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***Start of the project gutenberg EBOOK A year’s journey through France and part of Spain, volume II (of 2)***
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A YEAR’S JOURNEY THROUGH FRANCE, AND PART OF SPAIN.
Printed by J. Williams, (No. 21.) Skinner-Row.
I am very certain that a man may travel twice through Spain, and half through France, before he sees a woman of so much beauty, elegance, and breeding, as the mistress of the house I lodge in near this city. I was directed to the house, and recommended to the lady, as a lodger; but both were so fine, and superior in all respects to any thing I had seen out of Paris, that I began to suspect I had been imposed upon. The lady who received me appeared to be (it was candle-light) about eighteen, a tall, elegant figure, a beautiful face, and an address inferior to none: I concluded she was the daughter, till she informed me, that Mons. Saigny, her husband, was gone to Avignon. What added, perhaps, to this lady’s beauty in my eyes, or rather ears, was her misfortune,—she could not speak louder than a gentle whisper. After seeing her sumptuous apartments, I told her I would not ask what her price was, but tell her what I could afford only to give; and observed, that as it was winter, and the snow upon the ground, perhaps she had better take my price than have none. She instantly took me by the hand and said, she had so much respect for the English nation, that my price was her’s; and with a still softer whisper, and close to my ear, said, I might come in as soon as I pleased—“Quand vous voudrez, Monsieur,” said she. We accordingly took possession of the finest apartments, and the best
“A day, an hour, of
Is worth a whole eternity of bondage.”
I can almost think I read in the parallel, which I fear will soon be drawn between the rise and fall of the British and Roman empire, something like this;—“Rome had her CICERO; Britain her CAMDEN: Cicero, who had preserved Rome from the conspiracy of Catiline, was banished: CAMDEN, who would have preserved Britain from a bloody civil war, removed.” The historian will add, probably, that “those who brought desolation upon their land, did not mean that there should be no commonwealth, but that right or wrong, they should continue to controul it: they did not mean to burn the capitol to ashes, but to bear absolute sway in the capitol:—The result was, however, that though they did not mean to overthrow the state, yet they risqued all, rather than be overthrown themselves; and they rather promoted the massacre of their fellow-citizens, than a reconciliation and union of parties,”—THUS FELL ROME—Take heed, BRITAIN!
I left Nismes reluctantly, having formed there an agreeable and friendly intimacy with Mr. D’Oliere, a young gentleman of Switzerland; and an edifying, and entertaining acquaintance, with Mons. Seguier. I left too, the best and most sumptuous lodgings I had seen in my whole tour; but a desire to see Arles, Aix, and Marseilles, &c. got the better of all. But I set out too soon after the snow and rains, and I found part of the road so bad, that I wonder how my horse dragged us through so much clay and dirt. When I gave you some account of the antiquities of Nismes, I did not expect to find Arles a town fraught with ten times more matter and amusement for an antiquarian; but I found it not only a fine town now, but that it abounds with an infinite number of monuments which evince its having once been an almost second Rome. There still remains enough of the Amphitheatre to convince the beholder what a noble edifice it was, and to wonder why so little, of so large and solid a building, remains. The town is built on the banks of the Rhone, over which, on a bridge of barges, we entered it; but it is evident, that in former days, the sea came quite up to it, and that it was a haven for ships of burden; but the sea has retired some leagues from it, many ages since; beside an hundred strong marks at this day of its having been a sea-port formerly, the following inscription found a century or two ago, in the church of St. Gabriel, will clearly confirm it:
M. FRONTONI EVPOR
IIIIIIVIR AVG. COL. JVLIA.
AVG. AQVIS SEXTIIS NAVICVLAR.
MAR. AREL. CVRAT EJVSD. CORP.
PATRONA NAVTAR DRVENTICORVM.
JULIA NICE VXOR.
Indeed there are many substantial reasons to believe, that it was at this town Julius Caesar built the twelve gallies, which, from the cutting of the wood to the time they were employed on service, was but thirty days.—That it was a very considerable city in the time of the first Emperors, is past all doubt. Constantine the Great held his court, and resided at Arles, with all his family; and the Empress Faustina was delivered of a son here (Constantine the younger) and it was long before so celebrated for an annual fair held in the month of August, that it was called le Noble Marche de Gaules. And Strabo, in his dedication of his book to the Emperor, called it “Galliarum Emporium non Parvum;” which is a proof that it was celebrated for its rich commerce, &c. five hundred years before it became under the dominion of the Romans. But were I capable of giving you a particular description of all the monuments of antiquity in and near this town, it would compose a little book, instead of a sheet or two of paper. I shall therefore only pick out a few things which have afforded me the most entertainment, and I hope may give you a little; but I shall begin with mentioning what must first give you concern, in saying that in that part of the town called la Roquette, I was shewn the place where formerly stood an elevated Altar whereon, three young citizens were sacrificed annually, and who were fattened at the public expence during a whole year, for the horrid purpose! On the first of May their throats were cut in the presence of a prodigious multitude of people assembled from all parts; among whom the blood of the victims was thrown, as they imagined all their sins were expiated by that barbarous sacrifice; which horrid practice was put a stop to by the first Bishop of Arles, ST. TROPHIME. The Jews, who had formerly a synagogue in Arles, were driven out in the year 1493, when that and their celebrated School were demolished. There were found about an hundred after, among the stones of those buildings some Hebrew characters neatly cut, which were copied and sent to the Rabbins of Avignon, to be translated, and who explained them then thus:
Chodesh: Elvl. Chamescheth,
lamech, nav. Nislamv. Bedikoth.
i.e. they say,
“In the month of August
five thousand and thirty—the Visitation
of God ceased.”
Perhaps the plague had visited them.—There was also another Hebrew inscription, which was on the tomb of a famous Rabbin called Solomon, surnamed the grandson of David.
The Amphitheatre of Arles was of an oval form, composed of three stages; each stage containing sixty arches; the whole was built of hewn stone of an immense size, without mortar, and of a prodigious thickness: the circumference above, exclusive of the projection of the architecture, was 194 toises three feet, the frontispiece 17 toises high and the area 71 toises long and 52 wide; the walls were 17 toises thick, which were pierced round and round with a gallery, for a convenience of passing in and out of the seats, which would conveniently contain 30,000 men, allowing each person three feet in depth and two in width; and yet, there remain at this day only a few arches quite complete from top to bottom, which are of themselves a noble monument. Indeed one would be inclined to think that it never had been compleated, did we not know that the Romans left nothing unfinished of that kind; and read, that the Emperor Gallus gave some superb spectacles in the Amphiteatre of Arles, and that the same amusements were continued by following Emperors. Nothing can be a stronger proof than these ruins, of the certain destruction and corruption of all earthly things; for one would think that the small parts which now remain of this once mighty building would, endure as long as the earth itself; but what is very singular is, that this very Amphitheatre was built upon the ruins of a more mighty building, and perhaps one of a more substantial structure. Tempus edax rerum, tuque invidiosa vetustas omnia destruis. In the street called St. Claude, stood a triumphal arch which was called L’Arche admirable; it is therefore natural to conclude, that the town contained many others of less beauty. There are also within the walls large remains of the palace of Constantine. A beautiful antique statue of Venus was found here also, about an hundred and twenty years ago.—That a veritable fine woman should set all the beaux and connoisseurs of a whole town in a flame, I do not much wonder; but you will be surprized when I tell you that this cold trunk of marble, (for the arms were never found) put the whole town of Arles together by the ears; one Scavant said it was the goddess Diana, and wrote a book to prove it; another insisted upon it, that it was the true image of Venus; then starts up an Ecclesiastic, who you know has nothing to do with women, and he pronounced in dogmatical terms, it was neither one nor the other; at length the wiser magistrates of the town agreed to send it as a present to their august monarch Lewis the XIVth; and if you have a mind to see an inanimate woman who has made such a noise in the world, you will find her at Versailles, without any other notice taken of her or the quarrels about her, than the following words written (I think) upon her pedestal, La Venus d’Arles. This ended the dispute, as I must my letter.
I have not half done with Arles. The more I saw and heard in this town, the more I found was to be seen. The remains of the Roman theatre here would of itself be a sufficient proof that it was a town of great riches and importance. Among the refuse of this building they found several large vases of baked earth, which were open on one side, and which were fixed properly near the seats of the audience to receive and convey the sounds of the instruments and voices of the actors distinctly throughout the theatre, which had forty-eight arches, eleven behind the scenes of ten feet wide, three grand arches of fourteen feet wide, and thirty-one of twelve feet; the diameter was thirty-one canes, and the circumference seventy-nine; and from the infinite number of beautiful pieces of sculpture, frizes, architraves, pillars of granite, &c. which have been dug up, it is very evident that this theatre was a most magnificent building, and perhaps would have stood firm to this day, had not a Bishop of Arles, from a principle of more piety than wisdom, stript it of the finest ornaments and marble pillars, to adorn the churches. Near the theatre stood also the famous temple of Diana; and, as the famous statue mentioned in my former letter was found beneath some noble marble pillars near that spot, it is most likely La Venus d’Arles is nevertheless the Goddess Diana.
I never wish more for your company than when I walk, (and I walk every day) in the Elysian fields. The spot is beautiful, the prospect far and near equally so: in the middle of this ancient Cimetiere stands a motly building, from the middle of which however rises a cupola, which at the first view informs you it is the work of a Roman artist; and here you must, as it were, thread the needle between an infinite number of Pagan and Christian monuments, lying thick upon the surface in the utmost disorder and confusion, insomuch, that one would think the Day of Judgment was arrived and the dead were risen. Neither Stepney church-yard, nor any one in or near a great city, shew so many headstones as this spot does stone coffins of an immense size, hewn out of one piece; the covers of most of which have been broken or removed sufficiently to search for such things as were usually buried with the dead. Some of these monuments, and some of the handsomest too, are still however unviolated. It is very easy to distinguish the Pagan from the Christian monnments, without opening them, as all the former have the Roman letters DM (Diis Manibus) cut upon them. It is situated, according to their custom, near the high-way, the water, and the marshes. You know the ancients preferred such spots for the interment of the dead.
The tombs of Ajax and Hector, HOMER says, were near the sea, as well as other heroes of antiquity; for as they considered man to be composed of earth and water, his bones ought to be laid in one, and near the other.
I will now give you a few of the most curious inscriptions; but first I will mention a noble marble monument, moved from this spot into the Cimetiere of the great Hospital. This tomb is ornamented with Cornucopiae, Paterae, &c. and in a shield the following inscription:
CABILIAE D.F. APPRVLLAE
D DESIGNATAE COL. DEA. AUG. VOC. M
O. ANNOS XIIII, MENS II. DIES V.
MARITVS VXORI PIENTISSIMAE.
This poor girl was not only too young to die, but too young to marry, one would think; I wish therefore her afflicted husband had told us how many years he had been married to a wife who died at the age of fourteen, two months, and five days. The cornucopiae, I suppose, were to signify that this virtuous wife, I was going to say maid, was the source of all his pleasure and happiness. The Paterae were vases destined to receive the blood of the victims.
Supponunt alij cultros, tepidumque
Suscipiunt Pateris,—Says the Poet.
On each side of the tomb are the symbols of sacrifice. It is very evident from the fine polish of this monument, that her husband had obtained the Emperor’s particular leave to finish it highly.
Rogum ascia ne Polito says the law of the twelve tables.
On another tomb, which is of common stone, in the middle of a shield supported by two Cupids, is the following inscription:
M IVNIO MESSIANO
——VTRICI. CORP. ARELAT.
D EIVS D. CORP. MAG. III. F M
QUI VIXIT ANN. XXVIII.
M. V. D. X. IVNIA VALERIA.
The first word of the second line is much obliterated.
There are an infinite number of other monuments with inscriptions; but those above, and this below, will be sufficient for me to convey to you, and you to my friend at Winchester.
L DOMIT. DOMITIANI
EX TRIERARCHI CLASS. GERM.
D PECCOCEIA VALENTINA M
Before I leave Arles, and I leave it reluctantly, whatever you may do, I must not omit to mention the principal monument, and pride of it, at this day, i.e. their Obelisque. I will not tell you where nor when it was dug up; it is sufficient to say, it was found here, that it is a single piece of granite, sixty-one feet high, and seven feet square below; yet it was elevated in the Market-place, upon a modern pedestal, which bears four fulsome complimentary inscriptions to Lewis the XIV. neither of which will I copy. In elevating this monstrous single stone, the inhabitants were very adroit: they set it upright in a quarter of an hour, in the year 1676, just an hundred years ago, amidst an infinite number of joyful spectators, who are now all laid in their lowly graves; for though it weighed more than two thousand hundred weight, yet by the help of capsterns, it was raised without any difficulty. The great King Harry the IVth had ordered the houses
I am sure now, you will excuse my mentioning what is said of this great man below; but speaking of light, I must not omit to mention, that there are men of veracity now living in this town, who affirm, that they have seen, upon opening some of the ancient monuments here, the eternal lamps burning. The number of testimonies we have of this kind puts the matter past a doubt, that a flame has appeared at the lip of these lamps when first the tombs have been opened; one was found, you know, on the Appian way, in the tomb of Cicero’s daughter, which had burnt more than seventeen centuries; another at Padua, which had burnt eight hundred years, and which was found hanging between two little phials, one of gold, the other of silver, which were both quite full of liquor, extremely clear, as well as many others; but as it is impossible to believe that flame can exist, and not consume that which feeds it, is it not more natural to conclude that those lamps, phials, &c. contained a species of phosphorus, which became luminous upon the first opening of the tombs and the sudden rushing in of fresh air; and that the reverse of what is generally supposed is the fact, that they are not extinguished, but illuminated by the fresh air they receive? I have seen several of these lamps here and elsewhere, most of which are of baked earth. It has been said, that there is an oil to be extracted from gold, which will not consume, and that a wick of asbestos has burnt many years in this oil, without consumption to either. I have seen a book written by a German Jesuit, to confirm this fact; so there is authority for you, if not conviction.
As I know your keen appetite after antiquities, I will send you a few other inscriptions, and leave you to make your own comments; and voila.
L. HOSTIL. TER.
ANN. XXIIII. M. II. D.
XV MATER FIL PIJSSIMI
MISERA ET IN LVCIV.
The following inscription is cut upon a marble column, which stands near the Jesuits’ church:
SALVIS D.D.N.N. THEODOSIO,
P.F.V. AC TRIVM. SEMPER AUG. XV.
CONS. VIR. INL. AUXILIARIS PRAE.
PRAET, GALLIA. DE ARELATE MA,
MILLIARIA PONI. S.
In the ancient church of St. Honore, which stands in the center of all these Heathen and Christian monuments, are to be seen nine Bacchanalians of very ancient workmanship; where also is the tomb of St. Honore, employed as the altar of the church; and beneath the church are catacombs, where the first Christians retired to prayer during the persecution by the Emperors, and where is still to be seen their altar and seven ancient sepulchres, of beautiful marble, and exquisitely worked; the first is the tomb of St. Genet; the second of St. Roland, Archbishop of Arles; the third of St. Concord, with an epitaph, and two doves with olive branches in their beaks, cut in bass relief, and underneath are the two letters X and P; on this tomb is the miraculous cross seen in the heavens by Constantine, who is represented before it on his knees; and on the cover of this tomb are the heads of Constantine, Faustina, and his son; and they say the Emperor saw this miracle in the heaven from the very Cimetiere in which this monument stands, i.e. in the year 315; the fifth is the tomb of St. Dorothy, Virgin and Martyr of Arles; the sixth St. Virgil, and the seventh St. Hiliare, (both Archbishops of Arles,) who has borrowed a Pagan sepulchre, for it is adorned with the principal divinities of the ancients in bass relief.—It seems odd to see on a Christian Bishop’s tomb Venus, and the three Destinies. The people here say, that this tomb represents human life, as the ancients believed that each God contributed something towards the being. Be that as it may, the tomb is a very curious one, and much admired by the Connoisseurs, for its excellent workmanship; but what is more extraordinary than all these, is, that this catacomb, standing in the middle of the others, with its cover well and closely fixed, has always water in it, and often is quite full, and nobody can tell (but one of the priests perhaps) from what source it comes. There is also in this church the tomb and a long Latin Epitaph of St. Trophime, their first Bishop; but the characters are very Gothic, and the Cs are square, [Image: E E with no mid bar]; he came here in the year 61, and preached down that abominable practice of sacrificing three young men annually. He died in the year 61, at 72 years of age. On the front of the Metropolitan church of Arles, called St. Trophime, are the two following lines, in Gothic characters, cut above a thousand years:
Cernitur eximius vir Christi
De Numero Trophimus, hic Septuaginta duorum.
This church was built in the year 625, by St. Virgil, and is a curious piece of antiquity within, and particularly without; but I will not omit to give you one of its singularities within; it is an ancient and curious inscription in large Gothic letters, near the organ:
Terrarum Roma Gemina de luce majistrA. Ros Missus Semper Aderit: velut incola IoseP Olim Contrito Letheo Contulit OrchO.
To read this you will see you must take the first letter of each verse: TRO, Trophemus; GAL, Galliaeorum; and APO, Apostolus. The letter H, belonging to the word Joseph, must be carried to the word Orcho, and the P must stand by itself.
Trophimus Galliarum Apostolus, ut ros missus est, ex urbe Romae rerum Dominae Gemina de luce, scilicet a Petro et Paulo, Ecclesiae luminaribus; Contrito orcho Letheo, nempe statim post Christi Passionem qua Daemonis & orchi caput contrivit, semper animos nostras nutriet, cibo illo, divinae fidei quem nobis contulit: ut alter Joseph qui olim AEgypti populum same pereuntem liberavit.
