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We rattled into the ample porte cochère of a vast hotel-the postilion cracking his enormous whip, and bells ringing on every side, as if the crown prince of Russia had been the arrival, and not a poor sub. in the -th.
The courier jumped out, and run ning up to the landlord, whispered a few words in his ear, to which the other answered by a deep "ah, vraiment!" and then saluted me with an obsequiousness that made my flesh quake."
"I shall make 'mes homages' in the morning," said the courier, as he drove off at full speed to deliver his despatches, and left me to my own devices to perform a character, without even being able to guess what it might be. My passport, too, the only thing that could throw any light upon the affair, he had taken along with him, promising to have it viséd, and save me any trouble.
Of all my difficulties and puzzling situations in life, this was certainly the worst; for however often my lot had been to personate another, yet hitherto I had had the good fortune to be aware of what and whom I was performing. Now I might be any body from Marshal Soult to Monsieur Scibe; one thing only was certain, I must be a "celebrity." The confounded pains and trouble they were taking to receive me, attested that fact, and left me to the pleasing reflection that my detection, should it take place, would be sure of attracting a very general publicity. Having ordered my supper from the landlord, with a certain air of reserve, sufficient to prevent even an Alsace host from obtruding any questions upon me, 1 took my opportunity to stroll from the inn down to the river side. There lay the broad, rapid Rhine, separating me, by how narrow a gulph, from that land, where, if I once reached, my safety was certain. Never did that great boundary of nations strike me
so forcibly, as now when my own petty interests and fortunes were at stake. Night was fast settling upon the low, flat banks of the stream, and nothing stirred, save the ceaseless ripple of the river. One fishing barque alone was on the water. I hailed the solitary tenant of it, and after some little parley, induced him to ferry me over. This, however, could only be done when the night was farther advanced -it being against the law to cross the river except at certain hours, and between two established points, where officers of the revenue were stationed. The fisherman was easily bribed, however, to evade the regulation, and only bargained that I should meet him on the bank before daybreak. Having settled this point to my satisfaction, I returned to my hotel in better spirits; and with a Strasbourg paté, and a flask of Neciensteence, drank to my speedy deliverance.
How to consume the long, dreary hours between this time and that of my departure, I knew not; for though greatly fatigued, I felt that sleep was impossible; the usual resource of a gossip with the host was equally out of question; and all that remained was the theatre, which I happily remembered was not far from the hotel.
It was an opera night, and the house was crowded to excess; but with some little management, I obtained a place in a box near the stage. The piece was the Huguenots, which was certainly admirably supported, and drew down from the audience no mean one, as judges of music the loudest thunders of applause. As for me, the house was as great a curiosity as the opera. The novel spectacle of some hundred people relishing and appreciating the highest order of musical genius, was something totally new and surprising to me. The curtain at length fell upon the fifth act-and now the deafening roar of acclamation was tremendous; and amid a perfect shout of enthusiasm, the manager announced the opera for the ensuing evening. Scarcely had this subsided, when a buzz ran through the house; at first subdued, but gradually getting louder
extending from the boxes to the balcore--from the balcore to the parterre--and finally even to the galleries. Groups of people stood up on the benches, and looked fixedly in one part of the house; then changed and regarded as eagerly the other.
"What can this mean?" thought I. "Is the theatre on fire? Something surely has gone wrong!"
In this conviction, with that conta gious spirit of curiosity, I mounted upon a seat, and looked about me on every side; but unable still to catch the object which seemed to attract the rest, as I was about to resume my seat, my eyes fell upon a well known face, which in an instant I remembered, even my late fellow-traveller the courier. Anxious to avoid his recognition, I attempted to get down at once; but before I could accomplish it, the wretch had perceived and recognised me; and I saw him even with a gesture of delight, point me out to some friends beside him.
"Confound the fellow," muttered I must leave this at once, or I shall be involved in some trouble."
