Though I have spoken with freedom of this French traveller’s remarks, yet I must own that, in general, he writes and thinks liberally, and speaks highly of the English nation, and very gratefully of many individuals to whom he was known; and, I dare say, a Frenchman will find many more mistakes of mine, which I shall be happy to see pointed out, or rectified: but were I to pick out the particular objects of laughter, pity, and contempt, which have fallen in my way, in twice crossing this great continent, I could make a second Joe Miller of one, and a Jane Shore of the other. If this traveller could have understood the Beggars’ Opera, the humour of Sam. Foote, or the pleasantry among English sailors, watermen, and the lower order of the people, he would have known, that, though the English nation have not so much vivacity as the French, they are behind-hand with no nation whatever, where true wit and genuine humour are to be displayed. What would he have said, could he have seen and entered into the spirit of the procession of the miserable Scalds, or Mr. Garrick in Scrub; Shuter, Woodward, Mrs. Clive, or even our little Edwin at Bath? Had he seen any of these things, he must have laughed with the multitude, as he did in the House of Lords, though he had not understood it, and must have seen how inimitably the talents of these men were formed, to excite so much mirth and delight, even to a heavy unpolished English audience.
From St. George to Macon is five leagues. Nothing on earth can be more beautiful than the face of this country, far and near. The road lies over a vast and fertile plain, not far distant from the banks of the Soane on one side, and adorned with mountains equally fertile, and beautiful, on the other. It is very singular, that all the cows of this part of the country are white, or of a light dun colour, and the dress of all the Maconoise peasants as different from any other province in France, as that of the Turkish habit; I mean the women’s dress, for I perceived no difference among the men, but that they are greater clowns, than any other French peasants. The women wear a broad bone lace ruff about their necks, and a narrow edging of the same sort round their caps, which are in the form of the charity girls’ caps in England; but as they must not bind them on with any kind of ribband, they look rather laid upon their heads, than dressed upon them; their gowns are of a very coarse light brown woollen cloth, made extremely short-waisted, and full of high and thick plaits over the hips, the sleeves are rather large, and turned up with some gaudy coloured silk; upon the shoulders are sewed several pieces of worsted livery lace, which seem to go quite under their arms, in the same manner as is sometimes put to children to strengthen their leading-strings; upon the whole, however, the dress is becoming, and the very long petticoat and full plaits, have a graceful appearance.