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Chapter 39

He is involved in an Adventure at Paris, and taken prisoner by the City Guard — Becomes acquainted with a French Nobleman, who introduces him in the Beau Monde.

They were no sooner settled in these lodgings, than our hero wrote to his uncle an account of their safe arrival, and sent another letter to his friend Gauntlet, with a very tender billet inclosed for his dear Emilia, to whom he repeated all his former vows of constancy and love.

The next care that engrossed him was that of bespeaking several suits of clothes suitable to the French mode; and, in the mean time, he never appeared abroad, except in the English coffee-house, where he soon became acquainted with some of his own countrymen, who were at Paris on the same footing with himself. The third evening after his journey, he was engaged in a party of those young sparks, at the house of a noted traiteur, whose wife was remarkably handsome, and otherwise extremely well qualified for alluring customers to her house. To this lady our young gentleman was introduced as a stranger fresh from England; and he was charmed with her personal accomplishments, as well as with the freedom and gaiety of her conversation. Her frank deportment persuaded him that she was one of those kind creatures who granted favours to the best bidder: on this supposition he began to be so importunate in his addresses, that the fair bourgeoise was compelled to cry aloud in defence of her own virtue. Her husband ran immediately to her assistance, and finding her in a very alarming situation, flew upon her ravisher with such fury, that he was fain to quit his prey, and turn against the exasperated traiteur, whom he punished without mercy for his impudent intrusion. The lady, seeing her yoke-fellow treated with so little respect, espoused his cause, and, fixing her nails in his antagonist’s face, sacrificed all one side of his nose. The noise of this encounter brought all the servants of the house to the rescue of their master; and Peregrine’s company opposing them, a general battle ensued, in which the French were totally routed, the wife insulted, and the husband kicked downstairs.

The publican, enraged at the indignity which had been offered to him and his family, went out into the street, and implored the protection of the guet, or city guard, which, having heard his complaint, fixed their bayonets and surrounded the door, to the number of twelve or fourteen. The young gentlemen, flushed with their success, and considering the soldiers as so many London watchmen whom they had often put to flight, drew their swords, and sallied out, with Peregrine at their head. Whether the guard respected them as foreigners, or inexperienced youths intoxicated with liquor, they opened to right and left, and gave them room to pass without opposition. This complaisance, which was the effect of compassion, being misinterpreted by the English leader, he, out of mere wantonness, attempted to trip up the heels of the soldier that stood next him, but failed in the execution, and received a blow on his breast with the butt-end of a fusil, that made him stagger several paces backward. Incensed at this audacious application, the whole company charged the detachment sword in hand and, after an obstinate engagement, in which divers wounds were given and received, every soul of them was taken, and conveyed to the main-guard. The commanding officer being made acquainted with the circumstances of the quarrel, in consideration of their youth and national ferocity, for which the French make large allowances, set them all at liberty, after having gently rebuked them for the irregularity and insolence of their conduct; so that all our hero acquired by his gallantry and courage, was a number of scandalous marks upon his visage that confined him a whole week to his chamber. It was impossible to conceal this disaster from Mr. Jolter, who, having obtained intelligence of the particulars, did not fail to remonstrate against the rashness of the adventure, which, he observed, must have been fatal to them, had their enemies been other than Frenchmen, who, of all people under the sun, most rigorously observe the laws of hospitality.

As the governor’s acquaintance lay chiefly among Irish and English priests, and a set of low people who live by making themselves necessary to strangers, either in teaching the French language, or executing small commissions with which they are intrusted, he was not the most proper person in the world for regulating the taste of a young gentleman who travelled for improvement, in expectation of making a figure one day in his own country. Being conscious of his own incapacity, he contented himself with the office of a steward, and kept a faithful account of all the money that was disbursed in the course of their family expense: not but that he was acquainted with all the places which were visited by strangers on their first arrival at Paris; and he knew to a liard what was commonly given to the Swiss of each remarkable hotel; though, with respect to the curious painting and statuary that everywhere abounded in that metropolis, he was more ignorant than the domestic that attends for a livre a day.

In short, Mr. Jolter could give a very good account of the stages on the road, and save the expense of Antonini’s detail of the curiosities in Paris: he was a connoisseur in ordinaries, from twelve to five-and-thirty livres, knew all the rates of fiacre and remise, could dispute with a tailleur or a traiteur upon the articles of his bill, and scold the servants in tolerable French. But the laws, customs, and genius of the people, the characters of individuals, and scenes of polished life, were subjects which he had neither opportunities to observe, inclination to consider, nor discernment to distinguish. All his maxims were the suggestions of pedantry and prejudice; so that his perception was obscured, his judgment biased, his address awkward, and his conversation absurd and unentertaining: yet such as I have represented this tutor, are the greatest part of those animals who lead raw boys about the world, under the denomination of travelling governors. Peregrine, therefore, being perfectly well acquainted with the extent of Mr. Jolter’s abilities, never dreamt of consulting him in the disposition of his conduct, but parcelled out his time to the dictates of his own reflection, and the information and direction of his companions, who had lived longer in France, and consequently were better acquainted with the pleasures of the place.

As soon as he was in a condition to appear a la Francaise, he hired a genteel chariot by the month, made the tour of the Luxembourg gallery, Palais Royal, all the remarkable hotels, churches, and celebrated places in Paris; visited St. Cloud, Marli, Versailles, Trianon, St. Germaine, and Fountainebleau, enjoyed the opera, Italian and French comedy; and seldom failed of appearing in the public walks, in hopes of meeting with Mrs. Hornbeck, or some adventure suited to his romantic disposition. He never doubted that his person would attract the notice of some distinguished inamorata, and was vain enough to believe that few female hearts were able to resist the artillery of his accomplishments, should he once find an opportunity of planting it to advantage. He pr............

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