Mais passé, pour celaSpeak frankly, said he: do you find all the urbanity in the French which the world give us the honor of?I had found everything, I said, which confirmed it.Vraiment, said the Count.Les Franĉois sont polis.To an excess, replied I.
The Count took notice of the word excesse; and would have it I meant more than I said. I defended myself a long time as well as I could against ithe insisted I had a reserve, and that I would speak my opinion frankly.
I believe, Monsieur le Comte, said I, that man has a certain compass, as well as an instrument; and that the social and other calls have occasion by turns for every key in him; so that if you begin a note too high or too low, there must be a want either in the upper or under part, to fill up the system of harmony.The Count de B did not understand music, so desired me to explain it some other way. A polishd nation, my dear Count, said I, makes every one its debtor; and besides, urbanity itself, like the fair sex, has so many charms, it goes against the heart to say it can do ill: and yet, I believe, there is but a certain line of perfection, that man, take him altogether, is empowerd to arrive atif he gets beyond, he rather exchanges qualities than gets them. I must not presume to say, how far this has affected the French in the subject we are speaking ofbut should it ever be the case of the English, in the progress of their refinements, to arrive at the same polish which distinguishes the French, if we did not lose the politesse du cur, which inclines men more to human actions, than courteous oneswe should at least lose that distinct variety and originality of character, which distinguishes them, not only from each other, but from all the world besides.
I had a few of King Williams shillings as smooth as glass in my pocket; and foreseeing they would be of use in the illustration of my hypothesis, I had got them into my hand, when I had proceeded so far.
See, Monsieur le Comte, said I, rising up, and laying them before him upon the tableby jingling and rubbing one against another for seventy years together in one bodys pocket or anothers, they are become so much alike, you can scarce distinguish one shilling from another.
The English, like ancient medals, kept more apart, and passing but few peoples hands, preserve the first sharpnesses which the fine hand of nature has given themthey are not so pleasant to feelbut, in return, the legend is so visible, that at the first look you see whose image and superscription they bear.But the French, Monsieur le Comte, added I, wishing to soften what I had said, have so many excellences, they can the better spare thisthey are a loyal, a gallant, a generous, an ingenious, and good-temperd people as is under heavenif they have a faultthey are too serious.
But if it is not too far to come to Versailles to eat your soup with me, I beg, before you leave France, I may have the pleasure of knowing you retract your opinionor, in what manner you support it.But if you do support it, Monsieur Anglois, said he, you must do it with all your powers, because you have the whole world against you.I promised the Count I would do myself the honor of dining with him before I set out for Italyso took my leave.