Sunday, October 30, 2011

Avoiding the Paparazzi

‘October30.—Finding ourselves snugly settled in our Hotel, we determined to remain here at fifteen francs per day. We are in the midst of what can be seen, and we are very comfortably fed and lodged.
Some of our friends in London had pretended that at Paris I might stand some chance of being encountered by the same sort of tumultuary reception which I met in Ireland; but for this I see no ground. It is a point on which I am totally indifferent. As a literary man I cannot affect to despise public applause; as a private gentleman I have always been embarrassed and displeased with popular clamours, even when in my favour. I know very well the breath of which such shouts are composed, and am sensible those who applaud me to-day would be as ready to toss me to-morrow; and I would not have them think that I put such a value on their favour as would make me for an instant fear their displeasure. Now all this disclamation is sincere, and yet it sounds affected. It puts me in mind of an old woman who, when Carlisle was taken by the Highlanders in 1745, chose to be particularly apprehensive of personal violence, and shut herself up in a closet, in order that she might escape ravishment. But no one came to disturb her solitude, and she began to be sensible that poor Donald was looking out for victuals, or seeking for some small plunder, without bestowing a thought on the fair sex; by and by she popped her head out of her place of refuge with the petty question, "Good folks, can you tell when the ravishing is going to begin?" I am sure I shall neither hide myself to avoid applause, which probably no one will think of conferring, nor have the meanness to do anything which can indicate any desire of ravishment. I have seen, when the late Lord Erskine entered the Edinburgh theatre, papers distributed in the boxes to mendicate a round of applause—the natural reward of a poor player.

Celebrity has always been difficult to deal with.  Walter Scott records his feelings on the issue in his journal, from Paris; entry dated October 30, 1826.  Poor Lord Erskine, though.  Thomas Moore mentions him in his journal, from the same time frame (September 6, 1826), as well.  ‘…Talked a good deal about Lord Erskine-said how odious he thought those verses of his “The Muses & Graces will just make a jury” when he first heard them-introducing law terms into love-verses-this, rather hypocritical…’

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