Je suis la mere de mon Dieu,
Et la gardienne de ce lieu[C].
The mother of my God am I,
And keep this house right carefully.
I have, however, borrowed Bocage’s Remarks upon the English nation, which serve to damp my spirit of criticism exceedingly: She had more opportunities than I for observation, not less quickness of discernment surely; and her stay in London was longer than mine in Paris.—Yet, how was she deceived in many points!
I will tell nothing that I did not see; and among the objects one would certainly avoid seeing if it were possible, is the deformity of the poor.—Such various modes of warping the human figure could hardly be observed in England by a surgeon in high practice, as meet me about this country incessantly.—I have seen them in the galleries and outer-courts even of the palace itself, and am glad to turn my eyes for relief on the Duke of Orleans’s pictures; a glorious collection! The Italian noblemen, in whose company we saw it, acknowledged with candour the good taste of the selection; and I was glad to see again what had delighted me so many years before: particularly, the three Marys, by Annibale Caracci; and Rubens’s odd conceit of making Juno’s Peacock peck Paris’s leg, for having refused the apple to his mistress.
The manufacture at the Gobelins seems exceedingly improved; the colouring less inharmonious, the drawing more correct; but our Parisians are not just now thinking about such matters; they are all wild for love of a new comedy, written by Mons. de Beaumarchais, and called, “Le Mariage de Figaro,” full of such wit as we were fond of in the reign of Charles the Second, indecent merriment, and gross immorality; mixed, however, with much acrimonious satire, as if Sir George Etherege and Johnny Gay had clubbed their powers of ingenuity at once to divert and to corrupt their auditors; who now carry the verses of this favourite piece upon their fans, pocket-handkerchiefs, &c. as our women once did those of the Beggar’s Opera.
We have enjoyed some very agreeable society here in the company of Comte Turconi, a Milanese Nobleman who, desirous to escape all the frivolous, and petty distinction which birth alone bestows, has long fixed his residence in Paris, where talents find their influence, and where a great city affords that unobserved freedom of thought and action which can scarcely be expected by a man of high rank in a smaller circle; but which, when once tasted, will not seldom be preferred to the attentive watchfulness of more confined society.
The famous Venetian too, who has written so many successful comedies, and is now employed upon his own Memoirs, at the age of eighty-four, was a delightful addition to our Coterie, Goldoni. He is garrulous, good-humoured, and gay; resembling the late James Harris of Salisbury in person not manner, and seems justly esteemed, and highly, by his countrymen.