Front Page Titles (by Subject) 1789. - Arthur Young's Travels in France during the Years 1787, 1788, 1789
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1789. - Arthur Young, Arthur Young’s Travels in France during the Years 1787, 1788, 1789 
Arthur Young’s Travels in France during the Years 1787, 1788, 1789, ed. Miss Betham-Edwards (London: George Bell and Sons, 1909).
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MY two preceding journies had crossed the whole western half of France, in various directions; and the information I had received in making them, had made me as much a master of the general husbandry, the soil, management and productions, as could be expected, without penetrating every corner; and residing long in various stations, a method of surveying such a kingdom as France, that would demand several lives instead of years. The eastern part of the kingdom remained. The great mass of country, formed by the triangle, whose three points are Paris, Strasbourg and Moulins, and the mountainous region S.E. of the last town, presented in the map an ample space, which it would be necessary to pass before I could have such an idea of the kingdom as I had planned the acquisition; I determined to make this third effort, in order to accomplish a design which appeared more and more important, the more I reflected on it; and less likely to be executed by those whose powers are better adapted to the undertaking than mine. The meeting of the States General of France also, who were now assembled, made it the more necessary to lose no time; for in all human probability, that assembly will be the epoch of a new constitution, which will have new effects, and, for what I know, attended with a new agriculture; and to have the regal sun in such a kingdom, both rise and set without the territory being known, must of necessity be regretted by every man solicitous for real political knowledge. The events of a century and half, including the brilliant reign of Louis XIV. will for ever render the sources of the French power interesting to mankind, and particularly that its state may be known previous to the establishment of an improved government, as the comparison of the effects of the old and new system will be not a little curious in future.
JUNE 2. To London. At night, Il Generosité d' Alessandro, by Tarchi, in which signor Marchesi exerted his powers, and sung a duet, that made me for some moments forget all the sheep and pigs of Bradfield. I was, however, much better entertained after it, by supping at my friend Dr. Burney's, and meeting Miss Burney; how seldom it is that we can meet two characters at once in whom great celebrity deducts nothing from private amiableness; how many dazzling ones that we have no desire to live with! give me such as to great talents, add the qualities that make us wish to shut up doors with them.
The 3d. Nothing buzzing in my ears but the fête given last night by the Spanish ambassador. The best fête of the present period is that which ten millions of people are giving to themselves,
The feast of reason and the flow of soul.
The animated feelings of bosoms beating with gratitude for the escape of one common calamity, and the thrilling hope of the continuance of common blessings. Meet the count de Berchtold1 at Mr. Songa's; a reach2 of good sense and important views:—Why does not the Emperor call him to his own country, and make him his prime minister? The world will never be well governed till princes know their subjects.
The 4th. To Dover in the machine, with two merchants from Stockholm, a German and a Swede; we shall be companions to Paris. I am more likely to learn something useful from the conversation of Swede and a German, than from the chance medley Englishmen of a stage-coach.—72 miles.
The 5th. Passage to Calais; 14 hours for reflection in a vehicle that does not allow one power to reflect.—21 miles.
The 6th. A Frenchman and his wife, and a French teacher from Ireland, full of foppery and affectation, which her own nation did not give her, were our company, with a young good-natured raw countryman of hers, at whom she played off many airs and graces. The man and his wife contrived to produce a pack of cards, to banish, they said, l'enuye of the journey; but they contrived also to fleece the young fellow of five louis. This is the first French diligence I have been in, and shall be the last; they are detestable. Sleep at Abbevile.—78 miles.
These men and women, girls and boys, think themselves (except the Swede) very cheerful because very noisy; they have stunned me with singing; my ears have been so tormented with French airs, that I would almost as soon have rode the journey blindfold on an ass. This is what the French call good spirits; no truly chearful emotion in their bosoms; silent or singing; but for conversation they had none. I lose all patience in such company. Heaven send me a blind mare rather than another diligence! We were all this night, as well as all the day, on the road, and reached Paris at nine in the morning.—102 miles.
The 8th. To my friend Lazowski, to know where were the lodgings I had written him to hire me, but my good dutchess d'Estissac would not allow him to execute my commission. I found an apartment in her hotel prepared for me. Paris is at present in such a ferment about the States General,3 now holding at Versailles, that conversation is absolutely absorbed by them. Not a word of any thing else talked of. Everything is considered, and justly so, as important in such a crisis of the fate of four-and-twenty millions of people. It is now a serious contention whether the representatives are to be called the Commons or TiersEtat; they call themselves steadily the former, while the court and the great lords reject the term with a species of apprehension, as if it involved a meaning not easily to be fathomed. But this point is of little consequence, compared with another, that has kept the states for some time in inactivity, the verification of their power separately or in common. The nobility and the clergy demand the former, but the Commons steadily refuse it; the reason why a circumstance, apparently of no great consequence, is thus tenaciously regarded, is that it may decide their sitting for the future in separate houses or in one.4 Those who are warm for the interest of the people declare that it will be impossible to reform some of the grossest abuses in the state, if the nobility, by sitting in a separate chamber, shall have a negative on the wishes of the people: and that to give such a veto to the clergy would be still more preposterous; if therefore, by the verification of their powers in one chamber, they shall once come together, the popular party hope that there will remain, no power afterwards to separate. The nobility and clergy foresee the same result, and will not therefore agree to it. In this dilemma it is curious to remark the feelings of the moment. It is not my business to write memoirs of what passes, but I am intent to catch, as well as I can, the opinions of the day most prevalent. While I remain at Paris, I shall see people of all descriptions, from the coffee-house politicians to the leaders in the states; and the chief object of such rapid notes as I throw on paper, will be to catch the ideas of the moment; to compare them afterwards with the actual events that shall happen, will afford amusement at least. The most prominent feature that appears at present is, that an idea of common interest and common danger does not seem to unite those, who, if not united, may find themselves too weak to oppose the common danger that must arise from the people being sensible of a strength the result of their weakness. The king, court, nobility, clergy, army, and parliament, are nearly in the same situation. All these consider, with equal dread, the ideas of liberty, now afloat; except the first, who, for reasons obvious to those who know his character, troubles himself little, even with circumstances that concern his power the most intimately. Among the rest, the feeling of danger is common, and they would unite, were there a head to render it easy, in order to do without the states at all. That the commons themselves look for some such hostile union as more than probable, appears from an idea which gains ground, that they will find it necessary should the other two orders continue to unite with them in one chamber, to declare themselves boldly the representatives of the kingdom at large, calling on the nobility and clergy to take their places—and to enter upon deliberations of business without them, should they refuse it. All conversation at present is on this topic, but opinions are more divided than I should have expected. There seem to be many who hate the clergy so cordially, that rather than permit them to form a distinct chamber would venture on a new system, dangerous as it might prove.
The 9th. The business going forward at present in the pamphlet shops of Paris is incredible. I went to the Palais Royal to see what new things were published, and to procure a catalogue of all. Every hour produces something new. Thirteen came out to-day, sixteen yesterday, and ninety-two last week. We think sometimes that Debrett's or Stockdale's shops at London are crouded, but they are mere deserts, compared to Desein's, and some others here, in which one can scarcely squeeze from the door to the counter. The price of printing two years ago was from 27 liv. to 30 liv. per sheet, but now it is from 60 liv. to 80 liv. This spirit of reading political tracts, they say, spreads into the provinces, so that all the presses of France are equally employed. Nineteen-twentieths of these productions are in favour of liberty, and commonly violent against the clergy and nobility; I have to-day bespoke many of this description, that have reputation; but enquiring for such as had appeared on the other side of the question, to my astonishment I find there are but two or three that have merit enough to be known. Is it not wonderful, that while the press teems with the most levelling and even seditious principles, that if put in execution would overturn the monarchy, nothing in reply appears, and not the least step is taken by the court to restrain this extreme licentiousness of publication. It is easy to conceive the spirit that must thus be raised among the people. But the coffee-houses in the Palais Royal present yet more singular and astonishing spectacles; they are not only crouded within, but other expectant crouds are at the doors and windows, listening a gorge deployé to certain orators, who from chairs or tables harangue each his little audience: the eagerness with which they are heard, and the thunder of applause they receive for every sentiment of more than common hardiness or violence against the present government, cannot easily be imagined. I am all amazement at the ministry permitting such nests and hotbeds of sedition and revolt, which disseminate amongst the people, every hour, principles that by and by must be opposed with vigour, and therefore it seems little short of madness to allow the propagation at present.
The 10th. Every thing conspires to render the present period in France critical: the want of bread is terrible: accounts arrive every moment from the provinces of riots and disturbances, and calling in the military, to preserve the peace of the markets. The prices reported are the same as I found at Abbeville and Amiens 5f. (2½.) a pound for white bread, and 3½f. to 4f. for the common sort, eaten by the poor: these rates are beyond their faculties, and occasion great misery. At Meudon, the police, that is to say the intendant, ordered that no wheat should be sold on the market without the person taking at the same time an equal quantity of barley. What a stupid and ridiculous regulation, to lay obstacles on the supply, in order to be better supplied; and to shew the people the fears and apprehensions of government, creating thereby an alarm, and raising the price at the very moment they wish to sink it. I have had some conversation on this topic with well informed persons, who have assured me that the price is, as usual, much higher than the proportion of the crop demanded, and there would have been no real scarcity if Mr. Necker would have let the corn-trade alone; but his edicts of restriction, which have been mere comments on his book on the legislation of corn, have operated more to raise the price than all other causes together. It appears plain to me, that the violent friends of the commons are not displeased at the high price of corn, which seconds their views greatly, and makes any appeal to the common feeling of the people more easy, and much more to their purpose than if the price was low. Three days past, the chamber of the clergy contrived a cunning proposition; it was to send a deputation to the commons, proposing to name a commission from the three orders to take into consideration the misery of the people, and to deliberate on the means of lowering the price of bread. This would have led to the deliberation by order, and not by heads, consequently must be rejected, but unpopularly so from the situation of the people: the commons were equally dextrous; in their reply, they prayed and conjured the clergy to join them in the common hall of the states to deliberate, which was no sooner reported at Paris than the clergy became doubly an object of hatred; and it became a question with the politicians of the Caffé de Foy,5 whether it was not lawful for the commons to decree the application of their estates towards easing the distress of the people?
The 11th. I have been in much company all day, and cannot but remark, that there seem to be no settled ideas of the best means of forming a new constitution. Yesterday the Abbé Syeyes6 made a motion in the house of commons, to declare boldly to the privileged orders, that if they will not join the commons, the latter will proceed in the national business without them; and the house decreed it, with a small amendment. This causes much conversation on what will be the consequence of such a proceeding; and on the contrary, on what may flow from the nobility and clergy continuing steadily to refuse to join the commons, and should they so proceed, to protest against all they decree, and appeal to the King to dissolve the states, and recal them in such a form as may be practicable for business. In these most interesting discussions, I find a general ignorance of the principles of government; a strange and unaccountable appeal, on one side, to ideal and visionary rights of nature; and, on the other, no settled plan that shall give security to the people for being in future in a much better situation than hitherto; a security absolutely necessary. But the nobility, with the principles of great lords that I converse with, are most disgustingly tenacious of all old rights, however hard they may bear on the people; they will not hear of giving way in the least to the spirit of liberty, beyond the point of paying equal land-taxes, which they hold to be all that can with reason be demanded. The popular party, on the other hand, seem to consider all liberty as depending on the privileged classes being lost, and outvoted in the order of the commons, at least for making the new constitution; and when I urge the great probability, that should they once unite, there will remain no power of ever separating them; and that in such case, they will have a very questionable constitution, perhaps a very bad one; I am always told, that the first object must be for the people to get the power of doing good; and that it is no argument against such a conduct to urge that an ill use may be made of it. But among such men, the common idea is, that any thing tending towards a separate order, like our house of lords, is absolutely inconsistent with liberty; all which seems perfectly wild and unfounded.
The 12th. To the royal society of agriculture, which meets at the hotel de ville, and of which being an associé, I voted, and received a jetton, which is a small medal given to the members, every time they attend, in order to induce them to mind the business of their institution; it is the same at all royal academies, &c., and amounts, in a year, to a considerable and ill-judged expence; for what good is to be expected from men who would go only to receive their jetton? Whatever the motive may be, it seems well attended: near thirty were present; among them Parmentier, vice-president, Cadet de Vaux, Fourcroy, Tillet, Desmarets, Broussonet, secretary, and Creté de Palieul, at whose farm I was two years ago, and who is the only practical farmer in the society. The secretary reads the titles of the papers presented, and gives some little account of them; but they are not read unless particularly interesting, then memoirs are read by the members, or reports of references; and when they discuss or debate, there is no order, but all speak together as in a warm private conversation. The Abbé Reynal7 has given them 1200 liv. (52l. 10s.) for a premium on some important subject; and my opinion was asked what it should be given for. Give it, I replied, in some way for the introduction of turnips.8 But that they conceive to be an object of impossible attainment; they have done so much, and the government so much more, and all in vain, that they consider it as a hopeless object. I did not tell them that all hitherto done has been absolute folly; and that the right way to begin was to undo every thing done. I am never present at any societies of agriculture, either in France or England, but I am much in doubt with myself whether, when best conducted, they do most good or mischief; that is, whether the benefits a national agriculture may by great chance owe to them, are not more than counterbalanced by the harm they effect; by turning the public attention to frivolous objects, instead of important ones, or dressing important ones in such a garb as to make them trifles? The only society that could be really useful would be that which, in the culture of a large farm, should exhibit a perfect example of good husbandry, for the use of such as would resort to it; consequently one that should consist solely of practical men; and then query whether many good cooks would not spoil a good dish. The ideas of the public on the great business going on at Versailles change daily and even hourly. It now seems the opinion, that the commons, in their late violent vote, have gone too far; and that the union of the nobility, clergy, army, parliament, and King, will be by far too many for them; such an union is said to be in agitation; and that the count d'Artois, the Queen, and the party usually known by her name, are taking steps to effect it, against the moment when the proceedings of the commons shall make it necessary to act with unity and vigour. The abolition of the parliaments is common conversation among the popular leaders, as a step essentially necessary; because, while they exist, they are tribunals to which the court can have resort, should they be inclined to take any step against the existence of the states: those bodies are alarmed, and see with deep regret, that their refusal to register the royal edicts, has created a power in the nation not only hostile, but dangerous to their own existence. It is now very well known and understood on all hands, that should the king get rid of the states, and govern on any tolerable principles, all the edicts would be enregistered by all the parliaments. In the dilemma and apprehension of the moment, the people look very much to the duc d'Oleans,9 as to a head; but with palpable and general ideas of distrust and want of confidence; they regret his character, and lament that they cannot depend on him in any severe and difficult trial: they conceive him to be without steadiness, and that his greatest apprehension is to be exiled from the pleasures of Paris, and tell of many littlenesses he practiced before, to be recalled from banishment. They are, however, so totally without a head, that they are contented to look to him as one; and are highly pleased with what is every moment reported, that he is determined to go at the head of a party of the nobility, and verify their powers in common with the commons. All agree, that had he firmness, in addition to his vast revenue of seven millions (306,250l.) and four more (175,000l.) in reversion, after the death of his father-in-law, the duc de Penthievre,10 he might, at the head of the popular cause do any thing.
The 13th. In the morning to the King's library,11 which I had not seen when before at Paris; it is a vast apartment, and, as all the world knows, nobly filled. Every thing is provided to accommodate those who wish to read or transcribe—of whom there were sixty or seventy present. Along the middle of the rooms are glass cases, containing models of the instruments of many trades preserved for the benefit of posterity, being made on the most exact scale of proportion; among others the potter, founder, brickmaker, chymist, &c., &c., and lately added a very large one of the English garden, most miserably imagined; but with all this not a plough, or an iota of agriculture; yet a farm might be much easier represented than the garden they have attempted, and with infinitely more use. I have no doubt but there may arise many cases, in which the preservation of instruments unaltered, may be of considerable utility; I think I see clearly, that such a use would result in agriculture, and if so, why not in other arts? These cases of models, however, have so much the air of childrens' play-houses, that I would not answer for my little girl, if I had her here, not crying for them. At the dutchess of d'Anville's, where meet the archbishop of Aix,12 bishop of Blois,13 Prince de Laon, and duc and dutchess de la Rochefoucauld, the three last of my old Bagnere de Luchon acquaintance, lord14 and lady Camelford, lord Eyre,15 &c., &c.
All this day I hear nothing but anxiety of expectation for what the crisis in the states will produce. The embarrassment of the moment is extreme. Every one agrees that there is no ministry: the Queen is closely connecting herself with the party of the princes, with the count d'Artois at their head; who are all so adverse to Mons. Necker that every thing is in confusion: but the King, who is personally the honestest man in the world, has but one wish, which is to do right; yet, being without those decisive parts that enable a man to foresee difficulties and to avoid them, finds himself in a moment of such extreme perplexity, that he knows not what council to take refuge in: it is said that Mons. Necker is alarmed for his power, and anecdote reports things to his disadvantage, which probably are not true:—of his trimming—and attempting to connect himself to the Abbé de Vermont,16 reader to the Queen, and who has great influence in all affairs in which he chuses to interfere; this is hardly credible, as that party are known to be exceedingly adverse to Mons. Necker; and it is even said, that, as the count d'Artois, Madame de Polignac,17 and a few others were, but two days ago, walking in the private garden of Versailles they met Madame Necker, and descended even to hissing: if half this is true, it is plain enough that this minister must speedily retire. All who adhere to the antient constitution, or rather government, consider him as their mortal enemy; they assert, and truly, that he came in under circumstances that would have enabled him to do every thing he pleased—he had king and kingdom at command—but that the errors he was guilty of, for want of some settled plan, have been the cause of all dilemmas experienced since. They accuse him heavily of assembling the notables, as a false step that did nothing but mischief: and assert that his letting the king go to the states-general, before their powers were verified, and the necessary steps taken to keep the orders separate, after giving double the representation to the tiers to that of the other two orders, was madness. That he ought to have appointed commissaries to have received the verification before admittance: they accuse him further of having done all this through an excessive and insufferable vanity, which gave him the idea of guiding the deliberation of the states by his knowledge and reputation. The character of a man, drawn by his enemies, must necessarily be charged; but these are his features here, of which all parties recognize some truth, however rejoiced they may be that error was a part of his constitution. It is expressly asserted by M. Necker's18 most intimate friends, that he has acted with good faith, and that he has been in principle a friend to the regal power, as well as to an amelioration of the condition of the people. The worst thing I know of him is his speech to the states on their assembling,—a great opportunity, but lost,—no great leading or masterly views,—no decision on circumstances in which the people ought to be relieved, and new principles of government adopted;—it is the speech you would expect from a banker's clerk of some ability. Concerning it there is an anecdote worth inserting; he knew his voice would not enable him to go through the whole of it, in so large a room, and to so numerous an assembly; and therefore he had spoken to Mons. de Broussonet, of the academy of sciences, and secretary to the royal society of agriculture, to be in readiness to read it for him. He had been present at an annual general meeting of that society, when Mons. Broussonet had read a discourse with a powerful piercing voice, that was heard distinctly to the greatest distance. This gentleman attended him several times to take his instructions, and be sure of understanding the interlineations that were made, even after the speech was finished. M. Broussonet was with him the evening before the assembly of the states, at nine o'clock: and next day, when he came to read it in public, he found still more corrections and alterations, which Mons. Necker had made after quitting him; they were chiefly in stile, and shew how very solicitous he was in regard to the form and decoration of his matter: the ideas in my opinion wanted this attention more than the stile. Mons. Broussonet himself told me this little anecdote. This morning in the states three cureés of Poitou have joined themselves to the commons, for the verification of their powers, and were received with a kind of madness of applause; and this evening at Paris nothing else is talked of. The nobles have been all day in debate, without coming to any conclusion, and have adjourned to Monday.
The 14th. To the king's garden, where Mons. Thouin had the goodness to shew me some small experiments he has made on plants that promise greatly for the farmer, particularly the lathyrus biennis,19 and the melilotus syberica,1 which now make an immense figure for forage; both are biennial; but will last three or four years if not seeded; the Achillæa syberica promises well, and an astragalus; he has promised me seeds. The Chinese hemp has perfected its seeds, which it had not done before in France.20 The more I see of Mons. Thouin the better I like him, he is one of the most amiable men I know.
To the repository of the royal machines, which Mons. Vandermond shewed and explained to me with great readiness and politeness. What struck me most was Mons. Vaucusson's machine for making a chain, which I was told Mr. Watt of Birmingham admired very much, at which my attendants seemed not displeased. Another for making the cogs indented in iron wheels. There is a chaff cutter, from an English original; and a model of the nonsensical plough to go without horses, there are the only once in agriculture. Many of very ingenious contrivance for winding silk, &c. In the evening to the theatre Francoise, the Siege of Calais, by Mons. de Belloy, not a good, but a popular performance.
It is now decided by the popular leaders, that they will move to-morrow to declare all taxes illegal not raised by authority of the states general, but to grant them immediately for a term; either for two years, or for the duration of the present session of the states. This plan is highly approved at Paris by all the friends of liberty; and it is certainly a rational mode of proceeding, founded on just principles, and will involve the court in a great dilemma.
The 15th. This has been a rich day, and such an one as ten years ago none could believe would ever arrive in France; a very important debate being expected on what, in our house of commons, would be termed the state of the nation. My friend Mons. Lazowski and myself were at Versailles by eight in the morning. We went immediately to the hall of the states to secure good seats in the gallery; we found some deputies already there, and a pretty numerous audience collected. The room is too large; none but stentorian lungs, or the finest clearest voices can be heard; however the very size of the apartment, which admits 2000 people, gave a dignity to the scene. It was indeed an interesting one. The spectacle of the representatives of twenty-five millions of people, just emerging from the evils of 200 years of arbitrary power, and rising to the blessings of a freer constitution, assembled with open doors under the eye of the public, was framed to call into animated feelings every latent spark, every emotion of a liberal bosom. To banish whatever ideas might intrude of their being a people too often hostile to my own country,—and to dwell with pleasure on the glorious idea of happiness to a great nation—of felicity to millions yet unborn. Mons. l'Abbé Syeyes opened the debate. He is one of the most zealous sticklers for the popular cause; carries his ideas not to a regulation of the present government, which he thinks too bad to be regulated at all, but wishes to see it absolutely overturned; being in fact a violent republican: this is the character he commonly bears, and in his pamphlets he seems pretty much to justify such an idea. He speaks ungracefully, and uneloquently, but logically, or rather reads so, for he read his speech, which was prepared. His motion, or rather string of motions, was to declare themselves the representatives known and verified of the French nation, admitting the right of all absent deputies (the nobility and clergy) to be received among them on the verification of their powers. Mons. de Mirabeau spoke without notes, for near an hour, with a warmth, animation, and eloquence, that entitles him to the reputation of an undoubted orator. He opposed the words known and verified, in the proposition of Abbé Syeyes, with great force of reasoning; and proposed, in lieu, that they should declare themselves simply Representatives du peuple Francoise: that no veto should exist against their resolves in any other assembly: that all taxes are illegal, but should be granted during the present session of the states, and no longer: that the debt of the kind should become the debt of the nation, and be secured on funds accordingly. Mons. de Mirabeau was well heard, and his proposition much applauded. Mons. de Mounier,21 a deputy from Dauphine, of great reputation, and who has also published some pamphlets, very well approved by the public, moved a different resolution to declare themselves the legitimate representatives of the majority of the nation: that they should vote by head and not by order: and that they should never acknowledge any right in the representatives of the clergy or nobility to deliberate separately. Mons. Rabaud St. Etienne,22 a protestant from languedoc, also an author, who has written in the present affairs, and a man of considerable talents, spoke also, and made his proposition, which was to declare themselves the representatives of the people to France; to declare all taxes null; to regrant them during the sitting of the states; to verify and consolidate the debt; and to vote a loan. All which were well approved except the loan, which was not at all to the feeling of the assembly. This gentleman speaks clearly and with precision, and only passages of his speech from notes. Mons. Bernarve,23 a very young man, from Grenoble, spoke without notes with great warmth and animation. Some of his periods were so well rounded, and so eloquently delivered, that he met with much applause, several members crying—bravo!
In regard to their general method of proceeding, there are two circumstances in which they are very deficient: the spectators in the galleries are allowed to interfere in the debates by clapping their hands, and other noisy expressions of approbation: this is grossly indecent; it is also dangerous; for, if they are permitted to express approbation, they are, by parity of reason, allowed expressions of dissent; and they may hiss as well as clap; which it is said, they have sometimes done:—this would be, to overrule the debate and influence the deliberations. Another circumstance, is the want of order among themselves; more than once to-day there were an hundred members on their legs at a time, and Mons Bailly24 absolutely without power to keep order. This arises very much from complex motions being admitted; to move a declaration relative to their title, to their powers, to taxes, to a loan, &c. &c. all in one proposition, appears to English ears preposterous, and certainly is so. Specific motions, founded on single and simple propositions, can alone produce order in debate; for it is endless to have five hundred members declaring their reasons of assent to one part of a complex proposition, and their dissent to another part. A debating assembly should not proceed to any business whatever till they have settled the rules and orders of their proceedings, which can only be done by taking those of other experienced assemblies, confirming them as they find useful, and altering such as require to be adapted to different circumstances. The rules and orders of debate in the house of commons of England, as I afterwards took the liberty of mentioning to Mons. Rabaud St. Etienne, might have been taken at once in Mr. Hatsel's25 book, and would have saved them at least a fourth of their time. They adjourned for dinner. Dined ourselves with the due de Liancourt, at his apartments in the palace, meeting twenty deputies.—I sat by M. Rabaud St. Etienne, and had much conversation with him; they all speak with equal confidence on the fall of despotism. The foresee, that attempts very adverse to the spirit of liberty will be made, but the spirit of the people is too much excited at present to be crushed any more. Finding that the question of to-day's debate cannot be decided to-day, and that in all probability it will be unfinished even to-morrow, as the number that will speak on it is very great. Return in the evening to Paris.
The 16th. To Dugny, ten miles from Paris, again with Mons. de Broussonet, to wait on Mons. Creté de palieul, the only practical farmer in the society of agriculture. Mons. Broussonet, than whom no man can be more eager for the honour and improvement of agriculture, was desirous that I should witness the practice and improvements of a gentleman who stands so high in the list of good French farmers. Called first on the brother of Mons. Creté who at present has the poste, and consequently 140 horses; walked over his farm, and the crops he shewed me of wheat and oats were on the whole very fine, and some of them superior; but I must confess I should have been better pleased with them if he had not had his stables so well filled with a view different from that of the farm. And to look for a course of crops in France is vain; he sows white corn twice, thrice, and even four times in succession. At dinner, &c. had much conversation with the two brothers, and with some other neighbouring cultivators present on this point, in which I recommended either turnips or cabbages, according to the soil, for breaking their rotations of white corn. But every one of them, except Mons. de Broussonet, was against me; they demanded, Can we sow wheat after turnips and cabbages? On a small portion you may with great success; but the time of consuming the greater part of the crop renders it impossible. That is sufficient, if we cannot sow wheat after them, they cannot be good in France. This idea is everywhere nearly the same in that kingdom. I then said, that they might have half their land under wheat and yet be good farmers; thus;—1. Beans;—2. Wheat;—3. Tares;4. Wheat;—5. Clover;—6. Wheat;—this they approved better of, but thought their own courses more profitable. But the most interesting circumstance of their farms is the chicory (chicorium intybus).26 I had the satisfaction to find, that Mons. Creté de Palieul had as great an opinion of it as ever; that his brother had adopted it; that it was every flourishing on both their farms; and on those of their neighbours also: I never see this plant but I congratulate myself on having travelled for something more than to write in my closet: and that the introduction of it in England would alone, if no other result had flowed from one man's existence, have been enough to shew that he did not live in vain. Of this excellent plant, and Mons. Creté's experiments on it, more elsewhere.
The 17th. All conversation on the motion of l'Abbé Syeyes being accepted, yet that of the Count de Mirabeau better relished. But his character is a dead weight upon him; there is a suspicion that he has received 100,000 liv. from the Queen; a blind, improbable report;27 for his conduct would in every probability be very different had any such transaction taken place: but when a man's life has not passed free from gross errors, to use the mildest language, suspicions are ever ready to fix on him, even when he is as free from what ought at the moment to give the imputation as any the most immaculate of their patriots. This report brings out others from their lurking holes; that he published, at her instigation, the anecdotes of the court of Berlin; and that the king of Prussia, knowing the causes of that publication, circulated the memoirs of Madame de la Motte28 all over Germany. Such are the eternal tales, suspicions, and improbabilities for which Paris has always been so famous. One clearly, however, gathers from the complexion of conversation, even on the most ridiculous topics, provided of a public nature, how far, and for what reason, confidence is lodged in certain men. In every company, of every rank, you hear of the count de Mirabeau's talents; that he is one of the first pens of France, and the first orator; and yet that he could not carry from confidence six votes on any question in the states. His writings, however, spread in Paris and the provinces: he published a journal of the states, written for a few days with such force, and such severity, that it was silenced by an express edict of government. This is attributed to Mons. Necker, who was treated in it with so little ceremony, that his vanity was wounded to the quick. The number of subscribers to the journal was such, that I have heard the profit, to Mons. Mirabeau, calculated at 80,000 liv. (3,5001.) a year. Since its suppression, he publishes once or twice a week a small pamphlet, to answer the same purpose of giving an account of the debates, or rather observations on them, entitled 1, 2, 3, &c. Lettre des Comte de Mirabeau a ses Commettans, which, though violent, sarcastic, and severe, the court has not thought proper to stop, respecting, I suppose, its title. It is a weak and miserable conduct, to single out any particular publication for prohibition, while the press groans with innumerable productions, whose tendency is absolutely to overturn the present government; to permit such pamphlets to be circulated all over the kingdom, even by the posts and diligences in the hands of government, is a blindness and folly, from which there are no effects that may not be expected. In the evening to the comic opera; Italian music, Italian words, and Italian performers; and the applause so incessant and rapturous, that the ears of the French must be changing apace. What could Jean Jacques have said, could he have been a witness to such a spectacle at Paris!
