Account of a Tour in Normandy, Volume 1 eBook

Dawson Turner
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 230 pages of information about Account of a Tour in Normandy, Volume 1.
of which the central one is by far the widest, and serves for horses and carriages; the other two are appropriated exclusively to foot passengers.  In these, on a summer’s evening, are to be seen all classes of the inhabitants of Rouen, from the highest to the lowest; and the following sketch, which you will easily perceive to be from a pencil more delicate than mine, gives a most lively and faithful picture of them.  It may indeed be in some measure in the nature of a treatise de re vestiaria, yet such details of gowns and petticoats never fail to interest, at least to interest me, when proceeding from a wearer.

[Illustration:  View of Rouen, from the Grand Cours]

“Our carriage had scarcely stopped when we were surrounded with beggars, principally women with children in their arms.  The poor babes presented a most pitiable appearance, meagre, dirty to the utmost degree, ragged and flea-bitten, so that round the throat there was not the least portion of “carnation” appearing to be free from the insect plague.  Their hair, too, is seldom cut; and I have seen girls of eight or ten years of age, bearing a growing crop which had evidently remained unshorn, and I may add, uncombed, from the time of their birth.  It is impossible not to dread coming into contact with these imps, who, when old, are among the ugliest conceivable specimens of the human race.  The women, even those who inhabit the towns, live much in the open air:  besides being employed in many slavish offices, they sit at their doors or windows pursuing their business, or lounge about, watching passengers to obtain charity.  Thus their faces and necks are always of a copper color, and, at an advanced age, more dusky still; so that, for the anatomy and coloring of witches, a painter needs look no further.  Their wretchedness is strongly contrasted by the gaiety of the higher classes.  The military, who, I suppose, as usual in France, hold the first place, appear in all possible variety of keeping and costume, with their well-proportioned figures, clean apparel, decided gait, martial air, and whiskered faces.  Here and there we see gliding along the well-dressed lady (not well dressed, indeed, as far as becomingness goes, but fashionably), with a gown of triple flounces, whose skirt intrudes even upon the shoulders, obliterating the waist entirely, while her throat is lost in an immense frill of four or more ranks; and sometimes a large shawl over all completes the disguise of the shape.  The head of the dame or damsel is usually enveloped in a gauze or silk bonnet, sufficiently large to spread, were it laid upon a table, two feet in diameter, and trimmed with various-colored ribbons and artificial flowers:  in the hand is seen the ridicule, a never-failing accompaniment.  The lower orders of women at Rouen usually wear the Cauchoise cap, or an approach to it, rising high to a narrowish point at top, and furnished with immense ears or wings that drop on the shoulder, then opening in front so

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Account of a Tour in Normandy, Volume 1 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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