Mademoiselle Delphine Gay is one of the agreeable proofs that genius is hereditary. I have been reading some productions of hers that greatly pleased me. Her poetry is graceful, the thoughts are natural, and the versification is polished. She is a very youthful authoress, and a beauty as well as a bel esprit. Her mother’s novels have beguiled many an hour of mine that might otherwise have been weary, for they have the rare advantage of displaying an equal knowledge of the world with a lively sensibility.
All Frenchwomen write well. They possess the art of giving interest even to trifles, and have a natural eloquence de plume, as well as de langue, that renders the task an easy one. It is the custom in England to decry French novels, because the English unreasonably expect that the literature of other countries should be judged by the same criterion by which they examine their own, without making sufficient allowance for the different manners and habits of the nations. Without arrogating to myself the pretension of a critic, I should be unjust if I did not acknowledge that I have perused many a French novel by modern authors, from which I have derived interest and pleasure.
The French critics are not loath to display their acumen in reviewing the works of their compatriots, for they not only analyze the demerits with pungent causticity, but apply to them the severest of all tests, that of ridicule; in the use of which dangerous weapon they excel.
House-hunting the greater part of the day. Oh the weariness of such an occupation, and, above all, after having lived in so delightful a house as the one we inhabit! Many of our French friends have come and told us that they had found hotels exactly to suit us: and we have driven next day to see them, when lo and behold! these eligible mansions were either situated in some disagreeable quartier, or consisted of three fine salons de reception, with some half-dozen miserable dormitories, and a passage-room by way of salle a manger.
Though Paris abounds with fine hotels entre cour et jardin, they are seldom to be let; and those to be disposed of are generally divided into suites of apartments, appropriated to different persons. One of the hotels recommended by a friend was on the Boulevards, with the principal rooms commanding a full view of that populous and noisy quarter of Paris. I should have gone mad in such a dwelling, for the possibility of reading, or almost of thinking, amidst such an ever-moving scene of bustle and din, would be out of the question.
The modern French do not seem to appreciate the comfort of quiet and seclusion in the position of their abodes, for they talk of the enlivening influence of a vicinity to these same Boulevards from which I shrink with alarm. It was not so in former days; witness the delightful hotels before alluded to, entre cour et jardin, in which the inhabitants, although in the centre of Paris, might enjoy all the repose peculiar to a house in the country. There is something, I am inclined to think, in the nature of the Parisians that enables them to support noise better than we can,—nay, not only to support, but even to like it.