Account of a Tour in Normandy, Volume 2 eBook

Dawson Turner
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 249 pages of information about Account of a Tour in Normandy, Volume 2.

In number of inmates, extent of possessions, and possibly, in magnificence of buildings, other Norman monasteries may have excelled Bec:  none equalled it in the prouder honor of being a seminary for eminent men and especially for those destined to the highest stations in the church.  Lanfranc and Anselm were not the only two of its monks who were seated on the archiepiscopal throne at Canterbury.  Two others, Theobald and Hubert obtained the same dignity in the following century; and Roger, the seventh abbot of Bec, enjoyed the still more enviable distinction of having been unanimously elected to fill the office of metropolitan, but of possessing sufficient firmness of mind to resist the attractions of wealth, and rank, and power.  The sees of Rochester, Beauvais, and Evreux were likewise filled by monks from Bec; and it was here that many monastic establishments, both Norman and foreign, found their pastors.  Three of our own most celebrated convents, those of Chester, Ely, and St. Edmund’s Bury, received at different epochs their abbots from Bec; and during the prelacy of Anselm, the supreme pontiff himself selected a monk of this house as the prior of the distant convent of the holy Savior at Capua.—­The village of Bec, which adjoins the abbey, is small and unimportant.

I was returning to our carriage, when a soldier invited me to walk to a part of the monastic grounds (for they are very extensive) which is appropriated to the purpose of keeping up the true breed of Norman horses.  The French government have several similar establishments:  they consider the matter as one of national importance; and, as France has not yet produced a Duke of Bedford or a Mr. Coke, the state is obliged to undertake what would be much better effected by the energy of individuals.—­A Norman horse is an excellent draft horse:  he is strong, bony, and well proportioned.  But the natives are not content with this qualified praise:  they contend that he is equally unrivalled as a saddle-horse, as a hunter, and as a charger.  In this part of the country the present average price of a hussar’s horse is nineteen pounds; of a dragoon’s thirty-four pounds; and of an officer’s eighty pounds.—­These prices are considered high, but not extravagant.  France abounds at this time in fine horses.  The losses occasioned by the revolutionary wars, and more especially by the disastrous Russian campaign, have been more than compensated by five years of peace, and by the horses that were left by the allied troops.  An annual supply is also drawn from Mecklenburg and the adjacent countries.  Importations of this kind are regarded as indispensable, to prevent a degeneration in the stock.  A Frenchman can scarcely be brought to believe it possible; that we in England can preserve our fine breed of horses without having recourse to similar expedients; and if at last, by dint of repeated asseverations, you succeed in obtaining a reluctant assent, the conversation is almost sure to end in a shrug of the shoulders, accompanied with the remark—­“Ah, vous autres Anglais, vous voulez toujours voler de vos propres ailes.”

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Account of a Tour in Normandy, Volume 2 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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