« PrécédentContinuer »
ART. VIII. New Letters from an English Traveller. Written ori.
ginally in French, by the Rev. Martin Sherlock, A. M. Chaplain to the Right Hon. the Earl of Bristol. Now translated into English by the Author. 8vo. 3 s. sewed. Nichols, &c. 1781. HIS is not the first time that we have had the honour of
introducing this sprightly, rambling Observer, this IrishEnglish Traveller, to the notice of our Readers.
In our Sixty-first volume (Rev. Dec. 1779, p. 461.), we gave a view of Mr. Sherlock's first publication of Letters from an English Traveller ;' and on that occasion, we delivered, pretty freely, our opinion of this volatile gentleman's merit as a writer. In our Sixty-third volume (No. for July last, p. 45), our Readers will find an account of an English translation of those Letters, from the original French, printed at Geneva: which translation, it appears, was not done by Mr. Sherlock himself, but by fome person unknown to the Author.
The New Letters, now before us, were originally published at Paris, as a Supplement to the first collection; and an account of them was given in the Appendix to our Sixty-second volume, p. 548; when we again took occasion to hazard a few remarks on our Author's lively turn, and flighty manner;- to which Article we now refer the curious Reader, who has, probably, forgotten what we then offered on the subject.
As a specimen of Mr. Sherlock's manner of tranflating himself, we shall here transcribe a passage or two from different parts of the volume:
Speaking of the inexhaustible variety of beauties which Italy offers to the enraptured eye of the traveller, he observes that • the lover of natural history, of antiquity, of politics, may find there perpetual enjoyments in the examination of the different governments, of the precious monuments of antiquity, and of the prodigious variety of natural productions. If a hundred men of parts travelled through Italy, if every one of them observed from himself, and if every one of them wrote a book upon the subject, they might make a hundred excellent books, of which no two would be alike; and the subject would be still new. A hundred others who should follow them might say an infinity of true and interesting things which never had been said before.'
There is no doubt that of an hundred excellent defcriptions of such a country as Italy (which has made so great a figure in history, and which still continues to stand as a principal object in the great picture of Europe), no two would be alike; but they would surely exhaust the subject : and it can hardly be expected that half the number would ever procure Readers,-or even Rea viewers.We hope the gentlemen will not publish in our time.
The following anecdote may be given as a specimen of the story-teiling powers of this ingenious Writer:
« The Count de Peltzer, an officer in the Prussian service, was the only son of a widow near fixty years old. He was handsome, brave to an excess, and deeply in love with Mademoiselle de Beníkow, She was in her eighteenth year, gentle, pretty, and born with an ex, treme sensibility. Her lover, just turned of twenty, was loved with a passion equal to his own, and the day was fixed to make them happy. It was the zoth of June, 1778.
• The Prussian troops are always ready to take the field; and the 17th of June, at ten o'clock at night, the Count's regiment received orders to march at midnight for Silesia. He was at Berlin, and his mistress at a country-house four leagues from the town. He set off consequently without seeing her; and he wrote to her from the first place where he stopped, that it was impoflible for him to live withoug her; that it was essential to his happiness that she should follow him immediately, and that they thould be married in Silesia. He wrote at the same time to her brother, who was his most intimate friend, to plead his cause with her parents. She set out then accompanied by this brother, and by her lover's mother. Never did the
ands of Brandenbourg appear fo heavy as to this charming girl; but at length the journey ended, and the arrived at the town of Herstadt; it was in the morning, and " Never," said her brother to me, my eyes fee a woman lovelier than my sister : the exercise of the journey had added to her bloom, and her eyes painted what passed in her heart.” But, О human prospects ! how deceitful are you! How near often is the moment of wretchedness to the moment of felicity! The carriage is stopped to let pass some soldiers, who, advancing with flow iteps, bore in their arms a wounded officer. The tender heart of the young lady was affected at the fight: The little suspected that it was her lover.
Some Austrian foragers had approached this town, and the young Coudt went out to repulse them. Burning to diftinguish himielf, he rushed with ardour before his troop, and fell the victim of his unhappy impetuosity.