Soon after we left the town of Arles, on our way to Aix, and this city, we entered upon a most extraordinary and extensive plain; it is called the Crau, and is a principal and singular domain, belonging to and situated on the south side of that city; it is ten leagues in diameter; on which vast extent, scarce a tree, shrub, or verdure is visible; the whole spot being covered with flint stones of various sizes, and of singular shapes. Petrarch says, as Strabo, and others have said before him, that those flint stones fell from Heaven like hail, when Hercules was fighting there against the giants, who, finding he was likely to be overcome, invoked his father Jupiter, who rained this hard shower of flint stones upon his enemies, which is confirmed by AEschylus.
“Jupiter Alcidem quando
Illachrymans, Ligures saxoso perpluit imbre.”
But as this account may not be quite satisfactory to you, who I know love truth more than fable, I am inclined to think you will consider Possidonius’s manner of accounting for it more feasible: He says, that it was once a great lake, and having a bed of gravel at the bottom, those pebble stones, by a succession of ages, have grown to the size they now appear; but whether stones grow which lie upon the surface of the earth and out of their proper strata, I must leave you and other naturalists to determine, without repeating to you what Aristotle, and others, have said upon that subject; and therefore, instead of telling you either what they say, or I think, I will tell you what I know, which is, that barren as the Crau appears to be, it not only feeds, but fattens an infinite number of sheep and cattle, and produces such excellent wine too in some parts of it, that it is called Vin de Crau, by way of pre-eminence: it has a poignant quality, is very bright, and is much esteemed for its delicious flavour. The herb which fattens the sheep and feeds such quantities of cattle is a little plant
The first town we came to after passing this vast plain, I have forgot the name of; but it had nothing but its antiquity and a noble and immense old castle to recommend it, except a transparent agate statue of the Virgin in the church, as large as the life, with a tin crown upon her head. Neither the town nor the inhabitants had any thing of the appearance of French about them; every thing and every body looked so wild, and the place was in such a ruinous condition, that I could scarce believe I was not among the Arabs in Egypt, or the ruins of Persepolis. Without the town, in a fine beautiful lawn stands a most irregular high and rude rock, perpendicular on all sides, and under one side of it are ruins of a house, which I suppose was inhabited by the first Seigneur in the province. I looked in, and found the ruins full of miserable inhabitants, I fancy many families; but it exhibited such a scene of woe, that I was glad to get out again; and upon inquiry, I found it had been in that state ever since it had been used as an hospital during the last plague.
As the good and evil, which fall within the line of a road, as well as a worldly traveller, are by comparison, I need not say what a heavenly country France (with all its untoward circumstances) appeared to us after having journeyed in Spain: what would have put me out of temper before, became now a consolation. How glad I should I have been, and how perfectly content, had it been thus in Spain, was always uppermost, when things ran a little cross in France.
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.
Aix is a well built city; the principal street called the Course, is very long, very broad, and shaded by stately trees; in the middle of it are four or five fountains, constantly running, one of which is of very hot water, at which man and beast are constantly drinking. The city abounds with a great deal of good company, drawn to it from all parts of Europe by the efficacy of the waters, and to examine its antiquities, for it has in and about it many Greek as well as Roman monuments.
Some part of the country between Aix and this populous city is very beautiful, but near the town scarce any vegetation is seen; on all sides high hills and broken rocks present themselves; and one wonders how a city so large and so astonishingly populous is supported. When I first approached the entrance gate, it opened a perspective view of the Course, a street of great extent, where the heads of the people were so thick together, that I concluded it was a FAIR day, and that the whole country was collected together; but I found it was every day the same. I saw a prodigious quantity of game and provisions of all kinds, not only in the shops, but in the streets, and concluded it was not only a cheap, but a plentiful country; but I soon found my mistake, it was the evening before Lent commenced, and I could find no provisions of any kind very easily afterwards, and every thing very dear. You may imagine the price of provisions at Marseilles when I tell you that they have their poultry from Lyons; it is however a noble city, crouded with men of all nations, walking in the streets in the proper habits of their country. The harbour is the most secure sea-port in Europe, being land-locked on all sides, except at a verry narrow entrance; and as there is very little rise or fall of water, the vessels are always afloat. Many of the galley slaves have little shops near the spot where the galleys are moored, and appear happy and decently dressed; some of them are rich, and make annual remittances to their friends. In the Hotel de Ville are two fine large pictures, which were taken lately from the Jesuits’ college; one represents the dreadful scenes which were seen in the Grand Course during the great plague at Marseilles; the other, the same sad scene on the Quay, before the doors of the house in which it now hangs. A person cannot look upon these pictures one minute before he becomes enthralled in the woes which every way present themselves. You see the good Bishop confessing the sick, the carts carrying out the dead, children sucking at the breasts of their dead mothers, wives and husbands bewailing, dead bodies lowering out of the higher windows by cords, the slaves plundering, the Priests exhorting, and such a variety of interesting and afflicting scenes so forcibly struck out by the painter, that you seem to hear the groans, weepings, and bewailings, from the dying, the sick and the sound; and the eye and mind have no other
is alone permanent.
This is the Sepulchre of his servant and Martyr,
who having placed his confidence in the Most
High, he trusts that his sins will be forgiven.”
JOSEPH, son of ABDALLAH, of the
town of Metelin,
died in the moon Zilhage.
I bought here an Egyptian household God, or Lar of solid metal, which was lately dug up near the city walls; it is about nine inches high, and weighs about five pounds. Several of the hieroglyphic characters are visible on the breast and back, and its form is that of an embalmed mummy. By a wholesome law of this city, the richest citizen must be buried like the poorest, in a coffin of nine livres value, and that coffin must be bought at the general Hospital. The sale of these coffins for the dead, goes a great way towards the support of the poor and the sick.
At this town I experienced the very reverse in every respect of what I met with at Barcelona, though I had no better recommendation to Mr. BIRBECK, his Britannick Majesty’s Agent here, than I had to the Consul of Barcelona; he took my word, at first sight, nay, he took my notes and gave me money for them, and shewed me and my family many marks of friendly attention: Such a man, at such a distance from ones own country, is a cordial to a troubled breast, and an acquisition to every Englishman who goes there either for health or curiosity. Mr. Birbeck took me with him to a noble Concert, to which he is an annual subscriber, and which was performed in a room in every respect suitable to so large a band, and so brilliant an assembly: He and his good wife were the only two British faces I had seen for many months, who looked like Britons. I shall, indeed I must, soon leave this town, and shall take Avignon on my way to Lyons, from whence you shall soon hear from me again.
I had forgot to mention, when I was speaking of Montpellier, that the first gentry are strongly impressed with the notion of the superiority of the English, in every part of philosophy, more especially in the science of physic; and I found at Montpellier, that these sentiments so favourable to our countrymen, had been much increased by the extraordinary knowledge and abilities of Dr. MILMAN, an English physician,
There is no dependence on what travellers say of different towns and places they have visited, and therefore you must not lay too much stress upon what I say. A Lady of fashion, who had travelled all over France, gave the preference to the town I wrote last to you from (Marseilles); to me, the climate excepted, it is of all others the most disagreeable; yet that Lady did not mean to deceive; but people often prefer the town for the sake of the company they find, or some particular or local circumstance that attended their residence in it; in that respect, I too left it reluctantly, having met with much civility and some old friends there; but surely, exclusive of its fine harbour, and favourable situation for trade, it has little else to recommend it, but riot, mob, and confusion; provisions are very dear, and not very good.
On our road here we came again through Aix. The Mule blanche without the town, is better than any auberge within, and Mons. L’Abbe Abrard Praetor, de la ordre de St. Malta, is not only a very agreeable, but a very convenient acquaintance for a stranger, and who is always ready to shew the English in particular, attention, and who had much attention shewn him by Lord A. PERCY and his Lady.
From Aix we passed through Lambresque, Orgon, and Sencage, a fine country, full of almond trees, and which were in full blossom on the 7th of March. At Orgon the post-house was so bad, that after my horse was in the stable, I was obliged to put him to, and remove to the Soleil d’Or, without the town, and made a good move too. The situation of Notre Dame de St. Piere, a convent on a high hill, is worthy of notice, and the antiquity of the town also.—Five leagues from Orgon we crossed a very aukward passage in a ferry-boat, and were landed in the Pope’s territories, about five miles from Avignon. The castle, and higher part of the town, were visible, rising up in the middle of a vast plain, fertile and beautiful as possible. If we were charmed with the distant view, we were much more so upon a nearer approach; nothing can be more pleasing than the well-planted, and consequently well-shaded coach and foot roads
There was not quite so good an understanding between the Pope’s Legate and the English residing here, as could be wished; some untoward circumstance had happened, and there seemed to be faults on both sides; it was carried, I think, to such a length, that when the English met him, they did not pull off their hats; but as it happened before I came, and as in our walks and rides we often met him airing in his coach, we paid that respect which is everywhere due to a first magistrate, and he took great pains to return it most graciously; his livery, guards, &c. make a very splendid appearance: he holds a court, and is levee’d every Sunday, though not liked by the French. At the church of St. Didier, in a little chapel, of mean workmanship, is the tomb of the celebrated Laura, whose name Petrarch has rendered immortal; the general opinion is, that she died a virgin; but it appears by her tomb, that she was the wife of Hugues de Sade, and that she had many children. About two hundred years after her death, some curious people got permission to open her tomb, in which they found a little box, containing some verses written by Petrarch, and a medallion of lead, on one side of which was a Lady’s head and on the reverse, the four following letters, M.L.M.E.
Francis the First, passing thro’ Avignon, visited this tomb, and left upon it the following epitaph, of his own composition:
“En petit lien compris
vous pouvez voir
Ce qui comprend beaucoup par renommee
Plume, labour le langue & le devoir
Furent vaincus par l’aimant de l’aimee
O gentille ame, etant tant estimee
Qui le pourra louer quen se laissant?
Car la parole est toujours reprimee
Quand le sujet surmonte le disant.”
This town is crowded with convents and churches. The convent of the Celestines, founded by Charles the VIth, is richly endowed, and has noble gardens: there are not above fourteen or fifteen members, and their revenue is near two thousand pounds sterling a year. In their church is a very superb monument of Pope Clement the VIIth, who died here in the year 1394, as a long Latin inscription upon it announces. They shew in this house a picture, painted by King Renee; it represents the frightful remains of his beloved mistress, whose body he took out of the grave, and painted it in the state he then found it, i.e. with the worms crawling about it: it is a hideous figure, and hideously painted; the stone coffin stands on a line with the figure, but is above a foot too short for the body; and on the other side is a long scrole of verses, written in Gothic characters, which begin thus:
“Une fois fus sur toutes femmes belle Mais par la mort suis devenue telle Machair estoit tres-belle fraische & tendre O’r est elle toute tournee en cendre.”
There follow at least forty other such lines.
There is also in this convent, a fine monument, on which stands the effigies of St. Benezet, a shepherd of Avignon, who built (they say) the bridge from the town over the Rhone, in consequence of a dream, in the year 1127: some of the noble arches are still standing, and part of a very pretty chapel on it, nearly in the middle of the river; but a great part of the bridge has been carried away, many years since, by the violence of the river, which often not only overflows its banks, but the lower part of the town. In 1755, it rose seventeen feet higher than its usual flowing, and I saw marks in many of the streets, high above my head, against the sides of houses, which it had risen to; but with all my industry, I could find no mark upon the house where Lady Mary Wortley Montagu dwelt, though she resided some time here, and though I endeavoured to find it.
I need not describe the celebrated fountain of Vaucluse, near this town, where Petrarque composed his works, and established Mount Parnassus. This is the only part of France in which there is an Inquisition, but the Officers seem content with their profits and honours, without the power.
One part of the town is allotted to the Jews, where about six or seven hundred live peaceably and have their synagogue; and it was here the famous rabbin Joseph Meir was born; he died in the year 1554; he was author, you know, of Annals des Rois de France, and de la Maison Ottomane.
Not far from Avignon, on the banks of the same rapid river, stands Beaucaire, famous for its annual FAIR, where merchandize is brought from all parts of Europe, free of all duties: it begins on the 22d of July; and it is computed that eight million of livres are annually expended there in eight days. Avignon is remarkable for the No. Seven, having seven ports, seven parishes, seven colleges, seven hospitals, and seven monasteries; and I may add, I think, seven hundred bells, which are always making a horrid jingle, for they have no idea of ringing bells harmoniously in any part of France.
After a month’s residence at Avignon, where I waited till the weather and roads amongst the high Dauphine mountains were both improved, I sat out for this city. I had, you know, outward bound, dropt down to Port St. Esprit by water, so it was a new scene to us by land, and I assure you it was a fine one; the vast and extensive rich vales, adorned on all sides with such romantic mountains, could not be otherwise, in such a climate. Our first stage was only four leagues to Orange; this is the last town in the Pope’s territories; and within a quarter of a mile of it stands, in a corn field, a beautiful Roman triumphal arch, so great in ruins, that it would be an ornament even in Rome. The Palais Royal at this town, has nothing to recommend it, but that it affords a prospect of this rich morsel of antiquity.
From Orange we passed through Pierlaite, Donzeir, and several smaller towns, and we lay one night at a single house, but an excellent auberge, called Souce, kept by an understanding sensible host.
At a little village called A’tang, on the banks of the Rhone, we stopped a day or two, to enjoy the sweet situation. Just opposite to it, on the other side of the river, stands a large town, (Tournau,) which added to the beauty of our village, over which hangs a very high mountain, from whence the best Hermitage wine is collected: I suppose it is called Hermitage, from a Hermit’s cell on the top of it; but so unlike the Montserrat Hermitages, that I contented myself with only tasting the Hermit’s wine; it was so good indeed, that though I did not see how it was possible to get it safe to the north side of France, I could not withstand the temptation of buying a cask, for which I was to pay twelve guineas, and did pay one as earnest, to a very sensible, and I believe honest and opulent wine merchant, who, however, made me a present of two bottles when I came away, almost worth my guinea; it is three livres a bottle on the spot; and he shewed me orders he had received from men of fashion in England, for wine; among which was one from Mr. Ryder, Sir Dudley Ryder’s son I fancy, who, I found, was well satisfied with his former dealings. Do you know that Claret is greatly improved by a mixture of Hermitage, and that the best Claret we have in England is generally so adulterated?
The next towns we passed were Pevige and Vienne, the latter only five leagues from this city. It is a very ancient town, and was formerly a Roman colony. The cathedral is a large and noble Gothic structure, and in it is a fine tomb of Cardinal Mountmoin, said to be equal in workmanship to Richlieu’s in the Sorbonne, but said to be so, by people no ways qualified to judge properly; it is indeed an expensive but a miserable performance, when put in competition with the works of Girrardeau. About half a mile without the town is a noble pyramidal Roman monument, said to have stood in the center of the Market-place, in the time of the Romans. There is also to be seen in this town, a Mosaic pavement discovered only a few years since, wonderfully beautiful indeed, and near ten feet square, though not quite perfect, being broken in the night by some malicious people, out of mere wantonness, soon after it was discovered.
At this town I was recommended to the Table Round; but as there are two, the grande and the petit, I must recommend you to the petit where I was obliged to move; for, of all the dreadful women I ever came near, Madam Rousillion has the least mellifluous notes; her ill behaviour, however, procured me the honour of a very agreeable acquaintance, the Marquis DeValan, who made me ashamed, by shewing us an attention we had no right to expect; but this is one, among many other agreeable circumstances, which attend strangers travelling in France. French gentlemen never see strangers ill treated, without standing forth in their defence; and I hope English gentlemen will follow their example, because it is a piece of justice due to strangers, in whatever country they are, or whatever country they are from; it is doing as one would be done by. That prejudice which prevails in England, even among some people of fashion, against the French nation is illiberal, in the highest degree; nay, it is more, it is a national disgrace.—When I recollect with what ease and uninterruption I have passed through so many great and little towns, and extensive provinces, without a symptom of wanton rudeness being offered me, I blush to think how a Frenchman, if he made no better figure than I did, would have been treated in a tour through Britain.—My Monkey, with a pair of French jack boots, and his hair en queue, rode postillion upon my sturdy horse some hours every day; such a sight, you may be sure, brought forth old and young, sick and lame, to look at him and his master. Jocko put whole towns in motion, but never brought any affront on his master; they came to look and to laugh, but not to deride or insult. The post-boys, it is true, did not like to see their fraternity taken off, in my little Theatre; but they seldom discovered it, but by a grave salutation; and sometimes a good humoured fellow called him comrade, and made
Between Avignon and this town I met a dancing bear, mounted by a Maggot: as it was upon the high road, I desired leave to present Jocko to his grandfather, for so he appeared both in age and size; the interview, though they were both males, was very affecting; never did a father receive a long-lost child with more seeming affection than the old gentleman did my Jocko; he embraced him with every degree of tenderness imaginable, while the young gentleman (like other young gentlemen of the present age) betrayed a perfect indifference. In my conscience I believe it, there was some consanguinity between them, or the reception would have proved more mutual. Between you and me, I fear, were I to return to England, I might find myself a sad party in such an interview. It is a sad reflection; but perhaps Providence may wisely ordain such things, in order as men grow older, to wean them from the objects of their worldly affections, that they may resign more readily to the decree of fate. That good man, Dr. ARBUTHNOT, did not seem to dread the approach of death on his own account, so much as from the grievous affliction HE had reason to fear it would bring upon his children and family.
The Harangue of the Emperor CLAUDIUS, in the SENATE. Copied from the original Bronze plate in the Hotel de Ville, of Lyons.
