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THE POTIPHAR PAPERS. 



THE 



POTIPHAE PAPEJiS. 



GEORGE WILLIAM CURTIS. 



NULW YORK: 

HA K PEE & BEOTUEES, PUBLISHEKS, 
PEANKLIN SQUAEE. 

1858. 



Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1856, by 

GEORGE WILLIAM CURTIS, 

In the Clerk's Office of the DiBtrict Conrt of the United St-ates for 
the Southern District of New York. 



" Imag'matiou fondly stoops to trace 
The parlor splendors of that festive place." 

Goldsmitk'K Dcsci-led Village, 

" Manuel's are what vex or soothe, corrupt or purffy, exalt or debase, 
barbarize or refine us. by a constant, steady, uniform, iuscnsiblo opera- 
tion, like that of the air wo breathe in." 

Burke's Ftrst JM-tcr on a Regicide Peace, 

" And I do seriously approve of that saj'ing of yours, ' that you would 
rather bo a civil, well-governed, well-grounded, temperate, poor anglei 
than a drunken lord.' But 1 hope there is none such." 

IValloyi's Angler. 

^S&flJ,.^ * " ' Mon petit faquin de philoeophe.* dit le Chevalier de Grammont, * tu 

faia ici lo Caton dc Normandie.' " 

" *Est-ce que jo mens V poursuivit Saint-Evremond." 

Mimoires de O rammont. 



CONTENTS 



I. " Our Best Society," 1 

II. Our New Livery, and Other Things — A Letter 

FROM Mrs. Potiphar to Miss Caroline Pettitoes, 39 

III. A Meditation by Paul Potiphar, Esq., . . 81 

rV. Prom the Simmer Diary op Minerva Tattle, . 115 

v. The Potiphars in Paris, 155 

VI. KuKZ Pacha to the Eing of Sennaar, upon receiv- 
ing his Letters of Eeoall {now _^r.^i translated), 203 

VII. The Eev. Uekry Dove to JIrs. Potiphar {private), 211 



PREFATORY LETTER 

TO 

REV. CREAM CHEESE. 



Eey. and Dear Sir : 

It is surely unnecessary to call the attention of so astute 
an observer, and so austere a critic, as yourself, to the fact 
that the title of the leading essay in this little volume (of 
which, permit me to say, you are so essential an ornament) 
is marked as a quotation ; and a quotation, as you will very 
well remember, from the lips of our friend, Mrs. Potiphar, 
herself. 

Therefore, Eev. Sir, your judgment, which, you must 
allow me to say, is no less impartial than your experience 
is profound, will suggest to you that the subject of that 
essay (of the points of which the succeeding sketches are 
but elaborations) is the aspect of what is currently termed 
" our best society'' — whether with reason or not, is beside 
the purpose. 

Your pastoral charity, I am convinced, will persuade you 
to direct the attention of your parishioners to this fact, and 
to assure them that, when you prepared your timely trea- 
tise upon the progress of purple chasubles among the Feejee 
Islanders, you were not justly amenable to the charge of 
omitting all notice of the cultivation of artificial flowers by 



X LETTER TO REV. CREAM CHEESE. 

tlie Crim Tartars. The latter are, I believe, a very esti- 
mable people, but they were not the subjects of your 
consideration. 

To those in your parish, and elsewhere, who have 
thought fit to suppose that Mrs. Potiphar is Mrs. Some- 
body-else — what can we say? conscious as we are, that 
they who have once known that lady could never confound 
her with another. 

Bat for those who have actually supposed you, yourself, 
Eeverend Sir, to be, not somebody else, but nobody, (!) we 
can only smile compassionately, and express the hope that 
a broader experience may give them greater wisdom. 

In taking leave of you, Sir, I know that I express the 
warmest wish of a large, a very large parish (I might 
almost say diocese), that yon may long survive. For your 
parish is fully, and, as I think, most correctly persuaded, 
that while there is a Cream Cheese, there will always be a 
Mrs. Potiphar. 

With all proper regard, 
I am, 
Eeverend and Dear Sir, 

Your very obedient, 
humble servant, 
The Editok. 

New York, Dccemlcr, 1853. 



I. 



"OUE BEST SOCIETY," 



^OUR LEST SOCIETY." 



If gilt were only gold, or sugar-candy common 
sense, what a fine thing our society would be ! If 
to lavish money upon ohjets de vertu, to wear the 
most costly dresses, and always to have them cut in 
the height of the fashion ; to build houses thirty feet 
broad, as if they were palaces ; to furnish them with 
all the luxurious devices of Parisian genius ; to give 
superb banquets, at v^hich your guests laugh, and 
which make you miserable ; to drive a fine carriage 
and ape European liveries, and crests, and coats- 
of-arms ; to resent the friendly advances of your 
baker's wife, and the lady of your butcher (you be- 
ing yourself a cobbler's daughter) ; to talk much of 
the " old families" and of your aristocratic foreign 
friends ; to despise labor ; to prate of " good so- 
ciety ;" to travesty and parody, in every conceivable 
way, a society which we know only in books and 
by the superficial observation of foreign travel, 
which arises out of a social organization entirely 



2 THE POTirH A E PAPERS. 

unknown to us, and wlncli is opposed to our fun- 
damental and essential principles; if all this were 
fine, what a prodigiously fine societ}^ would ours 
be! 

This occurred to us upon lately receiving a card 
of invitation to a brilliant ball. We were quietly 
ruminating over our evening fire, with Disraeli's 
Wellington speech, " all tears," in our hands, with 
the account of a great man's burial, and a little 
man's triumph across the channel. So man)' great 
men gone, we mused, and such great crises impend- 
ing! This democratic movement in Europe ; Kos- 
suth and Mazzini waiting for the moment to give 
the word ; the Russian bear watchfully sucking his 
paws ; the Napoleonic empire redivivus ; Cuba, and 
annexation, and Slavery ; California and Australia, 
and the consequent considerations of political 
economy; dear me! exclaimed we, putting on a 
fresh hodful of coal, we must look a little into the 
state of parties. 

As we put down the coal-scuttle, there was a 
knock at the door. We said, " come in," and in 
came a neat Alhambra-watered envelope, contain- 
ing the announcement that the queen of fashion was 
" at home" that evening week. Later in the even- 
ing, came a friend to smoke a cigar. The card was 
lying upon the table, and be read it with eagerness. 



OUR BEST SOCIETY." 8 

" You'll go, of course," said he, " for you will meet 
all the ' best society.' " 

Shall we, truly ? Shall we really see the " best 
society of the city," the picked flower of its genius, 
character, aud beauty? What makes the " best so- 
ciety" of men and women ? The noblest specimens 
of each, of course. The men who mould the time, 
who refresh our faith in heroism and virtue, who 
make Plato, and Zeno, and Shakespeare, and all 
Shakespeare's gentlemen, possible again. The wo- 
men, whose beauty, and sweetness, and dignity, and 
high accomplishment, and grace, make us under- 
stand the Greek mythology, and weaken our desire 
to have some glimpse of the most famous women of 
history. The "best society" is that in which the 
virtues are most shining, which is the most chari- 
table, forgiving, long-suffering, modest, and inno- 
cent. The " best society" is, by its very name, that 
in which there is the least hypocrisy and insincerity 
of all kinds, which recoils from, and blasts, artifici- 
ality, which is anxious to be all that it is possible 
to be, and. which sternly reprobates all shallow pre- 
tence, all coxcombry and foppery, and insists upon 
simplicity as the infallible characteristic of true 
worth. That is the " best society," which com- 
prises the best men and women. 

Had we recently arrived from the moon, we 



4 THE POTIPHAE PAPERS. 

might, upon hearing that we were to meet the 
" best society," have fancied that we were about to 
enjoy an opportunity not to be overvalued. But 
unfortunately we were not so freshly arrived. We 
had received other cards, and had perfected our 
toilette many times, to meet this same society, so 
magnificently described, and had found it the least 
" best" of all. Who compose it ? Whom shall we 
meet if we go to this ball ? We shall meet three 
classes of persons : first, those who are rich, and 
who have all that money can buy ; second, those 
who belong to what are technically called " the 
good old families," because some ancestor was a 
man of mark in the state or country, or was very 
rich, and has kept the fortune in the family ; and, 
thirdly, a swarm of youths who can dance dexter- 
ously, and who are invited for that purpose. Now 
these are all arbitrary and factitious distinctions 
upon which to found so profound a social difference 
as that which exists in American, or, at least in 
New York, society. First, as a general rule, the 
rich men of every community, who make their own 
money, are not the most generally intelligent and 
cultivated. They have a shrewd talent which se- 
cures a fortune, and which keeps them closely at 
the work of amassing from their youngest years until 
they are old. They are sturdy men, of simple 



"OUR BEST SOCIETY." 5 

tastes often. Sometimes, though rarely, very gener- 
ous, but necessarily with an altogether false and 
exaggerated idea of the importance of money. 
They are a rather rough, unsympathetic, and, per- 
haps, selfish class, who, themselves, despise purple 
and fine linen, and still prefer a cot-bed and a bare 
room, although they may be worth millions. But 
they are married to scheming, or ambitious, or dis- 
appointed, women, whose life is a prolonged pageant, 
and they are dragged hither and thither in it, are 
bled of their golden blood, and forced into a position 
they do not covet and which they despise. Then 
thei-e are the inheritors of wealth. How many of 
them inherit the valiant genius and hard frugality 
which built up their fortunes ; how many acknow- 
ledge the stern and heavy responsibility of their op- 
portunities ; how many refuse to dream their lives 
away in a Sybarite luxuiy ; how many are smitten 
with the lofty ambition of achieving an enduring 
name by works of a permanent value ; how many do 
not dwindle into dainty dilettanti, and dilute their 
manhood with factitious sentimentality instead of a 
hearty, human sympathy; how many are not satis- 
fied with having the fastest horses and the " crack- 
est" carriages, and an unlimited wardrobe, and a 
weak affectation and puerile imitation of foreign 
life ? 



6 THE POTIPHAR PAPERS. 

And who are these of our secondly, these " old 
families" ? The spirit of our time and of our coun- 
try knows no such thing, but the habitue of " so- 
ciety" hears constantly of "a good family." It 
means simply, the collective mass of children, grand- 
children, nejihews, nieces, and descendants, of some 
man who desei'ved well of his country, and whom 
his country honors. But sad is the heritage of a 
great name ! The son of Burke will inevitably be 
measured by Burke. The niece of Pope must show 
some superiority to other women (so to speak), or 
her equality is inferiority. The feelmg of men at- 
tributes some magical charm to blood, and we look 
to see the daughter of Helen as fair as her mother, 
and the son of Shakespeare musical as his sire. If 
they are not so, if they are merely names, and com- 
mon persons — if there is no Burke, nor Shakespeare, 
nor Washington, nor Bacon, in their words, or ac- 
tions, or lives, then we must pity them, and pass 
gently on, nob upbraiding them, but regretting that 
it is one of the laws of greatness that it dwindles all 
things in its vicinity, which would otherwise show 
large enough. Nay, in our regard for the great 
man, we may even admit to a compassionate honor, 
as pensioners upon our charity, those who bear and 
transmit his name. But if these heirs should pre- 
sume upon that fame, and claim any precedence of 



"OUR BEST SOCIETY." 7 

living men and women because their dead grand- 
father was a hero — they must be shown the door 
directly. We should dread to be born a Percy, or 
a Colonna, or a Bonaparte. We should not like to 
be the second Duke of Wellington, nor Charles 
Dickens, jr. It is a terrible thing, one would say, 
to a mind of honorable feeling, to be pointed out as 
somebody's son, or uncle, or granddaughter, as if 
the excellence were all derived. It must be a little 
humiliating to reflect that if your great uncle had 
not been somebody, you would be nobody — that, in 
fact, you are only a name, and that, if you should 
consent to change it for the sake of a fortune, as is 
sometimes done, you would cease to be an3rthing 
but a rich man. " My father was President, or 
Governor of the State," some pompous man may 
say. But, by Jupiter ! king of gods and men, what 
are you ? is the instinctive response. Do you not 
see, our pompous friend, that you are only pointing 
your own unimportance ? If your father was Grov- 
emor of the State, what right have you to use that 
fact only to fatten your self-conceit? Take care, 
good care ; for whether you say it by your lips or 
by your life, that withering response awaits you — 
" then what are you?''^ If your ancestor was great, 
you are under bonds to greatness. If you are small, 
make haste to learn it betimes, and, thanking heaven 



8 -THE POTIPHAE PAPERS- 

that your name has been made illustrious, retire 
into a corner and keep it, at least, untarnished. 

Our thirdly, is a class made by sundry French 
tailors, bootmakers, dancing-masters, and Mr. Browu. 
They are a corps-de-ballet, for the use of private 
entertainments. They are fostered by society for 
the use of young debutantes, and hardier damsels, 
who have dared two or three years of the " tight" 
polka. They are cultivated for their heels, not 
their heads. Theii' life begins at ten o'clock in the 
evening, and lasts until four in the morning. They 
go home and sleep until nine; then they reel, 
sleepy, to counting-houses and offices, and doze on 
desks until dinner-time. Or, unable to do that, 
they are actively at work all day, and their cheeks 
grow pale, and their lips thin, and their eyes blood- 
shot and hollow, and they drag themselves home at 
evening to catch a nap until the ball begins, or to 
dine and smoke at their club, and be very manly 
with punches and coarse stories ; and then to rush 
into hot and glittering rooms, and seize very decollete 
girls closely around the waist, and dash with them 
around an area of stretched linen, saying in the 
panting pauses, "How very hot it is!" "How 
very pretty Miss Podge looks !" " What a good 
redowa !" " Ai-e you going to Mrs. Potiphar's ?" 

Is this the assembled flower of manhood and 



'' -r^r' 




"OUR BEST SOCIETY." 9 

womanhood, called " best society," and to see which 
is so envied a privileged If such are the elements, 
can we be long in arriving at the present state, and 
necessary future condition of parties ? 

" Vanity Fair" is peculiarly a picture of modern 
society. It aims at English follies, but its mark is 
universal, as the madness is. It is called a satire, 
but, after much diligent reading, we cannot .discover 
the satire. A state of society not at all superior to 
that of "Vanity Fair" is not unknovsTi to our expe- 
rience ; and, unless truth-telling be satire ; unless 
the most tragically real portraiture be satire ; unless 
scalding tears of sorrow, and the bitter regret of a 
manly mind over the miserable spectacle of arti- 
ficiality, wasted powers, misdirected energies, and 
lost opportunities, be satirical ; we do not find satire 
in that sad story. The reader closes it vdth a grief 
beyond tears. It leaves a vague apprehension in 
the mind, as if we should suspect the air to be 
poisoned. It suggests the temble thought of the 
enfeebling of moral power, and the deterioration of 
noble character, as a necessary consequence of con- 
tact with " society." Every man looks suddenly 
and sharply around him, and accosts himself and his 
neighbors, to ascertain if they are all parties to this 
corruption. Sentimental youths and maidens, upon 

velvet sofas, or in calf-bound libraries, resolve that 
1* 



10 THE POTIPHAE PAPERS. 

it is an insult to liumau nature — are sure that tlieir 
velvet and calf-bound friends are not like tlie dra- 
matis personaj of " Vanity Fair," and that the drama 
is therefore hideous and unreal. Tiiey should re- 
member, what thej' uniformly and universal!}' for- 
get, that we are not invited, upon the rising of tlie 
curtain, to behold a cosmorama, or picture of the 
world, but a representation of that part of it called 
Vanity Fair. What its just limits are — how far its 
poisonous purlieus reach — how much of the world's 
air is tainted by it, is a question which every 
thoughtful man will ask himself, with a shudder, 
and look sadly around, to answer. If the senti- 
mental objectors rally again to the charge, and de- 
clare that, if we wish to improve the world, its 
virtuous ambition must be piqued and stimulated by 
making the shining heights of "the ideal" more 
radiant ; we reply, that none shall surpass us in 
honoring the men whose creations of beauty inspire 
and insti'uct mankind. But if they benefit the 
world, it is no less true that a vivid apprehension 
of the depths into which we are sunken or may 
sink, nerves the soul's courage quite as nauch as the 
alluring mirage of the happy heights we may attain. 
" To hold the mirror up to Nature," is still the 
most potent method of shaming sin and strengthen- 
ing virtue. 



"OOR BEST SOCIETY." 11 

If " Vanity Fair" be a satire, what novel of socie- 
ty is not ? Are "Vivian Grey," and " Pelham," 
and tlie long catalogue of books illustrating Eng- 
lish, or the host of Balzacs, Sands, Sues, and 
Dumas, tliat paint French society, less satires? 
Nay, if you should catch any dandy in Broadway, 
or in Pall-Mali, or upon the Boulevards, this veiy 
morning, and write a coldly true history of his life 
and actions, his doings and undoings, would it not 
be the most scathing and tremendous satire ? — if by 
satire you mean the consuming melancholy of the 
conviction, that the life of that pendant to a mous- 
tache is an insult to the possible life of a man. 

We have read of a hypocrisy so thorough, that it 
was surprised you should think, it hypocritical : and 
we have bitterly thought of the saying, when hear- 
ing one mother say of another mother's child, that 
she had " made a good match," because the girl 
was betrothed to a stupiid boy whose father was 
rich. The remark was the key of our social feel- 
ing. 

Let us look at it a little, and, first of all, let the 
reader consider the criticism, and not the critic. 
We may like very well, in our individual capacity, 
to partake of the delicacies prepared by our 
hostess's clief, we may not be averse to imte and 
myriad ohjets de goUt, and if you caught us in a 



12 THE POTIPHAR PAPERS 

corner at the next ball, putting away a fair share of 
dinde mix truffes, we know you would have at us in 
a tone of great moral indignation, and wish to know 
why we sneaked into great houses, eating good 
suppBrs, and drinking clioice wines, and then went 
away with an indigestion, to write dyspeptic dis- 
gusts at society. 

We might reply that it is necessary to know 
something of a subject before writing about it, and 
that if a man wished to' describe the habits of South 
Sea Islanders, it is useless to go to Greenland ; we 
might also confess a partiality for pate, and a ten- 
derness for truffes, and acknowledge that, consider- 
ing our single absence would not put down extrava- 
gant, pompous parties, we were not strong enough 
to let the morsels drop into unappreciating mouths ; 
or we might say, that if a man invited us to see his 
new house, it would not be ungracious nor insult- 
ing to his hospitality, to point out whatever weak 
parts we might detect in it, nor to declare our can- 
did conviction, that it was built upon wrong princi- 
ples and could not stand. He might believe us if 
we had been in the house, but he certainly would 
not, if we had never seen it. Nor would it be a 
very wise reply upon his part, that we might build 
abetter if we didn't like that. We are not fond of 
David's pictures, but we certainly could never paint 



"OUR BEST SOCIETY." 13 

half so well ; nor of Pojje's poetry, but posterity- 
will never hear of our verses. Criticism is not con- 
struction, it is observation. If we could surpass in 
its own way everything which displeased us, we 
should make short work of it, and instead of show- 
ing what fatal blemishes deform our present socie- 
ty, we should present a specimen of perfection, 
directly. 

We went to the brilliant ball. There was too 
much of everything. Too much light, and eating, 
and drinking, and dancing, and flirting, and dress- 
ing, and feigning, and smirking, and much too many 
people. Good taste insists iirst upon fitness. But 
why had Mrs. Potiphar given this ball? We in- 
quired industriously, and learned it was because she 
did not give one last year. Is it then essential to 
do this thing biennially? inquired we with some 
trepidation. " Certainly," was the bland reply, 
" or society will forget you." Every body was un- 
happy at Mrs. Potiphar's, save a few girls and boys, 
who danced violently all the evening. Those who 
did not dance walked up and down the rooms as 
well as they could, squeezing by non-dancing ladies, 
causing them to swear in their hearts as the brusque 
broadcloth carried away the light outworks of gauze 
and gossamer. The dowagers, ranged in solid pha- 
lanx, occupied all the chairs and sofas against the 



14 THE POTIPHAE PAPERS. 

wall, and fanned themselves until supper-time, 
looking at eacli other's diamonds, and criticising the 
toilettes of the younger ladies, each narrowly 
watching her peculiar Polly Jane, that she did not 
betray too much interest in any man wlio was not 
of a certain fortune. — It is the cold, vulgar truth, 
madam, nor are we in the slightest degree exagger- 
ating. — Elderly gentlemen, twisting single gloves in 
a very wretched manner, came up and bowed to 
the dowagers, and smirked, and said it was a pleas- 
ant party, and a handsome house, and then clutched 
their hands behind them, and walked miserably 
away, looking as affable as possible. And the dow- 
agers made a little fun of the elderly gentlemen, 
among themselves, as they walked away. 

Then came the younger non-dancing men — a 
class of the community who wear black cravats 
and waistcoats, and thrust their thumbs and fore- 
fingers in their waistcoat-pockets, and are called 
" talking men." Some of them are literary, and 
affect the philosopher ; have, perhaps, written a 
book or two, and are a small species of lion to 
very young ladies. Some are of the Uasa kind ; 
men who affect the extremest elegance, and are 
reputed " so aristocratic," and who care for nothing 
in particular, but wish they had not been born 
gentlemen, in which case they might have escaped 



"OUR BEST SOCIETY." 15 

eanui. These gentlemen stand with hat in hand, 
and their coats and trowsers are unexceptionable. 
They are the "so gentlemanly" persons of whom 
one hears a great deal, but which seems to mean 
nothing but cleanliness. Vivian Grey and Pelham 
are the models of their ambition, and they succeed 
in being Pendennis. They enjoy the reputation of 
being " very clever," and '• very talented fellows," 
and " smart chaps ;" but they refrain from proving 
what is so generously conceded. They are often 
men of a certain cultivation. They have travelled, 
many of them — spending a year or two in Paris, 
and a month or two in the rest of Europe. =Conse- 
quently they endure society at home, with a smile, 
and a shrug, and a graceful superciliousnessj which 
is very engaging. They are perfectly at home, and 
they rather despise Young America, which, in the 
next room, is diligently earning its invitation. 
They prefer to hover about the ladies who did not 
come out this season, but are a little used to the 
world, with whom they are upon most friendly 
terms, . and they criticise together, very freely, all 
the great events in the great world of fashion. 

These elegant Pendennises we saw at Mrs. Poti- 
phar's, but not without a sadness which can hardly 
be explained. They had been boys once, all of 
them, fresh and frank-hearted, and full of a noble 



16 THE POTIPHAE PAPERS. 

ambition. They had read and pondered the histo- 
ries of great men ; how they resolved, and strug- 
gled, and achieved. In the pure portraiture of 
genius, they had loved and honored noble women, 
and each young heart was sworn to truth and the 
service of beauty. Those feelings were chivalric 
and fair. Those boyish instincts clung to whatever 
was lovely, and rejected the specious snare, how- 
ever graceful and elegant. They sailed, new 
knights, upon that old and endless crusade against 
hypocrisy and the devil, and they were lost in the 
luxury of Corinth, nor longer seek, the difficult 
shores beyond. A present smile was worth a fu- 
ture laurel. The ease of the moment was worth 
immortal tranquillity. They renounced the stern 
worship of the unknown God, and acknowledged 
the deities of Athens. But the seal of their shame 
is their own smile at their early dreams, and the 
high hopes of their boyhood, their sneering infi- 
delity of simplicity, their scepticism of motives 
and of men. Youths, whose younger years were 
fervid with the resolution to strike and win, to 
desei-ve, at least, a gentle remembrance, if not a 
dazzling fame, are content to eat, and drink, and 
sleep well ; to go to the opera and all the balls ; to 
be known as " gentlemanly," and " aristocratic," 
and " dangerous," and " elegant ;" to cherish a 



"OUR BEST SOCIETY." 17 

luxurious and enervating indolence, and to " suc- 
ceed," upon the cheap reputation of having been 
"fast" in Paris. The end of such men is evident 
enough from the beginning. They are snuffed out 
by a "great match," and become an appendage to 
a rich v^oman ; or they dwindle off into old rou6s, 
men of the world in sad earnest, and not vpith ele- 
gant affectation, hlase ; and as they began Arthur 
Pendennises, so they end the Major. But, believe 
it, that old fossil heart is wrung sometimes by a 
mortal pang, as it remembers those squandered 
opportunities and that lost life. 

From these groups we passed into the dancing- 
room. We have seen dancing in other countries, 
and dressing. We have certainly never seen gen- 
tlemen dance so easily, gracefully, and well, as the 
American. But the style of dancing, in its whirl, 
its rush, its fury, is only equalled by that of the 
masked balls at the French opera, and the balls at 
the Salle Valentino, the Jardin Mahille, the Chateau 
Rouge, and other favorite resorts of Parisian Gri- 
settes and Lorettes. We saw a few young men 
looking upon the dance very soberly, and, upon 
inquiry, learned that they were engaged to certain 
ladies of the corps-de-ballet. Nor did we wonder 
that the spectacle of a young woman whirling in a 
decollete state, and in the embrace of a warm youth, 



18 THE POTIPIIAE PAPERS. 

around a heated room, induced a little sobriety 
upon her lover's face, if not a sadness in his heart. 
Amusement, recreation, enjoyment ! There are no 
more beautiful things. But this proceeding falls 
under another head. We watched the various toi- 
lets of these bounding belles. They were rich and 
tasteful. But a man at our elbow, of experience 
and shrewd observation, said, with a sneer, for 
which we called him to account, " I observe that 
American ladies are so rich in charms that they are 
not at all chary of them. It is certainly generous 
to us miserable black coats. But, do you know, it 
strikes me as a generosity of display that must 
necessarily leave the donor poorer in maidenly feel- 
ing." We thought ourselves cynical, but this was 
intolerable ; and in a very crisp manner we de- 
manded an apology. 

" Why," responded our friend with more of sad- 
ness than of satire in his tone, " why are you so ex- 
asperated ? Look at this scene ! Consider that this 
is, really, the life of these girls. This is what they 
' come out' for. This is the end of their ambition. 
They think of it, dream of it, long for it. Is it 
amusement? Yes, to a few, possibly. But listen 
and gather, if you can, from their remarks (when 
they make any), that they have any thought beyond 
this, and going to church very rigidly on Sunday. 



"OUR BEST SOCIETY." 19 

The vigor of polking and church-going are propor- 
tioned ; as is the one so is the other. My young 
friend, I am no ascetic, and do not suppose a man 
is damned because he dances. But life is not a ball 
(more's the pity, trul}% for these butterflies), nor is 
its sole duty and delight, daucing. When I consid- 
er this spectacle — when I remember what a noble 
and beautiful woman is, what a manly man — when 
I reel, dazzled by this glare, drunken by these per- 
fumes, confused by this alluring music, and reflect 
upon the enormous sums wasted in'a pompous pro- 
fusion that delights no one — when I look around 
upon all this rampant vulgarity in tinsel and Brus- 
sels lace, and think bow fortunes go, how men 
struggle and loose the bloom of tbeir honesty, how 
women hide in a smiling pretence, and eye with caus- 
tic glances their neighbor's newer house, diamonds 
or porcelain, and observe their daughters, such as 
these — why, I tremble, and tremble, and this scene 
to-night, every ' crack' ball this winter, will be, not 
the pleasant society of men and women, but — even 
in this young country — an orgie such as rotting 
Corinth saw, a frenzied festival of Rome in its de- 
cadence." 

There was a sober truth in this bitterness, and we 
turned away to escape the sombre thought of the 
moment. Addressing one of the panting houris 



20 THE PO TIP HAE TAPERS. 

who stood melting in a window, we spoke (and con- 
fess how absurdly) of the Dusseldorf Gallery. It 
was merely to avoid saying how wai-m the room 
was, and how pleasant the party was, facts upon 
which we had already enlarged. "Yes, they are 
pretty pictures; but la! how long it must have 
taken Mr. Dusseldorf to paint them all ;" was the 
reply. 

By the Farnesian Hercules ! no Roman sylph in 
her city's decline would ever have called the sun-god, 
Mr. Apollo. We hope that houri melted entirely 
away in the window ; but we certainly did uot stay 
to see. 

Passing out toward the supper-room we encoun- 
tered two young men. " What, Hal," said one, "-you 
at Mrs. Potiphar's ?" It seems that Hal was a sprig 
of one of the "old families." "Well Joe," said 
Hal, a little confused, " it is a little strange. The 
fact is I didn't mean to be here, but I concluded to 
compromise by coming, and not hemg introduced to 
the host." Hal could come, eat Potiphar's sup- 
per, drink his wines, spoil his carpets, laugh at his 
fashionable struggles, and affect the puppyism of a 
foreign lord, because he disgraced the name of a 
man who had done some service somewhere, while 
Potiphar was only an honest man who made a for- 
tune. 



"OUR BEST SOCIETY." 21 

The supper-roora was a pleasant place. The 
table was covered with a chaos of supper. Every- 
thing sweet and rare, and hot and cold, solid and 
liquid, was there. It vfas the very apotheosis of gilt 
gingerbread. There was a universal rush and strug- 
gle. The charge of the guards at Waterloo was no- 
thing to it. Jellies, custard, oyster-soup, ice-cream, 
wine and water, gushed in profuse cascades over 
transparent precipices oi tulle, muslin, gauze, silk, and 
satin. Clumsy boys tumbled against costly dresses 
and smeared them with preserves ; when clean 
plates failed, the contents of plates already used 
were quietly " chucked" under the table — heel-taps 
of chamjjagne were poured into the oj'ster tureens 
or overflowed upon plates to clear the glasses — wine 
of all kinds flowed in torrents, particularly down the 
throats of very young men, who evinced their man- 
hood by becoming noisy, troublesome, and disgust- 
ing, and were finally either led, sick, into the hat- 
room, or carried out of the way, drunk. The supper 
over, the young people attended by their matrons 
descended to the dancing-room for the " German." 
This is a dance commencing usually at midnight or 
a little after, and continuing indefinitely toward day- 
break. The young people were attended by their 
matrons, who were there to supei-vise the morals 
and manners of their charges. To secure the perform- 



22 THE POTIPHAR PAPERS. 

ance of this duty, the yoinig people took good care 
to sit where the matrons could not see them, nor 
did they, by any chance, look toward the quarter 
in whicli the matrons sat. In that quarter, through 
all the varying mazes of the prolonged dance, to two 
o'clock, to three, to four, sat the bediamonded 
dowagers, the mothers, the matrons — against nature, 
against common sense. They babbled with each 
other, they drowsed, they dozed. Their fans fell 
listless into their laps. In the adjoining room, out of 
the waking sight, even, of the then sleeping mam- 
mas, the daughters whirled in the close embrace of 
partners-who had brought down bottles of cham- 
pagne from the supper-room, and put them by the 
side of their chairs for occasional refreshment during 
the dance. The dizzy hours staggered by — " Azalia, 
you must come now," had been already said a dozen 
times, but only as by the scribes. Finally it vs^as 
declared with authority. Azalia went — Amelia — 
Arabella. The rest followed. There was prolong- 
ed cloaking, there were lingering farewells. A few 
papas were in the supper-room, sitting among the 
debris of game. A few young non-dancing husbands 
sat beneath gas unnaturall}' bright, reading what- 
ever chance book was at hand, and thinking of the 
young child at home waiting for mamma who 
was dancing the " German" below. A few e.xhaust- 



"OUR BEST SOCIETY." 23 

ed matrons satin the robing-room, tired, sad, wish- 
ing Jane -would come up ; assailed at intervals by 
a vague suspicion that it was not quite worth while ; 
wondering how it was they used to have such good 
times at balls ; yawning, and looking at their 
watches ; while the regular beat of the music belov/, 
with sardonic sadness, continued. At last Jane 
came up, had had the most glorious time, and went 
down with mamma to the carriage, and so drove 
home. Even the last Jane went — the last noisy 
youth was expelled, and Mr. and Mrs. Potiphar hav- 
ing duly performed their biennial social duty, dismiss- 
ed the music, ordered the servants to count the 
spoons, and an hour or two after daylight went to 
bed. Enviable Mr. and Mrs. Potiphar ! 