Scarcely was my resolve taken, when a new burst of voices arose from the pit-the words "l'Auteur," "l'Auteur," mingling with loud cries for Meerberger,' "Meerberger," to appear. So, thought I, it seems the great composer is here. Oh, by Jove! I must have a peep at him before I go. So, leaning over the front rail of the box, I looked anxiously about to catch one hasty glimpse of one of the great men of his day and country. What was my surprise, however, to perceive that about two thousand eyes were firmly rivetted upon the box I was seated in; while about half the number of tongues called out unceasingly, "Mr. Meerberger-vive Meerberger-vive l'Auteur des Huguenots-vive les Huguenots," &c. Before I could turn to look for the hero of the scene, my legs were taken from under me, and I felt, myself lifted by several strong men and held out in front of the box, while the whole audience, rising en masse, saluted me yes, me, Harry Lorrequer -with a cheer that shook the building. Fearful of precipitating myself into the pit beneath, if I made the least effort, and half wild with terror and amazement, I stared about like a maniac, while a beautiful young woman tripped along the edge of the box, supported by her companion's hand, and placed lightly upon my brow a chaplet of roses and laurel. Here the applause was like an earthquake.
May the devil fly away with half of ye," was my grateful response, to
as full a cheer of applause as ever the walls of the house re-echoed to.
"On the stage on the stage!" shouted that portion of the audience who, occupying the same side of the house as myself, preferred having a better view of me; and to the stage I was accordingly hurried, down a narrow stair, through a side scene, and over half the corps de ballet, who were waiting for their entrée. Kicking, plunging, buffetting like a madman, they carried me to the "flats," when the manager led me forward to the foot-lights, my wreath of flowers contrasting rather ruefully with my bruised cheeks and torn habiliments. Human beings, God be praised, are only capable of certain efforts-so that one-half the audience were coughing their sides out, while the other were hoarse as bull-frogs from their enthusiasm, in less than five mi
"You'll have what my friend Rooney calls a choice bronchites for this, these three weeks," said I, "that's one comfort," as I bowed my way back to the 'practicable" door, through which I made my exit, with the thousand faces of the parterre shouting my name, or, as fancy dictated, that of one of my operas. I retreated behind the scenes, to encounter very nearly as much, and at closer quarters, too, as that lately sustained before the audience. After an embrace of two minutes' duration from the manager, I ran the gauntlet from the prima donna to the last triangle of the orchestra, who cut away a back button of my coat as a sou. venir.' During all this, I must confess, very little acting was needed on my part. They were so perfectly contented with their self-deception, that if I had made an affidavit before the mayor-if there be such a functionary in such an insane town-they would not have believed me. ried and exhausted at length, by all I had gone through, I sat down upon a bench, and, affecting to be overcome by my feelings, concealed my face in my handkerchief. This was the first moment of relief I experienced since my arrival; but it was not to last long, for the manager, putting down his head close to my ear, whispered
"Monsieur Meerberger, I have a surprise for you-such as you have not had for some time, I venture to say."
Yes, that she is," said the manager, rubbing his hands; "and my wife, too."
"Married!-Amelie Graudet married! No, no; it is impossible-I cannot believe it. But were it true true, mark me-for worlds would I not meet her."
"Comment et est drole," said the manager, soliloquizing aloud; "for my wife takes it much easier, seeing they never met each other since they were fifteen."
"Ho, ho!" thought I, "the affair is not so bad either-time makes great changes in that space. And does she still remember me?" said I, in a very Romeo-in-the-garden voice.
Why, so far as remembering the little boy that used to play with her in the orchard at her mother's cottage near Paria, and with whom she used to go boating upon the Elbe, I believe the recollection is perfect. But come along-she insists upon seeing you, and is this very moment waiting supper in our room for you."
"A thorough German she must be," thought I, "with her sympathies and her supper-her reminiscences and her Rhine wine hunting in couples through her brain."
Summoning courage from the fact of our long absence from each other, I followed the manager through a wilderness of pavilions, forests, clouds and cataracts, and at length arrived at
a little door, at which he knocked gently.