MOERERUM . NOSTR ::::: SII ::::::::: Equidem . primam . omnium . illam . cogitationem . hominum . quam . maxime . primam . occursuram . mihi . provideo . deprecor . ne . quasi . novam . istam . rem . introduci . exhorrescatis . sed . illa . potius . cogitetis . quam . multa . in . hac . civitate . novata . sint . et . quidem . statim . ab . origine . vrbis . nostrae . in . quod . formas . statusque . res . P . nostra . diducta . sit.
Quandam . reges . hanc . tenuere . vrbem . nec tamen . domesticis . successoribus . eam . tradere . contigit . supervenere . alieni . et . quidam . externi . vt . Numa . Romulo . successerit . ex. Sabinis . veniens . vicinus . quidem . se . tunc.
Sed . tunc . externus . ut . Anco . Marcio . Priscus . Tarquinius . propter . temeratum . sanguinem . quod . Patre . Demaratho . Corinthio . natus . erat . et . Tarquiniensi . Matre . generoso . sed . inopi . ut . quae . tali . marito . necesse . habuerit . succumbere . cum . domi . repelleretur. A . gerendis . honoribus . postquam . Roman . migravit . regnum . adeptus . est . huic . quoque . et . filio . nepotive . ejus . nam . et . hoc . inter . auctores . discrepat . insertus . Servius . Tullius . si . nostros . sequimur . captiva . natus . ocresia . si . tuscos . coeli . quandam . vivennae . sodalis . fidelissimus . omnisque . ejus . casus . comes . post . quam . varia . fortuna . exactus . cum . omnibus . reliquis . caeliani . exercitus . Etruria . excepit . mentem . caelium . occupavit . et . a . duce . suo . caelio . ita . appellitatus . mutatoque . nomine . nam . Tusce . mostrana . ei . nomen . erat . ita . appellatus . est . ut . dixi . et . regnum . summa . cum . rei . p . utilitate . optinuit . deinde . postquam . Tarquini . superbi . mores . invisi . civitati . nostrae . esse . coeperunt . qua . ipsius . qua . filiorum . ejus . nempe . pertaesum . est . mentes . regni . et . ad.consules.
Annuos . magistratus . administratio . rei . p . translata . est . quid . nunc . commemorem . dictatu . valentius . repertum . apud . majores . nostros . quo . in . asperioribus . bellis . aut . in . civili . motu . difficiliore . uterentur . aut . in . auxilium . plebis . creatos . tribunos . plebei . quid . a . latum . imperium . solutoque . postea . Decemvirali . regno . ad . consules . rursus . reditum . quid . indecoris . distributum . consulare . imperium . tribunosque . militum . consulari . imperio . appellatos . qui . seni . et . saepe . octoni . crearentur . quid . communicatos . postremo . cum . plebe . honores . non . imperi . solum . sed . sacerdotiorum . quoque . jam . si . narrem . bella p . quibus . coeperint . majores . nostri . et . quo . processerimus . vereor . ne . nimio . insolentior . esse . videar . et . quaesisse . jactationem . gloria . prolati . imperi . ultra . oceanum . sed . illoc . potius . revertor . civitatem.
:::::::::::::::::: SANE ::: NOVO :: DIVVS :: AUG ::: LVS. et . Patruus . Ti . Caesar . omnem . florem . ubisque . coloniarum . ac . municipiorum . bonorum . scilicet . virorum . et . locupletium . in . hac curia . esse . voluit . quid . ergo . non . Italicus . senator . Provinciali . potior . est . jam . vobis . cum . hanc . partem . censurae . meae . ad . probare . coepero . quid . de . ea . re . sentiam . rebus . ostendam . sed . ne . provinciales . quidem . si . modo . ornare . curiam . poterint . rejiciendos . puto.
Ornatissimae . ecce . colonia . volentissimaque Viennensium . quam . longo . jam . tempore . senatores . huic . curiae . confert . ex . qua . colonia . inter . paucas . equestris . ordinis . ornamentum L . vestinum . familiarissime . diligo . et . hodieque . in . rebus . meis . detineo . cujus . liberi . tiorum . gradu . post . modo . cum . annis . promoturi . dignitatis . suae . incrementa . ut . dirum . nomen . latronis . taceam . et . odi . illud . palaestricum . prodigium . quod . ante . in . domum . consulatum . intulit . quam . colonia . sua . solidum civitatis . Romanae . beneficium . consecuta . est idem . de . patre . ejus . possum . dicere . miserabili . quidem . invtilis . senator . esse . non . possit tempus . est . jam . ri . CAESAR . Germanice . detegere . te . patribus . conscriptis . quo . tendat . oratio . tua . jam . enim . ad . extremos . fines . Galliae . Narbonensis . venisti.
Tot . ecce . insignes . juvenes . quot . intuetor . non . magis . sunt . poenitendi . senatores . quam . aenitet . Persicum . nobilissimum . virum . amicum . meum . inter . imagines . majorum . suorum . Allobrogici . nomen . legere . quod . SL . haec . ita . esse . consentitis . quid . ultra . desideratis . quam . ut . vobis . digito . demonstrem . solum . ipsum . ultra . fines . provinciae . Narbonensis . jam . vobis . senatores . mittere . quando . ex . Luguduno . habere . nos . nostri . ordinis . viros . non . poenitet . timide . quidem . P . C . vobis . provinciarum . terminos . sum . sed . destricte . jam . comatae . Galliae . causa . argenda . est . in . qua . si . quis . hoc . intuetur . quod . bello . per . decem . anno . exercuerunt . divom . Julium . diem . opponat . centum . armorum . immobilem . fidem . obsequiumque . multis . trepidis . rebus . nostris . plusquam . expertum . illi . patri . meo . druso . Germaniam . subi . genti . tutam . quiete . sua . securamque . a . tergo . pacem . praestiterunt . et . quidem . cum . AD . census . novo . tum . opere . et in . adsueto . gallis . ad . bellum . avocatus . esset . quod . opus . quam . arduum . sit . nobis . nunc . maxime . quam . vis . nihil . ultra . quam . ut . publice . notae . sint . facultates . nostrae . exquiratur . nimis . magno . experimento . cognoscimus.
The above harangue, made by CLAUDIUS, in favor of the LYONOISE, and which he pronounced in the Senate, is the only remains of the works of this Emperor, though he composed many. Suetonius says he composed forty-three books of a history, and left eight compleat of his own life; and adds, that he wrote more elegantly than judiciously.
I have now spent a month in my second visit to this great and flourishing city, and fortunately took lodgings in a Hotel, where I found the lady and sister of Mons. Le Marquis De Valan, whose politeness to us I mentioned in a former letter at Vienne, and by whose favour I have had an opportunity of seeing more, and being better informed, than I could have been without so respectable an acquaintance. At Vienne I only knew his rank, here I became acquainted with his good character, and fortune, which is very considerable in Dauphine, where he has two or three fine seats. His Lady came to Lyons to lye-in, attended by the Marquis’s sister, a Chanoinesse, a most agreeable sensible woman, of a certain age; but the Countess is young and beautiful.
You may imagine that, after what I said of Lyons, on my way to Spain, I did not associate much with my own country-folks. On my return, indeed, my principal amusement was to see as much as I could, in a town where so much is to be seen; and in relating to you what I have seen, I will begin with the Hotel De Ville; if it had not that name, I should have called it a Palace, for there are few palaces so large or so noble; on the first entrance of which, in the vestibule, you see, fixed in the wall, a large plate of Bronze, bearing stronger marks of fire than of age; on which were engraven, seventeen hundred years ago, two harangues made by the Emperor Claudius in the senate, in favour of the Lyonoise, and which are not only legible at this day, but all the letters are sharp and well executed; the plate indeed is broke quite through the middle, but fortunately the fraction runs between the first and second harangues, so as to have done but little injury among the the letters. As I do not know whether you ever saw a copy of it, I inclose it to you, and desire you will send it as an agreeable exercise, to be well translated by my friend at Oxford.
On the other side of the vestibule is a noble stair-case, on which is well painted the destruction of the city, by so dreadful a fire in the time of the Romans, that Seneca, who gives an account of it in a letter to his friend, says,
“Una nox fuit inter urbem maximam et nullum.”
i.e. One night only intervened between a great city and nothing.
There is something awful in this scene, to see on one side of the stair-case the conflagration well executed; on the other, strong marks of the very fire which burnt so many ages ago; for there can be no doubt, but that the Bronze plate then stood in the Roman Hotel de Ville, and was burnt down with it, because it was dug up among the refuse of the old city on the mountain called Fourvire, on the other side of the river, where the original city was built.—In cutting the letters on this large plate of Bronze, they have, to gain room, made no distance between the words, but shewn the division only by a little touch thus < with the graver; and where a word eroded with a C, or G, they have put the touch within the concavity of the letter, otherwise it is admirably well executed.
Upon entering into the long gallery above stairs, you are shewn the late King and Queen’s pictures at full length, surrounded with the heads of some hundred citizens; and in one corner of the room an ancient altar, the Taurabolium, dug up in 1704, near the same place where Claudius’s harangue was found; it is of common stone, well executed, about four feet high, and one foot and a half square; on the front of it is the bull’s head, in demi relief, adorned with a garland of corn; on the right side is the victimary knife[A] of a very singular form; and on the left the head of a ram, adorned as the bull’s; near the point of the knife are the following words, cujus factum est; the top of the altar is hollowed out into the form of a shallow bason, in which, I suppose, incense was burnt and part of the victims.
[A] The knife, which is cut in demi
relief, on the Taurobolium,
is crooked upon the back, exactly in the same manner, and form, as
may be seen on some of the medals of the Kings of Macedonia.
The Latin inscription under the bull’s head, is very well cut, and very legible, by which it appears, that by the express order of CYBELE, the reputed mother of the Gods, for the honour and health of the Emperor Antoninus Pius, father of his country, and for the preservation of his children, children, Lucius AEmilius Carpus[B] received the horns of the bull, by the ministration of Quintus Samius Secundus, transported them to the Vatican, and consecrated, at his own expence, this altar and the head of the bull[C]; but I will send the inscription, and a model[D] of the altar, as soon as I can have it made, as I find here a very ingenious sculptor and modeller; who, to my great serprize, says no one has hitherto been taken from it. And here let me observe, lest I forget it, to say, that Augustus lived three years in this city.
[B] Lucius AEmilius Carpus
was a Priest, and a man of great
riches: he was of the quality of Sacrovir, and probably one of
the six Priests of the temple of Angustus.—Sextumvir Augustalii.
[C] Several inscriptions of this kind have been found both in Italy and Spain, but by far the greater number among the Gauls; and as the sacrifices to the Goddess Cybele were some of the least ancient of the Pagan rites, so they were the last which were suppressed on the establishment of Christianity. Since we find one of the Taurobolian inscriptions, with so recent a date as the time of the Emperor Valentinian the third. The silence of the Heathen writers on this head is very wonderful; for the only one who makes any mention of them is Julius Firmicus Maternus, in his dissertation on the errors of the Pagan religion; as Dalenius, in his elaborate account of the Taurobolium, has remarked.
The ceremony of the consecration of the High Priest of Cybele, which many learned men have
Page 26mistaken for the consecration of the Roman Pontifex Maximus; which dignity, from the very earliest infancy of the Roman Empire, was always annexed to that of the Emperor himself.
The Priests who had the direction
of the Taurobola, wore the same
vestments without washing out the bloody stains, as long as they
would hold together.
By these rites and baptisms by blood, they thought themselves, as it were re-born to a life eternal. Sextilius Agefilaus AEdesius says, that he was born a-new, to life eternal, by means of the Taurobolium and Criobolium.
Nor were the priests alone initiated
in this manner, but also
others, who were not of that order; in particular cases the
regenerations were only promised for twenty years.
Besides the Taurobolia and Criobolia, which were erected at the expence of whole cities and provinces, there were others also, which were founded by the bounty of private people. We often meet with the names of magistrates and priests of other Gods, who were admitted into these mysteries, and who erected Taurobolia as offerings for the safety of the Emperor, or their own. The rites of the Taurobolia lasted sometimes many days.
The inscription, on the Taurobolium,
which is on the same side with
the head of the bull, we have endeavoured to explain by filling up
the abbreviations which are met with in the Roman character.
TAUROBOLIO MATRIS DEUM MAGNAE
QUOD FACTUM EST EX IMPERIO
MATRIS IDAEAE DEUM
PRO SALUTE IMPERATORIS CAESARIS
ADRIANI ANTONINI AUGUSTI PII PATRIS PATRIAE
ET STATUS COLONIAE LUGDUNENSIS
LUCIUS AEMILIUS CARPUS SEXTUMVIR
AUGUSTALIS ITEM DENDROPHORUS
VIRES EXCEPIT ET A VATICANO
TRANSTULIT ARAM ET BUCRANIUM
SUO IMPENDIO CONSECRAVIT
QUINTO SAMMIO SECUNDO AB QUINDECEMVIRIS
OCCABO ET CORONA EXORNATO
CUI SANCTISSIMUS ORDO LUGDUNENSIS
PERPETUITATEM SACERDOTIS DECREVIT
APPIO ANNIA ATILO BRADUA TITO
CLODIO VIBIO VARO CONSULIBUS
LOCUS DATUS DICRETO DECURIONUM.
[D] The Model is now in the possession
of the ingenious Dr.
HARRINGTON at Bath.
The Taurobolium was one of the great mysteries, you know, of the Roman religion, in the observance of which, I think, they dug a large hole in the earth, and covered it with planks, laid at certain distances, so as to give light into the subterranean temple. The person who was to receive the Taurobolio then descended into the theatre, and received on his head and whole body, the smoaking hot blood of the bull, which was there sacrificed for that purpose. If a single bull was only sacrificed, I think they call it a simple Taurabolio, if a ram was added to it, as was sometimes done, it was then called a Torobolia, and Criobolio; sometimes too, I believe a goat was also slain.
After all the blood of the victim animals was discharged, the Priests and Cybils retired beneath the theatre, and he who had received the bloody sacrifice, came forth and exposed himself, besmeared with blood, to the people, who all prostrated themselves before him, with reverential awe, as one who was thereby particularly sanctified, and whose person ought to be regarded with the highest veneration, and looked upon with holy horror; nor did this sanctification, I think, end with the ceremony, but rendered the person of the sanctified holy for twenty years. An inscription cited by Gruter, seems to confirm this matter, who, after speaking of one Nepius Egnatius Faventinus, who lived in the year of Christ 176, says,
"Percepto Taurobolio Criobolioque feliciter,”
Concludes with these words,
"Vota Faventinus bis deni
Ut mactet repetens aurata fronte bicornes.”
The bis denus orbis seems to imply, the space of twice ten years.
And here I cannot help making a little comparison between the honours paid by the Roman citizens to their Emperors, and those of the present times to the Princes of the Blood Royal. You must know that the present King’s brother, came to Lyons in the year 1775, and thus it is recorded in letters of gold upon their quay:
LOUIS XVI. REGNANT.
EN MEMOIRE DE L’HEUREUX JOUR CINQ.
MONSIEUR FRERE DU ROI
SONT ARRIVES EN CETTE VILLE
DE L’AGREMENT DU PRINCE
ET PAR ORDONNANCE DU CONSULAT
DU DOUZE DU MEME MOIS
A ETE NOMME A PERPETUITE
If the Bourgeoise of Lyons, however, are not men of genius, they are ingenious men, and they have a most delightful country to dwell in. I think I may say, that from the high hills which hang about this city, and taking in the rivers, fertile vales, rude rocks, vine-yards, and country seats, far and near, that Lyons and its environs, afford a greater variety of natural and artificial beauties, than any spot in Europe. It is, however, by no means a place for the winter residence of a stranger. Most of the natives advanced in years, were carried off last winter. The surly winds which come down the Rhone, with impetuous blasts, are very disagreeable and dangerous. I found the cold intolerable in the beginning of May, out of the sunshine, and the sun intolerable in it. In England I never wore but one under waistcoat; in Spain, and in the south of France, I found two necessary. The Spaniards wear long cloaks, and we laugh at them; but the laugh would come more properly from them. There is in those climates a vifness in the air that penetrates through and through; and I am sure that such who travel to the southward for the recovery of their health, ought to be ten times more upon their guard, to be well secured against the keen blasts the south of France, than even against an easterly wind in England.
The disorder which carried off so many last winter at Lyons, was called the Gripe. In a large hotel only one person escaped it, an English Lady. They called it the Gripe, from the fast hold it took of the person it seized; nor did it let them go till April.
On my way here, I found it sometimes extremely hot; it is now the first of May, and I am shaking by the side of a good fire, and have had one constantly every day for this fortnight.
The Lyonoise think their town was particularly honoured by the Taurobolium; but it was a common practice to offer that sacrifice not only for the Emperor’s health, but for the preservation of a city. There are two of these altars in the town of Letoure; one consecrated for the preservation of the Emperor Gordian, on which is the following inscription:
PRO SALVTE IMP. ANTONINI
GORDIANO PII FEL.
AVG. TOTIVSQVE DOMVS DIVINAE PROQVE STATV CIVIT.
LACTOR TOROPOLIVM FECIT ORDO LACTOR D.N. GORDIANO
II ET POMPLIANO COS VI ID DEC CVRANTIS M
EROTIO ET FESTO CANINIS SACERD.
And in a little village near Marseilles, called Pennes, there is a stone, on which is engraven,
MATRI DEVM MAGNAE IDEAE
And on another, in the same town,
MATRI DEVM TAVROPOLIVM.
I must not omit to give you a copy of a singular inscription on the tomb of a mint-master which was found in Lyons, and is preserved entire:
NOBILIS TIB. CAESARIUS AVG.
SER AEQ. MONET HIC
AD QVI LOCIT JVLIA ADEPTA CONJUNX ET
PERPETUA FILIA D.S.D.
