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long enough for a letter. Six days have we been coming hither, which other people do in two: they have not been disagreeable ones; through a fine, open country, admirable roads and in an easy conveyance; the inns not absolutely intolerable, and images quite unusual presenting themselves on all hands. At Amiens we saw the fine cathedral, and eat pat<5 de perdix; passed through the park of Chantilly by the duke of Bourbon's palace, which we only beheld as we passed; broke down at Lausarche; siopped at St. Denis, saw all the beautiful monuments of the kings of France, and the vast treasures of the abbey, rubies, and emeralds as big as small eggs, crucifixes and vows, crowns and reliquaires, of inestimable value; but 'of all their curiosities the thing the most to our tastes, and which they indeed do the justice to esteem the glory of their collection, was a vase of an entire onyx, measuring at least five inches over, three deep, and of great thickness. It is at leasj: two thousand years old, the beauty of the stone and the sculpture upon it (representing the mysteries of Bacchus) beyond expression admirable; we have dreamed of it ever since. The jolly old Benedictine, that showed us the treasures had in his youth been ten years a soldier; he laugh
ed at all the relics, was very full of stories, and mighty obliging. On Saturday evening we got to Paris, and were driving through the streets a long while before we knew where we were. The minute we came, voiia Milors Jloldernesse, Conway, and his brother; all stayed supper, and till two o'clock in the morning, lor here nobody ever sleeps; it is not the way. Next day go to dine at my lord HoldernC'-se's, there was the Abbe Prevut, author of the Cleveland, and several other pieces much esteemed: the rest were English. At night we went to the Paniiore; a spectacle literally, for it is nothingtwt a beautiful piece of machinery of three scenes. The first represents the chaos, and by degrees the separation of the elements: the second, the temple of Jupiter, and the giving of the box to Pandora: the third, the opening of the box, and all the mischi*fs that ensued. An absurd design, but executed in the highest perfection, and that in one of the tinest theatres in the world; it is the grande salle des machines in the palais des Tuilleries. Next day dined at lord Waldegrave's: then to the opera. Imagine to yourself for the drama four acts* entirely unconnected with each other, each founded on some little history, skilfully taken out of an ancient author, e g. Ovid's Metamorphoses, &c. and with great address converted into a French piece of gallantry. For instance, that which 1 saw, called the Ballet de la Paix, had its first act built upon the story of Nireus. Homer having said that he was the handsomest man of his time, the poet, imagining such a one could not want a mistress, has given him one. These two come in and sing sentiment in lamentable strains, neither air nor recitative; only, to one's great joy, they are every now and then interrupted by a dance, or (to one's great sorrow) by a chorus that borders the stage from one end to the other, and screams, past all power of simile to represent. The second act was Baucis and Philemon. Baucis is a beautiful young shepherdess, and Philemon her swain. Jupiter falls in love with her, but nothing will prevail upon her; so it is all mighty well, and the chorus sing and dance the praises of Constancy. The two other acts were about lphis and lanthe, and the judgment of Paris. Imagine, I say, all this transacted by cracked voices, trilling divisions upon two notes and a half, accompanied by an orchestra of humstrums, and a roL. iv. 4
* The French opera has only three acts, but often a prologue on A different subject, which (as Mr. Walpole informs me, who saw it at the same time) was the case in this very representation.
, whole house more attentive than if Farinelli sung, and you will almost have formed a just notion of the thing. Our astonishment at their absurdity you can never conceive; we had enough to do to express it by screaming an hour louder than the whole dramatis personae. We have also seen twice the Comedie Françoise; first, the Mahomet Second, a tragedy that has had a great run of late; and the thing itself does not want its beauties, but the actors are beyond measure delightful. Mademoiselle Gaussin (M. Voltaire's Zara) has with a charming (though little) person the most pathetic tone of voice, the finest expression in her face, and most proper action imaginable. There is also a Dufrêne, who did the chief character, a handsome man and a prodigious fine actor. The second we saw was the Philosophe marié, and here they performed as well in comedy; there is a Mademoiselle Quinault, somewhat in Mrs. Clive's way, and a Monsieur Grandval, in the nature of Wilks, who is the genteelest thing in the world. There are several more would be much admired in England, and many (whom we have not seen) much celebrated here. Great part of our time is spent in seeing churches and palaces full of fine pictures, &c. the quarter of which is
not yet exhausted. For my part, I could entertain myself this month merely with
the common streets and the people in them. * * *
Paris, May 22, 1739. AFTER the little particulars aforesaid I should have proceeded to a journal of our transactions for this week past, should have carried you post from hence to Versailles, hurried you through the gardens to Trianon, back again to Paris, so away to Chantilly. But the fatigue is perhaps more than you can bear, and moreover I think I have reason to stomach your last piece of gravity. Supposing you were in your soberest mood I am sorry you should think me capable of ever being so dissipé, so evaporé, as not to be in a condition of relishing any thing you could say to me. And now, if you have a mind to make your peace with me, arouse ye from your megrims and your melancholies, and (for exercise is good for you) throw away your night-cap, call for your jack