• Todescribe to you the situation of this unfortunate young woman, would be to infult at once your heart and your imagination. Her lover is placed in his bed ; his mother is at his feet, and his mistress holds his hand.' " O Charlotce,” cried he, opening a dying eyehe wanted to speak; but his voice broke, and he melted into tears. His tone had pierced the soul of his mistress ; she lost her reason, and, “No, I will not survive you,” cried she, quite frantic, and seizing a sword. They disarmed her; and he made a sign with his hand that they should bring her to his þed-fide, She came; he grasped her arm; and after two painful efforts to speak, he says with a lob, • Live, my Charlotte, to comfort my mother,” and expires.
· P.S. I found this history so affecting, that it appeared to me to merit a place in my collection; and I believe that every feeling reader will thank me for it. I forgot to tell you, that, in the troop which made that sally, there were but two men wounded, and he alone killed. When I passed through Berlin, in July, 1779, the un. fortunate lady had not recovered her senses.'
Our Author's story of a young Ruffian traveller Thould be read by the young travellers of all countries :
my arrival at Senlis, at my return from Germany, I saw a genteel young man walking up and down before the gate of the inn. I addressed him. You seem, Sir, to come from Paris ? He did come froin Paris, and was returning to his own country, to Petersburg. Pray, Sir, did you itay long at Paris? Two years. And what do you say of that country of delights? Of alalinating delights ? replied he. Montesquieu says, that to make a Ruffiao feel, you must fiay him; and I thought in my own mind, that this one must have been well Aayed *. How did you find the men? Fulsome. The women? Dear. The wits? Gluttons. But why, says he, make use of such gentle terms? I have been robbed, betrayed, massacred. This traveller's heart, said I to myself, is full; and knowing that a Russian and a German talk better after a meal than before is, I invited him to supper, and he accepted it.
- Towards the end of the supper:
R. Did you know any women there? • E. Yes; I knew a great many modest women; and I never was happier than in their company.
. R. What, you think the French women amiable?
• E. More amiable and more interefling than the women of any other foreign country I have seen.
• R. Sir, you have seen them ill. They are a set of wicked, bawl. ing, peevith wretches; witty in gewgaws, not a grain of common sense, and so perfidious-
• E. They treated you ill?
• R. Treated me ill! my first mistress made a conquest of me ten days after my arrival, at a masquerade. She won me by a fingle speech; " You are charming,” I was then nineteen; she was precty; and this was the first time in my life that a pretty woman had faid those words to me, When a man says to a modest woman once, “ I love you,” the devil repeats it to her a hundred times. The devil repeated in my ear a thousand times that I was charming; and on this ground I fell desperately in love. However, I quirted this woman in a short time, because, beside that she was very foolish and very tiresome, I felt the neceslity of going out of her hands to go into those of a surgeon.
• When I mixed with the great world, I related the success of this amour; and they told me for consolation, that, beside my having been an infipid dupe, I had dishonoured myself by an attachment to a woman who did not belong to any of the theatres. I determined inftantly to repair this fault, and I connected myself immediately with a dancing-girl of the opera. She had the prettiest leg in Paris; a warm Provençal, lively, gay, and cutting capers from morning till night. She had so many calls on me, I mean for louis-d'ors, that the made me often remember the faying of Marshal Villars to Louis the Fourteenth : she wanted but three things, money, money, money, There was no end to her caprices; and, among others, I began to
This is a jeu de mots in the original; as, ecorché signifies both flayed and plundered.'
fufpe? suspect that she had one for my valet-de-chambre; but she foon cured me of this jealousy; for one evening, going into her room, I found her in the arms. of a young French officer. I demanded satisfaction of him on the instant'; and he gave me a thrust here, which put me in the hands of another surgeon for three months.
" I returned into the gay world, fully determined to be fage for the future; but they laughed at my fufferings; assured me that I was forming aftonishingly; that I should thine amazingly on my return into my own country, even by reciting the disasters that befel me; that there were no roses without thorns.--Ah! why had I not a friend to tell me, that the roses wither, and that the thorns remain
• E. - That the roses only bloom in the spring of life, and that the thorns continue during the whole winter?
