THE BOXES.

[MAGA. February 1829.]

Sir,—In the course of my study in the English language, which I made now for three years, I always read your periodically, and now think myself capable to write at your Magazin. I love always the modesty, or you shall have a letter of me very long time past. But, never mind. I would well tell you, that I am come to this country to instruct me in the manners, the customs, the habits, the policies, and the other affairs general of Great Britain. And truly I think me good fortunate, being received in many families, so as I can to speak your language now with so much facility as the French.

But, never mind. That what I would you say, is not only for the Englishes, but for the strangers, who come at your country from all the other kingdoms, polite and instructed; because, they tell me, that they are abonnements for you in all the kingdoms in Europe, so well as in the Orientals and Occidentals.

No, sir, upon my honour, I am not egotist. I not proud myself with châteaux en Espagne. I am but a particular gentleman, come here for that what I said; but, since I learn to comprehend the language, I discover that I am become an object of pleasantry, and for himself to mock, to one of your comedians even before I put my foot upon the ground at Douvres. He was Mr Mathew, who tell of some contretemps of me and your word detestable, Box. Well, never mind. I know at present how it happen, because I see him since in some parties and dinners; and he confess he love much to go travel and mix himself altogether up with the stage-coach and vapouring boat for fun, what he bring at his theatre.

Well, never mind. He see me, perhaps, to ask a question in the paquebot—but he not confess after, that he goed and bribe the garçon at the hotel and the coachman to mystify me with all the boxes; but, very well, I shall tell you how it arrived, so as you shall see that it was impossible that a stranger could miss to be perplexed, and to advertise the travellers what will come after, that they shall converse with the gentlemen and not with the badinstructs.

But it must that I begin. I am a gentleman, and my goods are in the public rentes, and a château with a handsome propriety on the bank of the Loire, which I lend to a merchant English, who pay me very well in London for my expenses. Very well. I like the peace, nevertheless that I was force, at other time, to go to war with Napoleon. But it is passed. So I come to Paris in my proper post-chaise, where I selled him, and hire one, for almost nothing at all, for bring me to Calais all alone, because I will not bring my valet to speak French here where all the world is ignorant.

The morning following, I get upon the vapouring boat to walk so far as Douvres. It was fine day—and, after I am recover myself of a malady of the sea, I walk myself about the shep, and I see a great mechanic of wood, with iron wheel, and thing to push up inside, and handle to turn. It seemed to be ingenuous, and proper to hoist great burdens. They use it for shoving the timber, what come down of the vessel, into the place; and they tell me it was call “Jaques in the box:” and I was very much please with the invention so novel.

Very well. I go again promenade upon the board of the vessel, and I look at the compass, and little boy sailor come and sit him down, and begin to chatter like the little monkey. Then the man what turns a wheel about and about laugh, and say, “Very well, Jacques,” but I not understand one word the little fellow say. So I make inquire, and they tell me he was “box the compass.” I was surprise, but I tell myself, “well, never mind;” and so we arrive at Douvres. I find myself enough well in the hotel, but as there has been no table-d’hôte, I ask for some dinner, and it was long time I wait: and so I walk myself to the customary house, and give the key to my portmanteau to the Douaniers, or excisemen, as you call, for them to see as I had not no smuggles in my equipage. Very well—I return at my hotel, and meet one of the waiters, who tell me (after I stand little moment to the door to see the world what pass by upon the top of a coach at the instant), “Sir,” he say, “your dinner is ready.” “Very well,” I make response, “where was it?” “This way, sir,” he answer, “I have put in a box in the café room.” “Well—never mind,” I say to myself, “when a man himself finds in a stranger country, he must be never surprised. ‘Nil admirari.’ Keep the eyes opened, and stare at nothing at all.”

