A Year's Journey through France and Part of Spain, Volume II (of 2) eBook

Philip Thicknesse
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 108 pages of information about A Year's Journey through France and Part of Spain, Volume II (of 2).

Travellers and strangers in France, in a long journey perhaps, have no connection with any people, but such who have a design upon their purse.  At every Auberge some officious coxcomb lies in wait to ensnare them, and under one pretence or other, introduces himself; he will offer to shew you the town; if you accept it, you are saddled with an impertinent visiter the whole time you stay; if you refuse it, he is affronted; so let him; for no gentleman ever does that without an easy or natural introduction; and then, if they are men of a certain age, their acquaintance is agreeable and useful.  An under-bred Frenchman is the most offensive civil thing in the world:  a well-bred Frenchman, quite the reverse.—­Having dined at the table of a person of fashion at Aix, a pert priest, one the company, asked me many questions relative to the customs and manners of the English nation; and among other things, I explained to him the elegance in which the tables of people of the first fashion were served; and told him, that when any one changed his dish, that his plate, knife and fork, were changed also, and that they were as perfectly bright and clean as the day they came from the silver-smith’s shop.  After a little pause, and a significant sneer,—­Pray Sir, (said he) and do you not change your napkins also?  I was piqued a little, and told him we did not, but that indeed I had made a little mistake, which I would rectify, which was, that though I had told him the plate, knife, and fork, were so frequently changed at genteel tables in England, there was one exception to it; for it sometimes happened that low under-bred priests (especially on a Sunday) were necessarily admitted to the tables of people of fashion, and that the butler sometimes left them to wipe their knife upon their bread, as I had often seen Lewis the Fifteenth do, even after eating fish with it.—­As it was on a Sunday I had met with this fop of divinity, at a genteel table, I thought I had been even with him, and I believe he thought so too, for he asked me no more questions; yet he assured me at his going out, “he had the honour to be my most obedient humble servant.”  This over-strained civility, so unlike good-breeding, puts me in mind of what was said of poor Sir WM. ST. Q——­N, after his death, by an arch wag at Bath:  Sir William, you know, was a polite old gentleman, but had the manners and breeding rather of the late, than the present age, and though a man deservedly esteemed for his many virtues, was by some thought too ceremonious.  Somebody at the round table at Morgan’s Coffee-house happened to say, alas! poor Sir William! he is gone; but he was a good man, and is surely gone to Heaven, and I can tell you what he said when he first entered the holy gates! the interrogation followed of course:  Why, said he, seeing a large concourse of departed souls, and not a soul that he knew, he bowed to the right and left, said he begged pardon,—­he feared he was troublesome, and if so, he would instantly retire.—­So the Frenchman, when he says he would cut himself in four pieces to serve you, only means to be very civil, and he will be so, if it does not put him to any expence.

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A Year's Journey through France and Part of Spain, Volume II (of 2) from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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