I think I can see the precise and distinguishing marks of national characters more in these nonsensical minutiœ, than in the most important matters of state; where great men of all nations talk and stalk so much alike, that I would not give ninepence to chuse amongst them.

I was so long in getting from under my barber’s hands, that it was too late of thinking of going with my letter to Madame R*** that night: but when a man is once dressed at all points for going out, his reflections turn to little account; so taking down the name of the Hotel de Modene1 where I lodged, I walk’d forth without any determination where to go—I shall consider of that, said I, as I walk along.

The Pulse


Hail ye small sweet courtesies of life, for smooth do ye make the road of it! like grace and beauty, which beget inclinations to love at first sight; ’tis Ye who open this door, and let the stranger in.

—Pray, Madame, said I, have the goodness to tell me which way I must turn to go to the Opera comique:—Most willingly, Monsieur, said she, laying aside her work—

I had given a cast with my eye into half a dozen shops as I came along in search of a face not likely to be disordered by such an interruption, till at last, this hitting my fancy, I had walk’d in.

She was working a pair of ruffles as she sat in a low chair on the far side of the shop facing the door—

Tres volontiers; most willingly, said she, laying her work down upon a chair next her, and rising up from the low chair she was sitting in, with so chearful a movement and so chearful a look, that had I been laying out fifty louis d’ors with her, I should have said—“This woman is grateful.”

You must turn, Monsieur, said she, going with me to the door of the shop, and pointing the way down the street I was to take—you must turn first to your left hand—mais prenez garde—there are two turns; and be so good as to take the second—then go down a little way and you’ll see a church, and when you are pass’d it, give yourself the trouble to turn directly to the right, and that will lead you to the foot of the pont neuf, which you must cross—and there, any one will do himself the pleasure to shew you—

She repeated her instructions three times over to me with the same good natur’d patience the third time as the first—and if tones and manners have a meaning, which certainly they have, unless to hearts which shut them out—she seem’d really interested, that I should not lose myself.

I will not suppose it was the Woman’s beauty, notwithstanding she was the handsomest Grisset, I think, I ever saw, which had much to do with the sense I had of her courtesy; only I remember, when I told her how much I was obliged to her, that I look’d very full in her eyes,—and that I repeated my thanks as often as she had done her instructions.

I had not got ten paces from the door, before I found I had forgot every tittle of what she had said—so looking back and seeing her still standing in the door of the shop as if to look whether I went right or not—I returned back to ask her whether the first turn was to my right or left—for that I had absolutely forgot—Is it possible! said she, half laughing—’Tis very possible, replied I, when a man is thinking more of a Woman, than of her good advice.

As this was the real truth—she took it, as every Woman takes a matter of right, with a slight courtesy.

Attendez! said she, laying her hand upon my arm to detain me, whilst she call’d a lad out of the back- shop, to get ready a parcel of gloves—I am just going to send him, said she, with a packet into that quarter, and if you will have the complaisance to step in, it will be ready in a moment, and he shall attend you to the place.—So I walk’d in with her to the far side of the shop, and taking up the ruffle in my hand

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