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To Mrs. Walter Channing.

Paris, August 1, 1817.
. . . . I have been above a week at Mr. Parker's, at Draveil, about twelve miles from Paris, a superb establishment, whose completeness splendor, and hospitality, equally struck me. Several persons were staying there at the same time that I was, and among them two French ladies remarkably well instructed, one of whom has a great deal of talent, so that there was no want of society such as I most desire to have. I used to get up early and occupy myself with my books in my chamber until noon; then I came down, and the French lady I mention gave me a regular lesson in reading French, which, among her other accomplishments, she had learned to read and declaim with uncommon elegance and power. After this we commonly went to ride, either round the superb park which surrounds the house, or in a wood near it, where there is an oak called the Pere de la Foret, preserved in memory of the times when Gabrielle d'estrees and Henry IV. used to sit under its shade. After dinner one of the ladies always played on the piano, which in the course of the last year I have not only learned to like, but have learned to understand music so far that I can distinguish between that of the different nations in general, and have taste enough to prefer Italian and German to either French, which I find frivolous, or English, which seems to me unmeaning. At sunset always came a walk,—not as in our own more decisive climate, where the sun goes down

Arraying in reflected purple and gold
The clouds that on his western throne attend,

but still beautiful, as sunset must be everywhere, and followed by a prolonged, transparent, distinct twilight, such as is unknown in our more heavy atmosphere. The evening always brought us together in a little parlor, and it passed away too quickly in work and reading.

French was the language of conversation, but all the party understood English, and therefore Shakespeare and Milton came in for their share. This naturally produced discussions of the relative merits of the two literatures; and, though I found myself alone, you do credit enough to my obstinacy, if Walter will not to my taste, to believe I did not shrink from maintaining the supremacy of English literature in defiance of them all . . . . The affair ended by a challenge, given and accepted, to stake Shakespeare and Milton against the whole body of French poetry. The French party was to begin by reading the best

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