The Count’s Adventures at Calais

Miss Porden

The Count Léandre has not favoured us with the sequel of this adventure, but as an accident has brought it to our knowledge, we think the account may not be unentertaining to our readers and shall give it in the words of the communicator. Iris — misled by an imperfect knowledge of the language in which the Count Léandre express’d his ardour, or perhaps flattered by her own vanity into the belief that he really intended to swim the Channel, summoned all her French into a Billet doux, which informed him that she had already secured a place in the basket of the Dover stage, and would take her station on Shakespeare’s Cliff, at a certain hour, that thus inspired, like Amadis in his dreadful combat with Ardan Canile, by the consciousness that his mistress’s eyes were upon him, he might feel fresh strength to buffet with the waves. How delightful, said she, will be my journey. How sentimental the idea that every movement of the English coach horses induces a sympathetic motion in those of the Paris Diligence. With what rapture shall I behold my Léandre rise like Hyperion, all dripping from the waves. Sacred orb! should’st thou by jealous of his beauty, and veil thy displeasure in clouds, the world will not miss thee, for Léandre will be dawning on their horizon. And should he perish — should some enamour’d Nereid steal him from my arms to her cave of coral, still shall his loss ennoble the Straits of Dover, and our loves be immortalized in their name.

On the appointed morning I happened to be at Calais. The Paris Diligence came rumbling in, and from the cabriolet sprung a youth, who had somewhat the air of a Calicot, and who had recently celebrated his fiftieth natal day by a fête Chapêtre, and a masque in which he personated Adonis. His mother having been accommodated with a new Headdress, teeth, and eybrows for the part of Venus. I was a little surprised when he announced himself to the waiters as the Count Léandre, but still more when he calmly dispatched a substantial déjeuner à la fourchette singing

C’est un vrai plaisir divin
Avec elle de fair festin

And subsequently quaffed a bottle of Champagne to the health of Iris with this appropriate stanza

Tous les jours à sa memoire
C’est mon doux plaisir de boire
Le bon vin me charme toujours
À la guerre, dans mes amours.

He then struck violently with his knife on the side of his goblet (the French method of ringing the bell at an Inn) ”Garcon! une autre bouteille,” said he as an elderly female appeared.

He drunk and sang, and sang and drunk again.

“Par la paix enfin rappelée
 À sa vüe charmante
Boire encore à sa santé
 Voila ce quie m’enchante
C’est un vrai plaisir divin
Avec elle de faire festin.
C’est le vin qui charme toujours
Mars, la paix, et les Amours.”

“At length with love and wine at once opprest” the hero left the Inn. Well! thought I — he is a philosopher of the New School which maintains that Love does not resemble the Chamelion in its abstinence so much as its changes. But the day is cool, and the sea not very smooth, so at all events he is right to be warm within — Beware, however, I exclaimed involuntarily,

“Lest Bacchus with the Nymph should mix” and they Iris prove a second Acrasia. *

But I need not have been alarmed. Instead of walking to the Beach, this modern Leandre took his way to the Church, doubtless thought I, to offer his prayers to St Thomas the patron of maritime adventures. But no! He scarcely bowed to the altar and began to ascend the steeple. Curiosity impelled me to follow, and I offered smiles as he stopped for breath, and breathed a “sâcre” or a “diable” at the number of steps. Once indeed when his swallow-tailed coat caught on the iron of the winding stairs I thought he exclaimed, “Diable d’Iris” — but I must have been mistaken. However he reached the top, took out a Telescope Stand, fixed his brass tube on it pointing it towards Dover, and seemed intensely occupied in turning and adjusting the screws, exclamining every instant, “Quel charmant objet — quelle belle forme — Ah! que je suis ravi — et la belle teinte — la beauté — la varieté” He laid it down for few moments, and I could not resist the temptation of peeping at his Goddess. I looked into the tube — and behold it was a Kaleidoscope.

* An allusion to the story of Mordaunt and Amaria in the first Canto of the Legend of Sir Guyon or Temperaunce, being the 2d Book of Spenser’s Faerie Queene. Lest our hearers should not correctly remember it, we will quote the stanza.

Mordaunt was flying from Acrasia’s bowers of bliss

Which when the vile Enchaunteresse perceived
 How that my Lord from her I would reprive
With cups thus charm’d him parting she deceived
 Sad verse, give death to him that death does give
 And losse of love, to her that loves to live
So soone as Bacchus with the Nymphe does lincke:
 So parted we and on our journey drive,
Till comming to this welle he stopt to drincke:
The charme fulfild, dead suddenly he downe did sincke