"Come in," said a soft voice inside. We opened, and beheld a very beautiful young woman, in Tyrolese costume. She was to perform in the afterpiece-her low boddice and short scarlet petticoat displaying the most perfect symmetry of form and roundness of proportion. She was dressing her hair before a low glass as we came in, and scarcely turned at our approach; but in an instant, as if some sudden thought had struck her, she sprung fully round, and looking at me fixedly for above a minute-a very trying one for me-she glanced at her husband, whose countenance plainly indicated that she was right, and calling out, "C'est lui c'est bien lui," threw herself into my arms, and sobbed convulsively.
"If this were to be the only fruits of my impersonation," thought I, "it is not so bad-but I am greatly afraid these good people will find out a wife and seven babies for me before morning."
Whether the manager thought enough had been done for stage effect I know not; but he gently disengaged the lovely Amelie, and deposited her upon a sofa, to a place upon which she speedily motioned me by a look from a pair of very seducing blue eyes.
François, mon cher, you must put off La Chammiere. I can't play tonight."
"Put it off! But only think of the audience, ma vie-they will pull down the house."
"C'est possible," said she, carelessly. "If that give them any pleasure, I suppose they must be indulged; but I, too, must have a little of my own way. I shall not play."
The tone this was said in-the look, the easy gesture of command-no less than the afflicted helplessness of the luckless husband, showed me that Amelie, however docile as a sweetheart, had certainly her own way as a wife.
While Le cher François then retired to make his proposition to the audience, of substituting something for the Chammiere-the sudden illness of Madame Baptiste having prevented her appearance we began to renew our old acquaintance, by a thousand inquiries from that long passed time, when we were sweethearts and lovers.
"You remember me, then, so well?" said I.
"As of yesterday. You are much taller, and your eyes darker; but still-there is something. You know, however, I have been expecting to see you these two days; and tell me frankly, how do you find me looking?" "More beautiful, a thousand times more beautiful than ever-all save in one thing, Amelie." "And that is"You are married." "How you jest! back. Do you ever our old compacts?"
But let us look think on any of Here she pulled a leaf from a rose-bud in her bouquet, and kissed it. I wager you have forgotten that.'
How I should have replied to this masonic sign, God knows; but the manager fortunately entered, to assure us that the audience had kindly consented not to pull down the house, but to listen to a five-act tragedy instead, in which he had to perform the principal character. So, then, don't wait supper, Amelie; but take care of Monsieur Meerberger till my return.'
Thus once more were we left to our souvenirs, in which, whenever hard pushed myself, I regularly carried the war into the enemy's camp, by allusions to incidents, which, I need not observe, had never occurred. After a thousand stories of our early loves, mingled with an occasional sigh over their fleeting character-now indulging a soft retrospect of the once happy past-now moralising on the future—
Amelie and I chatted away the hours till the conclusion of the tragedy.
By this time, the hour was approaching for my departure; so, after a very tender leave-taking with my new friend and my old lover, I left the theatre, and walked slowly along to the river.
"So much for early associations," thought I; "and how much better pleased are we ever to paint the past according to our own fancy, than to remember it as it really was. Hence all the insufferable cant about happy infancy, and the glorious schoolboy days,' which have generally no more foundation in fact than have the Chateaux en Espagne' we builded up for the future. I wager that the real Amant d'Enfance, when he arrives, is not half so great a friend with the fair Amelie as his unworthy shadow. At the same time, I had just as soon that Lady Jane should have no 'premiers amours' to look back upon, except such as I have performed a character in."
The plash of oars near me broke up my reflections, and the next moment found me skimming the rapid Rhine, as I thought, for the last time. will they say in Strasbourg to-morrow? How will they account for the mysterious disappearance of Monsieur Meerberger? Poor Amelie Graudet! For so completely had the late incidents engrossed my attention, that I had for the moment lost sight of the most singular event of all-how I came to be mistaken for the illustrious composer,
MARRYAT'S DIARY IN AMERICA.*
WERE we disposed to be captious upon the subject, we might ask why Captain Marryat has given the title of a diary to the volumes before us. By a diary we usually understand a daily record of the thoughts or observations of the writer, claiming, from the brief intervals in which impressions are noted after their being received, that title to credence and authenticity we accord to first impressions faithfully recorded. In this respect, however few the opportunities and short the comments of the author be, the vrai semblable of a narrative, written by an eye-witness at the moment when
the scenes are fresh and vivid in his recollection, has ever appeared to us to possess great advantages, and, of all others, to be eminently suited to the purposes of a tourist in his rapid ac◄ count of any foreign country.