The 18th. Yesterday the commons decreed themselves, in consequence of the Abbé Syeyes's amended motion, the title of Assembleé Nationale; and also, considering themselves then in activity, the illegality of all taxes; but granted them during the session, declaring that they would, without delay, deliberate on the consolidating of the debt; and on the relief of the misery of the people. These steps give great spirits to the violent partizans of a new constitution, but amongst more sober minds, I see evidently an apprehension that it will prove a precipitate measure. It is a violent step, which may be taken hold of by the court, and converted very much to the people's disadvantage. The reasoning of Mons. de Mirabeau against it was forcible and just—Si je voulois employer contre les autres motions les armes dont on se sert pour attaquer la mienne, ne pourroisje pas dire a montour: de quelque maniere que vous-vous qualifiez que vous soyez les representans connus & verifies de la nation, les représentans de 25 millions d'hommes, les representans de la majorité du peuple, dussiez-vous Même vous appeller l'Assembleé Nationalé, les etats généraux, empecherez-vous les classes privilegieés de continuer des assembleés que sa majesté a reconnues? Les empecherez-vous de prendre des deliberationes? Les empecherez-vous de pretendre au veto? Empecherez-vous le Roi de les recevoir? Des les reconnoitre, de leur continuer les mêmes titres qu'il leur adonnès jusqu'a present? Enfin, empecherez-vous la nation d'appeller le clergé, la noblesse, la noblesse?
To the royal society of agriculture, where I gave my vote with the rest, who were unanimous for electing general Washington an honorary member; this was a proposal of Mons. Broussonet, in consequence of my having assured him, that the general was an excellent farmer, and had corresponded with me on the subject. Abbé Commeral29 was present; he gave a pamphlet of his on a new project, the choux a fauché, and a paper of the seed.
The 19th. Accompanied Mons. de Broussonet to dine with Mons. de Parmentier, at the hotel des invalids. A president of the parliament, a Mons. Mailly, brother-in-law to the chancellor, was there; Abbé Commerel, &c. &c. I remarked two years ago that Mons. Parmentier is one of the best of men, and beyond all question understands every circumstance of the boulangerie better than any other writer, as his productions clearly manifest. After dinner, to the plains of Sablon,30 to see the society's potatoes and preparation for turnips, of which I shall only say that I wish my brethren to stick to their scientific farming, and leave the practical to those who understand it. What a sad thing for philosophical husbandmen that God Almighty created such a thing as couch (triticum repens).
The 20th. News!—News!—Every one stares at what every one might have expected.31 A message from the King to the presidents of the three orders, that he should meet them on Monday; and, under pretence of preparing the hall for the seance royale, the French guards were placed with bayonets to prevent any of the deputies entering the room. The circumstances of doing this ill-judged act of violence have been as ill-advised as the act itself. Mons. Bailly received no other notice of it than by a letter from the marquis de Brézé, and the deputies met at the door of the hall, without knowing that it was shut. Thus the seeds of disgust were sown wantonly in the manner of doing a thing, which in itself was equally impalatable and unconstitutional. The resolution taken on the spot was a noble and firm one; it was to assemble instantly at the Jeu de paume,32 and there the whole assembly took a solemn oath never to be dissolved but by their own consent, and consider themselves, and act as the national assembly, let them be wherever violence or fortune might drive them, and their expectations were so little favourable, that expresses were sent off no Nantes, intimating that the national assembly might possibly find it necessary to take refuge in some distant city. This message, and placing guards at the hall of the states, are the result of long and repeated councils, held in the king's presence at Marly, where he has been shut up for some days, seeing nobody; and no person admitted, even to the officers of the court, without jealousy and circumspection. The king's brothers have no seat in the council, but the count d'Artois incessantly attends the resolutions, conveys them to the Queen, and has long conferences with her. When this news arrives at Paris, the Palais Royal was in a flame, the coffee-houses, pamphlet-shops, corridores, and gardens were crouded,—alarm and apprehension sat in every eye,—the reports that were circulated eagerly, tending to shew the violent intentions of the court, as if it was bent on the utter extirpation of the French nation, except the party of the Queen, are perfectly incredible for their gross absurdity; but nothing was so glaringly ridiculous but the mob swallowed it with undiscriminating faith. It was, however, curious to remark, among people of another description (for I was in several parties after the news arrived), that the balance of opinions was clearly that the national assembly, as it called itself, had gone too far—had been too precipitate—and too violent—had taken steps that the mass of the people would not support. From which we may conclude, that if the court, having seen the tendency of their late proceedings, shall pursue a firm and politic plan, the popular cause will have little to boast.
The 21st. It is impossible to have any other employment at so critical a moment, than going from house to house demanding news; and remarking the opinions and ideas most current. The present moment is, of all others, perhaps that which is most pregnant with the future destiny of France. The step the commons have taken of declaring themselves the national assembly, independent of the other orders, and of the king himself, precluding a dissolution, is in fact an assumption of all the authority in the kingdom. They have at one stroke converted themselves into the long parliament of Charles I. It needs not the assistance of much penetration to see that if such a pretension and declaration are not done away, king, lords, and clergy are deprived of their shares in the legislature of France. So bold, and apparently desperate a step, full in the teeth of every other interest in the realm, equally destructive to the royal authority, by parliaments and the army, can never be allowed. If it is not opposed, all other powers will lie in ruins around that of the common. With what anxious expectation must one therefore wait to see if the crown will exert itself firmly on the occasion, with such an attention to an improved system of liberty, as is absolutely necessary to the moment! All things considered, that is, the characters of those who are in possession of power, no well digested system and steady execution are to be looked for. In the evening to the play: Madame Rocquere did the queen in Hamlet; it may easily be supposed how that play of Shakespeare is cut in pieces. It has however effect by her admirable acting.
The 22nd. To Versailles at six in the morning, to be ready for the seance royale. Breakfasting with the duc de Liancourt, we found that the king had put off going to the states, till to-morrow morning. A committee of council was held last night, which sat till midnight, at which were present Mons. and the count d'Artois for the first time: an event considered as extraordinary, and attributed to the influence of the Queen. The count d'Artois, the determined enemy of Mons. Necker's plans, opposed his system, and prevailed to have the seance put off to give time for a council in the king's presence to-day. From the chateau we went to find out the deputies; reports were various where they were assembling. To the Recolets, where they had been, but finding it incommodious they went to the church of St. Louis,33 whither we followed them, and were in time to see M. Bailly take the chair, and read the king's letter, putting off the seance till to-morrow. The spectacle of this meeting, was singular—the crowd that attended in and around the church was great,—and the anxiety and suspense in every eye, with the variety of expression that flowed from different views and different characters, gave to the countenances of all the world an impression I had never witnessed before. The only business of importance transacted, but which lasted till three 0'clock, was receiving the oaths and the signatures of some deputies, who had not taken them at the Jeu de paume; and the union of three bishops and 150 of the deputies of the clergy, who came to verify their powers, and were received by such applause, with such clapping and shouting, from all present, that the church resounded. Apparently the inhabitants of Versailles, which having a population of 60,000 people can afford a pretty numerous mob, are to the last person in the interest of the commons; remarkable, as this town is absolutely fed by the palace, and if the cause of the court is not popular here, it is easy to suppose what it must be in all the rest of the kingdom. Dine with the duc de Liancourt, in the palace, a large party of nobility and deputies of the commons, the duc d'Orleans, amongst them; the bishop of Rodez, Abbé Syeyes, and Mons. Rabaud St. Etienne. This was one of the most striking instances of the impression made on men of different ranks by great events. In the streets, and in the church of St. Louis, such anxiety was in every face, that the importance of the moment was written in the physiognomy; and all the common forms and salutations of habitual civility lost in attention: but amongst a class so much higher as those I dined with, I was struck with the difference. There were not, in thirty persons, five in whose countenances you could guess that any extraordinary event was going forward: more of the conversation was indifferent than I should have expected. Had it all been so, there would have been no room for wonder; but observations were made of the greatest freedom, and so received as to mark that there was not the least impropriety in making them. In such a case, would not one have expected more energy of feeling and expression, and more attention in conversation to the crisis that must in its nature fill every bosom? Yet they eat, and drank, and sat, and walked, loitered and smirked and smiled, and chatted with that easy indifference, that made me stare at their insipidity. Perhaps there is a certain nonchalance that is natural to people of fashion from long habit, and which marks them from the vulgar, who have a thousand asperities in the expression of their feelings, that cannot be found on the polished surface of those whose manners are smoothed by society, not worn by attrition. Such an observation would therefore in all common cases be unjust; but I confess the present moment, which is beyond all question the most critical the France has seen from the foundation of the monarchy, since the council was assembled that must finally determine the king's conduct, was such as might have accounted for a behaviour totally different. The duc d'Orleans presence might do a little, but not much; his manner might do more; for it was not without some disgust, that I observed him several times playing off that small sort of wit, and flippant readiness to titter, which, I suppose, is a part of his character, or it would not have appeared to-day. From his manner, he seemed not at all displeased. The Abbé Syeyes has a remarkable physiognomy, a quick rolling eye; penetrating the ideas of other people, but so cautiously reserved as to guard him own. There is as much character in his air and manner as there is vacuity of it in the countenance of Mons. Rabaud St. Etienne, whose physiognomy, however, is far from doing him justice, for he has undoubted talents. It seems agreed, that if, in the council the count d'Artois, carries his point, Mons. Necker, the count de Montmorin,34 and Mons. de St. Priest35 will resign; in which case Mons. Necker's return to power, and in triumph, will inevitably happen. Such a turn, however, must depend on events.—Evening.—The count d'Artois plan accepted; the king will declare it in his speech to-morrow. Mons. Necker demanded to resign, but it was refused by the king. All is now anxiety to know what the plan is.
The 23rd. The important day is over: in the morning Versailles seemed filled with troops: the streets, about ten o'clock, were lined with the French guards, and some Swiss regiments, &c.: the hall of the states was surrounded, and centinels fixed in all the passages, and at the doors; and none but deputies admitted. This military preparation was ill-judged, for it seemed admitting the impropriety and unpopularity of the intended measure, and the expectation, perhaps fear of popular commotions. They pronounced, before the king left the chateau, that his plan was adverse to the people, from the military parade with which it was ushered in. The contrary, however, proved to be the fact; the propositions are known to all the world: the plan was a good one; much was granted to the people in great and essential points; and as it was granted before they had provided for these public necessities of finance, which occasioned the states being called together; and consequently left them at full power in future to procure for the people all that opportunity might present, they apparently ought to accept them, provided some security is given for the future meetings of the states, without which all the rest would be insecure; but as a little negociation may easily secure this, I apprehend the deputies will accept them conditionally: the use of soldier, and some imprudencies in the manner of forcing the king's system, relative to the interior constitution, and assembling of the deputies, as well as the ill-blood which had had time to brood for three days past in their minds, prevented the commons from receiving the king with any expressions of applause; the clergy, and some of the nobility, cried vive le Roi! but treble the number of mouths being silent, took off all effect. It seems they had previously determined to submit to no violence: when the king was gone, and the clergy and nobility retired, the marquis the Brézé waiting a moment to see if they meant to obey the king's express orders, to retire also to another chamber prepared for them, and perceiving that no one moved, addressed them,—Messieurs, vous connoissez les intentions du Roi. A dead silence ensued; and then it was that superior talents bore the sway, that overpowers in critical moments all other considerations. The eyes of the whole assembly were turned on the count de Mirabeau, who instantly replied to the marquis de Brézé—Oui, Monsieur, nous avons entendu les intentions qu' on a suggéreés au Roi, & vous qui ne sauriez être son organe auprès des etats généraux, vous qui n'ávez ici ni place, ni voix, ni droit de parler, vous n'êtes pas fait pour nous rapeller son discours. Cependant pour eviter toute equivoque, & tout delai, je vous declare que si l'on vous a chargé de nous faire sortir d'ici, vous devez demander des ordres pour employer la force, car nous ne quitterons nos places que par la puissance de la baionette.—On which there was a general cry of—Tel est le væu del l'Assembleé. They then immediately passed a confirmation of their preceding arrets: and, on the motion of the count de Mirabeau, a declaration that their persons, individually and collectively, were sacred; and that all who made any attempts against them should be deemed infamous traitors to their country.
The 24th. The ferment at Paris is beyond conception; 10,000 people have been all this day in the Palais Royal; a full detail of yesterday's proceedings was brought this morning, and read by many apparent leaders of little parties, with comments, to the people. To my surprise, the king's propositions are received with universal disgust. He said nothing explicit on the periodical meeting of the states; he declared all the old feudal rights to be retained as property. These, and the change in the balance of representation in the provincial assemblies, are the articles that give the greatest offence. But instead of looking to, or hoping for further concessions on these points, in order to make them more consonant to the general wishes; the people seem, with a sort of phrenzy, to reject all idea of compromise, and to insist on the necessity of the orders uniting, that full power may consequently reside in the commons, to effect what they call the regeneration of the kingdom, a favourite term, to which they affix no precise idea, but add the indefinite explanation of the general reform of all abuses. They are also full of suspicions at M. Necker's offering to resign, to which circumstance they seem to look more than to much more essential points. It is plain to me, from many conversations and harangues I have been witness to, that the constant meetings at the Palais Royal, which are carried to a degree of licentiousness and fury of liberty, that is scarcely credible, united with the innumerable inflammatory publications that have been hourly appearing since the assembly of the states, have so heated the people's expectations, and given them the idea of such total changes, that nothing the king or court could do, would now satisfy them; consequently it would be idleness itself to make concessions that are not steadily adhered to, not only to be observed by the king, but to be enforced on the people, and good order at the same time restored. But the stumbling-block to this and every plan that can be devised, as the people know and declare in every corner, is the situation of the finances, which cannot possible be restored but by liberal grants of the states on one hand, or by a bankruptcy on the other. It is well known, that this point has been warmly debated in the council: Mons. Necker has proved to them, that a bankruptcy is inevitable, if they break with the states before the finances are restored; and the dread and terror of taking such a step, which no minister would at present dare to venture on, has been the great difficulty that opposed itself to the projects of the Queen and the count d'Artois. The measure they have taken is a middle one, from which they hope to gain party among the people, and render the deputies unpopular enough to get rid of them: an expectation, however, in which they will infallibly be mistaken. If, on the side of the people it is urged, that the vices of the old government make a new system necessary, and that it can only be by the firmest measures that the people can be put in possession of the blessings of a free government; it is to be replied, on the other hand, that the personal character of the king is a just foundation for relying that no measures of actual violence can be seriously feared: that the state of the finances, under any possible regimen, whether of faith or bankruptcy, must secure their existence, at least for time sufficient to secure by negociation, what may be hazarded by violence: that by driving things to extremities, they risque an union between all the other orders of the state, with the parliaments, army, and a great body even of the people, who must disapprove of all extremities; and when to this is added the possibility of involving the kingdom in a civil war, now so familiarly talked of, that it is upon the lips of all the world, we must confess, that the commons, if they steadily refuse what is now held out to them, put immense and certain benefits to the chance of fortune, to that hazard which may make posterity curse, instead of bless, their memories as real patriots, who had nothing in view but the happiness of their country. Such an incessant buzz of politics has been in my ears for some days past, that I went to-night to the Italian opera, for relaxation. Nothing could be better calculated for that effect, than the piece performed, La Villanella Rapita, by Bianchi, a delicious composition. Can it be believed, that this people, who so lately valued nothing at an opera but the dances, and could hear nothing but a squall,—now attend with feeling to Italian melodies, applaud with taste and rapture, and this without the meretricious aid of a single dance! The music of this piece is charming, elegantly playful, airy, and pleasing, with a duet, between Signora Mandini and Vigagnoni, of the first lustre. The former is a most fascinating singer,—her voice nothing, but her grace, expression, soul, all strung to exquisite sensibility.
The 25th. The criticisms that are made on Mons. Necker's conduct, even by his friends, if above the level of the people, are severe. It is positively asserted, that Abbé Syeyes, Messrs. Mounier, Chapellier,36 Bernave, Target,37 Tourette, Rabaud, and other leaders, were almost on their knees to him, to insist peremptorily on his resignation being accepted, as they were well convinced that his retreat would throw the Queen's party into infinitely greater difficulties and embarrassment than any other circumstance. But his vanity prevailed over all their efforts, to listen to the insidious persuasions of the Queen, who spoke to him in a style of asking a request that would keep the crown on the king's head; at the same time that he yielded to do it, contrary to the interest of the friends of liberty, he courted the huzzas of the mob of Versailles, in a manner that did much mischief. The ministers never go to and from the king's apartment on foot, across the court, which Mons. Necker took this opportunity of doing, though he himself had not done it in quiet times, in order to court the flattery of being called the father of the people, and moving with an immense and shouting multitude at his heels. Nearly at the time that the Queen, in an audience almost private, spoke as above to M. Necker, she received the deputation from the nobility, with the Dauphin in her hand, whom she presented to them, claiming of their honour, the protection of her son's rights; clearly implying that if the step the king had taken, was not steadily asserted, the monarchy would be lost, and the nobility sunk. While M. Necker's mob was heard through every apartment of the chateau, the kind passed in his coach to Marly, through a dead and mournful silence,—and that just after having given to his people, and the cause of liberty, more perhaps than ever any monarch had done before. Of such materials are all mobs made,—so impossible is it to satisfy in moments like these, when the heated imagination dresses every visionary project of the brain, in the bewitching colours of liberty. I feel great anxiety to know what will be the result of the deliberations of the commons, after their first protests are over, against the military violence which was so unjustifiably and injudiciously used. Had the king's proposition come after the supplies were granted, and on any inferior question, it would be quite another affair; but to offer this before one shilling is granted, or a step taken, makes all the difference imaginable.—Evening.—The conduct of the court is inexplicable, and without plan: while the late step was taken, to secure the orders sitting separate, a great body of the clergy has been permitted to go to the commons, and the duc d'Orleans, at the head of forty-seven of the nobility, has done the same: and, what is equally a proof of the unsteadiness of the court, the commons are in the common hall of the states, contrary to the express command of the king. The fact is, the seance royale was contrary to the personal feelings of the king, and he was brought to it by the council, with much difficulty; and when it afterwards became, as it did every hour, to give new and effective orders to support the system then laid down, it was necessary to have a new battle for every point; and thus the scheme was only opened and not persisted in:—this is the report, and apparently authentic: it is easy to see that that step had better, on a thousand reasons, not have been taken at all, for all vigour and effect of government will be lost, and the people be more assuming than ever. Yesterday at Versailles, the mob was violent,—they insulted, and even attacked all; the clergy and nobility that are knows to be strenuous for preserving the separation of orders. The bishop of Beauvais38 had a stone on his head, that almost struck him down.39 The archbishop of Paris had all his windows broken, and forced to move his lodgings; and the cardinal de la Rochefoucauld hissed and hooted. The confusion is so great, that the court have only the troops to depend on; and it is now said confidently, that if an order is given to the French guards to fire on the people, they will refuse obedience: this astonishes all, except those who know how they have been disgusted by the treatment, conduct, and manœuvres of the duc de Chatelet, their colonel: so wretchedly have the affairs of the court, in every particular, been managed; so miserable its choice of the men in office, even such as are the most intimately connected with its safety, and even existence. What a lesson to princes how they allow intriguing courtiers, women, and fools, to interfere, or assume the power that can be lodged, with safety, only in the hands of ability and experience. It is asserted expressly, that these mobs have been excited and instigated by the leaders of the commons, and some of them paid by the duc d'Orleans. The distraction of the ministry is extreme.—At night to the theatre Francoise; the Earl of Essex,40 and the Maison de Moliere.
The 26th. Every hour that passes seems to give the people fresh spirit: the meetings at the Palais Royal are more numerous, more violent, and more assured; and in the assembly of electors, at Paris, for sending a deputation to the National Assembly, the language that was talked, by all ranks of people, was nothing less than a revolution in the government, and the establishment of a free constitution: what they mean by a free constitution is easily understood—a republic; for the doctrine of the times runs every day more and more to that point; yet they profess, that the kingdom ought to be a monarchy too; or, at least, that there ought to be a king. In the streets one is stunned by the hawkers of seditious pamphlets, and descriptions of pretended events, that all tend to keep the people equally ignorant and alarmed. The supineness, and even stupidity of the court, is without example: the moment demands the greatest decision,—and yesterday, while it was actually a question, whether he should be a doge of Venice, or a king of France, the king went a hunting! The spectacle the Palais Royal presented this night, till eleven o'clock, and, as we afterwards heard, almost till morning, is curious. The croud was prodigious, and fireworks of all sorts were played off, and all the building was illuminated: these were said to be rejoicings on account of the duc d'Orleans and the nobility joining the commons; but united with the excessive freedom, and even licentiousness, of the orators, who harangue the people; With the general movement which before was threatening, all this bustle and noise, which will not leave them a moment tranquil, has a prodigious effect in preparing them for whatever purposes the leaders of the commons shall have in view; consequently they are grossly and diametrically opposite to the interests of the court;—but all these are blind and infatuated. It is now understood by everybody, that the king's offers, in the seance royale, are out of the question. The moment the commons found a relaxation, even in the trifling point of assembling in the great hall, they disregarded all the rest, and considered the whole as null, and not to be taken notice of, unless enforced in a manner of which there were no signs. They lay it down for a maxim, that they have a right to a great deal more than what the king touched on, but that they will accept of nothing as the concession of power: they will assume and secure all to themselves, as matters of right. Many persons I talk with, seem to think there is nothing extraordinary in this,—but it appears, that such pretensions are equally dangerous and inadmissible, and lead directly to a civil war, which would be the height of madness and folly, when public liberty might certainly be secured, without any such extremity. If the commons are to assume everything as their right, what power is there in the state, short of arms, to prevent them from assuming what is not their right? They instigate the people to the most extensive expectations, and if they are not gratified, all must be confusion; and even the king himself, easy and lethargic as he is, his indifference to power will, by and by, be seriously alarmed, and then he will be ready to listen to measures, to which he will not at present give a moment's attention. All this seems to point strongly to great confusion, and even civil commotions; and to make it apparent, that to have accepted the king's offers, and made them the foundation of future negociation, would have been the wisest conduct, and with that idea I shall leave Paris.
The 27th. The whole business now seems over, and the revolution complete. The king has been frightened by the mobs into overturning his own act of the seance royale, by writing to the presidents of the orders of the nobility and clergy, requiring them to join the commons,—full in the teeth of what he had ordained before. It was represented to him, that the want of bread was so great in every part of the kingdom, that there was no extremity to which the people might not be driven: that they were nearly starving, and consequently ready to listen to any suggestions, and on the qui vive for all sorts of mischief: that Paris and Versailles would inevitably by burnt; and in a word, that all sorts of misery and confusion would follow his adherence to he system announced in the seance royale. His apprehensions got the better of the party, who had for some days guided him; and he was thus induced to take this step, which is of such importance, that he will never more know where to stop, or what to refuse; or rather he will find, that in the future arrangement of the kingdom, his situation will be very nearly that of Charles I. a spectator, without power, of the effective resolutions of a long parliament. The joy this step occasioned was infinite: the assembly, uniting with the people, all hurried to the chateau. Vive le Roi might have been heard at Marly: the king and queen appeared in he balcony, and were received with the loudest shouts of applause; the leaders, who governed these notions, knew the value of the concession much better than those who made it. I have to-day had conversation with many persons on this business; and, to my amazement, there is an idea, and even among many of the nobility, that this union of the orders is only for the verification of their powers, and for making the constitution, which is a new term they have adopted; and which they use as if a constitution was a pudding to be made by a receipt. In vain I have asked, where is the power that can separate them hereafter, if the commons insist on remaining together, which may be supposed, as such an arrangement will leave all the power in their own hands? And in vain I appeal to the evidence of the pamphlets written by the leaders of that assembly, in which they hold the English constitution cheap, because the people have not power enough, owing to that of the crown and the house of lords. The event now appears so clear, as not to be difficult to predict: all real power will be henceforward in the commons, having so much inflamed the people in the exercise of it, they will find themselves unable to use it temperately; the court cannot sis to have their hands behind them; the clergy, nobility, parliaments, and army, will, when they find themselves all in danger of annihilation, unite in their mutual defence; but as such as union will demand time, they will find the people armed, and a bloody civil war must be the result. I have more than once declared this as my opinion, but do not find that others unite in it.41 At all events, however, the tide now runs so strongly in favour of the people, and the conduct of the court seems to be so weak, divided, and blind, that little can happen that will not clearly date from the present moment. Vigour and abilities would have turned every thing on the side of the court; for the great mass of nobility in the kingdom, the higher clergy, the parliaments, and the army, were with the crown; but this desertion of the conduct, that was necessary to secure its power, at a moment so critical, must lead to all sorts of pretensions. At night the fire-works, and illuminations, and mob, and noise, at the Palais Royal increased; the expence must be enormous; and yet nobody knows with certainty from whence it arises: shops there are, however, that for 12f. give as many squibs and serpents as would cost five livres. There is no doubt of it being the duc d'Orleand's money: the people are thus kept in a continual ferment, are for ever assembled, and ready to be in the last degree of commotion whenever called on by the men they have confidence in. Lately a company of Swiss would have crushed all this; a regiment would do it now if led with firmness; but, let it last a fortnight longer, and an army will be wanting.—At the play, Mademoiselle Contá, in the Misanthrope of Moliere, charmed me. She is truly a great actress; ease, grace, person, beauty, wit, and soul. Mola did the misanthrope admirably. I will not take leave of the theatre Francois without once more giving it the preference to all I have ever seen. I shall leave Paris, however, truly rejoiced that the representatives of the people have it undoubtedly in their power so to improve the constitution of their country, as to render all great abuses in future, if not impossible, at least exceedingly difficult, and consequently will establish to all useful purposes an undoubted political liberty; and if they effect this, it cannot be doubted but they will have a thousand opportunities to secure to their fellow-subjects the invaluable blessing of civil liberty also. The state of the finances is such, that the government may easily be kept virtually dependent on the states, and their periodical existence absolutely secured. Such benefits will confer happiness on 25 millions of people; a noble and animating idea, that ought to fill the mind of every citizen of the world, whatever be his country, religion, or pursuit. I will not allow myself to believe for a moment, that the representatives of the people can ever so far forget their duty to the French nation, to humanity, and their own fame, as to suffer any inordinate and impracticable views,—any visionary or theoretic systems,—any frivolous ideas of speculative perfection: much less any ambitious private views, to impede their progress, or turn aside their exertions, from that security which is in their hands, to place on the chance and hazard of public commotion and civil war, the invaluable blessings which are certainly in their power. I will not conceive it possible, that men who have eternal fame within their grasp, will place the rich inheritance on the cast of a die, and, losing the venture, be damned among the worst and most profligate adventurers that ever disgraced humanity.—The duc de Liancourt having made an immense collection of pamphlets, buying every thing that has a relation to the present period; and, among the rest, the cahiers of all the districts and towns of France of the three orders; it was a great object with me to read these, as I was sure of finding in them a representation of the grievances of the three orders, and an explanation of the improvements wished for in the government and administration. These cahiers being instructions given to their deputies, I have now gone through them all, with a pen in hand, to make extracts, and shall therefore leave Paris to-morrow.
The 28th. Having provided myself a light French cabriolet for one horse, or gig Anglois, and a horse, I left Paris, taking leaving of my excellent friend, Mons. Lazowski, whose anxiety for the fate of his country, made me respect his character as much as I had reason to love it for the thousand attentions I was in the daily habit of receiving from him. My kind protectress, the dutchess d'Estissac, had the goodness to make me promise, that I would return to her hospitable hotel, when I had finished the journey I was about to undertake. Of the place I dined at on my road to Nangis,42 I forget the name, but it is a post-house on the left, at a small distance out of the road. It afforded me a bad room, bare walls, cold raw weather, and no fire; for, when lighted, it smoked too much to be borne;—I was thoroughly out of humour: I had passed some time at Paris amidst the fire, energy, and animation of a great revolution. Add for those moments not filled by political events, I had enjoyed the resources of liberal and instructing conversation; the amusements of the first theatre in the world, and the fascinating accents of Mandini, had by turns solaced and charmed the fleeting moments; the change to inns, and those French inns; the ignorance of everybody of those events that were now passing, and which so intimately concerned them; the detestable circumstance of having no newspapers, with a press much freer than the English, altogether formed such a contrast, that my heart sunk with depression. At Guignes,43 an itinerant dancing-master was fiddling to some children of tradesmen; to relieve my sadness, I became a spectator of their innocent pleasures, and, with great magnificence I gave four 12f. pieces for a cake for the children, which made them dance with fresh animation; but my host, the postmaster, who is a surly pickpocket, thought that if I was so rich, he ought also to receive the benefit, and made me pay 9 liv. 10f. for a miserable tough chicken, a cutlet, a sallad, and a bottle of sorry wine. Such a dirty, pilfering disposition, did not tend to bring me into better humour.—30 miles.
