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That they are vain, is true. I wish the conduct of many of their enemies had given them better cause to be less vain. They have however the good sense to temper their vanity with the forms of courtesy ; which is better still than to be proud and brutal, as some other people are, who mistake stiffness for dignity, sullenness for superiority, and abruptness for sincerity.
Their inconstancy proceeds from that which is the true basis of all their actions; and the essential difference between their character and that of other na-tions, the extreme love of enjoyment; or as they themselves call it, le besoin de jouir. They are the true epicureans. They love pleasure above all things, and will buy it at any price. They will fight, coax, flatter, cheat-any thing to gain it. But this justice must be allowed them, that feeling the necessity of being pleased, they think it a duty to be agreeable; and they seem to have formed a social contract to amuse and be amused reciprocally. On the same epicurian principle that they love pleasure beyond all other people, they shun pain, and are beyond all others ingenious in giving it a defeat. And against that kind of pain for which they have a term so appropriate, that other nations are obliged to borrow it from them that torment of the idler which they call ennui, they are ever actively in arms.
Set a Frenchman down in any part of the earth, in peace or in war; let him be destitute of every thing, he will make the best of his position. And no sooner will he have provided himself with food and raiment,
than he will have sought out some means for his amusement. Il faut samuser is a fundamental maxim of their philosophy, and they will tell youm-Autant vaut crever de faim que de crever d'ennui-And, indeed, the most favorable aspect under which the French character can be viewed, is that which so many of the unfortunate emigrants have assumed, when under the pressure of misfortune and disgrace, they have turned with so much cheerfulness the little accomplishments of their education to profit, or struck out with admirable ingenuity, new inventions of their own industry.
Another remarkable singularity is, that the French, although gay, versatile, and airy, are governed more than any other people by settled rules of conduct, and of behaviour. These rules constitute their social code, and are entitled usage. The highest praise you can bestow, on a stranger particularly, is, that he has beaucoup d'usage. A proud Englishman of my acquaintance once thought himself insulted by a compliment of that kind from a gentleman, and seemed inclined to return it ungraciously, until a lady interfered and set the thing to rights, by saying-que l'usage n'empeche pas d'avoir de l'esprit il sert seulement a le regler. To be original on the same principle, is to be ridiculous, and this sentiment has passed into a byeword: so that c'est un original, is the same as to say, That is a quiz. It may be a question, however, whether this scrupulous attention to routinary and practical observances does not sometimes damp the fire of the imagination, and the freedom of true wit.
me, then, how I like the French, I say, how should I like them but well. Englishmen and Frenchmen may be natural enemies; but the Irish, to whom they have never done such injuries as the English have, and who have found an asylum in their country in every period of their oppressions, have no need to be their enemies. At all events, they are still in a state of permanent and natural alliance with the charms of their women, and their wine. And this brings me to speak of the French ladies, who are very deserving of a separate notice.
Of the French Women.
What a subject, Oh Jupiter ! What muse to invoke! What colours to employ! Who is he that can describe this whimsical, incomprehensible, and interesting being ?
Well did Sterne say, that“nothing here was salique but the government." For the ladies of France, to indemnify themselves for this exclusion from the throne, have seized upon the most despotic power, and rule over their subjects with absolute sway.
A pretty woman in France is a sovereign prince, who knows neither resistance nor controul. She is an ambitious potentate, that makes conquests, and cedes them, and will exchange a subject as a province. In the midst of her circle she is a law-giver, and her decrees like the proclamations of King Henry the Eighth, have the full force of acts of parliament. At her toilet she holds her levy--in her boudoir she gives private audience, and in her bed she receives her ministers. She has favorites and officers of state, and confirms their honors by a kiss of her hand. Her train is filled with rival courtiers and jealous expectants, whom she keeps in peace and civility by her sovereign authority. Her forces, like her ways and means, are inexaustible. She pays her servants with a smile, and subdues her enemies with a frown. She makes war with the artillery of her eyes, and peace she seals with the impression of her lips. Rebels and male-contents, she punishes with exile or death, as the case may be. She protects learning, science, and the arts. Authors submit their works to her, and artists implore her patronage. She receives the homage of the gay, of the grave, of the old, and of the young. The sage, the hero, the wit and the philosopher, all range themselves under her banners, , and obey her laws. In all the concerns of life, she rules, directs, precides. She transacts all affairs projects, decides, and executes. She is in all temporal matters, liege lady and proprietor. The resolution of a man--the grace of an angel. As to her capacities, she is but an elegant little variety of man. Her titles are undisputed. Ask whose house that is--it belongs to Madame une telle ! Has she a husband? I cant say--I never saw any. Will you
have a more familiar instance? I was sitting at the fire side with my wife-a tradesman brought in a pair of boots—I asked if they were my boots ? I do not know sir, I believe they are for the husband of madame ! Enquire, who is that cavalier ? He is of the society of madame - She is the sun of a sphere, and all her planets and satellites walze round her and her voice is the music of the sphere.
Taught from her infancy to please, and conscious of her power by its effects, she wears the air of acknowledged superiority, and receives man's submission as her due. Yet, ever zealous to extend her empire ; ever active in maintaining it, she neglects no art, no charm, no seduction. When she moves, it is all grace—when she sings, it is all sentiment-when she looks, it is all expression—when she languishes, it is all softness—when she frolicks, it is all riot-when she sighs, it is all tenderness—when she smiles, it is all happiness and when she laughs, all is mirth. She is good-humored from philosophy, and kind from cal. culation. Her beauty is her treasure, and she knows that ill-humors impair it. De ne pas se faire mauvais sang, is her cardinal maxim. Thus, with all the vivacity of her nature, she shuns strong emotions, and becomes, upon principle, dispassionate and cold; for her ambition is to be adored, and not to loveHold, hold, I hear you exclaim—then she is a coquette ?-Alack-a-day, my friend, and it is even so !!!
But let justice ever guide my pen. However, coquettish these fascinating beings may be ; however generally they may be charged with gallantry, and I am no knight-errant, nor bound to prove the contrary ; yet, I believe, many there are who speak of them unfairly, and "fancy raptures that they never knew.' "