Many crroneous accounts of this table have been circulated by different tourists, and descriptions of the gashes inflicted upon it by the Emperor with • his penknife have been the medium of the most poetical transcripts of his sufposed feelings in that trying conjuncture. The fact is, that the gash esexist only in the imagination of the said tourists, a class who generally fancy that reality is too tame for the pages of the circulating library; the table is quite uninjured ; it is a little common round guéridon, upon a claw, and was brought from one of the attendants' apartments (there being no moveable table in the room at the time) for the emperor to execute the deed upon. A brass plate has been affixed to it, commemorating the circumstance. The act of abdication was signed in the cabinet of the Emperor, contiguous his bed-chamber ; and on the brass plate affixed to the table already specified it is stated that the event took place in the apartment adjoining the King's bed-chamber, on the 3rd of April, 1814, and in the twenty-first year of the reign of his Majesty Louis the Eighteenth.” The reign of Napoleon, then, was but a dream! Certainly, in that case. his most Christian Majesty had had a very long night-mare, for which the indigestions produced by the good cheer of Aartwell, in Buckinghamshire, can scarcely account! The folly of that other doomed race, the Stuarts, never went so far as to think that by a stroke of the pen they could obliterate all recollection of the Commonwealth, and assume that they themselves had, during the whole period of Cromwell's protectorate, held the scptre of the land that had driven them into exile.

At Marseilles Mrs. Romer rather fatigues us, especially with her talk and stories about the restaurant, Monsieur Courty. We think it right to let our readers have a specimen of her tediousness as well as cleverness. It is manifest that she has her share of self-conceit, regarding herself and Mons. Alexander Dumas, as the great patrons of the inn-keeper, who is puffed up, we learn, on the discovery of a new dish, just as Arago would be " when a new planet swims into his ken.

Dumas is unquestionably the Magnus Apollo of the Muette de Portici; the arbour in which he has dined, the dishes which he prefers, the sea-fish, ing in which he has joined with Courty, are dwelt upon by the latter with mingled pride and pleasure ; and the sayings and doings of the homme de letlres are relished by the simple-minded Provencal with a gusto no less keen than that of which his own most successful culinary improvisations never fail to excite in the author of Henri Trois, of Antony, and of Caligula.

“The last time Monsieur Dumas dined here," said Courty, "he ordered the table to be laid as usual, in one of the arbours. The weather threatened a storin, and I ventured to suggest the prudence of dining in the house." “Eh! mon cher!” he exclaimed, “croyez-vous que vous sommes des hommes à reculer devant un orage? Servez-vous ici- qu'il pleut, qu'il tonne, qu'il grêle, cela nous est fort égale-nous dînerous quand même !" Force fut de l'obéir, Before the coquillages and bouillabesse were despatched, however, flashes of lightning betokened the commencement of the storm; the hors d'oeuvrcs and entrées were introduced to the accompaniment of thunder ; and the premier service was concluded amidst the pattering of heavy rain

drops, which penetrated through the thick foliage of the arbour and completely destroyed the economy of the table, without, however, influencing Monsieur Dumas to yield to my entreaties and remove to the shelter of the house. His wife sat shivering in her thin muslin dress, and almost started out of her chair at every flash of lightning; and even his friend, Monsieur Mery, the poet, ventured a doubt as to the agrément of dining in a shower bath, without producing any effect upon him. Seeing that he was proof against persuasion, I changed my tactics, and, desiring the second service to be served in the house, I went and announced to the party that it awaited them there. “Monsieur Dumas," said I to him, il s'agit de ma réputation comme cuisinier de ne pas céder à votre fantaisie ; et dans l'intérét de mon art je me vois obligé de ne plus exposer mes plats à l'intempérie de l'atmosphère. Le second service vous attend à la maison, et je suis décidé à ne pas vous l'apporter ici !" The fact is that it was not so much for the sake of my plats, as par égard pour le sere, that I took that decided tone; and, luckily, it succeeded. Monsieur Dumas se rendit à mon raisonnement, et le diner se termina joyeusement la maison, et à sec. Oui, Madame,” he exclaimed, as he wound up a long eulogium of the object of his admiration,

l'approbation de ce grand littérateur m'est acquise, je peux m'en flatter ; et non seulement il m'honore de son estime, mais il m'a consacré une page entière dans ses 'Imprections de Voyage!'

Honest Courty! I suppose he thought it admissible to take with the simple word impressions the same liberty that he permits himself to take with the aliments that pass through his hands; and fancied that, in dishing up the title of Alexandre Dumas' book à la Provençale, and in his own peculiar manner, he would render it quite as palatable, and infinitely more piquant, than if he had merely introduced it to our notice au naturel.