The 29th. To Nangis,44 the chateau of which belongs to the marquis de Guerchy, who last year at Caen had kindly made me promise to spend a few days here. A house almost full of company, and some of them agreeable, with the eagerness of Mons. de Guerchy for farming, and the amiable naiveté of the marchioness, whether in life, politics or a farm, were well calculated to bring me into tune again. But I found myself in a circle of politicians, with whom I could agree in hardly any other particular, except the general one of cordially wishing that France might establish an indestructible system of liberty; but for the means of doing it, we were far as the poles asunder. The chaplain of Mons. de Guerchy's regiment, who has a cure here, and I had known at Caen, Mons. l'Abbé de——, was particularly strenuous for what is called the regeneration of the kingdom, by which it is impossible, from the explanation, to understand any thing more than a theoretic perfection of government; questionable in its origin, hazardous in its progress, and visionary in its end; but always presenting itself under a most suspicious appearance to me, because its advocates, from the pamphlets of the leaders in the National Assembly, to the gentlemen who make its panegyric at present, all affect to hold the constitution of England cheap in respect of liberty: and as that is unquestionably, and by their own admission the best the world ever saw, they profess to appeal from practice to theory, which, in the arrangement of a question of science, might be admitted (though with caution); but, in establishing the complex interests of a great kingdom, in securing freedom to 25 millions of people, seems to me the very acmé of imprudence, the very quintessence of insanity. My argument was an appeal to the English constitution; take it at once, which is the business of a single vote; by your possession of a real and equal representation of the people, you have freed it from its only great objection; in the remaining circumstances, which are but of small importance, improve it—but improve it cautiously; for surely that ought to be touched with caution, which has given from the moment of its establishment, felicity to a great nation; which has given greatness to a people designed by nature to be little; and, from being the humble copiers of every neighbour, has rendered them, in a single century, rivals to the most successful nations in those decorative arts that embellish human life: and the masters of the would in all those that contribute to its convenience. I was commended for my attachment to what I thought was liberty; but answered, that the king of France must have no veto on the will of the nation; and that the army must be in the hands of the provinces, width an hundred ideas equally impracticable and preposterous. Yet these are the sentiments which the court has done all in its power to spread through the kingdom; for, will posterity believe, that while the press has swarmed with inflammatory productions, that tend to prove the blessings of theoretical confusion, and speculative licentiousness, not one writer of talents has been employed to refute and confound the fashionable doctrines, nor the least care taken to disseminate works of another complexion? By the way, when the court found that the states could not be assembled on the old plan, and that great innovations must accordingly be made, they ought to have taken the constitution of England for their model; in the mode of assembling, they should have thrown the clergy and nobles into one chamber, with a throne for the king, when present. The commons should have assembled in another, and each chamber have, as in England, verified their powers only to themselves. And when the kind held a seance royale, the commons should have been sent for to the bar of the lords, where seats should have been provided; and the king, in the edict that constituted the states, should have copied from England enough of the rules and orders of proceeding to prevent those preliminary discussions, which in France lost two months, and gave time for heated imaginations to work upon the people too much. By taking such steps, security would have been had, that if changes or events unforeseen arose, they would at least be met with in no such dangerous channel as another form and order of arrangement would permit.—15 miles.
The 30th. My friend's chateau is a considerable one, and much better built than was common in England in the same period, 200 years ago; I believe, however, that this superiority was universal in France, in all the arts. They were, I apprehend, in the reign of Henry IV. far beyond us in towns, houses, streets, roads, and in short, in every thing. We have since, thanks to liberty, contrived to turn the tables on them. Like all the chateaus I have seen in France, it stands close to the town, indeed joining the end of it; but the bank front, by some very judicious plantations, has entirely the air of the country, without the sight of any buildings. There the present marquis has formed an English lawn, with some agreeable winding walks of gravel, and other decorations, to skirt it. In this lawn they are making hay; and I have had the marquis, Mons. l'Abbé, and some others on the stack to shew them how to make and tread it: such hot politicians!—it is well they did not set the stack on fire. Nangis is near enough to Paris for the people to be politicians; the perruquier that dressed me this morning tells me, that every body is determined to pay no taxes, should the National Assembly so ordain. But the soldiers will have something to say. No, Sir, never:—be assured as we are, that the French soldiers will never fire on the people: but, if they should, it is better to be shot than starved. He gave me a frightful account of the misery of the people; whole families in the utmost distress; those that work have a pay insufficient to feed them—and many that find it difficult to get work at all. I enquired of Mons. de Guerchy concerning this, and found it true. By order of the magistrates no person is allowed to buy more than two bushels of wheat at a market, to prevent monopolizing. It is clear to common sense, that all such regulations have a direct tendency to increase the evil, but it is in vain to reason with people whose ideas are immoveably fixed. Being here on a market-day, I attended, and saw the wheat sold out under this regulation, with a party of dragoons drawn up before the market-cross to prevent violence. The people quarrel with the bakers, asserting the prices they demand for bread are beyond the proportion of wheat, and proceeding from words to scuffling, raise a riot, and then run away with bread and wheat for nothing: this has happened at Nangis, and many other markets; the consequence was, that neither farmers nor bakers would supply them till they were in danger of starving, and, when they did come, prices under such circumstances must necessarily rise enormously, which aggravated the mischief, till troops became really necessary to give security to those who supplied the markets. I have been sifting Madame de Guerchy on the expences of living; our friend Mons. l'Abbé joined the conversation, and I collect from it, that to live in a chateau like this, with six men-servants, five maids, eight horses, a garden, and a regular table, with company, but never to go to Paris, might be done for 1000 louis a year. It would in England cost 2000; the mode of living (not the price of things) is therefore cent. per cent. different.—There are gentlemen (noblesse) that live in this country on 6 or 8000 liv. (262l. to 350l.), that keep two men, two maids, three horses, and a cabriolet; there are the same in England, but they are fools. Among the neighbours that visited Nangis was Mons. Trudaine de Montigny, with his new and pretty wife, to return the first visit of ceremony: he has a fine chateau at Montigny,45 and an estate of 4000 louis a year. This lady was Mademoiselle de Cour Breton, niece to Madame Calonne; she was to have been married to the son of Mons. Lamoignon,46 but much against her inclinations; finding that common refusals had no avail, she determined on a very uncommon one, which was to go to church, in obedience to her father's orders, and give a solemn NO instead of a yea. She was afterwards at Dijon, and never stirred but she was received with huzzas and acclamations by the people for refusing to be allied with la Cour Pleniere; and her firmness was every where spoken of much to her advantage. Mons. la Luzerne was with them, nephew to the French ambassador at London, who, in some broken English, informed me, that he had learned to box of Mendoza.47 No one can say that he has travelled without making acquisitions. Has the duc d'Orleans learned to box also? The news from Paris is bad: the commotions increase greatly: and such an alarm has spread, that the Queen has called the marechal de Broglio to the king's closet; he has had several conferences: the report is, that an army will be collected under him. It may be now necessary; but woeful management to have made it so.
JULY 2. To Meaux48 Mons. de Guerchy was so kind as to accompany me to Columiers;49 I had a letter to Mons. Anveé Dumeé. Pass Rosoy50 to Maupertuis,51 through a country chearfully diversified by woods, and scattered with villages; and single farms spread every where as about Nangis. Maupertuis seems to have been the creation of the marquis de Montesquieu, who has here a very fine chateau of his own building; an extensive English garden, made by the count d'Artois' gardener, with the town, has all been of his own forming. I viewed the garden with pleasure; a proper advantage has been taken of a good command of a stream, and many fine springs which rise in the grounds; they are well conducted, and the whole executed with taste. In the kitchen-garden, which is on the slope of a hill, one of these springs has been applied to excellent use: it is made to wind in many doubles through the whole on a paved bed, forming numerous basons for watering the garden, and might, with little trouble, be conducted alternately to every bed as in Spain. This is a hint of real utility to all those who form gardens on the sides of hills; for watering with pots and pails is a miserable, as well as expensive succedaneum to this infinitely more effective method. There is but one fault in this garden, which is its being placed near the house, where there should be nothing but lawn and scattered trees when viewed from the chateau. The road might be hidden by a judicious use of planting. The road to Columiers is admirably formed of broken stone, like gravel, by the marquis of Montesquieu, partly at his own expence. Before I finish with this nobleman, let me observe, that he is commonly esteemed the second family in France, and by some who admit his pretensions, even the first; he claims from the house of Armagnac, which was undoubtedly from Charlemagne: the present king of France, when he signed some paper relative to this family, that seemed to admit the claim, or refer to it, remarked, that it was declaring one of his subjects to be a better gentleman than himself. But the house of Montmorenci, of which family are the dukes of Luxembourg and Laval, and the prince of Robec, is generally admitted to be the first. Mons. de Montesquieu52 is a deputy in the states, one of the quarante in the French academy, having written several pieces: he is also chief minister to Monsieur the king's brother, an office that is worth 100,000 liv. a year (4,375l.) Dine with Mons. and Madame Dumeé; conversation here, as in every other town of the country, seems more occupied by the dearness of wheat than on any other circumstance; yesterday was market-day, and a riot ensued of the populace, in spite of the troops, that were drawn up as usual to protect the corn: it rises to 46 liv. (2l. 3d.) the septier, or half-quarter,—and some is sold yet higher. To Meaux.—32 miles.
The 3d. Meaux was by no means in my direct road; but its district, Brie,53 is so highly celebrated for fertility, that it was an object not to omit. I was provided with letters for M. Bernier, a considerable farmer, at Chaucaunin, near Meaux; and for M. Gibert, of Neuf Moutier,54 a considerable cultivator, whose father and himself had between them made a fortune by agriculture. The former gentleman was not at home; by the latter I was received with great hospitality; and I found in him the strongest desire to give me every information I wished. Mons. Gibert has built a very handsome and commodious house, with farming-offices, on the most ample and solid scale. I was pleased to find his wealth, which is not inconsiderable, to have arisen all from the plough. He did not forget to let me know, that he was noble; and exempted from all tailles; and that he had the honours of the chace, his father having purchased the charge of Secretaire du Roi: but he very wisely lives en fermier. His wife made ready the table for dinner, and his bailiff, with the female domestic, who has the charge of the dairy, &c. both dined with us. This is in a true farming style; it has many conveniencies, and looks like a plan of living, which does not promise, like the foppish modes of little gentlemen, to run through a fortune, from false shame and silly pretensions, I can find no other fault with his system than having built a house enormously beyond his plan of living, which can have no other effect than tempting some successor, less prudent than himself into expences that might dissipate all his and his father's savings. In England that would certainly be the case: the danger, however, is not equal in France.
The 4th. To Chateau Thiery,55 following the course of the Marne. The country is pleasantly varied, and hilly enough to render it a constant picture, were it inclosed. Thiery is beautifully situated on the same river. I arrived there by five o'clock, and wished, in a period so interesting to France, and indeed to all Europe, to see a newspaper. I asked for a coffee-house, not one in the town. Here are two parishes, and some thousands of inhabitants, and not a newspaper to be seen by a traveller, even in a moment when all ought to be anxiety.—What stupidity, poverty, and want of circulation! This people hardly deserve to be free; and should there be the least attempt with vigour to keep them otherwise, it can hardly fail of succeeding. To those who have been used to travel amidst the energetic and rapid circulation of wealth, animation, and intelligence of England, it is not possible to describe, in words adequate to one's feelings, the dulness and stupidity of France. I have been to day on one of their greatest roads, within thirty miles of Paris, yet I have not seen one diligence, and met but a single gentleman's carriage, nor anything else on the road that looked like a gentleman.—30 miles.
The 5th. To Mareuil.56 The Marne, about 25 rods broad, flows in an arable vale to the right. The country hilly, and parts of it pleasant; from one elevation there is a noble view of the river. Mareuil is the residence of Mons. Le Blanc, of whose husbandry and improvements, particularly in sheep of Spain, and cows of Switzerland, Mons. de Broussonet had spoken very advantageously. This was the gentleman also on whom I depended for information relative to the famous vineyards of Epernay, that produce the fine Champagne. What therefore was my disappointment, when his servants informed me that he was nine leagues off on business. Is Madame Le Blanc at home? No, she is at Dormans. My complaining ejaculations were interrupted by the approach of a very pretty young lady, whom I found to be Mademoiselle Le Blanc. Her mama would return to dinner, her papa at night; and, if I wished to see him, I had better stay. When persuasion takes so pleasing a form, it is not easy to resist it. There is a manner of doing every thing that either leaves it absolutely indifferent or that interests. The unaffected good humour and simplicity of Mademoiselle Le Blanc entertained me till the return of her mama, and made me say to myself, you will make a good farmer's wife. Madame Le Blanc, when she returned, confirmed the native hospitality of her daughter; assured me, that her husband would be at home early in the morning, as she must dispatch a messenger to him on other business. In the evening we supped with Mons. B. in the same village, who married Madame Le Blanc's niece; to pass Mareuil, it has the appearance of a small hamlet of inconsiderable farmers, with the houses of their labourers; and the sentiment that would arise in most bosoms, would be that of picturing the banishment of being condemned to live in it. Who would think that there should be two gentlemen's families in it; and that in one I should find Mademoiselle Le Blanc singing to her systrum, and in the other Madame B. young and handsome, performing on an excellent English piano forte? Compared notes of the expences of living in Champagne and Suffolk;—agreed, that 100 louis d' or a year in Champagne, were as good an income as 180 in England, which I believe true. On his return, Mons. Le Blanc, in the most obliging manner, satisfied all my enquiries, and gave me letters to the most celebrated wine districts.
The 7th. To Epernay,57 famous for its wines. I had letters for Mons. Paretilaine, one of the most considerable merchants, who was so obliging as to enter, with two other gentlemen, into a minute disquisition of the produce and profit of the fine vineyards. The hotel de Rohan here is a very good inn, where I solaced myself with a bottle of excellent vin mousseux for 40f. and drank prosperity to true liberty in France.—12 miles.
The 8th. To Ay,58 a village not far out of the road to Rheims, very famous for its wines. I had a letter for Mons. Lasnier, who has 60,000 bottles in his cellar, but unfortunately he was not at home. Mons. Dorse has from 30 to 40,000. All through this country the crop promises miserably, not owing to the great frost, but the cold weather of last week.
To Rheims,59 through a forest of five miles, on the crown of the hill, which separates the narrow vale of Epernay from the great plain of Rheims. The first view of that city from this hill, just before the descent, at the distance of about four miles, is magnificent. The cathedral makes a great figure, and the church of St. Remy terminates the town proudly. Many times I have had such a view of towns in France, but when you enter them, all is a clutter of narrow, crooked, dark, and dirty lanes. At Rheims it is very different: the streets are almost all broad, straight, and well built, equal in that respect to any I have seen; and the inn, the hotel de Moulinet, is so large and well-served as not to check the emotions raised by agreeable objects, by giving an impulse to contrary vibrations in the bosom of the traveller, which at inns in France is too often the case. At dinner they gave me also a bottle of excellent wine. I suppose fixed air is good for the rheumatism; I had some writhes of it before I entered Champagne, but the vin mousseux has absolutely banished it. I had letters for Mons. Cadot l'ainé, a considerable manufacturer, and the possessor of a large vineyard, which he cultivates himself; he was therefore a double fund to me. He received me very politely, answered my enquiries, and shewed me his fabric. The cathedral is large, but does not strike me like that of Amiens, yet ornamented, and many painted windows. They showed me the spot where the kings are crowned. You enter and quit Rheims through superb and elegant iron gates: in such public decorations, promenades, &c. French towns are much beyond English ones. Stopped at Sillery,60 to view the wine press of the marquis de Sillery;61 he is the greatest wine-farmer in all Champagne, having in his own hands 180 arpents. Till I got to Sillery, I knew not that it belonged to the husband of Madame de Genlis; but I determined, on hearing that it did, to pluck up impudence enough to introduce myself to the marquis, should he be at home: I did not like to pass the door of Madame de Genlis without seeing her: her writings are too celebrated. La Petite Loge, where I slept, is bad enough of all conscience, but such a reflection would have made it ten times worse: the absence, however, of both Mons. and Madame quieted both my wishes and anxieties. He is in the states.—28 miles.
The 9th. To Chalons,62 through a poor country and poor crops. M. de Broussonet had given me a letter to Mons. Sabbatier, secretary to the academy of sciences, but he was absent. A regiment passing to Paris, an officer at the inn addressed me in English:—He had learned, he said, in America, damme!—He had taken lord Cornwallis, damme!—Marechal Broglio was appointed to command an army of 50,000 men near Paris—it was necessary—the tiers état were running mad—and wanted some wholesome correction;—they want to establish a republic—absurd! Pray, Sir, what did you fight for in America? To establish a republic. What was so good for the Americans, is it so bad for the French? Aye, damme! that is the way the English want to be revenged. It is, to be sure, no bad opportunity. Can the English follow a better example? He then made many enquiries about what we thought and said upon it in England: and I may remark, that almost every person I meet has the same idea—The English must be very well contented at our confusion. They feel pretty pointedly what they deserve.—12½ miles.
The 10th. To Ove.63 Pass Courtisseau,64 a small village, with a great church; and though a good stream, not an idea of irrigation. Roofs of houses almost flat, with projecting eaves, resembling those from Pau to Bayonne. At St. Menehoud65 a dreadful tempest, after a burning day, with such a fall of rain, that I could hardly get to Mons. I'Abbé Michel, to whom I had a letter. When I found him, the incessant flashes of lightning would allow me no conversation; for all the females of the house came into the room for the Abbé's protection I suppose, so I took leave. The vin de Champagne, which is 40f. at Rheims, is 3 liv. at Chalons and here, and execrably bad; so there is an end of my physic for the rheumatism.—25 miles.
The 11th. Pass Islets,66 a town (or rather collection of dirt and dung) of new features, that seem to mark, with the faces of the people, a country not French.—25 miles.
The 12th. Walking up a long hill, to ease my mare, I was joined by a poor woman, who complained of the times, and that it was a sad country; demanding her reasons, she said her husband had but a morsel of land, one cow, and a poor little horse, yet they had a franchar (42 lb.) of wheat, and three chickens, to pay as a quit-rent to one Seigneur; and four franchar of oats, one chicken and 1f. to pay to another, besides very heavy tailles and other taxes. She had seven children, and the cow's milk helped to make the soup. But why, instead of a horse, do not you keep another cow? Oh, her husband could not carry his produce so well without a horse; and asses are little used in the country. It was said, at present, that something was to be done by some great folks for such poor ones, but she did not know who nor how, but God send us better, car les tailles & les droits nous ecrasent.—This woman, at no great distance might have been taken for sixty or seventy, her figure was so bent, and her face so furrowed and hardened by labour,—but she said she was only twenty-eight. An Englishman who has not travelled, cannot imagine the figure made by infinitely the greater part of the countrywomen in France; it speaks, at the first sight, hard and severe labour: I am inclined to think, that they work harder than the men, and this, united with the more miserable labour of bringing a new race of slaves into the world, destroys absolutely all symmetry of person and every feminine appearance. To what are we to attribute this difference in the manners of the lower people in the two kingdoms? TO GOVERNMENT.—23 miles.
The 13th. Leave Mar-le-Tour67 at four in the morning: the village herdsman was sounding his horn; and it was droll to see every door vomiting out its hogs or sheep, and some a few goats, the flock collecting as it advances. Very poor sheep, and the pigs with mathematical backs, large segments of small circles. They must have abundance of commons here, but, if I may judge by the report of the animals carcases, dreadfully overstocked. To Metz,68 one of the strongest places in France; pass three draw-bridges, but the command of water must give a strength equal to its works. The common garrison is 10,000 men, but there are fewer at present. Waited on M. de Payen, secretary of the academy of sciences; he asked my plan, which I explained; he appointed me at four in the afternoon at the academy, as there would be seance held; and he promised to introduce me to some persons who could answer my enquiries. I attended accordingly, when I found the academy assembled at one of their weekly meetings. Mons. Payen introduced me to the members, and, before they proceeded to their business, they had the goodness to sit in council on my enquiries, and to resolve many of them. In the "Almanach des Trois Evechés," 1789, this academy is said to have been instituted particularly for agriculture; I turned to the list of their honorary members to see what attention they had paid to the men who, in the present age, have advanced that art. I found an Englishman, Dom Cowley, of London. Who is Dom Cowley?—Dined at the table d'hôte, with seven officers, out of whose mouths, at this important moment, in which conversation is as free as the press, not one word issued for which I would give a straw, nor a subject touched on of more importance, than a coat, or a puppy dog. At table d'hôtes of officers, you have a voluble garniture of bawdry or nonsense; at those of merchants, a mournful and stupid silence. Take the mass of mankind, and you have more good sense in half an hour in England than in half a year in France—Government! Again:—all—all—is government.—15 miles.
The 14th.69 They have a cabinet literaire at Metz, something like that I described at Nantes, but not on so great a plan; and they admit any person to read or go in and out for a day, on paying 4f. To this I eagerly resorted, and the news from Paris, both in the public prints, and by the information of a gentleman, I found to be interesting. Versailles and Paris are surrounded by troops: 35,000 men are assembled, and 20,000 more on the road, large trains of artillery collected, and all the preparations of war. The assembling of such a number of troops has added to the scarcity of bread; and the magazines that have been made for their support, are not easily by the people distinguished from those they suspect of being collected by monopolists. This has aggravated their evils almost to madness; so that the confusion and tumult of the capital are extreme. A gentleman of an excellent understanding, and apparently of consideration, from the attention paid him, with whom I had some conversation on the subject, lamented in the most pathetic terms, the situation of his country; he considers a civil war as impossible to be avoided. There is not, he added, a doubt but the court, finding it impossible to bring the National Assembly to terms, will get rid of them; a bankruptcy at the same moment is inevitable; the union of such confusion must be a civil war; and it is now only by torrents of blood that we have any hope of establishing a freer constitution: yet it must be established; for the old government is rivetted to abuses that are insupportable. He agreed with me entirely, that the propositions of the seance royale, though certainly not sufficiently satisfactory, yet, were the ground for a negociation, that would have secured by degrees all even that the sword can give us, let it be as successful as it will. The purse—the power of the purse is every thing; skilfully managed, with so necessitous a government as ours, it would, one after another, have gained all we wished. As to a war, Heaven knows the event; and if we have success, success itself may ruin us; France may have a Cromwell in its bosom, as well as England. Metz is, without exception, the cheapest town I have been in. The table d'hôte is 36f. a head, plenty of good wine included. We were ten, and had two courses and a dessert of ten dishes each, and those courses plentiful. The supper is the same; I had mine, of a pint of wine and a large plate of chaudiés,70 in my chamber, for 10f. a horse, hay, and corn 25f. and nothing for the apartment; my expence was therefore 71f. a day, or 2s. 11½d.; and with the table d'hôte for supper, would have been but 97f. or 4s. 0½d.—In addition, much civility and good attendance. It is at the Faisan. Why are the cheapest inns in France the best?—The country to Pond-a-Mousson71 is all of bold feature.—The river Moselle, which is considerable, runs in the vale, and the hills on either side are high. Not far from Metz there are the remains of an ancient aqueduct for conducting the waters of a spring across the Moselle: there are many arches left on this side, with the houses of poor people built between them. At Pont-a-Mousson Mons. Pichon, the sub-delegué of the intendant, to whom I had letters, received me politely, satisfied my enquiries, which he was well able to do from his office, and conducted me to see whatever was worth viewing in the town. It does not contain much; the école militaire, for the sons of the poor nobility, also the convent de Premonte,72 which has a very fine library, 107 feet long and 25 broad. I was introduced to the abbot as a person who had some knowledge in agriculture.—17 miles.
The 15th. I went to Nancy,73 with great expectation, having heard it represented as the prettiest town in France. I think, on the whole, it is not undeserving the character in point of building, direction, and breadth of streets.—Bourdeaux is far more magnificent; Bayonne and Nantes are more lively; but there is more equality in Nancy; it is almost all good; and the public buildings are numerous. The place royale, and the adjoining area are superb. Letters from Paris! all confusion! the ministry removed: Mons. Necker ordered to quit the kingdom without noise. The effect on the people of Nancy was considerable.—I was with Mons. Willemet when his letters arrived, and for some time his house was full of enquirers; all agreed, that it was fatal news, and that it would occasion great commotions. What will be the result at Nancy? The answer was in effect the same from all I put this question to: We are a provincial town, we must wait to see what is done at Paris; but every thing is to be feared from the people, because bread is so dear, they are half starved, and are consequently ready for commotion.—This is the general feeling; they are as nearly concerned as Paris; but they dare not stir; they dare not even have an opinion of their own till they know what Paris thinks; so that if a starving populace were not in question, no one would dream of moving. This confirms what I have often heard remarked, that the deficit would not have produced the revolution but in concurrence with the price of bread. Does not this shew the infinite consequence of great cities to the liberty of mankind? Without Paris, I question whether the present revolution, which is fast working in France, could possibly have had an origin. It is not in the villages of Syria or Diarbekir that the Grand Seigneur meets with a murmur against his will; it is at Constantinople that he is obliged to manage and mix caution even with despotism. Mr. Willemet, who is demonstrator of botany, shewed me the botanical garden, but it is in a condition that speaks the want of better funds. He introduced me to a Mons. Durival, who has written on the vine, and gave me one of his treatises, and two of his own on botanical subjects. He also conducted me to Mons. l'Abbé Grandpére, a gentleman curious in gardening, who, as soon as he knew that I was an Englishman, whimsically took it into his head to introduce me to a lady, my countrywoman, who hired, he said, the greatest part of his house. I remonstrated against the impropriety of this, but all in vain; the Abbé had never travelled, and thought that if he were at the distance of England from France (the French are not commonly good geographers) he should be very glad to see a Frenchman; and that, by parity of reasoning, this lady must be the same to meet a countryman she never saw or heard of. Away he went, and would not rest till I was conducted into her apartment. It was the dowager Lady Douglas; she was unaffected, and good enough not to be offended at such a strange intrusion.—She had been here but a few days; had two fine daughters with her, and a beautiful Kamchatka dog; she was much troubled with the intelligence her friends in the town had just given her, that she would, in all probability, be forced to move again, as the news of Mons. Necker's removal, and the new ministry being appointed, would certainly occasion such dreadful tumults, that a foreign family would probably find it equally dangerous and disagreeable.—18 miles.
The 16th. All the houses at Nancy have tin eave troughs and pipes, which render walking the streets much more easy and agreeable; it is also an additional consumption, which is politically useful. Both this place and Luneville are lighted in the English manner, instead of the lamps being strung across the streets as in other French towns. Before I quit Nancy, let me caution the unwary traveller, if he is not a great lord, with plenty of money that he does not know what to do with, against the hotel d'Angleterre; a bad dinner 3 liv. and for the room as much more. A pint of wine, and a plate of chaudié 20f. which at Metz was 10f. and in addition, I liked so little my treatment, that I changed my quarters to the hotel de Halle, where, at the table d'hôte, I had the company of some agreeable officers, two good courses, and a dessert, for 36f. with a bottle of wine. The chamber 20f. for building, however, the hotel d'Angleterre is much superior, and is the first inn. In the evening to Luneville. The country about Nancy is pleasing.—17 miles.
The 17th. Luneville74 being the residence of Mons. Lazowski, the father of my much esteemed friend, who was advertised of my journey, I waited on him in the morning; he received me with not politeness only, but hospitality—with a hospitality I began to think was not to be found on this side of the kingdom.—From Mareuil hither, I had really been so unaccustomed to receive any attentions of that sort, that it awakened me to a train of new feelings agreeable enough.—An apartment was ready for me, which I was pressed to occupy, desired to dine, and expected to stay some days; he introduced me to his wife and family, particularly to M. l'Abbé Lazowski, who, with the most obliging alacrity, undertook the office of shewing me whatever was worth seeing.—We examined, in a walk before dinner, the establishment of the orphans; well regulated and conducted. Luneville wants such establishments, for it has no industry, and therefore is very poor; I was assured not less than half the population of the place, or 10,000 persons are poor. Luneville is cheap. A cook's wages two, three, or four louis. A maid's, that dresses hair, three or four louis; a common house-maid, one louis; a common footman, or a house lad, three louis. Rent of a good house sixteen or seventeen louis. Lodgings of four or five rooms, some of them small, nine louis. After dinner, wait on M. Vaux dit Pompone, an intimate acquaintance of my friend's; here mingled hospitality and politeness also received me, and so much pressed to dine with him tomorrow, that I should certainly have staid had it been merely for the pleasure of more conversation with a very sensible and cultivated man, who, though advanced in years, has the talents and good humour to render his company universally agreeable: I was obliged to refuse it; I was out of order all day. Yesterday's heat was followed, after some lightning, by a cold night, and I laid, without knowing it, with the windows open, and caught cold I suppose, from the information of my bones. I am acquainted with strangers as easily and quickly as any body, a habit that much travelling can scarcely fail to give, but to be ill among them would be enuyante, demand too much attention, and incroach on their humanity. This induced me to refuse the obliging wishes of both the Messrs. Lazowski, Mons. Pompone, and also of a pretty and agreeable American lady, I met at the house of the latter. Her history is singular, and yet very natural. She was Miss Blake, of New-York; what carried her to Dominica I know not; but the sun did not spoil her complexion: a French officer, Mons. Tibalié, on taking the island, made her his captive and himself became her own, fell in love, and married her; brought his prize to France, and settled her in his native town of Luneville. The regiment, of which he is major, being quartered in a distant province, she complained of seeing her husband not more than for six months in two years. She has been four years at Luneville; and having the society of three children, is reconciled to a scene of life new to her. Mons. Pompone, who, she assured me, is one of the best men in the world, has parties every day at his house, not more to his own satisfaction than to her comfort.—This gentleman is another instance, as well as the major, of attachment to the place of nativity; he was born at Luneville; attended King Stanislaus in some respectable office, near his person; has lived much at Paris, and with the great, and had first ministers of state for his intimate friends; but the love of the natale solum brought him back of Luneville, where he has lived beloved and respected for many years, surrounded by an elegant collection of books, amongst which the poets are not forgotten, having himself no inconsiderable talents in transfusing agreeable sentiments into pleasing verses. He has some couplets of his own composition, under the portraits of his friends, which are pretty and easy. It would have given me much pleasure to have spent some days at Luneville; an agreeable opening was made for me in two houses, where I should have met with a friendly and agreeable reception: but the misfortunes of travelling are sometimes the accidents that cross the moments prepared for enjoyment; and at others, the system of a journey inconsistent with the plans of destined pleasure.
