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Sous Préfecture, with numbers of other French ladies, residents of the town, and were waiting to be presented to the Empress. If the stately carriages, attending a court at St. James's, could but have seen the vehicles brought into requisition for this! Omnibusses arrived in abundance. But the poor Empress, whose high lot cannot exempt her from the fatigue common to other mortals, was completely worn out with all the journeying and the sight-seeing, and was much more thankful to repose a little while upon her bed, than to do the honours of a court. The ladies, however, did get presented.
The Emperor, after the presentations to himself were over, quitted the Sous Préfecture in his carriage, attended by M. de Paillard the Sous Préfet, the authorities, and his suite, and went to inspect the Exposition of Dunkerque. From thence he proceeded to the port, on foot, braving the wind, where he examined the works going on in the harbour. Nothing, it is said, could equal his astonishment when the extensive harbour and its mass of fleets were exposed to his view. He had no idea (it is a very prevalent delusion) that the port and town of Dunkerque were of half the size and importance that they really are. English ships, American ships, Russian ships, Turkish ships, besides native vessels, crowded in the harbour, some three hundred of them, all carrying their national colours. But the Emperor's expressions of surprised pleasure were suddenly interrupted.
The deputation of fishwomen, in their handsome costume, came up at this moment, more than thirty of them, and joining their hands, enclosed his Majesty in the midst of their circle. It is an old custom of the town, when honoured with the presence of its sovereign.
“What would you?” inquired the Emperor, in surprise.
“ We would offer to your Majesty's acceptance a silver fish,” replied the spokeswoman by right, a portly, black-eyed dame, looked upon as the " queen " of the fish-market, producing a pretty silver fish enclosed in a net of gold wire and green silk. The Emperor graciously accepted the offering.
“What next ?" he continued, good-humouredly, finding he was not released.
* There is another custom of the town, sire," said the bold dame. “ Before you can leave the circle, you must embrace me. When your uncle, the Great Napoleon, was here, he followed it. I had the honour of a kiss from him, and I must have the same from you."
What could the Emperor do? He behaved as a gallant Emperor ought, and laughingly gave the kiss, amidst the cheers and roars of the assemblage.
“ That is not all yet," proceeded the gratified dame. “We wish to see your beautiful Empress. We have a second fish for her. Will your Majesty courteously give the orders for our admission to her at the Sous Préfecture?"
The Emperor hesitated, remembering, probably, the fatigue of his consort; but it was only for a moment; and he told the circle of pêcheuses that the Empress would be happy to comply with their wishes. So away the lot started to the Sous Préfecture.
The Emperor then went to the Belvedere, at the gates of the port ; it was all garnished and covered with flags, and running up its many steps, he contemplated in silence for some moments the scene before him. On the ramparts also, which he next mounted, it was more conspicuous. The magnificent harbour, with its rich freight, rocking about as if they were riding at anchor; the fine old town behind it; and the roaring sea opposite, extending into the distance, the waves running mountains high! Not a vessel was to be seen at sea. The Cherbourg fleet, signalled to approach the previous evening, was unable to obey, but had been driven towards the Downs: the Reine Hortense alone was at her post, and she had arrived before the boisterous weather set in.
The Emperor examined every point in the harbour with profound attention, especially the improvements in process of construction, and listened eagerly to the remarks and explanations of the engineer-inchief, M. Decharme. It is asserted that the Emperor frankly declared had he possessed a knowledge of the extent of the city and the importance of its port, he would have made arrangements to remain within its gates a longer period; and he hinted that it was not impossible he should again visit it at no very distant period of time.
But the fish ladies had, ere this, found their way to the Sous Préfecture, and demanded to see the Empress.
“Impossible!” replied one in authority; "you can't see the Empress. And, besides, her Majesty is fatigued, and is lying down."
“ We are to see her,” retorted the spokeswoman. “You cannot act against the orders of the Emperor."
How long the dispute would have continued is uncertain, for both parties held out, had not the Emperor driven up, and confirmed the women's statement.
“ All these !" cried a renowned general, looking at the thirty pêcheuses in dismay; "they will frighten the Impératrice. Could not three or four of them enter, as a deputation from the rest ?”
