Let not this single, and singular woman, however, induce you to trust to the confidence of a French aubergiste especially a female; you may as well trust to the conscience of an itinerant Jew. Frenchmen are so aware of this, that have heard a traveller, on a maigre day, make his bargain for his aumlet and the number of eggs to be put in it, with an exactness scarce to be imagined; and yet the upshot was only two pence English.
The easy manner in which a French officer, or gentleman, can traverse this mighty kingdom, either for pleasure or business, is extremely agreeable, and worthy of imitation among young British officers.—In England, if an Ensign of foot is going a journey, he must have two horses, and a groom, though he has nothing but a regimental suit of cloaths, and half a dozen shirts to carry; his horses too must set both ends well because he is a Captain upon the road! and he travels at about five times the expence of his pay.
The French officer buys a little biddet, puts his shirts and best regimental coat into a little portmanteau, buckles that behind his saddle, and with his sword by his side, and his croix at his button-hole, travels at the expence of about three shillings a day, and often less, through a kingdom where every order of people shew him attention, and give him precedence.
I blush, when I recollect that I have rode the risque of being wet to the skin because I would not disgrace my saddle, nor load my back with a great coat; for I have formerly, as well as latterly, travelled without a servant.
I have a letter now before me, which I received a few days ago from a French Captain of foot, who says, sur le champ j’ay fait seller ma petite Rossinante (car vous scavez que j’ay achete un petit cheval de 90 livres selle et bride) et me voila a Epernay chez Monsieur Lechet, &c. This gentleman’s whole pay does not amount to more than sixty pounds a year, yet he has always five guineas in his pocket, and every convenience, and some luxuries about him; he assists now and then an extravagant brother, appears always well dressed; and last year I bought him a ticket in the British lottery: he did not consider that he employed an unfortunate man to buy it, and I forgot to remind him of it.
After saying thus much of a virtuous young man (though a Frenchman) there will be no harm in telling you his name is Lalieu, a Captain in the regiment du Maine.—Before I took my last leave of him, talking together of the horrors of war, I asked him what he would do if he were to see me vis-a-vis in an hostile manner? He embraced me, and said, “turn the but end of my fusee towards you, my friend.” I thank God that neither his but-end, nor my muzzle can ever meet in that manner, and I shall be happy to meet him in any other.
P.S. I omitted to say, that the Maconoise female peasants wear black hats, in the form of the English straw or chip hats; and when they are tied on, under the chin, it gives them with the addition of their round-eared laced cap, a decent, modest appearance which puts out of countenance all the borrowed plumage, dead hair, black wool, lead, grease, and yellow powder, which is now in motion between Edinburgh and Paris.