"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.