You tell him that they are not similar to the pattern, and he answers, “That may be; nevertheless, his goods are of the newest fashion, and infinitely superior to your model.” You say, “You prefer the colour of your pattern, and must match it.” He produces half-a-dozen pieces still more unlike what you require; and to your renewed assertion that no colour but the one similar to your pattern will suit you, he assures you, that his goods are superior to all others, and that what you require is out of fashion, and a very bad article, and, consequently, that you had much better abandon your taste and adopt his. This counsel is given without any attempt at concealing the contempt the giver of it entertains for your opinion, and the perfect satisfaction he indulges for his own.
You once more ask, “If he has got nothing to match the colour you require?” and he shrugs his shoulders and answers, “Pourtant, madame, what I have shewn you is much superior,” “Very possible; but no colour will suit me but this one,” holding up the pattern; “for I want to replace a breadth of a new dress to which an accident has occurred.”
“Pourtant, madame, my colours are precisely the same, but the quality of the materials is infinitely better!” and with this answer, after having lost half an hour—if not double that time—you are compelled to be satisfied, and leave the shop, its owner looking as if he considered you a person of decidedly bad taste, and very troublesome into the bargain.
Similar treatment awaits you in every shop; the owners having, as it appears to me, decided on shewing you only what they approve, and not what you seek. The women of high rank in France seldom, if ever, enter any shop except that of Herbault, who is esteemed the modiste, par excellence, of Paris, and it is to this habit, probably, that the want of bienseance so visible in Parisian boutiquiers, is to be attributed.
An agreeable party dined here yesterday—Lord Stuart de Rothesay, our Ambassador, the Duc and Duchesse de Guiche, the Duc de Mouchy, Sir Francis Burdett, and Count Charles de Mornay. Lord Stuart de Rothesay is very popular at Paris, as is also our Ambassadress; a proof that, in addition to a vast fund of good-nature, no inconsiderable portion of tact is conjoined—to please English and French too, which they certainly do, requires no little degree of the rare talent of savoir-vivre.
To a profound knowledge of French society and its peculiarities, a knowledge not easily acquired, Lord and Lady Stuart de Rothesay add the happy art of adopting all that is agreeable in its usages, without sacrificing any of the stateliness so essential in the representatives of our more grave and reflecting nation.
Among the peculiarities that most strike one in French people, are the good-breeding with which they listen, without even a smile, to the almost incomprehensible attempts at speaking French made by many strangers, and the quickness of apprehension with which they seize their meaning, and assist them in rendering the sense complete.