Page:A chambermaid's diary.djvu/222

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of Paris, and at once became classics, in a way. A complete and astonishing psychology of snobbishness is contained in the impressions, the traits, the concise profiles, the strangely-outlined and life-like silhouettes, of which this prodigal and never-wearying originality was an ever-flowing source. It seems, then, that, if any one should have escaped that sort of moral influenza which rages so violently in the salons, it was Victor Charrigaud, better protected than anybody else against contagion by that admirable antiseptic—irony. But man is nothing but surprise, contradiction, incoherence, and folly.

Scarcely had he felt the first caresses of success, when the snob that was in him—and that was the reason why he was able to paint the snob with such force of expression—revealed itself, exploded, one might say, like an engine that has just received an electric shock. He began by dropping those friends that had become embarrassing or compromising, keeping only those who, some by their recognized talent, others by their position in the press, could be useful to him, and bolster his young fame by their persistent puffery. At the same time he made dress and fashion a subject of most careful consideration. He was seen in frock coats of ah Audacious Philippism, wearing collars and cravats of the style of much exaggerated, velvet waistcoats of irresistible cut, and showy jewels;