Night and Morning, Volume 3

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THE WORKS

OF
EDWARD BULWER LYTTON
(LORD LYTTON)

NIGHT AND MORNING

Book III

CHAPTER I.

               ”The knight of arts and industry,

               And his achievements fair.”

     THOMSON’S Castle of Indolence: Explanatory Verse to Canto II.

In a popular and respectable, but not very fashionable quartier in Paris,
and in the tolerably broad and effective locale of the Rue ——, there
might be seen, at the time I now treat of, a curious-looking building,
that jutted out semicircularly from the neighbouring shops, with plaster
pilasters and compo ornaments. The virtuosi of the quartier had
discovered that the building was constructed in imitation of an ancient
temple in Rome; this erection, then fresh and new, reached only to the
entresol. The pilasters were painted light green and gilded in the
cornices, while, surmounting the architrave, were three little statues—
one held a torch, another a bow, and a third a bag; they were therefore
rumoured, I know not with what justice, to be the artistical
representatives of Hymen, Cupid and Fortune.

On the door was neatly engraved, on a brass plate, the following
inscription:

“MONSIEUR LOVE, ANGLAIS,
A L’ENTRESOL.”

And if you had crossed the threshold and mounted the stairs, and gained
that mysterious story inhabited by Monsieur Love, you would have seen,
upon another door to the right, another epigraph, informing those
interested in the inquiry that the bureau, of M. Love was open daily from
nine in the morning to four in the afternoon.

The office of M. Love—for office it was, and of a nature not
unfrequently designated in the “petites affiches” of Paris—had been
established about six months; and whether it was the popularity of the
profession, or the shape of the shop, or the manners of M. Love himself,
I cannot pretend to say, but certain it is that the Temple of Hymen—as
M. Love classically termed it—had become exceedingly in vogue in the
Faubourg St.—. It was rumoured that no less than nine marriages in the
immediate neighbourhood had been manufactured at this fortunate office,
and that they had all turned out happily except one, in which the bride
being sixty, and the bridegroom twenty-four, there had been rumours of
domestic dissension; but as the lady had been delivered,—I mean of her
husband, who had drowned himself in the Seine, about a month after the
ceremony, things had turned out in the long run better than might have
been expected, and the widow was so little discouraged; that she had been
seen to enter the office already—a circumstance that was greatly to the
credit of Mr. Love.

Perhaps the secret of Mr. Love’s success, and of the marked superiority
of his establishment in rank and popularity over similar ones, consisted
in the spirit and liberality with which the business was conducted. He
seemed resolved to destroy all formality between parties who might desire
to draw closer to each other, and he hit upon the lucky device of a
table d’hote, very well managed, and held twice a-week, and often
followed by a soiree dansante; so that, if they pleased, the aspirants
to matrimonial happiness might become acquainted without gene. As he
himself was a jolly, convivial fellow of much savoir vivre, it is
astonishing how well he made these entertainments answer. Persons who
had not seemed to take to each other in the first distant interview grew
extremely enamoured when the corks of the champagne—an extra of course
in the abonnement—bounced against the wall. Added to this, Mr. Love
took great pains to know the tradesmen in his neighbourhood; and, what
with his jokes, his appearance of easy circumstances, and the fluency
with which he spoke the language, he became a universal favourite. Many
persons who were uncommonly starched in general, and who professed to
ridicule the bureau, saw nothing improper in dining at the table
d’hote
. To those who wished for secrecy he was said to be wonderfully
discreet; but there were others who did not affect to conceal their
discontent at the single state: for the rest, the entertainments were so
contrived as never to shock the delicacy, while they always forwarded the
suit.