• R. Being then conitantly in the temple of wantonnefs*, I once more yielded, and I took a third mistress. For my misfortune, she fung like an angel. If the other had a taper leg, this one's arms were perfect ; and when he threw them open to embrace me, singing,
O toi le seul objet que mon cæur ait au monde,
(O thou fole obje&t of my heart's desire,) I thought I should expire with pleasure. She was at once a Siren and a Circe; a dying eye, a beautiful skin, an enchanting sweetness, and an air of modesty that would have deceived Ulyffes. Her mother had been a dancer, and Miss was born behind the scenes; and from her infancy had learned to dance, to fing, to receive her mama's visitors, and to be present at their suppers. She had every thing in her favour ; birth, education, example, precept, experience, and I was in my twentieth year.
• As she had been regularly bred, the applied herself seriously to ruin me. The summit of art is to conceal art, and my mistress had attained this last degree of perfection. All her artifices were imperceptible, and it is only by reflecting on them in my melancholy retreat these eight months paft, that I have discovered them. She saw that I was diftruftful, and the never praised me. Did I look as if I thought I had faid something clever? She applauded it only by a scarce-perceivable smile, which gave a brightness to her eye, and made her appear at once beautiful and sincere. All my taites were consulted and anticipated. It was a contirtual round of gaiety, agreeableness, and variety ; public places, fuppers of girls and of wits, concerts, cards--She seemed to think only of me, and this appearance was real,
• The mother did not fail to praise daily the merits of her daughter; nor to season her panegyric with the bitterelt farcasms against her lifters of the opera. My Sophy,” faid she, “ is not like those wretched women that you see, who are all-who
She is discreet and gentle, and, thank God, educated in the right way." I am persuaded that she was discreet, for the poffeffed perfectly the genius of her trade, and thought solely of making her fortune.
• • A: the Green-soom of the Opera.'
« E. She cost you then a great deal of money?
• R. This it was that began to embarrass me. I had already got into debt, for I no longer dared to ak money of my father, who had complained heavily of my extravagance, and threatened to send me no more supplies. I mentioned this one day to my mistress ; “ What fignifies that ?" replied she, “ I have enough for us both ;" and saying these words, the went to her desk with a grace that I shall never forget, and took out of it a purse of a hundred louis, which he put into my hand, giving me at the same time a most delicious kiss. * E. Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes,
(I fear a Girl and a Greek when they make presents.) • R. I had forgot Virgil; my mistress had found me other studies ; I was affected by her behaviour and her kiss, and these words,
Travaillons, travaillons gaiment,
Et l'amour tiendra lieu d'argent *, fang with an expression that I cannot describe, appeared to me to contain so delicious a sentiment, and so just reasoning, that I thought no more either of my father or my creditors.
• The Provençal ruined me without thinking of any thing but her pleasures. This Parisian had no caprices, and had but one marked paflion; that was avarice. I gave her willingly, because she never asked any thing, but let all appear the effect of my liberality. Her mother, indeed, praised generosity a good deal. She had even reduced the four cardinal virtues to this single one; and at Christmas the proved to me that I ought to give her daughter a diamond necklace, for her new-year's gift. This was a serious affair; the price was thirty thousand livres. Milord , she told me, had given one to his mistress, who received three or four other men every day. The German Baron that I knew had also commanded one for his; a creature without sentiment, of a deplorable conduct ; but who, however, deserved to be paid by her lover, because he killed her with ennui. At length Me Thewed me, that the honour of Russia was con: cerned in it. I could not resist this argument, and I gave her the necklace without paying for it.
• I continued to labour gaily according to the maxim of my tender fair one, when my father-but, perhaps, I tire you
• E. No, Sir, you intereft me much.
• R. I have only a word add: my father not chusing any longer to support my extravagance, ceased to fupply me with money; and when it was clear that I had no more resources, the mak fell off, the prostitute remained, and the enchantress became a fury. After a most violent scene, of which I spare you the particulars, the fut the door in my face; and I have learned fince, chat, to get completely rid of me, the advised the jeweller, who furnished the necklace, to have me put in prison; and I am just now come out of Fort l'Evêque, where I remained eight months.'
Mr. Sherlock's reflection on the young Russian's unhappy adventures is very just : “ It were to be wilhed, says he, that a victim of this sort were placed at all the gates of Paris, to make * Let us labour gaily, and Love will supply the place of money? 4