We are now prepared for the great moral indig- 
nation of the friend who saw us eating our dinde 
aux truffes in that remarkable supper-room. We 
are waiting to hear him say in the most moderate 
and "gentlemanly" manner, that it is all very well 
to select flaws and present them as specimens, and 
to learn from him, possibly with indignant publici- 
ty, that the present condition of parties is not what 
we have intimated. Or, in his quiet and pointed 
wa)', he may smile at our fiery assault upon edged 
flounces and nuga pyramids, and the kingdom of 
Lilliput in general. 



24 THE POTIPHAR PAPERS. 

Yet, after all, and despite the youths who are led 
out, and carriedhome, or who stumble through the 
" German," this is a sober matter. My friend told 
us we should see the " best society." But he is a 
prodigious wag. "Who make this country"? From 
whom is its character of unparalleled enterprise, 
heroism, and success derived? Who have given it 
its place in the respect and the fear of the world ? 
Who, annually, recruit its energies, confirm its pro- 
gress, and secure its triumph? Who are its char- 
acteristic children, the pith, the sinew, the bone, of 
its prosperity? Who found, and direct, and con- 
tinue its manifold institutions of mercy and educa- 
tion ? Who are, essentially, Americans ? Indig- 
nant friend, these classes, whoever they may be, are 
the " best society," because they alone are the rep- 
resentatives of its character and cultivation. They 
are the " best society" of New York, of Boston, of 
Baltimore, of St. Louis, of New Orleans, whether 
they live upon six hundred or sixty thousand dol- 
lars a year — whether they inhabit princely houses 
in fashionable streets (which they often do), or not — 
whether their sons have graduated at Celarius's and 
the Jardin Mabille, or have never been out of their 
fathers' shops — whether they have " air" and "style," 
and are " so gentlemanly" and " so aristocratic," or 
not. Your shoemaker, your lawyer, your butcher, 



"OUR BEST SOCIETY" 25 

your clerg3mien — if they are simple and stead j^, and, 
whether rich or poor, are unseduced by the sirens 
of extravagance and ruinous display, help make up 
the " best society." For that mystic communion is 
not composed of the rich, but of the worthy; and 
is " best" b}^ its virtues, and not b}'- its vices. When 
Johnson, Burke, Goldsmith, Garrick, Reynolds, and 
their friends, met at supper in Goldsmith's rooms, 
where was the " best society" in England ? When 
George the Fourth outraged humanity and decency 
in his treatment of Queen Caroline, who was the 
first scoundrel in Europe ? 

Pause yet a moment, indignant friend. Whose 
habits and principles would ruin this country as 
rapidly as it has been made ? Who are enamored 
of a puerile imitation of foreign splendors ? Who 
strenuously endeavor to graft the questionable points 
of Parisian society upon our own ? Who pass a few 
years in Europe and return sceptical of republican- 
ism and human improvement, longing and sighing for 
more sharply emphasized social distinctions? Who 
squander, with profuse recklessness, the hard-earned 
fortunes of their sires ? Who diligently devote 
their time to nothing, foolishly and wrongly suppos- 
ing that a young English nobleman has nothing to 
do ? Who, in fine, evince by their collective con- 
duct, that they regard their Americanism as a rais- 
2 



26 THE POTIPHAK PAPEES. 

fortune, and are so the most deadly enemies of their 
country ? None but what our wag facetiously 
termed " the best society." 

If the reader doubts, let him consider its practical 
results in any great emporiums of " best society." 
Marriage is there regarded as a luxury, too expen- 
sive for any but the sons of rich men, or fortunate 
j'^oung men. We once heard an eminent divine as- 
sert, and only half in sport, that the rate of living 
was advancing so incredibly, that weddings in his 
experience were perceptibly diminishing. The 
reasons might have been many and various. But 
we all acknowledge the fact. On the other hand, 
and about the same time, a lovely damsel (ah ! 
Clorinda !) whose father was not wealthy, who had 
no prospective means of support, who could do 
nothing but polka to perfection, who literally knew 
almost nothing, and who constantly shocked every 
fairly intelligent person by the glaring ignorance 
betrayed in her remarks, informed a friend at one of 
the Saratoga balls, whither he had made haste to 
meet " the best society," that there were " not more 
than three good matches in society." La Dame aux 
CaimliaSj.'M.dsie Duplessis, was to our fancy a much 
more feminine, and admirable, and moral, and hu- 
man person, than the adored Clorinda. And yet 
what she said was the legitimate result of the state 



"OUR BEST SOCIETY.- 27 

of our fashionable society. It worsliips wealth, and 
the pomp which wealth can purchase, more than 
virtue, genius, or beauty. We may be told that 
it has always been so in every countiy, and that the 
fine society of all lands is as profuse and flashy as 
our own. We deny it, flatly. Neither English, 
nor French, nor Italian, nor German society, is so 
unspeakably barren as that which is technically call- 
ed " society" here. In London, and Paris, and Vi- 
enna, and Rome, all the really eminent men and 
women help make up the mass of society. A party 
is not a mere ball, but it is a congress of the wit, 
beauty, and fame of the capital. It is worth while 
to dress, if you shall meet Macaulay, or Hallam, or 
Guizot, or Thiers, or Landseer, or Delaroche — Mrs. 
Norton, the Misses Berry, Madame Recamier, and 
all the brilliant women and famous foreigners. 
But why should we desert the pleasant pages of 
those men, and the recorded gossip of those women, 
to be squeezed flat against a wall, while young 
Doughface pours oyster-gravy down our shirt-front, 
and Caroline Pettitoes wonders at " Mr. Diissel- 
dorf's" industry ? 

If intelligent people decline to go, you justly re- 
mark, it is their own fault. Yes, but if they stay 
away, it is very certainly their great gain. The el- 
derly people are always neglected with us, and no- 



28 THE rOTIPHAR PAPERS. 

thing surprises intelligent strangers more than tlie 
tyrannical supremac)^ of Young America. But we 
are not surprised at this neglect. How can we be, 
if we have our eyes open? "When Caroline Petti- 
toes retreats from the floor to the sofa, and instead 
of a " polker" figures at parties as a matron, do you 
suppose that "tough old Joes" like ourselves are 
going to desert the young Caroline upon the floor, 
for Madame Pettitoes upon the sofa ? If the pretty 
young Caroline, with youth, health, freshness, a 
fine, budding form, and wreathed in a semi-trans- 
parent haze of flounced and flowered gauze, is so 
vapid that we prefer to accost her with our eyes 
alone, and not with our tongues, is the same Caro- 
line married into a Madame Pettitoes, and fanning 
herself upon a sofa — no longer particularly fresh, 
nor young, nor pretty, and no longer budding, but 
very fully blown — likely to be fascinating in con- 
versation ? We cannot wonder that the whole con- 
nection of Pettitoes, when advanced to the matron 
state, is entirely neglected. Proper homage to age 
we can all pay at home, to our parents and grand- 
parents. Proper respect for some persons is best 
preserved by avoiding their neighborhood. 

And what, think you, is the influence of this ex- 
travagant expense and senseless show upon these 
same young men and women? We can easily dis- 



"OUR BEST SOCIETY." 29 

cover. It saps their noble ambition, assails their 
healtli, lowers their estimate of men, and their re- 
verence for women, cherislies an eager and aimless 
rivalry, weakens true feeling, wipes away the bloom 
of true modesty, and induces an ennui, a satiety, 
and a kind of dilettante misanthropy, which is only 
the more monstrous because it is undoubtedly real. 
You shall hear young men of intelligence and cul- 
tivation, to whom the unprecedented circumstances 
of this country offer opportunities of a great and 
beneficent career, complaining that they were born 
within this blighted circle ; regretting that they 
were not bakers and tallow-chandlers, and under no 
obligation to keep up appearances ; deliberately 
surrendering all the golden possibilities of that fu- 
ture which this country, beyond all others, holds 
before them ; sighing that they are not rich enough 
to marry the girls they love, and bitterly upbraiding 
fortune that they are not millionaires ; suffering 
the vigor of their years to exhale in idle wishes and 
pointless regi-ets ; disgracing their manhood by 
lying in wait behind their " so gentlemanly" and 
" aristocratic" manners, until they can pounce upon 
a " fortune" and ensnare an heiress into matrimony : 
and so, having dragged their gifts — their horses of 
the sun — ^into a service which shames out of them 
all their native pride and power, they sink in the 



30 THE roTiPiiAE papers. 

mire ; and their peers and emulators exclaim that 
they have " made a good thing of it." 

Are these the processes by which a noble race is 
made and perpetuated? At Mrs. Potipbar's we 
beard several Pendennises longing for a similar lux- 
ury, and announcing their firm purpose never to 
have wives nor houses until they could have them 
as splendid as jewelled Mrs. Potiphar, and her palace, 
thirty feet front. Where were their heads, and their 
hearts, and their arms? How looks this craven de- 
spondency, before the stern virtues of the ages we 
call dark ? When a man is so voluntarily imbecile 
as to regret he is not rich, if that is what be wants, 
before he has struck a blow for wealth ; or so das- 
tai'dly as to renounce the prospect of love, ^because, 
sitting sighing, in velvet dressing-gown and slippers, 
he does not see his way clear to ten thousand a 
year : when young women coifTed a merocille, of un- 
exceptionable "style," who, with or without a pros- 
pective" penny, secretly look down upon honest wo- 
men who struggle for a livelihood, like noble and 
Christian beings, and, as such, are rewarded; in 
whose society a man must forget that be has ever 
read, thought, or felt ; who destroy in the mind the 
fair ideal of woman, which the genius of art, and 
poetry, and love, their inspirer has created; then, it 
seems to us, it is high time that the subject should 



"OUR BEST SOCIETY.'' 81 

be regarded, not as a matter of breaking butterflies 
upon the wheel, but as a sad and sober question, in 
whose solution, all fathers and mothers, and the 
state itself, are interested. When keen observers, 
and men of the world, from Europe, are amazed and 
appalled at the giddy whirl and frenzied rush of our 
society — a society singular in history for the exag- 
gerated prominence it assigns to wealth, iiTespective 
of the, talents that amassed it, they and their pos- 
sessor being usually hustled out of sight — is it not 
quite time to ponder a little upon the Court of Louis 
XIV., and the " merrie days" of King Charles II? 
Is it not clear that, if what our good wag, with 
caustic irony, called " best society," wei-e really 
such, every thoughtful man would read upon Mrs. 
Potiphar's softly-tinted walls the terrible " mene, 
mene" of an imminent destruction? 

Venice in her purple prime of luxury, when the 
famous law was passed making all gondolas black, 
that the nobles should not squander fortunes upon 
them, was not more luxurious than New York to- 
day. Our hotels have a superficial splendor, derived 
from a profusion of gilt and paint, wood and da- 
mask. Yet, in not one of them can the traveller be 
so quietly comfortable as in an English inn, and 
nowhere in New York can the stranger procure a 
dinner, at once so neat and elegant, and economical, 



32 THE rOTiniAE PAPERS. 

as at scores of cafes in Paris. The fever of display 
has consumed comfort. A gondola plated with gold 
was no easier than a black wooden one. We could 
well spare a little gilt upon the walls, for more 
cleanliness upon the public table ; nor is it worth 
while to cover the walls with mirrors to reflect a 
want of comfort. One prefers a wooden bench to 
a greasy velvet cushion, and a sanded floor to a soil- 
ed and threadbare carpet. An insipid uniformity is 
the Procrustes-bed, upon which " society" is stretch- 
ed. Every new house is the counterpart of every 
other, with the exception of more gilt, if the owner 
can afford it. The interior arrangement, instead of 
being characteristic, instead of revealing something 
of the tastes and feelings of the owner, is rigorously 
conformed to every other intei-ior. The same hol- 
low and tame complaisance rules in the intercourse 
of society. Who dares say precisely what he thinks 
upon a great topic ? What youth ventures to say 
sharp things, of slavery, for instairce, at a polite 
dinner-table ? What girl dares wear curls, when 
Martelle prescribes puffs or bandeaux ? What spe- 
cimen of Young America dares have his trowsers 
loose or wear straps to them ? We want individu- 
ality, heroism, and, if necessarj', an uncompromising 
persistence in difference. 

This is tlie present state of parties. They arc 



"OUE BEST SOCIETY." 33 

wildly extravagant, full of senseless display; the}^ 
are avoided by the pleasant and intelligent, and 
swarm with reckless remments of " Brown's men." 
The ends of the earth contribute their choicest pro- 
ducts to the supper, and there is everything that 
wealth can purchase, and all the spacious splendor 
that thirty feet front can afford. They are hot, and 
crowded, and glaring. There is a little weak scan- 
dal, venomous, not witty, and a stream of weary 
platitude, mortifying to every sensible person. Will 
any of our Pendennis friends intermit their iadigna- 
tion for a moment, and consider how many good 
things they have said or heard during the season ? 
If Mr. Potiphar's eyes should chance to fall here, 
will he reckon the amount of satisfaction and en- 
joyment he derived from Mrs. Potiphar's ball, and 
will that lady candidly confess what she gained from 
it beside weariness and disgust? What eloquent 
sermons we remember to have heard in which the 
sins and the sinners of Babylon, Jericho and Gomor- 
rali were scathed with holy indignation. The 
cloth is very hard upon Cain, and completely 
routs the erring kings of Judah. The Spanish 
Inquisition, too, gets frightful knocks, and there 
is much eloquent exhortation to preach the 
gospel in the interior of Siam. Let it be 

preached there and God speed the Word. But 

2* 



34 THE POTIPHAE PAPERS. 

also let US have a text or two in Broadway and the 
Avenue. 

The best sermon ever preached upon society, 
witliin our knowledge, is "Vanity Fair." Is the 
spirit of that story less true of Xew York than of 
London? Probably we never see Amelia at our 
parties, nor Lieutenant George Osborne, nor good 
gawky Dobbin, nor Mrs. Rebecca Sharp Crawley, 
nor old Steyne. We are very much pained, of 
course, that any author should take such dreary 
views of human nature. We, for our parts, all go to 
Mrs. Potiphar's to refresh our faith in men and wo- 
men. Generosity, amiability, a catholic charity, 
simplicity, taste, sense, high cultivation, and intelli- 
gence, distinguish our parties. The statesman seeks 
their stimulating influence ; the literary man, after 
the day's labor, desires the repose of their elegant 
conversation ; the professional man and the mer- 
chant huriy up from down town to shuffle off the 
coil of heavy duty, and forget the drudgery of life 
in the agreeable picture of its amenities and graces 
presented by Mrs. Potiphar's ball. Is this account 
of the matter, or " Vanity Fair," the satire ? What 
are the prospects of any society of which that tale is 
the true history? 

There is a picture iu the Luxembourg gallery at 
Paris, " The Decadence of the Romans," which made 



"OUE BEST SOCIETY." 35 

the fame and fortune of Couture, the painter. It 
represents an orgie in the court of a temple, during 
the last days of Rome. A swarm of revellers occupy 
the middle of the picture, wreathed in elaborate in- 
tricacy of luxurious posture, men and women inter 
mingled ; their faces, in which the old Eoman fire 
scarcely flickers, brutalized with excess of every 
kind ; their heads of dishevelled hair bound with 
coronals of leaves, while, from goblets of an antique 
grace, they drain the fiery torrent which is destroy- 
ing them. Around the bacchanalian feast stand, 
lofty upon pedestals, the statues of old Rome, look- 
ing, with marble calmness and the severity of a re- 
buke beyond words, upon the revellers. A youth of 
boyish grace, with a wreath woven in his tangled 
hair, and with red and drowsy eyes, sits listless upon 
one pedestal, while upon another stands a boy in- 
sane with drunkenness, and profiering a dripping 
goblet to the marble mouth of the statue. In the 
corner of the pictm"e, as if just quitting the court — 
Rome finally departing — ^is a group of Romans with 
care-worn brows, and hands raised to their faces in 
melancholy meditation. In the foreground of the 
picture, which is painted with all the sumptuous 
splendor of Venetian art, is a stately vase, around 
which hangs a festoon of gorgeous flowers, its end 
dragging upon the pavement. In the background, 



36 THE POTIPIIAE PAPERS. 

between the columns, smiles the blue skj^ of Italy — 
the only thing Italian not deteriorated by time. The 
careful student of this picture, if lie have been long 
in Paris, is some day startled by detecting, especially 
in the faces of the women represented, a surprising 
likeness to the women of Paris, and perceives, witli 
a thrill of dismay, that the models for this picture of 
decadent human nature are furnished by the very 
city in which he lives. 



II. 



OUR NEW LIVERY, AND OTHER THINGS. 

A LETTER FROM MRS. POTIPHAR TO MISS 
CAROLINE PETTITOES. 



OUR NEW LIVERY, AND OTHER THINGS 

A LETTER FROM MRS. POTII'HAR TO MISS CAROLINE 
PETTITOES. 



New Tore, April. 

My dear Caroline, — ^Lent came so frightfully 
early this year, that I was very much afraid my new 
bonnet, a rimperatrice would not be out from Paris 
soon enough. But fortunately it arrived just in 
time, and I had the satisfaction of taking down the 
pride of Mrs. Croesus, who fancied hers would be 
the only stylish hat in church the first Sunday. 
She could not keep her eyes away from me, and I 
sat so unmoved, and so calmly looking at the Doctor, 
that she was quite vexed. But, whenever she turn- 
ed away, I ran my eyes over the whole congregation, 
and would you believe that, almost without an ex- 
ception, people had their old things? However, I 
suppose they forgot how soon Lent was coming. As 
I was passing out of church, Mrs. Croesus brushed 
by me. 

"Ah!" said she, " good morning. Why, bless me! 
you've got that pretty hat I saw at Lawson's. 



4:0 THE POTIPHAE PAl'ERS. 

Well, now, it's really quite prctt}^ ; Lawson lias 
some taste left yet ; what a lovelj^ sermon the Doc- 
tor gave ns. By-tlie-b}', did }^ou know that Mrs. 
Gnu has actually bought the blue velvet ? It's too 
bad, because I wanted to cover my prayer-book with 
blue, and she sits so near, the effect of my booli will 
be quite spoiled. Dear me ! there she is beckoning 
to me : good-by, do come and see us ; Tuesda3's, 
you know. Well, Lawson really does very well." 

I was so mad with the old thing, that I could not 
help catching her by her mantle and holding on 
while I whispered, loud enough for everybody to 
hear : 

" Mrs. Croesus, you see I have just got my bon- 
net from Paris. It's made after the Empress's. If 
you would like to have yours made over in the 
fashion, dear Mrs. Croesus, I shall be so glad to lend 
you mine." 

"No, thank you, dear," said she, "Lawson won't 
do for me. By-by." 

And so she slipped out, and, I've no doubt, told 
Mrs. Gnu that she had seen my bonnet at Lawson's. 
Isn't it too bad? Then she is so abominably cool. 
Somehow, when I'm talking with Mrs. Croesus, who 
has all her own things made at home, I don't feel 
as if mine came from Paris at all. She has such a 
way of looking at you, that it's quite dreadful. She 



OUR NEW LIVERY, ETC. 41 

seems to be saying in her mind, " La ! now, well 
done, little dear." And I think that kind of mental 
reservation (I think that's what they call it) is an 
insupportable impertinence. However, I don't care, 
do you? 

I've so many things to tell you that I hardly know 
where to begin. The great thing is the livery, but 
I want to come regularly up to that, and forget no- 
thing by the way. I was uncertain for a long time 
how to have my prayer-book bound. Finally, after 
thinking about it a great deal, I concluded t(y have 
it done in pale blue velvet", with gold clasps, and a 
gold ci'oss upon the side. To be sure, it's nothing 
very new. But what is new now-a-days? Sally 
Shrimp has had hers done in emerald, and I know 
Mrs. Croesus will have crimson for hers, and those 
people who sit next us in church (I wonder who 
they are; it's very unpleasant to sit next to people 
you don't know; and, positively, that girl, the dark- 
haired one with large e3'es, carries the same muff 
she did last year ; it's big enough for a family) have 
a kind of brown morocco binding. I must tell you 
one reason why I fixed upon the pale blue. You 
know that aristocratic-looking young man, in white 
cravat, and black pantaloons and waistcoat, whom 
we saw at Saratoga a year ago, and who always had 
such a beautiful sanctimonious look, and such small 



42 THE POTIPHAR PAPERS. 

white lianxls ; well, he is a minister, as we supposed, 
" an unworthy candidate, an unprofitable husband- 
man," as he calls himself in that delicious voice of 
his. He has been quite taken up among us. He 
has been asked a good deal to dinner, and there was 
hope of his being settled as colleague to the Doctor, 
only Mr. Potiphar (who can be stubborn, you know) 
insisted that the Rev. Cream Cheese, though a very 
good young man, he didn't doubt, was addicted to 
candlesticks. I suppose that's something awful. 
But, could you believe anything awful of him? I 
asked Mr. Potiphar what he meant by saying such 
things. 

"I mean," said he, " that he's a Puseyite, and 
I've no idea of being tied to the aprou-strings of the 
Scarlet Woman." 

Dear Caroline, who is the Scarlet Woman ! Dear- 
est, tell me, upon your honor, if you have ever 
heard any scandal of Mr. Potiphar. 

" What is it about candlesticks ?" said I to Mr. 
Potiphar. " Perhaps Mr. Cheese finds gas too bright 
for his eyes; and that's his misfortune, not his 
fault." 

"Polly," said Mr. Potiphar — who will call me 
Polly, although it sounds so very vulgar — " please 
not to meddle with tilings you don't understand. 
You may have Cream Cheese to dinner as much as 



OUR KEW LIVERY, ETC. 43 

you choose, but I will not have him in the pulpit 
of my church." 

The same day, Mr. Cheese happened in about 
lunch-time, and I asked him if his eyes were really 
weak. 

"Not at all," said he, " why do j-ou ask ?" 

Then I told him that I. had heard he was so fond 
of candlesticks. 

Ah! Caroline, you should have seen, him then. 
He stopped in the midst of pouring out a glass of 
Mr. P.'s best old port, and holding the decanter in 
one hand, and the glass in the other, he looked so 
beautifully sad, and said in that sweet low voice : . 

" Dear Mrs. Potiphar, the blood of the martyrs is 
the seed of the church." Then he filled up his glass, 
and drank the wine off with such a mournful, re- 
signed air, and wiped his lips so gently with his 
cambric handkerchief (I saw that it was a hem- 
stitch), that I had'no voice to ask him to take a bit 
of the cold chicken, which he did, however, with- 
out my asking him. But when he said in the same 
low voice, " A little more breast, dear Mrs. Poti- 
phar," I was obliged to run into the drawing-room 
for a moment, to recover myself. 

Well, after he had lunched, I told him that I 
wished to take his advice upon something connected 
with the church (for a prayer-book is, you know, 



44 THE POTiniAR PAPERS. 

dear), and he looked so sweetly at me, that, would 
3'ou believe it, I almost wished to-be a Catholic, and 
to confess three or four times a week, and to have 
him for mv confessor. But it's verj^ wicked to wish 
to be a Catholic, and it wasn't real much, j'ou 
know : but somehow I thouErht so. When I asked 
him in what velvet he would advise me to have my 
prayer-book bound, he talked beautifully for about 
twentj' minutes. I wish you could have heard him. 
I'm not sure that I understood much of what he 
said — how should I ? — but it was very beautiful. 
Don't laugh, Carry, but there was one thing I did 
understand, and which, as it came pretty often, 
cpite helped me through: it was, "Dear Mrs. Poti- 
phar;" you can't tell how nicely he says it. He 
began by telling me that it was very important to 
consider all the details and little things about the 
church. He said they were all tirabales or cymbals 
— or something of that kind ; and then he talked 
very prettily about the stole, and the violet and scarlet 
capes of the cardinals, and purple chasubles, and the 
lace edge of the Pope's little short gown ; and — do 
you know it was very funny — but it seemed to me, 
somehow, as if I was talking with Portier or Florine 
Lefcvre, except that he used such beautiful words. 
Well, by and by, he said : — 

" Therefore, dear Mrs. Potiphar, as your faith is 



OUR NEW LIVERY, ETC. 45 

SO pure and childlike, and as I observe that the 
light from the yellow panes usually falls across 
your pew, I would advise that you C3'mbalize your 
faith (wouldn't that be noisy in church ?) by bind- 
ing your prayer-book in pale blue ; the color of 
skim-milk, dear Mrs. Potiphar, which is so full of 
pastoi-al associations." 

Why did he emphasize the word " pastoral ?" 
Do you wonder that I like Cream Cheese, dear 
Caroline, when he is so gentle and religious — and 
such a pretty religion, too ! For he is not only 
well-dressed, and has such aristocratic hands and 
feet, in the parlor, but he is so perfectly gentle- 
manly in the pulpit. He never raises his voice too 
loud, and he has such wavy gestures. Mr. Potiphar 
says that may be all very true, but he knows per- 
fectly well that he has a hankering for artificial 
flowers, and that, for his part, he prefers the Doc- 
tor to any preacher he ever heard ; " because," he 
says, " I can go quietly to sleep, confident that he 
will say nothing that might not be preached from 
every well-regulated pulpit ; whereas, if we should 
let Cream Cheese into the desk, I should have to 
keep awake to be on the lookout for some of these 
new-fangled idolatries : and, Polly Potiphar, I, for 
one, am determined to have nothing to do with the 
Scarlet Woman." 



46 THE POTIPHAR PAPERS. 

Darling Caroline — I don't care mucli — but did 
he ever have anything to do with a Scarlet Wo- 
man ? 

After lie said that about artificial flowers, I 
ordered from Martelle the sweetest sprig of im- 
mortcllc he had in his shop, and sent it anony- 
mously on St. Valentine's day. Of course I didn't 
wish to do anything secret from my husband, that 
might make people talk, so I wrote — " Reverend 
Cream Cheese ; from his grateful SJam-mUJc." I 
marked the last words, and hope he understood 
that that I meant to express my thanks for his 
advice about the pale-blue cover. You don't think 
it was too romantic, do you, dear ? 

You can imagine how pleasantly Lent is passing 
since I see so much of him : and then it is so appro- 
priate to Lent to be intimate with a minister. He 
goes with me to church a great deal ; for Mr. Poti- 
phar, of course, has no time for that, except on 
Sundays ; and it is really delightful to see such 
piety. He makes the responses in the most musical 
manner ; and when he kneels upon entering the 
pew, he is the admiration of the whole church. 
He buries his face entirely in a cloud of cambric 
pocket-handkerchief, with his initial embroidered at 
the corner ; and his hair is beautifully parted down 
behind, which is very fortunate, as otherwise it 



OUR NEW LIVERY, ETC. 47 

would look SO badly when only half his head 
showed. I feel so good when I sit by his side ; 
and when the Doctor (as Mr. P. says) " blows up" 
those terrible sinners in Babylon and other Bible 
towns, I always find the Rev. Cream's eyes fixed 
upon me, with so much sweet sadness, that I am 
very, very sorry for the naughty people the Doctor 
talks about. Why did they do so, do you suppose, 
dear Caroline ? How thankful we ought to be that 
we live now with so many churches, and such fine 
ones, and with such gentlemanly ministers as Mr. 
Cheese. And how nicely it's arranged that, after 
dancing and dining for two or three months con- 
stantly, during which, of course, we can only go 
to church Sundays, there comes a time for stopping, 
when we're tired out, and for going to church every 
day, and (as Mr. P. says) " striking a balance ;" and 
thinking about being good, and all those things. 
We don't lose a great deal, you know. It makes a 
variety, and we all see each other, just the samef 
only we don't dance. I do think it would be bet- 
ter if we took our lorgnettes with us, however ; for 
it was only last Wednesday, at nine o'clock prayers, 
that I saw Sheena Silke across the church, in their 
little pew at the corner, and I am sure that she had 
a new bonnet on ; and yet, though I looked at it 
all the time, trying to find out, prayers were fairly 



4S THE rOTirnAR TAPERS. 

over before I discovered whether it was really new, 
or only that old white one made over with a few 
new flowers. Now, if I had had my glass, I could 
have told in a moment, and shouldn't have been 
obliged to lose all the prayers. 

But, as I was saying, those poor old people in 
Babylon and Nineveh ! only think, if they had had 
the privilege of prayers for six or seven weeks in 
Lent, and regular preaching the rest of the year, 
except, of course, in the summer — (by-the-by, I 
wonder if they all had some kind of Saratoga or 
Newport to go to? — ^I mean to ask Mr. Cheese) — 
they might have been good, and all have been 
happy. It's quite awful to hear how eloquent and 
earnest the Doctor is when he preaches against 
Babylon. Mr. P. says he likes to have him " pitch 
into those old sinners ; it does 'em so much good :" 
and then he looks quite fierce. Mr. Cheese is going 
to read me a sermon he has written upon the maid- 
enhood of Lot's wife. He says that he cjuotes a 
great deal of poetry in it, and that I must dam up 
the fount of my tears when he reads it. It was 
an odd expression for a minister, wasn't it? and I 
was obliged to say, " Mr. Cheese, you forgot your- 
self." He replied, " Dear Mrs. Potiphar, I will 
explain;" and he did so; so that I admired him 
more than ever. 



OUE NEW LIVERY, ETC. 49 

Dearest Caroline — if jo\i should only like him ! 
He asked one day ahout j'ou ; and when I told him 
what a dear, good girl you are, he said : " And her 
father has worldly possessions, has he not ?" 

I answered, yes ; that your father was very rich. 
Then he sighed, and said that he could never marry 
an heiress unless he clearly saw it to be his duty. 
Isn't it a beautiful resignation ? 

