The French do seem indeed an idle race; and poverty, perhaps for that reason, forces her way among them, through a climate that might tempt other mortals to improve its blessings; but, as the motto to the arms they are so proud of expresses it—“they toil not, neither do they spin.” Content, the bane of industry, as Mandeville calls it, renders them happy with what Heaven has unsolicited shaken into their lap; and who knows but the spirit of blaming such behaviour may be less pleasing to God that gives, than is the behaviour itself?
Let us not, mean time, be forward to suppose, that whatever one sees done, is done upon principle, as such fancies will for ever mislead one: much must be left to chance, when we are judging the conduct either of nations or individuals. And surely I never knew till now, that so little religion could exist in any Christian country as in this, where they drive their carts, and keep their little shops open on a Sunday, forbearing neither pleasure nor business, as I see, on account of observing that day upon which their Redeemer rose again. They have a tradition among the meaner people, that when Christ was crucified, he turned his head towards France, over which he pronounced his last blessing; but we must accuse them, if so, of being very ungrateful favourites.
This stately city, Lyons, is very happily and finely situated; the Rhone, which flows by its side, inviting mills, manufactures, &c. seems resolved to contradict and wash away all I have been saying; but we must remember, it is five days journey from Paris hither, and I have been speaking only of the little places we passed through in coming along.