페이지 이미지

surrounding a congress of the latest elements of all that is restless and hopeful in the present. The ball room at the town hall saw two thousand of us making waltzing and polking acquaintance with the ladies of Caen. We had introduced ourselves favourably to them on the triumphal march, through the town by saluting the fair freighted balconies with “ Vive les Caenaises !" may they live and grow handsomer-for that is all they need do; better girls—"nicer sort” of girls, or more domestic darlings, no English country ball could exhibit. I saw a score ready to be sweet wives, and ever remain such :

Creatures not too bright or fair
For human nature's daily fare,
For transient griefs or simple wiles,
Praise, blame, griefs, kisses, tears, and smiles.

They all had a very English cast of countenance, too, quite as many blondes as amongst the same number in London, perhaps

more so.

The Caen ball room has a raised corridor separated from it by a colonnade. This enables promenaders to enjoy a full view of the dances—while seats are raised above each other from the floor of the room to that of the corridor.

The cause of the fête was introduction enough ; formality was banished; everyone addressed each other as brothers and sisters; all were determined that the Fête de la Fraternité should not belie its name; and resolution was never more scrupulously kept.

If the appearance of the room at midnight might be an index to the opinions of the present hour, the poet's sensible query must receive an infinite number of echoes,

Who would ask a heart to dulness wed,
The wavelet's calm, the slumber of the dead?
Without the smile from partial beauty won ?
Oh! what were man? a world without a sun.

If it be true, as Campbell says, that beauty is the sun by which existence is rendered tolerable, where does this beauty shine with more genial ray than in a ball room ? the fireside is the home of the affections, and in the war of words the intellect may send forth its bright scintillations, but under the influeace of the pleasing excitement of the dance, beauty evolves its magnified attractions and realises the poet's simile. When a man is on his travels, his time limited, his chances precarious, his opportu. nities fortuitous and accidental, he must seek a specimen of each leading characteristic to “lay up in the book and volume of his brain."

Permitted to gather a bouquet in a given time in the Duke of Devonshire's garden at Chiswick, or Frogmore, or Ealing Park, who would not secure the sweetest rose, the noblest camellia, the most odoriferous pink, and most graceful lily, for the first positions in the group-so to say of your partners for polka and waltz ; while you lean in quieter rapture over the modest fragrance of the mignionette, the jessamine and the violet-as you listen and gaze less uninterruptedly upon the companion of your quiet walks through the quadrille. As I said before, the Caenaise are not “ the fairest women under Heaven,” still I can find a passage that describes the female portion of the assemblage more deftly than the stiff formalities of prose, so, to borrow again from the same master of rhyme:

“ Some were calm, severe, and fair,
Some had locks of auburn hair,
Some had lips like parted cherries,
Some had cheeks like autumn berries,
Some had eyes where pity glowed,
Some a smile where love abode,
Comely, ruddy, graceful, tall.”

And (in each man's eyes of course) one the fairest of them all. After this luscious picture of varied loveliness, to tell how the time sped till half past four in the morning is quite supererogatory. In the corridor and salle des marriages were tables de jeu, around which select committees were circulating centimes and fraternising five franc pieces. It is customary at all public assemblies where cards are played, for the bystanders at will to put down any stake by the side of a player, and the cards are not reversed from the table until a similar aggregate of stakes is added to his antagonist's.

Should there be no disposition to make it up, gentlemen are requested to withdraw their money until the sum is equal on both sides. In this familiar transit, a few thousand francs were changing hands, as pleasantly to all appearance, as the ladies were in the balt room.

Six thousand amateur warriors quartered on the citizens of Caen, were not likely to pass their visit in slumber. From Saturday afternoon till Monday morning the streets of Caen, under the various illumination of gas, lampions, moonlight, and sunlight, wore the appearance of apartments full of promenaders. Parades, processions, demonstrations, half a dozen full military bands, and drums awfully numerous, were everywhere, from sun. rise to long after sunset.

From all the innumerable balconies, from the smallest and highest, no less than from the lowest and meanest, were tricoloured streamers fluttering in the brilliant sunlight. The

buildings seemed to have been literally turned inside out, and to have all their gaiety towards the highway. Windows were all day filled with company, like boxes at a theatre. In every group were sure to be two or three pairs of crimson epaulets. Muslin bonnets, satin ditto, silver mounted shakos, and burnished helmets, seemed to pave the street, and stud the walls of the houses, as if it had hailed and rained helmets, bearskin caps, muslin bonnets and shakos, for twelve hours previous; and in every nook and corner, from the pavement to the chimney tops, where women's eyes could glisten, there they danced and laughed and sparkled like light in water. Nor were the churches less filled, for the second day of the fête was Sunday. The vast naves of St. Etienne, St. Pierre, and St. Jean, seen from their Rood lofts presented the appearance of conservatories, the crimson epaulets of the national guard, and the bullion ones of their officers, representing the verbenas and marigolds, whilst the lofty steeple caps of the Norman lasses became the magnolias of the gay parterre.

Beneath the roof of St. Etienne the great palm house at Kew could conveniently nestle, nor do the slenderest of its cast iron pillars, or its buttresses, devices, mouldings, for which metal is so available, surpass in elegance and lightness the clustered columns of St. Pierre.

The review on the grand Cours, which is flanked on two sides by avenues nearly the length and breadth of those of Bushy park, followed by a banquet, was the business of Monday afternoon.

