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that he had said menteur, not voleur. I thought at one time I saw the fellow groping for his knife, and I kept a steady eye upon the motions of his hand. He was in a most towering passion when he found he could not obtain his demand ; and in that state he drove off. I ought in justice to add, that in some of these men I have seen civility, and even politeness—for that is the proper word here after all. How ridiculous it would sound if applied to a London hackney coachman! I had once occasion to make an enquiry, connected with his profession, of a cabriolet-driver, who was standing with some others beside his cabriolet. He satisfied my enquiry with the utmost minuteness and accuracy, and then taking a neat memorandum-book from his pocket, he wrote down the name and direction of the place I wanted, tore out the leaf, and presented it to me, without having the slightest motive but common politeness, for he had no reason in the world to suppose he should ever see me again.
By the bye, what a glorious place our Waterloo bridge would be for a Parisian assassin! with what coolness and freedom from interruption ! with what nonchalance and sang froid Monsieur might perform the charitable act of sending a poor devil out of this miserable world! Yet you know in London we walk with perfect security, and with consciousness of perfect security, through any part or purlieu of that vast metropolis at any hour of the night; so much so, that for some time I thought they were hoaxing me, when they spoke of the dangers of the streets of Paris to a single
pedestrian after midnight. I would not for some time believe them. But I was soon convinced of their being in earnest.
Why, John Bull would exist for at least three months through the whole of merry England from sea to sea, upon the details (such as the English journals would give them) of the contents of the Morgue for one day. Let but a poor intoxicated prostitute take it into her bewildered head to make a leap off the battlements of Waterloo bridge, (it's a pretty fair leap, Clinton)—and behold, forthwith, John's journals give him a full and detailed description of the circumstance in all its lights and bearings—with a minute account of the poor woman's birth, parentage, and education, not omitting the full and pleasing particulars of her mode of living, with the decorum, elegancies, and comfort, of the same.
Her very conversations and opinions on men and things are recorded ; and she finds a Boswell, as well as Dr. Johnson, Napoleon, and Lord Byron. And all this strange mess John Bull, gaping and wonder-stricken, swallows as if it were merely “ Go to, swallow a gooseberry.” And then when any mysterious murder peeps out, what a delightful task to trace the pleasing investigation through all its turnings and windings! What an entrancing confusion of wounds, blood, blood-stained bludgeons, hedgestakes, blunderbusses, pistols, penknives, &c. &c. &c.!!! When a real and actual bloody and atrocious murder, like that of Weare, is brought to light, John's ecstasies are indescribable. The baboon on board the vessel during an engagement-running about the deck--dancing, capering, frantic with delight, is a trifle to him. Why-I could regale John for months and years with the garbage, with the very offals, of the Morgue even for a single week.
But how does all this agree, you will perhaps ask, with the reputed excellence of the French police? The case is thus, my friend--the Parisian gens-d'armes (I think the finest, best appointed, and most soldier-like set of men I have seen) make the rounds in bodies of four or five and upwards—a consequence of which is that you may walk, about the streets of Paris a whole night without meeting any of them. So that a man may be assassinated twenty times over, without obtaining the slightest assistance from these redoutable gendarmerie ; who are, I believe, after all, like most of the institutions under a despotic government, intended rather as a protection of the government, than of the subject. However this may be, the gens-d'armes, both mounted and otherwise, are an effective and well-organized body of men-as they ought to be, since they take precedence of all the rest of the French military-and, indeed, are mostly composed of veterans, promoted to this corps from the other corps of the army, for services and good conduct, So that the French police, though not so effectively distributed for the protection of the subject, are composed of a very different class of persons, as regards respectability of character and qualifications, from our worthy, respectable, and redoubted" guardians of the night." I have often stood and admired the soldierly carriage and admirable equipments of the Paris gens-d'armes à cheval, as they rode slowly along the streets, mounted on their beautiful long-tailed horses. They still retain the large cocked hat—and they are almost the only persons on whom I have thought it looked well. They have altogether a truly soldierly and veteran appearance; and many of them, I dare say, have dearly earned a right to such an appearance, by long and hard service in the ranks of Napoleon's war-worn and weather-beaten armies.
