I will only add, that the connection which arose out of the translation, gave me more pleasure than any one I had the honour to make in Italy.

The Dwarf5


I had never heard the remark made by any one in my life, except by one; and who that was, will probably come out in this chapter; so that being pretty much unprepossessed, there must have been grounds for what struck me the moment I cast my eyes over the parterre—and that was, the unaccountable sport of Nature in forming such numbers of dwarfs.—No doubt, she sports at certain times in almost every corner of the world; but in Paris, there is no end to her amusements—The goddess seems almost as merry as she is wise.

As I carried my idea out of the Opera comique with me, I measured every body I saw walking in the streets by it—Melancholy application! especially where the size was extremely little—the face extremely dark—the eyes quick—the nose long—the teeth white—the jaw prominent—to see so many miserables by force of accidents driven out of their own proper class into the very verge of another, which it gives me pain to write down—every third man a pigmy!—some by ricketty heads and hump backs—others by bandy legs—a third set arrested by the hand of Nature in the sixth and seventh years of their growth—a fourth, in their perfect and natural state, like dwarf apple-trees, from the first rudiments and stamina of their existence, never meant to grow higher.

A medical traveller might say, ’tis owing to undue bandages—a splenetick one, to want of air—and an inquisitive traveller, to fortify the system, may measure the height of their houses—the narrowness of their streets, and in how few feet square in the sixth and seventh stories such numbers of the Bourgoisie eat and sleep together; but I remember, Mr. Shandy the elder, who accounted for nothing, like any body else—in speaking one evening of these matters—averred that children like other animals might be increased almost to any size, provided they came right into the world; but the misery was, the citizens of Paris were so coop’d up, that they had not actually room enough to get them—I do not call it getting any thing, said he—’tis getting nothing—Nay, continued he, rising in his argument, ’tis getting worse than nothing, when all you have got, after twenty or five and twenty years of the tenderest care and most nutritious aliment bestowed upon it, shall not at last be as high as my leg. Now, Mr. Shandy being very short, there could be nothing more said upon it.

As this is not a work of reasoning, I leave the solution as I found it, and content myself with the truth only of the remark, which is verified in every lane and by-lane of Paris. I was walking down that which leads from the Carousal to the Palais Royal, and observing a little boy in some distress at the side of the gutter which ran down the middle of it, I took hold of his hand and help’d him over; upon turning up his face to look at him after, I perceived he was about forty—Never mind, said I; some good body will do as much for me when I am ninety.

I feel some little principles within me, which incline me to be merciful towards this poor blighted part of my species who have neither size or strength to get on in the world—I cannot bear to see one of them trod upon; and had scarce got seated beside my old French officer, ere the disgust was exercised, by seeing the very thing happen under the box we sat in.

At the end of the Orchestra, and betwixt that, and the first side-box, there is a small esplanade left, where, when the house is full, numbers of all ranks take sanctuary: though you stand, as in the parterre, you pay the same price as in the orchestra. A poor defenceless being of this order had got thrust some how or other into this luckless place—the night was hot; and he was surrounded by Beings two feet and a half higher than himself. The dwarf suffered inexpressibly on all sides; but the thing which incommoded him most, was a tall corpulent German, near seven feet high, who stood directly betwixt him and all possibility of his seeing either the stage or the actors. The poor dwarf did all he could to get a peep at what was going forwards by seeking for some little opening betwixt the German’s arm and his body,

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter/page Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.