I had no idea of saying so much about him, but 
you know it's proper, when writing a letter in Lent, 
to talk about religious matters. And, I must con- 
fess, there is something comfortable in having to do 
with such things. Don't j'ou feel better, when 
you've been dancing all the week, and dining, and 
going to the opera, and flirting and flying around, tc 
go to church on Sundays ? I do. It seems, some- 
how, as if we ought to go. But I do wish Mrs. 
Croesus would sit somewhere else than just in front 
of us ; for her new bonnets and her splendid collars 
and capes make me quite miserable, and then she 
puts me out of conceit of my things by talking 
about Lawson, or somebody, as I told you in the 
beginning. 

Mr. Potiphar has sent out for the new carpets. 
I had only two spoiled at my ball, you know, and 
that was very little. One always expects to sacri- 
fice at least two carpets upon occasion of seeing 



50 THE POTIPHAR PAPERS. 

one's friends. The handsome one in the supper- 
room was entu'ely ruined. Would you believe that 
Mr. P., when he went dowa stairs the next morning 
found our Fred, and his cousin hoeing it with their 
little hoes? It was entirely matted with presen'es 
and things, and the boys said they were scraping it 
clean for breakfast. The other spoiled carpet was 
in the gentlemen's dressing-room where the punch- 
bowl was. Young Gauche Boosey, a very gentle- 
manly fellow, you know, ran up after polking, and 
was so confused with the light and heat that he went 
quite unsteadily, and as he was trying to fill a glass 
with the silver ladle (which is rather heavy), he 
somehow leaned too hard upon the table, and down 
went the whole thing, table, bowl, punch, and Boo- 
sey, and ended my poor carpet. I was sorry for 
that, and also for the bowl, which was a very hand- 
some one, imported from China by my father's part- 
ner — a wedding-gift to me — and for the table, a 
delicate rosewood stand, which was a work-table of 
my sister Lucy's — whom you never knew, and who 
died long and long ago. However, I was amply 
repaid by Boosey's drollery afterwards. He is 
a very witty young man, and when he got up 
from the floor, saturated with punch (his clothes 
I mean), he looked down at the carpet and 
said : 



OUR NEW LIVERY, ETC. 61 

"Well, I've given that such a punch it will want 
some lemon-aid to recover." 

I suppose he had some idea about lemon acid 
taking out spots 

But, the best thing was what he had said to me. 
He is so droll that he insisted upon coming down, and 
finishing the dance just as he was. The funny fel- 
low brushed against all the -dresses in his way, and, 
finally, said to me, as he pointed to a lemon-seed 
upon his coat : 

" I feel so very lemon-choly for what I have 
done." 

I laughed very much (you were in the other 
room), but Mr. P. stepped up and ordered him to 
■leave the. house. Boosey said he would do no such 
thing ; and I have no doubt we should have had a 
scene, if Mr. P. had not marched him straight to the 
door, and put him into a carriage, and told the dri- 
ver where to take him. Mr. P. was red enough 
when he came back. 

" No man shall insult me or my guests, by get- 
ting drunk in my house," said he ; and he has since 
asked me not to invite Boosey nor " any of his 
kind," as he calls them, to our house. However, 
I think it will pass over. I tell him that all young 
men of spirit get a litle excited with wine somer 
times, and he mustn't be too hard upon them. 



52 TUE POTIPIIAR PAPEES. 

" Madame," said he to me, the first time I ven- 
tured to say that, "no man with genuine self-re- 
spect ever gets drunk, twice ; and if you had the 
faintest idea of the misery whicli a little elegant in- 
toxication has produced in scores of families that you 
know, you would never insinuate again that a little 
excitement from wine is an agreeable thing. There's 
your friend Mrs. Croesus (he thinks she's my friend, 
because we call each other ' dear' !) ; she is delight- 
ed to be a fashionable woman, and to be described 
as the ' peerless and accomplished Mrs C-oe-s,' in 
letters from the watering-places to the Herald ; 
but I tell you, if anything of the woman or the 
mother is left in the fashionable Mrs. Croesus, I 
could wring her heart as it never was wrung — and 
never shall be by me — by showing her the places 
that young Timon Croesus haunts, the people witk 
whom he associates, and the drunkenness, gambling, 
and worse dissipations of which he is guilty. 

"Timon Croesus is eighteen or nineteen, or, per- 
haps, twenty j'ears old ; and, Polly, I tell you, he 
is actually blase, worn out with dissipation, the com- 
panion of blacklegs, the chevalier of Cyprians, tipsy 
every night, and haggard every morning. Timon 
Croesus is the puny caricature of a man, mentally, 
morally, ph^-sically. He gets 'elegantly intoxicated' 
at your parties ; he goes off to sup with Gauche 



OUR NEW LIVERY, ETC 53 

Boosey ; you and Mrs. Croesus think them young 
men of spirit — it is an exhilarating case of sowing 
wild-oats, you fancy — and when, at twenty-five, 
Timon Croesus stands ruined in the world, without 
aims or capacities, without the esteem of a single 
man or his own self-respect — youth, health, hope, 
and energy, all gone for ever — then you and your 
dear Mrs. Croesus will probably wonder at the horri- 
ble harvest. Mrs. Potiphar, ask the Eev. Cream 
Cheese to omit his sermon upon the maidenhood of 
Lot's wife, and preach from this text : ' They that 
sow the wind shall reap the whirlwind.' Good heav- 
ens ! Polly, fancy our Fred, growing up to such a 
life ! I'd rather bury him to-morrow !" 

I never saw Mr. P. so much excited. He fairly 
put his handkerchief to bis eyes, and I really be- 
lieve he cried ! But I think he exaggerates these 
things : and as he had a very dear friend who went 
worse and worse, until he died frightfully a drunk- 
ard, it is not strange he should speak so warmly 
about it. But as Mrs. Croesus says : 

" What can you do ? You can't curb these boys, 
you don't want to break -their spirits, you don't 
want to make them milk-sops." 

When I repeated the speech to Mr. P.', he said to 
me with a kind of solemnity : 

" Tell Mrs. Croesus that I am not here to judge 



54 THE POTIPHAR PAPERS. 

nor dictate: but she may be well assured, that 
every parent is responsible for everj^ child of his 
to the utmost of the influence he can exert, whether 
he chooses to consider himself so or not ; and if 
not now, in this world, yet somewhere and some- 
how, he must hear and heed the voice that called 
to Cain in the garden, 'Where is Abel, thy bro- 
ther?'" 

I can't bear to hear Mr. P. talk in that way ; it 
sounds so like preaching. Not precisely like what 
I hear at church, but like what we mean when we 
say "preaching," without referring to any particu- 
lar sermon. However, he grants that young Timon 
is an extreme case : but he says, it is the result that 
proves the principle, and a state of feeling which 
not only allows, but indirectly fosters, that re- 
sult, is frightful to think of. 

" Don't think of it, then, Mr. P.," said I. He 
looked at me for a moment with the sternest scowl 
I ever saw upon a man's face, then he suddenly ran 
up to me, and kissed me on the forehead (although my 
hair was all dressed for Mrs. Gnu's dinner), and went 
out of the house. He hasn't said much to me since, 
but he speaks very gently when he does speak, and 
sometimes I catch him looking at me in such a sin- 
gular way, so half mournful, that Mr. Cheese's eyes 
don't seem so very sad, after all. 



OUR NEW LIVERY, ETC! 55 

However, to return to the party, I believe nothing 
else was injured except the curtains in the front 
drawing-room, which were so smeared with ice- 
cream and oyster gravy, that we must get new ones ; 
and the cover of my porcelain tureen was broken 
by the servant, though the man said he really didn't 
mean to do it, and I could say nothing ; and a party 
of young men, after the German Cotillon, did let 
fall that superb cut-glass Claret, and shivered it, 
with a dozen of the delicately-engraved straw-stems 
that stood upon the waiter. That was all, I be- 
lieve — oh ! except that fine " Dresden Gallery," the 
most splendid book I ever saw, full of engravings of 
the great pictures in Dresden, Vienna, and the other 
Italian towns, and which was sent to Mr. P. by an 
old friend, an artist, whom he had helped along 
when he was very poor. Somebody unfortunately 
tipped over a bottle of claret that stood upon the 
table, (I am sure, I don't know how it got there, 
though Mr. P. says Gauche Boosey knows), and it 
lay soaking into the book, so that almost every pic- 
ture has a claret stain, which looks so funny. I am 
very sorry, I am sure, but, as I tell Mr. P., it's no 
use crying for spilt milk. I was telling Mr. Boosey 
of it at the Gnus' dinner. He laughed very much, 
and when I said that a good many of the faces were 
sadly stained, he said iii his droll way, " You ought 



56 THE POTIPHAE PAPERS. 

to call it L'opera di Bordeaux ; Le Domino rovge." 
I supposed it was sometliing funu}-, so I laughed a 
good deal. He said to me later : 

"Shall I pour a little claret into your book — I 
mean into your glass V" 

Wasn't it a pretty hon-mot ? 

Don't you think we are getting very sjnriliid in 
this countr}' ? 

I believe there was nothing else injured except 
the bed-hangings in the back-room, which were 
somehow badly burnt and very much torn in pull- 
ing down, and a few of our handsomest shades that 
were cracked by the heat, and a few plates, which 
it was hardly fair to expect wouldn't be broken, 
and the colored glass door in my escritoire, against 
which Flattie Podge fell as she was dancing with 
Gauche Boosey ; but he may have been a little ex- 
cited, you know, and she, poor girl, couldn't help 
tumbling, and as her head hit the glass, of course it 
broke, and cut her head badly, so that the blood ran 
down and naturally spoiled her dress ; and what 
little escritoire could stand against Flattie Podge ? 
So that went, and was a good deal smashed in fall- 
ing. That's all, I think, except that the next day 
Mrs. Croesus sent a note, saying that she had lost her 
largest diamond from her necklace, and she was sure 
that it was not in the carriage, nor in her own house, 



OUR NEW LIVEKT, ETC. 57 

nor upon the sidewalk, for she had carefully looked 
everywhere, and she would he very glad if I would 
return it by the hearer. 

Think of that ! 

Well, we hunted everywhere, and found no dia- 
mond. I took particular pains to ask the servants 
if they had found it ; for if they had, they might as 
well give it up at once, without expecting any re- 
ward from Mrs. Croesus, who wasn't very generous. 
But they all said they hadn't found any diamond : 
and our man John, who you know is so guileless — 
although it was a little mysterious about that emer- 
ald pin of mine — brought me a bit of glass that had 
been nicked out of my large custard dish, and asked 
me if that was not Mrs. Croesus's diamond. I told 
"him no, and gave him a gold dollar for his 
honesty. John is an invaluable servant; he is so 
guileless. 

Do you laiow I am not so sure about Mrs. Crcesus's 
diamond ! 

Mr. P. made a great growling about the ball. 
But it was very foolish ; for he got safely to bed by 
six o'clock, and he need have no trouble about re- 
placing the curtains, and glass, etc. I shall do all 
that, and the sum-total will be sent to him in a lump, 
so that he can pay it. 

Men are so unreasonable. Fancy us at seven 



58 TUE POTIPHAR PAPERS. 

o'clock that morning, when I retired. He wasn't 
asleep. But whose fault was that? 

"Polly," said he, "that's the last." 

"Last what?" said I. 

" Last ball at my house," said he. 

" Fiddle-dee-dee," said L 

" I tell you, Mrs. Potiphar, I am not going to 
open my house for a crowd of people who don't go 
away till daylight; who spoil my books and furni- 
ture ; who involve me in a foolish expense ; for a 
gang of rowdy boys, who drink my Margaux, and 
Lafitte, and Marcobrunner, (what kind of drinks are 
those, dear Caroline?) and who don't know Cham- 
bertin from liquorice- water — for a swarm of per- 
sons, few of whom know me, fewer still care for me, 
and to whom I am only ' Old Potiphar,' the hus- 
band of you, a fashionable woman. I am simply 
resolved to have no more such tomfoolery in my 
house." 

" Dear Mr. P.," said I, " you'll feel much better 
when you have slept. Besides, why do you say 
such things ? Mustn't we see our friends, I should 
like to know; and, if we do, are you going to let 
your wife receive them in a manner inferior to old 
Mrs. Podge or Mrs. CrcEsus ? People will accuse 
you of meanness, and of treating me ill ; and if some 
persons hear that you have reduced your style of 



OUK NEW LIVEKY, ETC. 59 

living they ■will begin to suspect the state of your 
affairs. Don't make any rash vows, Mr. P.," said I, 
" but go to sleep." 

(Do you know that speech was just what Mrs. 
Croesus told me she had said to her husband under 
similar circumstances ?) 

Mr. P. fairly groaned, and I heard that short, 
strong little word that sometimes inadvertently 
drops out of the best regulated mouths, as young 
Gooseberry Downe says when he swears before his 
mother. Do you know Mrs. Settum Downe? 
Charming woman, but satirical. 

Mr. P. groanfed, and said some more ill-natured 
things, until the clock struck nine, and he was 
obliged to get up. I should be sorry to say to any- 
body but you, dearest, that I was rather glad of it ; 
for I could then fall asleep at my ease ; and these 
little connubial felicities (I think they call them) are 
so tiresome. But everybody agreed it was a beau- 
tiful ball ; and I had the great gratification of hear- 
ing young Lord Mount Ague (you know you danced 
with him, love) say that it was quite the same thing 
as a ball at Buckingham Palace, except, of course, 
in size, and the number of persons, and dresses, and 
jewels, and the plate, and glass, and supper, and 
wines, and furnishing of the rooms, and lights, and 
some of those things, which are naturally upon a 



60 THE POTIPHAR PAPERS. 

larger scale at a palace than in a private house. 
But, he said, excepting such things, it was quite as 
fine. I am afraid Lord Mount Ague flatters ; just a 
little bit, you know. 

Yes; and there was young Major Staggers, who 
said that " Decidedly it was the party of the season." 

" How odd," said Mrs. Croesus, to whom I told it, 
and, I confess, with a little pride. " What a sym- 
pathetic man : that is, for a military man, I mean. 
Would you believe, dear Mrs. Potiphar, that he said 
precisely the same thing to me two days after my 
ball?" 

Now, Caroline, dearest, perhaps he did ! 

With all these pleasant things said about one's 
party, I cannot see that it is such a dismal thing as 
Mr. P. tries to make out. After one of his solemn 
talks, I asked Mr. Cheese what he thought of balls, 
whether it was so very wicked to dance, and go to 
parties, if one only went to church twice a day on 
Sundays. He patted his lips a moment with his 
handkerchief, and then he said — and, Caroline, you 
can always quote the Eev. Cream Cheese as au- 
thority — 

" Dear Mrs. Potiphar, it is recorded in Holy 
Scripture that the King danced before the Lord." 

Darling, if aiujUdng should happen, I don't believe 
he would object much to your dancing. 



OUK NEW LIVERY, ETC. 61 

What gossiiDS we women are, to be sure ! I 
meant to write you about our new livery, and I am 
afraid I have tired you out already. You remember 
when you were here, I said that I meant to have 
a livery ; for my sister Margaret told me that when 
they used to drive in Hyde Park, with the old Mar- 
quis of Mammon, it was always so delightful -to hear 
him say, 

" Ah! there is Lady Lobster's liverj^." 

It was so aristocratic. And in countries where 
certain colors distinguish certain families, and are 
hereditary, so to say, it is convenient and pleasant 
to recognize a coat-of-arms, or a livery, and to know 
that the representative of a great and famous family 
is passing by. 

" That's a Howard, that's a Russell, that's a 
Dorset, that's de Colique, that's Mount Ague," old 
Lord Mammon used to say as the carriages whirled 
by. He knew none of them personally, I believe, 
except de Colique and Mount Ague, but then it was 
so agreeable to be able to know their liveries. 

Now, why shouldn't we have the same arrange- 
ment? Why not have the Smith colors, and the 
Brown colors, and the Black colors, and the Poti- 
phar colors, etc., so that the people might saj', 
" Ah ! there go the Potiphar arms." 

There is one difficulty, Mr. P. says, and that is. 



62 TlIK POTIPIIAll PAPERS. 

that he found five hundred and sixty-seven Smiths 
in the Directoiy, which might lead to some con- 
fusion. But that was absurd, as I told him, be- 
cause ever3'body would know which of the Smiths 
was able to keep a carriage, so that the livery 
would be recognized directly the moment that any 
of the- family were seen in the carriage. Upon 
which he said, in his provoking waj"-, " Why have 
any livery at all, then ?" and he persisted in saying 
thatno Smith was everi/ieSmithforthreegenerations, 
and that he knew at least twenty, each of whom was 
able to set up his carnage and stand by his colors. 

"But then a livery is so elegant and aristocratic," 
said I, " and it shows that a servant is a servant.'' 

That last was a strong argument, and I thought 
Mr. P. would have nothing to say against it ; but 
he rattled on for some time, asking me what right 
I had to be aristocratic, or, in fact, anybody else ; 
went over bis eternal old talk about aping foreign 
habits, as if we hadn't a right to adopt the good 
usages of all nations, and finally said that the use 
of liveries among us was not only a " pure peacock 
absurdity," as he called it, but that no genuine 
American would ever ask another to assume a 
menial badge. 

"Why?" said I, "is not an American servant a 
servant still ?" 



OUR NEW LIVERY, ETC. 63 

" Most undoubtedly," he said ; " and when a man 
is a servant, let him serve faithfully; and in this 
country especially, where to-morrow he may be 
the served, and not the servant, let him not be 
ashamed of serving. But Mrs. Potijjhar, I beg you 
to observe that a servant's livery is not, like a gene- 
ral's uniform, the badge of honorable service, but 
of menial service. Of course, a servant may be as 
honorable as a general, and his work quite as neces- 
sary and well done. But, for all that, it is not so 
respected nor coveted a situation, I believe; and, in 
social estimation, a man suffers by wearing a livery, 
as he never would if he wore none. And while in 
countries in which a man is proud of being a servant 
(as every man may well be of being a good one), 
and never looks to anything else, nor desires any 
change, a livery may be very proper to the state of 
society, and very agreeable to his own feelings; it is 
quite another thing in a society constituted upon 
altogether different principles, where the sei-vant of 
to-day is the senator of to-morrow. Besides that, 
which I suppose is too fine-spun for you, livery is a 
remnant of a feudal state, of which we abolish every 
trace as fast as we can. That which is represented 
by livery is not consonant with our principles." 

How the man runs on, when he gets going this 
way! I said, in answer to all this flourish, that I 



64- THE POTIPHAE PAPERS. 

considered a livery very much the thing; that Eu- 
ropean families bad liveries, and American families 
might have liveries; that there was an end of it, 
and I meant to have one. Besides, if it is a matter 
of family, I should like to know who has a better 
right ? There was Mr. Potiphar's grandfather, to be 
sure, was only a skillful blacksmith and a good 
citizen, as Mr. P. says, who brought up a familj' in 
the fear of the Lord. 

How oddly he puts those things ! 

But my ancestors, as you know, are a different 
matter. Starr Mole, who interests himself in gene- 
alogies, and knows the family name and crest of all 
the English nobility, has " climbed our family tree," 
as Staggers says, and finds that I am lineally descend- 
ed from one of those two brothers who came over 
in some of those old times, in some of those old 
ships, and settled in some of those old places some- 
where. So you see, dear Caroline, if birth give 
any one a right to coats of arms and liveries, and all 
those things, I feel myself sufficiently entitled to 
have them. 

But I don't care anything about that. The Gnus, 
and Croesuses, and Silkes, and the Settum Downes, 
have their coats of arms, and crests, and liveries, and 
I am not going to be behind, I tell you. Mr. P. 
ought to remember that a great many of these fami- 



OUE NEW LIVEEY, ETC. 65 

lies were famous before they came to this country, 
and there is a kind of interest in having on your 
ring, for instance, the same crest that j'our ancestor 
two or three centuries ago had upon lier ring. One 
day I was quite wrought up about the matter, and 
I said as much to hiiti. 

"Certainly," said he, "certainly; }'^ou are quite 
right. If I had Sir Philip Sidney to my ancestor, I 
sliould wear his crest upon my ring, and glory in my 
relationship, and I hope I should be a better man 
for it. I wouldn't put his arms upon my carriage, 
however, because that would mean nothing but 
ostentation. It would be merely a flourish of trum- 
pets to say that I was his descendant, and nobody 
would know that, either, if my name chanced to be 
Boggs. In my library I might hang a copy of the 
family escutcheon as a matter of interest and curi- 
osity to myself, for I'm sure I shouldn't understand 
it. Do you suppose Mrs. Gnu knows what gvles 
argent are? A man may be as proud of his family 
as he chooses, and, if he have noble ancestors, with 
good reason. But there is no sense in parading that 
pride. It is'an affectation, the more foolish that it 
achieves nothing — no more credit at Stewart's — no 
more real respect in society. Besides, Polly, who 
were Mrs. Gnu's ancestors, or Mrs. Croesus's, or 
Mrs. Settum Downe's? Good, quiet, honest, and 



66 THE POTIPHAE PAPEES. 

humble people, who did their work, and rest from 
their labor. Centuries ago, in England, some drops 
of blood from ' noble' veins may have mingled with 
the blood of their forefathers ; or even, the founder 
of the family name may be historically famous. 
What then ? Is Mrs. Gnu's family ostentation less 
absurd ? Do you understand the meaning of her 
crest, and coats of arms, and liveries? Do you 
suppose she does herself? But in forty-nine cases 
out of fifty, there is nothing but a similarity of name 
upon which to found all this flourish of aristocracy." 

My dear old Pot is getting rather prosy, Carrie. 
So, when he had finished that long speech, during 
which I was looking at the lovely fashion-plates in 
Harper, I said: 

" What colors do you think I'd better have ?" 

He looked at me with that singular expression, 
and went out suddenly, as if he were afraid he might 
say something. 

He had scarcely gone before I heard : 

"My dear Mrs. Potiphar, the sight of you is re- 
freshing as Hermou's dew." 

I colored a little ; Mr. Cheese says such things so 
softly. But I said good morning, and then asked 
him about liveries, etc. 

He raised his hand to his cravat (it was the most 
snowy lawn, Carrie, and tied in a splendid bow). 



OUR NEW LIVEEY, ETC. 67 

"Is not this a livery, clear Mrs. Potiphar?" 

And then he went off into one of those pretty- 
talks, in what Jlr. P. calls " the lan<rua£re of artifi- 
cial flowers," and wound up by quoting Scripture — 
" Servants, obey your masters." 

Tliat was enough for me. So I told Mr. Cheese 
that, as he had already assisted me in colors once, 
I should be most glad to have him do so again. 
What a time we had, to be sure, talking of colors, 
and cloths, and gaiters, and buttons, and knee- 
breeches, and waistcoats, and plush, and coats, and 
lace, and hatbands, and gloves, and cravats, and 
cords, and tassels, and hats. Oh ! it was delightful. 
You can't fancy how heartily the Rev. Cream entered 
into the matter. He was quite enthusiastic, and at 
last he said, with so much expression, " Dear Mrs. 
Potiphar, why not have a chasseur ?" 

I thought it was some kind of French dish for 
lunch, so I said : 

" I am so sorry, but we haven't any in the house." 

" Oh," said he, ".but you could hire one, you 
know." 

Then I thought it must be a musical instrument 
— a panharmonicon, or something of that kind, so I 
said in a general way — 

" I'm not very, very fond of it." 

" But it would be so fine to have him standing 



68 THE POTIPHAR PAPERS. 

on the back of the carriage, liis plumes waving in 
the wind, and his lace and polished belts flashing in 
the sun, as you whirled down Broadway." 

Of course I knew then that he was speaking of 
those military gentlemen who nde behind carriages, 
especially upon the continent, as Margaret tells me, 
and who, in Paris, are very useful to keep the sav- 
ages and wild-beasts at bay in the Champs Elijsees, 
for you know they are intended as a guard. 

But I knew Mr. P. would be firm about that, so 
I asked Mr. Cheese not to kindle my imagination 
with the chasseur. 

We concluded finally to have only one full-sized 
footman, and a fat driver. 

" The corpulence is essential, dear Mrs. Potiphar," 
said Mr. Cheese. " I have been much abroad ; I 
have mingled, I trust, in good, which is to say, 
Christian society : and I must say, that few things 
struck me more upon my return than that the 
ladies who drive very handsome carriages, with 
footmen, etc., in livery, should permit such thin 
coachmen upon the box. I reall}' believe that Mrs. 
Settum Downe's coachman doesn't weigh more 
than a hundred and thirty pounds, which is ridicu- 
lous. A lady might as well hire a footman with 
insufiicient calves, as a coachman who weighs less 
than two hundred and ten. That is the minimum. 



O UK NEW LIVERY, ETC. 69 

Besides, I don't observe any wigs upon the coach- 
men. Now, if a lady set up her carriage with the 
family crest and fine liveries, wh)^ I should lilve to 
know, is the wig of the coachman omitted, and his 
cocked hat also ? It is a kind of shabby, half- 
ashamed way of doing things — a garbled glory. 
The cock-hatted, knee-breeched, paste-buckled, 
horse-hair-wigged coachman, is one of the institu- 
tions of the aristocracy. If we don't have him com- 
plete, we someliow make oui'selves ridiculous. If 
we do have him complete, why, then?" — 

Here Mr. Cheese coughed a little, and patted his 
mouth with his cambric. But what he said was 
very true. I should like to come out with the wig, 
I mean upon the coachman ; it would so put down 
the Settum Downes. But I'm sure old Pot wouldn't 
have it. He lets me do a great deal. But there is a 
line which I feel he won't let me pass. I mentioned 
my fears to Mr. Cheese. 

"Well," he said, "Mr. Potiphar may be right. 
I remember an expression of my carnal days about 
' coming it too strong,' which seems to me to be 
applicable just here." 

After a little more talk, I determined to have red 
plush breeches, with a black cord at the side — white 
stockings — ^low shoes, with large buckles — a yellow 
waistcoat, with large buttons — lappels to the pock- 



70 THE POTIPHAR PAPERS. 

ets — and a purple coat, veiy full and fine, bound 
with gold lace — and the hat banded with a full gold 
rosette. Don't you think that would look well in 
Hyde Park ? And, darling Carrie, why shouldn't 
we have in Broadway what they have in Hyde 
Park? 

When Mr. P. came in, I told him all about it. 
He laughed a good deal, and said, " What next ?" 
So I am not sure he would be so very hard upon 
the wig. Tiie next morning I had appointed to see 
the new footman, and, as Mr. P. went out he turned 
and said to me, " Is your footman coming to-day ?" 

" Yes," I answered. 

" Well," said he, " don't forget the calves. You 
know that everything in the matter of livery de- 
pends upon the calves." 

And he went out laughing silently to himself, 
with — actually, Carrie — a tear in his eye. 

But it was true, wasn't it? I remember in all 
the books and pictures how much is said about the 
calves. In advertisements, etc., it is stated that 
none but well-developed calves need ajjply ; at least 
it is so in England, and, if I have a livery, I am not 
going to stop half-way. My duty was very clear. 
When Mr. Cheese came in, I said I felt awkward in 
asking a servant about his. calves, it sounded so 
queerly. But I confessed that it was necessary. 



OUK NEW LIVERY, ETC. 71 

" Yes, the path of duty is not always smooth, 
dear Mrs. Potiphar. It is often thickly strewn 
with thorns," said he, as he sank back in the 
fmitmil, and put down his jyetit verre of Maras- 
qian. 

Just after he had gone, the new footman was an- 
nounced. I assure you, although it is ridiculous, I 
felt quite nervous. But when he came in, I said 
calmly : 

"Well, James, I am glad you have come." 

" Please ma'am, my name is Henry," said he. 

I was astonished at his taking me up so, and said, 
decidedly : 

"James, the name of my footman is always 
James. You may call yourself what you please, L 
shall always call you James." 

The idea of the man's undertaking to arrange my 
servants' names for me ! 

Well, he showed me his references, which wen 
very good, and I was quite satisfied. But there 
was the terrible calf business that must be attend- 
ed to. I put it off a great while, but I had to 
begin. 

" Well, James !" and there I stopped. 

"Yes, ma'am," said he. 

" I wish — yes — ah !" and there I stopped again. 

*' Yes, ma'am," said he. 



72 THE POTIPHAR PAPERS. 

" James, I wish you had come in knee-breeches." 

" Ma'am?" said he, in great surprise. 

" In knee-breeches, James," repeated I. 

"What be they, ma'am? What for ma'am?" 
said he, a little frightened, as I thought. 

" Oh ! nothing, nothing ; but — but — " 

" Yes, ma'am," said James. 
' But — but I waut to see — to see — " 

" What, ma'am ?" said James. 

" Your legs," gasped I ; and the path was thorny 
enough, Carry, I can tell you. I had a terrible 
time explaining to him what I meant, and all about 
the liveries, etc. Dear me ! what a pity these 
things are not understood ; and then we should never 
have this trouble about explanations. However, I 
couldn't make him agree to wear the livery. He said : 

" I'll try to be a good servant, ma'am, but I cannot 
put on those things and make a fool of m3'^self. I hope 
you won't insist, for I am very anxious to get aplace." 

Think of his dictating to me! I told him that I 
did not permit my servants to impose conditions 
upon me (that's one of Mrs. Croesus's sayings), that 
I was willing to ^ay him good wages and treat him 
well, but that my James must wear my livery. He 
looked very sorry, said that he should like the place 
very much — that he was satisfied with the wages, 
and was sure he should please me, but he could not 



OUR NEW LIVERY, ETC. 73 

put on those things. We were both determined, 
and so parted. I think we were both sorry ; for I 
should have to go all through the calf-business 
again, and he lost a good place. 

However, Caroline, dear, I have my livery and 
my footman, and am as good as anybody. It's 
very splendid when I go to Stewart's to have the red 
plush, and the purple, and the white calves spring- 
ing down, to open the door, and to see people look, 
and say, "I wonder who that is?" And everybody 
bows so nicely, and the clerks are so polite, and 
Mrs. Gnu is melting with envy on the other side, 
and Mrs. Croesus goes about, saying: "Dear little 
woman, that Mrs. Potiphar, but so weak! Pity, 
pity !" And Mrs. Settum Downe says : " Is that 
the Potiphar livery ? Ah, yes ! Mr. Potiphar's 
grandfather used to shoe my grandfather's horses !" 
(as if to be useful in the world were a disgrace — as 
Mr. P. says,) and young Downe, and Boosey, and 
Timon Croesus, come up and stand about so gentle- 
manly, and say : " Well, Mrs. Potiphar, are we to 
have no more charming parties this season?" and 
Boosey says, in his droll way : "Let's keep the ball 
a-rolling !" That young man is always ready with 
a witticism. Then I step out, and James throws 
open the door, and the young men raise their hats, 
and the new crowd says : " I wonder who that is !" 



74 THE POTIPUAR PAPEllS. 

and the plush, and purple, and calves sprhig up be- 
hind, and I drive home to dinner. 

Now, Carrie, dear, isn't that nice? 