The work before us does not fulfil, in this respect, the promise of its title, the writer making no more mention of "time and space" than are to be incidentally discovered in his pages. The "Diary" occupies one volume and a half
the remainder of the book is devoted to "remarks on the institutions of America ;" and this latter portion, which is for the most part made up of quota
* A Diary in America, with Remarks on its Institutions. By Capt. Marryat, C.B. &c. 3 vols. London: Longman & Co. 1832.
tions and observations upon the opinions of others, appears to us much the most valuable section of the work.
Captain Marryat sets out by informing us of his reasons for visiting America.
"The press was constantly pouring out works upon the new world, so contradictory to each other, and pronounced so unjust by the Americans, that my curiosity was excited. It appeared strange to me that travellers whose works showed evident marks of talent, should view the same people through such very different mediums; and that their gleanings should, generally speaking, be of such meagre
materials. Was there so little to be
remarked about America, its government, its institutions, and the effects which these had upon the people, that the pages of so many writers upon that country should be filled up with how the Americans dined or drank wine, and what descriptions of spoons and forks were used at table? Either the Americans remained purely and unchangedly English, as when they left their fatherland; or the question required more investigation and deeper research than travellers in their hasty movements had been able to bestow upon it. Whether I should be capable of throwing any new light upon the subject, I knew not, but at all events I made up my mind that I would visit the country and judge for myself."
Now here, at the very outset, are we ready to join issue with our author. In the first place we assert-and assert fearlessly, too-that, considering the many different aspects so vast a country is likely to present to travellers, themselves differing so importantly in station, objects, and opportunities for judging, less discrepancy exists among English writers upon the subject of America, than upon any other nation we know of. Taking the work by the author of Cyril Thornton as the best and most authentic we have
America, written in a fair spirit, by one more disposed to be pleased than seeking for causes of complaint, where are the great discrepancies and contradictions to be found between his opinions and those of Mrs. Trollope, Miss Martineau, and even Captain Marryat? Each have put forth, in their own way, the strong features of the land-its unceasing activity-its restless energy-its inexhaustible resources each has pictured a state of society upon which the principle of equality has so stamped itself, that
the differences of talent and ability of one man above his fellow are not recognised or acknowledged, except that thereby some political principle be asserted, or some prospect of gain held out.
The energetic boldness-the untiring industry-the all-absorbing egotism of the American, as, with rude speech and ruder gesture, he would attempt to measure the unformed and still fermenting population of his own country, with the civilised habits and in other states, is (however unwilling more regulated manners which prevail the testimony) the only one on record of America. The thirst for gainthe overweening vanity in a form of government, which, however suited to the exigencies of a new and unsettled population, presents no flattering promise for the future-the unmeasured contempt for customs and opinions, on which they are incompetent to pronounce the fatal mistake, that licence is liberty, and rudeness of speech independence of spirit the indifference and neglect of all the arts, save those by which money can most rapidly be acquired, have but one testimony, and that is every work that issues from the press on the subject of America.
When you come to consider a state of society in which "every man is great in proportion to his riches"-where "the only compensation for services is money"-the only distinction is wealth-where there are few men of leisure, and where the tastes and habits of those few are, however cultivated and enlightened, rather kept in abeyance than displayed-savouring, as they are supposed to do, of aristocratic leanings-where the wealth which is the acquisition of five years forms the passport for admission into any circle-you can form some idea of a land which puts itself forward as a model for the world, and boasts that its institutions have attained to All is transition-the perfection. waves follow one another to the far west-the froth and scum boiling in the advance.
To " write upon America" as a nation, Captain Marryat well observes, "would be absurd"-it is not "but to consider it in its present chaotic state, is well worth the labour." In this opinion we perfectly concur, and would as soon think of regarding as "national" the riotous and disorderly conduct of an Irish mob, issu