Frenchman to join his party; the conversation turned almost entirely on literary subjects. Allusion being made to Schlegel's History of Literature, and the severity with which he speaks of Helvetius, and the philosophers of his school, we began to discuss what harm the freethinkers in philosophy had effected.

"For my part," said Vincent, "I am not able to divine why we are supposed, in works where there is much truth, and little falsehood, much good, and a little evil, to see only the evil and the falsehood, to the utter exclusion of the truth and the good. All men whose minds are sufficiently laborious or acute to love the reading of metaphysical inquiries, will by the same labour and acuteness separate the chaff from the corn-the false from the true. It is the young, the light, the superficial who are easily misled by error, and

incapable of discerning its fallacy; but that we can give sound views, instead tell me if it is the light, the young, of fallacies, and make common truths the superficial, who are in the habit of as easy to discern and adopt as common reading the abstruse and subtle specu- errors. But if we effect this, which we lations of the philosopher. No, no! | all allow is so easy, with our children; believe me that it is the very studies if we strengthen their minds, instead of Monsieur Schlegel recommends which weakening them, and clear their do harm to morality and virtue; it is vision, rather than confuse it, from the study of literature itself, the play, that moment, we remove the prejudithe poem, the novel, which all minds, cial effects of fiction, and just as we however frivolous, can enjoy and have taught them to use a knife, understand, that constitute the real foes without cutting their fingers, we teach of religion and moral improvement." them to make use of fiction without "Ma foi," cried Monsieur de G., perverting it to their prejudice. What (who was a little writer, and a great philosopher was ever hurt by reading reader, of romances,) "why you would the novels of L***, or seeing the not deprive us of the politer literature comedies of Molière? You understand -you would not bid us shut up our me, then, Monsieur de G., I do, it is novels, and burn our theatres !" true, think that polite literature (as it is termed) is prejudicial to the superficial, but, for that reason, I would not do away with the literature, I would do away with the superficial."

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'Certainly not!" replied Vincent; "and it is in this particular that I differ from certain modern philosophers of our own country, for whom, for the most part, I entertain the highest veneration. I would not deprive life of a single grace, or a single enjoyment, but I would counteract whatever is pernicious in whatever is elegant: if among my flowers there is a snake, I would not root up my flowers, I would kill the snake. Thus, who are they that derive from fiction and literature a prejudicial effect? We have seen already the light and superficial?-but who are they that derive profit from them?-they who enjoy well regulated and discerning minds; who pleasure?-all mankind! Would it not therefore be better, instead of depriving some of profit, and all of plea sure, by banishing poetry and fiction from our Utopia, to correct the minds which find evil, where, if they were properly instructed, they would find good? Whether we agree with Helvetius, that all men are born with an equal capacity of improvement, or merely go the length with all other metaphysicians, that education can improve the human mind to an extent yet incalculable, it must be quite clear,

"I deny," said M. d'A-, " that this is so easy a task-you cannot make all men wise."

"No," replied Vincent! "but you can all children, at least to a certain extent. Since you cannot deny the prodigious effects of education, you must allow that they will, at least, give common sense; for if they cannot do this, they can do nothing. Now common sense is all that is necessary to distinguish what is good and evil, whether it be in life or in books: but then your education must not be that of public teaching and private fooling; you must not counteract the effects of common sense by instilling prejudice, or encouraging weakness; your education may not be carried to the utmost goal, but as far as it does go, you must see that the road is clear. Now, for instance, with regard to fiction, you must not first, as is done in all modern education, admit the disease, and then dose with warm water to expel it: you must not put fiction into your child's hands, and not give him a single principle to guide his

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