Lest I should deserve to be visited with the censure which I have taken the liberty of passing upon Ducarel’s tour, I shall begin by premising that my account of the present state of the tract, intended for the subject of this and the following letter, is wholly derived from the journals of my companions. Their road by Fecamp, Havre, Bolbec, and Yvetot, has led them through the greater part of the Pays de Caux, a district which, in the time of Caesar, was peopled by the Caletes or Caleti. Antiquaries suppose, that in the name of this tribe, they discover the traces of its Celtic origin, and that its radical is no other than the word Kalt or Celt itself. As a proof of the correctness of this etymology, Bourgueville tells us that but little more than two hundred years have passed since its inhabitants, now universally called Cauchois, were not less commonly called Caillots or Caillettes; a name which still remains attached to several families, as well as to the village Gonfreville la Caillotte, and, probably, to some others. I shall, however, waive all Celtic theory, “for that way madness lies,” and enter upon more sober chorography.
The author of the Description of Upper Normandy states, that the territory known by that appellation was limited to the Pays de Caux and the Vexin: the former occupying the line of sea-coast from the Brele to the Seine, together with the governments of Eu and Havre and the Pays de Brai; the latter comprising the Roumois, and the French as well as the Norman Vexin. All these territorial divisions have, indeed, been obliterated by the state-geographers of the revolution; and Normandy, time-honored Normandy herself, has disappeared from the map of the dominions of the French king. The ancient duchy is severed into the five departments of the Seine Inferieure, the Eure, the Orne, Calvados, and the Manche. These are the only denominations known to the government or to the law, yet they are scarcely received in common parlance. The people still speak of Normandy, and they still take a pleasure in considering themselves as Normans: and, I too, can share in their attachment to a name, which transmits the remembrance of actual sovereignty and departed glory.
Until the re-union of feudal Normandy to the crown of its liege lord, the duke was one of the twelve peers of the kingdom; and to his hands that kingdom entrusted the sacred Oriflamme, as often as it was expedient to unfurl it in war. Normandy also contained several titular duchies, ancient fiefs held of the King as Duke of Normandy, but which, out of favour to their owners, were “erected,” as the French lawyers say, into duchies, after the province had reverted to the crown. This erection, however, gave but a title to the noble owner, without increasing his territorial privileges; nor could any of our Richards, or our Henries, have allowed a liege man to write himself duke, like his proud feudal suzerein.