“We don't understand anything about your deputations,” interrupted the indignant ladies; “ we have come to see our sovereign, with his Majesty's permission, and we mean to see her.” And elbowing their way right and left, through generals, officers, préfets, municipal authorities, staff and all, they marched, without further ceremony, up to the audience-chamber, and from thence were admitted into the presence of the Emperor and Empress.
Their greetings of her Majesty were far more in accordance with the laws of hearty good-will, than with those of etiquette. They pushed up and danced about her, full of praises and admiration. The Empress would fain have danced too, and nearly did; she was almost as delighted as they were, and laughed and enjoyed the scene like a happy young girl. “O comme t'es belle! comme t'es belle !" uttered they, in their familiar patois.
“ It is a pretty present,” exclaimed her Majesty, accepting the silver fish, and playing with it. “How frequently, pray, do you catch these sort of fish?" she asked, laughing.
“Just as often as your Majesty comes to Dunkerque," they promptly replied. “Comme tu es bellotte, mon Impétrice !" uttered their bold and joking leader : “ tu es vraiment bellotte; et je te souhaite un gros garçon !"
The Empress laughed out, a ringing laugh, as she would have done
with an equal; the Emperor joined in, heartily; and the women, laughing in concert, retired: the Empress ordering them 1000 francs.
A tremendous crowd, meanwhile, as many as could push in, had collected in the cathedral, where a large body of priests waited in state for their sovereign; the church being decorated inside, and its entrancedoors hung with crimson-velvet. But while they waited and waited, thinking his Majesty was a long while coming, the hour struck half-past two, and a loud discharge of cannon announced the unwelcome fact, that the Imperial couple had left the town again, on their route to Calais, without going near the church at all. It was very provoking for those who had been closeted there for hours, pushing and scrambling in the dense crowd, in the hope of seeing them. On the Emperor's departure, he shook warmly the land of M. Mollet, the Mayor of Dunkerque, and expressed a lively sense of satisfaction at the manner in which he had been welcomed. And Dunkerque deserved as much : for it had bestowed a deal of money and anxiety and time to entertain his Imperial Majesty, for the short and unsatisfactory space of three hours. The mayor and two other gentlemen received the insignia of the Legion of Honour.
The next event, in rotation, was the ball : and, the crowding excepted, it was a very delightful one. The theatre was beautifully decorated and fitted up: but the French ladies asserted that it was “ pénible" to see the dais and the two fauteuils unoccupied. There was many a pretty woman there, many a pretty girl ; some of the toilettes were exquisite, and the uniforms, civil and military, glittered in all parts of the throng. The quadrille d'honneur was formed as well as it could be formed, for the crowd ; the Sous Préfet taking the first place, in the absence of his Majesty. Refreshments were given in abundance; not a common feature at French balls ; and the Champagne and the “ponche” were in great requisition.
Tuesday morning rose beautifully; the wind had greatly abated, and the second day of the fête promised to take the palm from the first, bringing further regret that the Emperor had not stayed longer. The street decorations were remodelled and replenished, and countless numbers of coloured lamps hung, to be illuminated at night. An estrade was erected on the Place Jean Bart, all lamps and flags and festoons of flowers and evergreens, intended for the arena of the trial of skill in music ; and active preparations were making for the fireworks, which promised to be truly magnificent. In the afternoon, the musical bands of Dunkerque and of the neighbouring communes, with that of the 33rd Regiment, assembled, each performing two pieces, chosen at will, and a prize was presented to the band adjudged the best.
