IL s'est trompé de défunte. The writer of this phrase had his sense of that portly manner of French, and his burlesque is fine; but—the paradox must be risked —because he was French he was not able to possess all its grotesque mediocrity to the full; that is reserved for the English reader. The words are in the mouth of a widower who, approaching his wife's tomb, perceives there another monsieur. Monsieur, again; the French reader is deprived of the value of this word, too, in its place; it says little or nothing to him, whereas the Englishman, who has no word of the precise bourgeois significance that it sometimes bears, but who must use one of two English words of different allusion—man or gentleman—knows the exact value of its commonplace. The serious Parisian, then, sees un autre monsieur; as it proves anon, there had been a divorce in the history of the lady, but the later widower is not yet aware of this, and explains to himself the presence of un monsieur in his own place by that weighty phrase, Il s'est trompé de défunte.
The strange effect of a thing so charged with allusion and with national character is to cause an English reader to pity the mocking author who was debarred by his own language from possessing the whole of his own comedy. It is, in fact, by contrast with his English that an Englishman does possess it. Your