The country, as far as Montreuil, is a coarse one; thin herbage in the plains and fruitless fields. The cattle too are miserably poor and lean; but where there is no grass, we can scarcely expect them to be fat: they must not feed on wheat, I suppose, and cannot digest tobacco. Herds of swine, not flocks of sheep, meet one’s eye upon the hills; and the very few gentlemen’s feats that we have passed by, seem out of repair, and deserted. The French do not reside much in private houses, as the English do; but while those of narrower fortunes flock to the country towns within their reach, those of ampler purses repair to Paris, where the rent of their estate supplies them with pleasures at no very enormous expence. The road is magnificent, like our old-fashioned avenue in a nobleman’s park, but wider, and paved in the middle: this convenience continued on for many hundred miles, and all at the king’s expence. Every man you meet, politely pulls off his hat en passant; and the gentlemen have commonly a good horse under them, but certainly a dressed one.
Sporting season is not come in yet, but, I believe the idea of sporting seldom enters any head except an English one: here is prodigious plenty of game, but the familiarity with which they walk about and sit by our road-side, shews they feel no apprehensions.
Harvest, even in France, is extremely backward this year, I see; no crops are yet got in, nor will reaping be likely to pay its own charges. But though summer is come too late for profit, the pleasure it brings is perhaps enhanced by delay: like a life, the early part of which has been wasted in sickness, the possessor finds too little time remaining for work, when health does come; and spends all that he has left, naturally enough, in enjoyment.
The pert vivacity of La Fille at Montreuil was all we could find there worth remarking: it filled up my notions of French flippancy agreeably enough; as no English wench would so have answered one to be sure. She had complained of our avant-coureur’s behaviour. “Il parle sur le bant ton, mademoiselle” (said I), “mais il a le coeur bon[A]:” “Ouyda” (replied she, smartly), “mais c’est le ton qui fait le chanson[B].”
[Footnote A: He sets his talk to a sounding tune, my dear, but he is an honest fellow.]
[Footnote B: But I always thought it was the tune which made the musick.]
The cathedral at Amiens made ample amends for the country we passed through to see it; the Nef d’Amiens deserves the fame of a first-rate structure: and the ornaments of its high altar seem particularly well chosen, of an excellent taste, and very capital execution. The vineyards from thence hither shew, that either the climate, or season, or both, improve upon one: the grapes climbing up some not very tall golden-pippin trees, and mingling their fruits