The 18th. To Haming,75 through an uninteresting country.—28 miles.
The 19th. To Savern,76 in Alsace: the country to Phalsbourg,77 a small fortified town, on the frontiers, is much the same to the eye as hitherto. The women in Alsace all wear straw hats, as large as those worn in England; they shelter the face, and should secure some pretty country girls, but I have seen none yet. Coming out of Phalsbourg, there are some hovels miserable enough, yet have chimnies and windows, but the inhabitants in the lowest poverty. From that town to Savern all a mountain of oak timber, the descent steep, and the road winding. In Savern, I found myself to all appearance veritably in Germany; for two days past much tendency to a change, but here not one person in an hundred has a word of French; the rooms are warmed by stoves; the kitchen-hearth is three of four feet high, and various other trifles shew, that you are among another people. Looking at a map of France, and reading histories of Louis XIV. never threw his conquest or seizure of Alsace into the light which travelling into it did: to cross a great range of mountains; to enter a level plain, inhabited by a people totally distinct and different from France, with manners, language, ideas, prejudices, and habits all different, made an impression of the injustice and ambition of such a conduct, much more forcible than ever reading had done: so much more powerful are things than words.—22 miles.
The 20th. To Strasbourg,78 through one of the richest scenes of soil and cultivation to be met with in France, and rivalled only by Flanders, which however, exceeds it. I arrived there at a critical moment, which I thought would have broken my neck; a detachment of horse, with their trumpets on one side, a party of infantry, with their drums beating on the other, and a great mob hallooing, frightened my French mare; and I could scarcely keep her from trampling on Messrs. the tiers etat. On arriving at the inn, hear the interesting news of the revolt of Paris.—The Guardes Francoises joining the people; the little dependence on the rest of the troops; the taking the Bastile; and the institution of the milice bourgeoise; in a word, of the absolute overthrow of the old government. Every thing being now decided, and the kingdom absolutely in the hands of the assembly, they have the power to make a new constitution, such as they think proper; and it will be a great spectacle for the world to view, in this enlightened age, the representatives of twenty-five millions of people sitting on the construction of a new and better order and fabric of liberty, than Europe has yet offered. It will now be seen, whether they will copy the constitution of England, freed from its faults, or attempt, from theory, to frame something absolutely speculative: in the former case, they will prove a blessing to their country; in the latter they will probably involve it in inextricable confusions and civil wars, perhaps not in the present period, but certainly at some future one. I hear nothing of their removing from Versailles; if they stay there under the controul of an armed mob, they must make a government that will please the mob; but they will, I suppose, be wise enough to move to some central town Tours, Blois, or Orleans, where their deliberations may be free. But the Parisian spirit of commotion spreads quickly; it is here; the troops that were near breaking my neck, are employed, to keep an eye on the people who shew signs of an intended revolt. They have broken the windows of some magistrates that are no favourites; and a great mob of them is at this moment assembled demanding clamourously to have meat at 5f. a pound. They have a cry among them that will conduct them to good lengths,—Point d'impôt & vivent les etâts.—Waited on Mons. Herman, professor of natural history in the University here, to whom I had letters; he replied to some of my questions, and introduced me for others to Mons. Zimmer, who having been in some degree a practitioner, had understanding enough of the subject to afford me some information that was valuable. View the public buildings, and cross the Rhine passing for some little distance into Germany, but no new features to mark a change; Alsace is Germany, and the change great on descending the mountains. The exterior of the cathedral is fine, and the tower singularly light and beautiful; it is well known to be one of the highest in Europe; commands a noble and rich plain, through which the Rhine, from the number of its islands, has the appearance of a chain of lakes rather than of a river.—Monument of marechal Saxe, &c. &c. I am puzzled about going to Carlsrhue, the residence of the Margrave of Baden: it was an old intention to do it, if ever I was within an hundred miles; for there are some features in the reputation of that sovereign, which made me wish to be there. He fixed Mr. Taylor, of Bifrons in Kent, whose husbandry I describe in my Eastern Tour, on a large farm; and the œconomistes, in their writings, speak much of an experiment he made in their Physiocratical rubbish, which, however erroneous their principles might be, marked much merit in the prince. Mons. Herman tells me also, that he has sent a person into Spain to purchase rams for the improvement of wool, I wish he had fixed on somebody likely to understand a good ram, which a professor of botany is not likely to do too well. This botanist is the only person Mons. Herman knows at Carlsrhue, and therefore can give me no letter thither, and how can I go, unknown to all the world, to the residence of a sovereign prince, for Mr. Taylor has left him, is a difficulty apparently insurmountable.—22½ miles.
The 21st. I have spent some time this morning at the cabinet literaire, reading the gazettes and journals that give an account of the transactions at Paris: and I have had some conversation with several sensible and intelligent men on the present revolution. The spirit of revolt is gone forth into various parts of the kingdom; the price of bread has prepared the populace every where for all sorts of violence; at Lyons there have been commotions as furious as at Paris, and the same at a great many other places: Dauphiné is in arms: and Bretagne in absolute rebellion. The idea is, that the people will, from hunger, be driven to revolt; and when once they find any other means of subsistence than that of honest labour, every thing will be to be feared. Of such consequence it is to a country, and indeed to every country, to have a good police of corn; a police that shall by securing a high price to the farmer, encourage his culture enough to secure the people at the same time from famine. My anxiety about Carlsrhue is now at an end; the Margrave is at Spaw; I shall not therefore think of going.—Night—I have been witness to a scene curious to a foreigner; but dreadful to Frenchmen that are considerate. Passing through the square of the hotel de ville, the mob were breaking the windows with stones, notwithstanding an officer and a detachment of horse was in the square. Perceiving that their numbers not only increased, but that they grew bolder and bolder every moment, I thought it worth staying to see what it would end in, and clambered on to the roof of a row of low stalls opposite the building, against which their malice was directed. Here I beheld the whole commodiously. Perceiving that the troops would not attack them, except in words and menaces, they grew more violent, and furiously attempted to beat the door in pieces with iron crows; placing ladders to the windows. In about a quarter of an hour, which gave time for the assembled magistrates to escape by a back door, they burst all open, and entered like a torrent with a universal shout of the spectators. From that minute a shower of casements, sashes, shutters, chairs, tables, sophas, books, papers, pictures, &c., rained incessantly from all the windows of the house, which is seventy or eighty feet long, and which was then succeeded by tiles, skirting boards, bannisters, frame-work, and every part of the building that force could detach. The troops, both horse and foot, were quiet spectators. They were at first too few to interpose, and, when they became more numerous, the mischief was too far advanced to admit of any other conduct than guarding every avenue around, permitting none to go to the scene of action, but letting every one that pleased retire with his plunder; guards being at the same time placed at the doors of the churches, and all public buildings. I was for two hours a spectator at different places of the scene, secure myself from the falling furniture, but near enough to see a fine lad of about 14 crushed to death by something as he was handing plunder to a woman, I suppose his mother, from the horror pictured in her countenance. I remarked several common soldiers, with their white cockades, among the plunderers, and instigating the mob even in sight of the officers of the detachment. There were amongst them people so decently dressed, that I regarded them with no small surprize:—they destroyed all the public archives; the streets for some way around strewed with papers; this has been a wanton mischief; for it will be the ruin of many families unconnected with the magistrates.
The 22d. To Schelestadt.79 At Strasbourg, and the country I passed, the lower ranks of women wear their hair in a toupee in front, and behind braided into a circular plait, three inches thick, and is most curiously contrived to convince one that they rarely pass a comb through it. I could not but picture them as the nidus of living colonies, that never approach me (they are not burthened with too much beauty,) but I scratched my head from sensations of imaginary itching. The moment you are out of a great town all in this country is German; the inns have one common large room, many tables and cloths ready spread, where every company dines; gentry at some, and the poor at others. Cookery also German: Schnitz80 is a dish of bacon and fried pears; has the appearance of a mess for the devil; but I was surprized, on tasting, to find it better than passable. At Schelestadt I had the pleasure of finding the count de la Rochefoucauld, whose regiment (of Champagne), of which he is second major, is quartered here. No attentions could be kinder than what I received from him; they were a renewal of the numerous ones I was in the habit of experiencing from his family; and he introduced me to a good farmer from whom I had the intelligence I wanted.—25 miles.
The 23d. An agreeable quiet day, with the count de la Rochefoucauld: dine with the officers of the regiment, the count de Loumené, the colonel, nephew to the cardinal de Loumené, present. Sup at my friend's lodgings; an officer of infantry, a Dutch gentleman who has been much in the East Indies, and speaks English there. This has been a refreshing day; the society of well informed people, liberal, polite, and communicative, has been a contrast to the sombre stupidity of table d'hôtes.
The 24th. To Isenheim,81 by Colmar.82 The country is in general a dead level, with the Voge mountains very near to the right; those of Suabia to the left; and there is another range very distant, that appears in the opening to the south. The news at the table d'hôte at Colmar curious, that the Queen had a plot, nearly on the point of execution, to blow up the National Assembly by a mine, and to march the army instantly to massacre all Paris. A French officer present presumed but to doubt of the truth of it, and was immediately overpowered with numbers of tongues. A deputy had written it; they had seen the letter, and not a hesitation could be admitted: I strenuously contended, that it was folly and nonsense at the first blush, a mere invention to render persons odious who, for what I knew, might deserve to be so, but certainly not by such means; if the angel Gabriel had descended and taken a chair at table to convince them, it would not have shaken their faith. Thus it is in revolutions, one rascal writes, and an hundred thousand fools believe.—25 miles.
The 25th. From Isenheim, the country changes from the dead flat, to pleasant views and inequalities, improving all the way to Befort,83 but neither scattered houses nor inclosures. Great riots at Befort:—last night a body of mob and peasants demanded of the magistrates the arms in the magazine, to the amount of three or four thousand stand; being refused, they grew riotous and threatened to set fire to the town, on which the gates were shut; and to-day the regiment of Bourgogne arrived for their protection. Mons. Necker passed here to-day in his way from Basle to Paris, escorted by 50 bourgeois horsemen, and through the town by the music of all the troops. But the most brilliant period of his life is past; from the moment of his reinstatement in power to the assembling of the states, the fate of France, and of the Bourbons, was then in his hands; and whatever may be the result of the present confusions they will, by posterity, be attributed to his conduct, since he had unquestionably the power of assembling the states in whatever form he pleased; he might have had two chambers, three, or one; he might have given what would unavoidably have slid into the constitution of England; all was in his hands; he had the greatest opportunity of political architecture that ever was in the power of man: the great legislators of antiquity never possessed such a moment: in my opinion he missed it completely, and threw that to the chance of the winds and waves, to which he might have given impulse, direction, and life. I had letters to Mons. de Bellonde, commissaire de Guerre; I found him alone: he asked me to sup, saying he should have some persons to meet me who could give me information. On my returning, he introduced me to Madame de Bellonde, and a circle of a dozen ladies, with three or four young officers, leaving the room himself to attend Madame, the princess of something, who was on her flight to Switzerland. I wished the whole company very cordially at the devil, for I saw, at one glance, what sort of information I should have. There was a little coterie in one corner listening to an officer's detail of leaving Paris. This gentleman further informed us, that the count d'Artois, and all the princes of the blood, except Monsieur, and the duke d'Orleans, the whole connection of Polignac, the marechal de Broglio, and an infinite number of the first nobility had fled the kingdom, and were daily followed by others; and lastly, that the King, Queen, and royal family, were in a situation at Versailles really dangerous and alarming, without any dependence on the troops near them, and, in fact, more like prisoners than free. Here is, therefore, a revolution effected by a sort of magic; all powers in the realm are destroyed but that of the commons; and it now will remain to see what sort of architects they are at re-building an edifice in the place of that which has been thus marvellously tumbled in ruins. Supper being announced, the company quitted the room, and as I did not push myself forward, I remained at the rear till I was very whimsically alone; I was a little struck at the turn of the moment, and did not advance when I found myself in such an extraordinary situation, in order to see whether it would arrive at the point it did. I then, smiling, took my hat, and walked fairly out of the house. I was, however, over-taken below; but I talked of business—or pleasure—or of something, or nothing—and hurried to the inn. I should not have related this, if it had not been at a moment that carried with it its apology: the anxiety and distraction of the time must fill the head, and occupy the attention of a gentleman;—and, as to ladies, what can French ladies think of a man who travels for the plough?—25 miles.
The 26th. For twenty miles to Lisle sur Daube,84 the country nearly as before; but after that, to Baume les Dames,85 it is all mountainous and rock, much wood, and many pleasing scenes of the river flowing beneath. The whole country is in the greatest agitation; at one of the little towns I passed, I was questioned for not having a cockade of the tiers etat. They said it was ordained by the tiers, and, if I was not a Seigneur, I ought to obey. But suppose I am a Seigneur, what then, my friends?—What then? they replied sternly, why, be hanged; for that most likely is what you deserve. It was plain this was no moment for joking, the boys and girls began to gather, whose assembling has every where been the preliminaries of mischief; and if I had not declared myself an Englishman, and ignorant of the ordinance, I had not escaped very well. I immediately bought a cockade, but the hussey pinned it into my hat so loosely, that before I got to Lisle it blew into the river, and I was again in the same danger. My assertion of being English would not do. I was a Seigneur, perhaps in disguise, and without doubt a great rogue. At this moment a priest came into the street with a letter in his hand: the people immediately collected around him, and he then read aloud a detail from Befort, giving an account of M. Necker's passing, with some general features of news from Paris, and assurances that the condition of the people would be improved. When he had finished, he exhorted them to abstain from all violence; and assured them, they must not indulge themselves with any ideas of impositions being abolished; which he touched on as if he knew that they had got such notions. When he retired, they again surrounded me, who had attended to the letter like others; were very menacing in their manner; and expressed many suspicions: I did not like my situation at all, especially on hearing one of them say that I ought to be secured till somebody would give an account of me. I was on the steps of the inn, and begged they would permit me a few words; I assured them, that I was an English traveller, and to prove it, I desired to explain to them a circumstance in English taxation, which would be a satisfactory comment on what Mons. l'Abbé had told them, to the purport of which I could not agree. He had asserted, that the impositions must be paid as heretofore: that the impositions must be paid was certain, but not as heretofore, as they might be paid as they were in England. Gentlemen, we have a great number of taxes in England, which you know nothing of in France; but the tiers etat, the poor do not pay them; they are laid on the rich; every window in a man's house pays; but if he has no more than six windows, he pays nothing; a Seigneur, with a great estate, pays the vingtiemes and tailles, but the little proprietor of a garden pays nothing; the rich for their horses, their voitures, and their servants, and even for liberty to kill their own partridges, but the poor farmer nothing of all this: and what is more, we have in England a tax paid by the rich for the relief of the poor; hence the assertion of Mons. l'Abbé, that because taxes existed before they must exist again, did not at all prove that they must be levied in the same manner; our English method seemed much better. There was not a word of this discourse, they did not approve of; they seemed to think that I might be an honest fellow, which I confirmed, by crying, vive le tiers, sans impositions, when they gave me a bit of a huzza, and I had no more interruption from them. My miserable French was pretty much on a par with their own patois. I got, however, another cockade, which I took care to have so fastened as to lose it no more. I do not half like travelling in such an unquiet and fermenting moment; one is not secure for an hour beforehand.—35 miles.
The 27th. To Besançon;86 the country mountain, rock, and wood, above the river; some scenes are fine. I had not arrived an hour before I saw a peasant pass the inn on horseback, followed by an officer of the guard bourgeois, of which there are 1200 here, and 200 under arms, and his party-coloured detachment, and these by some infantry and cavalry. I asked, why the militia took the pas of the king's troops? For a very good reason, they replied, the troops would be attacked and knocked on the head, but the populace will not resist the milice. This peasant, who is a rich proprietor, applied for a guard to protect his house, in a village where there is much plundering and burning. The mischiefs which have been perpetrated in the country, towards the mountains and Vesoul,87 are numerous and shocking. Many chateaus have been burnt, others plundered, the seigneurs hunted down like wild beasts, their wives and daughters ravished, their papers and titles burnt, and all their property destroyed: and these abominations not inflicted on marked persons, who were odious for their former conduct or principles, but an indiscriminating blind rage for the love of plunder. Robbers, galley-slaves, and villains of all denominations, have collected and instigated the peasants to commit all sorts of outrages. Some gentlemen at the table d'hôte informed me, that letters were received from the Maconois, the Lyonois, Auvergne, Dauphné, &c. and that similar commotions and mischiefs were perpetrating every where; and that it was expected they would pervade the whole kingdom. The backwardness of France is beyond credibility in every thing that pertains to intelligence. From Strasbourg hither, I have not been able to see a newspaper. Here I asked for the Cabinet Literaire? None. The gazettes? At the coffee-house. Very easily replied; but not so easily found. Nothing but the Gazette de France; for which at this period, a man of common sense would not give one sol. To four other coffee-houses; at some no paper at all, not even the Mercure; at the Caffé Militaire the Courier de l'Europe a fortnight old; and well dressed people are now talking of the news of two or three weeks past, and plainly by their discourse know nothing of what is passing. The whole town of Besançon has not been able to afford me a sight of the Journal de Paris, nor of any paper that gives a detail of the transactions of the states; yet it is the capital of a province, large as half a dozen English counties, and containing 25,000 souls,—with strange to say! the post coming in but three times a week. At this eventful moment, with no licence, nor even the least restraint on the press, not one paper established at Paris for circulation in the provinces, with the necessary steps taken by affiche or placard, to inform the people in all the towns of its establishment. For what the country knows to the contrary, their deputies are in the Bastile, instead of the Bastile being razed; so the mob plunder, burn, and destroy, in complete ignorance: and yet, with all these shades of darkness, these clouds of tenebrity, this universal mass of ignorance, there are men every day in the states, who are puffing themselves off for the FIRST NATION IN EUROPE! the GREATEST PEOPLE IN THE UNIVERSE! as if the political juntos, or literary circle of a capital constituted a people; instead of the universal illumination of knowledge, acting by rapid intelligence on minds prepared by habitual energy of reasoning to receive, combine, and comprehend it. That this dreadful ignorance of the mass of the people, of the events that most intimately concern them, is owing to the old government, no one can doubt; it is however curious to remark, that if the nobility of other provinces are hunted like those of Franche Compté, of which there is little reason to doubt, that whole order of men undergo a proscription, suffer like sheep, without making the least effort to resist the attack. This appears marvellous, with a body that have an army of 150,000 men in their hands; for though a part of those troops would certainly disobey their leaders, yet let it be remembered, that out of the 40,000, or possibly 100,000 noblesse of France, they might, if they had intelligence and union amongst themselves, fill half the ranks of more than half the regiments of the kingdom, with men who have fellow-feelings and fellow-sufferings with themselves; but no meetings, no associations among them; no union with military men; no taking refuge in the ranks of regiments to defend or avenge their cause; fortunately for France they fall without a struggle, and die without a blow. That universal circulation of intelligence, which in England transmits the least vibration of feeling or alarm, with electric sensibility, from one end of the kingdom to another, and which unites in bands of connection men of similar interests and situations, has no existence in France. Thus it may be said, perhaps with truth, that the fall of the king, court, lords, nobles, army, church, and parliaments is owing to a want of intelligence being quickly circulated, consequently is owing to the very effects of that thraldom in which they held the people: it is therefore a retribution rather than a punishment.—18 miles.
The 28th. At the table d'hôte last night a person gave an account of being stopped at Salins for want of a passport, and suffering the greatest inconveniencies; I found it necessary, therefore, to demand one for myself, and went accordingly to the Bureau; this was the house of a Mons. Bellamy, an attorney; with whom the following dialogue ensued:
Mais, Monsieur, qui me repondra de vous? Est ce que personne vous connoit? Connoissez vous quelqun a Besançon?
Non Personne, mon dessein etoit d'aller a Vesoul d'oü j'aurois eu des lettres, mais j'ai changê de route a cause de ces tumultes
Monsieur je ne vous connois pas, & si vous etes inconnu a Besançon vous ne pouvez avoir de passport.
Mais voici mes lettres j'en ai plusieurs pour d'autres villes en France, il y a en même d'adressêes a Vesoul e a Arbois, ouvrez & lisez les, & vous trouverez que je ne suis pas inconnu ailleurs quoique je le sois a Besançon.
N'importe; je ne vous connois pas, il n'y a personne ici qui vous connoisse ainsi vous n'aurez point de passport.
Je vous dit Monsieur que ces lettres vous expliqueront.
Il me faut des gens, et non pas des lettres pour m'expliquer qui vous etes; ces lettres ne me valent rien.
Cette façon d'agir me parôit assez singuliere; apparaement que vous la croyez tres honnête; pour moi, Monsieur, j'en pense bien autrement.
Eh Monsieur je ne m'en soucie de ce que vous en pensez.
En verité voici ce qui s'appelle, avoir des manieres gracieuses envers un etranger; c'est la premiere, fois que j'ai eu a faire avec ces Messieurs du tiers etat, & vous m'avourez qu'il n'y a rien ici qui puisse me donner une haute idée du caracteré de ces Messieurs là.
Monsieur, cela m'est fort égal.
Je donnerai a mon retour en Angleterre le detail de mon voyage au publique, & assurement Monsieur je n'oublirai pas d'enregistrer ce trait de vôtre politesse, il vous fait tant d'honneure, & à ceux pour qui vous agissez.
Monsieur je regarde tout cela avec la derniere indifference.
My gentleman's manner was more offensive than his words; he walked backward and forward among his parchments, with an air veritablement d'un commis de bureau.—These passports are new things from new men, in new power, and show that they do not bear their new honours too meekly. Thus it is impossible for me, without running my head against a wall, to go see the Salins,88 or to Arbois,89 where I have a letter from M. de Broussonet, but I must take my chance and get to Dijon as fast as I can, where the president de Virly knows me, having spent some days at Bradfield, unless indeed being a president and a nobleman he has got knocked on the head by the tiers état. At night to the play; miserable performers; the theatre, which has not been built many years, is heavy; the arch that parts the stage from the house is like the entrance of a cavern, and the line of the amphitheatre, that of a wounded eel; I do not like the air and manners of the people here—and I would see Besançon swallowed up by an earthquake before I would live in it. The music, and bawling, and squeaking of l'Epreuve Villageoise of Gretry, which is wretched, had no power to put me in better humour. I will not take leave of this place, to which I never desire to come again, without saying that they have a fine promenade; and that Mons. Arthaud, the arpenteur, to whom I applied for information, without any letter of recommendation was liberal and polite, and answered my enquiries satisfactorily.
The 29th. To Orechamp90 the country is bold and rocky, with fine woods, and yet it is not agreeable; it is like many men that have estimable points in their characters, and yet we cannot love them. Poorly cultivated too. Coming out of St. Veté,91 a pretty riant landskip of the river doubling through the vale, enlivened by a village and some scattered houses: the most pleasing view I have seen in Franche Compté—23 miles.
The 30th. The mayor of Dole92 is made of as good stuff as the notary of Besançon; he would give no passport; but as he accompanied his refusal with neither airs nor graces, I let him pass. To avoid the centinels, I went round the town. The country to Auxonne93 is chearful. Cross the Saone at Auxonne; it is a fine river, through a region of flat meadow of beautiful verdure; commons of great herds of cattle; vastly flooded, and the hay-cocks underwater. To Dijon is a fine country, but wants wood. My passport demanded at the gate: and as I had none, two bourgeois musqueteers conducted me to the hotel de ville, where I was questioned, but finding that I was known at Dijon, they let me go to my inn. Out of luck: Mons. de Virly, on whom I most depended for Dijon, is at Bourbon les Bains, and Mons. de Morveau,94 the celebrated chymist, who I expected would have had letters for me, had none, and though he received me very politely, when I was forced to announce myself as his brother in the royal society of London, yet I felt very awkwardly; however, he desired to see me again next morning. The tell me here, that the intendant is fled; and that the prince of Condé, who is governor of Burgundy, is in Germany; they positively assert, and with very little ceremony, that they would both be hanged, if they were to come here at present; such ideas do not mark too much authority in the milice bourgeoise, as they have been instituted to stop and prevent hanging and plundering. They are too weak, however, to keep the peace: the licence and spirit of depredation, of which I heard so much in crossing Franche Compté, has taken place, but not equally in Burgundy. In this inn, la Ville de lyon, there is at present a gentleman, unfortunately a seigneur, his wife, family, three servants, an infant but a few months old, who escaped from their flaming chateau half naked in the night; all their property lost except the land itself; and this family valued and esteemed by the neighbours, with many virtues to command the love of the poor, and no oppressions to provoke their enmity. Such abominable actions must bring the more detestation to the cause from being unnecessary; the kingdom might have been settled in a real system of liberty, without the regeneration of fire and sword, plunder, and bloodshed. Three hundred bourgeois mount guard every day at Dijon, armed, but not paid at the expence of the town: they have also six pieces of cannon. The noblesse of the place, as the only means of safety, have joined them—so that there are croix de St. Louis in the ranks. The Palais des états here, is a large and splendid building, but not striking proportionably to the mass and expence. The arms of the prince of Condé are predominant; and the great salon is called the Salle a manger de Prince. A Dijon artist has painted the battle of Seniff,95 and the Grande Condé thrown from his horse, and a cieling, both well executed. Tomb of the duke of Bourgogne, 1404. A picture by Rubens at the Chartreuse.96 They talk of the house of Mons. de Montigny, but his sister being in it, not shown. Dijon, on the whole is a handsome town; the streets, though old built, are wide, and very well paved, with the addition, uncommon in France, of trotoirs.—28 miles.
The 31st. Waited on Mons. de Morveau, who has, most fortunately for me, received, only this morning, from Mons. de Virly, a recommendation of me, with four letters from Mons. de Broussonet; but Mons. Vaudrey, of this place, to whom one of them is addressed, is absent. We had some conversation on the interesting topic to all philosophers, phlogiston; Mons. de Morveau contends vehemently for its non-existence; treats Dr. Priestley's last publication as wide of the question; and declared, that he considers the controversy as much decided as the question of liberty is in France. He shewed me part of the article air in the New Encyclopædia by him, to be published soon; in which work, he thinks he has, beyond controversy, established the truth of the doctrine of the French chymists of its non-existence. Mons. de Morveau requested me to call on him in the evening to introduce me to a learned and agreeable lady; and engaged me to dine with him tomorrow. On leaving him, I went to search coffee-houses; but will it be credited, that I could find but one in this capital of Burgundy, where I could read the newspapers?—At a poor little one in the square, I read a paper, after waiting an hour to get it. The people I have found every where desirous of reading newspapers; but it is rare that they can gratify themselves: and the general ignorance of what is passing may be collected from this, that I found nobody at Dijon had heard of the riot at the town-house of Strasbourg; I described it to a gentleman, and a party collected around me to hear it; not one of them had heard a syllable of it, yet it is nine days since it happened; had it been nineteen, I question whether they would more than have received the intelligence; but, though they are slow in knowing what has really happened, they are very quick in hearing what is impossible to happen. The current report at present, to which all possible credit is given, is, that the Queen has been convicted of a plot to poison the King and Monsieur, and give the regency to the count d'Artois; to set fire to Paris, and blow up the Palais Royale by a mine!—Why do not the several parties in the states cause papers to be printed, that shall transmit only their own sentiments and opinions? In order that to man in the nation, arranged under the same standard of reasoning, may want the facts that are necessary to govern his arguments, and the conclusions that great talents have drawn from those facts. The king has been advised to take several steps of authority against the states, but none of his ministers have advised the establishment of journals, and their speedy circulation, that should undeceive the people in those points his enemies have misrepresented. When numerous papers are published in opposition to each other, the people take pains to sift into and examine the truth; and that inquisitiveness alone—the very act of searching, enlightens them; they become informed, and it is no longer easy to deceive them. At the table d'hôte only three, myself, and two noblemen, driven from their estates, as I conjecture by their conversation, but they did not hint at any thing like their houses being burnt. Their description of the state of that part of the province they come from, in the road from Langres97 to Gray,98 is terrible; the number of chateaus burnt not considerable, but three in five plundered, and the possessors driven out of the country, and glad to save their lives. One of these gentlemen is a very sensible well informed man; he considers all rank, and all the rights annexed to rank, as destroyed in fact in France; and that the leaders of the National Assembly having no property, or very little themselves, are determined to attack that also, and attempt an equal division. The expectation is got among many of the people; but whether it takes place or not, he considers France as absolutely ruined. That, I replied, was going too far, for the destruction of rank did not imply ruin. "I call nothing ruin," he replied, "but a general and confirmed civil war, or dismemberment of the kingdom, in my opinion, both are inevitable; not perhaps this year, or the next, or the year after that, but whatever government is built on the foundation now laying in France, cannot stand any rude shocks; an unsuccessful or a successful war will equally destroy it."—He spoke with great knowledge of historical events, and drew his political conclusions with much acumen. I have met very few such men at table d'hôtes. It may be believed, I did not forget M. de Morveau's appointment. He was as good as his word; Madame Picardet is as agreeable in conversation as she is learned in the closet; a very pleasing unaffected woman; she has translated Scheele99 from the German, and a part of Mr. Kirwan from the English; a treasure to M. de Morveau, for she is able and willing to converse with him on chymical subjects, and on any others that tend either to instruct or please. I accompanied them in their evening's promenade. She told me, that her brother, Mons. de Poule, was a great farmer, who had sowed large quantities of sainfoin, which he used for fattening oxen; she was sorry he was engaged so closely in the municipal business at present, that he could not attend me to his farm.
