Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 8, No. 50, December, 1861

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Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 8, No. 50,
December, 1861

The Project Gutenberg EBook of Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 8, No. 50,
1861, by Various This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no
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Title: Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 8, No. 50, December, 1861
Author: Various
Release Date: March 9, 2004 [EBook #11524]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1
MONTHLY, NO. 50 ***

Produced by Joshua Hutchinson, Tonya Allen and PG Distributed


After General Lafayette's visit to the United States, in 1824, every

American who went to France went with a firm conviction that he had a
right to take as much as he chose of the old gentleman's time and
hospitality, at his own estimate of their value. Fortunately, the number
of travellers was not great in those days, although a week seldom
passed without bringing two or three new faces to the Rue d'Anjou or
La Grange. It was well both for the purse and the patience of the
kind-hearted old man that ocean steamers were still a doubtful problem,
and first-class packets rarely over five hundred tons.
It could hardly be expected that a boy of sixteen should have more
discretion than his elders; and following the universal example of my
countrymen, the first use that I made of a Parisian cabriolet was to
drive to No. 6, Rue d'Anjou. The _porte cochère_ was open, and the
porter in his lodge,--a brisk little Frenchman, somewhat past middle
age, with just bows enough to prove his nationality, and very
expressive gestures, which I understood much better than I did his
words; for they said, or seemed to say,--"The General is out, and I will
take charge of your letter and card." There was nothing else for me to
do, and so, handing over my credentials, I gave the rest of the morning
to sightseeing, and, being a novice at it and alone, soon got tired and
returned to my hotel.
I don't know how that hotel would look to me now; but to my untrained
eyes of that day it looked wonderfully fine. I liked the name,--the Petit
Hôtel Montmorenci,--for I knew enough of French history to know that
Montmorenci had always been a great name in France. Then it was the
favorite resort of Americans; and although I was learning the phrases in
Blagdon as fast as I could, I still found English by far the most
agreeable means of communication for everything beyond an appeal to
the waiter for more wood or a clean towel. Table d'Hôte, too, brought
us all together, with an abundant, if not a rich, harvest of personal
experiences gathered during the day from every quarter of the teeming
city. Bradford was there with his handsome face and fine figure,--an
old resident, as it then seemed to me; for he had been abroad two years,
and could speak what sounded to my ears as French-like as any French
I had ever heard. Poor fellow! scarce three years had passed when he
laid him down to his last sleep in a convent of Jerusalem, without a
friend to smooth his pillow or listen to his last wishes. Of most of the
others the names have escaped me; but I shall never forget how wide I

opened my eyes, one evening, at the assertion of a new-comer, that he
had done more for the enlightenment of France than any man living or
dead. The incomparable gravity with which the assertion was made
drew every eye to the speaker, who, after enjoying our astonishment for
a while, told us that he had been the first to send out a whaler from
Havre, and had secured almost a monopoly of the oil-trade. Some years
afterwards I made a passage with his brother, and learned from him the
history of this Yankee enterprise, which had filled two capacious purses,
and substituted the harpoon for the pruning-knife, the whale-ship for
the olive-orchard, in the very stronghold of the emblem of peace; and
now the collier with his pickaxe has driven them both from the field.
But the Petit Hotel Montmorenci did not wait for the change. Its broad
court was never enlivened by gas. Its tables and mantels were decked to
the last hour with the alabaster whiteness of those pure wax tapers
which shed such a soft light upon your book, and grew up into such
formidable items in your bills. A long passage--one of those
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