"Well, I don't know how it is — but things are so 
queer. Sometimes when I wake up in tlie morn- 
ing, in my room, which I have had tapestried with 
fluted rose silk, and lie thinking, under the lace 
curtains ; although I may have been at one of Mrs 
Gnu's splendid parties the night before, and am 
going to Mrs. Silke's to dinner, and to the opera and 
Mrs. Settum Downe's in the evening, and have 
nothing to do all day but go to Stewart's, or Mar- 
telle's, or Lefevre's, and shop, and pay morning 
calls ; — do you know, as I sa}^ that sometimes I 
hear an old familiar tune played upon a hand-organ 
far away in some street, and it seems to me in that 
half drowsy state under the laces, that I hear the 
girls and boys singing it in the fields where we used 
to play. It is a kind of dream, I suppose, but 
often, as I listen, I am sure that I hear Henry's 
voice again that used to ring so gayly among the old 
trees, and I walk with him in the sunlight to the 
bank by the river, and he throws in the flower — as 
he really did — and says with a laugh, " If it goes 
this side of the stump I am saved ; if the other, I 
am lost ;" and then he looks at me as if I had any- 
thing to do with it, and the flower drifts slowly off 



OUR NEW LIVEEY, ETC. 75 

and off, and goes the other side of the old stump, 
and we walk homeward silently, until Henry laughs 
out, and says, " Thank heaven, my fate is not a 
flower ;" and I swear to love him for ever and ever, 
and marry him, and live in a dingy little old room 
in some of the dark and dirty streets in the city. 

Then I doze again : but presently the music 
steals into my sleep, and I see him as I saw him last, 
standing in his pulpit, so calm and noble, and draw- 
ing the strong men as well as the weak women by 
his earnest persuasion ; and after service he smiles 
upon me kindly, and says, " This is my wife," and 
the wife, who looks like the Madonna in that picture 
of Andrea Del Sarto's, which you liked so at the 
gallery, leads us to a little house buried in roses, 
looking upon a broad and lovely landscape, and 
Henry whispers to me as a beautiful boy bounds into 
the room, " Mrs. Potiphar, I am very happy." 

I doze again until Adele comes in and opens the 
shutters. I do not hear the music any more ; but 
those days I do somehow seem to hear it all the 
time. Of course Mr. P. is gone long before I wake, 
so he knows nothing about all this. I generally 
come in at night after he is asleep, and he is up and 
has his breakfast, and goes down town before I wake 
in the morning. He comes home to dinner, but he 
is apt to be silent ; and after dinner he takes his 



76 THE POTirilAK PAPERS. 

nap in the parlor over his newspaper, \Yhile I go up 
and let Adele dress my hair for the evening. Some- 
times Mr. P. groans into a clean shirt and goes with 
me to the ball ; but not often. When I come 
home, as I said, he is asleep, so I don't see a great 
deal of him, except in the summer, when I am at 
Saratoga or Newport ; and then, notso much, after all, 
for he usually only comes to pass Sunday, and I must 
be a good Christian, you know, and go to church. 
On the whole, we have not a very intimate ac- 
quaintance ; but I have a great respect for him. He 
told me the other day that he should make at least 
thirty thousand dollars this year. 

My darling CaiTie — I am veiy sorry I can't write 
you a longer letter. I want to consult you about 
wearing gold powder, like the new Empress. It 
would kill Mrs. Croesus if you and I should be the 
first to come out in it ; and don't you think the 
effect would be fine, when we were dancing, to 
shower the gold mist around us ! How it would 
sparkle upon the gentlemen's black coats ! ("Yes," 
says Mr. P., " and how finely Gauche Boosey, and 
Timon Croesus, and young Downe will look in silk 
tights and small-clothes !") They say its genuine 
gold ground up. I have already sent for a white 
velvet and lace — the Empress's bridal dress, you 
know. That foolish old P. asked me if I had 



OR NEW LIVEET, ETC. 77 

sent for the Emperor and the Bank of France, 
too. 

" Men ask such absurd questions," said I. 

" Mrs. Potiphar, I never asked but one utterly 
absurd question in my life," said he, and marched 
out of the house. 

Au revoir, chore Caroline. I have a thousand 
things to say, but I know you must be tired to 
death. 

Fondly yours, 

Polly Potiphau. 

P. S. — Our little Fred, is quite down with the 
scarlet fever. Potiphar says I mustn't expose my- 
self, so I don't go into the room ; but Mrs. Jollup, 
the nurse, tells me through the keyhole how he is. 
Mr. P. sleeps in the room next the nursery, so as 
not to carry the infection to me. He looks very 
solemn as he walks down town. I hope it won't 
spoil Fred.'s complexion. I should be so sorry to 
have him a little fright ! Poor little thing ! 

P. S. 2d. — ^Isn't it funny about the music? 



III. 



A MEDITATION BY PAUL POTIPHAR, ESQ. 



A MEDITATION BY PAUL POTIPHAE, ESQ 



Well, my new house is finished — and so am I. 
I hope Mrs. Potiphar is satisfied. Everybody agrees 
that it is " palatial." The daily papers have had 
columns of description, and I am, evidently, accord- 
ing to their authority, " munificent," " tasteful," 
" enterprising," and " patriotic." 

Amen ! but what business have I with palatial 
residences ? What more can I possibly want, than 
a spacious, comfortable house ? , Do I want buhl 
escritoires ? Do I want or molu things ? Do I know 
anything about pictures and statues ? In the name 
of heaven, do I want rose-pink bed-curtains to give 
my grizzly old phiz a delicate " auroral hue," as 
Cream Cheese says of Mrs. P.'s complexion ? Be- 
cause I have made fifty thousand this last year in 
Timbuctoo bonds, must I convert it all into a 
house, so large that it will not hold me comforta- 
bly — so splendid that I might as well live in a por- 
celain vase, for the trouble of taking care of it — 



82 THE POTIPHAE PAPEES. 

SO prodigiously "palatial" that I have to skulk into 
my private room, put on my slippers, close the 
door, shut mj-self up with myself, and wonder why 
I married ilrs. Potiphar ? 

This house is her doing. Before I married her, I 
would have worn yellow silk breeches on 'Change 
if she had commanded me — for love. Now I would 
build lier two houses twice as large as this, if she 
required it — for peace. It's all over. When I 
came home from China I was the desirable Mr. 
Potiphar, and every evening was a field-day for me, 
in which I reviewed all the matrimonial forces. 
It is astonishing, now I come to think of it, how 
skillfully Brigadier-General Mrs. Pettitoes deployed 
those daughters of hers ; how vigorously Mrs. 
Tabby led on her forlorn hope ; and how unwea- 
riedly, Murat-like, Mrs. De Famille charged at the 
head of her cavalry. They deserve to be made 
Marshals of France, all of them. And I am sure, 
that if women ought ever to receive honorary tes- 
timonials, it is for having " married a daughter 
well.'^ 

That's a pretty phrase ! The mammas marry, 
the misses are married. 

And j-et, I don't see why I say so. I fear I am 
getting sour. For certainl}^, Polly's mother didn't 
marry Polly to me. I fell in love with her ; the 



A MEDITATION, ETC. 83 

rest followed. Old Gnu says that it's ti-ue Polly's 
mother didn't marry her, but she did marry her- 
self, to me. 

" Do you really think, Paul Potiphar," said he, a 
few months ago, when I was troubled about Polly's 
getting a livery, " that your wife was in love with 
you, a dry old chip from China? Don't you hear 
her say, whenever any of her friends are engaged, 
that they ' have done very well !' and made a ' capi- 
tal match !' and have you any doubt of her mean- 
ing? Don't you know that this is the only country 
in which the word ' money' must never be named in 
the young female ear; and 'in whose best society — 
not universally nor without exception, of course 
not; Paul, don't be a fool — money makes mar- 
riages ? ^^^len you were engaged, ' the world' said 
that it was a ' capital thing', for Polly. Did that 
mean tliat you were a good, generous, intelligent, 
friendly, and patient man, who would be the com- 
panion for life she ought to have ? You know, as 
well as I do, and as all the people who said it know, 
that it meant )'0u were worth a few hundred thou- 
sands ; that you could build a splendid house, keep 
horses and chariots, and live in style. You and I 
are sensible men, Paul, and we take the world as 
we find it ; and know that if a man wants a good 
dinner he must pay for it. We don't quarrel with 



A MEDITATION, ETC. 86 

and thoughtful regard of a woman, and the play of 
his children, for the rou2;h rubs with men. I know 
it is a silly view of the case, but I'm getting old and 
can't help it. Mrs. Potiphar is perfectly right when 
she says : 

" You men are intolerable. After attending to your 
own affairs all day, and being free from the fuss of 
housekeeping, you expect to come home and shuffle 
into your slippers, and snooze over the evening 
paper — if it were possible to snooze over the excit- 
ing and respectable evening journal you take — 
while we are to sew, and talk with you if you are 
talkative, and darn the stockings, and make tea. 
You come home ti^ed, and, likely enough, surly, 
and gloom about like a thunder-cloud if dinner isn't 
ready for you the instant you are ready for it, and 
then sit mum and eat it ; and snap at the children, 
and show yourselves the selfish igly things you 
are. Am I to have no fun, never go to the opera, 
never go to a ball, never have a party at home ? 
Men are tyrants, Mr. Potiphar. They are ogres 
who entice us poor girls into their castles, and then 
eat up our happiness, and scold us while they eat." 

Well, I suppose it is so. I suppose I am an ogre 
and enticed Polly into my castle. But she didn't 
find it large enough, and teased me to build another. 
I suppose she does sit with me in the evening, and 



86 THE POTIPHAR PAPERS. 

sew, and make tea, and wait upon me. I suppose 
she does, but I've not a clear idea of it. I know it 
is unkind of me, when I have been hard at work all 
da}^, tr3-ing to make and secure the money that 
gives her and her family everything they want, and 
which wearies me body and soul, to expect her to 
let me stay at home, and be quiet. I know I ought 
to press and go into Gnu's house, and smirk at his 
wife, and stand up in a black suit before him attired 
in the same way, and talk about the same stocks 
that we discussed down town in the morning in 
colored trowsers. That's a social duty, I suppose. 
And I ought to see various slight young gentlemen 
whirl my wife around the room, and hear them tell 
her when they stop, that it's very warm. That's 
another social duty, I suppose. And I must smile 
when the same young gentlemen put their elbows 
into my stomach, and hop on my feet in order to 
extend the circle of the dance. I'm sure Mrs. P. is 
right. She does very right to ask, " Have we no 
social duties, I should like to know ?" 

And when we have performed these social duties 
in Gnu's house, how mean it is, how " it looks," 
not to build a larger house for him and Mrs. Gnu 
to come and perform their social duties in. I give 
it up. There's no doubt of it. 

One day Polly said to me : 



A MEDITATION, ETC. 87 

" Mr. Potiphav, we're getting down town." 

" What do you mean, mj' dear ?" 

" Why, everybod}'- is building above us, and there 
are actually shops in the next street. Singe, the 
pastry-cook, has hired Mrs. Croesus's old house." 

" I know it. Old Croesus told rae so some time ago; 
and he said how sorr)'- he was to go. ' Why, Poti- 
phar,' said he, 'I really hoped when I built there, 
that I should stay, and not go out of the house, 
finally, until I went into no other. I have lived 
there long enough to love the place, and have some 
associations with it ; and my family have grown up 
in it, and love the old house, too. It was our home. 
When any of us said ' home,' we meant not the 
family only, but the house in which the family 
lived, where the children were all born, and where 
two have died, and my old mother, too. I'm in a 
new house now, and have lost my reckoning entirely. 
I don't know the house ; I've no associations with it. 
The house is new, the furniture is new, and my 
feelings are new. It's a farce for me to begin again, 
in this way. But my wife says it's all right, that 
everybody does it and wants to know how it can be 
helped ; and, as I don't want to argue the matter, I 
look amen.' That's the way Mr. Croesus submits 
to his new house, Mrs. Potiphar." 

She doesn't understand it. Poor child! how 



88 THE POTIPIIAK PAPERS. 

should she ? She, aud Mrs. Croesus, and Mrs. Gnu 
and even Mrs. Settum Downe, are all as nomadic as 
Bedoueen Arabs. The Rev. Cream Cheese saj's, 
that he sees in this constant migration from one 
house to another, a striking resemblance to the 
" tents of a night," spoken of in Scripture. He 
imparts this religious consolation to me when I 
grumble. He says, that it prevents a too-closely 
clinging affection to temporary abodes. One day, 
at dinner, that audacious wag, Boosey, asked him 
if the " many manthuus" mentioned in the Bible, 
were not as true of mortal as of immortal life. Mrs. 
Potiphar grew purple, and Mr. Cheese looked at 
Boosey in the most serious manner over the top of 
his champagne-glass. I am glad to say that Polly 
has properly rebuked Gauche Boosey for his irre- 
ligibn, by not asking him to her Saturday evening 
matinees dansantes. 

There was no escape from the house, however. 
It must be built. It was not only Mrs. Potiphar 
that persisted, but the spirit of the age and of the 
country. One can't live among shops. When 
Pearl street comes to Park Place, Park Place must 
run for its life up to Thirtieth street. I know it 
can't be helped, but I protested, and I will protest. 
If I've got to go, I'll have my grumble. My wife 
says: 



A MEDITATION, ETC. 89 

" I'm ashamed of you, Potipliar. Do you pretend 
to be an American, and not give way willingly to the 
march of improvement? You had better talk witli 
Mr. Cream Cheese upon the ' genius of the country.' 
You are really unpatriotic, you show nothing of the 
enterprising spirit of your time." " Yes," I answer. 
" That's pretty from you ; you are patriotic, aren't 
you, with your liveries and illimitable expenses, and 
your low bows to money, and your immense inti- 
macy with all lords and ladies that honor the city 
by visiting it. You are prodigiously patriotic 
with your inane imitations of a splendor impos- 
sible to you in the nature of things. You are 
the ideal American woman, aren't you, Mrs. Poti- 
phar?" 

Then I run, for I'm afraid of myself, as much as 
of her. I am sick of this universal plea of patriot- 
ism. It is used to excuse all the follies that out- 
rage it.. I am not patriotic if I don't do this and 
that, which, if done, is a ludicrous caricature of 
something foreign. I am not up to the time if I 
persist in having my own comfort in my own way. 
I try to resist the irresistible march of improvement, 
if I decline to build a great house, which, when it 
is built, is a puny copy of a bad model. I am very 
unpatriotic if I am not trying to outspend foreign 
noblemen, and if I don't affect, without education, 



90 THE POTIPIIAR PAPERS. 

or taste, or habit, what is only beautiful when it is 
the result of the three. 

However, this is merely my grumble. I knew, 
the first morning Mrs. Potiphar spoke of a new 
house, that I must build it. What she said was per- 
fectly true ; we were getting down town, tliere was 
no doubt of the growing inconvenience of our situa- 
tion. It was becoming a dusty, noisy region. The 
congregation of the Rev. Far Niente had sold their 
church and moved up town. Now doesn't it really 
seem as if we were a cross between the Arabs who 
dwell in tents and those who live in cities, for we 
are migratory in the city ? A directory is a more 
imperative annual necessity here than in any other 
civilized region. My wife says it is a constant plea- 
sure to her to go round and see the new houses and 
the new furniture of her new friends, every year. 
I saw that I must submit. But I determined to 
make little occasional stands against it. So one day 
I said : 

" Polly, do you know that the wives of all the 
noblemen who will be your very dear and intimate 
friends and models when you go abroad, always live 
in the same houses in London, and Paris, and Rome, 
and Vienna ? Do you know that Northumberland 
House is so called because it is the hereditary town- 
mansion of the Duke, and that the son and daugh- 



A MEDITATION, ETC. 91 

ter-in-law of Lord Londonderry will live after him 
in the house where his father and mother lived be- 
fore liim? Did that ever occur to you, my dear?" 

" Mr. Potiphar," she replied, " do you mean to go 
by the example of foreign noblemen? I thought j'ou 
always laughed at me for what you call ' aping.' " 

So I do, and so I will continue to do, Mrs. Poti- 
phar ; only I thought that, perhaps, you would 
like to know the fact, because it might make you 
more lenient to me when I regretted leaving our 
old house here. It has an aristocratic precedent." 

Poor, dear little Mrs. P. ! It didn't take as I 
meant it should, and I said no more. Yet it does 
seem to me a pity that we lose all the interest and 
advantage of a homestead. The house and its fur- 
niture become endeared by long residence, and by 
their mute share in all the chances of our life. 
The chair in which some dear old friend so often 
sat — father and mother, perhaps — and in which 
they shall sit no more ; the old-fashioned table, 
with the cuts and scratches that generations of 
children have made upon it ; the old book-cases ; 
the heavy side-board ; the glass, from which such 
bumpers sparkled for those who are hopelessly 
scattered now, or forever gone ; the doors they 
opened ; the walls that echoed their long-hushed 
laughter — are we wise when we part with them 



9-2 THE POTIPIIAR PAPERS. 

all, or, when compelled to do so, to leave them 
eagerly ? 

I remember my brother James used to sa}' : 

" ."What is our envy for our countr}' friends, but 
that their homes are permanent and characteristic? 
Their children's children may play in the same gai-- 
den. Each annual festival may summon them to 
the old hearth. In the meeting-house they sit in 
the vs^ooden pevps where long ago they sat and 
dreamed of Jerusalem ; and now as they sit there, 
that long ago is fairer than the holy city. Thi-ough 
the open window they see the grass waving softly 
in the summer air, over old graves dearer to them 
than many new houses. By a thousand tangible 
and visible associations they are still, vs'ith a pecu- 
liar sense of actuality, near to all they love." 

Polly would call it a sentimental whim — if she 
could take Mrs. Croesus's advice before she spoke 
of it — ^but what then ? When I was fifteen, I fell 
desperately in love with Lucy Lamb. " Pooh, 
pooh," said my father, " you are romantic, it's all 
a whim of yours." 

And he succeeded in breaking it up. I vv^ent to 
China, and Lucy married old Firkin, and lived in a 
splendid house, and now lies in a splendid tomb of 
Carrara marble, exquisitely sculptured. 

When I was forty, I came home from China, and 



A MEDITATION, ETC. 93 

the old gentleman said, " I want )"ou to marry 
Arabella Bobbs, the heiress. It will be a good 
match." 

I said to him. 

" Pooh, pooh, my dear father, you are mercenary ; 
it's all a whim of yours." 

" My dear son, I know it," said he, " the whole 
thing is whim. You can live on a hundred dol- 
lars a year, if you choose. But you have the whim 
of a good dinner, of a statue, of a book. Why not ? 
Only be careful in following your whims, that they 
really come to something. Have as many whims as 
you please, but don't follow them all." 

" Certainly not," said I ; and fell in love with the 
present Mrs. Potiphar, and married her, off-hand. 
So, if she calls this genuine influence of association 
a mere whim — ^let it go at that. She is a whim, 
too. My mistake simply was in not following out 
the romantic whim, and marrying Lucy Lamb. At 
least it seems to me so, this morning. In fact, sit- 
ting in my very new " palatial residence," the 
whole business of life seems to me rather whim- 
sical. 

For here I am, come into port at last. No longer 
young — but worth a good fortune — master of a 
great house — respected down town — husband of 
Mrs. Potiphar — and father of Master Frederic ditto. 



94 THE rOTIPHAK TAPERS. 

Per contra; I shall never be in love again — in get- 
ting my fortune I have lost mj' real life — my house 
is drearv — Mrs. Potipliar is not Lucy Lamb — and 
Master Frederic — is a good bo}'. 

Tlie game is all up for me, and yet I trust I have 
good feeling enough left to sympathize with those 
who are still playing. I see girls as lovely and 
dear as any of which poets have sung — as fresh as 
dew-drops, and beautiful as morning. I watch 
their glances, and understand them better than they 
know — for they do not dream that " old Potiphar" 
does anything more than pay Mrs. P.'s bills. I see 
the youths nervous about neckcloths, and anxious 
that their hair shall be parted straight behind. I 
see them all wear the same tie, the same trowsers, 
the same boots. I hear them all say the same 
thing, and dance with the same partners in the 
same way. I see them go to Europe and return — 
I hear them talk slang to show that they have ex- 
hausted human life in foreign parts, and observe 
them demean themselves according to their idea 
of the English nobleman. I watch them go in 
strongly for being " manl}'," and " smashing the 
spoonies" — asserting intimacies with certain uncer- 
tain women in Paris, and proving it by their treat- 
ment of ladies at home. I see them fuddle them- 
selves on fine wines and talk like cooks, play 



A MEDITATION, ETC. 95 

heavily and lose, and win, and pay, and drink, and 
maintain a conservative position in politics, de- 
nouncing " Uncle Tom's Cabin," as a false and 
fanatical tract ; and declaring that our peculiar in- 
stitutions are our own affair, and that John Bull had 
better keep his eyes at home to look into his coal 
mines. I see this vigorous fermentation subside, 
and much clear character deposited — and, also, 
much life and talent muddled for ever. 

It is whimsical, because this absurd spectacle is 
presented by manikins who are made of the same 
clay as Plutarch's heroes — ^because, deliberately, 
they prefer cabbages to roses. I am not at all an- 
gry with them. On the contrary, when they dance 
well I look on with pleasure. Man ought to dance, 
but he ought to do something else, too. All genial 
gentlemen in all ages have danced. Who quarrels 
with dancing ? Ask Mrs. Potiphar if I ever object- 
ed to it. But then, people must dance at their own 
risk. If Lucy Lamb, by dancing with young Boo- 
sey when he is tipsy, shows that she has no self- 
respect, how can I, coolly talking with Mrs. Lamb 
in the corner, and gravely looking on, respect the 
young lady? Lucy tells me that if she dances with 
James she must with John. I cannot deny it, for I 
am not sufficiently familiar with the regulations of 
the mystery. Only this; if dancing with sober 



96 THE POTiniAE PAPERS. 

James makes it necessary to dance with tipsy Jolin 
— it seems to me, upon a hasty glance at the sub- 
ject, that a self-respecting Lucy would refrain from 
the dance with James. Why it should be so, I can- 
not understand. Wh)' Lucy must dance witli every 
man who asks her, wiiether he is in his senses, or 
knows how to dance, or is agreeable to her or not, 
is a profound mystery to Paul Potiphar. Here is a 
case of woman's wrongs, decidedly. We men cull 
the choicest partners, make the severest selections, 
and the innocent Lucys gracefully submit. Lucy 
loves James, and a waltz with hini (as P. P. knows 
very well from experience) is " a little heaven be- 
low" to both. Now, dearest Lucy, why must you 
pay the awful penance of immediately waltzing 
with John, against whom your womanly instinct 
rebels ? And yet the laws of social life are so 
stern, that Lucy must make the terrible decision, 
whether it is better to waltz with James or worse 
to waltz with John ! " Whether," to put it strong- 
ly with Father Jerome, •' heaven is pleasanter than 
hell is painful." 

I say that I watch these graceful gamesters with- 
out bitter feeling. Sometimes it is sad to see 
James woo Lucy, win her, marry her, and then 
both discover that they have made a mistake. I 
don't see how they could have helped it ; and when 



A MEDITATION, ETC. 97 

che world, that loves them both so tenderly, holds 
up its pure hands of horror, whjs Paul Potiphar 
goes quietly home to Mrs. P., who is dressiug for 
Lucy's ball, and says nothing. He prefers to retire 
into his private room, and his slippers, and read the 
last number of Bleak House, or a chapter in Vamtu 
Fair. If Mrs. Potiphar catches him at the latter, 
she is sure .to say : 

" There it is again ; always reading those exag- 
gerated sketches of society. Odious man that he 
is. I am sure he never knew a truly womanly wo- 
man." 

" Polly, when he comes back in September, I'll 
introduce him to you," is the only answer I have 
time to make, for it is already half past ten, and 
Mrs. P. must be off to the ball. 

I know that our set is not the world, nor the 
country, nor the city. I know that the amiable 
youths who are in league to crush spooneyism are 
not many, and well I know, that in our set (I mean 
Mrs. P.'s) there are hearts as noble and characters 
as lofty as in any time and in any land. And yet, 
as the father of a family (viz. Frederic, our son), I 
am constrained to believe that our social tendencj'^ 
is to the wildest extravagance. Here, for instance, 
is my house. It cost me eighty-five thousand dol- 
lars. It is superbly furnished. Mrs. P. and I don't 



9S THE POTIPHAR rAPEES. 

know much about sucli things. She was only- 
stringent for buhl, and the last Parisian models, so 
we delivered our house into the hands of certain 
eminent upholsterers to be furnished, as we send 
Frederic to the tailor's to be clothed. To be sure, 
I asked what proof we had that tlie upholsterer was 
possessed of taste. But Mrs. P. silenced me, by say- 
ing that it was his business to have taste, and that 
a man who sold furniture, naturally knew what was 
handsome and proper for my house. 

The furnishing was certainly performed with 
great splendor and expense. My drawing-rooms 
strongly resembled the warehouse of an ideal cabi- 
net-maker. Every whim of table — every caprice 
of chair and sofa, is satisfied in those rooms. There 
are curtains like rainbows, and carpets, as if the 
curtains had dripped all over the floor. There are 
heavy cabinets of caiTed walnut, such as belong 
in the heavy wainscotted rooms of old palaces, 
set against my last French pattern of wall-paper. 
There are lofty chairs, like the thrones of arch- 
bishops in Gothic cathedrals, standing by the side 
of the elaborately gilded frames of mirrors. Mar- 
ble statues of Venus and the Apollo support my 
mantels, upon which or molu Louis Quatorze clocks 
ring the hours. In all possible places there are 
statues, statuettes, vases, plates, teacups, and 



A MEDITATION, ETC. 99 

liquor-cases. The wood-work, when white, ia 
elaborated in Moresco carvinir — when oak and 
walnut, it is heavily moulded. The contrasts are 
pretty, but rather sudden. In truth, my house is a 
huge curiosity-shop of valuable articles — clustered 
without taste, or feeling, or reason. They are 
there, because my house was large and I was able 
to buy them ; and because, as Mrs. P. says, one 
must have buhl and or mohi, and new forms of fur- 
niture, and do as well as one's neighbors, and show 
that one is rich, if he is so. They are there, in 
fact, because I couldn't help it. I didn't want 
them, but then I don't know what I did want. 
Somehow I don't feel as if I had a home, merely 
because orders were given to the best upholsterers 
and fancy-men in town to send a sample of all their 
wares to my house. To pay a morning call at Mrs. 
Potiphar's is, in some ways, better than going shop- 
ping. You see more new and costly things in a 
shorter time. People say, " What a love of a 
chair !" " What a darling table !" " What a 
heavenly sofa!" and they all go and tease their 
husbands to get things precisely like them. When 
Kurz Pacha, the Sennaar ministei", came to a dinner 
at my house, he said : 

" Bless my soul ! Mr. Potiphar, your house is 
just like your neighbor's." 



100 THE POTIPHAR PAPERS. 

I know it. I am perfectly aware that there is no 
more difference between my house and Croesus's, 
thaii there is in two ten-dollar bills of the same 
bank. He might live in my house and I in his, 
without any confusion. He has the same curtains, 
carpets, chairs, tables, Venuses, ApoUos, busts, 
vases, etc. And he goes into his room, and thinks 
it's all a devilish bore, just as I do. We have each 
got to re-furnish every few years, and, therefore, 
have no possible opportunity for attaching our- 
selves to the objects about us. Unfortunately 
Kurz Pacha particularly detested precisely what 
Mrs. P. most liked, because it is the fashion to like 
them. I mean the Louis Quatorze and the Louis 
Quinze things. 

" Taste, dear Mrs. Potiphar," said the Pacha, 
" was a thing not known in the da3^s of those 
kings. Grace was entirely supplanted by gro- 
tesqueness, and now, instead of pure and beauti- 
ful Greek forms, we must collect these hideous 
things. If you are going backward to find models, 
why not go as far as the good ones ? My dear 
madam, an or molu Louis Quatorze clock would 
have given Pericles a fit. Your drawing-rooms 
would have thrown Aspasia into hysterics. Things 
are not beautiful because they cost money ; nor is 
any grouping handsome without harmony. Your 



A MEDITATION, ETC. 101 

house is like a woman dressed in Ninon de I'En- 
clos's bodice, with Queen Anne's hooped skirt, who 
limps in Chinese shoes, and wears an Elizabethan 
ruff round her neck, and a Druse's horn on her 
head. My dear madam, this is the kind of thing 
we go to see in museums. It is the old stock joke 
of the world." 

By Jove ! how mad Mrs. Potiphar was ! She 
rose from table, to the great dismay of Kurz Pa- 
cha, and I could only restrain her by reminding her 
that the Sennaar minister had but an imperfect 
idea of our language, and that in Sennaar people 
probably said what they thought when they con- 
versed. 

"You'd better go to Sennaar, then, yourself, Mr. 
Potiphar," said my wife, as she smoothed her rum- 
pled feathers. 

" 'Pon my word, madam, it's my own opinion," 
replied I. 

Kurz Pacha, who is a philosopher (of the Sen- 
naar school), asks me if people have no ideas of 
their own in building houses. I answer, none, that 
I know of, except that of getting the house built. 
The fact is, it is as much as Paul Potiphar can do, 
to make the money to erect his palatial residence, 
and then to keep it going. There are a great many 
fine statues in my house, but I know nothing about 



102 THE rO TIP II Alt PATERS. 

them; I don't see why we should have such hea- 
then images in reputable houses. But llrs. P. 
says : 

" Pooh ! have you no love for the fine arts"?" 

There it is ! It doesn't do not to love the fine 
arts; so Polly is continually cluttering up the halls 
and staircases with marble, and sending me heavy 
bills for the same. 

When the house was ready, and my wife had 
purchased the furniture, she came and said to me : 

" Now, my dear P., there is one thing we haven't 
thought of." 

"What's that?" 

" Pictures, you know, dear." 

" What do you want pictures for?" growled I, 
and rather surlily, I am afraid. 

" Why to furnish the walls ; what do you sup- 
pose we want pictures for?" 

" I tell you, Polly," said I, " that pictures are 
the most extravagant kind of furniture. Pshaw ! 
a man rubs and dabhles a little upon a canvas two 
feet square, and then coolly asks three hundred 
dollars for it." 

"Dear me. Pot," she answered, "I don't want 
home-made pictures. What an idea ! Do you 
think I'd have pictures on my walls that were 
painted in this country? — No, my dear husband, 



A MEDITATIOX, ETC. 103 

let US have some choice specimens of the old mas- 
ters. A landscape by Rayfel, for instance ; or Oiie 
of Angel's fruit-pieces, or a cattle scene by Very- 
nees, or a Madonna of Giddo's, or a boar-hunt of 
Hannibal Crackeye's." 

What was the use of fightins; aarainst this sort of 
thing ? I told her to have it her own way. Mrs. 
P. consulted Singe, the pastry cook, who told her 
his cousin had just come out from Italy with a lot 
of the very finest pictures in the world, which he 
had bribed one of the Pope's guard to steal from 
the Vatican, and which he would sell at a bargain. 