AUGUST 1. Dined with Mons. de Morveau by appointment; Mons. Professeur Chausée, and Mons. Picardet of the party. It was a rich day to me; the great and just reputation of Mons. de Morveau, for being not only the first chymist of France, but one of the greatest that Europe has to boast, was alone sufficient to render his company interesting; but to find such a man void of affectation; free from those airs of superiority which are sometimes found in celebrated characters, and that reserve which oftener throws a veil over their talents, as well as conceals their deficiencies for which it is intended—was very pleasing. Mons. de Morveau is a lively, conversable, eloquent man, who, in any station of life, would be sought as an agreeable companion. Even in this eventful moment of revolution, the conversation turned almost entirely on chymical subjects. I urged him, as I have done Dr. Priestley more than once, and Mons. La Voisier also, to turn his enquiries a little to the application of his science to agriculture; that there was a fine field for experiments in that line, which could scarcely fail of making discoveries; to which he assented; but added, that he had no time for such enquiries; it is clear, from his conversation, that his views are entirely occupied by the non-existence of phlogiston, except a little on the means of establishing and enforcing the new nomenclature. While we were at dinner a proof of the New Encyclopædia was brought him, the chymical part of which work is printed at Dijon, for the convenience of Mons. de Morveau. I took the liberty of telling him, that a man who can devise the experiments which shall be most conclusive in ascertaining the questions of a science, and has talents to draw all the useful conclusions from them, should be entirely employed in experiments, and their register; and if I was king, or minister of France, I would make that employment so profitable to him, that he should do nothing else. He laughed, and asked me, if I was such an advocate for working, and such an enemy to writing what I thought of my friend Dr. Priestly? And he then explained to the two other gentlemen, that great philosopher's attention to metaphysics, and polemic divinity. If an hundred had been at table, the sentiment would have been the same in every bosom. Mons. M. spoke, however, with great regard for the experimental talents of the Doctor, as indeed who in Europe does not?—I afterwards reflected on Mons. de Morveau's not having time to make experiments that should apply chymistry to agriculture, yet have plenty for writing in so voluminous a work as Pankouck's100 I lay it down as a maxim, that no man can establish or support a reputation in any branch of experimental philosophy, such as shall really descend to posterity, otherwise than by experiment; and that commonly the more a man works, and the less he writes the better, at least the more valuable will be his reputation. The profit of writing has ruined that of many (those who know Mons. de Morveau will be very sure I am far enough from having him in my eye; his situation in life puts it out of the question); that compression of materials, which is luminous; that brevity which appropriates facts to their destined points, are alike inconsistent with the principles that govern all compilations; there are able and respectable men now in every country for compiling; experimenters of genius should range themselves in another class. If I were a sovereign, and capable consequently of rewarding merit, the moment I heard of a man of real genius engaged in such a work, I would give him double the bookseller's price to let it alone, and to employ himself in paths that did not admit a rival at every door. There are who will think that this opinion comes oddly from one who has published so many books as I have; but I hope it will be admitted, to come naturally at least from one who is writing a work from which he does not expect to make one penny, who, therefore, has stronger motives to brevity than temptations to prolixity. The view of this great chymist's laboratory will show that he is not idle:—it consists of two large rooms, admirably furnished indeed. There are six or seven different furnaces (of which Macquer's is the most powerful), and such a variety and extent of apparatus, as I have seen no where else, with a furniture of specimens from the three kingdoms, as looks truly like business. There are little writing desks, with pens and paper, scattered every where, and in his library also, which is convenient. He has a large course of eudiometrical experiments going on at present, particularly with Fontana's and Volta's eudiometers. He seems to think, eudiometrical trials are to be depended on: keeps his nitrous air in quart bottles, stopped with common corks, but reversed; and that the air is always the same, if made from the same materials. A very simple and elegant method of ascertaining the proportion of vital air, he explained to us, by making the experiment; putting a morsel of phosphorus into a glass retort, confined by water or mercury, and inflaming it, by holding a bougie under it. The diminution of air marks the quantity that was vital on the antiphlogistic doctrine. After one extinction, it will boil, but not enflame. He has a pair of scales made at Paris, which, when loaded with 3000 grains, will turn with the twentieth part of one grain; an air pump, with glass barrels, but one of them broken and repaired; the count de Busson's system of burning lens; an absorber; a respirator, with vital air in a jar on one side, and lime-water in another; and abundance of new and most ingenious inventions for facilitating enquiries in the new philosophy of air. There are so various, and at the same time so well contrived to answer the purpose intended, that this species of invention seems to be one very great and essential part of Mons. de Morveau's merit; I wish he would follow Dr. Priestley's idea of publishing his tools, it would add not inconsiderably to his great and well earned reputation, and at the same time promote the enquiries he engages in amongst all other experimenters. M. de Morveau had the goodness to accompany me in the afternoon in the academy of sciences: they have a very handsome salon, ornamented with the busts of Dijon worthies; of such eminent men as this city has produced, Bossuet—Fevret—De Brosses—De Crebillon—Pyron—Bonhier—Rameau—and lastly Buffon:101 and some future traveller will doubtless see here, that of a man inferior to none of those, Mons. de Morveau, by whom I had now the honour of being conducted. In the evening we repaired again to Madame Picardet, and accompanied her promenade: I was pleased, in conversation on the present disturbances of France, to hear Mons. de Morveau remark, that the outrages committed by the peasants arose from their defects of lumieres. In Dijon it had been publicly recommended to the curés to enlighten them somewhat politically in their sermons, but all in vain, not one would go out of the usual routine of his preaching.—Quere, Would not one newspaper enlighten them more than a score of priests? I asked Mons. de Morveau, how far it was true that the chateaus had been plundered and burnt by the peasants alone; or whether by those troops of brigands, reported to be formidable? He assured me, that he has made strict enquiries to ascertain this matter, and is of opinion, that all the violences in this province, that have come to his knowledge, have been committed by the peasants only; much has been reported of brigands, but nothing proved. At Besançon I heard of 800; but how could a troop of 800 banditti march through a country, and leave their existence the least questionable?—as ridiculous as Mr. Bayes's102 army incog.
The 2d. To Beaune;103 a range of hills to the right under vines, and a flat plain to the left, all open and too naked. At the little insignificant town of Nuys104 forty men mount guard every day, and a large corps at Beaune. I am provided with a passport from the mayor of Dijon, and a flaming cockade of the tiers état, and therefore hope to avoid difficulties, though the reports of the riots of the peasants are so formidable, that it seems impossible to travel in safety. Stop at Nuys for intelligence concerning the vineyards of this country, so famous in France, and indeed in all Europe; and examine the Clos de Veaugeau,105 of 100 journaux, walled in, and belonging to a convent of Bernardine Monks.—When are we to find these fellows chusing badly? The spots they appropriate shew what a righteous attention they give to things of the spirit.—2 miles.
The 3d. Going out of Chagnie,106 where I quitted the great Lyons road, pass by the canal of Chaulais,107 which goes on very poorly; it is a truly useful undertaking, and therefore left undone; had it been for boring cannon, or coppering men of war, it would have been finished long ago. To Montcenis108 a disagreeable country; singular in its features. It is the seat of one Mons. Weelkainsong's establishments for casting and boring cannon: I have already described one near Nantes. The French say, that this active Englishman is brother-in-law of Dr. Priestly, and therefore a friend of mankind; and that he taught them to bore cannon, in order to give liberty to America. The establishment is very considerable; there are from 500 to 600 men employed, besides colliers; five steam engines are erected for giving the blasts, and for boring; and a new one building. I conversed with an Englishman who works in the glass-house, in the crystal branch; there were once many, but only two are left at present: he complained of the country, saying there was nothing good in it but wine and brandy; of which things I question not but he makes a sufficient use.—25 miles.
The 4th. By a miserable country most of the way, and through hideous roads to Autun.109 The first seven or eight miles the agriculture quite contemptible. From thence to Autun all, or nearly all, inclosed, and the first so for many miles. From the hill before Autun an immense view down on that town, and the flat country of the Bourbonnois for a great extent.—View at Autun the temple of Janus—the walls—the cathedral—the abbey. The reports here of brigands, and burning and plundering, are as numerous as before; and when it was known in the inn that I came from Burgundy and Franche Compté, I had eight or ten people introducing themselves, in order to ask for news. The rumour of brigands here had got to 1600 strong. They were much surprized to find, that I gave no credit to the existence of brigands, as I was well persuaded, that all the outrages that had been committed, were the work of the peasants only, for the sake of plundering. This they had no conception of, and quoted a list of chateaus burnt by them; but on analysing these reports, they plainly appeared to be ill founded.—20 miles.
The 5th. The extreme heat of yesterday made me feverish; and this morning I waked with a sore throat. I was inclined to waste a day here for the security of my health; but we are all fools in trifling with the things most valuable to us. Loss of time, and vain expence, are always in the head of a man who travels as much en philosophe as I am forced to do. To Maison de Bourgogne,110 I thought myself in a new world; the road is not only excellent, of gravel, but the country is inclosed and wooded. There are many gentle inequalities, and several ponds that decorate them. The weather, since the commencement of August, has been clear, bright, and burning; too hot to be perfectly agreeable in the middle of the day, but no flies, and therefore I do not regard the heat. This circumstance may, I think, be fixed on as the test. In Languedoc, &c. these heats, as I have experienced, are attended by myriads, and consequently they are tormenting. One had need be sick at this Maison de Bourgogne; a healthy stomach would not be easily filled; yet it is the post-house. In the evening to Lusy,111 another miserable post-house. Note, through all Burgundy the women wear flapped men's hats, which have not nearly so good an effect as the straw ones of Alsace.—22 miles.
The 6th. To escape the heat, out at four in the morning, to Bourbon Lancy,112 through the same country inclosed,. but villainously cultivated, and all amazingly improveable. If I had a large tract in this country, I think I should not be long in making a fortune; climate, prices, roads, inclosures, and every advantage, except government. All from Autun to the Loire is a noble field for improvement, not by expensive operations of manuring and draining, but merely by substituting crops adapted to the soil. When I see such a country thus managed, and in the hands of starving métayers, instead of fat farmers,113 I know not how to pity the seigneurs, great as their present sufferings are. I met one of them, to whom I opened my mind:—he pretended to talk of agriculture, finding I attended to it; and assured me, that he had Abbé Roziere's corps complete, and he believed, from his accounts, that this country would not do for any thing but rye. I asked him, whether he or Abbé Roziere knew the right end of a plough? He assured me, that he was un homme de grand merite, beaucoup d'agriculteur. Cross the Loire by a ferry; it is here the same nasty scene of shingle, as in Touraine. Enter the Bourbonnois; the same inclosed country, and a beautiful gravel road. At Chavanne le Roi,114 Mons. Joly, the aubergiste, informed me of three domains (farms) to be sold, adjoining almost to his house, which is new well built. I was for appropriating his inn at once in my imagination for a farm-house, and had got hard at work on turnips and clover, when he told me, that if I would walk behind his stable, I might see, at a small distance, two of the houses; he said the price would be about 50 or 60,000 liv. (2,625l.), and would altogether make a noble farm. If I were twenty years younger, I should think seriously of such a speculation; but there again is the folly and deficiency of life; twenty years ago, such a thing would, for want of experience, have been my ruin; and, now I have the experience, I am too old for the undertaking.—27 miles.
The 7th. Moulins115 appears to be but a poor ill built town. I went to the Belle Image, but found it so bad that I left it, and went to the Lyon d'Or, which is worse. This capital of the Bourbonnois, and on the great post road to Italy, has not an inn equal to the little village of Chavanne. To read the papers, I went to the coffee-house of Madame Bourgeau, the best in the town, where I found near twenty tables set for company, but, as to a newspaper, I might as well have demanded an elephant. Here is a feature of national backwardness, ignorance, stupidity, and poverty: In the capital of a great province, the seat of an intendant, at a moment like the present, with a National Assembly voting a revolution, and not a newspaper to inform the people whether Fayette, Mirabeau, or Louis XVI. is on the throne. Companies at a coffee-house, numerous enough to fill twenty tables, and curiosity not active enough to command one paper. What impudence and folly!—Folly in the customers of such a house not to insist on half a dozen papers, and all the journals of the assembly; and impudence of the woman not to provide them! Could such a people as this ever have made a revolution, or become free? Never, in a thousand centuries: The enlightened mob of Paris, amidst hundreds of papers and publications, have done the whole. I demanded why they had no papers? They are too dear; but she made me pay 24f. for one dish of coffee, with milk, and a piece of butter about the size of a walnut. It is a great pity there is not a camp of brigands in your coffee-room, Madame Bourgeau. Among the many letters for which I am indebted to Mons. Broussonet, few have proved more valuable then one I had for Mons. l'Abbé de Barut, principal of the college of Moulins, who entered with intelligence and animation into the object of my journey, and took every step that was possible to get me well informed. He carried me to Mons. le count de Grimau, lieutenant general of the Baillage, and director of the society of agriculture at Moulins, who kept us to dinner. He appears to be a man of considerable fortune, of information, and knowledge, agreeable and polite. He discoursed with me on the state of the Bourbonnois; and assured me, that estates were rather given away than sold: that the métayuers were so miserably poor, it was impossible for them to cultivate well. I started some observations on the modes which ought to be pursued; but all conversation of that sort is time lost in France. After dinner, M. Grimau carried me to his villa, at a small distance from the town, which is very prettily situated, commanding a view of the vale of the Allier. Letters from Paris, which contain nothing but accounts truly alarming, of the violences committed all over the kingdom, and particularly at and in the neighbourhood of the capital. M. Necker's return, which it was expected would have calmed every thing, has no effect at all; and it is particularly noted in the National Assembly, that there is a violent party evidently bent on driving things to extremity: me who, from the violence and conflicts of the moment, find themselves in a position, and of an importance that results merely from public confusion, will take effectual care to prevent the settlement, order, and peace, which, if established, would be a mortal blow to their consequence: they mount by the storm, and would sink in a calm. Among other persons to whom Mons. l'Abbé Barut introduced me, was the marquis de Goutte, chef d'escadre of the French fleet, who was taken by admiral Boscawen at Louisbourg, in 1758, and carried to England, where he learned English, of which he yet retains something. I had mentioned to Mons l'Abbé Barut, that I had a commission from a person of fortune in England, to look out for a good purchase in France: and knowing that the marquis would sell one of his estates he mentioned it to him. Mons. de Goutte gave me such a description of it, that I thought, though my time was short, that it would be very well worth bestowing one day to view it, as it was no more than eight miles from Moulins, and, proposing to take me to it the next day in his coach, I readily consented. At the time appointed, I attended the marquis, with M. l'Abbé Barut, to his chateau of Riaux,116 which is in the midst of the estate he would sell on such terms, that I never was more tempted to speculate: I have very little doubt but that the person who gave me a commission to look out for a purchase, is long since sickened of the scheme, which was that of a residence for pleasure, by the disturbances that have broken out here: so that I should clearly have the refusal of it myself. It would be upon the whole a more beneficial purchase than I had any conception of, and confirms Mons. de Grimau's assertion, that estates are here rather given away than sold. The chateau is large and very well built, containing two good rooms, either of which would hold a company of thirty people, with three smaller ones on the ground floor; on the second ten bedchambers, and over them good garrets, some of which are well fitted up; all sorts of offices substantially erected, and on a plan proportioned to a large family, including barns new built, for holding half the corn of the estate in the straw, and granaries to contain it when threshed. Also a wine press and ample cellaring, for keeping the produce of the vineyards in the most plentiful years. The situation is on the side of an agreeable rising, with views not extensive, but pleasing, and all the country round of the same features I have described, being one of the finest provinces in France.117 Adjoining the chateau is a field of five or six arpents, well walled in, about half of which is in culture as a garden, and thoroughly planted with all sorts of fruits. There are twelve ponds, through a small stream runs, sufficient to turn two mills, that let at 1000 liv. (43l. 15s.) a-year. The ponds supply the proprietor's table amply with fine carp, tench, perch, and eels; and besides yield a regular revenue of 1000 liv. There are 20 arpents of vines that yield excellent white and red wine, with houses for the vignerons; woods more than sufficient to supply the chateau with fuel; and lastly, nine domains or farms let to metayers, tenants at will, at half produce, producing in cash, 10,500 liv. (459l. 7s. 6d.) consequently, the gross produce, farms, mills, and fish, is 12,500 liv. The quantity of land, I conjecture from viewing it, as well as from notes taken, may be above 3000 arpents or acres, lying all contiguous and near the chateau. The out goings for those takes paid by the landlord; repairs, garde de chasse, game-keeper (for here are all the seigneural rights, haute justice, &c.) steward, expences on wine, &c. amount to about 4400 liv. (192l. 10s.) It yields therefore net something more than 8000 liv. (350l.) a year. The price asked is 300,000 liv. (13,125l.); but for this price is given in the furniture complete of the chateau, all the timber, amounting, by valuation of oak only, to 40,000 liv. (1750l.) and all the cattle on the estate, viz. 1000 sheep, 60 cows, 72 oxen, 9 mares, and many hogs. Knowing, as I did, that I could, on the security of this estate, borrow the whole of the purchase-money, I withstood no trifling temptation when I turned my back on it. The finest climate in France, perhaps in Europe; a beautiful and healthy country; excellent roads; a navigation to Paris; wine, game, fish, and every thing that ever appears on a table, except the produce of the tropics; a good house, a fine garden ready markets for every sort of produce; and, above all the rest, 3000 acres of inclosed land, capable in a very little time of being, without expence, quadrupled in its produce, altogether formed a picture sufficient to tempt a man who had been five-and-twenty years in the constant practice of husbandry adapted to this soil. But the state of government—the possibility that the leaders of the Paris democracy might in their wisdom abolish property as well as rank; and that in buying an estate I might be purchasing my share in a civil war—deterred me from engaging at present, and induced me only to request that the marquis would give me the refusal of it, before he sold it to any body else. When I have to connect with a person for a purchase, I shall wish to deal with such an one as the marquis de Goutte. He has a physiognomy that pleases me; the ease and politeness of his nation is mixed with great probity and honour; and is not rendered less amiable by an appearance of dignity that flows from an ancient and respectable family. To me he seems a man in whom one might, in any transaction, place implicit confidence. I could have spent a month in the Bourbonnois, looking at estates to be sold; adjoining to that of M. de Goutte's is another of 270,000 liv. purchase, Ballain; Mons. l'Abbé Barut having made an appointment with the proprietor, carried me in the afternoon to see the chateau and a part of the lands; all the country is the same soil, and in the same management. It consists of eight farms, stocked with cattle and sheep by the landlords; and here too the ponds yield a regular revenue. Income at present 10,000 liv. (437l. 10s.) a year; price 260,000 liv. (11,375l.) and 10,000 liv. for wood—twenty-five years purchase. Also near St. Poncin118 another of 400,000 liv. (17,500l.), the woods of which, 450 acres, produce 5000 liv. a year; 80 acres of vines, the wine so good as to be sent to Paris; good land for wheat, and much sown; a modern chateau, avec toutes les aisances, &c. And I heard of many others. I conjecture that one of the finest contiguous estates in Europe might at present be laid together in the Bourbonnois. And I am further informed, that there are at present 6000 estates to be sold in France; if things go on as they do at present, it will not be a question of buying estates, but kingdoms, and France itself will be under the hammer. I love a system of policy that inspires such confidence as to give a value to land, and that renders men so comfortable on their estates as to make the sale of them the last of their ideas. Return to Moulins.—30 miles.
The 10th. Took my leave of Moulins, where estates and farming have driven even Maria and the poplar from my head, and left me no room for the tombeau de Montmorenci; having paid extravagantly for the mud walls, cobweb tapestry, and unsavoury scents of the Lyon d'Or I turned my mare towards Chateauneuf,119 on the road to Auvergne. The accompanyment of the river makes the country pleasant. I found the inn full, busy, and bustling. To St. Poncin.—30 miles.
The 11th. Early to Riom,120 in Auvergne. Near that town the country is interesting; a fine wooded vale to the left, every where bounded by mountains; and those nearer to the right of an interesting outline. Riom, part of which is pretty enough, is all volcanic; it is built of lava from the quarries of volvic, which are highly curious to a naturalist. The level plain, which I passed in going to Clermont, is the commencement of the famous Limagne of Auvergne, asserted to be the most fertile of all France; but that is an error, I have seen richer land in both Flanders and Normandly. This plain is as level as a still lake; the mountains are all volcanic, and consequently interesting.—Pass a scene of very fine irrigation, that will strike a farming eye, to Mont Ferrand,121 and after that to Clermont, Riom, Ferrand, and Clermont, and all built, or rather perched, on the tops of rocks. Clermont is in the midst of a most curious country, all volcanic; and is built and paved with lava: much of it forms one of the worst built, dirtiest, and most stinking places I have met with. There are many streets that can, for blackness, dirt, and ill scents, only be represented by narrow channels cut in a night dunghill. The contention of nauseous savours, with which the air is impregnated, when brisk mountain gales do not ventilate these excrementitious lanes, made me envy the nerves of the good people, who, for what I know, may be happy in them. It is the fair, the town full, and the table d'hôtes crouded.—25 miles.
The 12th. Clermont is partly free from the reproach I throw on Moulins and Besancon, for there is a salle de lecture at a Mons. Bovares, a bookseller, where I found several newspapers and journals, but at the coffee-house, I enquired for them in vain:—they tell me also, that the people here are great politicians, and attend the arrival of the courier with impatience. The consequence is, there have been no riots; the most ignorant will always be the readiest for mischief. The great news just arrived from Paris, of the utter abolition of tythes, feudal rights, game, warrens, pidgeons, &c. has been received with the greatest joy by the mass of the people, and by all not immediately interested; and some even of the latter approve highly of the declaration: but I have had much conversation with two or three very sensible people, who complain bitterly of the gross injustice and cruelty of any such declarations of what will be done, but is not effected and regulated at the moment of declaring. Mons. l'Abbé Arbre, to whom Mons. de Broussonet's letter introduced me, had the goodness not only to give me all the information relative to the curious country around Clermont, which particularly depended on his enquiries as a naturalist, but also introduced me to Mons. Chabrol, as a gentleman who has attended much to agriculture, and who answered my enquiries in that line with great readiness.
The 13th. At Roya,122 near Clermont, a village in the volcanic mountains, which are so curious, and of late years so celebrated, are some springs, reported by philosophical travellers to be the finest and most abundant in France; to view these objects, and more still, a very fine irrigation, said also to be practised there, I engaged a guide. Report, when it speaks of things of which the reporter is ignorant, is sure to magnify; the irrigation is nothing more than a mountain side converted by water to some tolerable meadow, but done coarsely, and not well understood. That in the vale, between Riom and Ferrand, far exceeds it. The springs are curious and powerful: they gush, or rather burst from the rock, in four or five streams, each powerful enough to turn a mill, into a cave a little below the village. About half a league higher there are many others; they are indeed so numerous, that scarcely a projection of the rocks or hills is without them. At the village, I found that my guide, instead of knowing the country perfectly, was in reality ignorant; I therefore took a woman to conduct me to the springs higher up the mountain; on my return, she was arrested by a soldier of the guarde bourgeois (for even this wretched village is not without its national militia), for having, without permission, become the guide of a stranger. She was conducted to a heap of stones, they call the chateau. They told me they had nothing to do with me; but as to the woman, she should be taught more prudence for the future: as the poor devil was in jeopardy on my account, I determined at once to accompany them for the chance of getting her cleared, by attesting her innocence. We were followed by a mob of all the village, with the woman's children crying bitterly, for fear their mother should be imprisoned. At the castle, we waited some time, and were then shewn into another apartment, where the town committee was assembled; the accusation was heard; and it was wisely remarked by all, that, in such dangerous times as these, when all the world knew that so great and powerful a person as the queen was conspiring against France in the most alarming manner, for a woman to become the conductor of a stranger—and of a stranger who had been making so many suspicious enquiries as I had, was a high offence. It was immediately agreed, that she ought to be imprisoned. I assured them she was perfectly innocent; for it was impossible that any guilty motive should be her inducement; finding me curious to see the springs, having viewed the lower ones, and wanting a guide for seeing those higher in the mountains, she offered herself: that she certainly had no other than the industrious view of getting a few sols for her poor family. They then turned their enquiries against myself, that if I wanted to see springs only, what induced me to ask a multitude of questions concerning the price, value, and product of the lands? What had such enquiries to do with springs and volcanoes? I told them, that cultivating some land in England, rendered such things interesting to me personally: and lastly, that if they would send to Clermont, they might know, from several respectable persons, the truth of all I asserted; and therefore I hoped, as it was the woman's first indiscretion, for I could not call it offence, they would dismiss her. This was refused at first, but assented to at last, on my declaring that if they imprioned her, they should do the same by me, and answer it as they could. They consented to let her go, with a reprimand, and I departed; not marvelling, for I have done with that, at their ignorance, in imagining that the Queen should conspire so dangerously against their rocks and mountains. I found my guide in the midst of the mob, who had been very busy in putting as many questions about me, as I had done about their crops.—There were two opinions, one party thought I was a commissaire, come to ascertain the damage done by the hail: the other, that I was an agent of the Queen's, who intended to blow the town up with a mine, and send all that escaped to the gallies. The care that must have been taken to render the character of that princess detested among the people, is incredible; and there seems every where to be no absurdities too gross, nor circumstances too impossible for their faith. In the evening to the theatre, the Optimist well acted. Before I leave Clermont, I must remark, that I dined, or supped, five times at the table d'hôte, with from twenty to thirty merchants and tradesmen, officers, &c.; and it is not easy for me to express the insignificance,—the inanity of the conversation. Scarcely any politics, at a moment when every bosom ought to beat with none but political sensations. The ignorance or the stupidity of these people must be absolutely incredible; not a week passes without their country abounding with events that are analyzed and debated by the carpenters and blacksmiths of England. The abolition of tythes, the destruction of the gabelle, game made property, and feudal rights destroyed, are French topics, that are translated into English within six days after they happen, and their consequences, combinations, results, and modifications, become the disquisition and entertainment of the grocers, chandlers, drapers, and shoemakers, of all the towns of England; yet the same people in France do not think them worth their conversation, except in private. Why? because conversation in private wants little knowledge; but in public, it demands more, and therefore I suppose, for I confess there are a thousand difficulties attending the solution, they are silent. But how many people, and how many subjects, on which volubility is proportioned to ignorance? Account for the fact as you please, but it is confirmed with me, and admits no doubt.
The 14th. To Izoire,123 the country all interesting, from the number of conic mountains that rise in every quarter; some are crowned with towns;—on others are Roman castles, and the knowledge that the whole is the work of subterranean fire, though in ages far too remote for any record to announce, keeps the attention perpetually alive. Mons. de l'Arbre had given me a letter to Mons. Brés, doctor of physic, at Izoire: I found him, with all the townsmen, collected at the hotel de ville, to hear a newspaper read. He conducted me to the upper end of the room, and seated me by himself: the subject of the paper was the suppression of the religious houses, and the commutation of tythes. I observed that the auditors, among whom were some of the lower class, were very attentive; and the whole company seemed well pleased with whatever concerned the tythes and the monks. Mons, Brés, who is a sensible and intelligent gentleman, walked with me to his farm, about half a league from the town, on a soil of superior richness; like all other farms, this is in the hands of a métayer. Supped at his house afterwards, in an agreeable company, with much animated political conversation. We discussed the news of the day; they were inclined to approved of it very warmly; but I contended that the National Assembly did not proceed on any regular well digested system: that they seemed to have a rage for pulling down, but no taste for rebuilding: that if they proceeded much further in such a plan, destroying every thing, but establishing nothing, they would at last bring the kingdom into such confusion, that they would even themselves be without power to restore it to peace and order; and that such a situation would, in its nature, be on the brink of the precipice of bankruptcy and civil war.—I ventured further, to declare it as my idea, that without an upper house, they never could have either a good or a durable constitution. We had a difference of opinion on these points; but I was glad to find, that there could be a fair discussion,—and that, in a company of six or seven gentlemen, two would venture to agree with a system so unfashionable as mine.—17 miles.
The 15th. The country continues interesting to Brioud.124 On the tops of the mountains of Auvergne are many old castles, and towns, and villages. Pass the river, by a bridge of one great arch, to the village of Lampdes.125 At that place, wait on Mons. Greyffier de Talairat, avocat and subdelegué, to whom I had a letter; and who was so obliging as to answer, with attention, all my enquiries into the agriculture of the neighbourhood. He enquired much after load Bristol; and was not the worst pleased with me, when he heard I came from the same province in England. We drank his lordship's health, in the strong white wine, kept four years in the sun, which lord Bristol had much commended.—18 miles.
