MASCARILLE [after having combed himself, and adjusted the rolls of his stockings]. Well, mesdames, and what do you think of Paris?
MADELON. Alas! what can we think of it? It would be the very antipodes of reason not to confess that Paris is the grand emporium of marvels, the center of good taste, wit, and gallantry.
MASCARILLE. As for me, I maintain that, out of Paris, there is no salvation for people of culture.
CATHOS. Most assuredly.
MASCARILLE. Paris is somewhat muddy; but then we have sedan chairs.
MADELON. To be sure; a sedan chair is a wonderful protection against the insults of mud and bad weather.
MASCARILLE. You receive many visits? What great wit belongs to your circle?
MADELON. Alas! we are not yet known, but we are in the way of being so; for a lady of our acquaintance has promised us to bring all the gentlemen who have written for the little magazines.
CATHOS. And certain others, whom, we have been told, are likewise the sovereign arbiters of all that is cultured and refined.
MASCARILLE. I can manage this for you better than any one. They all visit me, and I may say that I never rise without having half-a-dozen wits at my levee.
MADELON. Good Heavens! you will place us under the greatest obligation if you will do us this kindness, for it is certain we must make the acquaintance of all those gentlemen if we wish to belong to the fashion. They are the persons who can make or unmake one's reputation in Paris. You know that there are some, whose mere visits are sufficient to start the report that you are a Connaisseuse, though there should be no other reason for it. As for me, what I value particularly is, that by means of these ingenious visits, we learn a hundred things which we ought necessarily to know, and which are the quintessence of wit. Through them we hear the scandal of the day, or whatever niceties are going on in prose or verse. We know, at the right time, that Monsieur So-and-so has written the finest piece in the world on such a subject; that Madame So-and-so has adapted words to such a tune; that a certain gentleman has written a madrigal upon a favor shown to him; another stanzas upon a fair one who betrayed him; Monsieur Such-a-one wrote a couplet of six lines yesterday evening to Mademoiselle Such-a-one, to which she returned him an answer this morning at eight o'clock; such an author is engaged on such a subject; this writer is busy with the third volume of his novel; that one is putting his works to press. Those things procure you consideration in every society, and if people are ignorant of them, I would not give one pin for all the wit they may have.
CATHOS. Indeed, I think it the height of absurdity for anyone who possesses the slightest claim to be called clever not to know even the