They hang on my walls, now. They represent 
nothing in particular ; but in certain lights, if you 
look very closely, you can easily recognize some- 
thing in them that looks like a lump of something 
brown. There is one very ugly woman with a con- 
vulsive child in her arms, to which Mrs. P. directly 
takes all her visitors, and asks them to admire the 
beautiful Shay douver of Giddo's. When I go out 
to dinner with people that talk of pictures and 
books, and that kind of thing, I don't like to.seem 
behind ; so I say, in a critical way, that Giddo was 
a good painter. None of them contradict me, and 
one day when somebody asked, " Which of his pic- 
tures do you prefer ?" I answered straight, " His 
Shay douver," and no more questions were asked. 



104 THE POTITHAK TAPERS. 

They hang all about the house now. The Giddo 
is in the dining-room. I asked the Sennaar minis- 
ter if it wasn't odd to have a religious picture in 
the dining-room. He smiled, and said that it was 
perfectly proper if I liked it, and if the picture of 
such an ugly woman didn't take away my appe- 
tite. 

" What difference does it make," said he, in the 
Sennaar manner ; " it would be equally out of 
keeping with every other room in your house. My 
dear Potiphar, it is a perfectly unprincipled house, 
this of yours. If your mind were in the condition 
of your house, so ill-assorted, so confused, so over- 
loaded with things that don't belong together, you 
would never make another cent. You have order, 
propriety, harmony, in your dealings with the 
Symmes's Hole Bore Co., and they are the secrets 
of your success. Why not have the same elements 
in your house? Why pitch every century, country, 
and fashion, higgledy-piggledy into your parlors 
and dining-room ? Have everything you can get, 
in heaven's name, but have everything in its place. 
If you are a plodding tradesman, knowing and car- 
ing nothing about pictures, or books, or statuary, 
or ohjeu de vertu, don't have them. Suppose your 
neighbor chooses to put them in his house. If he 
has them merely because he had the money to pay 



A MEDITATION, ETC. 105 

for them, he is the butt of every picture and book 
he owns. 

" When I meet Mr. Croesus in Wall street, I re- 
spect him as I do a king in his palace, or a scholar 
in his study. He is master of the occasion. He 
commands like Nelson at the Nile. I, who am 
merely a. diplomatist, skulk and hurry along, and 
if Mr. Croesus smiles, I inwardly thank him for his 
charity. Wall street is Croesus's sphere, and all 
his powers play there perfectly. But when I meet 
him in his house, surrounded by objects of art, by 
the triumphs of a skill which he does not under- 
stand, and for which he cares nothing — of which, 
in fact, he seems afraid, because he knows any 
chance question about them would trip him up — 
my feeling is very much changed. If I should ask 
him what or molu is, I don't believe he could 
answer, though his splendid or molu clock rang, 
indignant, from the mantel. But if I should say, 
' Invest me this thousand dollars,' he would secure 
me eight per cent. It certainly isn't necessary to 
know what or molu is, nor to have any other objet de 
vertu but your wife. Then why should you barri- 
cade yourself behind all these things that you 
really cannot enjoy, because you don't understand? 
If you could not Tead Italian, you would be a fool 
to buy -Dante, merely because you knew he was a 



106 THE POTIPHAR PAPERS. 

great poet. And, iu the same way, if you know 
nothing about matters of art, it is equally foolish 
for you to buy statues and pictures, although you 
hear on all sides, that, as Mrs. P. says, one must 
love art. 

" As for learning from your own pictures, you 
know, perfectly well, that until you have some 
taste in the matter, you wUl be paying money for 
your pictures blindly, so that the only persons 
upon whom your display of art would make any 
impression, will be the very ones to see that you 
know nothing about it. 

" In Sennaar, a man is literally ' the master of 
the house.' He isn't surrounded by what he does 
not understand ; he is not obliged to talk book and 
picture, when he knows nothing about these mat- 
ters. He is not afraid of his parlor, and you feel 
instantly upon entering the house, the character of 
the master. Please, my dear Mr. Potiphar, survey 
your mansion and tell me what kind of a man it 
indicates. If it does not proclaim (in your case) 
the President of the Patagonia Junction, a man 
shrewd, and hard, and solid, without taste or libe- 
ral cultivation, it is a painted deceiver. If it tries 
to insinuate by this chaotic profusion of rich and 
rare objects, that you are a cultivated, accom- 
plished, tasteful, and generous man, it is a bad 



A MEDITATION, ETC. 107 

lie, because a transparent one. Why, my dear old 
Pot, the moment your servant opens the front door, 
a man of sense perceives the whole thing. You 
and Mrs. Potiphar are bullied by all the brilliancy 
you have conjured up. It is the old story of the 
fisherman and the genii. And your guests all see 
it. They are too well-bred to speak of it ; but I 
come from Sennaar, where we do not lay so much 
stress upon that kind of good-breeding. Mr. Paul 
Potiphar, it is one thing to have plenty of money, 
and quite another, to know how to spend it." 

Now, as I told him, this kind of talk may do very 
well in Sennaar, but it is absurd in a country like 
ours. How are people to know that I'm rich, un- 
less I show it ? I'm sorry for it, but how shall I 
help it, having Mrs. P. at hand ? 

" How about the library?" said she one day. 

" What library?" inquired I. 

" Why, our library, of course." 

" I haven't any." 

" Do you mean to have such a house as this with- 
out a library ?" 

"Why," said I plaintively, "I don't read books — 
I never did, and I never shall ; and I don't care any- 
thing about them. Why should I have a library ?" 

" Why, because it's part of a house like this." 

" Mrs. P., are you fond of books ?" 



108 THE POTIPHAR PAPERS. 

" No, not particularly. But one must have some 
regard to appearances. Suppose we are Hotten- 
tots, you don't want us to look so, do you?" 

I thought that it was quite as barbarous to im- 
prison a lot of books that we should never open, 
and that would stand in gilt upon the shelves, 
silently laughing us to scorn, as not to have them 
if we didn't want them. I proposed a compro- 
mise. 

" Is it the looks of the thing, Mrs. P. ?" said I. 

" That's all," she answered. 

" Oh ! well, I'll arrange it." - 

So I had my shelves built, and my old friends 
Matthews and Eider furnished me with complete 
sets of handsome gilt covers to all the books that 
no gentleman's library should be without, which 
I arranged, carefully, upon the shelves, and had the 
best-lookiug library in town. I locked 'em in, and 
the key is always lost when anybody wants to 
take down a book. However, it was a good in- 
vestment in leather, for it brings me in the repu- 
tation of a reading man and a patron of litera- 
ture. 

Mrs. P. is a religious woman — the Eev. Cream 
Cheese takes care of that — but only yesterday she 
proposed something to me that smells very strongly 
of candlesticks. 



A MEDITATION, ETC. 109 

" Pot., I want a prie-dieu." 

" Pray-do what!" answered I. 

" Stop, you wicked man. I say I want a kueel- 
ing-chair." 

" A kneeling-chair?" I gasped, utterly confused. 

" A prie-dieu — apie-dieu — to pray in, you know." 

My Sennaar friend, who was at table, choked. 
When he recovered, and we were sipping the 
" Blue seal," he told me that he thought Mrs. 
Potiphar in a prie-dieu was rather a more amusing 
idea than Giddo's Madonna in the dining-room. 

" She will insist upon its being carved hand- 
somely in walnut. She will not pray upon pine. 
It is a romantic, not a religious, whim. She'll 
want a missal next ; vellum or no prayers. This is 
piety of the ' Lady Alice' school. It belongs to a 
fine lady and a fine house precisely as your library 
does, and it will be precisely as genuine. Mrs. 
Potiphar in a prie-dieu is like that blue morocco 
Comus in your library. It is charming to look at, 
but there's nothing in it. Let her have the prie-dieu 
by all means, and then begin to build a cbapel. No 
gentleman's house , should be without a chapel. 
You'll bave to come to it, Potiphar. You'll have 
to hear Cream Cheese read morning prayers in a 
purple chasuble — que sais-je? You'll see religion 
made a part of the newest fashion in houses, as 



110 THE POTIPHAE PAPERS. 

you already see literature aud art, and with just as 
mucli reality and reason." 

Privately, I am glad the Sennaar minister has 
gone out of town. It's bad enough to be uncom- 
fortable in your own house without knowing why ; 
but to have a philosopher of the Sennaar school 
show you why you are so, is cutting it rather too 
fat. I am gradually getting resigned to ray house. 
I've got one more struggle to go through next 
week in Mrs. Potiphar's musical party. The morn- 
ing soirees are over for the season, and Mrs. P. be- 
gins to talk of the watering-places. I am getting 
gradually resigned ; but only gradually. 

Oh ! dear me, I wonder if this is the " home, 
sweet home" business the girls used to sing about! 
Music does certainly alter cases. I can't quite get 
used to it. Last week I was one morning in the 
basement breakfast-room, and I heard an extra cried. 
I ran out of the area door — dear me ! — ^before I 
thought what I was about, I emerged bareheaded 
from under the steps, and ran a little way after the 
boy. I know it wasn't proper. I am sorry, very 
sorry. I am afraid Mrs. Croesus saw me ; I know 
Mrs. Gnu told it all about that morning : and Mrs. 
Settum Downe called directly upon Mrs. Potiphar, 
to know if it were really true that I had lost my 
wits, as everybody was saying. I don't know what 



A MEDITATION, ETC. Ill 

Mrs. P. answered. I am 'sorry to have compro- 
mised her so. I went immediately and ordered a 
pray-do of the blackest walnut. My resignation 
is very gradual. Kurz Pacha says they put on 
gravestones in Sennaar three Latin words — do you 
know Latin? if you don't, come and borrow some 
of my books. The words are : ora pro me ! 



IV. 

FROM THE 

SDMMEE DIARY OF MINERVA TATTLE. 



FROM THE SUMMER BIARY OF MINERVA 
TATTLE. 



Newport, August. 
It certainly is not papa's fault that he doesn't 
understand French ; but he ought not to pretend 
to. It does put one in such uncomfortable situ- 
ations occasionally. In fact, I think it would be 
quite as well if we could sometimes " sink the 
paternal," as Timon Croesus says. I suppose every 
body has heard of the awful speech pa made in 
the parlor at Saratoga. My dearest friend, Tabby 
Dormouse, told me she had heard of it every- 
where, and that it was ten times as absurd each 
time it was repeated. By-the-by, Tabby is a dear 
creature, isn't she ? It's so nice to have a spy in 
the enemy's camp, as it were, and to hear every- 
thing that everybody says about you. She is not 
handsome — poor, dear Tabby ! There's no denying 
it, but she can't help it. I was obliged to tell 
young Downe so, quite decidedly; for I really think 
he had an idea she was good-looking. The idea of 



116 THK rOTIPIIAR rATEItS. 

Tabby Dormouse being handsome ! But she is a 
useful little thing in her way ; one of my intimates. 

The true stor}' is this : 

Ma and I persuaded pa to take us to Saratoga ; 
for we beard the English party were to be there, 
and we were anxious they should see some good 
society, at least. It seems such a pity they 
shouldn't know what handsome dresses we really 
do have in this countrjr • And I mentioned to some 
of the most English of our young men, that there 
might be something to be done at Saratoga. But 
they shrugged their shoulders, especially Timon 
CrcBsus and Gauche Boosey, and said — 

" Well, really, the fact is. Miss Tattle, all the 
Englishmen I have ever met are, in fact, a little 
snobbish. However." 

That was about what they said. But I thought, 
considering their fondness of the English model in 
dress and manner, that they might have been more 
willing to meet some genuine aristocracy. Yet, 
perhaps, that handsome Col. Abattew is right in 
saying with his grand military air — 

"The British aristocracy, madam — the British 
aristocracy is vulgar." 

Well, we all went up to Saratoga. But the dis- 
tinguished strangers did not come. I held back 
that last muslin of mine, the yellow one, embroi- 



MINERVA TATTLE'S DIAEY. 117 

dered with the Alps, and a distant view of the isles 
of Greece worked on the flounces, \intil it was im- 
possible to wait longer. I meant to wear it at din- 
ner the first day they came, with the pearl necklace 
and the opal studs, and that l>eavy ruby necklace 
(it is a low-necked dress). The dining-room at the 
" United States" is so large that it shows off those 
dresses finely, and if the waiter don't let the soup 
or the gravy slip, and your neighbor (who is, like 
as not, what Tabby Dormouse, with her incapacity 
to pronounce the r, calls "some 'aw, 'ufFman from 
the country"), doesn't put the leg of his chair 
through the dress, and if you don't muss it sitting 
down — why, I should like to know a prettier place 
to wear a low-necked muslin, with jewels, than the 
dining-room of the " United States" at Saratoga. 

Kurz Pacha, the Sennaar minister, who was up 
there, and who is so smitten with Mrs. Potiphar, 
said that he had known few happier moments in 
this country than the dining hour at the " United 
States." 

" When the gong sounds," says he, " I am re- 
minded of the martial music of Sennaar. When I 
seat myself in the midst of such splendor of toilette, 
and in an apartment so stately and so appropriate 
for that display, I recall the taste of the Crim Tar- 
tars, to whose ruler I had the honor of being first 



118 THE POTIPHAE PAPERS. 

accredited ambassador. When I behold, with as 
tonished eyes, the entrance of that sable society, 
the measured echo of whose footfalls so properly 
silences the conversation of all the nobles, I seem 
to see the regular army of ray beloved Sennaar in- 
vesting a conquered city. This, I cry to myself, 
with enthusiasm, this is the height of civilization ; 
and I privately hand one of the privates in that 
grand army a gold dollar, to bring me a dish of 
beans. Each green bean, greener envoy extraor- 
dinary, I say to myself with rapture, should be well 
worth its weight in gold, when served to such a 
congress of kings, queens, and Irereditary prince- 
royals as are assembled here. And I find,'" conti- 
nues the Pacha, " that I am right. The guest at 
this banquet is admitted to the freedom of corn and 
potatoes, only after negotiations with the sable 
military. It is quite the perfection of organization. 
What hints I shall gather for the innocent pleasure- 
seekers of Sennaar, who still fancy that when the}'- 
bargain for a draught of rose sherbet, they have 
tacitly agreed for a glass to drink it from ! 

"Why, the first day I came," he went on, "I 
was going to my room, and met the chambermaid 
coming out. Now, as I had paid a coloi'ed gentle- 
man a dollar for my dinner, in addition to the little 
bill which I settle at the office, I thought it was 



MINEEVA TATTLE'S DIARY. 119 

equally necessary to secure my bed by a slight fee 
to the goddess of the chambers. I, therefore, pulled 
out my purse, and offered her a bill of a small 
amount. She turned the color of tomatoes. 

" ' Sir,' exclaimed she, and with dignity, ' do you 
mean to insult me?' 

" ' Good heavens, miss,' cried I, ' quite the con- 
trary,' and thinking it was not enough, I presented 
another bill of a larger amount. 

" ' Sir,' said she, half-sobbing, ' you are no gen- 
tleman ; I shall leave the house !' 

" I was very much perplexed. I began again : 

" ' Miss — my dear — I mean madam — how much 
must I pay you to secure my room ?' 

" ' I don't understand you, sir,' replied the cham- 
bermaid, somewhat mollified. 

" ' Why, my dear girl, if I paid Sambo a dollar 
for my dinner, I expect to pay Dolly something for 
my chamber, of course.' 

" ' Well, sir, you are certainly very kind, I — 
with pleasure, I'm sure,' replied she, entirely ap- 
peased, taking the money, and vanishing. 

" I," said Kurz Pacha, " entered my room and 
locked the door. But I believe I was a little hasty 
about giving her the money. The perfection of 
civilization has not yet mounted the stairs. It is 
confined to the dining-room. How beautiful is that 



120 THE I'OTIPHAR PAPEKS. 

sti-ain from the Favori./a, Miss Minen'fi, turn turn, ti 
ti, turn turn, tee tee," and the delightful Sennaar 
ambassador, seeing Mrs. Potiphar in the parlor, 
danced, humming away. 

There are few pleasanter men in society. I 
should think with his experience he would be hard 
upon us, but he is not. The air of courts does not 
seem to have spoiled him. 

" My dear madam," he said one evening to Mrs. 
Potiphar, "if you laugh at anything, 3rour laughing 
is laughed at next day. Life is shoii:. If you can't 
see the jewel in the toad's head, still believe in it. 
Take it for granted. The Farisienne says that the 
English woman has no je nc sah quoi. The English 
woman says the Farisienne has no aplomb. Amen ! 
When you are in Turkey — why, gobble. Why 
should I decline to have a good time at the Queen's 
drawing-room, because English women have no je 
7ie sais quoi, or at the grand opera, because French 
women lack dploml ? Take things smoothly. Life 
is a merry-go-round. Look at )'our own grand- 
father, dear Mrs. Potiphar — fine old gentleman, I 
am told — rather kept in what the artists call the 
middle-distance, at present — a capital shoemaker, 
who did liis work well — Alexander and John How- 
ard did no more : — well, here you are, you see, with 
liveries and a pew in the right church, and alto- 



MINERVA lATTLE'S UIAET. 121 

gether a front seat in the universe — ^merry-go- 
round, you know; here we go up, up, up ; here we 
go down, down, down, etc. By-the-by, pretty 
strain that from Linda ; turn turn, ti turn turn," 
and away hopped the Sennaar minister. 

Mrs. Potiphar was angry. Who wouldn't have 
been? To have the old famil)'^ shoes thrown in one's 
teeth ! But our ambassador is an ambassador. One 
must have the best society, and she swallowed it as 
she has swallowed it a hundi-ed times before. She 
quietly remarked — 

" Pity Kurz Pacha drinks so abominably. He 
quite forgets what he's saying !" 

I suppose he does, if Mrs. P. says so ; but he 
seems to know well enough all the time : as he did 
that evening in the library at Mrs. Potiphar's, when 
he drew Cerulea Bass to the book-shelves, and be- 
gan to dispute about a line in Milton, and then sud- 
denly looking up at the books, said — 

" Ah ! there's Milton ; now we'll see." But 
when he opened the case, which was foolishly left 
unlocked, he took down only a bit of wood, bound 
in blue morocco, whicb he turned slowly over, so 
that everybody saw it, and then quietly returned 
it to the shelf, saying only — 

" I beg pardon." 

Old Pot., as Mrs. P. calls Mm, happened to be 



122 THE POTIPHAR PAPERS. 

passing at the moment, and cried out in his brusque 
way— 

" Oh ! I haven't laid in ni}' books yet. Those 
are only samples — pattern cards, 3'ou know. I don't 
believe you'll find there a single book that a gentle- 
man's library shouldn't be without. I got old Vel- 
lum to do the thing up right, you know. I guess 
he knows about the books to buy. But I've just 
laid in some claret that you'll like, and I've got a 
sample of the Steinberg. Old Corque understands 
that kind of thing, if anybody does." And the two 
gentlemen went off to try the wine. 

I am astonished that a man of Kurz Pacha's tact 
should have opened the book-case. People have no 
right to suppose that the pretty bindings on one's 
shelves are books. Why, they might as well insist 
upon trying if the bloom on one's cheek, or the lace 
on one's dress, or, in fact, one's figure, were real. 
Such things are addressed to the eye. No gentle- 
man uses his hands in good society. I've no doubt 
they were originally put into gloves to keep them 
out of mischief. 

I am as bad as dear Mrs. Potiphar about coming 
to the point of my story. But the truth is,' that in 
such engrossing places as Saratoga and Newport, 
it is hardly possible^to determine which is the pleas- 
antest and most important thing among so many. 



MINERVA TATTLE'S DIAKT. 123 

I am so fond of that old, droll Kurz Pacha, that if I 
begin to talk about him I forget everything else. 
He says such nice things about people that nobodv 
else would dare to say, and that everybody is so 
glad to hear. He is invaluable in society. And yet 
one is never safe. People say he isn't gentlemanly; 
but when I see the style of man that is called gen- 
tlemanly, I am very glad he is not. All the solemn, 
pompous men who stand about like owls, and never 
speak, nor laugh, nor move, as if they really had any 
life or feeling, are called " gentlemanly." When- 
ever Tabby says of a new man — " But then he is so 
gentlemanly !" I understand at once. It is another 
case of the well-dressed wooden image. Good 
heavens i do you suppose Sir Philip Sidney, or the 
Chevalier Bayard, or Charles Fox, were "gentle- 
manly" in this way? Confectioners who undertake 
parties might furnish scores of such gentlemen, with 
hands and feet of any required size, and warranted 
to do nothing '•' ungentlemanly." For my part, I 
am inclined to think that a gentleman is something 
positive, not merely negative. And if, sometimes, 
my* friend the Pacha says a rousing and wholesome 
truth, it is none the less gentlemanly because it cuts 
a little. He says it's very amusing, to observe how 
coolly we play this little farce of life — how placid- 
ly people get entangled in a mesh at which they 



124 THE potiphae papers. 

all rail, and how fiercely they frown upon anybody 
who steps out of the ring. " You tickle me and 
I'll tickle you ; but at all events, you tickle me," 
is the motto of the crowd. 

" Allo7isr' says he, "who cares? lead oft' to the 
right and left — down the middle and up again. 
Smile all round, and bow gracefully to your part- 
ner; then carry your heavy heart up chamber, and 
drown in your own tears. Cheerfully, cheerfully, 
my dear Miss Minerva. — Saratoga until August, 
then Newport till the frost, the city afterwards ; 
and so an endless round of happiness." 

And he steps off, humming II segreto ijer esser 
felice ! 

Well, we were all sitting in the great drawing- 
room at the "United States." We had been bowl- 
ing in our morning dresses, and had rushed in to 
ascertain if the distinguished English party had ar- 
rived. They had not. They were in New York, and 
would not come. That was bad ; but we thought of 
Newport and probable scions of nobility there, and 
were consoled. But while we were in the midst of 
the talk, and I was whispering veiy intimately with 
that superb and aristocratic Nancy Fungus, who 
should come in but father, walking toward us with 
a wearied air, dragging his feet along, but looking 
very well dressed for him, I smiled sweetly when 



MINERVA TATTLES DIARY. 125 

I saw that he was quite presentable, and had had 
the good sense to leave that odious white hat in his 
room, and had buttoned his waistcoat. The party 
stopped talking as he approached, and he came up 
to me. 

" Minna, my dear," said he, " I hear everybody is 
going to Newport." 

" Oh ! yes, dear father," I replied, and Nancy 
Fungus smiled. Father looked pleased to see me ' 
so iutunate with a girl he always calls " so aristo- 
cratic and high-bred-looking," and he said to her — 
" I believe your mother is going, Miss Fungus ?" , 
" Oh ! yes, we always go," replied she ; " one 
must have a few weeks of Newport." 

" Precisely, my dear," said poor papa, as if he 
rather dreaded it, but must consent to the hard ne- 
cessity of fashion. " They say, Minna, that all the 
]]arvenus are going this year, so I suppose we shall 
have to go along." 

There was a blow ! There was perfect silence 
for a moment, while poor pa looked amiable, as if 
he couldn't help embellishing his conversation with 
French graces. I waited in horror; for I knew 
that the girls were all tittering inside, and every 
moment it became more absurd. Then out it 
came. Nancy Fungus leaned her head on my 
shoulder, and fairly shook with laughter. The 



1-26 THE POTIPHAR PAPEES. 

others hid behind their fans, and the men sud- 
denly walked off to the windows, and slipped on 
to the piazza. Papa looked bewildered, and half 
smiled. But it was a ver}^ melancholy business, 
and I told him that he had better go up and dress 
for dinner. 

It was impossible to stay after that. The un- 
happy slip became the staple of Saratoga conversa- 
tion. Young Boosey (Mrs. Potiphar's witt}^ friend) 
asked Morris audibly at dinner, " Where do the 
•parvenus sit ? I want to sit among the parvenus.'" 

" Of course you do, sir," answered Morris, sup- 
posing he meant the circle of the crime de la crcme. 

And so the thing went on multiplj'ing itself. 
Poor papa doesn't understand it yet. I don't dare 
to explain. Old Fungus, who prides himself so 
upon his family (it is one of the very ancient and 
honorable Virginia families, that came out of the 
ark with Noah, as Kurz Pacha says of his ancestors, 
when he hears that the founder of a family " came 
over with the Conqueror,") and who cannot deny 
himself a joke, came up to pa, in the bar-room, 
while a large party of gentlemen were drinking 
cobblers, and said to him with a loud laugh : 

" So, all the parvenus are going to Newport : are 
they, Tattle ?" 

" Yes !" replied pa, innocently, " that's what 



MINERVA TATTLE-S DIARY. 127 

they say. So I suppose we shall all have to go, 
Fungus." 

Thei'e was another I'oar that time, but not from 
the representative of Noah's Ark. It was rather 
thin joking, but it did very well for the warm 
weather, and I was glad to hear a laugh against 
anybody but poor pa. 

We came to Newport, but the story came before 
us, and I have been veiy much annoyed at it. I 
know it is foolish for me to think of it. Kurz 
Pacha said — 

■' " My dear Miss Minerva, I have no doubt it 
would pain you more to be thought ignorant of 
French than capable of deceit. Yet it is a very 
innocent ignorance of your father's. Nobody is 
bound to know French ; but you all lay so much 
stress upon it, as if it were the whole duty of wo- 
man to have an 'air,' and to speak French, that any 
ignorance becomes at once ludicrous. It's all your 
own doing. You make a very natural thing absurd, 
and then grieve because some friend becomes a vic- 
tim. There is your friend Nancy Fungus, who 
' speaks French as well as she does English.' That 
may be true ; but you ought to add, that one is of 
just as much use to her as the other — that is, of no 
use at all, except to communicate platitudes. What 
is the use of a girl's learning French to be able to 



12S THE POTIPHAR PAPEES. 

say to young Tctc de Clwux, that it is a very warm 
day, and that Newport is cliarmante. I don't sup- 
pose the knowledge of French is going to supply 
her with ideas to express. A girl who is flat in her 
native English, will hardly be spirituelle in her ex- 
otic French. It is a delightful language for the 
natives, and for all who have thoroughly mastered 
its spirit. Its genius is airy and sparkling. It is 
especially the language of society, because society 
is, theoretically, the playful encounter of sprightli- 
ness and Avit. It is the worst languasre I know of 
for poetry, ethics, and the habit of the Saxon mind. 
It is wonderful in the hands of such masters as 
Balzac and George Sand, and is especially adapted 
to their purposes. Yet their books are forbidden 
to Nancy Fungus, Tabby Dormouse, Daisy Clover, 
and all their relations. They read TeUmaque, and 
long to be married, that they may pry into Leila 
and Indiana : their French, meanwhile, even if they 
wanted to know anything of French literature — 
which is too absurd an idea — serves them only to 
say nothing to uncertain hairy foreigners who 
haunt society, and to understand their nothings, in 
response. I am really touched for this Ariel, this 
tricksy sprite of speech, when I know that it must 
do the bidding of those who can never fit its airy 
felicity to any worthy purpose. I have tried these 



MINERVA TATTLE'S DIARY. 129 

accomplished damsels who speak French and Italian 
as well ns they do English. But our conversation 
was only a clumsy translation of English common- 
place. And yet, Miss Minerva, I think even so 
sensible a woman as you, looks with honor and 
respect upon one of that class. Dear me ! excuse 
me! What am I thinking of? I'm engaged to 
drive little Daisy Clover on the beach at six o'clock. 
She is one of those who garnish their conversation 
with French scraps. Really you must pardon me, 
if she is a friend of yours ; but that dry, gentle- 
manly fellow, D'Orsay Firkin, says that Miss Clo- 
ver's conversation is a dish of tete de veau farci. 
Aren't you coming to the beach ? Everybody 
goes to-day. Mrs. Gnu has arrived, and the Poti- 
phars are here — ^that is, Mrs. P. Old Pot. arrives 
on Sunday morning early, and is off again on Mon- 
day evening. He's grown very quiet and docile. 
Mrs. P. usually takes him a short drive on Monday 
morning, and he comes to dinner in a white waist- 
coat. In fact, as Mrs. Potiphar says, 'My husband 
hsLS not the air distingue which I should be pleased 
to see in him, but he is quite as well as could be 
expected.' Upon which Firkin twirls his hat in a 
significant way ; you and I smile intelligently, dear 
Miss Minerva; Mrs. Green and Mrs. Settum Downe 

exchange glances ; we all understand Mrs. Potiphar 
6* 



130 THE POTIPHAE PAPERS. 

and each other, and Mrs. Potiphar understands us^ 
and it is all very sweet and pleasant, and the utmost 
propriety is observed, and we don't laugh loud until 
we're out of hearing, and then say in the very soft- 
est whispers, that it was a remarkably true obser- 
vation. This is the way to take life, my dear lady. 
Let us go gently. Here we go backwards and for- / 

wards. You tickle, and I'll tickle, and we'll all/ 

/ 
tickle, and here we go round — round — roundy !'_^ 

And the Sennaar minister danced out of the room. 

He is a droll man, and I don't quite understand 
him. Of course I don't entirely like him ; for it al- 
ways seems as if he meant something a little differ- 
ent from what he says. Laura Larmes, who reads 
all the novels, and rolls her great eyes around the 
ball-room — who laughs at the idea of such a girl as 
Blanche Amory in Pendennis — who would be pen- 
sive if she were not so plump — who likes "nothing 
so much as walking on the cliff by moonlight" — 
who wonders that girls should want to dance on 
warm summer nights when they have Nature, "and 
such nature," before them — who, in fact, would be a 
mere emotion if she were not a bouncing girl — 
Laura Larmes wonders that any man can be so hap- 
py as Kurz Pacha. 

" Ah ! Kurz Pacha, " she says to him as they 
stroll upon the piazza, after he has been dancing 



MINEEA^V TATTLE'S DIARY. 131 

(for the minister dances, and swears it is essential 
to diplomacy to dance well), "are you really so 
very happy? Is it possible you can be so gay? 
Do you find notliing mournful in life?" 

" Nothing, my best Miss Laura," he replies, " to 
speak of; as somebody said of religion. You, who 
devote yourself to melancholy, the moon, and the 
source of tears, are not so very sad as you think. 
You ciy a good deal, I don't doubt. But when 
grief goes below tears, and forces you in self-de- 
fense to try to forget it — not to sit and fondle it — 
then you will understand more than you do now. 
I pity those of your sex, upon whom has fallen the 
reaction of wealth — for whom there is no career — 
who must sit at home and pine in a splendid ennui 
— who have learned and who know, spite of ser- 
mons and ' sound, sensible views of things,' that to 
enjoy the high 'privilege' of reading books — of 
cultivating their minds, - and, when they are mar- 
ried, minding their babies, and ministering to the 
drowsy, after-dinner ease of their husbands, is not 
the fulfillment of their powers and hopes. But, my 
amiable Miss Larmes, this is a class of girls and wo- 
men who are not solicitous about wearing black 
when their great-aunt in Denmark dies, whom they 
never saw, nor when the only friend who made 
heaven possible to them, falls dead at their sides. 



