(949) Walpole’s picture of Paris, in 1766, is not much more favourable than that of Peter Heylin, who visited that city in the preceding century:—“This I am confident of,” says Peter, “that the nastiest lane in London is frankincense and juniper to the sweetest street in this city. The ancient by-word was (and there is good reason for it) ’il destaient comme la fange de Paris:’ had I the power of making proverbs, I would only change destaient’ into ‘il put,’ and make the by-word ten times more orthodox. That which most amazed me is, that in such a perpetuated constancy of stinks, there should yet be variety—a variety so special and distinct, that my chemical nose (I dare lay my life on it), after two or three perambulations, would hunt out blindfold each several street by the smell, as perfectly as another by the eye."-E.
One must be just to all the world; Madame Roland, I find, has been in the country, and at Versailles, and was so obliging as to call on me this morning, but I was so disobliging as not to be awake. I was dreaming dreams; in short, I had dined at Livry; yes, yes, at Livry, with a Langlade and De la Rochefoucaulds. The abbey is now possessed by an Abb`e de Malherbe, with whom I am acquainted, and who had given me a general invitation. I put it off to the last moment, that the bois and all`ees might set off the scene a little, and contribute to the vision; but it did not want it. Livry is situated in the For`et de Bondi, very agreeably on a flat, but with hills near it, and in prospect. There is a great air of simplicity and rural about it, more regular than our taste, but with an old-fashioned tranquillity, and nothing of coligichet. Not a tree exists that remembers the charming woman, because in this country an old tree is a traitor, and forfeits its head to the crown; but the plantations are not young, and might very well be as they were in her time. The Abb`e’s house is decent and snug; a few paces from it is the sacred pavilion built for Madame de S`evign`e by her uncle, and much as it was in her day; a small saloon below for dinner, then an arcade, but the niches now closed, and painted in fresco with medallions of her, the Grignan, the Fayette, and the Rochefoucauld. Above, a handsome large room, with a chimney-piece in the best taste of Louis the Fourteenth’s time; a holy family in good relief over it, and the cipher of her uncle Coulanges; a neat little bedchamber within, and two or three clean little chambers over them. On one side of the garden, leading to the great road, is a little bridge of wood, on which the dear woman used to wait for the courier that brought her daughter’s letters. Judge with what veneration and satisfaction I set my foot upon it! If you will come to France with Me next year, we will go and sacrifice on that sacred spot together.