You say “I hope you will come back cured.”—Alas! Clinton, that, I fear, is a vain hope. For I now find how truly poets have said, (though for a mind in the state of mine to quote them may seem sufficiently ridiculous, at least according to the dicta of some dramatic critics, who affirm that people should never be poetical when they are really suffering in mind; yet there is a diversion of mind even in referring to or quoting what the poets have said)-Horace
Quid terras alio calentes
Se quoque fugit?
What exile from himself can flee?
To zones, though more and more remote,
The blight of life-the demon thought.
With many a retrospection curst.
I seek, in change of scene, relief from the unrelenting demon that pursues and tortures me--but I seek in vain. I shall probably thus traverse Europe-possibly the world-and still in vain. Mine indeed seems a fate singularly hard. I bear about with me over the earth and waters the curse of Cain, without his crimes.
I have plunged into the gaieties and dissipations of this gay and dissipated city—but the grim gaunt spectre of the mind haunts me everywhere. Even considering my state of mind as a case of disease, I have attempted to cure it, as in medicine they cure some diseases of the body, by superinducing the action of another, and more immediately exciting disease. Ay, Clinton, I, who used to reason with such clearness, and force, and energy, against the vice (of gamblingwho was so convinced of its inexpediency as a mean of acquiring honourably what all pursue-who, in short, regarded it with such a calm but deep and decided aversion and contempt-yes, I, Clinton, have made myself, for a time, literally and immediately the sport, the ludibrium, the puppet, the plaything, the football of the strumpet Fortune. I have sounded the awful depths of the gamester's hell
But, like an ebbing wave, it dash'd me back
Into the gulf of my unfathom'd thought. And yet, Clinton, it is a potent specific-a powerful and dangerous spell. What a gigantic, and what a demon-like gripe is that with which it holds, and wrings, and shakes, and shatters, that human mind that has once fallen within its grasp! It is no common struggle, no faint and feeble wrestling that is necessary to shake off the hellish assailant. There must be a mighty, ay, a convulsive effort, or you struggle and writhe in vain-in the hands of a tormentor who never knew fear, or pity, or remorse. I am myself, perhaps, not a fair case-yet even I have felt the giant's power. But I have seen some of my acquaintance, who, if powers wasted, time mispent, and a mind ruined, be proofs that something has been suffered, may well attest the propriety of calling a gambling-house a hell—and be an everlasting warning to all (to whom warning does not come too late) to shun, indeed, as gate of hell,” the brilliant, mirrored, and gilded halls of Frescati. Pope said, “
Every woman is at heart a rake." I do not say that he was right, mark me--but I say that every man, ay, and woman too, is at heart a gambler. It is the same principle at its source, only having taken another direction to arrive at the same point, which makes a man desire power. The stoic, the cynic, and the sage too, may say what they please to the contrary; but every man that has ever lived, or, while the nature of man remains the same, that ever will live, has (or will have) in the bottom of his heart desired power, no matter as to the difference of form. Now, knowledge, they say, is power. It may be so. But it is a power which does not act imme. diately—the effect of it is not instantaneous. Will knowledge upon the instant put a man into the possession and enjoyment of the cup of pleasure and the smile of beauty? But gold will do this. Ay, it will do for him all that the earthly omnipotence of king or kaisar can do. And, therefore, here gold is power-and men gamble to get gold, and, therefore, to get power.
Of course in the above remarks it is not implied that the votaries of gambling have taken the proper and right road to arrive at powerquite the contrary.
It is easy to distinguish the young votary—the raw and inexperienced from him with whom rouge et noir has been the business of a life. Our countrymen are particularly remarkable, and easy to be known in these places. The most common form and circumstance under which your Englishman makes his appearance in that palace of vice, that gilded Gehenna, are these :-About, say from nine to ten, you see a young man (verily a foolish young man, like him observed by Solomon) enter-easily distinguishable from the surrounding mass of (notwithstanding Legion of Honour orders and mustachios) tailorlike-looking Frenchmen by the superior taste, elegance, and costliness of his dress, as well as by a countenance flushed with a larger quantity of the more generous juice of the grape than a Frenchman usually allows himself. In short, it would be vastly superfluous to describe to you, Clinton, how an Englishman, who is living like a fighting cock, " usually looks about that hour of the evening.