132 THE POTIPHAU PAPERS. 

Nor do they avoid Mrs. Potiphar's balls as a happi- 
cess which they are not happy enough to eujoy — 
nor do they suppose that all who attend that festi- 
vity — dancing to Mrs. P.'s hired music and drinking 
Mr. P.'s fine wines — are utterly given over to hilari- 
ty and superficial enjoyment. I do not even think 
they would be likely to run — with rounded eyes, 
deep voice, and in very exuberant health — to any 
one of us jaded votaries of fashion, and say, How 
can you be so happy ? My considerate young friend, 
' strong walls do not a prison make' — nor is a man 
necessarily happy because he hops. You are cer- 
tainly not unhappy because you make eyes at the 
moon, and adjudge life to be vanity and vexation. 
Your mind is only obscured by a few morning va- 
pors. They are evanescent as the dew, and when 
you remember them at evening they will seem to 
you but as pensive splendors of the dawn." 

Laura has her revenge for all this snubbing, of 
course. She does not attempt to disguise her opin- 
ion that Kurz Pacha is a man of "foreign morals," 
as she well expresses it. "A very gay, agreeable 
man, who glides gently over the surface of things, 
but knows nothing of the real trials and sorrows of 
life," says the melancholy Laura Larmes, whose 
appetite continues good, and who fills a large arm- 
chair comfortably. 



MINERVA TATTLE'S DIARY. 133 

It is my opinion, liowever, that people of a cer- 
tain size should cultivate the hilarious rather than 
the unhappJ^ Diogenes, with the proportions of 
Alderman Gobble, could not have succeeded as a 
Cynic. 

Here at Newport there is endless opportunity of 
detecting these little absurdities of our fellow-crea- 
tures. In fact, one of the greatest charms of a 
watering-place, to me, is the facility one enjoys of 
understanding the whole game, which is somewhat 
concealed in the city. Watering-place life is a full- 
dress parade of social weaknesses. We all enjoy 
a kind of false intimacy, an accidental friendship. 
Old Carbuncle and young Topaz meet on the com- 
mon ground of a good cigar. Mrs. Peony and Daisy 
Clover are intimate at all hours. Why ? Because, 
on the one hand, Mrs. P. knows that youth, and 
grace, and beauty, are attractive to men, and that 
if Miss Eosa Peony, her daughter, has not those 
advantages, it is well to have in the neighborhood a 
magnet strong enough to draw the men. 

On the other hand, Daisy Clover is a girl of good 
sense enough to know — even if she didn't know it 
by instinct — that men in public places like the 
prestige of association with persons of acknowledged 
social position, which, by hook or by crook, Mrs. 
Peony undoubtedly enjoys. Therefore to be of Mrs. 



134 THE POTIPIIAE, PAPERS. 

P.'s party is to be well placed in the catalogue — 
the chances are fairer — the gain is surer. Upon 
seeing Daisy Clover with quiet little Mrs. Clover, 
or plain old aunt Honeysuckle — people would 
inquire, Who are the Clovers ? And no one would 
know. But to be with Mrs. Peony, morning, noon, 
and night, is to answer all questions of social posi- 
tion. 

But, unhappily, in the city, things are changed. 
There no attraction is necessary but the fine house, 
gay parties, and understood rank of Mrs. Peony to 
draw men to Miss Rosa's side. In Newport it does 
very well not to dance with her. But in the city 
it doesn't do not to be at Mrs. Peony's ball. Who 
knows it so well as that excellent lady ? Therefore 
darling Daisy is dropped a little when we all re- 
turn. 

"Sweet girl," Mrs. P. says, "really a delightful 
companion for Rosa in the summer, and the father 
and mother are such nice, excellent people ; not 
exactly people that one knows, to be sure — but 
Miss Daisy is really amiable and quite accomplish- 
ed." 

Daisy goes to an occasional party at the Peonys'. 
But at the opera and the theati'e, and at the small, 
intimate parties of Rosa and her friends, the dai'ling 
Daisy of Newport is not visible. However, she has 



MINEEVA TATTLE'S DIAEY. 135 

her little revenges. She knows the Peonys well 
and can talk iutelligently about them, which puts 
her quite on a level with them in the estimation of 
her own set. She rules in the lower sphere, if not 
in the higher, and Daisy Clover is in the way of 
promotion. Yes, and if she be very rich, and papa 
and mamma are at all presentable, or if they can be 
dexterously hushed up, there is no knowing but 
Miss Daisy Clover will suddenly bloom upon the 
world as Mrs. P.'s daughter-in-law, wife of that 
" gentlemanly" young man, Mr. Puffer Peony. 

Naturally it pains me very much to be obliged to 
think so of the people with whom I associate. But 
I suppose they are as good as any. As Kurz Pacha 
says : " If I fly from a Chinaman because he wears 
■ his hair long like a woman, I must equally fly the 
Frenchman because he shaves his like a lunatic. 
The story of Jack Spratt is the apologue of the 
world." It is astonishing how intimate he is with 
our language and literature. By-the-by, that Polly 
Potiphar has been mean enough to send out to 
Paris for the very silk that I relied upon as this 
summer's cheval de bataille, and has just received it 
superbly made up. The worst of it is that it is 
just the thing for her. She wore it at the ball the 
other night, and expected to have crushed me in 
mine. Not she ! I have not summered it at New- 



136 THE POTIPHAR PAPEES. 

port for — well, for several years — for nothing, and 
although I am rather beyond the strict white mus- 
lin age, I thought I could yet venture a bold stroke. 
So I arrayed d la Daisy Clover — not too much, pis 
tropjcune — and awaited the onset. 

Kurz Pacha saw me across the room, and came 
up with his peculiar smile. He did not look at my 
dress, but he said to me, rather wickedly, looking 
at my bouquet : 

" Dear me! I hardly hoped to see spring flowers 
so late in the summer." 

Then he raised his eyes to mine, and I am con- 
scious that I blushed. 

" It's very warm. You feel very warm, I am 
sure, my dear Miss Tattle," he continued, looking 
straight at my face. 

" You are sufficiently cool, at least, I think," re- 
plied I. 

" Naturally," said he; " for I've been in the im- 
mediate vicinity of the boreal pole for half an hour 
— a neighborhood in which, I am told, even the 
most ardent spirits sometimes freeze — so you must 
pardon me if I am more than usuall}"- dull. Miss 
Minerva." 

And the Pacha beat time to the waltz with his 
head. 

I looked at the part of the room from which he 



MINEEVA TATTLE'S DIAKY. 137 

had just come, and there, sure enough, in the midst 
of a group, I saw the tall, and stately, and still 
Ada Aiguille. 

" He is a hardy navigator," continued Kurz 
Pacha, " who sails for the boreal pole. It is glit- 
tering enough, but shipwreck by daylight, upon a 
coral reef, is no pleasanter than by night upon 
Newport shoals." 

" Have you been shipwrecked, Kurz Pacha?" 
asked I suddenly. 

He laughed softly. 

" No, Miss Minerva, I am not one of the hardy 
navigators ; I keep close-in to the shore. Upon the 
slightest symptom of an agitated sea, I furl my 
sails and creep into a safe harbor. Besides, dear 
Miss Minna, I prefer tropical cruises to the antarc- 
tic voyage." 

And the old wretch actually looked at my black 
hair. I might have said something — approving his 
taste, perhaps, who knows ? — when I saw Mrs. 
Potiphar. She was splendidly dressed in the silk, 
and it's a pity she doesn't become a fine dress bet- 
ter. She made for me directly. 

" Dear Minna, I'm so glad to see you. "Why how 
young and fresh you look to-night. Keally, quite 
blooming ! And such a sweet, pretty dress, too, 
and the darling babv-waist and all — " 



J3S THE POTirilAR PAPEES. 

" Yes," said that witty Gauclie Boosey, " permit 
me, Miss Tattle — quite an incarnate seraphim, upon 
my word." 

"You are too good," replied I, " my dear Polly, 
it is your dress which' deserves admiration, and I 
flatter myself in saying so, for it is the very coun- 
terpart of one I had made some months ago." 

" Yes, darling, and which you have not j-et 
worn," replied she. " I said to Mr. P., ' Mr. P.,' 
said I, ' there are few women upon whose amiabili- 
ty I can count as I can upon Minerva Tattle's, 
and, therefore, I am going to have a dress like hers. 
Most women would be vexed about it, and say ill- 
natured things if I did so. But if I have a friend, 
it is Minerva Tattle ; and she will never grudge it 
to me for a moment.' It's pretty; isn't it? Just 
look here at this trimming." 

And she showed me the very handsomest part of 
it, and so much handsomer than mine, that I can 
never wear it. 

" Polly, I am so glad you know me so well," said 
1. " Pm delighted with the dress. To be sure, it's 
rather proreo?ice' for your style ; but that's nothing." 

Just then a polka struck up. 

" Come along ! give me this turn," said Boosey, 
and putting his arm round Mrs. Potiphar's waist, he 
whirled her off into the dance. 



MINERVA TATTLE'S DIARY. 139 

How I did hope somebody would come to ask 
me. Nobody came. 

"You don't dance?" asked Kurz Pacha, who 
stood by during my little talk with Polly P. 

" Oh ! yes," answered I, and hummed the polka. 

Kurz Pacha hummed, too, looked on at the 
dancers a few minutes, then turned to me, and, 
looking at my bouquet, said : 

" It is astonishinsr how little taste there is for 
spring-flowers." 

At that moment young Croesus " came in," warm 
with the whirl of the dance, with Daisy Clover. 

" It's very warm," said he, in a gentlemanly man- 
ner. 

" Dear me ! yes, very warm," said Daisy. 

" Been long in Newport ?" 

" No ; only a few days. We always come, after 
Saratoga, for a couple of weeks. But isn't it de- 
lightful ?" 

" Quite so," said Timon, coolly, and smiling at 
the idea of anybody's being enthusiastic about 
anything. That elegant youth has pumped life 
dry ; and now the pump only wheezes. 

"Oh !" continued Daisy, "it's so pleasant to run 
away from the hot city, and breathe this cool air. 
And tlien Nature is so beautiful. Are you fond of 
Nature, Mr. Croesus?" 



140 THE rOTIPHAE PAPEES. 

" Tolerabl}%" returned Timon. 

"Oh! but Mr. Croesus! to go to the glen and 
skip stones, and to walk on the cliff, and drive to 
Bateman's, and the fort, and to go to the beach by 
moonlight ; and then the bowling-alley, and the 
archery, and the Germania. Oh ! it's a splendid 
place. But, perhaps, you don't like natural scene- 
ry, Mr. Croesus ?" 

" Perhaps not," said Mr. Croesus. 

" Well, some people don't," said darling little 
Daisy, folding up her fan, as if quite ready for 
another turn. 

"Come, now; there it is," said Timon, and, 
grasping her with his right arm, they glided away. 

" Kurz Pacha," said I, " I wonder who sent Ada 
Aiguille that bouquet ?" 

" Sir John Franklin, I presmne," returned he. 

" What do you mean by that ?" asked I. 

Before he could, answer, Boosey and Mrs. Poti- 
phar stopped by us. 

"No, no, Mr. Boosey," panted Mrs. P., "I will 
not have him introduced. They say his father act- 
ually sells drygoods by the yard in Buffalo." 

" Well, but he doesn't, Mrs. Potiphar." 

"I know that, and it's all very well for you 
young men to know him, and to drink, and play 
billiards, and smoke, with him. And he is hand- 



MINERVA TATTLE'S DIAEY 141 

some to be sure, and gentlemanly, and I am told, 
veiy intelligent. But, you know, we can't be visit- 
ing our shoemakers and shopmen. That's the 
great difficulty of a watering place, one doesn't 
know who's who. Why Mrs. Gnu was here three 
summers ago, and there sat next to her, at table, a 
middle-aged foreign gentleman, who had only a 
slight accent, and who was so affable and agreeable, 
so intelligent and modest, and so pei-fectly familiar 
■with all kinds of little wa}'^s, you know, that she 
supposed he was the Eussian minister, who, she 
heard, was at Newport incognito for his health. 
She used to talk with him in the parlor, and allow- 
ed him to join her upon the piazza. Nobody could 
find out who he was. There were suspicions, of 
course. But he paid his bills, drove his horses, and 
was universally liked. Dear me! appearances are 
so deceitful ! who do you think he was ?" 

" I'm sure I can't imagine." 

" Well, the next spring she went to a music store 
in Philadelphia, to buy some guitar strings for Cla- 
ribel, and who should advance to sell them but the 
Eussian minister ! Mrs. Gnu said she colored — " 

" So I've always understood," said Gauche, 
laughing. 

" Fie ! Mr. Boosey," continued Mrs. P. smiling. 
■'^ But the music-seller didn't betray the slightest 



142 THE POTIPHAE PAPERS. 

consciousness. He sold her the strings, received 
the money, and said nothing, and looked nothing. 
Just think of it! She supposed him to be a gentle- 
man, and he was really a music-dealer. You see 
that's the sort of thing one is exposed to here, and 
though 5'our friend may be very nice, it isn't safe 
for me to know him. In a country where there's 
no aristocracy one can't be too exclusive. Mrs. 
Peony says she thinks that in future siie shall really 
pass the summer in a farm-house, or if she go to a 
watering-place, confine herself to her own rooms 
and her carriage, and look at people through the 
blinds. I'm afraid, myself, it's coming to that. 
Everybody goes to Saratoga now, and you see how 
ISiewport is crowded. For my part I agree with 
the Rev. Cream Cheese, that there are serious evils 
in a republican form of government. What a hide- 
ous head-dress that is of Mrs. Settum Downe's ! 
What a lovely polka-redo wa !" 

" So it is, by Jove ! Come on," replied the gen- 
tlemanly Boosey, and they swept down the hall. 

"Ah! cielf" exclaimed a voice close by us — 
Kurz Pacha and I turned at the same moment. 
We beheld a gentleman twirling his moustache and 
a lady fanning. They were smiling intelligently 
at each other, and upon his wiiispering somethinfr 
that I could not hear, she said, ''• Fi! done" and 



MINEEVA TATTLE'S DIARY. 143 

folding her fan and laying her arm upon his shoul- 
der, they slid along again in the dance. 

" Who is that ?" inquired the Pacha. 

"Don't you know Mrs. Vite?" said I, glad of 
my chance. " Why, my dear sir, she is our great 
social success. She shows what America can do 
under a French regime. She performs for society 
the inestimable service of giving some reality to the 
pictures of Balzac and George Sand, by the quality 
of her life and manners. She is just what you 
would expect a weak American girl to be who was 
poisoned by Paris — who mistook what was most 
obvious for what was most characteristic— whose 
ideas of foreign society and female habits were 
based upon an experience of resorts, more re- 
nowned for. ease than elegance — who has no ia- 
stinct fine enough to tell her that a lionne can- 
not be a lady — who imitates the worst manners 
of foreign society, without the ability or opportuni- 
ty of perceiving the best — who prefers a double en- 
tendre to a hon-mot — who courts-the applause of men 
whose acquaintance gentlemen are careless of ac- 
knowledging — who likes fast driving and dancing, 
low jokes, and low dresses — who is, therefore, bold 
without wit, noisy without mirth, and " notorious 
without a desirable reputation. That is Mrs. Vite." 

Kurz Pacha rolled up his eyes. 



144 THE POTIPHAE PAPEES. 

"Good Jupiter! Miss Minen^a," cried he, "is 
this you that I hear? AVhy, you are warmer in 
your denunciation of this little wisp of a woman 
than you ever were of fat old Madame Gorgon, with 
her prodigious paste diamonds. Eeally, you take 
it too hard. And you, too, who used to skate so 
nimbly over the glib surface of society, and cut 
such coquettish figures of eight upon the characters 
of your friends. You must excuse me, but it seems 
to me odd that Miss Minerva Tattle, who used to 
treat serious things so lightly, should now be treat- 
ing light things so seriously. You ought to fre- 
quent the comic opera more, and dine with Mrs. 
Potiphar once a week. If your good-humor can't 
digest such a hors cfceuvre as little Mrs. Vite, what 
will you do with such a j)iece de resistance as Madame 
Gorgon?" 

Odious plain speaker ! Yet I like the man. But, 
before I could reply, up came another couple — Caro- 
line Pettitoes and Norman de Famille. 

" You were at the bowling-alley?" said he. 

" Yes, answered Caroline. 

" You saw them together?" 

" Yes." 

" Well, what do you think?" 

" Why, of course, that if he be not engaged to her 
he ought to be. He has taken her out in his wagon 



MINERVA TATTLE'S DIAET. 145 

three times, he has sent her four bouquets, he 
waltzes with her every night, he bowls with her 
party every morning, and if that does not mean that 
he wants to marry her, I should like to know what 
it does mean," replied Caroline, tossing her head. 

Norman de Famille smiled, and Caroline con- 
tinued, with rather a flushed face, because Norman 
had been doing very much the same thing with 
her: 

" What is a girl to understand by such atten- 
tions?" 

" Why, that the gentleman, finds it an amusing 
game, and hopes she is equally pleased," returned 
de Famille. 

" Merci, M. de FamUle," said Caroline, with an 
energy I never suspected in her, " and at the end of 
the game she may go break her heart, I suppose." 

"Hearts are not so brittle. Miss Pettitoes," re- 
plied Noi^man. " Besides, why should you girls 
always play for such high stakes ?" 

They were just about beginning the waltz again, 
when the music stopped, and they walked away. 
But I saw the tears in Caroline's eyes. I don't 
know whether they were tears of vexation, or of 
disappointment. The men have the advantage of 
us, because they can control their emotion so much 

better, I suppose Caroline blushed and cried be- 

7 



146 THE POTIl'IIAR PAPERS. 

cause she found herself blushing and crying, quite 
as much as because she fancied her partner didn't 
care for her. 

I turned to Kurz Pacha, who stood by my side, 
smiling, and rubbing his hands. 

" A charming evening we have had of it. Miss 
Minerva," said he, " an epitome of life — a kind of 
last-new-novel effect. The things that we have 
heard and seen here, multiplied and varied by a 
thousand or so, produce the net result of Newport. 
Given, a large house, music, piazzas, beaches, cliff, 
port, griddle-cakes, fast horses, sherry-cobblers, 
ten-pins, dust, artificial flowers, innocence, worn- 
out hearts, loveliness, black-legs, bank-bills, small 
men, large coat-sleeves, little boots, jewelry, and 
polka-redowas ad libitum., to produce August in New- 
port. For my part. Miss Minerva, I like it. But 
it is a dizzy and perilous game. I profess to seek 
and enjoy emotions, so I go to watering-places. Ada 
Aiguille says she doesn't like it. She declares that 
she thinks less of her fellow-creatures after she has 
been here a little while. She goes to the city after- 
ward to refit her faith, probablj^ Daisy Clover 
thinks it's heavenly. Darling little Daisy ! life is 
an endless Gennan cotillon to her. She thinks the 
world is gay but well-meaning, is sure that it goes 
to church on Sundays, and uever tells lies. Cerulea 



MINERVA TATTLE'S DIARY. 147 

Bass looks at it for a moment with her hard, round, 
ebony eyes, and calmly wonders that people will 
make such fools of themselves. And you, Miss Mi- 
nerva, pardon me — you come because you are in the 
habit of coming — ^because you are not happy out of 
such society, and have a tantalizing sadness in it. 
Your system craves only the piquant sources of 
scandal and sarcasm, which can never satisfy it. 
You wish that you liked tranquil pleasures and be- 
lieved in men and women. But you get no nearer 
than a wish. You remember when you did believe, 
but you remember with a shudder and a sigh. You 
pass for a brilliant woman. You go out to dinners 
and balls ; jand men are, what is called, ' afraid of 
you.' You scorn most of us. You are not a favorite, 
but your pride is flattered by the very fear on the 
part of others which prevents your being loved. 
Time and yourself are your only enemies, and they 
are in league, for you betray yourself to him. You 
have found youth the most fascinating and fatal of 
flirts ; but he, although your heart and hope clung 
to him despairingly, has jilted you, and thrown you 
by. Let him go, if you can, and throw after him 
the white muslin and the baby-waist. Give up 
milk and the pastoral poets. Sail, at least, under 
your own colors ; even pirates hoist a black flag. 
An old belle who endeavors to retain by sharp 



148 THE POTIPHAR PAPERS. 

wit and spicy scandal the place she held only 
in virtue of youth and spirited beauty, is, in a 
new circle of youth and beauty, like an enemy firing 
at you from the windows of your own house. The 
difficulty of your position, dear Miss Slinerva, is, 
that you can never deceive those wlio alone are 
worth deceiving. Daisy Clover and Young America, 
of course, consider you a talented, tremendous kind 
of woman. Daisy Clover wonders all the men are 
not in love with you. Young America sniffs and 
shakes its little head, and says disapprovingly, 
strong minded woman!' But you fail, you know, 
notwithstanding. You couldn't bring old Potiphar 
to his knees when he first came home from China, 
and he must needs plunge in love with Miss Polly, 
whom you despised, but who has certainly profited 
by her intimacy with Mrs. Gnu, Mrs. Croesus, and 
Mrs. Settum Downs, as you saw by her conversation 
with you this evening. 

" Ah, Miss Minerva, I am only a benighted diplo- 
mat from Sennaar ; but, when I reflect upon all I 
see around me in your country ; when I take my 
place with terror in a railroad car, because the cer- 
tainty of frightful accidents fills all minds with the 
same vague apprehension as if a war were raging in 
the land ; when I see the universal rush and fury — - 
young men who never smile, and who fall victims 




/ 'Si f^V^.'v^ W- 



MINERVA TATTLE'S DIARY. 149 

to paralysis ; old mea who ai-e tired of life and dread 
death ; young women pretty and incapable ; old 
women listless and useless ; and both young and 
old, if women of sense, perishing of ennui, and long- 
ing for some kind of a career — why, I don't say that 
it is better anywhere else — perhaps it isn't — ^in 
most ways it certainly is not. I don't say, certainly, 
that there's a higher tone of life in London or Paris 
than in New York, but only that, whatever it may 
be there, this, at least, is rather a miserable busi- 
ness." 

"What is your theory of life, then?" asked I. 
" What do you propose ?" 

Kurz Pacha smiled again. 

" l^ppose, Miss Minerva, I say the Golden Rule 
is my theory of life. You think it vague ; but it is 
in that like most theories. Then I propose that 
we shall all be good. Don't you think it a feasible 
proposition ? I see that you think you have effec- 
tually disposed of all complaint by challenging the 
complainer to suggest a remedy. But it is clear to 
me that a man in the water has a right to cry out, 
although he may not distinctly state how he pro- 
poses to avoid drowning. Your reasoning is that 
of those excellent Americans who declare that 
foreign nations ought not to strike for a republic 
until they are fit for a republic — as if empires and 



150 THE POTIPHAR PAPERS. 

monarchies founded colleges to propagate demo- 
cracj''. Probably you think it wiser that men 
shouldn't go into the water until they can swim. 
Mr. Carlyle, I remember, was bitterly reproached 
for grumbling in his " Chartism," and other works, 
as if a man had no moral right to complain of hunger 
until he had grasped a piece of bread. ' What do 
you propose to do, Mr. Carlyle ?' said they, ' what 
with the Irish, for instance V Mr. C. said that he 
would compel every Irishman to work, or he would 
sink the island in the sea. ' Barbarous man, this is 
your boasted reform !' cried they in indignant cho- 
rus, unsuited either way, and permitting the Irish 
to go to the dogs in the meanwhile. So suffer me, 
dearest Miss Minerva, to regret a state of things 
which no sensible man can approve. Even if it 
seems to you light, allow me, at least, to treat it 
seriously, nor suppose I love anything less, because 
I would see it better. You are the natural fniit 
of this state of things, Minerva Tattle ! By their 
fruits ye shall know them." 

After a few moments, he added in the old way : 
"Don't think I am going to break my heart 
about it, nor lose my appetite. Look at the absur- 
dity of the whole thing. I'm preaching to you in 
your baby-waist, here in a Newport ball-room at 
midnight. I humbly beg your pardon. There are 



MINERVA TATTLE'S DIAEY. 151 

more potent preachers here than I. Besides, I'm 
engaged to Mrs. Potiphar's supper at 12. Take* 
things more gently, dear Miss Minerva. Don't 
make faces at Mrs. Vite, nor growl at your dar- 
ling Polly. Women as smart as you are, will 
say precisely as smart things of you as you say 
of them. We shall all laugh, first with j^ou, and 
then at you. But don't deny yourself the pleasure 
of saying the smai-t things in hope that they will 
also refrain. That's vanity, not virtue. People are 
much better than you think, but they are also much 
worse. I might have been king of Sennaar, but I 
am only his ambassador. You might have been 
only a chambermaid, but you are the brilliant and 
accomplished Miss Tattle. Tum, turn, tum, — ti, ti, 
ti — what a pretty waltz ! Here come Daisy and 
Timon Croesus, and now Mrs. Potiphar and Gauche 
Boosey, and now again Caroline Pettitoes and de 
Famille. She is smiling again, you see. She darts 
through the dance like a sunbeam as she is. Caro- 
line is a philosopher. Just now, you remember, it 
was down, down, down — now it is up, up, up. It 
is a good world, if you don't rub it the wrong way. 
Sit in the sun as much as possible. One preserves 
one's complexion, but gets so cold in the shade. 
Ah. ! there comes Mrs. Potiphar. Why, she is ra- 
diant ! She shakes her fan at me. Adieu, Miss 



152 THE POTIPIIAR TAPERS. 

Minei-va. Sweet dreams. To-morrow morning a 
the Bowling Alley at eleven, you know, and the 
drive at six. Au revoir." 

And he was gone. The ball was breaking up. 
A few desperate dancers still floated upon the floor. 
The chairs were empty. The women were shawl- 
ing, and the men stood attendant with bouquets. 
I went to a window and looked out. The moon 
was rising, a wan, waning moon. The broad fields 
lay dark beneath, and as the music ceased, I heard 
the sullen roar of the sea. If my heart ached with 
an indefinite longing — if it felt that the airy epicur- 
ism of the Pacha was but a sad cynicism, mas- 
querading in smiles — ^if I dreaded to ask whether 
the wisest were not the saddest — if the rising moon, 
and the plunging sea, and the silence of midnight, 
were mournful — if I envied Daisy Clover her sweet 
sleep and vigorous waking — why, no one need ever 
know it, nor suspect that the brilliant Minerva 
Tattle is a failure. 



V. 

THE POTIPHARS IN PARIS. 

A LETTER FROM MISS CAROLINE PETTITOES 
TO MRS. SETTUM DOWNE. 



THE POTIPHARS IN PARIS. 

A LETTEK FROM MISS CAROLINE PETTITOES TO MRS. SETTUM 
DOW.VE. 



Paeis, Odoher. 

Mt dear Mrs. Downe — Here we are at last ! I 
can hardly believe it. Our coming was so sudden 
that it seems like a delightful dream. You know at 
Mrs. Potiphar's supper last August in Newport, she 
was piqued by Gauche Boosey's saying, in his 
smiling, sarcastic way : 

" What ! do you really think this is a pretty sup- 
per? Dear me! Mrs. Potiphar, you ought to see 
one of our jjetits soujiers in Paris, hey Croesus ?" and 
then he and Mr. Timon Croesus lifted their brows 
knowingly, and smiled, and glanced compassionate- 
ly around the table. 

" Paris, Paris !" cried Mrs. Potiphar ; " you young 
men are always talking about Paris, as if it were 
heaven. Oh ! Mr. P., do take me to Paris. Let's 
make up a party, and slip over. It's so easy now, 
you know. Come, come. Pot., I know you won't 
deny me. Just for two or three months. The 



156 THE POTipnAR papers. 

truth is," said she, turning to D'Orsay Firkin, who 
wore that evening the lovehest shirt-bosom I ever 
saw, " I want to send home some patterns of new 
dresses to Minerva Tattle." 

They all laughed, and in the midst Kurz Pacha, 
who was sitting at the side of Mrs. Potiphar, inquired : 

"What colors suit the Indian summer best, Mrs. 
Potiphar ?" 

"Well, a kind of misty color," said Boosey, laugh- 
ingly, and emphasizing missed, as if he meant some 
pun upon the word. 

"Which conceals the outline of the landscape," 
inteiTupted Mrs. Gnu. 

"Cajoling you with a sense of warmth on the 
very edge of winter, eh ?" asked the Sennaar min- 
ister. 

Another loud laugh rang around the table. 

" I thought Minerva Tattle was a friend of yours, 
Kurz Pacha," said Mrs. Gnu, smiling mischievously, 
and playing with her beautiful bouquet, which Mrs. 
Potiphar told me Timon Crcesus had sent her. 

" Certainly, so she is," replied he. " Miss Mi- 
nerva and I understand each other perfectly. I 
like her society immensely. The truth is, I am 
always hetter in autumn ; the air is both cool and 
bright." 

As he said this he looked fixedly at Mrs. Gnu, 



THE POTIPHAES IN PARIS. 157 

and there was not quite so much laughing. I am 
sure I don't know what tliey meant by talking about 
autumn. I was busy talking with Mr. Firkin about 
Daisy Clover's pretty morning dress at the Bowling 
Alley, and admiring his shirt-bosom. Suddenly 
there was a knock at the door, and an exquisite 
bouquet was handed in for Kurz Pacha. 

" Why didn't you wait until to-morrow?" said he, 
sharply. 

The man stammered some excuse, and the am- 
bassador took the flowers. Mrs. Gnu looked at 
them closely, and praised them very much, and 
quietly glanced at her own, which were really splen- 
did. Kurz Pacha showed them to all the ladies at 
table, and then handed them to Mrs. Potiphar, say- 
ing to her, as he half looked at Mrs. Gnu : 

" There is nothing autumnal here." 

Mrs. Potiphar thanked him with real delight, 
and he turned toward Mrs. Gnu, at whom he had 
been constantly looking, and who was playing pla- 
cidly with her bouquet, and said with the air of 
paying a great compliment : 

" To offer you a bouquet, madame, would be to 
throw pearls before swine." 

We were all silent a moment, and then the young 
men sprang up together, while we women laughed, 
half afraid. 



158 THE POTIPHAE PAPERS. 

" Good heavens ! Kurz Pacha, what do you 
mean ?" cried Mrs. Potiphar. 

"Mean?" answered he, evidently confused, and 
blushing ; " why, I'm afraid I have made some mis- 
take. I meant to say something very polite, but 
my English sometimes gives way.'' 

" Your impudence never does," muttered Mrs. 
Gnu, who was unbecomingly red in the face. 

" My dear madame," said the minister to her, "I 
assure you I meant only to use a proverb in a com- 
plimentary way ; but somehow I have got the 
■wrong pig by the ear." 

There was another burst of laughter. The young 
men fairly lay down and screamed. Mr. Potiphar 
exploded in great ha ha's and ho ho's, from the end 
of the table. 