The most ancient money which has been found in and about this city, is the little coin of Mark Antony; on one side of which is represented the Triumvirate; on the other, a Lion, with the word Lugudani under it; on each side of the Lion are the letters A and XL. The antiquarians here think those letters marked the value of the piece, and that it was about forty sous; but is it not more probable, that this was only the mint-master’s touch?
Nothing can be a stronger proof of the importance of this city in the time of the Romans, than the immense expence they were at in erecting such a number of grand aquaeducts, one of which was eighteen leagues in length; many parts of them are still visible; and it appears that they spent for the reparation of them at one time, near one thousand talents; and here it was that the four grand Roman highways divided; one of which went directly to the sea, and another to the Pyrenees.
Agrippa, who was the constructor of most of these noble monuments of Roman grandeur, would not permit the Lyonoise to erect any monument among them to his memory; and yet, his memory is, in a very particular manner, preserved to this day in the very heart of the city, for in the front of a house on the quay de Villeroy, is a medallion of baked earth, which, I think, perfectly resembles him; sure I am it is an unquestionable antique; it is a little disfigured indeed, and disgraced by his name being written upon it in modern characters. But there is another monument of Agrippa here; it is part of the epitaph of an officer or soldier of the third cohort, whose duty it was to take an account of the expence of each day for the subsistence of the troops employed to work on the high-ways, and this officer was called A. Rationibus Agrippae.
There are an infinite number of Roman inscriptions preserved at Lyons, among which is the following singular one:
DIIS INIQVIS QUI ANIMVLAM
I have already told you of a modern monument erected by the Lyonoise, and now, with grief and concern, I must tell you of an ancient one which they have demolished! it was a most beautiful structure, called the tomb of the Two Lovers; that, however, was a mistake; it was the tomb of a brother and sister named Amandas, or Amans, for near where it stood was lately found the following monumental inscription:
ET MEMORIAE AETERNAE OLIAE TRIBVTAE
FEMINAE SANCTISSIME ARVESCIVS
AMANDVS FRATER SORORI KARISSMAE
SIBIQVE AMANTISSIMAE P.C. ET
SVB OSCIA DEDICAVIT.
I have seen a beautiful drawing of this fine monument, which stood near the high road, a little without the town; the barbarian Bourgeoises threw it down about seventy years ago, to search for treasure.
But enough of antiquities; and therefore I will tell you truly my sentiments with respect to the south of France, which is, that Lyons is quite southward enough for an Englishman, who will, if he goes farther, have many wants which cannot be supplied. After quitting Lyons, he will find neither good butter, milk, or cream. At Lyons, every thing, which man can wish for, is in perfection; it is indeed a rich, noble, and plentiful town, abounding with every thing that is good, and more finery than even in Paris itself. They have a good theatre, and some tolerable actors; among whom is the handsomest Frenchman I ever beheld, and, a little stiffness excepted, a good actor.
Any young gentleman traveller, particularly of the English nation, who is desirous of replenishing his purse, cannot, even in Paris, find more convenient occasions to throw himself in fortune’s way, than at the city of Lyons.
An English Lady, and two or three gentlemen, have lately been so fortunate there, as to find lodgings at a great Hotel, gratis; and I desire you will particularly recommend a long stay at Lyons to my Oxonian friend; where he may see the world without looking out at a window.
I find I omitted to give you before I left Nismes, some account of Monsieur Seguier’s cabinet, a gentleman whose name I have before mentioned, and whose conversation and company were so very agreeable to me. Among an infinite number of natural and artificial curiosities, are many ancient Roman inscriptions, one of which is that of T. Julius Festus, which Spon mentions in his Melanges D’Antiquite. There are also a great number of Roman utensils of bronze, glass, and earthen-ware. The Romans were well acquainted with the dangerous consequences of using copper vessels[E] in their kitchens, as may be seen in this collection, where there are a great many for that purpose; but all strongly gilt, not only within, but without, to prevent a possibility of verdigris arising. There is also a bronze head of a Colossal statue, found not many years since near the fountain of Nismes, which merits particular attention, as well as a great number of Roman and Greek medals and medallions, well preserved, and some which are very rare. The natural curiosities are chiefly composed of fossils and petrifications; among the latter, are an infinite number of petrified fish embalmed in solid stones; and where one sees the finest membranes of the fins, and every part of the fish, delineated by the pencil of nature, in the most exquisite manner; the greater part of these petrifications were collected by the hands of the possessor, some from Mount Bola, others from Mount Liban, Switzerland, _&c._
[E] See Dr. FALCONER, of Bath, his Treatise on this subject.
Mr. Seguier’s Herbary consists of more than ten thousand plants; but above all, Mr. Seguier himself, is the first, and most valuable part of his cabinet, having spent a long life in rational amusements; and though turned of four-score, he has all the chearfulness of youth, without any of the garrulity of old age. When he honoured me with a visit, at my country lodgings, he came on foot, and as the waters were out, I asked him how he got at me, so dry footed? He had walked upon the wall, he said; a wall not above nine inches thick, and of a considerable length!
And here let me observe that a Frenchman eats his soup and bouille at twelve o’clock, drinks only with, not after his dinner, and then mixes water with his genuine wine; he lives in a fine climate, where there is not as with us, for six weeks together, easterly winds, which stop the pores, and obstruct perspiration. A Frenchman eats a great deal, it is true, but it is not all hard meat, and they never sit and drink after dinner or supper is over.—An Englishman, on the contrary, drinks much stronger, and a variety of fermented liquors, and often much worse, and sits at it many hours after dinner, and always after supper.
I write to you just as things come into my head, having taken very few notes, and those, as you must perceive, often without much regard to unison or time. It has this minute occurred to me, that I omitted to tell you on my journey onwards, that I visited a little town in Picardie, called Ham, where there is so strong a castle, that it may be called a petit Bastile, and which was then and still is, full of state prisoners and debtors. To this castle there is a monstrous tower, the walls of which are thirty six feet thick, and the height and circumference are proportionable thereto; it was built by the Conetable de St. Paul, in order to shut up his master, Charles the VIth, King of France, and contemporary, I think, with our Henry the Vth; but such are the extraordinary turns of all human affairs, that Mons. le Conetable was shut up in it himself many years, and ended his days there.—The fate of this constable brings to my mind a circumstance that happened under my administration, at Land-Guard Fort, when the King was pleased to trust me with the command of it. I had not been twenty-four hours in possession of what I thought a small sovereignty, before I received a letter in the following terms:
“SIR, Having observed horses grazing on the covered way, that hath done apparent damage, and may do more, I think it my duty to inform you, that his Majesty does not permit horses to feed thereon, &c. &c. (Signed)
Overseer of the Works.”
I never was more surprized, than to find my wings were to be thus clipt, by a civil officer of the board of ordnance; however wrong I or my horses had acted, I could not let Mr. GOODE graze so closely upon my authority, without a reprimand; I therefore wrote him an answer in terms as follow: “that having seen a fat impudent-looking strutting fellow about the garrison, it was my order that when his duty led him to communicate any thing to me relative to the works thereof, that he came himself, instead of
There were formerly two or three Obliettes in this castle; one only now remains; but there are still several in the Bastile.—When a criminal suffers this frightful death, (for perhaps it is not very painful) he has no previous notice, but being led into the apartment, is overwhelmed in an instant. It is to be presumed, however, that none but criminals guilty of high crimes, suffer in this manner; for the state prisoners in the Bastile are not only well lodged, but liberal tables are kept for them.
An Irish officer was lately enlarged from the Bastile, who had been twenty-seven years confined there; and though he found a great sum of money in the place he had concealed it in a little before his confinement, he told Colonel C——, of Fitz-James’s regiment, that “having out-lived his acquaintance with the world, as well as with men, he would willingly return there again.”
At Ham the prisoners for debt are quite separated from the state prisoners; the latter are in the castle, the former in the tower.
The death of Lewis the XVth gave liberty to an infinite number of unhappy people, and to many who would have been enlarged before, but had been forgotten. When one of these unhappy people (a woman of fashion) was told she might go out; then, (said she) I am sure Lewis the XVth is dead; an event she knew nothing of, tho’ it was a full year after the King’s death.—Things are otherwise conducted now than in his reign; a wicked vain woman then commanded with unlimited power, both in war and domestic concerns. In this reign, there are able, and I believe virtuous ministers.
I suppose you think as I did, that Madame Pompadour governed by her own powerful charms; but that was not the case; she governed as many other women do, by borrowed charms; she had a correspondence all over the kingdom, and offices of intelligence, where youth, beauty, and innocence, were registered, which were sent to her according to order; upon the arrival of the goods, they were dressed, and trained for use, under her inspection, till they were fit to be shewn up. She had no regard to birth, for a shoe-maker’s daughter of great beauty, belonging to one of the Irish brigades, being introduced to the King, he asked her whether she knew him? No: she did not: But did you ever see me before, or any body like me? She had not, but thought him very like the face on the gros Eccuis of France. Madame Pompadour soon found out which of these girls proved most agreeable to the King, and such were retained, the others dismissed.—The expence of this traffick was immense. I am assured where difficulties of birth or fashion fell in the way, ten thousand pounds sterling have been given. Had Lewis the XVth lived a few years longer, he would have ruined his kingdom. Lewis the XVIth bids fair to aggrandize it.
POST-HOUSE, ST GEORGE, six leagues from LYONS.
I am particular in dating this letter, in hopes that every English traveller may avoid the place I write from, by either stopping short, or going beyond it, as it is the only house of reception for travellers in the village, and the worst I have met with in my whole journey. We had been scurvily treated here as we went; but having arrived at it after dark, and leaving it early, I did not recollect it again, till the mistress by her sour face and sorry fare betrayed it; for she well remembered us. As a specimen of French auberge cookery, I cannot help serving up a dish of spinnage to you as it was served to me at this house. We came in early in the afternoon, and while I was in the court-yard, I saw a flat basket stand upon the ground, the bottom of which was covered with boiled spinnage; and as my dog, and several others
I know the French in general will not like to see this dirty charge, brought even against an aubergiste, and much less to hear it said, that this disregard to cleanliness is almost general in the public inns; but truth justifies it, and I hope the publication may amend it.
A modern French anonymous traveller, who I conclude by the company he kept in England, is a man of fashion, gives in general a just account of the English nation, their customs and manners; and acknowledges, in handsome terms, the manner he was received by some of the first families in England. He owns, however, he does not understand English, yet he has the temerity to say, that Gulliver’s travels are the chef d’oeuvre of Dean Swift; but observes, that those travels are greatly improved by passing through the hands of Desfontaines.—This gentleman must excuse me in saying, that Desfontaines neither understood English, nor Dean Swift, better than he does. He also concludes his first
This gentleman says, the most remarkable, or rather the only act of gaiety he met with in London, was an harangue made for an hour in the House of Lords, previous to the trial of Lord Byron; and that, as he afterwards understood, it was made by a drunken member of parliament. He says it made him and every body laugh exceedingly; but he laughed only (I presume) because every body else did, and relates the story, I fear, merely to make it a national laugh; for the harangue was certainly very ill placed, and the mirth it produced, very indecent, at a time a Peer of the realm was to be brought forth, accused of murder; and the untimely death of a valuable and virtuous young man, revived in every body’s memory.
This is the unfavourable side of what the gentleman says of the first people in England. Of the peasants and lower order, he observes, that, though they are well fed, well cloathed, and well lodged, yet they are all of a melancholy turn.—The French have no idea of what we call dry humour; and this gentleman, perhaps, thought the English clown melancholy, while he was laughing in his sleeve at the foppery of his laquais.
These observations put me in mind of another modern traveller, a man of sense and letters too, who observes, that the ballustrades at Westminster bridge are fixed very close together, to prevent the English getting through to drown themselves: and of a Gentleman at Cambridge, who, having cut a large pigeon-hole under his closet door, on being asked the use of it, said, he had it cut for an old cat which had kittens, to go in and out; but added, that he must send for the carpenter, to cut little holes for the young ones. His acute visitor instantly set up a horse laugh, and asked him whether the little cats could not come out at the same hole the big one did? The other laughing in his turn, said, he did not think of that.
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.
At Lyons I saw a Macinoise girl of fashion, or fortune, in this dress; her lace was fine, her gown silk, and her shoulder-straps of silver; and, as her head had much more of the bon gout than the bon ton, I thought her the most inviting object I had seen in that city, my delicate landlady at Nismes always excepted. I think France cannot produce such another woman for beauty as Madame Seigny.
I bought a large quantity of the Macon lace, at about eight-pence English a yard, which, at a little distance, cannot easily be distinguished from fine old pointe.
Between St. George and Macon, at a time we wanted our breakfast, we came to a spot where two high roads cross each other, and found there a little cabbin, not unlike the Iron House, as to whim, but this was built, sides, top, and bottom, with sawed boards; and as a little bit of a board hung out at the door informed us they sold wine, I went in, and asked the mistress permission to boil my tea-kettle, and to be permitted to eat our breakfast in her pretty cabbin? The woman was knitting; she laid down her work, rose up, and with the ease and address of a woman of the first fashion, said we did her honour, that her house, such as it was, and every thing in it, were at our service; she then sent a girl to a farmer’s hard by, for milk, and to a village a quarter of a league distant, for hot bread; and while we breakfasted, her conversation and good breeding made up a principal part of the repas; she had my horse too brought to the back part of her cabbin, where he was well fed from a portable manger. I bought of her two bottles of white wine, not much inferior to, and much wholesomer than, Champaigne, and she charged me for the whole, milk, bread, fire, conversation, and wine, thirty six sols, about seventeen pence English! Though this gentlewoman, for so I must call her, and so I believe she is, lived in such a small hut, she seemed to be in good circumstances, and had liqueurs, tea, and a great variety of bons choses to sell. This was the only public house, (if it maybe called by that name,) during my whole journey out and in, where I found perfect civility; not that the publicans in general have not civility in their possession, but they will not, either from pride or design, produce it, particularly to strangers. My wooden-house landlady indeed, was a prodigy; and it must be confessed, that no woman of the lower order in England, nor even of the middling class, have any share of that ease and urbanity which is so common among the lower order of the people of this kingdom: but the woman I now speak of, had not, you will perceive, the least design even upon my purse; I made no previous agreement with her for my good fare, and she scorned to take any advantage of my confidence; and I shewed my sense of it, by giving her little maid eight times more than she ever received for such services before—an English shilling.
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.
It is a pity that pretty women, at least, do not know, that the simplicity of a Quaker’s head-dress, is superior to all that art can contrive: and those who remember the elegant Miss Fide, a woman of that persuasion, will subscribe to the truth of my assertion. And it is still a greater pity, that plain women do not know, that the more they adorn and artify their heads, the more conspicuous they make their natural defects.
At Challons sur la Soane, (for there is another town of the same name in Champaigne) I had the honor of a visit from Mons. le Baron Shortall, a gentleman of an ancient family, rather in distress at this time, by being kept out of six and thirty thousand a year, his legal property in Ireland; but as the Baron made his visit ala-mode de capuchin Friar, without knocking, and when only the female part of my family were in the apartment, he was dismissed rather abruptly for a man of his high rank and great fortune in expectation. This dismission, however, did not dismay him; he rallied again, with the reinforcement of Madame la Baroness, daughter, as he positively affirmed, of Mons. le Prince de Monaco; but as I had forbad his being shewn up, he desired me to come down, a summons curiosity induced me to obey. Never, surely, were two people of fashion in a more pitiable plight! he was in a russet brown black suit of cloaths; Madame la Baroness in much the same colour, wrapt up in a tattered black silk capuchin; and I knew not which to admire most, their folly or their impudence; for surely never did an adventurer set out with less capabilities about him; his whole story was so flagrant a fib, that in spite of the very respectable certificates of My Lord Mayor, John Wilkes, and Mr. Alderman Bull, I was obliged to tell him plainly, that I did not believe him to be a gentleman, nor his wife to be a relation of the Prince of Monaco. All this he took in good part, and then assured me they were both very hungry, and without meat or money; I therefore ordered a dinner at twenty sols a head; and, as I sat by while they eat it, I had reason to believe that he told me one plain truth, for in truth they eat as if they had never eaten before. After dinner the Baron did me the honour to consult with me how he should get down to Lyons? I recommended to him to proceed by water; but, said he, my dear Sir, I have no money;—an evil I did not chuse to redress; and, after several unsuccessful attempts at my purse, and some at my person,—he whispered me that even six livres would be acceptable; but I held out, and got off, by proposing that the Baroness should write a letter to the Prince her father, to whom I had the honour to be known, and that I would carry him the letter,
I verily believe my Irish adventurer at Perpignan, is a gentleman, and therefore I relieved him; I am thoroughly persuaded my Challons adventurer is not, yet perhaps he was a real object of charity, and his true tale would have produced him better success than his borrowed story. Sir James was about sixty, Lady Shortall about fifty.—Sir James too had a pretty large property in America, and would have visited his estates on that continent, had I not informed him of the present unhappy differences now subsisting between that and the mother country, of which he had not heard a single syllable.
After having said thus much, I think I must treat you with a copy of Lady Shortall’s letter, a name very applicable to their unhappy situation, for they did indeed seem short of every thing;—so here it is, verbatim et literatim:
“Monsieur Thickness gentilhomme anglaise
“Adorable preince de monaco que tout mordonne deme, lise au de fus de cette lette le non deun digne homme qui me randu ser visse, je suis malade, le convan; serois preferable a mon bouneur je veux sepandant sauve non marij mais je me meure tre seve mon derinier soupire, je ne le doit qua vous.
“JULIE BARONNE DE CHATTERRE.
le 18 May 1776.”
