A custom prevails in France, which is not practised in Italy, or in England, namely, les lettres de faire part, sent to announce deaths, marriages, and births, to the circle of acquaintances of the parties. This formality is never omitted, and these printed letters are sent out to all on the visiting lists, except relations, or very intimate friends, to whom autograph letters are addressed.
Another custom also prevails, which is that of sending bonbons to the friends and acquaintance of the accouchee. These sweet proofs d’amitie come pouring in frequently, and I confess I do not dislike the usage.
The godfather always sends the bonbons and a trinket to the mother of the child, and also presents the godmother with a corbeille, in which are some dozens of gloves, two or three handsome fans, embroidered purses, a smelling-bottle, and a vinaigrette; and she offers him, en revanche, a cane, buttons, or a pin—in short, some present. The corbeilles given to godmothers are often very expensive, being suited to the rank of the parties; so that in Paris the compliment of being selected as a godfather entails no trifling expense on the chosen. The great prices given for wedding trousseaux in France, even by those who are not rich, surprise me, I confess.
They contain a superabundance of every article supposed to be necessary for the toilette of a nouvelle mariee, from the rich robes of velvet down to the simple peignoir de matin. Dresses of every description and material, and for all seasons, are found in it. Cloaks, furs, Cashmere shawls, and all that is required for night or day use, are liberally supplied; indeed, so much so, that to see one of these trousseaux, one might imagine the person for whom it was intended was going to pass her life in some far-distant clime, where there would be no hope of finding similar articles, if ever wanted.
Then comes the corbeille de mariage, well stored with the finest laces, the most delicately embroidered pocket handkerchiefs, veils, fichus, chemisettes and canezous, trinkets, smelling-bottles, fans, vinaigrettes, gloves, garters; and though last, not least, a purse well filled to meet the wants or wishes of the bride,—a judicious attention never omitted.
These trousseaux and corbeilles are placed in a salon, and are exhibited to the friends the two or three days previously to the wedding; and the view of them often sends young maidens—ay, and elderly ones, too—away with an anxious desire to enter that holy state which ensures so many treasures. It is not fair to hold out such temptations to the unmarried, and may be the cause why they are generally so desirous to quit the pale of single blessedness.
Count Charles de Mornay dined here yesterday, en famille. How clever and amusing he is! Even in his liveliest sallies there is the evidence of a mind that can reflect deeply, as well as clothe its thoughts in the happiest language. To be witty, yet thoroughly good-natured as he is, never exercising his wit at the expense of others, indicates no less kindness of heart than talent.