It was about eight o’clock in the evening, and Mr. Love was still seated
at dinner, or rather at dessert, with a party of guests. His apartments,
though small, were somewhat gaudily painted and furnished, and his
dining-room was decorated a la Turque. The party consisted-first, of a
rich epicier, a widower, Monsieur Goupille by name, an eminent man in
the Faubourg; he was in his grand climacteric, but still belhomme; wore
a very well-made peruque of light auburn, with tight pantaloons, which
contained a pair of very respectable calves; and his white neckcloth and
his large gill were washed and got up with especial care. Next to
Monsieur Goupille sat a very demure and very spare young lady of about
two-and-thirty, who was said to have saved a fortune—Heaven knows how—
in the family of a rich English milord, where she had officiated as
governess; she called herself Mademoiselle Adele de Courval, and was very
particular about the de, and very melancholy about her ancestors.
Monsieur Goupille generally put his finger through his peruque, and
fell away a little on his left pantaloon when he spoke to Mademoiselle de
Courval, and Mademoiselle de Courval generally pecked at her bouquet when
she answered Monsieur Goupille. On the other side of this young lady sat
a fine-looking fair man—M. Sovolofski, a Pole, buttoned up to the chin,
and rather threadbare, though uncommonly neat. He was flanked by a
little fat lady, who had been very pretty, and who kept a boarding-house,
or pension, for the English, she herself being English, though long
established in Paris. Rumour said she had been gay in her youth, and
dropped in Paris by a Russian nobleman, with a very pretty settlement,
she and the settlement having equally expanded by time and season: she was
called Madame Beavor. On the other side of the table was a red-headed
Englishman, who spoke very little French; who had been told that French
ladies were passionately fond of light hair; and who, having L2000. of
his own, intended to quadruple that sum by a prudent marriage. Nobody
knew what his family was, but his name was Higgins. His neighbour was an
exceedingly tall, large-boned Frenchman, with a long nose and a red
riband, who was much seen at Frascati’s, and had served under Napoleon.
Then came another lady, extremely pretty, very piquante, and very gay,
but past the premiere jeunesse, who ogled Mr. Love more than she did
any of his guests: she was called Rosalie Caumartin, and was at the head
of a large bon-bon establishment; married, but her husband had gone
four years ago to the Isle of France, and she was a little doubtful
whether she might not be justly entitled to the privileges of a widow.
Next to Mr. Love, in the place of honour, sat no less a person than the
Vicomte de Vaudemont, a French gentleman, really well-born, but whose
various excesses, added to his poverty, had not served to sustain that
respect for his birth which he considered due to it. He had already been
twice married; once to an Englishwoman, who had been decoyed by the
title; by this lady, who died in childbed, he had one son; a fact which
he sedulously concealed from the world of Paris by keeping the unhappy
boy—who was now some eighteen or nineteen years old—a perpetual exile
in England. Monsieur de Vaudemont did not wish to pass for more than
thirty, and he considered that to produce a son of eighteen would be to
make the lad a monster of ingratitude by giving the lie every hour to his
own father! In spite of this precaution the Vicomte found great
difficulty in getting a third wife—especially as he had no actual land
and visible income; was, not seamed, but ploughed up, with the small-pox;
small of stature, and was considered more than un peu bete. He was,
however, a prodigious dandy, and wore a lace frill and embroidered
waistcoat. Mr. Love’s vis-a-vis was Mr. Birnie, an Englishman, a sort of
assistant in the establishment, with a hard, dry, parchment face, and a
remarkable talent for silence. The host himself was a splendid animal;
his vast chest seemed to occupy more space at the table than any four of
his guests, yet he was not corpulent or unwieldy; he was dressed in
black, wore a velvet stock very high, and four gold studs glittered in
his shirt-front; he was bald to the crown, which made his forehead appear
singularly lofty, and what hair he had left was a little greyish and
curled; his face was shaved smoothly, except a close-clipped mustache;
and his eyes, though small, were bright and piercing. Such was the
party.

“These are the best bon-bons I ever ate,” said Mr. Love, glancing at
Madame Caumartin. “My fair friends, have compassion on the table of a
poor bachelor.”

“But you ought not to be a bachelor, Monsieur Lofe,” replied the fair
Rosalie, with an arch look; “you who make others marry, should set the
example.”

“All in good time,” answered Mr. Love, nodding; “one serves one’s
customers to so much happiness that one has none left for one’s self.”

Here a loud explosion was heard. Monsieur Goupille had pulled one of the
bon-bon crackers with Mademoiselle Adele.

“I’ve got the motto!—no—Monsieur has it: I’m always unlucky,” said the
gentle Adele.

The epicier solemnly unrolled the little slip of paper; the print was
very small, and he longed to take out his spectacles, but he thought that
would make him look old. However, he spelled through the motto with some
difficulty:—

               ”Comme elle fait soumettre un coeur,

               En refusant son doux hommage,

               On peut traiter la coquette en vainqueur;

               De la beauty modeste on cherit l’esclavage.”

     [The coquette, who subjugates a heart, yet refuses its tender

     homage, one may treat as a conqueror: of modest beauty we cherish

     the slavery.]

“I present it to Mademoiselle,” said he, laying the motto solemnly in

Adele’s plate, upon a little mountain of chestnut-husks.

“It is very pretty,” said she, looking down.

“It is very a propos,” whispered the epicier, caressing the peruque
a little too roughly in his emotion. Mr. Love gave him a kick under the
table, and put his finger to his own bald head, and then to his nose,
significantly. The intelligent epicier smoothed back the irritated
peruque.

“Are you fond of bon-bons, Mademoiselle Adele? I have a very fine
stock at home,” said Monsieur Goupille. Mademoiselle Adele de Courval
sighed: “Helas! they remind me of happier days, when I was a petite
and my dear grandmamma took me in her lap and told me how she escaped the
guillotine: she was an emigree, and you know her father was a marquis.”

The epicier bowed and looked puzzled. He did not quite see the

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