We doubly dislike this passage on account of its French scraps, but would not have taken notice of the silly display, did it not pervade many portions of the book. We get better pleased with the Rambler when she passes into Spain. She takes sea for Barcelona, and is an agreeable companion the moment she lands, as the following sketches and criticisms will testify :

With our heads out of the windows, we were driven along several esplanades, and silent streets, and open spaces, wondering to see so few people in circulation in so considerable a looking city, when a sudden turn brought us upon a fine public walk, bordered on either side with handsome edifices, and shaded by rows of beautiful trees, beneath whose spreading branches throngs of loungers paraded backwards and forwards with that leisurely pace which evinced that to see and be seen was the only business that had drawn together such a numerous assemblage. Here were to be remarked groups of officers exhibiting a variety of uniforms and military decorations; there, clusters of priests wearing the identical costume, the black cassock and grotesquely shaped hat, with which the personage of Don Basilio in the Barbiere di Siviglia has rendered every one familiar ;--dandies, of a description similar to les flaneurs des Boulevards de Paris, with moyen age beards, refaissance flowing locks, moustachios, and royales, (absurd accompaniments to the unbecoming male costume of the present day,) lighted their cigarillos

from small earthen pans of live embers that were hawked about for that purpose by ragged little urchins. But the striking feature of the scene-that which stamped upon it such a character of nationality, and rendered it unlike every other gathering together I had ever before seen, was the sprinkling of women throughout. Clad in the graceful garb of Spain, which is at once the most dignified and the most agaçante, the most simple and the most elegant female costume that ever was devised, black from head to foot, yet the very reverse of mournful, the Senoras glided along, the folds of their mantillas coquettishly gathered together under the chin with one hand, while with the other the large outspread glittering fan was held above their flashing eyes, to protect them from the rays of the sun, which had just burst forth with unwonted effulgence, as though to colour for us in the most appropriately glowing tints this first coup d'æil of a scene so truly Spanish, and which was rendered doubly striking from the contrast it afforded to the silent streets through which we had previously passed.

The Theatricals at Barcelona had few merits in Mrs. Romer's eyes:

Judging from the specimens of native talent which we witnessed at the Liceo, I should say (if it be allowable to pronounce a decided opinion upon such slender grounds as are afforded by one isolated opportunity of forming one's judgment) that the dramatic art is ill-understood, nay, at the very lowest ebb, in this country. It is rare to meet with a troop of comedians in which not an individual symptom of excellence is to be detected; yet so it was here: and, as the same vicious method pervaded the whole company—the same emphatic monotony in the dialogue (whether the author bad intended it to be familiar or exalted)—the same parrot-like delivery—the same tame, passionless action-the same wooden aspects—a combination which rendered it altogether impossible to gather from the gestures or countenances of the performers any elucidation of the sentiments they were delivering- I concluded that the general conception of the art must be a faulty one, and that the national taste and talents do not lean towards the stage. By far the most interesting part of the evening's entertainment was the Bayle Nacional, which succeeded the comedy, when the Bolero was performed with all that fire and entraînement which Spaniards alone can throw into it, and which render their execution of that most charming of all characteristic dances not merely a talent, but a passion and a sentiment. What a contrast between this animated performance and the sleepy drama, mouthed in defiance of all sense and feeling, that had preceded it! The audience, who appeared to have been half somnambulized by the play, were suddenly roused into enthusiasm by the click of the castanets, and a loud salvo of applause at the conclusion of the dance caused it to be repeated.

The churches, &c., of the city are also described after a similar fashion, with frequent happy touches of character, costume, and the like. She proceeds in the same manner when arrived at the other towns, her pictures at Granada and Malaga being about the best. The old Alhambra charmed the Rambler and is charmingly described. So too is the bull-fight at Malaga, although declåring that she could

not sit through the performance. We give a picture of a Spanish city that has much in it both of a general character and a minute pencilling

At about seven in the evening "all the world" assemble on the upper walk, the ladies at first occupying the benches, the gentlemen pacing up and down in the centre, and sunning themselves in the bright eyes of the seated beauties; but very soon these latter grow tired of their repose ;

