Life And Letters Of Maria Edgeworth/Volume 1/Letter 45
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Volume 1/Letter 45
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MRS. EDGEWORTH to MRS. MARY SNEYD.
PARIS, Feb. 22, 1803.
The cough you mention has been epidemic here. The thermometer as low as 9° on the morning of the 15th; next day 40°, and the most charming weather has succeeded: the streets have been so well washed by the rain and scraped by the snow-cleaners, that they are actually dry and clean for the first time since October, which is fortunate, as the streets are crowded with people for the carnival, some in masks, some disguised as apothecaries, old women, harlequins, and knights-errant, followed by hundreds and thousands of men, women, and children, to whom they say what they can, generally nonsense devoid of wit.
Last Thursday, jeudi-gras, we dined at two, and were at St. Germain at six, at Madame Campan's, where we had been invited to see some plays acted by her pupils. The little theatre appeared already full when we entered. We stood a few seconds near the door, when Madame Campan cried out from above, "Placez Madame Edgeworth, faites monter Madame et sa compagnie." So we went up to the gallery, where we had very good places next to a Polish Princess and half a dozen of her countrywomen, who are all polite and well-bred. The crowd increased, many more than there was room for. The famous Madame Visconti and Lady Yarmouth sat behind us. Lady Elizabeth Foster and Lady Bessborough not far from us; and below there were a number of English, the Duchess of Gordon and her beautiful daughter, Lady Georgiana. Madame Louis Buonaparte, who had been one of Madame Campan's élèves, was the principal Frenchwoman. The piece, Esther, was performed admirably; the singing of the choir of young girls charming, and the petite pièce, La Rosière de Salency, was better still: you know it is a charming thing, and was made so touching as to draw tears from every eye.
* * *
Mrs. Edgeworth writes:
At the time this letter was written rumours that war would break out with England began to be prevalent in Paris. Mr. Edgeworth inquired among his friends, who said they feared it was true. He decided to set out immediately, and we began to pack up. Other friends contradicted this fear. We were anxious on another account to leave Paris, from the bad state of Henry Edgeworth's health, his friends at Edinburgh urging us to go there to see him. Better news of him, and the hope that the rumours of war were unfounded, made us suspend our packing. M. Le Breton called, and said he was sure of knowing before that evening the truth as to Buonaparte's warlike intentions, and that if Mr. Edgeworth met him at a friend's that night, he would know by his suddenly putting on his hat that war was imminent. He was unable to visit us again, and afraid if he wrote that his letter might be intercepted, and still more was he afraid of being overheard if he said anything at the party where they were to meet. Mr. Edgeworth went, and saw M. Le Breton, who did suddenly put on his hat, and on Mr. Edgeworth's return to us he said we must go.
The next day was spent in taking leave of our kind friends, from whom we found it so painful to part, and who expressed so much regret at losing us, and so much doubt as to the probability of war, that Mr. Edgeworth promised that if on his arrival in London, his Paris friends wrote to say Peace, he would return to them, and bring over the rest of his family from Ireland for a year's residence.