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for supper. It was ingeniously circulated that
the heat of the forge must naturally induce
thirst, and that he thus became immoderately
addicted to what was railed "Tockaï" and
Champagne: a taste which was, of course,
encouraged: for their own ends by the frightful
"gang" of Guiennes, Polignacs, and other
conspirators who surrounded him. The she-Iscariot
used to make him drunk, for purposes of her
own. Still, through all these legends runs a
tone of indulgence for the full-faced fatuous
bonhomme. Even the discontented see him as
we now see him, well-meaning and good

Which of us, child or man, does not know by
heart the whole scenery, incidents, and decorations
of that, five-act tragedy, the Revolution?
The fighting in the streets, the Bastille, the Swiss
in the Tuileries, the fishwomen, Tennis-court,
flight to Varennes, and what not? Through it
all, we see the heavy figure, stolid, impassive,
weak and well-meaning, to the last. We peep in
at that frightful scene, the little room in the
village, where the berline party, captured and
discomfited, are huddled together; and where a
gloomy despair and gaunt spectres of all the
succeeding horrors might well have cowed the bravest
heart; and we hear him praising the best Burgundy
he ever tasted. In the last act, the night
before the curtain fell, in that taking his son upon
his knee, and in that final coming down of the
curtain, he did indeed rise above his nature,
and play his part grandly; yet something will
whisper that it is not so hard for these more
insensible natures so to play their parts, in
that, awful scene, so pathetically described by
his heroic confessor, where there is a grandeur
and dignity of soul which could not have been
predicted from his previous character, there
break out little turns and caprices which jar
upon the general effect, and point back again to
the older weaknesses. Alas! that the famous
"Son of Saint Louis, ascend to Heaven!"
should rest upon a foundation of clouds! The
faithful confessor is very doubtful over it; so it
must recede into that questionable limbo where
repose "The guard dies, but surrenders never!"
of Cambronne; the shrieks of "Vive la
République!" from the sinking Vengeur; the Waterloo
Duke's order to his Guards; and their
melodramatic but repudiated "Tags."

In our time then: is no need for
apprehension of indecorous irregularity like this
of the old French Court. Our gentle youths,
whose peculiar province it is to carry on
the business of loving, go to their work in a
careless and phlegmatic fashion that raises our
indignation. The young generous bloodwarm
burning current that carried forward your
oldfashioned spirited loverhas drained away into
something poor, thin, colourless. He is utterly
unimpassioned. Enthusiasm is sadly plebeian.
A relish of the ludicrous reaching beyond the
proportions of the dawn of a simper, becomes
indecent mirth. Any derangement in the direction
of those gentler moodspity, charity,
sympathytrench perilously on vulgarity. A
state of eternal quietude is most becoming. Verbal
superfluity has been already pruned down to the
extremest verge, consistent with intelligibility.
It has come to be a vast Slough of Despond, a
barren dead level of inexpression. There reigns
a conventional monotony, a waste of sameness;
and Mr. Carlyle's strange expression, "a deep
no-meaning," finds at last a happy and
comprehensible embodiment.


OUR readers are already acquainted with
the Confidences of a Prestidigitateur,* which
chronicle the acquirement and the application of
sleight-of-hand to purposes of pure diversion.
Their author, Monsieur Robert-Houdin, has
lately published a more serious workLes
Tricheries des Grecs Dévoilées; The Cheating
Tricks of the Greeks Unveiled; the Art of
Winning at all Games of Cards, with the motto
from Montesquieu, "Enlighten the dupes, and
there will be no more swindlers." The famous
conjuror is so authoritative on these subjects,
that he has been frequently consulted by
magistrates to give his opinion whether suspicious
winnings were the result of honest or disnonest
* See Household Words, vol. xix. p. 433.

When cards are chequered with a pattern on
the back, the addition of an almost invisible dot,
no bigger than a pin's point, can, by an ingenious
plan, which rivals the most refined abbreviations
of shorthand-writing, be made to indicate any
one of the thirty-two cards of a piquet pack.

"Very well," says the sanguine reader. "We
will make a rule never to play with cards that
are not perfectly plain and white at the back."
Unfortunately, white cards also become traitors
in the hands of a clever swindler.

In 1849, Robert-Houdin was requested by
the Juge d'lnstruction of the Tribunal of the
Seine to examine and verify the genuineness of
a hundred and fifty packs of cards that were
seized in the possession, of a man whose
antecedents were far from being as spotless as
the wares so harshly taken from him. The
cards were perfectly white, and this peculiarity
had hitherto baffled the most minute examination.
It was impossible for the keenest eye to
detect the least proof of their having been
tampered with, or to discover the slightest

A fortnight was spent in inspecting, both
with the unaided eye and with an excellent lens,
the material, the form, and the imperceptible
shades of hue of every card in the hundred and
fifty packs. Nothing could be seen. Wearied
with the task, our author exclaimed, "Decidedly,
there is nothing wrong here!" ill-humouredly
tossing the cards upon the table.

Suddenly, on the shining back of one of them,
and close to one of the corners, he perceived a
dull spot. On a closer inspection, the spot
disappeared; but, which was strange, it became
visible again on retiring to a distance.