and I feel well-inclined to respect the peaceful tenor of a life, which likes not to be broken in upon, for the sake of obtaining riches, which when gotten must end only in the pleasure of counting them. A Frenchman who should make his fortune by trade tomorrow, would be no nearer advancement in society or situation: why then should he solicit, by arts he is too lazy to delight in the practice of, that opulence which would afford so slight an improvement to his comforts? He lives as well as he wishes already; he goes to the Boulevards every night, treats his wife with a glass of lemonade or ice, and holds up his babies by turns, to hear the jokes of Jean Pottage. Were he to recommend his goods, like the Londoner, with studied eloquence and attentive flattery, he could not hope like him that the eloquence he now bestows on the decorations of a hat, or the varnish of an equipage, may one day serve to torment a minister, and obtain a post of honour for his son; he could not hope that on some future day his flattery might be listened to by some lady of more birth than beauty, or riches perhaps, when happily employed upon a very different subject, and be the means of lifting himself into a state of distinction, his children too into public notoriety.
Emulation, ambition, avarice, however, must in all arbitrary governments be confined to the great; the other set of mortals, for there are none there of middling rank, live, as it should seem, like eunuchs in a seraglio; feel themselves irrevocably doomed to promote the pleasure of their superiors, nor ever dream of sighing for enjoyments from which an irremeable boundary divides them. They see at the beginning of their lives how that life must necessarily end, and trot with a quiet, contented, and unaltered pace down their long, straight, and shaded avenue; while we, with anxious solicitude, and restless hurry, watch the quick turnings of our serpentine walk; which still presents, either to sight or expectation, some changes of variety in the ever-shifting prospect, till the unthought-of, unexpected end comes suddenly upon us, and finishes at once the fluctuating scene. Reflections must now give way to facts for a moment, though few English people want to be told that every hotel here, belonging to people of condition, is shut out from the street like our Burlington-house, which gives a general gloom to the look of this city so famed for its gaiety: the streets are narrow too, and ill-paved; and very noisy, from the echo made by stone buildings drawn up to a prodigious height, many of the houses having seven, and some of them even eight stories from the bottom. The contradictions one meets with every moment likewise strike even a cursory observer—a countess in a morning, her hair dressed, with diamonds too perhaps, a dirty black handkerchief about her neck, and a flat silver ring on her finger, like our ale-wives; a femme publique, dressed avowedly for the purposes of alluring the men, with not a very small crucifix hanging at her bosom;—and the Virgin Mary’s sign at an alehouse door, with these words,