An Estonian in Paris

The Théâtre des Variétés in Paris, France, 1800s

The Théâtre des Variétés in Paris, France, 1800s (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For a rich young Estonian aristocrat, a decorated officer in the victorious allied armies entering Paris in March 1814, the city was clearly a paradise in which he could live life to the full; in his case, very much a deep draught of wine, women and song, all recorded in page after page of his diary with the breathlessness of youth:

“In short, there is so much to see in Paris that one hardly knows where or how to begin one’s day.  Luckily, my squadron chief lets me do whatever I like and doesn’t torment me with duties, so I have all the time I need to follow my inclinations and look for adventure.  Paris is a great gathering point and a mingling of everything in France that is curious.  Paris is, as it were, all France put together.  For it is towards this centre, towards this head, that all the juices, the blood, and the money of the entire kingdom flow, while its members languish and decline in the same measure that the head grows bigger.  It’s like those precocious children with water-heads who sometimes are more intelligent than others but rarely live very long; they eat a lot without thriving. Might not this be the future of France?” [25 March]

“I divide my time between the service, the Ėcole Militaire and the pleasures of this life of leisure. On getting up I riffle through the various cards of invitation; then, after breakfast, I take a turn on horseback or in a cabriolet; I visit one of my lovelies, then I dine at five o’clock at the Palais-Royal.  Then I meet the ladies at Fédeau’s or at the Variétés; then to a rendezvous at Tortoni’s from where I go off to supper tête-a-tête with Marie or Lucile; I get home at about two o’clock …” [and so on]. [5 April]

Over his lifetime of travel (1793–1870) Baron Uxcull was engaged no fewer than 13 times.  He married the 13th, a clergyman’s daughter, when he was fifty. They had no children.

Arms and the woman: the diaries of Baron Boris Uxcull 1812 – 1819; tr Joel Carmichael. London, 1966. pp182, 185

\John Oct 2012 02.doc


About rimboval

Writer, thinker and proud grandfather
This entry was posted in Art, music and beauty, Journeys and destinations, Quotations and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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