The 16th. Early in the morning, to avoid the heat, which has rather incommoded me, to Fix.126 Cross the river by a ford, near the spot where a bridge is building, and mount gradually into a country, which continues interesting to a naturalist, from its volcanic origin; for all has been either overturned, or formed by fire. Pass Chomet;127 and descending, remark a heap of basaltic columns by the road, to the right; they are small, but regular sexagons. Poulaget128 appears in the plain to the left. Stopped at St. George,129 where I procured mules, and a guide, to see the basaltic columns at Chilliac,130 which, however, are hardly striking enough to reward the trouble. At Fix, I saw a field of fine clover; a sight that I have not been regaled with, I think, since Alsace. I desired to know to whom it belonged? to Mons. Coffier, doctor of medicine. I went to his house to make enquiries, which he was obliging enough to gratify, and indulged me in a walk over the principal part of his farm. He gave me a bottle of excellent vin blanc mousseux, made in Auvergne. I enquired of him the means of going to the mine of antimony, four leagues from hence; but he said the country was so enragè in that part, and had lately been mischievous, that he advised me by all means to give up the project. This country, from climate, as well as pines, must be very high. I have been for three days past melted with heat; but to-day, though the sun is bright, the heat has been quite moderate, like an English summer's day, and I am assured that they never have it hotter; but complain of the winter's cold being very severe,—and that the snow in the last was sixteen inches deep on the level. The interesting circumstance of the whole is the volcanic origin: all buildings and walls are of lava: the roads are mended with lava, pozzuolana, and basalts; and the face of the country everywhere exhibits the origin in subterranean fire. The fertility, however, is not apparent, without reflection. The crops are not extraordinary, and many bad; but then the height is to be considered. In no other country that I have seen are such great mountains as these, cultivated so high; here corn is seen every where, even to their tops, at heights where it is as usual to find rock, wood, or ling (erica vulgaris).—42 miles.
The 17th. The whole range of the fifteen miles to Le Puy en Velay, is wonderfully interesting. Nature, in the production of this country, such as we see it at present, must have proceeded by means not common elsewhere. It is all in its form tempestuous as the billowy ocean. Mountain rises beyond mountain, with endless variety: not dark and dreary, like those of equal height in other countries, but spread with cultivation (feeble indeed) to the very tops. Some vales sunk among them, of beautiful verdure, please the eye. Towards Le Puy the scenery is still more striking, from the addition of some of the most singular rocks any where to be seen. The castle of Polignac,131 from which the duke takes his title, is built on a bold and enormous one, it is almost of a cubical form, and towers perpendicularly above the town, which surrounds it at its foot. The family of Polignac claim an origin of great antiquity; they have pretensions that go back, I forget whether to Hector or Achilles; but I never found any one in conversation inclined to allow them more than being in the first class of French families, which they undoubtedly are. Perhaps there is no where to be met with a castle more formed to give a local pride of family than this of Polignac: the man hardly exists that would not feel a certain vanity, at having given his own name, from remote antiquity, to so singular and so commanding a rock; but if, with the name, it belonged to me, I would scarcely sell it for a province. The building is of such antiquity, and the situation so romantic, that all the feudal ages pass in review in one's imagination, by a sort of magic influence; you recognize it for the residence of a lordly baron, who, in an age more distant and more respectable, though perhaps equally barbarous, was the patriot defender of his country against the invasion and tyranny of Rome. In every age, since the horrible combustions of nature which produced it, such a spot would be chosen for security and defence. To have given one's name to a castle, without any lofty pre-eminence or singularity of nature, in the midst, for instance, of a rich plain, is not equally flattering to our feelings; all antiquity of family derives from ages of great barbarity, when civil commotions and wars swept away and confounded the inhabitants of such situations. The Bretons of the plains of England, were driven to Bretagne; but the same people, in the mountains of Wales, stuck secure, and remain there to this day. About a gun-shot from Polignac is another rock, no so large, but equally remarkable; and in the town of Le Puy, another commanding on rises to a vast height; with another more singular for its tower-like form,—on the top of which St. Michael's church is built. Gypsum and lime-stone abound; and the whole country is volcanic; the very meadows are on lava: everything, in a word, is either the product of fire, or has been disturbed or tossed about by it. At Le Puy, fair day, and a table d'hôte, with ignorance as usual. Many coffee-houses, and even considerable ones, but not a single newspaper to be found in any.—15 miles.
The 18th. Leaving Puy, the hill which the road mounts on the way to Costerous,132 for four or five miles, commands a view of the town far more picturesque than that of Clermont. The mountain, covered with its conical town, crowned by a vast rock, with those of St. Michael and of Polignac, form a most singular scene. The road is a noble one, formed of lava and pozzuolana. The adjacent declivities have a strong disposition to run into basaltic pentagons and sexagons; the stones put up in the road, by way of posts, are parts of basaltic columns. The inn at Pradelles,133 kept by three sisters, Pichots, is one of the worst I have met with in France. Contraction, poverty, dirt, and darkness.—20 miles.
The 19th. To Thuytz;134 pine woods abound; there are saw mills, and with ratchet wheels to bring the tree to the saw, without the constant attention of a man, as in the Pyrenees; a great improvement. Pass by a new and beautiful road, along the side of immense mountains of granite; chesnut trees spread in every quarter, and cover with luxuriance of vegetation rocks apparently so naked, that earth seems a stranger. This beautiful tree is known to delight in volcanic soils and situations: many are very large; I measured one fifteen feet in circumference, at five from the ground; and many are nine to ten feet, and fifty to sixty high. At Maisse135 the fine road ends, and then a rocky, almost natural one for some miles; but for half a mile before Thuytz recover the new one again, which is here equal to the finest to be seen, formed of volcanic materials, forty feet broad, without the least stone, a firm and naturally level cemented surface. They tell me that 1800 toises of it, or about 2½ miles, cost 180,000 liv. (8250l.) It conducts, according to custom, to a miserable inn, but with a large stable; and in every respect Mons. Grenadier excels the Demoiselles Pichots. Here mulberries first appear, and with them flies; for this is the first day I have been incommoded. At Thuytz I had an object which I suppose would demand a whole day: it is within four hours ride of the Montagne de la coupe au Colet d' Aisa,136 of which M. Faujas de St.Fond has given a plate, in his Researches sur les volcans eteints, that shews it to be a remarkable object: I began to make enquiries, and arrangements for having a mule and a guide to go thither the next morning; the man and his wife attended me at dinner, and did not seem, from the difficulties they raised at every moment, to approve my plan: having asked them some questions about the price of provisions, and other things, I suppose they regarded me with suspicious eyes, and thought that I had no good intentions. I desired, however, to have the mule—some difficulties were made—I must have two mules—Very well, get me two. Then returning, a man was not to be bad; with fresh expressions of surprise, that I should be eager to see mountains that did not concern me. After raising fresh difficulties to everything I said, they at last plainly told me, that I should have neither mule nor man; and this with an air that evidently made the case hopeless. About an hour after, I received a polite message from the marquis Deblou, seigneur of the parish, who hearing that an inquisitive Englishman was at the inn, enquiring after volcanoes, proposed the pleasure of taking a walk with me. I accepted the offer with alacrity, and going directly towards his house met him in the road. I explained to him my motives and my difficulties; he said, the people had got some absurd suspicions of me from my questions, and that the present time was so dangerous and critical to all travellers, that he would advise me by no means to think of any such excursions from the great road, unless I found much readiness in the people to conduct me; that at any other moment than the present, he should be happy to do it himself, but that at present it was impossible for any person to be too cautious. There was no resisting this reasoning, and yet to lose the most curious volcanic remains in the country, for the crater of the mountain is as distinct in the print of Mons. De St. Fond, as if the lava was now running from it, was a mortifying circumstance. The marquis then shewed me his garden and his chateau, amidst the mountains; behind it is that of Gravene,137 which is an extinguished volcano likewise, but the crater not discernible without difficulty. In conversation with him and another gentleman, on agriculture, particularly the produce of mulberries, they mentioned a small piece of land that produced, by silk only, 120 live. (5l. 5s.) a year, and being contiguous to the road we walked to it. Appearing very small for such a produce, I stepped it to ascertain the contents, and minuted them in my pocket-book. Soon after, growing dark, I took my leave of the gentlemen, and retired to my inn. What I had done had more witnesses than I dreamt of; for at eleven o' clock at night, a full hour after I had been asleep, the commander of a file of twenty milice bourgeois, with their musquets or swords, or sabres, or pikes, entered my chamber, surrounded my bed, and demanded my passport. A dialogue ensued, too long to minute; I was forced first to give them my passport, and, that not satisfying them, my papers. They told me that I was undoubtedly a conspirator with the Queen, the count d' Artois, and the count d'Entragues (who has property here), who had employed me as an arpenteur, to measure their fields, in order to double their taxes. My papers being in English saved me. They had taken it into their heads that I was not an Englishman—only a pretended one; for they speak such a jargon themselves, that their ears were not good enough to discover by my language that I was an undoubted foreigner. Their finding no maps, or plans, nor anything that they could convert by supposition to a cadastre of their parish, had its effect, as I could see by their manner, for they conversed entirely in Patois. Perceiving, however, that they were not satisfied, and talked much of the count d'Entragues, I opened a bundle of letters that were sealed—these, gentlemen, are my letters of recommendation to various cities of France and Italy, open which you please, and you will find, for they are written in French, that I am an honest Englishman, and not the rogue you take me for. On this they held a fresh consultation and debate, which ended in my favour; they refused to open the letters, prepared to leave me, saying, that my numerous questions about lands, and measuring a field, while I pretended to come after volcanoes, had raise great suspicions, which they observed were natural at a time when it was known to a certainty that the Queen, the count d'Artois, and the count d'Entragues were in a conspiracy against the Vivarais. And thus, to my entire satisfaction, they wished me good night, and left me to the bugs, which swarmed in the bed like flies in a honey-pot. I had a narrow escape—it would have been a delicate situation to have been kept prisoner probably in some common gaol, or, if not, guarded at my own expence, while they sent a courier to Paris for orders, and me to pay the piper.—20 miles.
The 20th. The same imposing mountain features continue to Villeneuve de Berg.138 The road, for half a mile, leads under an immense mass of basaltic lava, run into configurations of various forms, and resting on regular columns; this vast range bulges in the center into a sort of promontory. The height, form, and figures, and the decisive volcanic character the whole mass has taken, render it a most interesting spectacle to the learned and unlearned eye. Just before Aubenas,139 mistaking the road, which is not half finished, I had to turn; it was on the slope of the declivity, and very rare that any wall or defence is found against the precipices. My French mare has an ill talent of backing too freely when she begins: unfortunately she exercised it at a moment of imminent danger, and backed the chaise, me, and herself down the precipice; by great good luck, there was at the spot a sort of shelf of rock, that made the immediate fall not more than five feet direct. I leaped out of the chaise in a moment, and fell unhurt: the chaise was overthrown and the mare on her side, entangled in the harness, which kept the carriage from tumbling down a precipice of sixty feet. Fortunately she lay quietly, for had she struggled both must have fallen. I called some lime-burners to my assistance, who were with great difficulty brought to submit to directions, and not each pursue his own idea to the certain precipitation of both mare and chaise. We extricated her unhurt, secured the chaise, and, then with still greater difficulty, regained the road with both. This was, by far the narrowest escape I have had. A blessed country for a broken limb—confinement for six weeks or two months at the Cheval Blanc, at Aubenas, an inn that would have been purgatory to one of my hogs:—alone,—without relation, friend, or servant, and not one person in sixty that speaks French.—Thanks to the good providence that preserved me! What a situation—I shudder at the reflection more than I did falling in the jaws of the precipice. Before I got from the place there were seven men about me, I gave them a 3 liv. piece to drink, which for sometime they refused to accept, thinking, with unaffected modesty, that it was too much. At Aubenas repaired the harness, and leaving that place, viewed the silk mills, which are considerable. Reach Vileneuve de berg. I was immediately hunted out by the milice bourgeoise. Where is your certificate? Here again the old objection that my features and person were not described.—your papers? The importance of the case, they said, was great: and looked as big as if a marshal's batton was in hand. They tormented me with an hundred questions; and then pronounced that I was a suspicious looking person. They could not conceive why a Suffolk farmer could travel into the Vivarais? Near had they heard of any person travelling for agriculture! They would take my passport to the hotel de ville—have the permanent council assembled—and place a centinel at my door. I told them they might do what they pleased, provided they did not prohibit my dinner, as I was hungry; they then departed. In about half an hour a gentleman-like man, a Croix de St. Louis came, asked me some questions very politely, and seemed not to conclude that Maria Antonietta and Arthur Young were at this moment in any very dangerous conspiracy. He retired, saying, he hoped I should not meet with any difficulties. In another half hour a soldier came to conduct me to the hotel de ville; where I found the council assembled; I had a good many questions asked; and some expressions of surprise that an English farmer should travel so far for agriculture—they had never heard of such a thing ;—but all was in a polite liberal manner; and though travelling for agriculture was as new to them, as if it had been like the antient philosopher's tour of the world on a cow's back, and living on the milk,—yet they did not deem any thing in my recital improbable, signed my passport very readily, assured me of every assistance and civility I might want, and dismissed me with the politeness of gentlemen. I described my treatment at Thuytz, which they loudly condemned. I took this opportunity to beg to know where that Pradel140 was to be found in this country, of which Oliver de Serres was seigneur, the well known French writer on agriculture in the reign of Henry IV. They at once pointed out of the window of the room we were in to the house, which in this town belonged to him, and informed me that Pradel was within a league. As this was an object I had noted before I came to France, the information gave me no slight satisfaction. The mayor, in the course of the examination, presented me to a gentleman who had translated Sterne into French, but who did not speak English; on my return to the auberge I found that this was Mons. de Boissiere, avocat general of the parliament of Grenoble. I did not care to leave the place without knowing something more of one who had distinguished himself ["himfelf" in 1909 edition—Econlib Ed.] by his attention to English literature; and I wrote him a note, begging permission to have the pleasure of some conversation with a gentleman who had made our inimitable author speak the language of a people he loved so well. Mons. de Boissiere came to me immediately, conducted me to his house, introduced me to his lady and some friends, and as I was much interested concerning Oliver de Serres, he offered to take a walk with me to Pradel. It may easily be supposed that this was too much to my mind to be refused, and few evenings have been more agreeably spent. I regarded the residence of the great parent of French agriculture, and who was undoubtedly one of the first writers on the subject that had then appeared in the world, with that sort of veneration, which those only can feel who have addicted themselves strongly to some predominant pursuit, and find it in such moments indulged in its most exquisite feelings. Two hundred years after his exertions, let me do honour to his memory, he was an excellent farmer and a true patriot, and would not have been fixed on by Henry IV. as his chief agent in the great project of introducing the culture of silk in France, if he had not possessed a considerable reputation; a reputation well earned, since posterity has confirmed it. The period of his practice is too remote to gain anything more than a general outline of what may now be supposed to have been his farm. The basis of it is limestone; there is a great oak wood near the chateau, and many vines, with plenty of mulberries, some apparently old enough to have been planted by the hand of the venerable genius that has rendered the ground classic. The estate of Pradel, which is about 5000 liv. (218l. 15s.) a year, belongs at present to the marquis of Mirabel who inherits it in right of his wife, as the descendant of De Serres. I hope it is exempted for ever from all taxes; he whose writings laid the foundation for the improvement of a kingdom, should leave to his posterity some marks of his countrymen's gratitude. When the present bishop of Sisteron was shewn, like me, the farm of De Serres, he remarked, that the nation ought to erect a statue to his memory.141 The sentiment is not without merit, though no more than common snuff-box chat; but if this bishop has a well cultivated farm in his hands it does him honour. Supped with Mons. and Madame de Boissiers, &c. and had the pleasure of an agreeable and interesting conversation.—21 miles.
The 21st. Mons. de Boissiere, wishing to take my advice in the improvement of a farm, which he had taken into his hands, six or seven miles from Berg, in my road to Viviers, accompanied me thither. I advised him to form one well executed and well improved inclosure every year—to finish as he advances, and to do well what he attempts to do at all; and I cautioned him against the common abuse of that excellent husbandry, paring and burning. I suspect, however, that his homme d' affaire will be too potent for the English traveler.—I hope he has received the turnip-seed I sent him. Dine at Viviers,142 and pass the Rhone. After the wretched inns of the Vivarais, dirt, filth, bugs, and starving, to arrive at the hotel de Monsieur, at Montilimart,143 a great and excellent inn, was something like the arrival in France from Spain: the contrast is striking; and I seemed to hug myself, that I was again in a christian country among the Milor Ninchitreas, and my Ladi Bettis, of Mons. Chabot.—23 miles.
The 22d. Having a letter to Mons. Faujas de St. Fond,144 the celebrated naturalist, who has favoured the world with many important works on volcanoes, aerostation, and various other branches of natural history, I had the satisfaction, on enquiring, to find that he was at Montilimart; and, waiting on him—to perceive, that a man of distinguished merit was handsomely lodged, with every thing about him that indicated an easy fortune. He received me with the frank politeness inherent in his character; introduced me, on the spot to a Mons. l'Abbé Berenger, who resided near his country-seat, and was, he said, an excellent cultivator; and likewise to another gentleman, whose taste had taken the same good direction. In the evening Mons. Faujas took me to call on a female friend, who was engaged in the same enquiries, Madame Cheinet, whose husband is a member of the National Assembly; if he has the good luck to find at Versailles some other lady as agreeable as her he has left at Montilimart, his mission will not be a barren one; and he may perhaps be better employed than in voting regenerations. This lady accompanied us in a walk for viewing the environs of Montilimart; and it gave me no small pleasure to find, that she was an excellent farmeress, practises considerably, and had the goodness to answer many of my enquiries, particularly in the culture of silk. I was so charmed with the naiveté of character, and pleasing conversation of this very agreeable lady, that a longer stay here would have been delicious—but the plough!
The 23d. By appointment, accompanied Mons. Faujas to his country-seat and farm at l'Oriol,145 fifteen miles north of Montilimart, where he is building a good house. I was pleased to find his farm amount to 280 septerés146 of land: I should have liked it better, had it not been in the hands of a métayer. Mons. Faujas pleases me much; the liveliness, vivacity, phlogiston of his character, do not run into pertness, foppery, or affectation; he adheres steadily to a subject; and shews, that to clear up any dubious point, by the attrition of different ideas in conversation, gives him pleasure; not through a vain fluency of colloquial powers, but for better understanding a subject. The next day, Mons. l'Abbé Berenger, and another gentlemen, passed it at Mons. Faujas': we walked to the Abbé's farm. He is of the good order of beings, and pleases me much; curé of the parish, and president of the permanent council. He is at present warm on a project of reuniting the protestants to the church; spoke, with great pleasure, of having persuaded them, on occasion of the general thanksgiving for the establishment of liberty, to return thanks to God, and sing the Te Deum in the catholic church, in common as brethren, which, from confidence in his character, they did. His is firmly persuaded, that by both parties giving way a little, and softening or retrenching reciprocally somewhat in points that are disagreeable, they may be brought together. The idea is so liberal, that I question it for the multitude, who are never governed by reason, but by trifles and ceremonies,—and who are usually attached to their religion, in proportion to the absurdities it abounds with. I have not the least doubt but the mob in England would be much more scandalized at parting with the creed of St. Athanasius, than the whole bench of bishops, whose illumination would perhaps reflect correctly that of the throne. Mons. l'Abbé Berenger has prepared a memorial, which is ready to be presented to the National Assembly, proposing and explaining this ideal union of the two religions; and he had the plan of adding a clause, proposing that the clergy should have permission to marry. He was convinces, that it would be for the interest of morals, and much for that of the nation, that the clergy should not be an insulated body, but holding by the same interests and connections as other people. He remarked, that the life of a curé, and especially in the country, is melancholy; and, knowing my passion, observed, that a man never could be so good a farmer, on any possession he might have, excluded from being succeeded by his children. He shewed me his memoir, and I was pleased to find that there is at present great harmony between the two religions, owing certainly to such good curés. The number of protestants is very considerable in this neighbourhood. I strenuously contended for the insertion of the clause respecting marriage; assured him, that at such a moment as this, it would do all who were concerned in this memorial the greatest credit; and that they ought to consider it as a demand of the rights of humanity, violently, injuriously, and, relative to the nation, impolitically, withheld. Yesterday, in going with Mons. Faujas, we passed a congregation of protestants, assembled, Druid-like,147 under five or six spreading oaks, to offer their thanksgiving to the great Parent of their happiness and hope.—In such a climate as this, is it not a worthier temple, built by the great hand they revere, than one of brick and mortar?—This was one of the richest days I have enjoyed in France; we had a long and truly farming dinner; drank a l'Anglois success to THE PLOUGH! and had so much agricultural conversation, that I wished for my farming friends in Suffolk to partake my satisfaction. If Mons. Faujus de St. Fond comes to England, as he gives me hope, I shall introduce him to them with pleasure. In the evening return to Montilimart.—30 miles.
The 25th. To Chateau Rochemaur,148 across the Rhone. It is situated on a basaltic rock, nearly perpendicular, with every columnar proof of its volcanic origin. See Mons. de Faujas' Recherches. In the afternoon to Piere Latte,149 through a country steril, uninteresting, and far inferior to the environs of Montilimart.—22 miles.
The 26th. To Orange,150 the country not much better; a range of mountains to the left: see nothing of the Rhone. At that town there are remains of a large Roman building, seventy or eighty feet high, called a circus, of a triumphal arch, which, though a good deal decayed, manifests, in its remains, no ordinary decoration, and a pavement in the house of a poor person, which is very perfect and beautiful, but much inferior to that of Nismes. The vent de bize has blown strongly for several days, with a clear sky, tempering the heats, which are sometimes sultry and oppressive; it may, for what I know, be wholesome to French constitutions, but it is diabolical to mine; I found myself very indifferent, and as if I was going to be ill, a new and unusual sensation over my whole body: never dreaming of the wind, I knew not what to attribute it to, but my complaint coming at the same time, puts it out of doubt; besides, instinct now, much more than reason, makes me guard as much as I can against it. At four or five in the morning it is so cold that no traveller ventures out. It is more penetratingly drying than I had any conception of; other winds stop the cutaneous perspiration; but this piercing through the body seems, by its sensation, to dessicate all the interior humidity.—20 miles.
The 27th. To Avignon.—Whether it was because I had read much of this town in the history of the middle ages, or because it had been the residence of the Popes, or more probably from the still more interesting memoirs which Petrarch has left concerning it, in poems that will last as long as Italian elegance and human feelings shall exist, I know not—but I approached the place with a sort of interest, attention, and expectancy, that few towns have kindled. Laura's tomb, is in the church of the Cordeliers; it is nothing but a stone in the pavement, with a figure engraven on it partly effaced, surrounded by an inscription in Gothic letters, and another in the wall adjoining, with the armorial of the family of Sade. How incredible is the power of great talents, when employed in delineating passions common to the human race. How many millions of women, fair as Laura, have been beloved as tenderly—but, wanting a Petrarch to illustrate the passion, have lived and died in oblivion! Whilst his lines, not written to die, conduct thousands under the impulse of feelings, which genius only can excite, to mingle in idea their melancholy sighs with those of the poet who consecrated these remains to immortality!—There is a monument of the brave Crillon151 in the same church; and I saw other churches and pictures—but Petrarch and Laura are predominant at Avignon.—19 miles.
The 28th. Wait upon Pere Brouillony, provincial visitor,152 who, with great politeness, procured me the information I wished, by introducing me to some gentlemen understanding in agriculture. From the rock of the legates palace, there is one of the finest views of the windings of the Rhone that is to be seen: it forms two considerable islands, which, with the rest of the plain, richly watered, cultivated, and covered with mulberries, olives, and fruit-trees, have a fine boundary in the mountains of Provence, Dauphiné, and Languedoc.—The circular road fine. I was struck with the resemblance between the women here and in England. It did not at once occur in what it consisted; but it is their caps; they dress their heads quite different from the French women. A better particularity, is there being no wooden shoes here, nor, as I have seen, in Provence.153 —I have often complained of the stupid ignorance I met with at table d'hôtes. Here, if possible it has been worse than common. The politeness of the French is proverbial, but it never could arise from the manners of the classes that frequent these tables. Not one time in forty will a foreigner, as such, receive the least mark of attention. The only political idea here is, that if the English should attack France, they have a million of men in arms to receive them; and their ignorance seems to know no distinction between men in arms in their towns and villages, or in action without the kingdom. They conceive, as Sterne observes, much better than they combine: I put some questions to them, but in vain: I asked, if the union of a rusty firelock and a bourgeois made a soldier?—I asked them, in which of their wars they had wanted men? I demanded, whether they had ever felt any other want than that of money? And whether the conversion of a million of men, into the bearers of musquets, would made money more plentiful? I asked, if personal service was not a tax? And whether paying the tax of the service of a million of men increased their faculties of paying other and more useful taxes? I begged them to inform me, if the regeneration of the kingdom, which had put arms into the hands of a million of mob, had rendered industry more productive, internal peace more secure, confidence more enlarged, or credit more stable? And lastly, I assured them, that should the English attack them at present, they would probably make the weakest figure they had done from the foundation of their monarchy: but, gentlemen, the English, in spite of the example you set them in the American war, will disdain such a conduct; they regret the constitution you are forming, because they think it a bad one—but whatever you may establish, you will have no interruption, but many good wishes from your neighbour. It was all in vain; they were well persuaded their government was the best in the world; that it was a monarchy, and no republic, which I contended; and that the English though it good, because they would unquestionably abolish their house of lords, in the enjoyment of which accurate idea I left them.—In the evening to Lille,154 a town which has lost its name in the world, in the more splendid fame of Vaucluse. There can hardly be met with a richer, or better cultivated sixteen miles; the irrigation is superb. Lille is most agreeably situated. On coming to the verge of it I found fine plantations of elms, with delicious streams, bubbling over pebbles on either side; well dressed people were enjoying the evening at a spot, I had conceived to be only a mountain village. It was a sort of fairy scene to me. Now, thought I, how detestable to leave this fine wood and water, and enter a nasty, beggarly, walled, hot, stinking town; one of the contrasts most offensive to my feelings. What an agreeable surprise, to find the inn without the town, in the agreeable surprise, to find the inn without the town, in the midst of the scenery I had admired! and more, a good and civil inn. I walked on the banks of this classic stream for an hour, with the moon gazing on the waters, that will run for ever in mellifluous poetry: retired to sup on the most exquisite trout and craw fish in the world. To-morrow to the famed origing.—16 miles.
The 29th. I am delighted with the environs of Lille; beautiful roads, well planted, surround and pass off in different directions, as if from a capital town, umbrageous enough to form promenades against a hot sun, and the river splits and divides into so many streams, and is conducted with so much attention that it has a delicious effect, especially to an eye that recognises all the fertility or irrigation. To the fountain of Vaucluse, which is justly said to be as celebrated almost as that of Helicon. Crossing a plain, which is not so beautiful as one's idea of Tempe; the mountain presents an almost perpendicular rock, at the foot of which is an immense and very fine cavern, half filled with a pool of stagnant, but clear water, this is the famous fountain; at other seasons it fills the whole cavern, and boils over in a vast stream among rocks; its bed now marked by vegetation. At present the water gushes out 200 yards lower down, from beneath masses of rock, and in a very small distance forms a considerable river, which almost immediately receives deviations by art for mills and irrigation. On the summit of a rock above the village, but much below the mountain, is a ruin, called, by the poor people here, the chateau of Petrarch—who tell you it was inhabited by Mons. Petrarch and Madame Laura. The scene is sublime; but what renders it truly interesting to our feelings, is the celebrity which great talents have given it. The power of rocks, and water, and mountains, even in their boldest features, to arrest attention, and fill the bosom with sensations that banish the insipid feelings of common life—holds not of inanimate nature. To give energy to such sensations, it must receive animation from the creative touch of a vivid fancy: described by the poet, or connected with the residence, actions, pursuits, or passions of great geniusses; it lives, as it were, personified by talents, and commands the interest that breathes around whatever is consecrated by fame. To Orgon.155 Quit the Pope's territory, by crossing the Durance; there view the skeleton of the navigation of Boisgelin, the work of the archbishop of Aix, a noble project, and, where finished, perfectly well executed; a hill is pierced by it for a quarter of a mile, a work that rivals the greatest similar exertions. It has, however, stood still many years for want of money. The vent de bize gone, and the heat increased, the wind now S.W. my health better to a moment, which proves how pernicious it is, even in August.—20 miles.
The 30th. I forgot to observe that, for a few days past, I have been pestered with all the mob of the country shooting: one would think that every rusty gun in Provence is at work, killing all sorts of birds; the shot has fallen five or six times in my chaise and about my ears. The National Assembly has declared that every man has a right to kill game on his own land; and advancing this maxim so absurd as a declaration, though so wise as a law, without any statute of provision to secure the right of game to the possessor of the soil, according to the tenor of the vote, has, as I am every where informed, filled all the fields of France with sportsmen to an utter nuisance. The same effects have flowed from declarations of right relative to tythes, taxes, feudal rights, &c. In the declarations, conditions and compensations are talked of; but an unruly ungovernable multitude seize the benefit of the abolition, and laugh at the obligations or recompense. Out by daybreak for Salon,156 in order to view the Crau, one of the most singular districts in France for its soil, or rather want of soil, being apparently a region of sea flints, yet feeding great herds of sheep: View the improvement of Monsieur Pasquali, who is doing great things, but roughly: I wished to see and converse with him, but unfortunately he was absent from Salon. At night to St. Canat.157 —46 miles.
The 31st. To Aix.158 Many houses without glass windows. The women with men's hats, and no wooden shoes. At Aix waited on Mons. Gibelin, celebrated for his translations of the works of Dr. Priestley, and of the Philosophical Transactions. He received me with that easy and agreeable politeness natural to his character, being apparently a friendly man. He took every method in his power to procure me the information I wanted, and engaged to go with me the next day to Tour D'Aigues159 to wait on the baron of that name, president of the parliament of Aix, to whom also I had letters; and whose essays, in the Trimestres of the Paris society of agriculture, are among the most valuable on rural œconomics in that work.—12 miles.