“A sont altess ele preince de Monaco, dans sont hautelle rue de Vareinne a Paris.”
From Challons to Bonne, is five leagues. Bonne is a good town, well walled-in, pleasantly situated, and remarkable for an excellent and well-conducted Hospital, where the poor sick are received gratis, without distinction, and where the rich sick are accommodated with nurses, physicians, medicines, food, and lodging, with every assistance that can be wanted, for four livres a day. The apartments in which the poor are received, are so perfectly clean and sweet, that they are fit for people of any condition; but those provided for the better sort, are indeed sumptuously furnished. The women who act as nurses, are of a religious order, and wear a particular, decent, and uniform habit, to which their modest deportment exactly coincides; yet most of them are young, and many of them very beautiful.
Between these two towns we met an English servant, in a rich laced livery, conducting, behind a post-chaise, a large quantity of baggage; and soon after, a second servant, in the same uniform; this excited our curiosity, and we impatiently proceeded, in hopes of meeting the equipage, which it was natural to expect would soon follow; instead of which, it was an old English four-wheel chaise, the contents of which were buckled close up behind a pair of dirty leather curtains; and on the coach-box sat, by the side of the driver, a man who had the appearance of an English farmer. This contrast rather increased than lessened our curiosity; and, therefore, at Bonne, I made some enquiry about them of the post-master; who told me they came in, and set off, separately, just as I had met them; but that one servant paid for the horses to all the carriages, and that the woman behind the curtain, according to custom, did not chuse to shew herself. Just as I was returning with this blind account, an English servant, who I had not perceived, but who stood near, told me, he was sure as how it was either the Duchess of Kingston or Mrs Rudd, for that he seed her very plain. I was much surprized at finding an Englishman so near me; and the singularity of the man’s observation had a very forcible effect upon me. When the mirth which it unavoidably occasioned, was a little subsided, I could not help correcting, in gentle terms, (though I was otherwise glad to see even an English footman so far from English land) a man in his station for speaking of people of high rank with so much indecent levity, and then told him, that there was no such person living as the Duchess of Kingston, but that it was probable the Lady he thought he had seen might be Lady Bristol; that there was not however, the least resemblance between the person of her Ladyship and the other Lady he had mentioned, the latter being young, thin, and rather handsome; whereas Lady Bristol was very fat, and advanced in years; I therefore suspected, I told him, that he had confounded the trials of those
These are trifling remarks, you will say; but if a sign-painter can paint only a bear, those who employ him must have a bear for their sign; nevertheless, we have all a certain curiosity to know even the most trifling actions, or movements of people, who by their virtues or vices, especially if they are people of rank or condition, have occasioned much talk in the world; and therefore, ridiculous as this incident is, yet as we have long known one of the Ladies, and often admired both, I could not let either one or the other pass me unnoticed, on a road too, where even an English Duchess (if she would own the truth) would feel a secret delight in meeting of a Hyde-park-corner groom.
I have already mentioned what partiality and degree of notice, countrymen take of each other when they meet far from home. That notice is always in proportion to the distance. Had my Bonne footman spoke of Lady Bristol, or Mrs. Rudd, in such free terms as how he seed ’em, &c. &c. at Hyde-park-corner, or in Tyburn-road, I should have knocked him down with the but end of my whip; but at Bonne (five hundred miles from either of those places) he and I were quatre cousins; and I could not help treating him with a bottle of vin de pais.
From Bonne we intended to have taken the high road to Dijon; but being informed that there was another, though not much frequented, by way of Autun, and that that town, which was a Roman colony, still contained many curious monuments worthy of notice, we pursued the latter, which twisted in between a vast variety of small, but fertile valleys, watered with brooks, bounded by romantic hills, and some high mountains, most of which were covered with vines, which did produce the most delicious red wine in the world; I say did produce, for the high gout and flavour of the Burgundy grape has for many years failed, and perhaps so as never to return again. We, however, missed the road to Autun, and, after four leagues’ journey through a most delightful country, we arrived at a miserable auberge in a dirty village called Yozy, which stands upon the margin of a large forest, in which, some years since, the diligence from Lyons to Paris was attacked by a banditti, and the whole party of travellers were murdered: ever since that fatal day, a guard of the Marechaussee always escort the diligence through this deep and dreadful forest, (so they called it), and we were persuaded it was right to take a couple of the Marechaussee, and did so; but as we found the forest by no means so long, deep, or dreadful, as it had been represented, we suspected that the advice given us, was more for the sake of the men who guarded us, than from any regard to us, two men could have made no great resistance against a banditti; and a single man would hardly have meddled with us.
The next day we passed thro’ Arnay-le-Duc, a pretty country village, three leagues from Yozy, and it being their annual fair-day, we had an opportunity of seeing all the peasantry, dressed in their best, and much chearfulness, not only in the town, but upon the road before we arrived, and after we passed it. Amongst the rest of the company, were a bear and a monkey, or rather what Buffon calls the maggot. I desired the shew-man to permit my maggot, as he was the least, the youngest, and the stranger, to pay a visit to Mons. Maggot, the elder, who embraced the young gentleman in a manner which astonished and delighted every body, myself only excepted; but as my young gentleman seemed totally indifferent about the old one, I suspected he had really met his father, and I could not help moralizing a little.
From Arnay-le-Duc we passed through Maupas, Salou, Rouvray, Quisse la forge, and Vermanton to Auxerre, the town where the French nobleman was said to live, whom Dr. Smollett treated so very roughly, and who, in return, was so polite as to help to tie the Doctor’s baggage behind his coach!
About a quarter of a mile without this town, stands a royal convent, richly endowed, and delightfully situated; the walls of which take in near twenty acres of land, well planted on the banks of a river; and here I left my two daughters, to perfect themselves in the French language, as there was not one person within the convent, nor that I could find, within the town, who could speak a word of English. And here I must not omit to tell you, how much I was overcome with the generosity of this virtuous, and I must add amiable, society of religieux. Upon my first inquiry about their price for board, lodging, washing, cloaths, and in short, every thing the children did, or might want, they required a sum much beyond the limits of my scanty income to give; but before we left them, they became acquainted with some circumstances, which induced them to express their concern that the price I had offered (not half what they had demanded) could not be taken. We therefore retired, and had almost fixed the children in a cheaper convent, but much inferior in all respects, within the town, when we received a polite letter from the Lady Abbess, to say, that after consulting with her sister-hood, they had come to a resolution to take the children at our own price, rather than not shew how much they wished to oblige us. Upon this occasion, we were all admitted within the walls of the convent; and I had the pleasure of seeing my two daughters joined to an elegant troop of about forty genteel children, and of leaving them under the care of the same number of religieux. And yet these good people knew nothing of us, but what we ourselves communicated to them, not being known, nor knowing any person in the town.—The Lady-Abbess of this convent is a woman of high rank, about twenty-four years of age, and possesses as large a share of beauty as any reasonable woman, even on the outside of a convent, could wish for.
Auxerre is a good town, pleasantly situated, and in a plentiful and cheap country.
From Auxerre to Ioigni is five leagues. The Petit bel Vue on the banks of the river is very pleasantly situated, but a dreadful one within side, in every respect, being a mixture of dirt, ignorance, and imposition; but it is the only inn for travellers, and therefore travellers should avoid it. In order to put my old hostess in good humour, I called early for a bottle of Champaigne; and in order to put me into a bad humour, she charged me the next day for two; but I charged her with Mons. Le Connetable, who behaved like a gentleman, though I think he was only a marchand de tonneau: but then he was a wine not beer cooper, who hooped the old Lady’s barrel.
Where-ever I was ill-used or imposed upon, I always sent a pretty heavy packet by the post, after I had run down a hundred miles or two, by way of draw-back, upon my host, and recompence to the King’s high road; for in France,
"Like the Quakers’
’Tis plain without turnpikes, so
nothing to pay"
An old witch, who had half starved us at Montpellier, for want of provisions, when we went, and for want of fire to dry us, when we came back, left a piece of candle in my budget, which I did not omit to return by the post, well packed up, lest it should grease other packets of more importance, by riding an hundred leagues; besides this it was accompanied by a very civil letter of advice, under another cover.
The next town of any note is Sens, a large, ragged, ancient city; but adorned with a most noble Gothic cathedral, more magnificent than even that of Rheims, and well worthy of the notice of strangers; it is said to have been built by the English: With the relicks and custodiums of the host, are shewn the sacerdotal habits, in which Archbishop Becket (who resided there many years) said mass, for it was his head-quarters, when he left Britain, as well as Julius Caesar’s before he went there. The silver hasps, and some of the ornaments of these garments, are still perfect, though it has undergone so many darnings, as to be little else.
Becket was a very tall man; for though it has many tucks in it, yet it is generally too long for the tallest priest in the town, who constantly says mass in it on St. Thomas’s day.
How times and men are changed! This town, which resisted the arms of Caesar for a considerable time, was put in the utmost consternation by Dr. Smollett’s causing his travelling blunderbuss to be only fired in the air, a circumstance “which greatly terrified all the petit monde!” It is very singular, that the Doctor should have frightened a French nobleman of Burgundy, by shaking his cane at him, and even made him assist in the most servile offices; and in the next town, terrify all the common people, by only firing a blunderbuss in the air!
I would not willingly arraign a dead man with telling two fibbs so close upon the back of each other; but I am sure there was but that single French nobleman, in this mighty kingdom, who would have submitted to such insults as the Doctor says he treated him with; nor any other town but Sens, where the firing of a gun would have so terrified the inhabitants; for, drums, guns, and noise of every sort, seem to afford the common French people infinite pleasure.
I spent in this town a day or two, and part of that time with a very agreeable Scotch family, of the name of Macdonald, where Lieutenant Colonel Stuart was then upon a visit.
I have some reason to think that Sens is a very cheap town. Several English, Scotch, and Irish families reside in it.
From Sens to Port sur Yonne is three leagues, and from Yonne to Foussart the same distance.
At the three Kings at Foussart, suspecting there was a cat behind the bed in wait for my bird, I found, instead thereof, a little narrow door, which was artfully hid, and which opened into another room; and as I am sure the man is a cheat, I suspect too, that upon a good occasion, he would have made some use of his little door.
Foussart is a small place, consisting only of three or four public houses. From thence to Morret, is three leagues, on which road is erected a noble pillar of oriental marble, in memory of the marriage of Lewis the XVth. Soon after we passed this monument, we entered into the delightful forest of Fontainbleau; and passing three leagues to the center of it, we arrived at that ancient royal palace: it stands very low, and is surrounded by a great many fine pieces of water, which, however, render the apartments very damp. The King and royal family had been there six weeks, and were gone but ten days, and with them, all the furniture of the palace was also gone, except glasses, and a few pictures, of no great value. In a long, gallery are placed, on each side of the wall, a great number of stags’ heads, carved in wood, and upon them are fixed the horns of stags and bucks, killed by the late, and former Kings; some of which are very outre, others singularly large and beautiful.
Fontainbleau is a good town, stands adjacent to the palace; and as the gardens, park, &c. are always open, it is a delightful summer residence. We staid a few days there, to enjoy the shady walks, and to see the humours of a great annual fair, which commenced the day after we arrived. All sorts of things are sold at this fair; but the principal business is done in the wine way, many thousand pieces of the inferior Burgundy wine being brought to this market.
We made two little days’ journey from Fontainbleau to Paris, a town I entered with concern, and shall leave with pleasure.—As I had formerly been of some service to Faucaut who keeps the Hotel d’York, when he lived in Rue de Mauvais Garcon I went to this famous Hotel, which would have been more in character, if he had given it the name of his former street, and called it, L’Hotel de Mauvais Garcon for it is an hospital of bugs and vermin: the fellow has got the second-hand beds of Madame Pompadour, upon his first floor, which he modestly asks thirty louis d’ors a month for! All the rest of the apartments are pigeon-holes, filled with fleas, bugs, and dirt; and should a fire happen, there is no way of escaping. Nothing should be more particularly attended to in Paris than the security from fire, where so many, and such a variety of strangers, and their servants, are shut up at night, within one Porte Cochere.
I found no greater alteration in Paris, after ten years’ absence from it, than the prodigious difference of expence; most articles, I think, are one-third dearer, and many double; a horse is not half so well fed or lodged at Paris as at London; but the expence is nearly a guinea a week, and a stranger may drive half round the city before he can lodge himself and his horses under the same roof.[F]
[F] Paul Gilladeau who lately left the Silver Lion, at Calais, has, I am informed, opened a Livery Stable at Paris, upon the London plan, in partnership with Dessein, of the Hotel d’Angleterre at Calais: a convenience much wanted, and undertaken by a man very likely to succeed.
The beauties, the pleasures, and variety of amusements, which this city abounds with, are, without doubt, the magnets which attract so many people of rank and fortune of all nations to it; all which are too well known to be pointed out by me.—To a person of great fortune in the hey-day of life, Paris may be preferable even to London; but to one of my age and walk in life, it is, and was ten years ago, the least agreeable place I have seen in France.—Walking the streets is extremely dangerous, riding in them very expensive; and when those things which are worthy to be seen, (and much there is very worthy) have been seen, the city of Paris becomes a melancholy residence for a stranger, who neither plays at cards, dice, or deals in the principal manufacture of the city; i.e. ready-made love, a business which is carried on with great success, and with more decency, I think, that even in London. The English Ladies are weak enough to attach themselves to, and to love, one man. The gay part of the French women love none, but receive all, pour passer le tems.—The English, unlike the Parisian Ladies, take pains to discover who they love; the French women to dissemble with those they hate.
It is extremely difficult for even strangers of rank or fortune, to get among the first people, so as to be admitted to their suppers; and without that, it is impossible to have any idea of the luxury and stile in which they live: quantity, variety, and show, are more attended to in France, than neatness. It is in England alone, where tables are served with real and uniform elegance; but the appetite meets with more provocatives in France; and the French cuisine in that respect, certainly has the superiority.
Ten years ago I had the honour to be admitted often to the table of a Lady of the first rank. On St. Ann’s-day, (that being her name-day) she received the visits of her friends, who all brought either a valuable present, a poesy, or a compliment in verse: when the dessert came upon the table, which was very magnificent, the middle plate seemed to be the finest and fairest fruit (peaches)
There is certainly among the French people of fashion an ease and good-breeding, which is very captivating, and not easily obtained, but by being bred up with them, from an early age; the whole body must be formed for it, as in dancing, while there is the pliability of youth; and where there is, as in France, a constant, early, and intimate correspondence between the two sexes. Men would be fierce and savage, were it not for the society of the other sex, as may be seen among the Turks and Moors, who must not visit their own wives, when other men’s wives are with them. In France, the Lady’s bed-chamber is always open, and she receives visits in bed, or up, with perfect ease. A noble Lord, late ambassador to this country, told me, that when he visited a young and beautiful woman of fashion, (I think too it was a first visit after marriage) she received him sitting up in her bed; and before he went, her fille de chambre brought his Lordship Madame le Comtesse’s shift elegantly festooned, which his Lordship had the honour to put over the Lady’s head, as she sat in bed!—nor was there, by that favour, the least indecency meant; it was a compliment intended; and, as such only, received. Marks of favour of that sort, are not marks of further favours from a French Lady.
In this vast city of amusements, among the other arts, I cannot help pointing out to your particular notice, Richlieu’s monument in the Sorbonne, as an inimitable piece of modern sculpture[G] by Girardeau; and Madame la Valliere’s full-length portrait by le Brun: She was, you know, mistress to Lewis the XIVth, but retired to the convent, in which the picture now is, and where she lived in repentance and sorrow above thirty years.[H]
[G] VOLTAIRE says, this monument
is not sufficiently noticed by
[H] MADAME VALLIERE, during her
retirement, being told of the death
of one of her sons, replied, “I should rather grieve for his birth,
than his death.”
The connoisseurs surely can find no reasonable fault with the monumental artist; but they do, I think, with le Brun; the drapery, they say, is too full, and that she is overcharged with garments; but fulness of dress, adds not only dignity, but decency, to the person of a fine woman, who meant (or the painter for her) to hide, not to expose her charms.
If fulness be a fault, it is a fault that Gainsborough, Hoare, Pine, Reynolds, and many other of our modern geniuses are guilty of; and if it be sin, the best judges will acquit them for committing it, where dignity is to be considered.
Madame Valliere appears to have been scattering about her jewels, is tearing her hair, crying, and looking up to the heavens, which seem bursting forth a tempest over her head. The picture is well imagined, and finely executed.
I found upon the bulk of a portable shop in Paris, a most excellent engraving from this picture,[I] and which carried me directly to visit the original; it is indeed stained and dirty, but it is infinitely superior to a later engraving which now hangs up in all the print shops, and I suppose is from the first plate, which was done soon after the picture was finished. Under it are written the following ingenious, tho’ I fear, rather impious lines:
Magdala dam gemmas, baccisque
Projicit, ac formae detrahit arma suae:
Dum vultum lacrymis et lumina turbat; amoris
Mirare insidias! hac capit arte Deum.
[I] In the possession of Mr. GAINSBOROUGH.
Shall I attempt to unfold this writer’s meaning? Yes, I will, that my friend at Oxford may laugh, and do it as it ought to be done.
The pearls and gems, her beauty’s
See sad VALLIERE foregoes;
And now assumes far other charms
Superior still to those.
The tears that flow adown
Than gems are brighter things;
For these an earthly Monarch seek,
But those the KING of Kings.
This seems to have been the author’s thought, if he thought chastely.—Shall I try again?
The pearls and gems her beauty’s
See sad VALLIERE foregoes:
Yet still those tears have other charms,
Superior far to those:
With those she gained an earthly Monarch’s love:
With these she wins the KING of Kings above.