"Mrs. Potiphar," said Mrs. Gnu, with dignity, 
" I didn't suppose I was to be insulted at your 
table." 

And she went toward the door. 

" Mrs. Gnu, Mrs. Gnu," said Polly, smothering 
her laughter as well as she could, " don't go. — 
Kurz Pacha will explain. Pm sure he means no 
insult." 

Here she burst out laughing again ; while the 
poor Sennaar ambassador stood erect, and utterly 
confounded by what was going on. 



THE POTIPHAES IN PARIS. 159 

" I'm sure — 1 don't know — I didn't — I wouldn't 
— Mrs. Gnu knows ;" said he, in the greatest em- 
barrassment. " I beg your pardon sincerely, 
madame." And he looked so humble and repent- 
ant that I was really sorry for him ; but I saw Mr. 
Firkin laughing afresh every time he looked at the 
ambassador, as if he saw something sly behind his 
penitence. 

"Perhaps," said Firkin at last, "Kurz Pacha 
means to say that to offer flowers to a lady who 
has already so beautiful a bouquet, would be to 
carry coals to Newcastle." 

" That is it," cried the Pacha; " to Newcastle," 
and he bowed to Mrs. Gnu. 

" Come, Mrs. Gnu, it's only a mistake," said Mrs. 
Potiphar. 

But Mrs. Gnu looked rather angry still, although 
Gauche Boosey tried very hard to console her, say- 
ing as many Ion-mots as he could think of — and you 
know how witty he is. He said at last : 

" Why is Mrs. Gnu like Rachel ?" 

" Rachel who?" asked I. 

I'm sure it was an innocent question ; but they 
all fell to laughing again, and Mr. Firkin positively 
cried with fun. 

" D'ye give it up?" asked Mr. Boosey. 

" Yes," said Mrs. Potiphar. 



160 THE POTIPHAE PAPERS. 

" Why, because she will not be comforted." 

" There wasn't half so much laughing at this as 
at my question — although Mrs. Potiphar said it was 
capital, and I thought so, too, when I found out 
who Rachel was. 

But Mrs. Gnu continued to be like Rachel, and 
Mr. Boosey continued to try to amuse her. I think 
it was very hard she wouldn't be amused by such a 
funnyman ; and he said, at last, aloud to her, mean- 
ing all of us to hear : 

" Well, Mrs. Gnu, upon my honor, it is no epicure 
to tiy to console you." 

She did laugh at this, however, and so did the others. 

"Have you ever been in Sennaar, Mr. Boosey?" 
said Kurz Pacha. 

"No; whyf' 

" Why, I thought we might have learned English 
at the same school." 

Mr. Boosey looked puzzled ; but Mr. Potiphar 
broke in : 

"Well, Mrs. Gnu, I'm glad to see you smile at 
last. After all, the remark of the ambassador's was 
only what they would call in France, ' a perfect 
bougie of a joke.' " 

" Good evening, Mrs. Potiphar," cried the Sen- 
naar minister, rising suddenly, and i-unning toward 
the door. We heard him next under the window 



THE POTIPHAKS IN PARIS. 161 

going off in great shouts of laughter, and whistling 
in the intervals, "Hail Columbia!" What shock- 
ing habits he has for a minister ! 

I don't know how it was that Mr. Potiphar was 
in such good-humor ; but he promised his wife she 
should go to Paris, and that she might select her 
party. So she invited us all who were at the table. 
Mrs. Gnu declined : but I knew mamma would let 
me go with the Potiphars. 

" Dear Pot.," said Mrs. P., " we shall be gone so 
short a time, and shall be so busy, and hurrying 
from one place to another, that we had better leave 
little Freddy behind. Poor, dear little fellow, it 
will be much better for him to stay." 

Mr. P. looked a little sober at this ; but he said 
nothing except to ask : 

" Shall you all be ready to sail in a fortnight ?" 

" Certainly, in a week," we all answered. 

" Well, then, we must hurry home to prepare," 
said he. " I shall write for state-rooms for us in 
Monday's boat, Polly." 

" Very well ; that's a dear Pot.," said she ; and 
as we all rose she went up to him, and took his arm 
tenderly. It was an unusual sight : I never saw her 
do it before. Mrs. Gnu said to me : 

" Well, really, that's rather peculiar. I think 
people had better make love in private." 



162 THE POTIPHAU PAPERS. 

"No, by Jove," whispered Mr. Boosey to me; 
and I am afraid he had drank freely, as I have once 
or twice before heard that he did ; but the world is 
such a gossip ! — " No, she doesn't let Iter good 
works of that kind sliine before men." 

" Why, Mr. Boosey," said I, " how can you ?" 

Will you believe, darling Mrs. Downe, that in- 
stead of answering, he sort of winked at me, and 
said, under his voice, " Good night, Caroline." I 
di'ew myself up, you may depend, and said coldly : 

" Good evening, Mr. Boosey." 

He drew himself up, too, and said : 

"I called you Caroline, you called me Mr. Boosey." 

And then, looking straight and severely at me, 
he actually winked again. 

Then, of course, I knew he was not responsible 
for his actions. 

Ah me, what things we are ! Just as I was leav- 
ing the room with Mrs. Gnu, who had matronized 
me, Mr. Boosey came up with such a soft, pleading 
look in his eyes, that seemed to say, "please forgive 
me," and put out his hand so humbly, and appeared 
so sorry and so afraid that I would not speak to him, 
that I really pitied him : but when, in his low, rich 
voice, he said : 

" Nymph, in thy orisons be all .my sins remem- 
bered !"— 



TUE POTIPHAES IN PARIS. 163 

I couldn't hold out ; wasn't it pretty? So I put 
out my hand, and he shook it tenderly, and said "to- 
morrow" in a way — well, dear Mrs. Downe, I will 
be frank with you — that made me happy all night. 

At this rate I shall never get to Paris. But the 
next day it was known everywhere we were going, 
and everybody congratulated us. Our party met at 
the Bowling Alley, and we began to make all kinds 
of plans. 

" Oh ! we'll take care of all the arrangements," 
said Mr. Boosey, nodding toward Mr. Croesus and 
Mr. Firkin. 

" Mr. Boosey, were you presented to the Em- 
peror ?" inquired Kurz Pacha. 

" Certainly I Avas,". replied he; "I have a great 
respect for Louis Napoleon. Those Frenchmen 
didn't know what they wanted ; but be knew well 
enough what he wanted : they didn't want him, 
perhaps, but he did want them, and now he has 
them. A true nephew of his uncle, Kurz Pacha ; 
and you can see what a man the great Napoleon 
must have been, when the little Napoleon succeeds 
so well upon the strength of the name." 

" Why, you are really enthusiastic about the Em- 
perors," said the Ambassador. 

" Certainly," replied Mr. Boosey, "I have always 
been a great Neapolitan." 



1G4: THE POTIPHAR TAPEKS. 

Kurz Pacha stared at liim a moment, and then 
took a large pinch of snufF solenauly. I think it's 
very ill-bred to stare as he does sometimes, when 
somebody has made a remark. I saw nothing par- 
ticular in that speech of Mr. Boosey's ; and yet 
D'Orsay Firkin smiled to himself as he told Mrs. 
Gnu it was her turn. 

" I wonder, my dear Mrs. Potiphar," said the 
Sennaar minister, seating himself by her side, as the 
game went on, " that Europeans should have so 
poor an idea of America and Americans, when such 
crowds of the very best society are constantly cross- 
ing the ocean. Now, you and your friends are 
going to Paris, perhaps to other parts of Europe, 
and I should certainly suppose that, without flat- 
tery (taking another pinch of snuff), the foreigners 
whom you meet might get rid of some of their pre- 
judices against the Americans. You will go, you 
know, as the representatives of a republic where 
social ranks are not organized to the exclusion of 
any, but where talent and character always secure 
social consideration. - The simplicity of the re- 
publican idea and system will appear in your 
manners and modes of life. Leaving to the children 
of a society based upon antique and aristocratic 
principles, to squander their lives in an aimless 
luxury, you will carry about with you, as it were, 



THE POTIPHAES IN PARIS. 16-5 

the fresh abs and virgin character of a new country 
and civilization. When you go to Paris, it will be 
like a sweet country breeze blowing into a per- 
fumer's shop. The customers will scent something 
finer than the most exquisite essence, and will prefer 
the fresh fragrance of the flower to the most elabo- 
rate distillation. Roses smell sweeter than attar of 
roses. You and your party, estimable lady, will be 
the roses. You will not (am I right this time?) 
carry coals to Newcastle ; for, if any of your com- 
panions think that the sharp eye of Paris will not 
pierce their pretensions, or the satiric tongue of 
Paris fail to immortalize it, they mistake greatly. 
You cannot beat Paris with its own weapons ; and 
Paris will immensely respect you if you use your 
own. Poor little Mrs. Vite thinks she passes for a 
Parisienne in Paris. Why, there is not a cJiiffonnier 
in the street at midnight than couldn't see straight 
through the little woman, and nothing would better 
please the Jardin Mahille than to have her for a 
butt. My dear madame, the ape is a very ingenious 
animal, and his form much resembles the human. 
Moles, probably, and the inhabitants of the planet 
Jupiter, do not discern the difference ; but I rather 
think we do. — A ten-strike, by Venus ! well done, 
Mrs. Gnu," .cried the Ambassador; "now, Mrs. 
Potiphar." 



166 THE rOTIPIIAK PAPERS. 

The Pacha didn't play ; but he asked Mr. Fir- 
kin what was a good average for a man, in the 
game. 

"Well, a spare every time," said he. 

" Mr. Firkin," asked Mrs. Gnu, " what is a good 
woman's average ?" 

" Does any lady here know that ?" inquired the 
Pacha, looking round. 

"No," said Mr. Boosey ; " we must send and in- 
quire of Miss Tattle." 

" How pleasantly the game goes on, dear Mrs. 
Gnu," said the Pacha; "but Miss Minei-va ought 
to be here, she always holds such a good hand at 
every game." 

"I think," said Mrs. Gnu, " that if she once got 
a good hold of my hand, she wouldn't let it go im- 
mediately." 

" Good !" shouted Mr. Boosey. 

" Hi, hi !" roared Mr. Potiphar. 

The Pacha took snuff placidly, and said quietly : 

" You've fairly trumped my trick, and taken it, 
Mrs. Gnu." 

" I should say the trick has taken her," whis- 
pered Mr. Firkin at my elbow to Kurz Pacha. 

The Sennaar ambassador opened his eyes wide, 
and offered Mr. Firkin his snuff-box. 

Monday came at length. It was well kuov/n 



THE POTIPHAES IN PARIS. 167 

that we were all going — the Potiphars aud the rest 
of us. Everybody had spoken of the difficulty of 
getting state-rooms on the steamer to town, and 
hoped we had spoken in time. 

"I have written and secured my rooms," said Mr. 
Potiphar to everybody he met ; " I am not to be 
left in the lurch, my dear sir, it isn't my way." 
And then he marched on. Gauche Boosey said, as 
if at least both sides of the street were his way. 
He's changed a great deal lately. 

The De Families were going the same day. 
"Hope you've secured rooms, De Famille," said 
Mr. Potiphar blandly to him. 

"No," answered he, shortly; "no, not yet; it 
isn't my, way ; I don't mean to give myself trouble 
about things ; I don't bother ; it isn't my way." 

And each went his own way up and down the 
street. But early on Monday afternoon Mr. De 
Famille and his family drove toward Fall River, 
from which place the boat starts. 

Monday evening the Potiphars and the rest of us 
went to the wharf at Newport, and presently the 
boat came up. We bundled on board, and as soon 
as he could get to the office Mr. Potiphar asked for 
the keys of his rooms. 

"Why, sir," said the clerk, "Mr. De Famille has 
them. He came on board at Fall Eiver and asked 



16S THE POTIPIIAE PAPERS. 

for your keys, as if the rooms had been secured for 
him." 

" What does that mean ?" demanded Mr. Poti- 
phar. 

" Oh ! ah ! I remember now," said Mr. Boosey. 
" I saw the De Families all getting into a carriage 
for a little drive, as Mr De F. said, about two 
o'clock this afternoon." 

Mr. Potiphar looked like a thunder-storm. "What 
the devil does it mean ?" asked he of the clerk, 
while the passengers hustled him, and punched him, 
and the hook of an unbrella-stick caught in his cra- 
vat-knot, and untied it. 

" Send up immediatly, and say that Mr. Potiphar 
wants his state-rooms," said he to the clerk. 

In a few minutes the messenger returned and 
said — 

" Mr. De Famille's compliments to Mr. Potiphar. 
Mr. De Faixiille and his family have retired for the 
night, but upon arriving in the morning he will 
explain everything to Mr. Potiphar's satisfaction." 

"Jolly!" whispered Mr. Boosey, rubbing his 
hands, to Mr. Firkin, on whose arm I was leaning. 

"Are you fond of the Italian Opera, Mr. Poti- 
phar?" inquired Kui-z Pacha, blandly. 

Mr. P. sat down upon a settee and looked at 
nothing. 



THE POTIPHAES IN PARIS. 169 

"0 Patience! do verify the quotation and smile," 
said the ambassador to her. 

" It's a mean swindle," said Mr. Potiphar. " I'll 
have satisfaction. I'll go break open the dooi-," 
and he started. 

" My dear, don't be in a passion," said Mrs. Poti- 
phar, " and don't be a fool. Eemember that the 
De Families are not people to be insulted. It 
won't do to quarrel with the De Families." 

" Splendid !" ejaculated Kurz Pacha. 

" I've no doubt he'll explain it all in the morn- 
ing," continued Mrs. Potiphar, " there's some mis- 
take ; why not be cool about it ? Besides, Mr. De 
Famille is an elderly gentleman and requires his 
rest. I do think you're positively unchristian, 
Mr. Potiphar. The idea of insulting the De Famil- 
ies !" 

And Mrs. Potiphar patted her little feet upon the 
door in front of the ladies' cabin, where we were all 
collected. 

" Where are you going to sleep ?" asked Mr. 
Potiphar mildly. 

" I'm sure I don't know," answered she. 

We had an awful night. It was worse than any 
night at sea. Mrs. P. was propped up in one cor- 
ner of a settee and I in the other, and when I was 
fixed comfortable there would come a great sea, 



170 THE POTIPHAE PAPERS. 

and the boat would lurch, and I had to disarrange 
my position. It was horrid. But Mr. Potiphar 
was very good all night. He kept coming to see if 
Polly wanted anything, and if she were warm 
enough, and if she were w^ell. Gauche Boosey, 
who was on the floor in the saloon, said he saw Mr. 
P. crawl up softly and try his state-room door. 
But it was locked, "and the snoring of old De 
Famille, who was enjoying his required rest," said 
he, "came in regular broadsides through the blinds." 

I don't know how Mr. De Famille explained. I 
only know Mrs. P. charged old Pot. to be satisfied 
with anything. 

" There are some people, my darling Caroline," 
she said to me, " with whom it does not do to quar- 
rel. It isn't Christian to quarrel. I can't afford to 
be on bad terms with the De Families." 

" It is odd, isn'J; it," said Kurz Pacha to Mrs. P., 
as we were sailing down the harbor on our way to 
Europe, and talking of the circumstance of the 
state-rooms, " it is so odd, that in Sennaar, where, 
to be sure, civilization has scarcely a foothold — I 
mean such civilization as you enjoy — this proceed- 
ing would have been called dishonest? They do 
have the oddest use of terms in Sennaar ! Why, I 
remember that I once bought a sheep, and as it was 
coming to my fold in charge of my shepherd, a man 



THE POTIPHARS IN PARIS. 171 

in a mask came out of a wood and walked away 
with the sheep, and appropriated the mutton-chops 
to his own family uses. And those singular people 
in Sennaar called it stealing ! Shall I ever get 
through laughing at them when I return ! There 
ought to be missionaries sent to Sennaar. Do you 
think the Eev. Cream Cheese would go ? How 
gracefully he would say : ' Benighted brethren, in 
my country, when a man buys a sheep or a state- 
room, and pays money for it, and another man ap- 
propriates it, depriving the rightful buyer of his 
chops and sheep, what does the buyer do? Does 
he swear? Does he rail? Does he complain? 
Does he even ask for the cold pickings? Not at 
all, brethren ; he does none of these things. He 
sends Worcestershire sauce to the thief, or a pillow 
of poppies, and says to him, ' Friend, all of mine is 
thine, and all of thine is thy own.' This, benighted 
people of Sennaar, is the practice of a Christian 
people. As one of our great poets says, ' It is more 
blessed to give than to receive.' Think how deli- 
cately the Eev. Cream would pat his mouth with 
the fine cambric handkerchief, after rounding off such 
a homily ! He might ask you and Mrs. Potiphar to 
accompany him as examples of this Christian pitch 
of self-sacrifice. On the whole, I wouldn't advise 
you to go. The rude races of Sennaar might put 



172 THE POTIPIIAR TAPERS. 

that beautiful forgiveness of yours to extraordinary- 
proofs. Holloa! there's a sea!" 

We were dismallj'- sea-sick. And I cared for 
nothing but arriving. Oh ! dear, I thinly I would 
evenhave given up Paris, at least I thought so. But, 
oh ! how could I thinli so "? Just fancy a place 
where not only your own maid speaks French, but 
where everybody, the porters, the coachmen, the 
chambermaids, can't speak anything else! Where 
the very beggars beg, and the commonest people 
swear, in French ! Oh ! it's inexpressibly delight- 
ful. Why, the dogs understand it, and the horses 
— " everybody," as Kurz Pacha said to me, the 
morning after our arrival (for he insisted upon com- 
ing, "it was such a freak," he said), "everybody 
rolls in a luxury of French, and, according to the 
boarding-school standard, is happy." 

Eveiybody — but poor Mr. Potiphar ! 

He has a terrible time of it. 

When we arrived, we alighted at Meurice's — 
all the fashionable people do ; at least, Gauche 
Boosey said Lord Brougham did, for he used to read 
it in Galignani, and I suppose it is fashionable to do 
as Lord Brougham does. D'Orsay Firkin said that 
the Hotel Bristol was more recherche. 

" Does that mean cheaper ?" inquired Mr. Poti- 
phar. 



THE POTIPHARS IN PARIS. 173 

Mr. Firkin looked at him compassionately. 

"I only want," said Mr. Potiphar, in a kind of 
gasping way — for it was in tiie cars on the way 
from Boulogne to Paris that we held this consulta- 
tion — "I only want to go where there is somebody 
who can speak English." 

"My dear sir, there are commissionaires at all the 
hotels who are perfect linguists," said Mr. Firkin 
in a gentlemanly manner. 

" Oh ! dear me !" said Mr. P. wiping his forehead 
with the red bandanna that he always carries, des- 
pite Mrs. P., " what is a commissionaire?" 

" An interpreter, a cicerone," said Mr. Firkin. 

" A guide, philosopher, and friend," said Kurz 
Pacha. 

" Kurz Pacha, do you speak French V inquired 
Mr. P., nervously, as we rolled along. 

" Oh ! yes," replied he. 

" Oh ! dear me !" said Mr. Potiphar, looking dis- 
consolately out of the window. 

We arrived soon after. 

" We are now at the Barriere," said Mr. Fii-kin. 

" What do we do there ?" asked Mr. Potiphar. 

" We are inspected," said Mr. Firkin. 

Mr. Potiphar di-ew himself up with a military air. 

We alighted and walked into the room where all 
the baggage was arranged. 



174 THE POTIPHAR PAPERS. 

'''■ Esl-cc qiCil y a quclque chose d declarer?'''' asked 
an officer, addressing Mr. Potiphar. 

" Good Heavens ! what did you say ?" said Mr 
P., lookini!; at him. 

The officer smiled, and Kurz Pacha said some- 
thing, upon wliich he bowed and passed on. We 
stepped outside upon the pavement, and I confess 
that even I could not understand everything that 
was said by the crowd and the coachmen. But 
Kurz Pacha led the way to a carriage, and we drove 
off to Meurice's. 

"It's awful, isn't it?" said Mr. Potiphar, pant- 
ing. 

When we reached the hotel, a gentleman (Mr. 
Potiphar said he was sure he was a gentleman, from 
a remark he made — in English) came bowing out. 
But before the door of the carriage was opened, Mr. 
P. thrust his head out of the window, and holding 
the door shut, cried out, " Do you speak English 
here?" 

" Certainly, sir," replied the clerk ; and that was 
the remark that so pleased Mr. Potiphar. 

My room was next to the Potiphars, and I heard 
a great deal, you may be sure. I didn't mean to, 
but I couldn't help it. The next morning, when 
they were about coming down, I heard Polly say — 

" Now, Mr. Potiphar, remember, if you want to 



THE rOTIPIIAES IN PARIS. 175 

speak of your room, it is numcro quatre-vingt cinq,'' 
and she pronounced it very slowly. " Now try, Mr. 
P." 

" Oh ! dear me. Kattery vang sank," said he. 

" Veiy good," answered she ; "a« troiswme; that 
means, on the third floor. Now try." 

"0 tror — O trorsy — O trorsy — Oh! dear me!" 
muttered he in a tone of despair. 

" ieme," said Mrs. P. 

" eeaim," said he. 

"Well?" said Mrs. P. 

" O trorsyaim," said he. 

" That's very well, indeed !" said Mrs. Potiphar, 
and they went out of the room. I joined them in 
the hall, and we ran on before Mr. P., but we soon 
heard some one speaking, and stopped. 

" Monsieur, veut il pi'endi-e un commissionaire .5*" 

" Kattery — vang — sank," replied Mr. Potiphar, 
with great emphasis. 

" Comment ?" said the other. 

" O tror — tror — Oh! Polly — seeaim — seeaim !" 
returned Mr. P. 

" You speak English ?" said the commissionaire. 

" Why ! good God ! do you-?" asked Mr. P., with 
astonishment. 

" I speaks every languages, sare," replied the 
other, " and we will use the English, if you please. 



176 THE POTIPHAR PAPERS. 

But Mousiem- speaks tres Uen the French lan- 
guage." 

" Are j^ou speaking English now !" asked Mr. 
Potiphar. 

The commissionaire answered hira that he was — 
and Mr. P. thrust his arm through that of the com- 
missionaire and said — 

"My dear sir, if you are disengaged I should be 
veiy glad if you would accompany me in my walks 
through the town." 

" Mr. Potiphar !" said Polly, " come !" 

" Coming, my dear," answered he, as he approach- 
ed with the commissionaire. It was in vain that 
Mrs. P. winked and frowned. Her husband would 
not take hints. So taking his other arm, and wishing 
the commissionaire good morning, she tried to draw 
him away. But he clung to his companion and said,. 

" Polly, this gentleman speaks English." 

" Don't keep his arm," whispered she ; " he is only 
a servant." 

" Servant, indeed !" said he ; '• you should have 
heard him speak French, and you see how gentle- 
manly he is." 

It was some time before Polly was able to make 
her husband comprehend the case. 

" Ah !" said he, at length ; " Oh! I understand." 

All our first days were full of such little mistakes. 



THE POTIPHARS IN PARIS. 177 

Kurz Pacha came regularly to see us, and laughed 
more than I ever saw him laugh before. The young 
men were away a great deal, which was hardly 
kind. But they said they must call upon their old 
acquaintances ; and Polly and I expected every day 
to be called upon by their lady friends. 

" It's veiy odd that the friends of these young 
men don't call upon us," said Mrs. Potiphar to Kurz 
Pacha ; " It would be only civil." 

The ambassador laughed a good deal to himself 
and then answered, 

" But they are not visiting ladies." 

"What do you mean ?" said she. 

" Ask Mr. Firkin," replied he. 

So when we saw them next, Mrs. P. said, 

" Mr. Firkin, I remember you used to tell me of 
the pleasant circles in which you visited in Paris, and 
how much superior Fi-ench society is to American." 

"Infinitely superior," replied Mr. Firkin. 

" Much more sjnritiiel,^' said Mr. Boosey. 

" Well," said Mrs. Potiphar, " we are going to 
stay only a short time to be sure, but we should like 
very much to see a little good society." 

" Ah!" said Mr. Firkin. 

" Oh ! yes, certainly," said Mr. Boosey ; and the 
corners of his eyelids twitched. 

" Perhaps you might suggest that you have some 



i7S THE POTIPHAE PAPEES. 

friends staying in town," said Mrs. P. " You Ivnow 
we're all intimate enouo;h for that." 

" Yes — oh, yes," said Mr. Firkin, slowly ; " but 
the truth is, it's a little awkward. These ladies 
are kind enough to receive us : but to ask favors of 
them, is, you see, different." 

" Oh ! yes," interrupted Mr. Boosey ; " to ask fa- 
vors of them is a very different thing," and his eyes 
really glistened. 

" These are ladies, you see, dear Mrs. Potiphar," 
said Kurz Pacha, " who don't grant favors." 

" But still," continued Mr. Firkin, " if you only 
wanted to see them, you know, and be able to say 
at home that you knew Madame la Marquise So-and- 
so, and Madame la Comtesse So-and-so, and describe 
their dresses, why, we can manage it well enough ; 
for we are engaged to a little party at the opera this 
evening with the Countess de Papillon and Madame 
Casta Diva, two of the best knovra ladies in Paris. 
But they never visit." 

" How superbly exclusive !" said Mrs. Potiphar; 
" I wonder how that would do at home ! However, 
I should be glad to see the general air and the toil- 
ette, you know. If we were going to pass the 
whole winter I would know them of course. But 
things are different where you stay so short a time. 
Eh, Kurz Pacha?" 



THE POTIPHAES IN PARIS. 179 

" Very different, Madame. But you are quite 
right. Make hay while the sun sliines ; use your 
eyes if j^ou can't use your tongue. Eyes are great 
auxiliaries, you can use the tongue afterward. 
You've no idea how well you can talk about 
French society if you only go to the opera with a 
friend who knows people, and to your banker's 
soirees. If you chose to read a little of Balzac, be- 
side, your knowledge will be complete." 

So we agreed to go to the opera. We passed the 
days shopping, and driving in the Bois de Boulogne. 
Sometimes the j'oung men went with us, and D'Or- 
say Firkin confided to me one of his adventures, 
"which was very romantic. You know how hand- 
some he is, and how excessively gentlemanly, and 
how the girls were all in love with him last winter 
at home. Now you needn't say that I was, for you 
know better. I liked him as a friend. But he told 
me that he had often seen a girl in one of the shops 
on the Boulevards watching him very closely. He 
never passed by, but she always saw him, and look- 
ed so earnestly at him, that at length he thought he 
would saunter carelessly into the shop, and ask for 
some trifle. The moment he entered she fixed her 
eyes full upon him, and he says they were large and 
lustrous, and a little mournful in expression. But 
he scarcely looked at her, and asked at the opposite 



180 THE POTIPHAE PAPEES. 

counter for a pair of gloves. He tried tliem on, 
and in the mirror behind the counter he saw tlie 
girl still watching him. After lingering for some 
time, and looking at everything but the girl, he 
sauntered slowly out again, while her eyes, he said, 
grew evidently more mournful as she saw him leave 
without looking at her. Daily, for a week after- 
wards, he walked by the door, and she was alway^s 
watching and looking after him with the most eager 
interest. Mr. Firkin did not say he was soriy for 
the little French girl, but I know that he really felt 
so. These men, that every woman falls in love 
with, are generous, I have always found. And I am 
sure he would never have confided this little affair 
to me, except for the very intimate terms upon 
which we are ; for I have heard him say (speaking 
of other men) that nothing was meaner than for a 
man to tell of his conquests. 

Well, the affair went on, he says, for some days 
longer. He was, at the time, constantly in attend- 
ance upon the Countess de Papillon, but often 
from the window of her carriage he has remarked 
the young girl pensively watching him, as she 
stretched gloves, or tied cravats around the necks 
of customers. At length he determined to follow 
the matter up, as he called it, and so marched into 
the shop one day, and going straight toward the 



THE POTIPHAES IN PARIS. 181 

mournful eyes, he asked for a pair of gloves.' Mr. 
Firkin saj's the French women are so perfectly 
trained to conceal their emotions, that she did not 
betray, by any trembling, or turning pale, or stam 
mering, the profound interest she felt for him, but 
quietly looked in his ej^es, and iu what Mr. Firkin 
called " a strain of Syren sweetness," asked what 
number he wore. He replied with his French 
esprit, as Kurz Pacha calls it, that ho thought the 
size of her hand was about right for him ; upon 
which she smiled in the most bewitching manner, 
aad bringing out a large box of gloves, selected a 
pair of an exquisite nuance, as the French say, you 
know, and asking him to put out his hand, she pro- 
ceeded to fit the glove to it, herself. Mr. Firkin 
remarked, that as she did so, she would raise her 
eyes to his whenever she found it necessary to press 
his fingers harder than usual, and when he thought 
the glove was fairly on, she kept pulling it down, 
and smoothing it ; and finally taking his hand be- 
tween both of hers, she brought the glove together, 
buttoned it, and said, ' Monsieur has such a delicate 
hand,' and smiled sweetly. 

Mr. Firkin said he bought an astonishing number 
of gloves that morning, and suddenly remembered 
that he wanted cravats. Fortunately the new 
styles had just come in, Marie said (for he had dis- 



1S2 THE POTIPHAR PAPEES. 

covered her name), and she opened a dazzling array 
of silks and satins, and, asking him to remove his 
neckcloth, she wound her hand in a beautiful silk, 
and throwing her arms for a little moment quite 
around his neck, she tied it in front; her little 
hands sometimes hitting his chin. Then, taking him 
by the hand, she led him to a mirror, in which he 
might survey the effect, while she stood behind him 
looking into the mirror over his shoulder, her head 
really quite close to his, and, in her enthusiasm 
about the set of the cravat, having forgotten to take 
her hand out of his. He stood a great while before 
that mirror, trying to discover if it really was a be- 
coming tie. He said he never found so much diffi- 
culty in deciding. But Marie decided everything 
for him, and laid aside piles of cravats, and gloves, 
and fancy buttons, and charms, until he was quite 
dizzy, and found that he hadn't money enough in 
his pocket to pay. 

"It is nothing," said the trustful Marie, "Mon- 
sieur will call again." Touched by her confidence 
he has called several times since, and never escapes 
without paying fifty francs or so. Marie says the 
Messieurs Americains are princes. They never have 
smaller change than a Napoleon, and they are not 
only the most regal of customers but the most po- 
lite of gentlemen. Mr. Firkin says he has often 



THE POTIPHAES IN PARIS. 183 

seen Frenchmen watching him, as he stood in the 
shop, with the most quizzical expression, and once 
or twice he has thought he lieard suppressed laugh- 
ter from a group of the other girls and the French 
gentlemen. But it was a mistake; for when he 
turned, the Frenchmen had the politest expression, 
and the girls were very busy with the goods. Poor 
French gentlemen ! how they must be annoyed to 
see foreigners carrying off not only all the gloves, 
but all the smiles, of the beautiful Maries. It is 
really pleasant to see Gauche Boosey and D'Orsay 
Firkin promenade on the Boulevards. They are 
more superbly dressed than anybody else. They 
have such coats, and trows'ers, and waistcoats, and 
boots — "always looking," says Kurz Pacha, " as if 
they came into a large fortune last evening, and 
were anxious to advertise the fact this morning." 
Even the boys in the streets turn to look at them. 