I found my dinner only there there, because I was so soon come from France; but I learn another sort of the box was a partition and table particular in a saloon, and I keep there when I eated some good sole fritted, and some not cooked mutton cutlet; and a gentleman what was put in another box, perhaps Mr Mathew, because nobody not can know him twice, like a cameleon he is, call for the “pepper box.” Very well. I take a cup of coffee, and then all my hardes and portmanteau come with a wheelbarrow; and, because it was my intention to voyage up at London with the coach, and I find my many little things was not convenient, I ask the waiter where I may buy a night sack, or get them tie up all together in a burden. He was well attentive at my cares, and responded, that he shall find me a box to put them all into. Well, I say nothing of all but, “Yes,” for fear to discover my ignorance; so he bring the little box for the clothes and things into the great box what I was put into; and he did my affairs in it very well. Then I ask him for some spectacle in the town, and he send boot-boy with me so far as the Theatre, and I go in to pay. It was shabby poor little place, but the man what set to have the money, when I say “how much,” asked me if I would not go into the boxes. “Very well,” I say, “never mind—oh yes—to be sure;” and I find very soon the box was the loge, same thing. I had not understanding sufficient in your tongue then to comprehend all what I hear—only one poor maigre doctor, what had been to give his physic too long time at a cavalier old man, was condemned to swallow up a whole box of his proper pills. “Very well,” I say, “that must be egregious. It is cannot be possible;” but they bring little a box not more grand nor my thumb. It seem to be to me very ridiculous; so I returned to my hotel at despair how I could possibility learn a language what meant so many differents in one word.

I found the same waiter, who, so soon as I come in, tell me, “Sir, did you not say that you would go by the coach to-morrow morning?” I replied “Yes—and I have bespeaked a seat out of the side, because I shall wish to amuse myself with the country, and you have no cabriolets in your coaches.” “Sir,” he say, very polite, “if you shall allow me, I would recommend you the box, and then the coachman shall tell everything.” “Very well,” I reply, “yes; to be sure—I shall have a box then—yes;” and then I demanded a fire into my chamber, because I think myself enrhumed upon the sea, and the maid of the chamber come to send me in bed: but I say, “No so quick, if you please; I will write to some friend how I find myself in England. Very well—here is the fire, but perhaps it shall go out before I have finish.” She was pretty laughing young woman, and say, “Oh no, sir, if you pull the bell, the porter, who sit up all night, will come, unless you like to attend to it yourself, and then you will find the coal-box in the closet.” Well—I say nothing but “yes—oh yes.” But when she is gone, I look direct into the closet, and see a box not no more like none of the other boxes what I see all day than nothing.

Well—I write at my friends, and then I tumble about when I wake, and dream in the sleep what should possible be the description of the box what I must be put in to-morrow for my voyage.

In the morning, it was very fine time, I see the coach at the door, and I walk all round before they bring the horses; but I see nothing what they can call boxes, only the same kind as what my little business was put into. So I ask for the post of letters at a little boots boy, who showed me by the Quay, and tell me, pointing by his finger at a window—“There see, there was the letter-box,” and I perceive a crevice. “Very well—all box again to-day,” I say, and give my letter to the master of postes, and go away again at the coach, where I very soon find out what was coach-box, and mount myself upon it. Then come the coachman, habilitated like the gentleman, and the first word he say was—“Keep, horses! Bring my box-coat!” and he push up a grand capote with many scrapes.

“But—never mind,” I say; “I shall see all the boxes in time.” So he kick his leg upon the board, and cry “cheat!” and we are out into the country in lesser than one minute, and roll at so grand pace, what I have had fear we will be reversed. But after little times, I take courage, and we begin to entertain together: but I hear one of the wheels cry squeak, so I tell him, “Sir—one of the wheel would be greased;” then he make reply, nonchalancely, “Oh—it is nothing but one of the boxes what is too tight.” But it is very long time after as I learn that wheel a box was pipe of iron what go turn round upon the axle.

Well—we fly away at the pace of charge. I see great castles many; then come a pretty house of country well ornated, and I make inquire what it should be. “Oh!” responsed he, “I not remember the gentleman’s name, but it is what we call a snug country box.”

Then I feel myself abymed at despair, and begin to suspect that he amused himself. But, still I tell myself, “Well—never mind; we shall see.” And then after some times, there come another house, all alone in a forest, not ornated at all. “What, how you call that?” I demand of him. “Oh!” he responded again, “that is a shooting box of Lord Killfots.” “Oh!” I cry at last out, “that is little too strong;” but he hoisted his shoulders and say nothing. Well, we come at a house of country ancient, with the trees cut like some peacocks, and I demand, “What you call these trees?” “Box, sir,” he tell me. “Devil is in the box!” I say at myself. “But—never mind; we shall see.” So I myself refreshed with a pinch of snuff, and offer him, and he take very polite, and remark upon an instant, “That is a very handsome box of yours, sir.”