With dusk, the streets were lighted up; the illuminations also were very general; they had been only partially so the previous night, on account of the tempest. A prize was to be given to the most tastily decorated of the streets, and the one, deemed best deserving of it, presented more the appearance of a grove at Vauxhall, in old times, than a street, so profuse were its evergreens and its clusters of fanciful and many-coloured lamps; whilst at its extreme end, the eye, roaming through verdant arcades, caught a view of the ancient Couvent des Penitentes, brilliantly lighted up : the Place Napoleon, too, had an admirable effect, it being entirely hung round with Venetian lanterns. Never in England could you see such a sight as was presented that night by the streets of Dunkerque, for the English do not understand these things: and if they did, they would not bestow the energy necessary to accomplish them. We spend money upon in-door amusements : the French upon out
It is asserted that the fireworks cost 8000 francs. The crowd assembled to witness them was immense, and several individuals were rendered insensible by the pressure. They commenced just before nine, and were indeed magnificent. To give an adequate description of them would be impossible. Now, the air would be filled with balls of the most brilliant and varied colours ; now, would descend showers of golden rain ; now, jets of silver. Ere one device had faded away, its beauties presenting a succession of wonders, ever changing, another would break forth. Now, would be discovered the letter N, stationary in the midst of revolving stars and prisms of vivid brilliancy; now, as you looked, the letter dissolved itself into E: here, would be shining forth a resplendant crown; there, towering aloft, the Imperial eagle: and the last scene, the “ bouquet,” rising into the air, and almost seeming to touch the pale stars of ANOTHER hemisphere, was a sight worth having crossed the Channel to see. Never will that night, and its many beauties, be erased from the memory's eye of the amazed and delighted spectators.
May the Emperor and Empress come again to Dunkerque ! is the sentence in everybody's mouth : and we heartily echo it. Ñever mind the money!
LITERARY L E A FLET S.
BY SIR NATHANIEL. No. XIII.-"POSITIVE” PAILOSOPHY: COMTE AND LEWES.* HIGHLY versatile or rather, “comprehensive," to adopt Sir E. Bulwer Lytton's verbal amendment–is the talent which has been manifested, Tovuepws kai polutpotws, by Mr. G. H. Lewes. “ Je voudrais," once said Voltaire, in his familiar correspondence, “ que Newton eut fait des vaudevilles, je l'en estimerais davantage. Celui qui n'a qu'un talent peut être un grand génie ; celui qui en a plusieurs est plus aimable.” Voltaire would have pronounced the lively author of “ Blanche, Rose, and Violet,” very aimable. That tale, and “ Ranthorpe,” are his ventures as a novelist. His play, “ The Noble Heart,” has elicited tears and plaudits on the stage, nor needs to deprecate reviewal in the closet. In biography he is recognised by his Life of Robespierre-in criticism, by his “ Spanish Drama," and a large miscellany of contributions to the quarterly and weekly press— in metaphysics, by his “ Biographical History of Philosophy,” by far the best compendium of the kind in the language, what
* Comte's Philosophy of the Sciences : being an Exposition of the Cours de Philosophie Positive of Auguste Comte. By G. H. Lewes. London: H. G. Bohn. 1853.
ever we may think of his own anti-metaphysical stand-point-in natural
As far as might be, to carve ont
That the whole mind might orb about* Yet (is this yet a thing to be ashamed of ?) we will plead guilty to a habit of consulting some at least of its columns, with infinitely greater interest (they are so fresh and suggestive, so piquant in their very audacity!) than we do those of other papers, of time-honoured prestige, and unimpeachable orthodoxy. And we remember how one of the most distinguished critics of the age-himself, observe, a stanch Tory, a good High Churchman, and indeed a kind of cyclopædic antithesis to the Leaderonce recorded as follows his testimony to its drift : “a journal,” he called it, “distinguished by its ability, by its hardihood of speculation, by its comprehensive candour, but, in my eyes, still more advantageously distinguished by its deep sincerity.” Its literary department is conducted by Mr. Lewes, and in other sections his “fine French hand”+ is probably traceable-making it the organ of his assaults on conservatism in faith and practice, and especially of his enforcement of the “positive” philosophy which seems to hold, with Byron, that
our days are too brief for affording
Discussion. To that journal Mr. Lewes contributed, some months since, a series of articles expository of the Positive Philosophy of Auguste Comte, and which forms the first part of the volume of Bohn's Scientific Library now before us. The English reader who desires a fuller presentment of the subject, will of course consult Miss Martineau's two volumes. But probably, most English readers will find quite enough to "give them pause" in Mr. Lewes's compact epitome—which has the additional attraction of being conveyed in a clear, and lively, and highly readable form-never too diffuse to be heavy (the original sin of the original author), nor too condensed to be easily intelligible; the very book, in fact, to secure a
* Tennyson: The Two Voices.
† By the way, how comes it that so easy and practised a writer-versed, one would think, in the philosophy of ne quid nimis-should be so lavish of marks of admiration? What a fund he has of mirabilia dictu!