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nation of his journey at a given spot, to that point he hastened, little caring how he got there, or at what cost; deterred neither by dirt nor by what might be justly called discomfort; enduring with a heroic resignation bad roads, bad hotels, and high charges. But nous avons changé tout cela ; the fairest spots in Switzerland, the highest peak of the Alps, the most rugged pathways of the Apennines, the remotest German spas, the wildest fisheries of Norway, are now explored by the travelling Englishman. You meet your tailor at a picnic in the Black Forest; your bootmaker salutes you on the “castled crag of Drachenfels ;” and if you elect to dine at a table d'hôte, you are apt to find yourself amidst a host of compatriots whom perchance you may have met with in Cheapside or Whitechapel, when some untoward event may have called you to either of those localities. Bah! I would sooner go up in a balloon, or pass a week at Kovno, on the banks of that historical river the Niemen.
Let me not be misunderstood; hundreds of doubtless admirable people do now go abroad,
whose grandfathers, nay fathers, scarcely knew that Malta was an island ; and most unquestionably would have been plucked by the Civil Commissioners if requested to explain the position of Bodenbach, within so short a railway flight of that spot where Böttcher, an apothecary's assistant, lived, and brought to light in 1755 the exquisite beauties of Dresden china.'
And yet, forsooth, many of these doubtless amiable Saxons must have bric-à-brac, in order to show themselves equal in taste and refinement to my Lord This, the Duke of That, a Baron Rothschild, and other distinguished connoisseurs who are known to have collected glorious specimens of Wedgwood, Sèvres, or Majolica. And why not, if they really prize them, and have the means of obtaining them? I do not refer to the money, inasmuch as half the tradesmen in the West-end of London or in Paris can wear three new hats to one of half the younger branches of England's nobility, and pay for them too. It is not a question of money. Real treasures are all but unobtainable ; or if met with, the price asked for them is so exorbitant, that the novice holds up his hands with astonishment or disgust; and, being utterly unable to form a correct judgment of that combination of beauty and art which constitutes a perfect object, refuses the actual worth of his money, and only secures modern trash. I do not presume to say that there is not much that is beautiful and highly artistical in modern art; but it has never been my good fortune to meet with anything to equal the purest specimens of ancient porcelain. The reason of our modern inferiority is clear. The celebrated artists who in other days painted on china were equal to the best artists of the present era; and who among our leading great men, at home or abroad, would condescend to paint on china, save at a price that would make a cup or a vase equal in value to a first-rate picture ?
Now we will suppose that a party of travellers arrive, we will say, at Dresden. They walk forth to visit the city, to see its justly acknowledged beauties, and, what is still more delightful to the feminine mind, its shops. Amongst these one of
the first that attracts their attention is the emporium of a dealer in bric-à-brac. Miss Harriet gazes with delight at the cups and vases, with here and there a group, displayed in the window, and thus exclaims: “O, mama dear, look at these lovely cups; are they not beautiful? While we are in Dresden, we must buy some Dresden china ;” and so they enter, accompanied by a commissioner. There are commissioners and directors of all denominations in these days as thick as blackberries in autumn: fishery commissioners, railway commissioners, travelling commissioners, and, alas, financial commissioners. But Miss Harriet's commissioner is one of the class less aristocratically called guides, or interpreters. The hotel commissioner is a shabbygenteel gentleman, who, like the rest of the world, will do anything for any one—at his own price. Miss Harriet carefully handles a cup, and exclaims on its unrivalled beauty; she gazes with rapture on a figure or a group; she flutters admiringly over a compotier ; while the owner of these modern and moderate works of art points out the marks: this of the Marcolini period, and that used under the direction of Höroldt in 1720 -and so forth; to the genuine nature of which signatures or warranties Mr. Commissioner very readily testifies. So dear Harry, having expressed her delight, becomes the possessor of some objects of art, which she fondly supposes to be the rarest gems, and which possibly form the commencement of a collection destined to rival that of the late Mr. Bernal, or very many others—at least such is the belief of dear Harry, as it is of a hundred other dear Harrys and Georgies. “And pray, what are we to believe in, if not in marks and signatures, monograms and crossed daggers?” ask my fair bric-à-brac huntresses in despair and anxiety. Alas, my dear young ladies, I regret to say that, amidst all the chicanery of this limitedliability and swindling era, there is none equal to that of a foreign bric-à-brac seller.