Yet, after all, I do suspect, that the author meant more than even to sneer a little at poor Madam Valliere; but, as I dislike common-place poetry, (and poetry, as you see, dislikes me) I will endeavour to give you the literal meaning, according to my conception, and then you will see whether our joint wits jump together.
While MAGDALENE throws by her bracelets, adorned with gems and pearls, and (thus) disarms her beauty: while tears confound her countenance and eyes,
With wonder mark the stratagems
With this she captivates the GOD above.
The impious insinuation of the Latin lines, is the reason, I suppose, why they were omitted under the more modern impression of this fine print, and very middling French poetry superseding them.
If you do not use Herreis’ bills, I recommend to you at Paris, a French, rather than an English banker; I have found the former more profitable, and most convenient. I had, ten years since, a letter of credit on Sir John Lambert, for L300, from Mess. Hoares. The Knight thought proper, however, to refuse the payment of a twenty pound draft I gave upon him; though I had not drawn more than half my credit out of his hands. Mons. Mary, on whom I had a draft from the same respectable house, this year will not do such things; but on the contrary, be ready to serve and oblige strangers to the utmost of his power: he speaks and writes English very well, and will prove an agreeable and useful acquaintance to a stranger in Paris. His sister too, who lives with him, will be no less so to the female part of your family. His house is in Rue Saint Sauveur.
The English bankers pay in silver, and it is necessary to take a wheel-barrow with you to bring it away; a small bag will do at the French bankers’.
There is as much difference between the bankers of London and bankers in Paris, as between a rotten apple and a sound one. You can hardly get a word from a London banker, but you are sure of getting your money; in Paris, you will get words enough, and civil ones too. Remember, however, I am speaking only of the treatment I have experienced. There may be, and are, no doubt, English bankers at Paris of great worth, and respectable characters.
It is not reckoned very decent to frequent coffee-houses at Paris; but the politeness of Monsieur and Madame Felix, au caffe de Conti, opposite the Pont neuf, and the English news-papers, render their house a pleasant circumstance to me; and it is by much the best, and best situated, of any in Paris, au vois le monde.
I am astonished, that where such an infinite number of people live in so small a compass, (for Paris is by no means so large as London) that they should suffer the dead to be buried in the manner they do, or within the city. There are several burial pits in Paris, of a prodigious size and depth, in which the dead bodies are laid, side by side, without any earth being put over them till the ground tier is full; then, and not till then, a small layer of earth covers them, and another layer of dead comes on, till by layer upon layer, and dead upon dead, the hole is filled with a mass of human corruption, enough to breed a plague; these places are enclosed, it is true, within high walls; but nevertheless, the air cannot be improved by it; and the idea of such an assemblage of putrifying bodies, in one grave, so thinly covered, is very disagreeable. The burials in churches too, often prove fatal to the priests and people who attend; but every body, and every thing in Paris, is so much alive, that not a soul thinks about the dead.
I wish I had been born a Frenchman.—Frenchmen live as if they were never to die. Englishmen die all their lives; and yet as Lewis the XIVth said, “I don’t think it is so difficult a matter to die, as men generally imagine, when they try in earnest.”
I must tell you before I leave Paris, that I stept over to Marli, to see the Queen; I had seen the King nine years ago; but he was not then a King over eight millions of people, and the finest country under the sun; yet he does not seem to lay so much stress upon his mighty power as might be expected from so young a prince, but appears grave and thoughtful. I am told he attends much to business, and endeavours to make his subjects happy. His resolution to be inoculated, immediately after succeeding to such a kingdom, is a proof of his having a great share of fortitude. In England such a determination would have been looked upon with indifference; but in France, where the bulk of the people do not believe that it secures the patient from a second attack; where the clergy in general consider it unfavourable, even in a religious light; and where the physical people, for want of practice, do not understand the management of the distemper, so as it is known in England; I may venture to say, without being charged with flattery, that it was an heroic resolution: add to this, the King knowing, that if his subjects followed his example, it must be chiefly done by their own surgeons and physicians, he put himself under their management alone, though I think Sutton was then at Paris.
The Queen is a fine figure, handsome, and very sprightly, dresses in the present gout of head dress, and without a handkerchief, and thereby displays a most lovely neck.
I saw in a china shop at Paris, the figure of the King and Queen finely executed, and very like, in china: the King is playing on the harp, and the Queen dropping her work to listen to the harmony. The two figures, about a foot high, were placed in an elegant apartment, and the toute ensemble was the prettiest toy I ever beheld: the price thirty guineas.
I shall leave this town in a few days, and take the well-known and well-beaten route Anglois for Calais, thro’ Chantilly, Amiens, and Boulogne, and then I shall have twice crossed this mighty kingdom.
I am now returned to the point from whence I sat out, and rather within the revolution of one year; which, upon the whole, though I met with many untoward circumstances, has been the most interesting and entertaining year of my whole life, and will afford me matter of reflection for the little which remains unfinished of that journey we must all take sooner or later, a journey from whence no traveller returns.—And having said so much of myself, I am sure you will be glad to change the subject from man to beast, especially to such a one as I have now to speak of.
I told you, when I set out, that I had bought a handsome-looking English horse for seven guineas, but a little touched in his wind; I can now inform you, that when I left this town, he was rather thin, and had a sore back and shoulder; both which, by care and caution; were soon healed, and that he is returned fair and fat, and not a hair out of its place, though he drew two grown persons, two children, (one of thirteen the other ten years old) a very heavy French cabriolet, and all our baggage, nay, almost all my goods, chattels, and worldly property whatever, outward and homeward, except between Cette and Barcelona, going, and Lyons and this town returning! I will point out to you one of his day’s work, by which you will be able to judge of his general power of working: At Perpignan, I had, to save him, hired post-horses to the first town in Spain, as I thought it might be too much for him to ascend and descend the Pyrenees in one day; beside sixteen miles to the foot of them, on this side, and three to Jonquire on the other; but after the horses were put to, the post-master required me to take two men to Boulou, in order to hold the chaise, and to prevent its overturning in crossing the river near the village. Such a flagrant attempt to impose, determined me to take neither horses nor men; and at seven o’clock I set off with Callee (that is my houyhnhnm’s name) and arrived in three hours at Boulou, a paltry village, but in a situation fit for the palace of AUGUSTUS!
So far from wanting men from Perpignan to conduct my chaise over the river, the whole village were, upon our arrival, in motion after the JOB. We, however, passed it, without any assistance but our own weight to keep the wheels down, and the horse’s strength and sturdiness, to drag us through it. In about three hours more we passed over the summit of this great chain of the universe; and in two more, arrived at Jonquire: near which village my horse had a little bait of fresh mown hay, the first, and last, he eat in that kingdom. And when I tell you that this faithful, and (for a great part of my journey) only servant I had, never made a faux pas, never was so tired, but that upon a pinch, he could have gone a league or two farther; nor ever was ill, lame, physicked, or bled, since he was mine; you will agree, that either he is an uncommon good horse, or that his master is a good groom! Indeed I will say that, however fatigued, wet, hundry, or droughty I was, I never partook of any refreshment till my horse had every comfort the inn could afford. I carried a wooden bowl to give him water, and never passed a brook without asking him to drink.—And, as he has been my faithful servant, I am now his; for he lives under the same roof with me, and does nothing but eat, drink, and sleep.—As he never sees me nor hears my voice, without taking some affectionate notice of me, I ventured to ask him tenderly,
To SIR JAMES TYLNEY LONG, Bart.
A Faithful Servant’s humble Petition,
That your petitioner entered into the service of his present master, at an advanced age, and at a time too, that he laboured under a pulmonic disorder, deemed incurable; yet by gentle exercise, wholesome food, and kind usage, he has been enabled to accompany his master from Calais to Artois. Cambray, Rheims, St. Dezier, Dijon, Challons, Macon, Lyons, Pont St. Esprit, Pont du Garde, Nismes, Montpellier, Cette, Narbonne, Perpignan the Pyrenees Barcelona, Montserrat, Arles, Marseilles, Toulouse, Avignon, Aix, Valence, Paris, and back to Calais, in the course of one year: And that your petitioner has acquitted himself so much to his master’s satisfaction, that he has promised to take him next year to Rome; and upon his return, to get him a sine-cure place for the remainder of his days; and, as your petitioner can produce a certificate of his honesty, sobriety, steadiness, and obedience to his master; and wishes to throw himself under the protection of a man of fortune, honour and humanity, he is encouraged by his said master to make this his humble prayer to you, who says that to above three hundred letters he has lately written, to ask a small boon for himself, he did not receive above three answers that gave him the pleasure your’s did though he had twenty times better pretensions to an hundred and fifty. And as your petitioner has seen a great deal of the world, as well as his master, and has always observed, that such men who are kind to their fellow-creatures, are kind also to brutes; permit an humble brute to throw himself at your feet, and to ask upon his return from Rome a lean-to shed, under your park-wall, that he may end his days in his native country, and afford a repas, at his death, to the dogs of a Man who feeds the poor, cloaths the naked, and who knows how to make use of the noblest privilege which a large fortune can bestow,—that of softening the
I do hereby certify, that nothing is advanced in the above petition, but what is strictly true, and that if the petitioner had been able to express himself properly, his merits and good qualities would have appeared to much greater advantage, as well as his services; as he has omitted many towns he attended his master to, besides a variety of smaller journies; that he is cautious, wary, spirited, diligent, faithful, and honest; that he is not nice, but eats, with appetite, and good temper, whatever is set before him; and that he is in all respects worthy of that asylum he asks, and which his master laments more on his account than his own, that he cannot give him.
Calais, the 4th of Nov.
On our way here, we spent two or three days at Chantilly, one, of fifty Chatteaus belonging to the PRINCE OF CONDE: for, though we had visited this delightful place, two or three times, some years ago, yet, beside its natural beauties, there is always something new. One spot we found particularly pleasing, nay flattering to an Englishman; it is called l’Isle d’Amour, in which there are some thatched cottages, a water-mill, a garden, shrubbery, &c. in the English taste, and the whole is, in every respect, well executed. The dairy is neat, and the milkmaid not ugly, who has her little villa, as well as the miller. There is also a tea-house, a billiard-room, an eating-room, and some other little buildings, all externally in the English village stile, which give the lawn, and serpentine walks that surround them, a very pastoral appearance. The eating-room is particularly well fancied, being covered within, and so painted as to produce a good idea of a close arbor; the several windows, which are pierced through the sides, have such forms, as the fantastic turn of the bodies of the painted trees admit of; and the building is in a manner surrounded with natural trees; the room, when illuminated for the Prince’s supper, has not only a very pleasing effect, but is a well executed deception, for the real trees falling into perspective with those which are painted, through the variety of odd-shaped windows, has a very natural, and consequently a very pleasing effect; but what adds greatly to the deception, is, that at each corner of the room the floor is opened, and lumps of earth thrown up, which
The Prince is a sprightly, agreeable man, something in person like Lord Barrington; and the Duke of Bourbon so like his father, that it was difficult to know the son from the father.
The Duchess of Bourbon is young, handsome, and a most accomplished lady.
During the supper, a good band of music played; but it was all wind instruments. Mr. Lejeune, the first bassoon, is a most capital performer indeed.
After the dessert had been served up about ten minutes, the Princess of Monaco rose from the table, as did all the company, and suddenly turning from it, each lady and gentleman’s servant held them a water glass, which they used with great delicacy, and then retired.
The Princess of Monaco is separated from the Prince her husband; yet she has beauty enough for any Prince in Europe, and brought fortune enough for two or three.
The Duchess of Bourbon had rather a low head-dress, and without any feather, or, that I could perceive, rouge; the Princess of Monaco’s head-dress was equally plain; the two other ladies, whose rank I do not recollect, wore black caps, and hats high dressed. There were eight persons sat down to table, and I think, about twenty-five servants, in and out of livery, attended.
The next day, we were admitted to see the Prince’s cabinet of natural and artificial curiosities; and as I intimated my design of publishing some account of my journey, the Prince was pleased to allow me as much time as I chose, to examine his very large and valuable collection; among which is a case of gold medallions,(72) of the Kings of France, in succession, a great variety of birds and beasts, ores, minerals, petrifactions, gems, cameos, &c. There is also a curious cabinet, lately presented to the Prince by the King of Denmark; and near it stood a most striking representation, in wax, of a present said to be served up to a late unfortunate Queen; it is the head and right hand of Count Struensee, as they were taken off after the execution; the head and hand lie upon a silver dish, with the blood and blood vessels too, well executed; never surely was any thing so
When you, or any of the ladies and gentlemen who have honoured this poor performance of mine with their names, or their family or friends, pass this way, I shall be happy to embrace that occasion, to shew, that I have not said more of this inimitable piece of art, than it merits; nor do I speak thus positively from my own judgment, but have the concurrent opinion of many men of unquestionable judgment, that it is a master-piece of art; and among the rest, our worthy and valuable friend Mr. Sharp, of the Old Jewry.
Before we left Chantilly, we had a little concert, to which my train added one performer; and as it was the only string instrument, it was no small addition.
The day we left this charming place, we found the Prince and all his company under tents and pavilions on the road-side, from whence they were preparing to follow the hounds.
At Amiens, there is in the Hotel de Ville, a little antique god in bronze, which was found, about four years ago, near a Roman urn, in the earth, which is very well worthy of the notice of a connoisseur; but it is such as cannot decently be described; the person in whose custody it is, permitted me to take an impression from it in wax; but I am not quite so good a hand at waxwork as the artist mentioned above, and yet my little houshold-god has some merit, a merit too that was not discovered till three months after it had been fixed in the Hotel de Ville; and the discovery was made by a female, not a male, connoisseur.
It is said, that a Hottentot cannot be so civilized, but that he has always a hankering after his savage friends, and dried chitterlins; and, that gypsies prefer their roving life, to any other, a circumstance that once did, but now no longer surprizes me; for I feel such a desire to wander again, that I am impatient till the winter is past, when I intend to visit Geneva, and make the tour of Italy; and if you can find me cut a sensible valetudinarian or two, of either sex, or any age, who will travel as we do, to see what is to be seen, to make a little stay, where the place, or the people invite us to do so, who can dine on a cold partridge, in a hot day, under a shady tree; and travel in a landau and one, we will keep them a table d’hote, that shall be more pleasant than expensive, and which will produce more health and spirits, than half the drugs of Apothecary’s Hall.
If God delights so much in variety, as all things animate and inanimate sufficiently prove, no wonder that man should do so too: and I have now been so accustomed to move, though slowly, that I intend to creep on to my journey’s end, by which means I may live to have been an inhabitant of every town almost in Europe, and die, as I have lately (and wish I had always) lived, a free citizen of the whole world, slave to no sect, nor subject to any King. Yet, I would not be considered as one wishing to promote that disposition in others; for I must confess, that it is in England alone, where an innocent and virtuous man can sit down and enjoy the blessings of liberty and his own chearful hearth, in full confidence that no earthly power can disturb it; and the best reason which can be offered in favour of Englishmen visiting other kingdoms, is, to enable them, upon their return, to know how to enjoy the inestimable blessings of their own.
For what should I cross the streight which divides us, though it were but half seven leagues? we should only meet to part again, and purchase pleasure, as most pleasures are purchased, too dearly; I have dropt some heavy tears, (ideally at least) over poor BUCKLE’S[J] grave, and it is all one to a man, now with GOD! on what King’s soil such a tribute as that is paid: had some men of all nations known the goodness of his heart as we did, some men of all nations would grieve as we do. When I frequented Morgan’s[K] I used him as a touch-stone, to try the hearts of other men upon; for, as he was not rich, he was out of the walk of knaves and flatterers, and such men, who were moot prejudiced in his favour at first sight, and coveted not his company after a little acquaintance, I always avoided as beings made of base metal. It was for this reason I despised that ****** ****, (you know who I mean) for you too have seen him snarl, and bite, and play the dog, even to BUCKLE!
[J] WILLIAM BUCKLE, Esq.
[K] MORGAN’S Coffee-House, Grove, BATH.
Our Sunday night’s tea club, round his chearful hearth, is now for ever dissolved, and SHARPE and RYE have administered their last friendly offices with a potion of sorrow.
Were I the hermit of St. Catharine, I would chissel his name as deeply into one of my pine-heads, as his virtues are impressed on my memory. Though I have lost his guinea, I will not lose his name; he looked down with pity upon me when here; who can say he may not do so still? I should be an infidel, did not a few such men as he keep me back.
And now, my dear Sir, after the many trifling subjects in this very long correspondence with you, I will avail myself of this good one, to close it, on the noblest work of GOD, AN HONEST MAN. The loss of such a friend, is sufficient to induce one to lay aside all pursuits, but that of following his example, and to prepare to follow him.
If you should ever follow me here, I flatter myself you will find, that I have, to the best of my poor abilities, made such a sketch of men and things on this side of the water, that you will be able to discover some likeness to the originals. A bad painter often hits the general features, though he fall ever so short of the graces of Titian, or the Morbidezza of Guido. I am sure, therefore, you and every man of candour, will make allowances for the many inaccuracies, defects, &c. which I am sensible these letters abound with, tho’ I am incapable of correcting them. My journey, you know was not made, as most travellers’ are, to indulge in luxury, or in pursuit of pleasures, but to soften sorrow, and to recover from a blow, which came from a mighty hand indeed; but a HAND still MORE MIGHTY, has enabled me to resist it, and to return in health, spirits, and with that peace of mind which no earthly power can despoil me of, and with that friendship and regard for you, which will only cease, when I cease to be
Calais, Nov. 4,
P.S. I found Berwick’s regiment on duty in this town: it is commanded by Mons. le Duc de Fitz-James, and a number of Irish gentlemen, my countrymen, (for so I will call them.) You may easily imagine, that men who possess the natural hospitality of their own country, with the politeness and good-breeding of this, must be very agreeable acquaintance in general: But I am bound to go farther, and to say, that I am endeared to them by marks of true friendship. The King of France, nor any Prince in Europe, cannot boast of troops better disciplined; nor is the King insensible of their merit, for I have lately seen a letter written by the King’s command from Comte de St. Germain, addressed to the officers of one of these corps, whereby it appears, that the King is truly sensible of their distinguished merit; for braver men there are not in any service:—What an acquisition to France! what a loss to Britain!