Reviews in general are unpalatable affairs, save to those in the centre of operations, near the General reviewing, the why and wherefore of which not one in ten thousand of the bystanders can see at all. This Cours seems to have been made for a review ground. A high bank surrounds it, the people stand on it, no one leaves it, for there is no better place to be had, consequently that uproarious scramble, pushing, punching, and kicking, which absorbs the attention during a review in Hyde Park, were altogether missed. But all gatherings for spectacles likely to be popular, in our monster metropolis, become every year less pleasurable from the inordinate increase of population. The Horse Guards must never appoint reviews at less distance than Wimbledon Common. Upwards of a hundred thousand, sitting or standing at their ease, were enjoying the spectacle within the square (longer than the Green Park) and as all the troops defiled close to them, all had an equally advantageous view. The Bishop, wisely mindful to keep alive fraternity with the church, appeared in the midst of the plain, followed by the clergy as before, in the same pomp, his train borne by two acolytes. Amidst rapturous cheering the embroidered banner was lowered,


embraced, and blessed by the bishop, and a delegation of officers from each squadron and company, forming in themselves a regiment, received it with grateful ardour, aud vows of brotherhood were again sworn. The bells of St. Etienne, St. Michael de Vaucelles and St. Pierre pealed again through the air a Norman welcome to their metropolitan guests.

The review terminated, the legion marched to different parade grounds, and from there to a temporary building, or rather open pavilion erected within the whole length of one of the avenues; an immense orchestra in the centre contained the bands of the regiments, who were regaling right and left in exemplary order, which put to shame behaviour at dinners I have attended, where not a tenth of the number sat down. Nearly five thousand were provided with places, each having a bottle of wine by his plate. So admirably were the arrangements adhered to, that no confusion, no crowding took place, which one would think it were impossible to avoid in placing such an immense assemblage, in comparison with which the great conservative and reform dinners in Covent-garden theatre sink into insignificance. It was, as every one exclaimed vraiement un fete de la fraternité. Every Parisian was seated by a Norman, who as the former entered the pavilion took him by the hand and invited him to the table beside himself. A more successful aid to methodical fraternization could not be devised, and pretty was the music of four thousand glasses tinkling against each other, as is the custom when pledging. A la garde nationale de Paris ! à la garde nationale du Havre ! à la garde nationale d'Honfleur! à la garde nationale de Caen! as well as toasts to those of Lisieux, Caventard, Falaise, Bayeux, Pont l'Eveque, and St. Lo, resounded louder and louder as the wine-warmed hearts of the citizen soldiers throbbed higher. I need not mention that the Prefect made a speech, and gave what he called un double toast, à la République ! à l'Assemblée Nationale ! and that the Mayor of Caen gave The Army, with a conservative construction of their duties to their country as defenders of order and property, which no Englishman could desire to improve. Then General Massoni proposed “The National Guard,” which he gave: "à cette grande famille, dont le patriotisme et le devouement doivent fonder d'une manière inébranlable l'ordre et la liberté.” In fact, all the speeches breathed eager admonitions to enforce order, and respect for the law. I could fancy I was at a county conservative festival. Every one who has property knows that the march of revolution has gone too far, and fearful of losing it altogether, upholds order and authority. They well know that Paris is on the verge of “the revolt of famine;" the communists, ultra republican and journalist-led multitude of Paris have no symphathisers amongst the thoughtful Normans, of whom nine hundred and

ninety nine out of every thousand would be but too happy to see Henry the Fifth on the throne, not only because his right is clear and unquestionable, but because they could now secure a constitutional monarchy on the broadest popular basis consistent with security. The present intact condition of Great Britain proclaims the wisdom of her institutions, and excites the envy of the world. The wildest democrats admit it at their rational intervals. At no time could an Englishman traverse Europe with prouder step than at this moment. Every shock of the present political earthquake is a convulsive compliment from conscience-stricken continental betrayers of their fellow men, to their insular guardians of human liberties, amidst treacheries and tempests, whoever their guilty authors, be they philosophers or tyrants. I was the only English guest at this immense gathering, and my hosts were prodigal of compliments, which I should be very unjust not to declare my belief were perfectly_sincere and hearty. “A l'Angleterre! A la Reine de Grand Bretagne! A Notre Hote Anglais!” saluted my ears from moustachiod mouths, whose teeth glistened between their bushy intrenchments as felt spar does below the brake around a Derbyshire Cavern. My glass gingled again and again in contact with those of admirers of England, pressing forward to pay my dear country homage in my person. As fast as I could pack together my French vocabulary, I uttered aspirations "pour l'amitié et l'alliance perpetuelle entre nos deux pays, parceque je sais que c'est le gage le meilleur, le plus sûr, pour les intérêts de la civilisation, and subsequently committed myself to something like the following compliments, as they appear in the Caen newspaper.

The bit about the battle of Hastings, I was indebted to a gentleman near me, who is a national guard of Saiot-Valerysur-Somme, the port whence his countryman set forth for his successful conquest of England.

Messieurs,— Le spectacle si noble et si imposant qui vient d'avoir lieu m'a fait éprouver une profonde émotion. C'est


la réunion des diverses classes dans un intérêt commun que

la société est elle-même maintenue. Je considère comme un grand honneur d'avoir assisté au banquet fraternel, et de m'être assis à la table de quatre mille braves gardes nationaux français. Les sentiments généreux dont j'ai entendu l'expression ont touché mon cœur.

J'ai l'honneur de vivre sous le sceptre aimable d'une souveraine descendue, en ligne directe, de votre grand duc Guillaume.

Du fond du cercueil où il repose, dans la superbe basilique qu'il a fait bâtir, digne monament de sa gloire, l'ombre de ce grand homme a dû tressaillir au bruit du canon et au magnifique spectacle que Caen, cité si chère à son coeur, vient de présenter.

« 이전계속 »