« AnteriorContinuar »
and princes, it cannot be but those which are their servants must be one degree at the least below the lowest condition. This French sauciness had drawn me out of my way. An impudent familiarity, which I must confess did much offend me, and to which I will still profess myself an open enemy. Though Jack speak French, I cannot endure that Jack should be a gentleman.
The present French, then, is nothing but an old Gaul, moulded into a new name; as rash he is as headstrong, and as hair-brained. A nation whom you shall win with a feather, and lose with a straw; upon the first sight of him you shall have him as familiar as your sleep, or the necessity of breathing; in one hour's conference you may endear him to you; in the second unbutton him; the third pumps, him dry of all his secrets, and he gives them you as faithfully as if you were his ghostly father, and bound to conceal them, sub sigillo confessionis; when you have learned this you may lay him aside, for he is no longer serviceable. If you have any humour in holding him in a further acquaintance, (a favour which he confesseth, and I believe him, he is unworthy of) himself will make the first separation. He has said over his lesson now unto you, and now must find out somebody else to whom to repeat it.
well; he is a garment whom I would
be loth to
wear above two days together, for in that time he
will be thread-bare.
Familiare est hominis omnia sibi
remittere, saith Velleius, of all, it holdeth most properly in this people. He is very kind-hearted to himself, and thinketh himself as free from wants, as he is full so much he hath in him the nature of a Chinois, that he thinketh all men blind but himself. In this private self-conceitedness he hateth the Spaniard, loveth not the English, and contemneth the German himself is the only courtier and complete gentleman; but it is his own glass which he seeth in. Out of this conceit of his own excellency, and partly out of shallowness of brain, he is very liable to exceptions; the least distaste that can be draweth his sword, and a minute's pause sheatheth it to your hand: afterwards, if you beat him into better manners, he shall take it kindly and cry serviteur. In this one thing they are wonderfully like the devil; meekness or submission makes them insolent, a little resistance putteth them to their heels, or makes them your spaniels. In a word (for I have held him too long) he is a walking vanity in a new fashion.
I will give you now a taste of his table, which you shall find in a measure furnished, (I speak not of the peasant) but not with so full a manner as with us. Their beef they cut out into such chops, that that which goeth there for a laudable dish would be thought here a university commons, new served from the hatch. A loin of mutton serves amongst
them for three roastings, besides the hazard of making potage with the rump. Fowl also they have id good plenty; especially such as the king found in Scotland to say truth, that which they have is sufficient for nature and a friend, were it not for the mistress or the kitchen-wench. I have heard much fame of the French cooks; but their skill lieth not in the neat handling of beef or mutton. They have (as generally have all this nation) good fancies, and are special fellows for the making of puff pastes, and the ordering of banquets. Their trade is not to feed the belly, but the palate. It is now time you were set down, where the first thing you must do is to say your own grace; private graces are as ordinary there as private masses, and from thence I think they learn ed them. That done, fall to where you like best; they observe no method in their eating, and if you look for a carver you may rise fasting. When you are risen, if you can digest the sluttishness of the cookery, (which is most abominable at first sight) I dare trust you in a garrison; follow him to church, and there he will shew himself most irreligious and irreverent; I speak not of all, but the general. At a mass in Cordelier's church in Paris, I saw two French papists, even when the most 'sacred mys tery of their faith was celebrating, break out into such a blasphemous and atheistical laughter, that even an Ethnick would have hated it: it was well
they were known to be catholics, otherwise some French hot-head or other would have sent them
laughting to Pluto.
The French language is indeed very sweet and delectable; it is cleared of all harshness by the cutting and leaving out the consonants, which maketh it fall off the tongue very volubly: yet in mine opinion it is rather elegant than copious; and therefore is much troubled for want of words to find out periphrases. It expresseth very much of itself in the action; the head, body, and shoulders, concur all the pronouncing of it; and he that hopeth to speak it with a good grace, must have something in him of the mimic. It is enriched with a full number of significant proverbs, which is a great help to the French humour in scoffing, and very full of courtship, which maketh all the people complimental; the poorest cobler in the village hath his court cringes, and his eau bemste de cour, his court holy water, as perfectly as the prince of Condé.
In the passadoes of their courtship, they express themselves with much variety of gesture; and indeed it doth not misbecome them. Were it as graceful in the gentlemen of other nations as in them, it were worth your patience; but the affectation of it is scurvy and ridiculous. Quocumque salutationis artificio corpus inflectant, putes nihil istá institutione magis convenire. Vicinæ autem gentes ridiculo errore deceptæ,
ejusdem venustatis imitationem ludicram faciunt et in gratam as one happily cbserved at being amongst them. I have heard of a young gallant son to a great lord of one of the three British kingdoms, that spent some years in France to learn fashions; at his re turn he desired to see the king, and his father procured him an interview. When he came within the presence chamber he began to compose his head, and carried it as though he had been ridden with a martingale; next he fell to draw back his legs, and thrust out his shoulders, and that with such a graceless apishness, that the king asked him if he meant to shoulder him out of his chair; and so left him to act out his compliments to the hangings. In their courtship they bestow even their highest titles upon those of the lowest condition. This is the vice also of their common talk. The beggar begetteth monsieurs and madames to his sons and daughters, as familiarly as the king: were there no other reason to persuade me that the Welch or Britons were the descendants of the Gauls, this only were sufficient, that they would all be gentlemen.
His discourse runneth commonly on two wheels, treason and ribaldry; I never heard people talk less reverently of their prince, nor more saucily of his actions; scarce a day passeth away without some seditious pamphlet printed and published, in the dis
of the king or of some of his courtiers. These