As the Marquis of Grimaldi is retired from his public character, I am tempted to send you a specimen of his private one, which flattering as it is to me, and honourable to himself, I should have withheld, had his Excellency continued first minister of Spain; by which you will see, that while my own countrymen united to set me in a suspicious light, (though they thought otherwise) the ministers politeness and humanity made them tremble at the duplicity of their conduct; and had I been disposed to have acted the same sinister part they did, some of them might have been reminded of an old Spanish proverb,
“A las malas lenguas tigeras”
“Muy S^or. mio. Por la carta de I^o del corr^te. veo su feliz llegada a esta ciudad, en donde habia tomado una casa, y por las cartas que me incluye, y debuelbo, reconosco los terminos honrados y recomendables con que ha efectuado su salida de Inglaterra, cosa que yo nunca podria dudar.
“Deseo que a V.S. le va’ ya muy bien en este Reyno, y espero que me
avifara el tiempo que se propusiere detener en Barcelona, y tambien
quando se verificara su yda a Valencia: cuyo Pais se ha creydo el mas
propio para su residencia estable, por la suavidad del clima y demas
circunstantias.—V.S. me hallara pronto a complacerle y sevirle en lo
que se le ofrezca: que es quendo en el dia puedo decirle,
referiendome ademas a mis cartas precedentes communicadas por medio
de ... Dios quiere a V.S. M^o c^o d^o S^r el 14 Nov^re. de 1775.
“B L.M. en. S.
Su mayor fer^or.
El Marq^s de GRIMALDI,
A Don Felipe Thickness.”
A Madame THICKNESSE.
Voila, Madame, quelques amusemens de ma plume, vous avez paru les desirer, mon empressement a vous obeir sera le merite de ces legeres productions; la premiere a eu assez de succes en France, je doute qu’elle puisse en avoir un pareil en Angleterre, parce que le mot n’a peut-etre pas la meme signification ce que nous appellons Grelot est une petite cochette fermee que l’on attache aux hochets des enfans pour les amuser; dans le sens metaphysique on en fait un des attributs de la folie: Ice je l’employe comme embleme de gaiete et d’enfance. Le Pritems est une Epitre ecrite de la campagne a un de mes amis; j’etois sous le charme de la creation, pour ainsi dire; les vers en font d’une mesuretres difficile.
La description de Courcelles est celle d’une terre qu’avoit ma mere, et ou j’ai passe toute ma jeunesse; enchantee de son paysage, et de la vie champetre que j’aime passion, je l’adressois a un honnete homme de Rheims que j’appellois par plaisanterie mon Papa: ce que j’ai de meilleur dans mon porte-feuille, ce sont des chansons pour mon mari; comme je l’aime parfaitement mon coeur m’a servi de muse: mais cette tendresse toujours si delicieuse aux interesses ne peut plaire a ceux qui ne le sont pas. Quand j’auri l’honneur de vous revoir, Madame, je vous communiquerai mon recueil, et vous jugerez. Recevez les hommages respectueux de mon mari, et daignezfaire agreer nos voeux a Mons. Tiennerse; je n’ai point encore recu les jolies poches, je pars demain pour la campagne, et j’y resterai quinze jours; nous avons des chaleurs cruelles, Messrs. les Anglois qui sont ici en souffrent beaucoup, j’ai l’honneur d’etre avec le plus inviolable attachement,
Votre tres humble
et tres obeissante servante,
De Courcelles Desjardins.
28 Juillet, 1776.
Epitre au Grelot.
De la folie aimable lot
Don plus brillant que la richesse,
Et que je nommerai sagesse
Si je ne craignois le fagot,
C’est toi que je chante o Grelot!
Hochet heureux de tous les ages
L’homme est a toi des le maillot,
Mais dans tes nombreux appanages
Jamais tu ne comptas le sot:
De tes sons mitiges le sage
En tapinois se rejouit
Tandis que l’insense jouit
Du plaisir de faire tapage.
Plus envie que dedaigne
Par cette espece atrabilaire
Qui pense qu’un air refrogne
La met au dessus du vulgaire,
La privation de tes bienfaits
Seule fait naitre sa satyre;
Charmante idole du Francois
Chez lui reside ton empire:
Tes detracteurs font les pedans,
Les avares et les amans
De cette gloire destructive
Qui peuple l’infernale rive,
Et remplit l’univers d’exces.
L’ambitieux dans son delire
N’eprouve que de noirs acces,
Le genre-humain seroit en paix,
Si les conquerans savoient rire.
Contre ce principe evident
C’est en vain qu’un censeur declame,
Le mal ne se fait en riant.
Si de toi provient l’epigrame,
Son tour heureux ne’est que plaisant
Et ne nuit jamais qu’au mechant
Que sa conscience decele.
Nomme t-on la rose cruelle
Lorsqu’un mal-adroit la cueillant
Se blesse lui-meme au tranchant
De l’epine qu’avec prudence
Nature fit pour sa defense.
Tes simples et faciles jeux
Prolongent dit-on notre enfance
Censeur, que te faut-il de mieux!
Des abus, le plus dangereux,
Le plus voisin de la demence
Est de donner trop d’importance
A ces chimeres dont les cieux
Ont compose notre existence
Notre devoir est d’etre heureux
A moins de frais, a moins de voeux
De l’homme est toute la science.
Par tes sons toujours enchanteurs
Tu fais fuir la froide vieillesse
Ou plutot la couvrant de fleurs
Tu lui rends l’air de la jeunesse.
Du temps tu trompes la lenteur,
Par toi chaque heure est une fete
Democrite fut ton Docteur
Anacreon fut ton Prophete;
Tous deux pour sages reconnus,
L’un riant des humains abus
Te fit sonner dans sa retraite
L’autre chantant a la guingette
Te donna pour pomme a Venus
Apres eux ma simple musette
T’offre ses accens ingenus
Charmant Grelot, sur ta clochette
Je veux moduler tous mes vers,
Sois toujours la douce amusette
Source de mes plaisirs divers
Heureux qui te garde en cachette
Et se passe l’univers.
Epitre a Mons. D——
Deja dans la plaine
On ressent l’haleine
Du leger Zephir;
Deja la nature
Sourit au plaisir,
La jeune verdure
A l’eclat du jour
Oppose la teinte
Que cherit l’amour
Fuyant la contrainte,
Au pied des ormeaux;
Ma muse naive
Reprend ses pipeaux;
Sur la verte rive
Aux tendres echos
Elle dit ces mots.
Bien sans pareil!
O doux reveil
De la nature!
Que l’ame pure
Dans nos guerets
Voit tes attraits;
De la tendresse
Et de la paix
Les doux bienfaits
Sur toute espece
Et sont l’aimant
Dont la magie
Enchaine et lie
Dans sa malice
Ferme son coeur
A ces delices,
Et de l’erreur
Des gouts factices
Fait son bonheur
La noire envie
Tisse sa vie.
Les vains desirs
Les vrais plaisirs
A ces pagodes
Culte se rend,
L’oeil s’y meprend
Et perd de vue
La plus courue
La moins connue
Par le mystere
Au front serein
De la deesse
Est la Pretresse;
Les ris badins
De fleurs nouvelles
Offrent les dons.
Tribut du Zele,
Jointes au sons
De son autel
Sont le rituel
Dans son empire
Telle est la loi,
“Aimer et rire
De bonne foy.”
Du vrai bonheur
Si pour apotre
Il vous avoit;
En vain tout autre
Du double mont
Du vraie genie
Vous a fait don,
Sans nul caprice
Entrez en lice,
Et de Passif
Pour la Deesse
Qui dans ces lieux
Nous rend heureux
Donnez moi rose
Du doux Printems
Hatez le tems
En vos ecrits,
Adieu beau Sire,
Pour ce delire
Est mon excuse.
S’il vous amuse
Un seul moment,
Et vous rapelle
Un coeur fidelle
Depuis cent ans,
Comme le votre
En tous les tems
N’ai desir autre.
Les Aquilons et l’Oranger.
De fougeux Aquilons une troupe
Contre un noble Oranger exhaloit ses fureurs
Ils soufflerent en vain, leur rage mutinee
De l’arbre aux fruits dores n’ota que quelques fleurs.
Du tumulte, du bruit, des
Fuyons l’eclat trompeur: a leurs impressions
Preferons les douceurs de ce sejour paisible,
Disoit un jour Ariste a la tendre Delos.
Soit, repart celle-ci; mais las! ce doux repos
N’est que le pis-aller d’une ame trop sensible.
Telle que ce ruisseau qui
promene son onde
Dans des lieux ecartes loin du bruit et du monde
Je veux pour peu d’amis exister desormais
C’est loin des faux plaisirs que l’on trouve les vrais.
Aux froids climats de l’ourse,
et dans ceux du midi,
L’homme toujours le meme est vain, foible, et credule,
Sa devise est partout Sottise et Ridicule.
Le celebre Chinois, le Francois etourdi
De la raison encore n’ont que le crepuscule
Jadis au seul hazard donnant tout jugement,
Par les effets cuisans du fer rougi qui brule
On croyoit discerner le foible et l’innocent;
A Siam aujourd’hui pareille erreur circule,
Et l’on voit meme esprit sous une autre formule:
Quand quelque fait obscur tient le juge en suspens
On fait aux yeux de tous a chaque contendant
D’Esculape avaler purgative pillule,
Celui dont l’estomac repugne a pareil mets
Est repute coupable et paye tous les frais.
Du pauvre genre-humain telles sont les annales:
Rome porta le deuil de l’honneur des vestales,
Du Saint Pere a present, elle baise l’ergot:
Plus gais, non plus senses dans ce siecle falot
Nous choisissons au moins l’erreur la plus jolie:
De l’inquisition, le bal, la comedie
Remplacent parmi nous le terrible fagot;
Notre legerete detruit la barbarie
Mais nous n’avons encore que change de folie.
ENVOI A MON MARI.
Tandis, mon cher, que tes
Me procurent ce doux repos.
Et cette heureuse insouciance
But incertain de l’opulence;
Mon ame l’abeille imitant
Aux pays d’esprit elancee
Cueille les fleurs de la pensee
Et les remet aux sentiment.
Mais helas! dans ce vaste champ
En vain je cherche la sagesse,
Pres de moi certain Dieu fripon
Me fait quitter l’ecole de Zenon
Pour le charme de la tendresse;
“L’homme est cree pour etre bon
Et non savant, dit il, qu’il aime,
Du bonheur c’est le vrai systeme”
Je sens, ma foi, qu’il a raison.
De la terre dans laquelle j’habitois, adressee a un homme tres respectable que j’appellois mon Papa.
Que vous etes aimable, mon cher Papa, de me demander une description de ma solitude. Votre imagination est genee de ne pouvoir se la peindre. Vous voulez faire de Courcelles une seconde etoile du matin, et y lier avec moi un de ces commerces d’ames reserves aux favoris de Brama. Votre idee ne me perdra plus de vue, j’en ferai mon genie tutelaire. Je croirai a chaque instant sentir sa presence, ah! elle ne peut trop tot arriver, montrons lui donc le chemin.
Quittant votre cite Rhemoise,
Ville si fertil en bons Vins,
En gras moutons, en bons humains,
Apres huit fois trois mille toises
Toujours suivant le grand chemin,
On decouvre enfin le village
Ou se trouve notre hermitage.
La rien aux yeux du voyageur
Ne presente objet de surprise,
Petit ruisseau, des maisons, une Eglise
Tout a cote la hutte du Pasteur;
Car ces Messieurs pour quelques Patenotres.
Pour un surplis, pour un vetement noir
En ce monde un peu plus qu’en l’autre
Ont droit pres du bon dieu d’etablir leur manoir.
Ce debut n’est pas fort seduisant; aussi ne vous ai-je rien promis de merveilleux. Je pourrois cependant pour embellir ma narration me perdre dans de brillantes descriptions, et commencer par celle de notre clocher; mais malheureusement nous n’en avons point; car je ne crois pas que l’on puisse appeller de ce nom l’endroit presque souterrain ou logent trois mauvaises cloches. Elles m’etourdissent par fois au point que sans leur bapteme, je les enverrois aux enfers sonner les diners de Pluton et de Proserpine.
On appercoit pres de l’Eglise, entre elle et le cure, une petite fenetre grillee, ceci est une vraie curiosite; c’est un sepulcre bati par Saladin d’Anglure, ancien Seigneur de Courcelles il vivoit du tems des croisades, et donna comme les autres dans la manie du siecle. Il ne fut pas plus heureux que ses confreres. Son sort fut d’etre prisonnier du vaillant Saladin dont il conserva le surnom. Sa captivite l’ennuyant, il fit voeu, si elle finissoit bientot, de batir dans sa Seigneurie un sepulcre, et un calvaire a meme distance l’un de l’autre qu’ils le sont a Jerusalum. C’est aussi ce qu’il fit.
Quand par une aventure heureuse,
Des fers du Vaillant Saladin
Il revint chez lui sauf et sain;
Mais la chronique scandaleuse
Qui daube toujours le prochain,
Et ne se repait que de blame
Pretend que trop tot pour Madame,
Et trop tard pour le Pelerin
Dans son Chatel il s’en revint.
Ce fut, dit on, le lendemain,
La veille, ou le jour que la Dame,
Croyant son mari tres benin
Parti pour la gloire eternelle
Venoit de contracter une hymenee nouvelle.
La tradition etoit en balance sur ces trois dates; mais la malignite humaine a donne la preference a la derniere, ensorte qu’il paroit tres sur que l’Epoux n’arriva que le lendemain.
Quel affront pour un chef
couronne de lauriers!
Tel est pourtant le sort des plus fameux guerriers;
Ceux d’aujourd’hui n’en font que rire
Mais ceux du tems passe mettoient la chose au pis,
Ils n’avoient pas l’esprit de dire
Nous sommes quitte, et bons amis.
Pendant que vous etes en train de visiter nos antiquites courcelloises, il me prend envie de vous faire entrer dans notre reduit.
Quoique du titre de chateau,
Pompeusement on le decore,
Ne vous figurez pas qu’il soit vaste ni beau.
Tel que ces Grands que l’on honore
Pour les vertus de leurs ayeux
Pour tout merite il n’a comme eux
Qu’un nom qui se conserve encore.
Ainsi pour vous en former une juste idee, ne cherchez votre modele ni dans les romans, ni dans les miracles de feerie. Ce n’est pas meme un vieux chateau fort, comme il en existe encore quelques uns dans nos entours.
Point, on n’y voit fosse
Ni demi-lune ni Dongeon,
Ni beaux dehors de structure nouvelle,
Mais bien une antique Tourelle
Flanquant d’assez, vieux batimens
Dont elle est l’unique ornement.
Un Poete de nos cantons a dit assez plaisamment en parlant de ceci.
Sur les bords de la Vesle
est un chateau charmant
N’allez pas chicaner, Lecteur impertinent)
(Le batiment a part, la Dame qui l’habite
Par ses rares vertus en fait tout le merite.
Vous verrez tout-a l’heure s’il avoit raison.
Je ne m’arreterai point a vous peindre la ferme quoi qu’elle tienne au chateau, ni l’attirail des animaux de toute espece qu’elle renferme.
Ces spectacles vraiment rustiques
Offrent pourtant plus de plaisirs
A des regards philosophiques,
Que ce que l’art et les desirs
De notre insatiable espece
Inventent tous les jours aides par la mollesse.
Je vous ferai entrer tout de suite dans une grande cour de gazon ou effectivement je voudrois bien vous voir. Deux manieses de Perrons y conduisent, l’un aux appartemens, l’autre a la cuisine. Commencons par ce dernier quoique ce ne soit pas trop la coutume.
La chaque jour, tant bien
On apprete deux fois un repas tres frugal,
Mais que l’appetit assaisonne.
Loin, bien loin, ces bruyans festins,
Toujours suivis des medecins
Ou le poison dans cent ragouts foisonne
Nous aimons mieux peu de mets bien choisis
De la Sante, moins de plats, plus de ris.
Voila notre devise, mon cher Papa, je crois qu’elle est aussi la votre; notre rez de chaussee consiste en cuisine, office, salle a manger, chambre et cabinets, rien de tout cela n’est ni elegant ni commode.
Nos devanciers fort bonnes
N’entendoient rien aux ornemens
Et leurs desirs ne passoient guere
Les bornes du seul necessaire.
Ils etoient plus heureux et plus sages que nous, car la vraie sagesse n’est autre chose que la moderation des desirs. D’apres cette definition on pourroit, je crois, loger tout notre siecle aux petites maisons. Ce qu’il y a de plus agreable dans la notre est la vue du grand chemin.
De ce chemin ou chacun trotte
Ou nous voyons soirs et matins
Passer toute espece d’humains;
Tantot la gent portant calote,
Et tantot de jeunes plumets,
Les ruses disciples d’Ignace
Puis ceux de la grace efficace,
Des pietons, des cabriolets
Tant d’Etres a deux pieds, sots, et colifichets,
Enfin cent sortes d’equipages
Et mille sortes de visages.
