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 has long been the pride of Rouen.  You must consider too, that every thing of this kind is, in France, national:  individuals do nothing, neither is it expected of them; and herein consists one of the most essential differences between France and England.  To meet this great expenditure, the city is provided with the rents of public lands, with wharfage, with tolls from the markets and the halles; and, above all, with the octroi, a tax that prevails through France, upon every article of consumption brought into the towns, and is collected at the barriers.  The octroi, like turnpike-tolls or the post-horse duty with us, is farmed; two-thirds are received by the government, and the remaining one-third by the town.  In Rouen it produced the last year one million four hundred and fifty thousand francs.—­If, now, this sum appears to you comparatively greater than that of our large cities in England, you must recollect that, with us, towns are not liable to similar charges:  our corporations support no museums, no academies, no learned bodies; and our infirmaries, and dispensaries, and hospitals, are indebted, as well for their existence as their future maintenance, to the piety of the dead, or the liberality of the living.  Nor must we forget that, even in this great kingdom, Rouen, at present, holds the fifth place among the towns; though it was far from being thus, when Buonaparte, uniting the imperial to the iron crown, overshadowed with his eagle-wings the continent from the Baltic to Apulia; and when the mural crowns of Rome and Amsterdam stood beneath the shield of the “good city” of Paris.

The population of Rouen is estimated at eighty-seven thousand persons, of whom the greater number are engaged in the manufactories, which consist principally of cotton, linen, and woollen cloths, and are among the largest in France.  At present, however, “trade is dull;” and hence, and as the politics of a trader invariably sympathize with his cash account, neither the peace, nor the English, nor the princes of the Bourbon dynasty, are popular here; for the articles manufactured at Rouen, being designed generally for exportation, ranged almost unrivalled over the continent, during the war, but now in every town they meet with competitors in the goods from England, which are at once of superior workmanship and cheaper.  The latter advantage is owing very much to the greater perfection of our machinery, and, perhaps, still more to the abundance of coals, which enables us, at so small an expence, to keep our steam-engines in action, and thus to counterbalance the disproportion in the charge of manual labor, as well as the many disadvantages arising from the pressure of our heavy taxation.—­But I must cease.  An English fit of growling is coming upon me; and I find that the Blue Devils, which haunt St. Stephen’s chapel, are pursuing me over the channel.


[48] Moore’s Journal of a Residence in France, I. p. 82.

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