The bishops in France are said to have had the most luxurious dinners imaginable on what were erroneously styled fast-days; and their cooks had such a reputation for their skill, that the having served a Monseigneur d’Eglise was a passport to the kitchens of all lovers of good eating. There are people so profane as to insinuate that the excellence at which the cooks arrived in dressing les diners maigres is one of the causes why Catholicism has continued to flourish; but this, of course, must be looked on as a malicious hint of the enemies to that faith which thus proves itself less addicted to indulgence in the flesh than are its decryers.
The more I observe Lady C—— the more surprised I am at the romantic feelings she still indulges, and the illusions under which she labours;—yes labours is the suitable word, for it can be nothing short of laborious, at her age, to work oneself into the belief that love is an indispensable requisite for life. Not the affection into which the love of one’s youth subsides, but the wild, the ungovernable passion peculiar to the heroes and heroines of novels, and young ladies and gentlemen recently emancipated from boarding-schools and colleges.
Poor Lady C——, with so many estimable qualities, what a pity it is she should have this weakness! She maintained in our conversation yesterday that true love could never be extinguished in the heart, and that even in age it burnt with the same fire as when first kindled. I quoted to her a passage from Le Brun, who says—“L’amour peut s’eteindre sans doute dans le coeur d’un galant homme; mais combien de dedommagements n’a-t-il pas alors a offrir! L’estime, l’amitie, la confiance, ne suffisent-elles pas aux glaces de la vieillesse?” Lady C—— thinks not.
Talking last night of ——, some one observed that “it was disagreeable to have such a neighbour, as he did nothing but watch and interfere in the concerns of others.”
“Give me in preference such a man as le Comte ——,” said Monsieur ——, slily, “who never bestows a thought but on self, and is too much occupied with that interesting subject to have time to meddle with the affairs of other people.”
“You are right,” observed Madame ——, gravely, believing him to be serious; “it is much preferable.”
“But surely,” said I, determined to continue the mystification, “you are unjustly severe in your animadversions on poor Monsieur ——. Does he not prove himself a true philanthropist in devoting the time to the affairs of others that might be usefully occupied in attending to his own?”
“You are quite right,” said Mrs. ——; “I never viewed his conduct in this light before; and now that I understand it I really begin to like him,—a thing I thought quite impossible before you convinced me of the goodness of his motives.”
How many Mrs. ——’s there are in the world, with minds ductile as wax, ready to receive any impression one wishes to give them! Yet I reproached myself for assisting to hoax her, when I saw the smiles excited by her credulity.