SEPTEMBER 1st. Tour d'Aigues is twenty miles north of Aix, on the other side of the Durance, which we crossed at a ferry. The country about the chateau is bold and hilly, and swells in four or five miles into rocky mountains. The president received me in a very friendly manner, with a simplicity of manners that gives a dignity to his character, void of affectation; he is very fond of agriculture and planting. The afternoon was passed in viewing his home-farm, and his noble woods, which are uncommon in this naked province. The chateau of Tour d'Aigues, before much of it was accidentally consumed by fire, must have been one of the most considerable in France; but at present a melancholy spectacle is left. The baron is an enormous sufferer by the revolution; a great extent of country, which belonged in absolute right to his ancestors, has been granted for quit rent, cens, and other feudal payments, so that there is no comparison between the lands retained and those thus granted by his family. The loss of the droits honorifiques is much more than has been apparent, and is an utter loss of all influence; it was natural to look for some plain and simple mode of compensation; but the declaration of the National Assembly allows none; and it is feelingly known in this chateau, that the solid payments which the Assembly have declared to be rachetable are every hour falling to nothing, without a shadow or recompense. The people are in arms, and at this moment very unquiet. The situation of the nobility in this country is pitiable; they are under apprehensions that nothing will be left them, but simply such houses as the mob allows to stand unburnt; that the métayers will retain their farms without paying the landlord his half of the produce; and that, in case of such a refusal, there is actually neither law nor authority in the country to prevent it. Here is, however, in this house, a large and an agreeable society, and cheerful to a miracle, considering the times, and what such a great baron is losing, who has inherited from his ancestors immense possessions, now frittering to nothing by the revolution. This chateau, splendid even in ruins, the venerable woods, park, and all the ensigns of family and command, with the fortune, and even the lives of the owners at the mercy, and trampled on by an armed rabble. What a spectacle! The baron has a very fine and well filled library, and one part of it totally with books and tracts on agriculture, in all the languages of Europe. His collection of these is nearly as numerous as my own.—20 miles.
The 2d. Mons. Le President dedicated this day for an excursion to his mountain-farm, five miles off, where he has a great range, and one of the finest lakes in Provence, two thousand toises round, and forty feet deep. Directly from it rises a fine mountain, consisting of a mass of shell agglutinated into stone; it is a pity this hill is not planted, as the water wants the immediate accompanyment of wood. Carp rise to 25lb. and eels to 12lb. (Note, there are carp in the lake Bourget, in Savoy, of 60lb.) A neighbouring gentleman, Mons. Jouvent, well acquainted with the agriculture of this country, accompanied us, and spent the rest of the day at the castle. I had much valuable information from the baron de Tour d'Aigues, this gentleman, and from Mons. l'Abbé de——, I forget his name. In the evening I had some conversation on housekeeping with one of the ladies, and found among other articles, that the wages of a gardener are 300 liv. (13l. 2s. 6d.); a common man-servant, 150 liv. (7l.); a bourgeois cook, 75 to 90 liv. (90 liv. are 3l. 18s. 9d.); a house-maid, 60 to 70 liv. (3l.1s. 3d.) Rent of a good house for a Bourgeois 700 or 800 liv. (351.)—10 miles.
The 3d. Took my leave of Mons. Tour d'Aigues' hospitable chateau, and returned with Mons. Gibelin to Aix.—20 miles.
The 4th. The country to Marseilles is all mountainous, but much cultivated with vines and olives; it is, however, naked and uninteresting; and much of the road is left in a scandalous condition, for one of the greatest in France, not wide enough, at places, for two carriages to pass with convenience. What a deceiving painter is the imagination!—I had read I know not what lying exaggerations of the bastides about Marseilles, being counted not by hundreds, but by thousands, with anecdotes of Louis XIV. adding one to the number of citadel.—I have seen other towns in France, where they are more numerous; and the environs of Montpellier, without external commerce, are as highly decorated as those of Marseilles; yet Montpellier is not singular. The view of Marseilles, in the approach, is not striking. It is well built in the new quarter, but, like all others, in the old, close, ill built, and dirty; the population, if we may judge from the throng in the streets, is very great; I have met with none that exceeds it in this respect. I went in the evening to the theatre, which is new, but not striking; and not in any respect to be named with that of Bourdeaux, or even Nantes; nor is the general magnificence of the town at all equal to Bourdeaux; the new buildings are neither so extensive, nor so good—the number of ships in the port not to be compared, and the port itself is a horse-pond, compared with the Garonne.—20 miles.
The 5th. Marseilles is absolutely exempt from the reproaches I have so often cast on others for want of newspapers. I breakfasted at the café d' Acajon amidst many Deliver my letters, and receive information concerning commerce; but I am disappointed of one I expected for Mons. l'Abbé Raynal, the celebrated author. At the table d'hôte, the count de Mirabeau, both here and at Aix, a topic of conversation; I expected to have found him more popular, from the extravagancies committed in his favour in Provence and at Marseilles; they consider him merely as a politician of great abilities, whose principles are favourable to theirs: as to his private character, they think they have nothing to do with it; and assert, that they had much rather trust to a rogue of abilities, than put any confidence in an honest man of a no talents; not, however, meaning to assert, that Mons. de Mirabeau deserved any such appellation. They say he has an estate in Provence. I observed, that I was glad to hear he had property; for, in such revolutions it was a necessary hold on a man, that he will not drive every thing to confusion, in order to possess a consequence and importance which cannot attend him in peaceable and quiet times. But to be at Marseilles without seeing Abbé Raynal, one of the undoubted precursors of the present revolution in France, would be mortifying. Having no time to wait longer for letters, I took the resolution to introduce myself. He was at the house of his friend Mons. Bertrand. I told him my situation: and, with that ease and politeness which flows from a man's knowledge of the world, he replied, that he was always happy to be of use to any gentleman of my nation; and, turning to his friend, said, here also is one, Sir, who loves the English, and understands their language. In conversing on agriculture, which I had mentioned as the object of my journey, they both expressed their surprise to find, by accounts apparently authentic, that we imported great quantities of wheat, instead of exporting, as we formerly did; and desired to know, if this was really the case, to what it was owing? and recurring, at the same time, to the Mercure de France for a statement of the export and import of corn, he read it as a quotation from Mr. Arthur Young. This gave me the opportunity of saying, that I was the person, and it proved a lucky introduction; for it was not possible to be received with more politeness, or with more offers of service and assistance. I explained, that the change had taken place in consequence of a vast increase of population, a cause still increasing more rapidly than ever.—We had an interesting conversation on the agriculture of France, and on the present situation of affairs, which they both think going on badly; are convinced of the necessity of an upper house in the legislature; and dread nothing more than a mere democratical government, which they think a species of republic, ridiculous for such a kingdom as France. I remarked, that I had often reflected with amazement, that Mons. Necker did not assemble the states in such a form, and under such regulations, as would have naturally led to adopt the constitution of England, free from the few faults which time has discovered in it. On which Mons. Bertrand gave me a pamphlet he had published, addressed to his friend Abbé Raynal, proposing several circumstances in the English constitution to be adopted in that of France. Mons. l'Abbé Raynal remarked, that the American revolution had brought the French one in its train: I observed, that if the result in France should be liberty, that revolution had proved a blessing to the world, but much more so to England than to America. This they both thought such a paradox, that I explained it by remarking, that I believed the prosperity which England had enjoyed since the peace, not only much exceeded that of any other similar period, but also that of any other country, in any period since the establishment of the European monarchies: a fact that was supported by the increase of population, of consumption, of industry, of navigation, shipping, and sailors: by the augmentation and improvement of agriculture, manufactures, and commerce; and in a peculiar mass and aggregate, flowing from the whole, the rising ease and felicity of the people. I mentioned the authentic documents and public registers which supported such a representation; and I remarked, that Abbé Raynal, who attended closely to what I said, had not seen or heard of these circumstances, in which he is not singular, for I have not met with a single person in France acquainted with them; yet they unquestionably form one of the most remarkable and singular experiments in the science of politics that the world has seen; for a people to lose an empire—thirteen provinces, and to GAIN by that loss, an increase of wealth, felicity, and power! When will the obvious conclusions, to be drawn from that prodigious event, be adopted? That all transmarine, or distant dominions, are sources of weakness: and that to renounce them would be wisdom. Apply this in France to St. Domingo, in Spain to Peru, or in England to Bengal, and mark the ideas and replies that are excited. I have no doubt, however, of the fact. I complimented him on his generous gift to the society of agriculture at Paris of 1200 liv. for a premium; he said they had thanked him, not in the usual form, by the secretary signing alone, but had every one present signed it. He said, that he should do the same by the academies of sciences and belles letters; and he has given the same sum to the academy at Marseilles, for a premium relative to their commerce. He said also, that he had formed a plan which he should execute when he has saved money enough, which is to expend, by means of the society of agriculture, 1200 liv. a year in purchasing models of all the useful implements of husbandry to be found in other countries, especially in England, and to spread them over France. The idea is an excellent one, and merits great praise; yet it is to be questioned, whether the effect would answer the expence. Give the tool itself to a farmer, and he will not know how to use it, or will be too much prejudiced to like it; a model he will still less take the trouble to copy. Gentlemen farming every where their own lands, with enthusiasm and passion for the art, would apply and use those models; but I fear that none such are to be found in France. The spirit and pursuits of gentlemen must be changed from their present frivolous turns, before any such thing could be effected. He approved of my recommending turnips and potatoes; but said, that good sorts were wanting; and mentioned a trial he had made himself, a comparison of the English and Provencal potatoes in making bread, and the English produced one-third more flour than the French.—Among other causes of bad husbandry in France, he named the illegality of usury; at present moneyed people in the country locked it up, instead of lending it for improvement. These sentiments of an illustrious writer do him honour; and it was pleasing to me to find, that he gave attention to objects which have almost monopolized mine; and yet more so to find, that this justly celebrated writer, though not young, is in good spirits; and that he may live many years to enlighten the world by the productions of a pen that has never been employed but for the benefit of the human species.
The 8th. The Cuges.160 For three or four miles the road leads through rows of bastides and walls; it is made of powdered white stone, and without exception, the most dusty I ever saw; the vines, for twenty rods on each side, were like a dressed head: the country all mountains of rocks, with poor pines.—Uninteresting and ugly; the plains, of no great breadth, are covered with vines and olives. Meet capers first at Cuges. At Aubagne,161 I dined on six dishes, not bad, a dessert, and a bottle of wine, for 24f. and by myself too, for no table d'hôte. What Mons. Dutens could mean by calling the post-house at Cuges a good auberge is inexplicable; it is a miserable hole, in which I have one of the best rooms, without glass to the windows.—21 miles.
The 9th. The country to Toulon is more interesting; the mountains are bolder; the sea adds to the view; and there is one passage among the rocks, where area sublime features. Nine-tenths are waste mountain, and a wretched country of pines, box, and miserable aromatics, in spite of the climate. Near Toulon, especially at Olioules,162 there are pomegranates in the hedges, ith fruit as large as nonpareils; they have a few oranges also. The bason of Toulon, with ranges of three deckers, and other large men of war, with a quay of life and business, are fine. The town has nothing that deserves description; the great and only thing that is worth seeing, the dock-yard, I could not see, yet I had letter; but the regulations forbidding it, as at Brest; all applications were vain.—25 miles.
The 10th. Lady Craven163 has sent me upon a wild-goose chase to Hyeres—one would think this country, from her's and many other descriptions, was all a garden; but it has been praised much beyond its merit. The vale is every where richly cultivated, and planted with olives and vines, with a mixture of some mulberries, figs, and other fruit trees. The hills are either rocks, or spread with a poor vegetation of evergreens, pines, lentiscus, &c. The vale, though scattered with white bastides which animate the scene, yet betrays that poverty in the robe of nature, which always offends the eye where olives and fruits form the principal cloathing. Every view is meagre, on comparison with the rich foliage of our northern forests. The only singular features are the orange and lemon trees; they here thrive in the open air, are of a great size, and render every garden interesting to eyes that travel to the south; but last winter's frost has shorn them of their glory. They are all so nearly destroyed as to be cut almost to the root, or to the trunk, but are in general shooting again. I conjecture that these trees, even when in health and foliage, however they may be separately taken, add but little to the general effect of a view. They are all in gardens, mixed with walls and houses, and consequently lose much beauty as the part of a landscape. Lady Craven's Tour sent me to the chapel of Notre Dame de consolation,164 and to the hills leading to Mons. Glapiere de St. Tropes; and I asked for father Laurent, who was however, very little sensible of the honour she had done him. The views from the hills on both sides of the town are moderate. The islands Portecroix, Pourcurolle, and Levant165 (the nearest joined to the continent by a causeway and saltmarsh, which they call a pond,) the hills, mounts, rocks, all are naked. The pines that spread on some of them have not a much better effect than gorse. The verdure of the vale is hurt by the hue of the olives. There is a fine outline to the views; but for a climate, where vegetation is the chief glory, it is poor and meagre; and does not refresh the imagination with the idea of a thick shade against the rays of an ardent sun. I can hear of no cotton in Provence, which has been reported in several books; but the date and pistachio succeed: the myrtle is indigenous everywhere, and the jasminum, commune, and fruticans.166 In I'Isle de Levant is the genista candescens167 and the teucrium herba poma.168 Returning from my ride to the hotel de Necker, the landlord worried me with a list of English that pass the winter at Hyeres; there are many houses built for letting, from two to six louis a month, including all the furniture, linen, necessary plate, &c. Most of these houses command the prospect of the vale and the sea; and if they do not feel the vent de bize, I should suppose it must be a fine winter climate. In December, January, and February perhaps it may not incommode them, but does it not in March and April? There is a table d'hôte, very well served, at the hotel de Necker in winter, at 4 liv. a-head each meal. View the King's garden here, which may be 10 or 12 acres, and nobly productive in all the fruits of the climate, its crop of oranges only last year was 21,000 liv. (9181. 15s.) Oranges at Hyeres have produced as far as two louis each tree. Dine with Mons. de St. Cæsaire, who has a pretty new built house, a noble garden walled in, and an estate around it, which he would sell or let. He was so obliging as to give me, with Doctor Battaile, much useful information concerning the agriculture and produce of this country. In the evening return to Toulon.—34 miles.
The 11th. The arrangement of my journey in Italy occupied some attention. I had been often informed, and by men that have travelled much in Italy, that I must not think of going thither with my one-horse the chaise. To watch my horse being fed would, they assured me, take up abundantly too much time, and if it was omitted, with respect to hay, as well as oats, both would be equally stolen. There are also parts of Italy where travelling alone, as I did, would be very unsafe, from the number of robbers that infest the roads. Persuaded by the opinions of persons, who I suppose must know much better than myself, I had determined to sell my mare and chaise, and travel in Italy by the veturini, who are to be had it seems everywhere, and at a cheap rate. At Aix they offered me for both 20 louis; at Marseilles, 18; so the further I went I expected the price would sink; but to get out of the hands of the aubergistes, and the garçons d'écuries, who expected everywhere to make a property of me, I had it drawn into the street at Toulon, with a large label, written a vendre, and the price 25 louis: they had cost me at Paris 32. My plan took, and I sold them for 22; they had brought me above twelve hundred miles, but yet were a cheap bargain to an officer that was the purchaser. I had next to consider the method to get to Nice; and will it be believed, that from Marseilles with 100,000 souls, and Toulon with 30,000, lying in the great road to Antibes, Nice, and Italy, there is no diligence or regular voiture. A gentleman at the table d'hôte assured me, they asked him 3 louis for a place in a voiture to Antibes, and to wait till some other person would give 3 more for another seat. To a person accustomed to the infinity of machines that fly about England, in all directions, this must appear hardly credible. Such great cities in France have not the hundredth part of connection and communication with each other that much inferior places enjoy with us: a sure proof of their deficiency in consumption, activity, and animation. A gentleman, who knew every part of Provence well, and had been from Nice to Toulon by sea, advised me to take the common barque, for one day, from Toulon, that I might at least pass the isles of Hyeres: I told him I had been at Hyeres, and seen the coast. I had seen nothing, he said, if I had not seen them, and the coast from the sea, which was the finest object in all Provence; that it would be only one day at sea, as I might land at Cavalero, and take mules for Frejus; and that I should lose nothing, as the common route was the same as what I had seen, mountains, vines, and olives. His opinion prevailed, and I spoke to the captain of the barque for my passage to Cavalero.
The 12th. At six in the morning, on board the barque, captain Jassoirs, of Antibes; the weather was delicious; and the passage, out of the harbour of Toulon, and its great bason, beautiful and interesting. Apparently it is impossible to imagine a harbour more completely secure and land-locked. The inner one, contiguous to the quay, is large, and seems formed by art; a range of mole, which it is built on, separating it from the great bason. Only one ship can enter at a time, but it could contain a fleet. There are now lying, moored, in two ranges, one ship, the Commerce of Marseilles, of 130 guns, the finest ship in the French navy, and seventeen others of 90 guns, each, with several smaller. When in the great bason, which is two or three miles across, you seem absolutely inclosed by high lands, and it is only on the moment of quitting it, that you can guess where the outlet is, by which you are connected with the sea. The town, the shipping, the high mountain, which rises immediately above it, the hills, covered with plantations, and spread every where with bastides, unite to form, a striking coup d'œil. But as to the Isles of Hyeres and the fine views of the coast, which I was to enjoy, my informant could have no eyes, or absolutely without taste: they are, as well as all the coast, miserably barren rocks and hills, with only pines to give any idea of vegetation. If it was not for a few solitary houses, with here and there a square patch of cultivation to change the colour of the mountains, I should have imagined that this coast must have borne a near resemblance to those of New Zealand, or New Holland—dark, gloomy, and silent;—a savage sombre air spread over the whole. The pines, and evergreen shrubs, that cover the greatest part, cover it with more gloom than verdure. Landed at night at Cavalero, which I expected to have found a little town; but it consists only of three houses, and a more wretched place not to be imagined. They spread a mattress on a stone floor for me, for bed they had none; after starving all day, they had nothing but stale eggs, bad bread, and worse wine; and as to the mules which were to take me to Frejus, there was neither horse, ass, nor mule in the place, and only four oxen for ploughing the ground. I was thus in a pretty situation, and must have gone on by sea to Antibes, for which also the wind gave tokens of being contrary, if the captain had not promised me two of his men to carry my baggage to a village two leagues off, where mules were certainly to be had, with which comfort I betook myself to my mattress.—24 miles.
The 13th. The captain sent three sailors;—one a Corsican, another a mongrel Italian, and the third a Provencal: among the three, there was not French enough for half an hour's conversation. We crossed the mountains, and wandered by crooked unknown paths, and beds of torrents, and then found the village of Gassang on the top of a mountain, which, however, was more than a league from that to which we intended to go. Here the sailors refreshed themselves, two with wine, but the third never drank any thing except water. I asked if he had equal strength with the others that drank wine? Yes, they replied, as strong for his size as any other man: I rather think, that I shall not soon find as English sailor who will make the experiment. No milk; I breakfasted on grapes, rye bread, and bad wine. Mules were reported to abound at this village, or rather that which we missed; but the master of the only two we could hear of being absent, I had no other resource, than agreeing with a man to take my baggage on an ass, and myself to walk a league further, to St. Tropes,169 for which he demanded 3 liv. In two hours reached that town, which is prettily situated, and tolerably well built, on the banks of a noble inlet of the sea. From Cavalero hither, the country is all mountain, eighteen-twentieths of it covered with pines, or a poor wilderness of evergreen shrubs, rocky and miserable. Cross the inlet, which is more than a league wide; the ferrymen had been on board a king's ship, and complained heavily of their treatment—but said, that now they were freemen, they should be well treated; and, in case of a war, they should pay the English by a different account—it would now be man to man; before it was free men fighting with slaves. Land at St. Maxime, and there hire two mules and a guide to Frejus.170 The country the same mountainous and rocky desert of pines and lentiscus; but, towards Frejus, some arbutus. Very little culture before the plain near Frejus. I passed to-day thirty miles, of which five are not cultivated. The whole coast of Provence is nearly the same desert; yet the climate would give, on all these mountains, productions valuable for feeding sheep and cattle; but they are incumbered with shrubs absolutely worthless. The effect of liberty had better appear in their cultivation, than on the decks of a man of war.—30 miles.
The 14th. Staid at Frejus to rest myself;—to examine the neighbourhood, which, however, contains nothing—and to arrange my journey to Nice. Here are remains of an amphitheatre and aqueduct. On enquiring for a voiture to go post, I found there was no such thing to be had; so I had no resource but mules. I employed the garçon d'écurie (for a postmaster thinks himself of too much consequence to take the least trouble), and he reported, that I should be well served for 12 liv. to Estrelles: this price, for ten miles, on a miserable mule, was a very entertaining idea; I bid him half the money; he assured me he had named the lowest price, and left me, certainly thinking me safe in his clutches. I took a walk round the town, to gather some plants that were in blossom, and, meeting a woman with an ass-load of grapes, I asked her employment; and found, by help of an interpreter, that she carried grapes from vineyards for hire. I proposed loading her ass to Estrelles with my baggage—and demanded her price.—40 sols. I will give it. Break of day appointed; and I returned to the inn, at least an œconomist, saving 10 liv. by my walk.
The 15th. Myself, my female, and her ass jogged merrily over the mountains; the only misfortune was, we did not know one word of each others language; I could just discover that she had a husband and three children. I tried to know if he was a good husband, and if she loved him very much; but our language failed in such explanations;—it was no matter; her ass was to do my business, and not her tongue. At Estrelles I took post-horses; it is a single house, and no women with asses to be had, or I should have preferred them. It is not easy for me to describe, how agreeable a walk of ten or fifteen miles is to a man who walks well, after sitting a thousand in a carriage. To-day's journey all through the same bad country, mountain beyond mountain, incumbered with worthless evergreens, and not one mile in twenty cultivated. The only relief is the gardens at Grasse,171 where very great exertions are made, but of singular kind. Roses are a great article for the famous otter, all of which is commonly supposed to come from Bengal. They say, that 1500 flowers go to a single drop; twenty flowers sell for 1 sol, and an ounce of the otter400 liv. (17l. 10s.). Tuberoses, &c. are also cultivated for perfumes in immense quantities, for Paris and London. Rosemary, lavender, bergamot, and oranges, are here capital articles of culture. Half Europe is supplied with essences from hence. Cannes is prettily situated, close on the shore, with the isles of St. Marguerite, where is a detestable state prison, about two miles off, and a distant boundary of the Estrelles mountains, with a bold broken outline. These mountains are barren to excess. At all the villages, since Toulon, at Frejus, Estrelles, &c. I asked for milk, but no such thing to be had, not even of goats or sheep: the cows are all in the higher mountains; and as to butter, the landlord at Estrelles told me, it was a contraband commodity that came from Nice. Good heaven!—what an idea northern people have, like myself, before I knew better, of a fine sun and a delicious climate, as it is called, that gives myrtles, oranges, lemons, pomegranates, jasmines, and aloes, in the hedges; yet are such countries, if irrigation be wanted, the veriest deserts in the world. On the most miserable tracts of our heaths and moors, you will find butter, milk, and cream; give me that which will feed a cow, and let oranges remain to Provence. The fault, however, is in the people more than the climate; and as the people have never any faults (till they become the masters) all is the effect of government. The arbutus, laurustinus, cistus, and Spanish broom, are found scattered about the wastes. Nobody in the inn but a merchant of Bourdeaux returning home from Italy; we supped together, and had a good deal of conversation, not uninteresting; he was melancholy to think, he said, what a sad reputation the French revolution has wherever he has been in Italy. Unhappy France! was his frequent ejaculation. He made many enquiries of me, and said, his letters confirmed my accounts; the Italians seemed all convinced that the rivalry of France and England was at an end, and that the English would now have it in their power amply to revenge the American war, by seizing St. Domingo, and indeed all the possessions the French have out of France itself. I said the idea was a pernicious one, and so contrary to the personal interests of the men who governed England, that it was not to be thought of. He replied, that if we did not do it, we should be marvellously forbearing, and set an example of political purity sufficient to eternize that part of our national character, in which the world thought us most deficient, moderation. He complained bitterly of the conduct of certain leaders of the National Assembly, who seemed to be determined on a bankruptcy, and perhaps a civil war.—22 miles.
The 16th. At Cannes, I was quite without a choice; no post-house, carriage, nor horses, nor mules to let; I was therefore forced again to take refuge in a woman and her ass. At five in the morning I walked to Antibes.172 This line of nine miles is chiefly cultivated, but the mountains rise so immediately, that, in a general idea, all is waste. Antibes being a frontier town, is regularly fortified; the mole is pretty, and the view from it pleasing. Take a post-chaise to Nice: cross the Var, and bid adieu for the present to France. The approach to Nice is pleasing. The first approach to that country so long and justly celebrated that has produced those who have conquered, and those who have decorated the world, fills the bosom with too many throbbing feelings to permit a bush, a stone, a clod to be uninteresting. Our percipient faculties are expanded; we wish to enjoy; and then all is attention, and willingness to be pleased. The approach marks a flourishing town; new buildings, the never-failing mark of prosperity, are numerous. Pass many gardens full of oranges. Arrive in time for dinner at the table d'hôte, hotel de quatre nations, and agree with the master of it for my apartment, which is exceedingly good, and dinner and supper at five Piedmontese livres a-day, that is five shillings. Here I am, then, in the midst of another people, language, sovereignty and country—one of the moments of a man's life that will always be interesting, because all the springs of curiosity and attention are on the stretch. Several Frenchmen, but more Italians, at the table d'hôte; and the French revolution only talked of. The Frenchmen all in favour of it, and the Italians all against it, and absolute victors in the argument.—25 miles.
The 17th. I have no letters for Nice; and therefore, knowing nothing of the insides of the houses, I must be content with what meets the eye. The new part of the town is very well built; the streets straight and broad. The sea-view is fine, and, for enjoying it in greater perfection, they have an admirable contrivance, which I have seen no where else. A row of low houses forming one side of a street, a quarter of a mile long, has flat roofs, which are covered with a stucco floor, forming a noble terrace, opens immediately to the sea, raised above the dirt and annoyance of a street, and equally free from the sand and shingle of a beach. At one end some finely situated lodging-houses open directly on to it. The walk this terrace affords is, in fine weather, delicious. The square is handsome, and the works which form the port are well built, but it is small and difficult to enter, except in favourable weather; admits ships of near three hundred tons; yet, though free, has but an inconsiderable trade.—The number of new streets and houses building at present is an unequivocal proof that the place is flourishing; owing very much to the resort of foreigners, principally English, who pass the winter here, for the benefit and pleasure of the climate. They are dismally alarmed at present, with the news that the disturbances in France will prevent many of the English from coming this winter; but they have some consolation in expecting a great resort of French. Last winter, there were fifty-seven English, and nine French; this winter, they think it will be nine English, and fifty-seven French. At the table d'hôte informed that I must have a passport for travelling in Italy; and that the English consul is the proper person to apply to. I went to Mr. Consul Green, who informed me that it was a mistake, there was no want of any passport; but if I wished to have one, he would very readily give it. My name occurring to him, he took the opportunity to be very polite to me, and offered any thing in his power to assist me. On my telling him the object of my travels, he remarked, that the gardens here, and mixture of half garden half farm, were rather singular, and if I called on him in the evening, he would walk and shew me some. I accepted his obliging invitation, and when I went again, met a Colonel Ross, a gentleman from Scotland, second in command in the king of Sardinia's marine, and at present in chief: having been much in Sardinia, I made some enquiries of him concerning that island, and the circumstances he instanced were curious. The intemperia is so prevalent in summer, from the quantity of evaporating water leaving mud exposed to the sun, as to be death to a stranger; but in winter it is a good climate. The soil wonderfully rich and fertile, but yast plains that would produce any thing are uncultivated. He has past one line of fifty miles by thirty, all plain and the land good, yet without one house and mostly a neglected desert. The people are wretched, and deplorably ignorant: there are districts, he has been informed, where there are olives, and the fruit left rotting under the trees, for want of knowing how to make oil. In general, there are no roads, and no inns. When a traveller, or other person, goes into the island, he is recommended from convent to convent, or curé to curé, some of whom are at their ease; you are sure to be well entertained,—and at no other expence than a trifle to the servants. They plenty of game and wild-fowl great. The horses are small, but excellent; all stallions. One has been known to be rode four-and-twenty hours without drawing bit. I demanded to what could be attributed such a neglected state of the island? to government, I suppose? By no means; government has manifested every disposition to set things on a better footing. It certainly is owing to the feudal rights of the nobility, keeping the people in a state of comparative slavery. They are too wretched to have the inducement to industry. Such is the case at present in many other countries besides Sardinia. When I see and hear of the abominable depredations and enormities committed by the French peasants, I detest the democratical principles; when I see or hear of such wastes as are found in Sardinia, I abhor the aristocratical ones. Accompany Mr. Green to view some gardens, which have a luxuriance of vegetation, by means of watering, that makes them objects worth attention; but the great product, and a most valuable one it is, are oranges and lemons; chiefly the former, and a few bergamots for curiosity. We examined the garden of a nobleman, some under two acres of land, that produces 30 louis d'or a-year in oranges only, besides all the crops of common vegetables. The great value of these products, such is the perversity of human life, is the exact reason why such gardens would be detestable to me, if under the œconomical management of the gentry of Nice. An acre of garden, forms an object of some consequence in the income of a nobleman who, in point of fortune, is reckoned in good circumstances, if he has 1501. to 2001. a year. Thus the garden, which with us is an object of pleasure, is here one of œconomy and income, circumstances that are incompatible. It is like a well furnished room in a man's house, which he lets to a lodger.—They sell their oranges so strictly, that they cannot gather one to eat. A certain momentary and careless consumption is a part of the convenience and agreeableness of a garden; a system which thus constrains the consumption, destroys all the pleasure. Oranges may certainly be sold with as much propriety as corn or timber, but then let them grow at a distance from the house; that open apartment of a residence, which we call a garden, should be free from the shackle of a contract, and the scene of pleasure, not profit.