the benches become abandoned, and the walk then becomes so densely thronged with promenaders of both sexes, that it is a matter of some difficulty to see one's way clear through them. The costume of almost all these pretty loungers is the same : a black silk dress with short sleeves and long net gloves, a black lace mantilla, a natural rose or carnation at one side of the head, and a large fan never in repose in the hand, form the simple and ele. gant toilette most in vogue. Some few white mantillas are to be seen ; but they are not advantageous to complexions so dusky as those of the Gaditanas, and are not much in favour. Here and there a would-be French bonnet and shawl of some incongruous mixture of colours show glaringly in the dark mass of veiled heads, as though purposely to demonstrate that the great secret of a Spanish woman's beauty and grace lies in her mantilla, and that dressed like other women her personal superiority no longer asserts itself; for it is as true that no Spanish woman knows how to put on a bonnet, as it is an undisputed fact that none but a Spanish woman knows how to wear a mantilla. Keep them to their national dress of sable hue from head to foot, and they are the most elegant and distinguished-looking race of women that can be imagined; but let them run riot among bonnets, feathers, and colours (which they have no idea of assorting judiciously,) and they sink to the level of the ill-dressed women of any other country. There is one superiority, however, which they must maintain, let their dress be what it may, over the women of all other nations, and that is in their walk-that graceful swimming gait peculiar to themselves, which is as bappily free from the affected mincing wriggle of French women, as it is from the awkward grenadier stride indulged in by our own countrywomen. There is nothing theatrical or affected—nothing of what Addison has termed "recitative dancing” in the démarche of the Spanish women; but it combines an inexpressible grace and harmony of movement, which imparts a charm to them beyond that of mere beauty-a something without which beauty is incomplete, and which Virgil has rendered full justice to, when he caused Æneas to recognise Venus, not by the superiority of her face and form, but by her manner of walking :

And by her walk the Queen of Love is known." A Gipsy ball is our next:

Among the thirty selected by Mateo to perform their characteristic dances for us, although the women were young and set off to the utmost advantage in their holiday finery, not one among them was absolutely pretty, nor could we detect a delicate foot and ankle in the whole corps de ballet. They were dressed in bright-coloured cotton gowns (either of pink, jonquil, blue, or geranium) with deep flounces and panuelos, or handkerchiefs, of some other

gaudy hue, arranged with great modesty over their bosoms. Their black hair was universally worn parted on the forehead, and fastened in a knot at the back of the head with a profusion of pink or cherry-coloured ribbons, and clusters of roses and pomegrante blossoms : but I looked in vain for the parchite, or round black patch upon each temple, which I had understood to have been invariably worn by the Andalusian Gitanas; and, as not one of these women exhibited that distinguished mark, I conclude that it must be peculiar only to the female Gipsies of Seville. To describe this extraordinary ball or funcion as it is here termed, so as to do justice to the originality of its arrangements, or to the variety of dances exhibited in it, would be im. possible. At eight in the evening we were summoned down stairs to a long room on the ground-floor, which had been prepared for the occasion, where we found the whole Gipsy party assembled, and seated upon benches along the two sides of it: chairs had been placed at the upper end for the travelling guests of the posada, in all amounting to eight persons; at the bottom of the room, near the door, seats were arranged for our servants and the inmates of the house; and the open windows were crowded with tiers of dark eager faces, peeping in from the outside, and apparently taking as much delight at what was passing within, as though themselves had been active participators in the scene. As soon as we had taken our places, the whole assembly arose, and headed by an old man thrumming a guitar, and a middle-aged one, dressed in a pink jacket, black breeches, white stockings, and Majo hat, who flourished a tambourine, and whom I soon discovered to be the Vestris of the party, they advanced in procession to the spot where we were seated, saluted us with a graceful gesture of the hands, and then, defiling in two divisions, one of them resumed their seats, and the other stood up in the centre of the room, where they commenced the funcion by dancing the Romalis, that famous Gipsy dance, the figures of which are so intricate and so complicated from the number of persons engaged in it, that it would be impossible to convey any adequate idea of it by a written description. The orchestra was composed of the above mentioned guitar and the voices of all the Gipsies who were not engaged in the dance, led on by a young man, whose singing might be termed a prolonged howl, and who regulated the time by stamping with his feet and clapping with his hands, while the castanets of the dancers chimed in to his directing movements. Pink-jacket, who headed the male dancers, made himself very remarkable by his performance in this part of the entertainment, striking his tambourine with every part his body, and occasionally breaking into a pas de deur with the Prima Baylarina, in which a freedom of gesticulation (to use the mildest term) was indulged in by both, that contrasted curiously with the stolidity and imperturbable gravity of his countenance.

Cadiz must detain us for a for a moment, as studied from a housetop at sunset :

At that hour, when the dazzling luminary has just sunk beneath the waves and the eye can rest, without aching, upon the bright masses of snow-white structures that spread around, glowing still, but no longer glaring upon the sight -1 generally ascended to the Mirador of our hotel to enjoy, from those upper regions, the calm beauty of the hour, and to contemplate the

« VorigeDoorgaan »