Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

fellow-not very large, but perfect and unbroken. Feeling in those days they were little estimated, I sold them to a friend for less than I gave for them. These are the lessons a bric-à-brac hunter has to learn. I have since again and again offered him double what he gave. I take it, the very fact of my having done so induces him to shut them up in a cabinet, not being a great judge, and looking on ceramic art, I fancy, more as ornaments than art treasures. I trust I may have the good fortune to visit Copenhagen again. If so, my search will be one of no common eagerness, as doubtless in many a house and private home there must be more remaining. In addition to a china hunt, a visit to the battle-fields of Prussian or German Furioso, and the charming neighbourhood, will be a labour of love and interest.

CHAPTER XII.

PARIS-LONDON.

[ocr errors]

W E are now in Paris, for a brief séjour—then

to the great Babylon. I need say but a few words as regards either city in connection with bric-à-brac. All the English world, I take it, who are unacquainted with the former beautiful cityfor beautiful it is, spite of republicanism—had better cross the Channel and judge for themselves. A few things are wanting ; a thorough knowledge of the language, a good purse, calm temper, and a courteous manner. With these acquisitions for a brief stay, Paris as a capital has no rival. A knowledge of the language is not only desirable, but utterly necessary for real enjoyment. Not such a knowledge as most people imagine they have who say they speak French, and who, wishing for greengages, ask for “Gages Verts,” and being corrected, say, “What, do you

call them "rainy clouds'"?—which is a fact. Money is wanted, because the price of the necessaries of life is enhanced even to the charging of twelve francs for an ordinary duck or fowl; temper, because no Frenchman, save he be a French gentleman, allows you to have the slightest opinion of your own, even in the purchase of a pair of gloves; and courtesy, inasmuch as a calm, courteous demeanour in the long run subdues the insolence even of a human bear.

One of the principal reasons, I take it, for the capital of France increasing in embellishment, cleanliness, and cheerfulness, made doubly so by the verdure of trees in all its streets and Boulevards during the summer, is simply, that to a Frenchman Paris is his world, a real earthly Paradise, his home, his mistress, his adoration. He goes to the seaside, “ les Eaux” in due season, because not to go is to be nobody. It is the fashion, and here, as elsewhere, that odious and undefinable word carries the day; but he is as wretched at "les Eaux" as a lover who is absent from her he loves, and is never happy till he returns to the

[ocr errors]

mistress of his heart, called Paris. London is quite another city, grand, magnificent in wealth and man's labour. Her parks, the most splendid in the world, women, horses and equipages, men if you will it, when, assembled during what is termed the season, immensely superior to all beyond the Channel which divides us from the Continent of Europe. But London, to all save those who are actually engaged in business, is a mere séjour of pleasure, or of fashion-fashion again—or temporary habits. There are not, I am satisfied, many thousands, in that city of millions, who do not yearn to fly to the green fields, parks, and pleasures of the country in midsummer time, and the sports and home comforts of a country house, and enjoyments of a family circle in mid-winter. Thus, for all they care, Leicester Square might have remained neglected, or any other square be a courtyard; being there, they like to see the Parks bright and well filled, the streets bustling and well lighted, the shops gay; but it is not their world or their Paradise. That is found only in the home circle, whether in a castle in the centre of a noble

2

park, such as England can only show in perfecfection, or equally so in a rose or honeysucklecovered cottage, far from the smoke of the city, or the turmoil of money-gaining and money-losing. As regards bric-à-brac Paris, as London—and I speak of them together—abounds. There are many, very many, highly respectable and rich administrators to the public taste as regards ceramic excellence, and bric-à-brac as an “olla podrida.” For the most part, dealers in bric-à-brac are children of Israel, and I am bound to believe, and do believe, that although many have commenced the trade with very limited means and slight experience, and, if you will, from the love of gainall fair in trade—nevertheless the seller of bric-àbrac generally comes sooner or later to love his profession, and his eye and taste enable him to acquire a thorough knowledge and discrimination of the value of the highest and lowest works of art.

In my rambles during many years throughout the length and breadth of Europe, I have known men who, when I first visited their collections,

« AnteriorContinuar »