Fanny Burney, Evelina : Vol. 1, Ch. 19

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"What, then, I suppose you want to make me believe as Monsieur Du
Bois served me that trick o'purpose?"

"O' purpose! ay, certainly; whoever doubted that? Do you think a Frenchman ever made a blunder? If he had been some clumsy-footed English fellow, indeed, it might have been accidental: but what the devil signifies all your hopping and capering with your dancing-masters, if you can't balance yourselves upright?"

In the midst of this dialogue, Sir Clement Willoughby made his appearance. He affects to enter the house with the freedom of an old acquaintance; and this very easiness, which, to me, is astonishing, is what most particularly recommends him to the Captain. Indeed, he seems very successfully to study all the humours of that gentleman.

After having heartily welcomed him, "You are just come in time, my boy," said he, "to settle a little matter of a dispute between this here gentlewoman and I; do you know she has been trying to persuade me, that she did not above half like the ducking Monseer gave her t'other night."

"I should have hoped," said Sir Clement, with the utmost gravity, "that the friendship subsisting between that lady and gentleman would have guarded them against any actions professed disagreeable to each other: but, probably, they might not have discussed the matter previously; in which case the gentleman, I must own, seems to have been guilty of inattention, since, in my humble opinion, it was his business first to have inquired whether the lady preferred soft or hard ground, before he dropt her."

"O very fine, gentlemen, very fine," cried Madame Duval, "you may try to set us together by the ears as much as you will; but I'm not such an ignorant person as to be made a fool of so easily; so you needn't talk no more about it, for I sees into your designs."

Monsieur Du Bois, who was just able to discover the subject upon which the conversation turned, made his defence, in French, with great solemnity: he hoped, he said, that the company would at least acknowledge he did not come from a nation of brutes; and consequently, that to wilfully offend any lady, was, to him, utterly impossible; but that, on the contrary, in endeavouring, as was his duty, to save and guard her, he had himself suffered, in a manner which he would forbear to relate, but which, he greatly apprehended, he should feel the ill effects of for many months: and then, with a countenance exceedingly lengthened, he added, that he hoped it would not be attributed to him as national prejudice, when he owned that he must, to the best of his memory, aver, that his unfortunate fall was owing to a sudden but violent push, which, he was shocked to say, some malevolent person, with a design to his injury, must certainly have given him; but whether with a view to mortify him, by making him let the lady fall, or whether merely to spoil his clothes, he could not pretend to determine.

This disputation was, at last, concluded by Mrs. Mirvan's proposing that we should all go to Cox's Museumw. Nobody objected, and carriages were immediately ordered.

In our way down stairs, Madame Duval, in a very passionate manner, said, "Ma foi, if I wouldn't give fifty guineas only to know who gave us that shove!"

This Museum is very astonishing, and very superb; yet if afforded me but little pleasure, for it is a mere show, though a wonderful one.

Sir Clement Willoughby, in our walk round the room, asked me what my opinion was of this brilliant spectacle!

X [w] Cox's Museum


A museum more in the sense of display than the preservation of its mechanical wonders, toys, and other automata.  Cox, a jeweller and watchmaker, opened the establishment in 1772 with the design of auctioning off the contents some two years later.