Ce tableau mouvant est par fois fort recreatif, il me paroit assez plaisant d’y juger les gens sur la mine, et de deviner leur motif, et le sujet de leurs courses.
Mais, Papa, qu’il est
Voyant leurs soins et leur inquietude
De jouir du repos constant
Qu’on goute dans la solitude.
A dire vrai, le spectacle du grand chemin, est celui qui m’occupe le moins; j’aime mille fois mieux nos promenades champetres; avant de yous y conduire, il faut en historien fidelle vous rendre compte de notre chaumiere.
Vous croyez peut-etre trouver un premier etage au dessus de la facade dont je vous ai parle? Point du tout. Ne vous ai-je pas dit que nos peres preferoient l’utile a l’agreable: aussi ont ils mieux aime construire de grands greniers que de jolis appartemens; mais en revanche ils out jette quantite de petites mansardes sur un autre cote du logis. Ce dernier donne sur un verger qui fait mes delices, il est precede d’un petit parterre, et finit par un bois charmant.
Une onde toujours claire et
Y vient accorder souo murmure
Au son melodieux de mille et mille oiseaux
Que cachent en tous tems nos jeunes arbrisseaux.
C’est la que votre fille se plait a rever a vous, mon cher Papa, c’est dans ce reduit agreable qu’elle s’occupe tour a tour de morale et de tendresse.
Epictete, Pope, Zenon.
Et Socrate, et surtout
Viennent dans ces lieux solitaires
Me preter le secours de leurs doctes lumieres:
Mais plus souvent la soeur de l’enfant de Cypris
Ecartant sans respect cette foule de sages
seule mes esprits
En y gravant de mes amis
Les trop seduisantes images.
Je n’entreprendrai pas de vous peindre nos autres promenades, elles sont toutes charmantes; un paysage coupe, quantite de petits bosquets, mille jolis chemins, nous procurent naturellement des beautes auxquelles l’art ne sauroit atteindre.
La Vesle borde nos prairies
Sur sa rive toujours fleurie
Regne un doux air de bergerie
Dangereux pour les tendres coeurs.
La, qui se sent l’ame attendrie
S’il craint de l’amour les erreurs
Doit vite quitter la partie.
Quittons la donc, mon cher Papa; aussi bien ai-je seulement oublie de vous montrer la plus piece de l’hermitage. C’est un canal superbe. Il a cent vingt toises de long sur douze de large, une eau courante et crystalline en rend la surface toujours brillante, cest la digne embleme d’un coeur ami, jugez si cette vue me fait penser a vous.
De grands potagers terminent l’enclos de la maison. Si j’etois mechante je continuerois ma description, et ne vous ferois pas grace d’une laitue, mais je me contenteraide vous dire que le ciel fit sans doute ce canton pour des Etres broutans. Si les Israelites en eussent mange jadis, ils n’auroient ni regrette l’Egypte ni desire la terre promise.
Voila mon cher Papa une assez mauvaize esquisse du pays Courcellois.
L’air m’en seroit
plus doux et le ciel plus serein
Si quelque jour, moins intraitable
Et se laissant flechir, le farouche Destin
Y conduisoit ce trio tant aimable
Que j’aime, et cherirai sans fin
Mais las! j’y perds tout mon latin,
Et ce que de mieux je puis faire
Est d’esperer et de me taire
* * * * *
I should have stopt here, and finished my present correspondence with you by leaving your mind harmonized with the above sweet stanzas of Madame des Jardins, but that it may seem strange, to give a specimen of one French Lady’s literary talents, without acknowledging, that this kingdom abounds with many, of infinite merit.—While England can boast only of about half a dozen women, who will immortalize their names by their works, France can produce half an hundred, admired throughout Europe, for their wit, genius, and elegant compositions.—Were I to recite the names and writings only of female authors of eminence, which France has produced, since the time of the first, and most unfortunate Heloise, who died in 1079, down to Madame Riccoboni, now living, it would fill a volume. We have, however, a CARTER, and a BARBAULD, not less celebrated for their learning and genius than for their private virtues; and I think it may, with more truth be said of women, than of men, that the more knowledge, the more virtue; the more understanding, the less courage. Why then is the plume elevated to the head? and what must the present mode of female education and manners end in, but in more ignorance, dissipation, debauchery and luxury? and, at length, in national ruin. Thus it was at ROME, the mistress of the world; they became fond of the most vicious men, and such as meant to enslave them, who corrupted their hearts, by humouring and gratifying their follies,
And now, as BAYES says, “let’s have a Dance.” ——
TRAVEL IN FRANCE.
GENERAL HINTS, &c.
If you travel post, when you approach the town, or bourg where you intend to lie, ask the post-boy, which house he recommends as the best? and never go to that, if there is any other.—Be previously informed what other inns there are in the same place. If you go according to the post-boy’s recommendation, the aubergiste gives him two or three livres, which he makes you pay the next morning. I know but one auberge between Marseilles and Paris, where this is not a constant practice, and that is at Vermanton, five leagues from Auxerre, where every English traveller will find a decent landlord, Monsieur Brunier, a St. Nicolas; good entertainment, and no imposition, and consequently an inn where no post-boy will drive, if he can avoid it.
If you take your own horses, they must be provided with head-pieces, and halters; the French stables never furnish any such things; and your servant must take care that the Garcon d’Ecurie does not buckle them so tight, that the horses cannot take a full bite, this being a common practice, to save hay.
If the Garcon d’Ecurie does not bring the halters properly rolled up, when he puts your horses to, he ought to have nothing given him, because they are so constantly accustomed to do it, that they cannot forget it, but in hopes you may too.
Direct your servant, not only to see your horses watered, and corn given them, but to stand by while they eat it: this is often necessary in England, and always in France.
If you eat at the table d’Hote, the price is fixed, and you cannot be imposed upon. If you eat in your own chamber, and order your own dinner or supper, it is as necessary to make a previous bargain with your host for it, as it would be to bargain with an itinerant Jew for a gold watch; the conscience and honour of a French Aubergiste, and a travelling Jew, are always to be considered alike; and it is very remarkable, that the publicans in France, are the only people who receive strangers with a cool indifference! and where this indifference is most shewn, there is most reason to be cautious.
Be careful that your sheets are well aired, otherwise you will find them often, not only damp, but perfectly wet.—Frenchmen in general do not consider wet or damp sheets dangerous, I am sure French Aubergistes do not.
Young men who travel into France with a view of gaining the language, should always eat at the table d’Hote.—There is generally at these tables, an officer, or a priest, and though there may be none but people of a middling degree, they will shew every kind of attention and preference to a stranger.
It is necessary to carry your own pillows with you; in some inns they have them; but in villages, bourgs, &c. none are to be had.
In the wine provinces, at all the table d’Hotes, they always provide the common wine, as we do small beer; wine is never paid for separately, unless it is of a quality above the vin du Pays; and when you call for better, know the price before you drink it.
When fine cambrick handkerchiefs, &c. are given to be washed, take care they are not trimmed round two inches narrower, to make borders to Madame la Blanchisseuse’s night caps: this is a little douceur which they think themselves entitled to, from my Lord Anglois, whom they are sure is tres riche, and consequently ought to be plundered by the poor.
Whenever you want honest information, get it from a French officer, or a priest, provided they are on the wrong side of forty; but in general, avoid all acquaintance with either, on the right side of thirty.
Where you propose to stay any time, be very cautious with whom you make an acquaintance, as there are always a number of officious forward Frenchmen, and English adventurers, ready to offer you their services, from whom you will find it very difficult to disengage yourself, after you have found more agreeable company.—Frenchmen of real fashion, are very circumspect, and will not fall in love with you at first sight; but a designing knave will exercise every species of flattery, in order to fix himself upon you for his dinner, or what else he can get, and will be with you before you are up, and after you are in bed.
Wherever there is any cabinet of curiosities, medals, pictures, &c. to be seen, never make any scruple to send a card, desiring permission to view them; the request is flattering to a Frenchman, and you will never be refused; and besides this you will in all probability thereby gain a valuable acquaintance.—It is generally men of sense and philosophy, who make such collections, and you will find the collector of them, perhaps, the most pleasing part of the cabinet.
Take it as a maxim, unalterable as the laws of the Medes and Persians, that whenever you are invited to a supper at Paris, Lyons, or any of the great cities, where a little trifling play commences before supper, that GREAT PLAY is intended after supper; and that you are the marked pigeon to be plucked. Always remember Lord Chesterfield’s advice to his son: “If you play with men, know with whom you play; if with women, for what:” and don’t think yourself the more secure, because you see at the same table some of your own countrymen, though they are Lords or Ladies; a London gambler would have no chance in a Parisian party.
Dress is an essential and most important consideration with every body in France. A Frenchman never appears till his hair is well combed and powdered, however slovenly he may be in other respects.—Not being able to submit every day to this ceremony, the servant to a gentleman of fashion at whose house I visited in Marseilles, having forgot my name described me to his master, as the gentleman whose hair was toujours mal frise.—Dress is a foolish thing, says Lord Chesterfield; yet it is a foolish thing not to be well dressed.
You cannot dine, or visit after dinner, in an undress frock, or without a bag to your hair; the hair en queue, or a little cape to your coat, would be considered an unpardonable liberty. Military men have an advantage above all others in point of dress, in France; a regimental or military coat carries a man with a bonne grace into all companies, with or without a bag to his hair; it is of all others the properest dress for a stranger in France, on many accounts.
In France it is not customary to drink to persons at table, nor to drink wine after dinner: when the dessert is taken away, so is the wine;—an excellent custom, and worthy of being observed by all nations.
It is wrong to be led into any kind of conversation, but what is absolutely necessary, with the common, or indeed the middling class of people in France. They never fail availing themselves of the least condescension in a stranger, to ask a number of impertinent questions, and to conclude, you answer them civilly, that they are your equals.—Sentiment and bashfulness are not to be met with, but among people of rank in France: to be free and easy, is the etiquette of the country; and some kinds of that free and easy manner, are highly offensive to strangers, and particularly to a shy Englishman.
When well-bred people flatter strangers, they seldom direct their flattery to the object they mean to compliment, but to one of their own country:—As, what a bonne grace the English have, says one to the other, in a whisper loud enough to be heard by the whole company, who all give a nod of consent; yet in their hearts they do not love the English of all other nations, and therefore conclude, that the English in their hearts do not love them.
No gentleman, priest, or servant, male or female, ever gives any notice by knocking before they enter the bed-chamber, or apartment of ladies or gentlemen.—The post-man opens it, to bring your letters; the capuchin, to ask alms; and the gentleman to make his visit. There is no privacy, but by securing your door by a key or a bolt; and when any of the middling class of people have got possession of your apartment, particularly of a stranger, it is very difficult to get them out.
There is not on earth, perhaps, so curious and inquisitive a people as the lower class of French: noise seems to be one of their greatest delights. If a ragged boy does but beat a drum or sound a trumpet, he brings all who hear it about him, with the utmost speed, and most impatient curiosity.—As my monkey rode postillion, in a red jacket laced with silver, I was obliged to make him dismount, when I passed thro’ a town of any size: the people gathered so rapidly about me at Moret, three leagues from Fontainbleau, while I stopped only to buy a loaf, that I verily believe every man, woman, and child, except the sick and aged, were paying their respects to my little groom; all infinitely delighted; for none offered the least degree of rudeness.
The French never give coffee, tea, or any refreshment, except upon particular occasions, to their morning or evening visitors.
When the weather is cold, the fire small, and a large company, some young Frenchman shuts the whole circle from receiving any benefit from it, by placing himself just before it, laying his sword genteely over his left knee, and flattering himself, while all the company wish him at the devil, that the ladies are admiring his legs: when he has gratified his vanity, or is thoroughly warm, he sits down, or goes, and another takes his place. I have seen this abominable ill-breeding kept up by a set of accomplished young fops for two hours together, in exceeding cold weather. This custom has been transplanted lately into England.
Jealousy is scarce known in France; by the time the first child is born, an indifference generally takes place: the husband and wife have their separate acquaintance, and pursue their separate amusements, undisturbed by domestic squabbles: when they meet in the evening, it is with perfect good humour, and in general, perfect good breeding.—When an English wife plays truant, she soon becomes abandoned: it is not so with the French; they preserve appearances and proper decorum, because they are seldom attached to any particular man. While they are at their toilet, they receive the visits of their male acquaintance, and he must be a man of uncommon discernment, who finds out whom it is she prefers at that time.—In the southern parts of France, the women are in general very free and easy indeed.
It is seldom that virgins are seduced in France; the married women are the objects of the men of gallantry. The seduction of a young girl is punished with death; and when they fall, it is generally into the arms of their confessor,—and that is seldom disclosed. Auricular confession is big with many mischiefs, as well as much good. Where the penitent and the confessor happen both to be young, he makes her confess not only all her sins, but sinful thoughts, and then, I fear he knows more than his prudence can absolve decently, and even when the confessor is old, the penitent may not be out of danger.
Never ask a Frenchman his age; no question whatever can be more offensive to him, nor will he ever give you a direct, though he may a civil answer.—Lewis the XVth was always asking every man about him, his age. A King may take that liberty, and even then, it always gives pain.—Lewis the XIVth said to Comte de Grammont, “Je sais votre age, l’Eveque de Senlis qui a 84 ans, m’a donne pour epoque, que vous avez etudie ensemble dans la meme classe.” Cet Eveque, Sire, (replied the Comte,) n’accuse pas juste, car ni lui, ni moi n’avons jamais Etudie.—Before I knew how offensive this question was to a Frenchman, I have had many equivocal answers,—such as, O! mon dieu, as old as the town, or, I thank God, I am in good health, &c.
A modern French author says, that the French language is not capable of the jeux de mots. Les jeux de mots, are not, says he, in the genius de notre langue, qui est grave, de serieuse. Perhaps it maybe so; but the language, and the men, are then so different, that I thought quite otherwise,—though the following beautiful specimen of the seriousness of the language ought, in some measure; to justify his remark:
Un seul est frappe, & tous
Dieu frappe sons fils innocent, pour l’amour
Des hommes coupables, & pardonne aux hommes
Coupables, pour l’amour de son fils innocent.
All English women, as well as women of other nations, prefer France to their own country; because in France there is much less restraint on their actions, than there is, (should I not say, than there was?) in England. All Englishmen, however, who have young and beautiful wives, should, if they are not indifferent about their conduct, avoid a trip to Paris, &c. tho’ it be but for “a six weeks tour.” She must be good and wise too, if six weeks does not corrupt her mind and debauch her morals, and that too by her own sex, which is infinitely the most dangerous company. A French woman is as great an adept at laughing an English-woman into all contempt of fidelity to her husband, as married English-women are in general, in preparing them during their first pregnancy, for the touch of a man-midwife,—and both from the same motive; i.e. to do, as they have done, and bring all the sex upon a level.
The French will not allow their language to be so difficult to speak properly, as the English language; and perhaps they are in the right; for how often do we meet with Englishmen who speak French perfectly? how seldom do we hear a Frenchman speak English without betraying his country by his pronunciation? It is not so with the Spaniards; I conversed with two Spaniards who were never twenty miles from Barcelona, that spoke English perfectly well.—How, for instance, shall a Frenchman who cannot pronounce the English, be able to understand, (great as the difference is) what I mean when I say the sun is an hour high? May he not equally suppose that I said the sun is in our eye?
When you make an agreement with an aubergiste where you intend to lie, take care to include beds, rooms, &c. or he will charge separately for these articles.
After all, it must be confessed, that Mons. Dessein’s a l’Hotel d’Angleterre at Calais, is not only the first inn strangers of fashion generally go to, but that it is also the first and best inn in France. Dessein is the decoy-duck, and ought to have a salary from the French government: he is always sure of a good one from the English.
In frontier or garrison towns, where they have a right to examine your baggage, a twenty-four sols piece, and assuring the officer that you are a gentleman, and not a merchant, will carry you through without delay.
Those who travel post should, before they set out, put up in parcels the money for the number of horses they use for one post, two posts, and a post et demi, adding to each parcel, that which is intended to be given to the driver, or drivers, who are intitled by the King’s ordinance to five sols a post; and if they behave ill, they should be given no more; when they are civil, ten or twelve sols a post is sufficient. If these packets are not prepared, and properly marked, the traveller, especially if he is not well acquainted with the money, cannot count it out while the horses are changing, from the number of beggars which surround the carriage and who will take no denial.
People of rank and condition, either going to, or coming from the continent, by writing to PETER FECTOR, Esq; at Dover, will find him a man of property and character, on whom they may depend.
Valetudinarians, or men of a certain age, who travel into the southern parts of France, Spain, or Italy, should never omit to wear either a callico or fine flannel waistcoat under their shirts: strange as it may seem to say so, this precaution is more necessary in the south of France, than in England. In May last it was so hot at Lyons, on the side of the streets the sun shone on, and so cold on the shady side, that both were intolerable. The air is much more vif and penetrating in hot climates, than in cold. A dead dog, thrown into the streets of Madrid at night, will not have a bit of flesh upon his bones after it has been exposed to that keen air twenty-four hours.
[List of possible typos or transcriber changes:]
Ltr. 34 para. 2: monnments [monuments?]
Several inscriptions were blurred or missing in this source. Educated guesses were made in a few cases.
Ltr. 36: This is what was visible to the transcriber:
L DOMIT. DOMITIANI
EX TRIERARCHI CLASS. GERM.
D PECCO****A VALENTINA M
Some characters blurred or missing. The full transcription was entered from other sources.
Some of this looks wrong—e.g. the third line should probably begin P F, rather than PE—but it matches the text as printed.
Ltr. 52 para. 2: Typo: that [than?]
Ltr. 54 para. 3: Typo: hundry [hungry?]