It is seldom that virgins are seduced in France; the married women are the objects of the men of gallantry. The seduction of a young girl is punished with death; and when they fall, it is generally into the arms of their confessor,—and that is seldom disclosed. Auricular confession is big with many mischiefs, as well as much good. Where the penitent and the confessor happen both to be young, he makes her confess not only all her sins, but sinful thoughts, and then, I fear he knows more than his prudence can absolve decently, and even when the confessor is old, the penitent may not be out of danger.
Never ask a Frenchman his age; no question whatever can be more offensive to him, nor will he ever give you a direct, though he may a civil answer.—Lewis the XVth was always asking every man about him, his age. A King may take that liberty, and even then, it always gives pain.—Lewis the XIVth said to Comte de Grammont, “Je sais votre age, l’Eveque de Senlis qui a 84 ans, m’a donne pour epoque, que vous avez etudie ensemble dans la meme classe.” Cet Eveque, Sire, (replied the Comte,) n’accuse pas juste, car ni lui, ni moi n’avons jamais Etudie.—Before I knew how offensive this question was to a Frenchman, I have had many equivocal answers,—such as, O! mon dieu, as old as the town, or, I thank God, I am in good health, &c.
A modern French author says, that the French language is not capable of the jeux de mots. Les jeux de mots, are not, says he, in the genius de notre langue, qui est grave, de serieuse. Perhaps it maybe so; but the language, and the men, are then so different, that I thought quite otherwise,—though the following beautiful specimen of the seriousness of the language ought, in some measure; to justify his remark:
Un seul est frappe, & tous
Dieu frappe sons fils innocent, pour l’amour
Des hommes coupables, & pardonne aux hommes
Coupables, pour l’amour de son fils innocent.
All English women, as well as women of other nations, prefer France to their own country; because in France there is much less restraint on their actions, than there is, (should I not say, than there was?) in England. All Englishmen, however, who have young and beautiful wives, should, if they are not indifferent about their conduct, avoid a trip to Paris, &c. tho’ it be but for “a six weeks tour.” She must be good and wise too, if six weeks does not corrupt her mind and debauch her morals, and that too by her own sex, which is infinitely the most dangerous company. A French woman is as great an adept at laughing an English-woman into all contempt of fidelity to her husband, as married English-women are in general, in preparing them during their first pregnancy, for the touch of a man-midwife,—and both from the same motive; i.e. to do, as they have done, and bring all the sex upon a level.