“Morbleu!” I exclaimed with inadvertencyness, but I stop myself. Then he pull out his snuff-box, and I take a pinch, because I like at home to be sociable when I am out at voyages, and not show some pride with inferior. It was of wood beautiful with turnings, and colour of yellowish. So I was pleased to admire very much, and inquire the name of the wood, and again he say, “Box, sir!” Well—I hold myself with patience, but it was difficilly; and we keep with great gallop, till we come at a great crowd of the people. Then I say, “What for all so large concourse?”—“Oh!” he response again, “there is one grand boxing match—a battle here to-day.”—“Peste!” I tell myself, “a battle of boxes! Well, never mind! I hope it can be a combat at the outrance, and they all shall destroy one another, for I am fatigued.”

Well—we arrive at an hotel, very superb, all as it ought, and I demand a morsel to refresh myself. I go into a salon, but, before I finish, great noise come into the passage, and I pull the bell’s rope to demand why so great tapage? The waiter tell me, and he laugh at same time, but very civil no less, “Oh, sir, it is only two of the women what quarrel, and one has given another a box on the ear.”

Well—I go back on the coach-box, but I look, as I pass, at all the women ear, for the box; but not none I see. “Well,” I tell myself once more, “never mind, we shall see;” and we drive on very passable and agreeable times till we approached ourselves near London; but then come one another coach of the opposition to pass by, and the coachman say, “No, my boy, it shan’t do!” and then he whip his horses, and made some traverse upon the road, and tell to me, all the times, a long explication what the other coachmen have done otherwhiles, and finish not till we stop, and the coach of opposition come behind him in one narrow place. Well—then he twist himself round, and with full voice, cry himself out at the another man, who was so angry as himself, “I’ll tell you what, my hearty! if you comes some more of your gammon at me, I shan’t stand, and you shall yourself find in the wrong box.” It was not for many weeks after as I find out the wrong box meaning.

Well—we get at London, at the coaches office, and I unlightened from my seat, and go at the bureau for pay my passage, and gentleman very polite demanded if I had some friend at London. I converse with him very little time in voyaging, because he was in the interior; but I perceive he is real gentleman. So, I say, “No, sir, I am stranger.” Then he very honestly recommend me at an hotel, very proper, and tell me, “Sir, because I have some affairs in the Banque, I must sleep in the City this night; but to-morrow I shall come at the hotel, where you shall find some good attentions if you make the use of my name.” “Very well,” I tell myself, “this is best.” So we exchange the cards, and I have hackney-coach to come at my hotel, where they say, “No room, sir,—very sorry,—no room.” But I demand to stop the moment, and produce the card what I could not read before, in the movements of the coach with the darkness. The master of the hotel take it from my hand, and become very polite at the instant, and whisper to the ear of some waiters, and then come at me, and say, “Oh yes, sir, I know Mr Box very well. Worthy gentleman, Mr Box. Very proud to incommode any friend of Mr Box—pray inlight yourself, and walk in my house.” So I go in, and find myself very proper, and soon come so as if I was in my own particular chamber; and Mr Box come next day, and I find very soon that he was the right Box, and not the wrong box. Ha, ha!—You shall excuse my badinage,—eh? But never mind—I am going at Leicestershire to see the foxes hunting, and perhaps will get upon a coach-box in the spring, and go at Edinburgh; but I have fear I cannot come at your “Noctes,” because I have not learnt yet to eat so great supper. I always read what they speak there twice over, except what Monsieur Le “Shepherd” say, what I read three time; but never could comprend exactly what he say, though I discern some time the grand idea, what walk in darkness almost “visible,” as your divine Milton say. I am particular fond of the poetry. I read three books of the “Paradise Lost” to Mr Box, but he not hear me no more—he pronounce me perfect.

After one such compliment, it would be almost the same as ask you for another, if I shall make apology in case I have not find the correct ideotism of your language in this letter; so I shall not make none at all—only throw myself at your mercy, like a great critic. But, never mind—we shall see. If you take this letter as it ought, I shall not promise if I would not write you one other some time.

I conclude in presenting at you my compliments very respectful. I am sorry for your gout and crutchedness, and hope you shall miss them in the spring.

I have the honour of subscribe myself,

Sir,
Your very humble and much
obedient Servant,
Louis le Cheminant.

P.S.—Ha, ha!—It is very droll!—I tell my valet, we go at Leicestershire for the hunting fox.—Very well.—So soon as I finish this letter, he come and demand what I shall leave behind in orders for some presents, to give what people will come at my lodgments for Christmas Boxes.