Book the Second - the Golden Thread
7. VII. Monseigneur in Town
Monseigneur, one of the great lords in power at the Court, held his
fortnightly reception in his grand hotel in Paris. Monseigneur was
in his inner room, his sanctuary of sanctuaries, the Holiest of
Holiests to the crowd of worshippers in the suite of rooms without.
Monseigneur was about to take his chocolate. Monseigneur could
swallow a great many things with ease, and was by some few sullen
minds supposed to be rather rapidly swallowing France; but, his
morning's chocolate could not so much as get into the throat of
Monseigneur, without the aid of four strong men besides the Cook.
Yes. It took four men, all four ablaze with gorgeous decoration,
and the Chief of them unable to exist with fewer than two gold
watches in his pocket, emulative of the noble and chaste fashion set
by Monseigneur, to conduct the happy chocolate to Monseigneur's lips.
One lacquey carried the chocolate-pot into the sacred presence;
a second, milled and frothed the chocolate with the little instrument
he bore for that function; a third, presented the favoured napkin;
a fourth (he of the two gold watches), poured the chocolate out.
It was impossible for Monseigneur to dispense with one of these
attendants on the chocolate and hold his high place under the
admiring Heavens. Deep would have been the blot upon his escutcheon
if his chocolate had been ignobly waited on by only three men; he
must have died of two.
Monseigneur had been out at a little supper last night, where the
Comedy and the Grand Opera were charmingly represented. Monseigneur
was out at a little supper most nights, with fascinating company.
So polite and so impressible was Monseigneur, that the Comedy and
the Grand Opera had far more influence with him in the tiresome
articles of state affairs and state secrets, than the needs of all
France. A happy circumstance for France, as the like always is for
all countries similarly favoured!--always was for England (by way of
example), in the regretted days of the merry Stuart who sold it.
Monseigneur had one truly noble idea of general public business,
which was, to let everything go on in its own way; of particular
public business, Monseigneur had the other truly noble idea that it
must all go his way--tend to his own power and pocket. Of his
pleasures, general and particular, Monseigneur had the other truly
noble idea, that the world was made for them. The text of his order
(altered from the original by only a pronoun, which is not much) ran:
"The earth and the fulness thereof are mine, saith Monseigneur."