Observations and Reflections Made in the Course of a Journey through France, Italy, and Germany, Vol. I eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 302 pages of information about Observations and Reflections Made in the Course of a Journey through France, Italy, and Germany, Vol. I.
of greater size and dignity unite in attracting attention, and inspiring poetical ideas.  Here is no tedious uniformity to fatigue the eye, nor rugged asperities to disgust it; but ceaseless variety of colouring among the plants, while the caerulean willow, the yellow walnut, the gloomy beech, and silver theophrastus, seem scattered by the open hand of lavish Nature over a landscape of respectable extent, uniting that sublimity which a wide expanse always conveys to the mind, with that distinctness so desired by the eye; which cultivation alone can offer and fertility bestow.  Every town that should adorn these lovely plains, however, exhibits, upon a nearer approach, misery; the more mortifying, as it is less expected by a spectator, who requires at least some days experience to convince him that the squallid scenes of wretchedness and dirt in which he is obliged to pass the night, will prove more than equivalent to the pleasures he has enjoyed in the day-time, derived from an appearance of elegance and wealth—­elegance, the work of Nature, not of man; and opulence, the immediate gift of God, and not the result of commerce.  He who should fix his residence in France, lives like Sir Gawaine in our old romance, whose wife was bound by an enchantment, that obliged her at evening to lay down the various beauties which had charmed admiring multitudes all day, and become an object of odium and disgust.

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.

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Observations and Reflections Made in the Course of a Journey through France, Italy, and Germany, Vol. I from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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