Impletur veteris Bacchi, pinguisque farinæ. The youth hath his purse full of good money, and his brain full of the vapours of good wine. He is evidently in a state of excitement already; and he is come to seek further and more violent excitement at the rouge et noir table. What dim and shadowy yet magnificent visions of unbounded wealth and unbounded enjoyment are floating before his mind's mystified eye! Those glittering, tempting rouleaus that lie before the dealers !—they are all already, in imagination, his. Those billets de “ cinq cent francs," de “ mille francs," de “ dix mille francs,” de “ douze mille francs,”-he will have a shot at them all! Has he not a right to have his fun for his money? May he not have his “ whistle,” though it cost him somewhat dear? To be sure to be sure, Jack-down with your gold, like a man and a gentleman !
A bold stroke, to put those ten double Napoleons upon the rouge. Hark to the voice of the dealer !—“ Un!”—“Sacré nom de Dieu !”. Your four hundred francs are gone, my friend. Mounseer draws them towards him with that damned hook, and clutches them with a placid and subdued rapture. Well, he will try rouge again, though not exactly on the doubling system ; he will put down five hundred francs this time. Again are the golden heaps swept into the box of the bank. "D-n!" is muttered between the teeth ; but a great apparent, though evidently forced, calmness of manner is preserved. But shall John be done out of his money in this way by Mounseer? No, no-obstinacy is the thing-call it perseverance if you will. Stick to the red, Jack, my boy. There you are again, you unfortunate dog !-a palpable run upon
black. No matter for that; Jack is an animal of game, like one of his own true mastiffs ;-he has perseverance; and he plays upon red till his funds are exhausted, and then he walks off, with a cheek a little flushed-the slightest in the world--and an eye not altogether placid. I might give you examples of much higher play; but this will do for an average case.
For instance, the Duke of Mount Million played, of course, much higher, and with very different success, the other evening, when he broke the bank twice in the same night. With what honours his Grace must have been received by his amiable and interesting duchess when he returned home with his “ veni, vidi, vici!" His grace was never taken for a magician; but he did on that occasion what some very great men have attempted in vain. O Fortune! Fortune ! how strange are thy freaks !
Præsens vel imo tollere de gradu
Vertere funeribus triumphos ! I used to wonder, when a boy, what could make Horace address an ode to Fortune. But, alas ! that wonderment has now long ceased ; and if I could write as well as Horace, I would indite an address myself to the capricious but powerful deity.
The illustrious vanquishers of Napoleon, after the battle of Waterloo, probably conscious how much they were indebted to the goddess, and perhaps fancying that they were thenceforth to be her especial favourites for ever, are said to have frequently paid her homage and sought her favours in this her chosen temple
Hic illius arma_his currus fuit with but indifferent success. She shewed them that they were still but mere mortals; and that, though she had favoured them eminently on one or two occasions, yet here the redoubted Blucher and the high and mighty Prince of Waterloo must, at the most, share her favours with such votaries as his Grace of Mount Million. A Frenchman informed me that he had frequently seen both of these martial dignitaries in several Parisian maisons de jeu, much less select and exclusive than the aristocratic “ salon." The King of Prussia had some very heavy debts to pay for Blucher, which his “ Valiancy" had contracted at such places.
The Englishman is gone-fleeced, moneyless, chap-fallen ; and those laughing dames, who had been eyeing him with attention as a wealthy prize, are disappointed of their prey. Unhappy beings! A piteous spectacle that, Clinton! and yet it is only one among many such " sights of woe” that are daily and nightly visible in this earthly Pandæmonium.
Regions of sorrow! doleful shades ! where peace,
And rest can never dwell! Hopeay, but hope does come; but then it is a hope that “lures but to destroy;" and
-porte au fin fond des enfers, Digne séjour de ces esprits perdus.