The impression which this occurrence could not fail to make upon our minds, was, that the object of the gens-d’armes had been either to extort from us money, or to shew their consequence; but I have since been led to believe that they did no more than their duty.—We have several acquaintance among the English who reside here, and we find from the whole of them, that the utmost strictness is practised in all matters relating to passports, and not less towards natives than foreigners. No Frenchman can quit his arrondissement unprovided with a passport; and the route he intends to take, and the distance he designs to travel, must also be specified. A week or two ago the prefect of the police himself was escorted back to Caen, between a couple of gens-d’armes, because he inadvertently paid a visit to a neighboring bathing-place without his passport in his pocket. This is a current story here: I cannot vouch for its authenticity; however it is certain, that since the discovery of the late plot contrived by the ultras, a plot whose existence is generally disbelieved, the French police is more than usually upon the alert.
When I presented myself at the Hotel de Ville, to redeem my promise, a recent decree was pointed out to me, containing a variety of regulations which shew extraordinary uneasiness on the part of the government, and which would seem to indicate that they are in possession of intelligence respecting projects, that threaten the public tranquillity. To judge from all official proceedings, it seems as if we were walking upon a smothered volcano, and yet we are told by every body that there is not the slightest room for apprehension of any kind.
This interruption has thrown me out of the regular course of my narration.—My last letter left me still at Lisieux, from which city to Caen the road lies through a tract of country altogether without interest, and in most places without beauty. During the first half of the ride, we could almost have fancied ourselves at home in Norfolk.—About this part of the way, the road descends through a hollow or dale, which bore the ominous name of “Coupe Gorge.” When Napoleon was last in Normandy, he inquired into the origin of the appellation.—The