Mr. Boosey always buys the pattern shirts, and 
woollen morning dresses, and fancy coats, that hang 
in the shop windows. " Then,"- he says, " I am 
sure of being in the height of the fashion." Mr. 
Firkin is more quiet. The true gentleman, he says, 
is known by the absence of everything •prononci. 
"lie is a very true gentleman, then," even Kurz 
Pacha says, " for I have never found anything 
prono7ic6 in Mr. D'Orsay Firkin." The Pacha tells 



134 THE POTIPUAR TAPERS. 

a good story of them. " The week after their arri- 
val Mr. B. appeared in a suit of great splendor. It 
was a very remarkable coat and waistcoat covered 
with gilt sprigs, and an embroidered shirt-bosom, 
altogether a fine coronation suit for the king of tlie 
Cannibal islands. Mr. Firkin, as usual, was rigor- 
ously gentlemanly in the quiet way. They walked 
together up the Boulevards, Mr. B. flashing in the 
sun, and Mr. F. sombre as a shadow. The whole 
world turned to remark the extreme gorgeousness 
of Mr. Boosey's attire, which was peculiar even in 
Paris. At first that ornament of society rather en- 
joyed it, but such universal attention became a 
little wearisome, and at length annoying. Finally 
Mr. Boosey could endure it no longer, and, turning 
round, he stopped Mr. Firkin, and, looking at him 
from top to toe, remarked, ' Really I see nothing so 
peculiar in your dress that the whole town should 
stop to stare at you.' Mr. Boosey is a man of great 
discrimination," concluded the ambassador 

He went with us to the opera, where we were to 
seethe Countess de Papill on and Madame Casta Diva. 
The house was full, and the young gentlemen had 
told us where to look for their box. Mrs. Poti- 
phar had made Mr. P. as presentable as possible, and 
begged the Sennaar minister to see that Mr. P. did 
not talk too loud, nor go to sleep, nor ofiend the 



THE POTIPHAES IN PARIS. 185 

proprieties in any way ; especially to cut off all his 
attempts at speaking French. She had hired the 
most expensive box. 

"People respect money, my dear," said Mrs. Po- 
tiphar to me. 

"But not always its owners, my dear," whis- 
pered Kurz Pacha in my other ear. 

When we entered the box, all the glasses in the 
house were levelled at us. Mrs. Potiphar gayly 
seated herself in the best seat, nodding and chatting 
with the ambassador ; her diamonds glittering, her 
brocade glistening, her fan waving, while I slipped 
into the seat opposite, and Mr. Potiphar stood 
behind me in a dazzling expanse of white waist- 
coat, and his glass in his eye, as Mrs. P. had taught 
him. 

" A very successful ereiree," whispered the Pacha 
to Mrs. P. " I shall give out to my friends that it 
is the heiress presumptive of the Camanchees." 

" No, really ; what is the Camanchees ?" said 
Polly levelling her glass all round the house, and 
laughing, and talking, and Tustling, as if she were 
very, very happy. 

Suddenly there was a fresh volley of glasses 
towards our box, and, to our perfect dismay, we 
turned and saw that Mr. Potiphar had advanced to 
the front, and having put down his eye-glass, had 



186 THE POTIPIIAR PAPERS. 

taken out his old, round, silver-barred spectacles, 
and was deliberately wiping them with that great 
sheet of a hideous red bandanna, " preparatory to 
an exhaustive survey of the house," whispered Kurz 
Pacha to me. 

Mrs. P. wouldn't betray any emotion, but still 
smiling, she hissed to him, under her breath : 

" Mr. P., get back this minute. Don't make a fool 
of yourself. Mais, monsiexir, c'est vraiment char- 
mant.^'' 

The latter sentence was addressed with smiles to 
the ambassador, as she saw that the neighbor in 
the next box was listening. 

"It's uncommonly warm," said Mr. Potiphar in 
a loud tone, as he wiped his forehead with the 
bandanna. 

"Yes, I observe that Mrs. Potiphar betrays the 
heat in her face," said the Pacha, " which, how- 
ever, is merely a becoming carnation, Madame," 
concluded he, sinking his voice, and rubbing his 
hands. 

At that moment, in the box opposite, I saw our 
friends, Mr. Boosey and Mr. Firkin. By their sides 
sat two such handsome women ! They wore a great 
quantity of jewelry, and had the easiest, most smil- 
ing faces, }'0u ever saw. They entered making a 
great noise, and I could see that the modesty of 



THE POTIPHARS IN PAKIS. 187 

our friends kept them in the rear. For they seemed 
almost afraid of being seen. 

" I like that," said Kurz Pacha ; " it shows that 
such stern republicans don't intend ever to appear 
delighted with the smiles of nobility." 

" The largest one is Madame la Marquise Casta 
Diya," said Mrs. Potiphar, scanning them carefully, 
" I know her by her patrician air. Wliat a splen- 
did thing blood is, to be sure !" 

She gave herself several minutes to study the toil- 
ette of the lady, while I looked at the younger 
lady, Countess de Papillon, who had all kinds of 
little fluttering ends of ribbons, and laces, and scal- 
lops, and ruffles, and was altogether so stylish ! 

" I see now where Mr. Firkin gets his elegant 
manners," said Mrs. Potiphar ; " it is a great privi- 
lege for young Americans to be admitted familiarly 
into such society. I now understand better the 
tone of their conversation when they refer to the 
French salons." 

"Yes, my dear Madame," answered the Pacha, 
"this is, indeed, making the best of one's oppor- 
tunities. This is well worth coming to Europe for. 
It is, in fact, for this that Europe is chiefly valuable 
to an American, as the experience of an observer 
shows. Paris is, notoriously, the great centre of 
historical and romantic interest. To be sure, Italy, 



18S THE POTIPHAE PAPERS. 

Rome, Switzerland, aud Germany — j^es, and even 
England — have some few objects of interest and 
attention. But the really great things of Europe, 
the superior interests, are all in Paris. Wh}', just 
reflect. Here is the Caft de Paris, the Trois Frcrcs, 
and the Maison Dorce. I don't think you can get 
such dinners elsewhere. Then, there is the Grand 
Opera, the Comic Opera, and, now and then, the 
Italian — -I rather think that is good music. Are 
there any such theatres as the Vaudeville, the Va- 
rietes, and the Montansier, where there is the most 
dexterous balancing on the edge of decency that 
ever you saw ; and when the balance is lost, as it 
always is, at least a dozen times every evening, the 
applause is tremendous, showing that the audience 
have such a subtle sense of propriety that they can 
detect the slightest deviation from the right line. 
Is there not the Louvre, where, if there is not the 
best pictui-e of a single great artist, there are good 
specimens of all? Will you please to show me such 
a promenade as the Boulevards, such fetes as those 
of the Champs Elysees, such shops as those of the 
Passages, and the Palais Royal. Above all, will 
you indicate to such students of mankind as Mr. 
Boosey, Mr. Firkin, and I, a city more abounding 
in piquant litle women, with eyes, and coiffures and 
toilettes, and je ne sais quoi, enough to make Die- 



THE POTIPHARS IN PARIS. 189 

genes a dandy, to obtain their favor ? I think, dear 
Madame, you would be troubled to do it. And 
While these things are Paris, while we are sure of 
an illimitable allowance of all this in the gay 
capital, we do right to remain here. Let who will, 
sadden in mouldy old Rome, or luxuriate in the 
orange-groves of Sorrento and the south, or wander 
among the ruins of the most marvellous of empires, 
and the monuments of art of the highest human 
genius, or float about the canals of Venice, or woo 
the Venus and the Apollo ; and learn from the 
silent lips of those teachers a lore sweeter than the 
French novelists impart; let who will, climb the 
tremendous Alps, and feel the sublimity of Switzer- 
land as he rises from the summer of Italian lakes 
and vineyards into the winter of the glaciers,' or 
makes the tour of all climates in a day by descend- 
ing those mountains towards the south ; let those 
who care for it, explore in Grermany the sources of 
modern history, and the remote beginnings of the 
American spirit ; ours be the Boulevards, the de- 
moiselles, the operas, and the unequalled dinners. 
Decency requires that we should see Rome, and 
climb an Alp. We will devote a summer week to 
the one, and a winter month to the other. They 
will restore us, renewed and refreshed, for the manly, 
generous, noble, and useful life we lead in Paris." 



190 THE POTIPHAE TAPERS. 

"Admirably said,'" returned Mrs. Potipliar, who 
had been studying the ladies opposite while the 
Pacha was speaking, " but a little bit prosy," she 
whispered to me. 

It would charm you to hear how intelligently 
Mrs. P. speaks about French society, since that 
evening at the opera. When we return, you will 
find how accomplished she is. "We've been here 
only a few weeks, and we already know all the 
fashionable shops, and a little more French, and we 
go to the confectioner's, and eat savarins every morn- 
ing at twelve, and we drive in the Bois de Boulogne 
in the afternoon, and we dine splendidly, and in the 
evening we go to the opera or a theatre. To be 
sure we don't have much society beside our ovyn 
party. But then the shop-girls point out the dis- 
tinguished women to Mrs. Potiphar, so that she can 
point them out when we drive ; and our banker 
calls and keeps us up in gossip ; and Mrs. Poti- 
phar's maid, Adele, is inestimable in furnishing in- 
formation ; and Mr. Potiphar gets a great deal out 
of his commissionaire, and goes about stud}ing his 
Galignani's Guide, and frequents the English Read- 
ing Room, where, I am told, he makes himself a lit- 
tle conspicuous when he finds that Englishmen 
won't talk, by saying, " Oh ! dear me !" and wiping 
his face with a bandanna. He usually opens his ad- 



THE POTIPHAES IN PAEIS. 191 

varices by making sure of an EngUshraan, aud say- 
ing, '■^ Bon matin — but, perhaps, sir, you don't speak 
French." 

" You evidently do not, sir," replied one gentle- 
man. 

" Xo, sir ; you're right there," answered Mr. P. 
But he couldn't get another word from his com- 
panion. 

In this delightful round, the weeks glide by. 

" You must be enjoying yourself immensely," 
says the Pacha. " You understand life, my dear 
Mrs. Potiphar. Here you are, speaking very little 
French, in a city where the language is an atmos- 
phere, and .where you are in no sense acclimated 
until you can speak it fluently — with all French 
life shut out from you — living in a hotel — cheated 
by butcher, baker, and candlestick-maker — going 
to hear plays that you imperfectly understand — to 
an opera where you know nobody, and where your 
box is filled with your own countrymen, who are 
delightful, indeed, but whom you didn't come to 
Paris to see — constantly buying a hundred things 
because they are pretty, and because you a,re in 
Paris — entirely ignorant, and quite as careless, of 
the historical interests of the city, of the pictures, 
of the statues, and buildings — surrounded by cele- 
brities of all kinds, of whom you never heard, and 



192 THE POTIPIIAR PAPERS. 

therefore lose the opportunity of seeing them — in 
fact, paying the most extravagant price for every 
thing, and purchasing only the consciousness of be 
ing in Paris — why, who ought to be happy, and con 
sidered to be having a fine time of it, if you are 
jiot ? How naturally you will sigh for all this 
when you return and recur to Paris as the culmina- 
tion of human bliss ! Here's my honored Potiphar, 
who has this morning been taken to a darkened 
room in a grand old house, in a lonely, aristocratic 
street ; and there a picture-agent has shown him a 
splendid Nicolas Foussin, painted in his prime for 
the family, whose heir in reduced circumstances 
must now part with it at a tearful sacrifice. Hon- 
ored P.'s friend, the commissionaire, interprets this 
story, while the agent stands sadly meditating the 
sacrifice with which his duty acquaints him. He 
informs the good P., through the friendly commis- 
sionaire, that he has been induced to oSer him the 
picture, not only because all Americans have so fine 
a taste (as his experience has proved to him) in paint- 
ings, and because they, are so much more truly mii- 
nificent than the nobility of other nations, but be- 
cause the heir in reduced circumstances wishes to 
think of the picture as entirely removed from the 
possibility of being seen in France. Family pride, 
which is almost crushed in disposing of so great 



THE POTIPHAES IN PAKIS. 193 

and valued a work, would be entirely quenched, if 
the sale were to be known, and the picture recog- 
nized elsewhere in the country. Monsieur is a gen- 
tleman, and he will understand the feelings of a 
gentleman under such circumstances. The com- 
missionaire and the picture-agent therefore preserve 
a profound silence, and my honoired friend feels for 
his red bandanna, and is not comfortable in the 
lonely old house, with the picture and the people. 
The agent says that it is not unusual for the 
owner to visit the picture about that very hour, to 
hear what chance there is for its sale. If this 
knock should be he, it would not be very re- 
markable. The heir enters. He has a very heavy 
moustache, dark hair, and a slightly Hebrew cast 
of countenance. 

" Mr. Potiphar is introduced. The heir contem- 
plates the picture sadly, and he and the agent 
point out its beauties to each other. In fine, my 
honored Potiphar buys the work of art. To any 
one else, of course, in France, for instance, the 
price should be eleven thousand francs. But the 
French and the Americans have fraternized; a 
thousand francs shall be deducted. 

" You see clearly it's quite worth while coming 
to Paris to do this, because, I suppose, there are 
not more than ten or twenty artists at home who 



194 THE rOTIPHAR PAPEES. 

could paint ten or twenty times as good a picture 
for a quarter of tlie price. But j^ou, dearest Mrs. 
P., who know all about pictures, naturally don't 
want American pictures in your liouse, any more 
than you want anything else American there. 

" My young friends and allies, Messrs. Boosejr, 
Firkin, and Croesus, say that they come to Paris to 
see the world. They get the words wrong, you 
know. They come that the world (that is, their 
world at home) may not see them. To accompany 
Mesdames de Papillon and Casta Diva to the opera, 
then to return to beautifully furnished apartments 
to sup, and to prolong the entertainment until 
morning, is what those charming youths mean when 
they say ' see the world.' To attend at that re- 
union of the haul ton, Monsieur Celarius' dancing 
academy, is to see good society in Paris, after the man- 
ner of those dashing men of the world. It's amusing 
enough, and it's innocent enough, in its way. They 
won't go very far. They'll spend a good deal of 
money for nothing. They'll be plucked at gaming- 
houses. They'll be quietly laughed at by Mesdames 
de Papillon and Casta Diva, and the male friends 
of those ladies who enjoy the benefit of the lavish 
bounty of our young Croesuses and Firkins. They'll 
swagger a good deal, and take airs, and come home 
and indulge in foreign habits, now grown indis- 



THE POTIPHARS IN PARIS. 195 

pensable. They will pronounce upon the female 
toilette, and upon the gantier le plus comme il faut, 
in Paris. They will beg your pardon for express- 
ing a little phrase in French — to which really, the 
English is inadequate. They will have, necessarily, 
the foreign air. Some of them will settle away 
into business men, and be very exemplarj^ Others 
will return to Paris, as moths to the light, asserting 
that the only place for a gentleman to live agree- 
ably, to indulge his tastes, and get the most for his 
money, is Paris — which is strictly true of such gen- 
tlemen as they. A view of life that starts from the 
dinner-table, inevitably selects Paris for its career. 
For, obviously, if you live to dine well you must 
live where there is good cooking. 

"You women are rather worse off than the 
young men, Mrs. P. ; because you are necessarily so 
much more confined to the house. Unless, indeed, 
you imitate Mrs. Vite, who goes wherever the 
gentlemen go, and who is famous as U Ammcaine. 
If you like that sort of thing, you can do as much 
of it as you please. It will always surround you 
with a certain kind of man — and withdraw from 
your society a certain kind of woman, and a certain 
kind of respect. 

" To conclude my sermon, ladies, Europe is a 
charmed name to Americans, because in Europe are 



196 THE POTIPHAR PAPERS. 

the fountains of all our education and training. 
History is the story of that hemisphere ; the ruins 
of empires, arts, and civilizations, are here. Now, 
if there is any use in living at all, whicli I am far 
from asserting, is it worth while to get nothing out 
of Europe but a prolonged supper with Madame 
Casta Diva, or a wardrobe of all the charming 
dresses in Paris, and a facility of scandal which has 
all the wickedness and none of the wit of the finest 
Frenchwoman ? I beg a thousand pardons for 
preaching, but the text was altogether too iJreg- 
nant." 

And so Kurz Pacha whirled out of the room, 
humming a waltz of Strauss. He has heard of his 
recall to Sennaar since he has been here — and we 
shall hear nothing more of him. We, too, leave 
Paris in a few days for home, and you will not hear 
from us again. Mrs. Potiphar has been as busy as 
possible getting up the greatest variety of dresses. 
You will see that she has not been to Paris for no- 
thina;. . Kurz Pacha asked us if we had been to the 
Louvre, where the great pictures are. But when I 
inquired if there were any of Mr. Dusseldorf's there, 
and he said no ; why, of course, as he is my favorite, 
and I know more of his works than I do of any 
others, I didn't go. There are some very pretty 
things there, Mr. Boosey says. But ladies have no 



i.l::^ 







THE POTIPHARS IN PARIS. 197 

time for such matters. Do you know, the other 
evening we went to the ball at the Tuileries, and 
oh ! it was splendid. There were one duke and 
three marquisses, and a great many counts, pre- 
sented to me. Tiiey all said, "It's charming, this 
evening," and I said, "very charming, indeed." 
Wasn't it nice ? 

But you should have seen Mrs. Potiphar when 
the Emperor Napoleon HI. spoke to her. You 
know -what a great man he is, and what a benefac- 
tor to his country, and how pure, and noble, and 
upright his private character and career have been ; 
and how, as Kurz Pacha said, he is radiant with 
royalty, and honors everybody to whom he speaks. 
Well, Mrs. P. was presented, and sank almost 
to the ground in her reverence. But she actual- 
ly trembled with delight when the Emperor 
said 

" Madame, I remember with the greatest plea- 
sure the beautiful city of New York." 

I am sure the Empress Eugenie would have been 
jealous, could she have heard the tone in which it 
was said. Wasn't it aflFable in such a great monarch 
towards a mere republican ? I wonder how people 
can slander him so, and tell such stories about him. 
I never saw a nicer man ; only he looks sleepy. I 
suppose the cares of state oppress him, poor man .' 



198 THE POT UMIAK PATERS . 

But oue thing you may be sure of, dear Mrs. 
Downe, if people at home laugh at the Emperor 
aud condemn him, just find out if they Jua-c eccr been 
invited to the Tuileri.es. If not, you will understand 
the reason of their hatred. Mrs. Potiphar says to 
the Americans hei'e that she can't hear the Em- 
peror spoken against, for they are on the best of 
terms. 

" Of course the French dislike him," says Mr. 
Fii-kin, who has a turn for politics, " for they want 
a republic before they are ready for it." 

How you would enjoy all this, dear, and how 
sorry I am you are not here. I think Mr. Potiphar 
is rather disconsolate. He whistles and looks out 
of the window down into the garden of the Tuile- 
ries, where the children play under the trees ; and as 
he looks he stops whistling, and gazes, sometimes, 
for half an hour ; and whenever he goes out after- 
ward, he is sure to buy something for Freddy. 
When the shopkeeper asks where it shall be sent, 
Mr. P. says, in a loud, slow voice — " Hotel Mureece, 
Katteryvang-sank-trorsyaim." 

It is astonishing, as Kurz Pacha said, that we are 
not more respected abroad. " Foreigners will never 
know what you really are," said he to Mr. P., "un- 
til they come to you. Your going to them has 
failed." 



THE POTIPIIARS IN PARIS. 199 

Good bye, dearest Mrs. Downc. We are so 
sorry to come home ! You won't hear from us 
again. 

Your ever affectionate 

Caroline. 



VI. 

KURZ PACHA TO THE KING OF SENNAAR, 

UPON RECEIVING HIS LETTERS OF RECALL. 

(NOW rinST TRANSLATED.) 



KURZ PACHA TO THE KING OF SENNAAR, 

UPON KECEmNG HIS LETTERS OF RECALL. 



NOW FIRST TRANSLATED.) 



Most sable and serene Master : 

I hear and obey. You said to me, Go, and I 
went. You now say, come, and I am coming, with 
the readiness tliat befits a slave, and the cheerfulness 
that marks the philosopher. 

Accustomed from my youth to breathe the scent- 
ed air of Sennaar saloons, and to lounge in listless 
idleness with young Sennaar, I am weary of the 
simple purity of manners that distinguishes this 
people, and long for the pleasing, if pointless, frivoli- 
ties of your court. 

Coming, as you commanded, to observe and re- 
port the social state of the metropolis of a people 
who, in the presence of the world,, have renounced 
the feudal organization of society, I have found 
them, as you anticipated, totally free from the 
petty ambitions, the bitter resolves, and the hollow 
pretences, that characterize the society of older 
states. 



204 THE POTIPHAE PAPERS. 

The people of the first fashion unite the greatest 
simplicity of character with the utmost variety of 
intelligence, and the most graceful elegance of 
manner. Knowing that for an American the only 
nobility is that of feeling ; the only grace, generosi- 
ty ; and the only elegance, simplicity ; they have 
achieved a society which is a blithe Arcadia, illus- 
trating to the world the principles they profess, 
and making the friend of man rejoice. 

We, who are reputed savages, might well be 
astonished and fascinated with the results of civili- 
zation, as they are here displayed. The universal 
courtesy and consideration — the gentle charity, 
which does not consider the appearance but the 
substance — the republican independence, which 
teaches foreign lords and ladies the worthlessness 
of mere rank, by obviously respecting the character 
and not the title — the eagerness with which for- 
eign habits are subdued, by the positive nature of 
American manners — the readiness to assist — the 
total want of coarse social emulation — the absence 
of ignorance, prejudice and vulgarity, in the selecter 
circles — the broad, sweet, catholic welcome to all 
that is essentially national and characteristic, which 
sends the young American abroad only that he may 
return eschewing European habits, and with a con- 
fidence in man and his country, chastened by ex- 



KURZ PACHA TO THE KING OP SENNAAR. 205 

perience — these have most interested and charmed 
me in the observation of this pleasing people. 

It is here the pride of every man to bear his part 
in the universal labor. The young men, instead of 
sighing for other institutions, and the immunities of 
rank, prefer to deserve, by earning, their own pa- 
tents of Nobility. They are industrious, temperate, 
and frugal, as becomes the youth to whom the des- 
tinies of so great a nation, and the hopes of the 
world, are committed. They are proud to have 
raised themselves from poverty, and they- are never 
ashamed to confess that they are poor. They 
acknowledge the equal dignity of all kinds of labor, 
and do not presume upon any social differences 
between their baker and themselves. Knowing 
that luxury enervates a nation, they aim to show in 
their lives, as in their persons, that simplicity is the 
finest ornament of dress, as health best decorates the 
body. They are cheerfully obedient to those who 
command them, and gentle to those they command. 
Full of charity, and knowing that if every man has 
some sore weakness, he has also a human soul latent 
in him, they trust each man as if that soul might, 
at any moment, look out of his eyes, and acknow- 
ledge vdth tears, the sympathy that unites them. 

They show ia all this social independence and 
originality, the shrewd common-sense which we 



206 THE POTIPHAR PAPERS. 

have so often heard ascribed to them. For if, bj' 
some fatal error, they should undertake a social 
rivalry, in kind, w^ith the old ■^'orld and all its 
splendid accessories of antiquit}', wealth and here- 
ditary refinement, the observer would see, what 
now is never beheld, foolish parvenus frenzied in 
the pm'suit of an elegance which, in its nature, is 
inaccessible to them. We should see lavish and 
unmeaning displays. We should see a gaudy 
ostentation — serving only as a magnificent frame 
to the vanity of the subject. We should see the 
grave and thoughtful, the witty and accomplished, 
the men and women whose genius fitted them for 
society, withdrawing from its saloons, and prefer- 
ring privacy to a vulgar and profuse publicity. We 
should see society become a dancing-school, and 
men and women degenerated into dull and dandified 
boys and girls, content with (pardon me, sable sir, 
but it would be the truth) " style." We should 
see, as in an effete civilization, marriages of con- 
venience. We should hear the heirs, or the hold- 
ers, of great fortunes, called " gentlemanly" if 
they were dull, and " a little wild" if they were 
debauched. We should see parents panting to 
" marry off" their dear daughters to the richest 
j^ouths, and the richest youths affecting a "jolly" 
and " stunning" life — reputed to know the world 



KUEZ PACHA TO THE KING OP SENNAAE. 207 

because they were licentious, and to have seen life 
because they had tasted foreign dissipation. We 
sliould hear insipidity praised as good-humor, and 
nonchalance as ease. We should have boorishness 
accounted manliness, and impudence wit. We 
should gradually lose faith in man as we associated 
with men, and soon perceive that the only safety for 
the city was in its constant recruiting from the 
simplicity and strength of the country. 

The sharp common sense- of this people prevents 
so melancholy a spectacle. In fact, you have only 
to consider that this society does not remind you 
of the best characteristics of any other, to judge 
how unique it is. 

But, for myself, as milk disagrees with my con- 
stitution, and my mind tires of this pastoral sweet- 
ness, I am too glad to obey your summons. In my 
younger days when I loved to press the stops of 
oaten pipes, and — a plaintive swain — fancied every 
woman what she seemed, and every man my friend 
— I should have hailed the prospect of a life in an 
Arcadia like this. How gladly I should have climb- 
ed its Pisgah-peaks of hope, and have looked off in- 
to the future, flowing with milk and honey. I 
would grieve (if I could) that my sated appetite 
refuses more — that I must lay down my crook and 
play the shepherd no longer. Yet, I know well 



20S THE POTIPHAR PATERS. 

enough, that, in the perfumed atmosphere of the 
circle to wliich I return, I shall recur, often, with 
more than regret, to the humane, polished, in- 
telligent, and simple society I leave behind me — 
shall wonder if Miss Minerva Tattle still prattles 
kindly among the birds and flowers — if Mrs. Poti- 
phar still leads, by her innate nobility, and not by 
the accident of wealth, the swarm of ga)^ and 
graceful, and brilliant men and women that sur- 
round her. 

I humbly trust, sable son of midnight, my lord 
and master, that my present report and summary 
will be found worthy of that implicit confidence 
immemorially accorded to diplomatic communica- 
tions. I could ask for it no other reception. 
Your slave, 

KuRz Pacha. 



Til. 

FROM THE 

EEV. HENRY DOYE TO MRS. POTIPHAR. 

(PRlTATE.l 



FROM THE REV. HENRY DOVE TO MRS 
POTIPHAR. 

(private.) 



My dear Mrs. Potiphar : 

I am very anxious that you should allow me to re- 
ceive your son Frederic as a pupil, at my parsonage, 
here in the countiy. I have not lived in the city witli 
out knowing something about it, despite my cloth, 
and I am concerned at the peril to which every 
young man is there exposed. There is a proud 
philosophy in vogue that eveiything that ca7i be 
injured had better be destroyed as rapidly as pos- 
sible, and put out of the way at once. But I recall 
a deeper and tenderer wisdom which declared, " A 
bruised reed will he not break." The world is not 
made for the prosperous alone, nor for the strong. 
We may wince at the truth, but we must at length 
believe it — that the poor in spirit, and the poor in 
will, and the poor in success, are appointed as pen- 
sioners upon our care. 



212 THE roTiniAU papeijr. 

In mj' house your sou will miss the luxuries of 
his home, but he will, perhaps, find as cordial a 
sympathy in his little interests, and as careful a 
consultation of his desires and aims. He will have 
pure air, a tranquil landscape, a pleasant societ}' ; 
my books, variously selected, my direction and aid 
in his studies, and a neighborhood to town that 
will place its resources within his reach. A city, it 
seems to me, is mainly valuable as a gallery of op- 
poiiunities. But a man should not live exclusively 
in his library, nor among his pictures. Letters and 
art may well decorate his life. But if they are not 
subsidiary to the man, and his character, then he is 
a sadder spectacle than a vain book or a poor pic- 
ture. The eager whirl of a city tends either to 
beget a thirst that can only be sated by strong, yet 
dangerous excitement, or to deafen a man's ear, and 
harden his heart, to the really noble attractions 
around him. 

It is well to know men. But men are not 
learned at the billiard-table, nor in the bar-room, 
nor by meeting them in an endless round of debauch, 
nor does a man know the world because he has been 
to Paris. It is a sad thing for a young man to seek 
applause by surpassing his companions in that which 
makes them contemptible. The best men of our 
own time have little leisure, and the best of other 



EEV. MR. DOVE TO MRS. POTIPHAK. 213 

days have committed their better part to books, 
wherein we may know and love them. 

There is nothing more admirable than good 
society, as there is nothing so fine as a noble man, 
nor so lovely as a beautiful woman. And to the 
perfect enjoyment of such society an ease and grace 
are necessary, which are hardly to be acquired, but 
are rather, like beauty and talent, the gift of nature. 
That ease and grace will certainly run great risk of 
disappearing, in the embrace of a fashion unchas- 
tened by common sense : and it is observable that 
the sensitive gaucherie of a countryman is more 
agreeable than the pert composure of a citizen. 

I do not deny that your son must lose something, 
if you accede to my request, but I assuredly believe 
that he will gain more than he will lose. My pro- 
fession makes me more dogmatic, probably, than is 
strictly courteous. But I have observed, in my 
recent visits to town, that courtesy, also, is getting 
puny and unmanly, and that a counterfeit, called 
compliment, is often mistaken for it. You will 
smile, probably, at my old-fashioned whims, and 
regret that I am behind my time. But really, it 
strikes me, that the ineffectual imitation of an ex- 
ploded social organization is, at least, two centuries 
behind my time. The youth who, socially speak- 
ing, are termed Young America, represent, in cha- 



214 TUE POTIPHAR PAPEKS. 

racter and conduct, anything but their own time 
and their own country. 

I will not deny that the secret of my interest in 
your son is an earlier interest in yourself — a wild 
dream we dreamed together, so long ago that it 
seems not to be a part of my life. The companion 
of those other days I do not recognize in the glitter- 
ing lady I sometimes see. But in her child I trace 
the likeness of the girl I knew, and it is to the me- 
mory of that girl — -whose lovely traits I will' still 
believe are not destroyed, but are somewhere latent 
in the woman — that I consecrate the task I wish to 
undertake. I am married, and I am happy. But 
sometimes, through the sweet tranquillity of my 
life, streams the pensive splendor of that long- 
vanished summer, and I cannot deny the heart that 
will dream of what might have been. 

Madame, I can wish you nothing more sincerely 
than that as your lot is with the rich in this world, 
it may be with the poor in the world to come. 
Your obedient servant, 

Henry Dove.