A Caution to Travellers

A million dangers and snares await the traveller, as soon as he issues out of that vast messagerie which we have just quitted: and as each man cannot do better than relate such events as have happened in the course of his own experience, and may keep the unwary from the path of danger, let us take this, the very earliest opportunity, of imparting to the public a little of the wisdom which we painfully have acquired.

And first, then, with regard to the city of Paris, it is to be remarked, that in that metropolis flourish a greater number of native and exotic swindlers than are to be found in any other European nursery. What young Englishman that visits it, but has not determined, in his heart, to have a little share of the gayeties that go on – just for once, just to see what they are like? How many, when the horrible gambling dens were open, did resist a sight of them? – nay, was not a young fellow rather flattered by a dinner invitation from the Salon, whither he went, fondly pretending that he should see "French society," in the persons of certain Dukes and Counts who used to frequent the place?

My friend Pogson is a young fellow, not much worse, although perhaps a little weaker and simpler than his neighbors; and coming to Paris with exactly the same notions that bring many others of the British youth to that capital, events befell him there, last winter, which are strictly true, and shall here be narrated, by way of warning to all.

Pog, it must be premised, is a city man, who travels in drugs for a couple of the best London houses, blows the flute, has an album, drives his own gig, and is considered, both on the road and in the metropolis, a remarkably nice, intelligent, thriving young man. Pogson's only fault is too great an attachment to the fair: – "the sex," as he says often "will be his ruin:" the fact is, that Pog never travels without a "Don Juan" under his driving-cushion, and is a pretty-looking young fellow enough.

Sam Pogson had occasion to visit Paris, last October; and it was in that city that his love of the sex had liked to have cost him dear. He worked his way down to Dover; placing, right and left, at the towns on his route, rhubarb, sodas, and other such delectable wares as his masters dealt in ("the sweetest sample of castor oil, smelt like a nosegay – went off like wildfire – hogshead and a half at Rochester, eight-and twenty gallons at Canterbury," and so on), and crossed to Calais, and thence voyaged to Paris in the Coupé of the Diligence. He paid for two places, too, although a single man, and the reason shall now be made known.

Dining at the table-d'hôte at "Quillacq's" – it is the best inn on the Continent of Europe – our little traveller had the happiness to be placed next to a lady, who was, he saw at a glance, one of the extreme pink of the nobility. A large lady, in black satin, with eyes and hair as black as sloes, with gold chains, scent-bottles, sable tippet, worked pocket-handkerchief, and four twinkling rings on each of her plump white fingers. Her cheeks were as pink as the finest Chinese rouge could make them. Pog knew the article: he travelled in it. Her lips were as red as the ruby lip salve: she used the very best, that was clear.

She was a fine-looking woman, certainly (holding down her eyes, and talking perpetually of "mes trente-deux ans"); and Pogson, the wicked young dog, who professed not to care for young misses, saying they smelt so of bread-and-butter, declared, at once, that the lady was one of his beauties; in fact, when he spoke to us about her, he said, "She's a slap-up thing, I tell you; a reg'lar good one; one of my sort!" And such was Pogson's credit in all commercial rooms, that one of his sort was considered to surpass all other sorts.

During dinner-time, Mr. Pogson was profoundly polite and attentive to the lady at his side, and kindly communicated to her, as is the way with the best-bred English on their first arrival "on the Continent," all his impressions regarding the sights and persons he had seen. Such remarks having been made during half an hour's ramble about the ramparts and town, and in the course of a walk down to the custom-house, and a confidential communication with the commissionaire, must be, doubtless, very valuable to Frenchmen in their own country; and the lady listened to Pogson's opinions: not only with benevolent attention, but actually, she said, with pleasure and delight. Mr. Pogson said that there was no such thing as good meat in France, and that's why they cooked their victuals in this queer way; he had seen many soldiers parading about the place, and expressed a true Englishman's abhorrence of an armed force; not that he feared such fellows as these – little whipper-snappers – our men would eat them. Hereupon the lady admitted that our Guards were angels, but that Monsieur must not be too hard upon the French; "her father was a General of the Emperor."



Published by Les Éditions de Londres

© 2016 – Les Éditions de Londres


ISBN : 978-1-910628-88-1