I dined the following day with Madame de Bellou, whose kind attention and elegant hospitality, during the time I remained at Mortagne, I must ever remember with sentiments of sincere gratitude. This lady had invited Monsieur Lamorelie, the Sub-Prefect, one of the most elegant men I had met with in France, with several other gentlemen and ladies, to meet me. Among the party were Madame de Fontenay, Monsieur and Mademoiselle Claire de Vanssay—very agreeable people: the latter possessed, without great beauty, all the charms and vivacity of her countrywomen. In the evening we went to an assembly, where I had an opportunity of seeing, and being presented to, all the respectable families that yet remained in town; for at this season many were at their country-seats. The ease, elegance, and good manners of the company composing this society, I never saw excelled in any country. It is but common justice to observe, that in Mortagne, which is the residence of all the best families in the province, there is to be found all the characteristic good breeding for which the French were so long, and so deservedly celebrated.
The town of Mortagne stands on the declivity of a hill, in the province of Le Perche, bordering on Normandy. The high road to Bretagne passes through it. It has only one church remaining out of seven, six having been destroyed at the Revolution. It has some manufactories for serges and coarse cloths, and contains between five and six thousand inhabitants, in the department of L’Orne. From its elevated position and chalky soil, the air is pure and the situation healthy. The inhabitants are under the necessity of supplying themselves with water from the valley, as there are no wells on account of the rocky height it stands on, which is attended with inconvenience and expense; otherwise it would be a desirable residence for those who wish to unite economy with a change of climate.
During the Vendean war, this town became, at different periods, the victim of either party as they were successful; and it suffered severely. The hotel kept by Gautier (Les trois Lions), which is likewise la Poste, and le Bureau des Diligences, is the best, and the people are very obliging; but it partakes of the same want of cleanliness, that so invariably distinguishes all similar establishments in this country.
FROM MORTAGNE TO RENNES, SOEURS DE LA CHARITE. ALENCON, LAVAL, VITRE, THE RESIDENCE OF THE CELEBRATED MADAME DE SEVIGNE. RENNES.
I travelled by the diligence from Mortagne to Alencon and Laval: we arrived at the former place to dinner, and at the latter to remain all night. The carriage was filled with Soeurs de la Charite,
“Qui, pour le malheur seul connoissant
Aux besoins du vieil-age immollent leur jeunesse,”