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ingly obliged to go to Miss Williams's sober and learned party in all the tulle and tiffany of a robe purée. We were ushered into just such a room as that, in which one might suppose Mad. du Deffand received her coterie. A few wax lights dimly discovered its gloomy vastness; and “in the haze of distance," a row of large, dark bonnets, was visible, which, on a nearer approach, obviously gave shelter to as many intelligent, but not very blooming countenances. Small
Small groups of men recalling the hommes de lettres of old France, were scattered, in earnest conversation ; and tea and refreshments were serving round by a servant, who looked as wise, and literary as the rest of the party.
My celebrated hostess rose to receive me from her ponderous chair, which formed the centre of her circle, with as much graciousness and cordiality as can well be conceived. Every look was a welcome, every word an eulogium, and every tone as musical and as modulated as the most fastidious ear could desire. But oh ! Sylphs, nymphs, and Muses, and you, bright image of my youthful dreams, young, elegant, and amiable, Helen Maria Williams, did I at last find you in the bulky, formless, and faded old lady, who now stood before me! Although I ought to have expected this, I was not prepared for it. In spite of Mrs. Le Fanu's letters, written years before, I had not got a step farther than Bozzy's description : and when the high bred Miss Williams handed me, with true French ceremony, to the bergère at her right, and thus incorporated me with the learned ladies of her society, it required some minutes to recover from the shock of my disappointment. My frippery appearance, too, was such an anomaly in this demure and sober circle. What I would have given for a douilletle bien ouattée, or a coal-box bonnet to cover my bare head; (the identical head with which I had
appeared at Lady Cork's a few years before, and which I have worn, for divers reasons of convenience and economy, down to this very winter, 1828, when I find it more decent, though not quite so economical, to shelter it under the shade of a hat or a beret, afin de prendre mon parti). Let me add, that it is easier to take arms against twenty Popes, and Emperors of Austria, and stand the attacks of fifty Quarterlies, with the new reinforcement of Mr. L-to boot, than to stare the first symptom of a furrow in the face, and announce such an epoch without shrinking: thus then I fairly announce myself to be no longer what the Journal des Débats once so pleasantly called me, “ Cette jeune dame, qui a été jeune si long-tems."*
As neither wit, learning, nor age, exempts a French woman from the interests of the toilette, (and Madame Dacier herself was, I have no doubt, a petite maîtresse,) we had scarcely warmed into intimacy over the subject of Madame de Staël's new work on the Revolution (which, by the by, drew forth some very entertaining and characteristic anecdotes of that lady's recent residence in Paris, and her admiration for the Emperor of Russia, and the Duke of Wellington), when one of the ladies complimented me on my dress; it was said to be à la rigueur, for the season, and supposed to be from the fabrique of Le Roi. When I said that I made all my own dresses myself, exclamations from all sides poured in! Did ever any body make a dress, that did not serve her time to the mysteries of the craft ;
* " That young lady who has been so long young."
but, above all, a literary lady-an authoressa fenime savante, working at the needle! I soon set them right as to my learning, by the assurance, that, except a very little bog Latin picked up from a hedge schoolmaster in the wilds of Ireland, I knew nothing of any learning whatever ; that my authorship had originated in dire necessity; that being obliged to read and write books for many hours per day, I never talked of them; and that above all, “ Mon métier à moi, c'était d'étre femme;" and so the conversation took a very enjouée turn.
The amiable protestant Pope, and others of the gentlemen, enlarged our circle; and the hours passed away so lightly, that it was late when I left the dim rooms and clever circle of Helen Maria Williams, for the splendid and brilliant salon of our ex-Irish lady lieutenant, in the Faubourg St. Honoré, (by the by, one of the few vicequeens who have left behind them an indelible remembrance of virtues, that threw a lustre upon her high position, and of accomplishments that render it the fashion to be gifted, even in that land, where talent is but another word for proscription !) I cannot better close these recollec
tions of my acquaintance with Miss Williams, than by giving one, or two, of the many notes with which she honoured me, as being extremely illustrative of a certain pretty tone of cajolerie, which always flattered its object, without degrading the writer. “ Vous me flattez, coquin, mais n'importe ; flattez toujours."*
“ What poetical fictions did I indulge myself in, when I believed all Lady Morgan's kind promises, repeated with all her graces and enchantments, of returning soon to the Rue de Bondi. I feel quite disposed to bouder ; and yet Lady Morgan can instantly make her peace with me, by consenting to come with Sir Charles on Sunday next. I shall be extremely flattered, if I am not refused. Milles tendres complimens.
“ H. M. WILLIAMS." “ Thursday, Rue de Bondi.”
“ Miss H. M. Williams, lest she should not be so fortunate as to find Lady Morgan at home,
* “ You flatter me; but no matter, always flatter.”