The 18th. Walked to Villa Franche,173 another little seaport of the king of Sardinia's, on the other side of the mountain, to the east of Nice. Call on Mr. Green, the consul, who has given me letters to Genoa, Alexandria, and Padoua: he has behaved with so friendly an attention, that I cannot omit acknowledging warmly his civilities. Learn this morning from him that lord Bristol is somewhere in Italy, and that lady Erne is probably at Turin, my stars will not be propitious if I do not see them both.
The 19th. I have now waited two days merely for the means of getting away; I can go either by a felucca to Genoa, or with a vetturino to Turin; and there is so much for and against both schemes, that priority of departure is as good a motive for a preference as any other. If I go by Genoa to Milan, I see Genoa and a part of its territory, which is much, but I lose sixty miles of superb irrigation, from Coni to Turin, and I lose the line of country between Turin and Milan, which I am told is better than that between Genoa and Milan; as to Turin itself, I should see it in my return. But here is Luigi Tonini, a vetturino, from Coni, who sets out on Monday morning for Turin, which decides me; so with Mr. Green's kind assistance I have bargained with him to take me thither for seven French crowns. He has got two officers in the Sardinian service, and is not to wait longer for filling the third place. We have every day, at the table d'hôte, a Florentine Abbé, who has been a marvellous traveller—no man names a country in which he has not travelled; and he is singular in never having made a note, making rather a boast that his memory retains every particular he would wish to know, even to numbers correctly. The height and measures of the pyramids of Egypt, of St. Peter's church at Rome, and St. Paul's at London, &c. with the exact length and breadth of every fine street in Europe, he has at his tongue's end. He is a great critic in the beauty of cities; and he classes the four finest in the world thus, 1. Rome.—2. Naples.—3. Venice.—4. London. Being a little inclined to the marvellous, in the idea of an old Piedmontese colonel, a knight of St. Maurice, a plain and unaffected character, and apparently a very worthy man, he pecks at the authority of Signore Abbate, and has afforded some amusement to the company.
The 20th, Sunday. Mr. consul Green continues his friendly attention to the last; I dined, by invitation, with him today; and, for the honour of Piedmontese grazing, ate as fine, sweet, and fat a piece of roast beef as I would ever wish to do in England, and such as would not be seen at the table d'hôte at the quatre nations, in seven years—if in seven ages. An English master and mistress of the table, with roast beef, plumb pudding, and porter, made me drop for a moment the idea of the formidable distance that separated me from England. Unknown and unrecommended at Nice, I expected nothing but what could be shot flying in any town; but I found in Mr. Green both hospitality, and something too friendly to call politeness. In the evening we had another walk among gardens, and conversed with some of the proprietors of prices, products, &c. The description Mr. Green gives me of the climate of Nice in the winter is the most inviting that can be imagined; a clear blue expanse is constantly over head, and a sun warm enough to be exhilerating, but not hot enough to be disagreeable. But, Sir, the vent de bize! We are sheltered from it by the mountains; and as a proof that this climate is vastly more mild than where you have felt that wind, the oranges and lemons which we have in such profusion will not thrive either in Genoa or Provence, except in a very few spots, singularly sheltered like this. He remarked, that Dr. Smollet, in his description, has done great injustice to the climate, and even against the feelings of his own crazy constitution; for he never was so well after he left Nice as he had been at it, and made much interest with Lord Shelburne to be appointed consul, who told him, and not without some foundation, that he would on no account be such an enemy to a man of genius;—that he had libelled the climate of Nice so severely, that if he were to go again thither the Nissards would certainly knock him on the head. Mr. Green has seen hay made, and well made, at Christmas.
DECEMBER 21st.174 The shortest day in the year, for one of the expeditions that demand the longest, the passage of Mont Cenis, about which so much has been written. To those who, from reading are full of expectation of something very sublime, it is almost as great a delusion as to be met with in the regions of romance: if travellers are to be believed; the descent rammassant175 on the snow, is made with the velocity of a flash of lightning; I was not fortunate enough to meet with any thing so wonderful. At the grand croix we seated ourselves in machines of four sticks, dignified with the name of traineau: a mule draws it, and a conductor, who walks between the machine and the animal, serves chiefly to kick the snow into the face of the rider. When arrived at the precipice, which leads down to Lanebourg176 the mule is dismissed, and the rammassang begins. The weight of two persons, the guide seating himself in the front, and directing it with his heels in the snow, is sufficient to give it motion. For most of the way he is content to follow very humbly the path of the mules, but now and then crosses to escape a double, and in such spots the motion is rapid enough, for a few seconds, to be agreeable; they might very easily shorten the line one half, and by that means gratify the English with the velocity they admire so much. As it is at present, a good English horse would trot as fast as we rammassed. The exaggerations we have read of this business have arisen, perhaps, from travellers passing in summer, and accepting the descriptions of the muleteers. A journey on snow is commonly productive of laughable incidents; the road of the traineau is not wider than the machine, and we were always meeting mules, &c. It was sometimes, and with reason, a question who should turn out; for the snow being ten feet deep, the mules had sagacity to consider a moment before they buried themselves. A young Savoyard female, riding her mule, experienced a complete reversal; for, attempting to pass my traineau, her beast was a little restive, and tumbling, dismounted his rider: the girl's head pitched in the snow, and sunk deep enough to fix her beauties in the position of a forked post; and the wicked muleteers, instead of assisting her, laughed too heartily to move: if it had been one of the ballerini, the attitude would have been nothing distressing to her. These laughable adventures, with the gilding of a bright sun, made the day pass pleasantly; and we were in good humour enough to swallow with chearfulness, a dinner at Lanebourg, that, had we been in England, we should have consigned very readily to the dog-kennel.—20 miles.
The 22d. The whole day we were among the high Alps. The villages are apparently poor, the houses ill built, and the people with few comforts about them, except plenty of pine wood, the forests of which harbour wolves and bears. Dine at Modane,177 and sleep st St. Michel.178 —25 miles.
The 23d. Pass St. Jean Maurienne,179 where there is a bishop, and near that place we saw what is much better than a bishop, the prettiest, and indeed the only pretty woman we saw in Savoy; on enquiry, found it was Madame de la Coste, wife of a farmer of tobacco; I should have been better pleased if she had belonged to the plough.—The mountains now relax their terrific features: they recede enough, to offer to the willing industry of the poor inhabitants something like a valley; but the jealous torrent seizes it with the hand of despotism, and like his brother tyrants, reigns but to destroy. On some slopes vines: mulberries begin to appear; villages increase; but still continue rather shapeless heaps of inhabited stones than ranges of houses; yet in these homely cots, beneath the snow-clad hills, where natural light comes with tardy beams, and art seems more sedulous to exclude than admit it, peace and content, the companions of honesty, may reside; and certainly would, were the penury of nature the only evil felt; but the hand of despotism may be more heavy. In several places the view is picturesque and pleasing: inclosures seem hung against the mountain sides, as a picture is suspended to the wall of a room. The people are in general mortally ugly and dwarfish. Dine at La Chambre;180 sad fare. Sleep at Aguebelle.181 —30 miles.
The 24th. The country to day, that is, to Chambery, improves greatly; the mountains, though high, recede; the vallies are wide, and the slopes more cultivated; and towards the capital of Savoy, are many country houses, which enliven the scene. Above Mal Taverne182 is Chateauneuf,183 the house of the Countess of that name. I was sorry to see, at the village, a carcan, or seigneural standard, erected, to which a chain and heavy iron collar are fastened, as a mark of the lordly arrogance of the nobility, and the slavery of the people. I asked why it was not burned, with the horror it merited? The question did not excite the surprize I expected, and which it would have done before the French revolution. This led to a conversation, by which I learned, that in the haut Savoy, there are no seigneurs, and the people are generally at their ease; possessing little properties, and the land in spite of nature, almost as valuable as in the lower country, where the people are poor, and ill at their ease. I demanded why? Because there are seigneurs every where. What a vice is it, and even a curse, that the gentry, instead of being the cherishers and benefactors of their poor neighbours, should thus, by the abomination of feudal rights, prove mere tyrants. Will nothing but revolutions, which cause their chateaux to be burnt, induce them to give to reason and humanity, what will be extorted by violence and commotion? We had arranged our journey, to arrive early at Chambery, for an opportunity to see what is most interesting in a place that has but little. It is the winter residence of almost all the nobility of Savoy. The best estate in the dutchy is not more than 60,000 Piedmontese livres a year (3000l.), but for 20,000 liv. they live en grand seigneur here. If a country gentleman has 150 louis d'or a year, he will be sure to spend three months in a town; the consequence of which must be, nine uncomfortable ones in the country, in order to make a beggarly figure the other three in town. These idle people are this Christmas disappointed, by the court having refused admittance to the usual company of French comedians;—the government fears importing, among the rough mountaineers, the present spirit of French liberty. Is this weakness or policy? But Chambery had objects to me more interesting. I was eager to view Charmettes, the road, the house of Madame de Warens, the vineyard, the garden, every thing, in a word, that had been described by the inimitable pencil of Rousseau. There was something so deliciously amiable in her character, in spite of her frailties—her constant gaiety and good humour—her tenderness and humanity—her farming speculations—but, above all other circumstances, the love of Rousseau, have written her name amongst the few whose memories are connected with us, by ties more easily felt than described. The house is situated about a mile from Chambery, fronting the rocky road which leads to that city, and the wood of chesnuts in the valley. It is small, and much of the same size as we should suppose, in England, would be found on a farm of one hundred acres, without the least luxury or pretension; and the garden, for shrubs and flowers, is confined, as well as unassuming. The scenery is pleasing, being so near a city, and yet, as he observes, quite sequestered. It could not but interest me, and I viewed it with a degree of emotion; even in the leafless melancholy of December it pleased. I wandered about some hills, which were assuredly the walks he has so agreeably described. I returned to Chambery, with my heart full of Madame de Warens. We had with us a young physicians, a Monsieur Bernard, of Modanne en Maurienne, an agreeable man, connected with people at Chambery; I was sorry to find, that he knew nothing more of the matter than that Madame de Warens was certainly dead. With some trouble I procured the following certificate:
Extract from the Mortuary Register of the Parish Church of St. Peter de Lemens.
"The 30th of July, 1762, was buried in the burying ground of Lemens, Dame Louisa Frances Eleonor de la Tour, widow of the Seignor Baron de Warens, native of Vevay, in the canton of Berne, in Switzerland, who died yesterday, at ten in the evening, like a good Christian, and fortified with her last sacraments, aged about sixty-three years. She abjured the Protestant religion about thirty-six years past; since which time she lived in our religion. She finished her days in the suburb of Nesin, where she had lived for about eight years, in the house of M. Crepine. She lived heretofore at the Rectus, during about four years, in the house of the Marquis d'Alinge. She passed the rest of her life, since her abjuration, in this city.
(Signed) GAIME, rector of Lemens.
I, the underwritten, present rector of the said Lemens, certify, that I have extracted this from the mortuary register of the parish church of the said place, without any addition or diminution whatsoever; and, having collated it, have found it conformable to the original. In witness of all which, I have signed the presents, at Chambery, the 24th of December, 1789.
(Signed) A. SACHOD, rector of Lemens."
The 25th. Left Chambery much dissatisfied, for want of knowing more of it. Rousseau gives a good character184 of the people, and I wished to know them better. It was the worst day I have known for months past, a cold thaw, of snow and rain; and yet in this dreary season, when nature so rarely has a smile on her countenance, the environs were charming. All hill and dale, tossed about with so much wildness, that the features are bold enough for the irregularity of a forest scene; and yet withal, softened and melted down by culture and habitation, to be eminently beautiful.185 The country inclosed to the first town in France, Pont Beauvoisin,186 where we dined and slept. The passage of Echelles, cut in the rock by the sovereign of the country, is a noble and stupendous work. Arrive at Pont Beauvoisin, once more entering this noble kingdom, and meeting with the cockades of liberty, and those arms in the hands of THE PEOPLE, which, it is to be wished, may be used only for their own and Europe's peace.—24 miles.
The 26th. Dine at Tour du Pin,187 and sleep at Verpiliere.188 This is the most advantageous entrance into France, in respect of beauty of country. From Spain, England, Flanders, Germany, or Italy by way of Antibes, all are inferior to this. It is really beautiful, and well planted, has many inclosures and mulberries, with some vines. There is hardly a bad feature, except the houses; which instead of being well built, and white as in Italy, are ugly thatched mud cabins, without chimnies, the smoke issuing at a hole in the roof, or at the windows, Glass seems unknown; and there is an air of poverty and misery about them quite dissonant to the general aspect of the country. Coming out of Tour du Pin, we see a great common. Pass Bourgoyn,189 a large town. Reach Verpiliere. This day's journey is a fine variation of hill and dale, well planted with chateaux, and farms and cottages spread about it. A mild lovely day of sunshine, threw no slight gilding over the whole. For ten or twelve days past, they have had, on this side of the Alps, fine open warm weather, with sun-shine; but on the Alps themselves, and in the vale of Lombardy, on the other side, we were frozen and buried in snow. At Pont Beauvoisin and Bourgoyn, our passports where demanded by the milice bourgeoise, but no where else: they assure us, that the country is perfectly quiet every where, and have no guards mounted in the villages—nor any suspicions of fugitives, as in the summer. Not far from Verpiliere, pass the burnt chateau of M. de Veau, in a fine situation, with a noble wood behind it. Mr. Grundy was here in August, and it had then but lately been laid in ashes; and a peasant was hanging on one of the trees of the avenue by the road, one among many who were seized by the milice bourgeoise for this attrocious act.—27 miles.
The 27th. The country changes at once; from one of the finest in France, it becomes almost flat and sombre. Arrive at Lyons, and there, for the last time see the Alps; on the quay, there is a very fine view of Mont Blanc, which I had not seen before; leaving Italy, and Savoy, and the Alps, probably never to return, has something of a melancholy sensation. For all those circumstances that render that classical country illustrious, the seat of great men—the theatre of the most distinguished actions—the exclusive field in which the elegant and agreeable arts have loved to range—what country can be compared with Italy? to please the eye, to charm the ear, to gratify the enquiries of a laudable curiosity, whither would you travel? In every bosom whatever, Italy is the second country in the world—of all others, the surest proof that it is the first. To the theatre; a musical thing, which called all Italy by contrast to my ears! What stuff is French music! the distortions of embodied dissonance. The theatre is not equal to that of Nantes; and very much inferior to that of Bourdeaux.—18 miles.
The 28th. I had letters to Mons. Goudard, a considerable silk merchant, and, waiting on him yesterday, he appointed me to breakfast with him this morning. I tried hard to procure some information relative to the manufactures of Lyons; but in vain: every thing was selon and suivant. To Mons. l'Abbé Rozier, author of the voluminous dictionary of agriculture, in quarto. I visited him, as a man very much extolled, and not with an idea of receiving information in the plain practical line, which is the object of my enquiries, from the compiler of a dictionary. When Mons. Rozier lived at Beziers, he occupied a considerable farm; but, on becoming the inhabitant of a city, he placed this motto over his door—Laudato ingentia rura, exiguum colito,190 which is but a bad apology for no farm at all. I made one or two efforts towards a little practical conversation; but he flew off from that centre in such eccentric radii of science, that the vanity of the attempt was obvious in the moment. A physician present, remarked to me, that if I wanted to know common practices and products, I should apply to common farmers, indicating, by his air and manner, that such things were beneath the dignity of science. Mons. l'Abbé Rozier is, however, a man of considerable knowledge, though no farmer; in those pursuits, which he has cultivated with inclination, he is justly celebrated—and he merits every elogium, for having set on foot the Journal de Physique, which, take it for all and all, is by far the best journal that is to be found in Europe. His house is beautifully situated, commanding a noble prospect; his library is furnished with good books; and every appearance about him points out an easy fortune. Waited then on Mons. de Frossard, a protestant minister, who, with great readiness and liberality, gave me much valuable information; and for my further instruction on points with which he was not equally acquainted, introduced me to Mons. Roland la Platière, inspector of the Lyons fabrics. This gentleman had notes upon many subjects which afforded an interesting conversation; and as he communicated freely, I had the pleasure to find, that I should not quit Lyons without a good portion of the knowledge I sought. This gentleman, somewhat advanced in life, has a young and beautiful wife191 the lady to whom he addressed his letters, written in Italy, and which have been published in five or six volumes. Mons. Frossard desiring Mons. de la Platerie to dine with him, to meet me, we had a great deal of conversation on agriculture, manufactures and commerce; and differed but little in our opinions, except on the treaty of commerce between England and France, which that gentleman condemned, as I thought, unjustly; and we debated the point. He warmly contended, that silk ought to have been included as a benefit to France; I urged, that the offer was made to the French ministry, and refused; and I ventured to say, that had it been accepted, the advantage would have been on the side of England, instead of France, supposing, according to the vulgar ideas, that the benefit and the balance of trade are the same things. I begged him to give me a reason for believing that France would buy the silk of Piedmont and of China, and work it up to undersell England; while England buys the French cotton, and works it into fabrics that undersell those of France, even under an accumulation of charges and duties? We discussed these, and similar subjects, with that sort of attention and candour that render them interesting to persons who love a liberal conversation upon important points.—Among the objects at Lyons, that are worthy of a stranger's curiosity, is the point of junction of the two great rivers, the Soane and the Rhone; Lyons would doubtless be much better situated, if it were really at the junction; but there is an unoccupied space sufficient to contain a city half as large as Lyons itself. This space is a modern embankment, that cost six millions, and ruined the undertakers. I prefer even Nantes to Lyons. When a city is built at the junction of two great rivers, the imagination is apt to suppose, that those rivers form a part of the maginificence of the scenery. Without broad, clean, and well built quays, what are rivers to a city but a facility to carry coals or tar-barrels? What, in point of beauty, has London to do with the Thames, except at the terrace of the Adelphi, and the new buildings of Somerset-place, any more than with Fleet ditch, buried as it is, a common shore? I know nothing in which our expectations are so horribly disappointed as in cities, so very few are built with any general idea of beauty or decoration!
The 29th. Early in the morning, with Mons, Frossard, to view a large farm near Lyons. Mons. Frossard is a steady advocate for the new constitution establishing in France. At the same time, all those I have conversed with in the city, represent the state of the manufacture as melancholy to the last degree. Twenty thousand people are fed by charity, and consequently very ill fed; and the mass of distress, in all kinds, among the lower classes, is greater than ever was known,—or than any thing of which they had an idea. The chief cause of the evil felt here, is the stagnation of trade, occasioned by the emigrations of the rich from the kingdom, and the general want of confidence in merchants and manufacturers; whence, of course, bankruptcies are common. At a moment when they are are little able to bear additional burthens, they raise, by voluntary contributions, for the poor, immense sums; so that, including the revenues of the hospitals, and other charitable foundations, there is not paid, at present, for the use of the poor, less than 40,000 louis d' or a year. My fellow traveller, Mr. Grundy, being desirous to get soon to Paris, persuaded me to travel with him in a post-chaise, a mode of travelling which I detest, but the season urged me to it; and a still stronger motive, was the having of more time to pass in that city, for the sake of observing the extraordinary state of things,—of a King, Queen, and Dauphin of France, actual prisoners; I, therefore, accepted his proposal, and we set off after dinner to-day. In about ten miles come to the mountains. The country dreary; no inclosures, no mulberries, no vines, much waste, and nothing that indicates the vicinity of such a city. At Arnas,192 sleep at a comfortable inn.—17 miles.
The 30th. Continue early in the morning to Tarar;193 the mountain of which name is more formidable in reputation than in reality. To St. Syphorien194 the same features. The buildings increase, both in number and goodness, on approaching the Seine, which we crossed at Roane;195 it is here a good river, and is navigable many miles higher, and consequently at a vast distance from the sea. There are many flat bottomed barges on it, of a considerable size.—50 miles.
The 31st. Another clear, fine, sunshiny day; rarely do we see any thing like it at this season in England. After Droiturier,196 the woods of the Bourbonnois commence. At St. Gerund le Puy197 the country improves, enlivened by white houses and chateaux and all continues fine to Moulins. Sought here my old friend, Mons. l'Abbe Barut, and had another interview with Mons. le Marquis Degouttes, concerning the sale of his chateaux and estate of Riaux; I desired still to have the refusal of it, which he promised, and will, I have no doubt, keep his word. Never have I been so tempted, on any occasion, as with the wish of possessing this agreeable situation, in one of the finest parts of France, and in the finest climate of Europe. God grant, that, should he be pleased to protract my life, I may not, in a sad old age, repent of not closing at once with an offer to which prudence calls, and prejudice only forbids! Heaven send me ease and tranquillity, for the close of life, be it passed either in Suffolk, or the Bourbonnois!—38 miles.
JANUARY 1, 1790. Nevers198 makes a fine appearance, rising proudly from the Loire; but, on the first entrance, it is like a thousand other places. Towns, thus seen, resemble a groupe of women, huddled close together: you see their nodding plumes and sparkling gems, till you fancy that ornament is the herald of beauty; but, on a nearer inspection, the faces are too often but common clay. From the hill that descends to Pougues,199 is an extensive view to the north; and after Pouilly200 a fine scenery, with the Loire doubling through it.—75miles.
The 2d. At Briare,201 the canal is an object that announces the happy effects of industry. There we quit the Loire. The country all the way diversified; much of it dry, and very pleasant, with rivers, hills, and woods, but almost every where a poor soil. Pass many chateaux, some of which are very good. Sleep at Nemours,202 where we met with an innkeeper, who exceeded, in knavery, all we had met with, either in France or Italy: for supper, we had a soupe maigre a partridge and a chicken roasted, a plate of celery, a small cauliflower, two bottles of poor vin du Pays, and a dessert of two biscuits and four apples: here is the bill:—Potage, 1 liv. 10f.—Perdrix, 2 liv. 10f.—Poulet, 2 liv.—Celeri, 1 liv. 4f.—Choufleur, 2 liv.—Pain et dessert, 2 liv.—Feu & apartement, 6 liv.—Total, 19 liv. 8f. Against so impudent an extortion, we remonstrated severely, but in vain. We then insisted on his signing the bill, which, after many evasions, he did, a l'etoile;Foulliare. But having been carried to the inn, not as the star, but the écu de France, we suspected some deceit: and going out to examine the premises, we found the sign to be really the écu, and learned, on enquiry, that his own name was Roux instead of Foulliare: he was not prepared for this detection, or for the execration we poured on such an infamous conduct; but he ran away, in an instant, and hid himself, till we were gone. In justice to the world, however, such a fellow ought to be marked out.—60 miles.
The 3d. Through the forest of Fontainbleau, to Melun and Paris. The sixty postes from Lyons to Paris, making three hundred English miles, cost us, including 3 louis for the hire of the post-chaise (an old French cabriolet of two wheels), and the charges at the inns, &c. 151. English; that is to say, 1s. per English miles, or 6d. per head. At Paris, I went to my old quarters, the hotel de la Rochefoucauld; for at Lyons I had received a letter from the duke de Liancourt, who desired me to make his house my home, just as in the time of his mother, my much lamented friend, the dutchess d'Estissac, who died while I was in Italy. I found my friend Lazowski well, and we were à gorge deployée, to converse on the amazing scenes that have taken place in France since since I left Paris.—46 miles.
The 4th. After breakfast, walk in the gardens of the Thuilleries,203 where there is the most extraordinary sight that either French or English eyes could ever behold at Paris. The king, walking with six grenadiers of the milice bourgeoise, with an officer or two of his household, and a page. The doors of the gardens are kept shut in respect to him, in order to exclude every body but deputies, or those who have admission-tickets. When he entered the palace, the doors of the gardens were thrown open for all without distinction, though the Queen was still walking with a lady of her court. She also was attended so closely by the gardes bourgeoise, that she could not speak, but in a low voice, without being heard by them. A mob followed her, talking very loud, and paying no other apparent respect than that of taking off their hats wherever she passed, which was indeed more than I expected. Her majesty does not appear to be in health; she seems to be much affected, and shews it in her face; but the king is as plump as ease can render him. By his orders, there is a little garden railed off, for the Dauphin to amuse himself in, and a small room is built in it to retire to in case of rain; here he was at work with his little hoe and rake, but not without a guard of two grenadiers. He is a very pretty good-natured-looking boy, of five or six years old, with an agreeable countenance; wherever he goes, all hats are taken off to him, which I was glad to observe. All the family being kept thus close prisoners (for such they are in effect) afford, at first view, a shocking spectacle; and is really so, if the act were not absolutely necessary to effect the revolution; this I conceive to be impossible; but if it were necessary, no one can blame the people for taking every measure possible to secure that liberty they had seized in the violence of a revolution. At such a moment, nothing is to be condemned but what endangers the national freedom. I must, however, freely own, that I have my doubts whether this treatment of the royal family can be justly esteemed any security to liberty; or, on the contrary, whether it were not a very dangerous step, that exposes to hazard whatever had been gained. I have spoken with several persons to-day, and have started objections to the present system, stronger even than they appear to me, in order to learn their sentiments; and it is evident, they are at the present moment under an apprehension of an attempt towards a counter revolution. The danger of it very much, if not absolutely results from the violence which has been used towards the royal family. The National Assembly was, before that period, answerable only for the permanent constitutional laws passed for the future: since that moment, it is equally answerable for the whole conduct of the government of the state, executive as well as legislative. This critical situation has made a constant spirit of exertion necessary amongst the Paris militia. The great object of M. la Fayette, and the other military leaders, is to improve their discipline, and to bring them into such a form as to allow a rational dependence on them, in case of their being wanted in the field; but such is the spirit of freedom, that even in the military, there is so little subordination, that a man is an officer to-day, and in the ranks to-morrow; a mode of proceeding, that makes it the more difficult to bring them to the point their leaders see necessary. Eight thousand men in Paris may be called the standing army, paid every day 15f. a man; in which number is included the corps of the French guards from Versailles, that deserted to the people: they have also eight hundred horse, at an expence each of 1500 liv. (62l. 15s. 6d.) a year, and the officers have double the pay of those in the army.
The 5th. Yesterday's address of the National Assembly204 to the king has done them credit with everybody. I have heard it mentioned, by people of very different opinions, but all concur in commending it. It was upon the question of naming the annual sum which should be granted for the civil list. They determined to send a deputation to his majesty, requesting him to name the sum himself, and praying him to consult less his spirit of œconomy, than a sense of that dignity, which ought to environ the throne with a becoming splendour. Dine with the duke de Liancourt, at his apartments in the Thuilleries, which, on the removal from Versailles, were assigned to him as grand master of the wardrobe; he gives a great dinner, twice a week, to the deputies, at which from twenty to forty are usually present. Half an hour after three was the hour appointed, but we waited, with some of the deputies that had left the Assembly, till seven, before the duke and the rest of the company came.
There is in the Assembly at present a writer of character,205 the author of a very able book, which led me to expect something much above mediocrity in him; but he is made up of so many pretty littlenesses, that I stared at him with amazement. His voice is that of a feminine whisper, as if his nerves would not permit such a boisterous exertion as that of speaking loud enough to be heard; when he breathes out his ideas, he does it with eyes half closed; waves his head in circles, as if his sentiments were to be received as oracles; and has so much relaxation and pretension to ease and delicacy of manner, with no personal appearance to second these prettinesses, that I wondered by what artificial means such a mass of heterogeneous parts became compounded. How strange that we should read an author's book with great pleasure; that we should say, this man has no stuff in him; all is of consequence; here is a character uncontaminated with that rubbish which we see in so many other men—and after this, to meet the garb of so much littleness.
The 6th, 7th, and 8th. The duke of Liancourt having an intention of taking a farm into his own hands, to be conducted on improved principles after the English manner, he desired me to accompany him, and my friend Lazowski, to Liancourt, to give my opinion of the lands, and of the best means towards executing the project, which I very readily complied with. I was here witness to a scene which made me smile: at no great distance from the chateau of Liancourt, is a piece of waste land, close to the road, and belonging to the duke. I saw some men very busily at work upon it, hedging it in, in small divisions; levelling, and digging, and bestowing much labour for so poor a spot. I asked the steward if he thought that land worth such an expence? he replied, that the poor people in the town, upon the revolution taking place, declared, that the poor were the nation; that the waste belonged to the nation; and, proceeding from theory to practice, took possession, without any further authority, and began to cultivate; the duke not viewing their industry with any displeasure, would offer no opposition to it. This circumstance shews the universal spirit that is gone forth; and proves, that were it pushed a little farther, it might prove a serious matter for all the property in the kingdom. In this case, however, I cannot but commend it; for it there be one public nuisance greater than another, it is a man preserving the possession of waste land, which he will neither cultivate himself, nor let others cultivate. The miserable people die for want of bread, in sight of wastes that would feed thousands. I think them wise and rational, and philosophical, in seizing such tracks: and I heartily wish there was a law in England for making this action of the French peasants a legal one with us.—72 miles.
The 9th. At breakfast this morning in the Thuilleries. Mons. Desmarets, of the Academy of Sciences, brought a Memoire presenté par la Societé Royale d'Agriculture, a l'Assemblée Nationale, on the means of improving the agriculture of France; in which, among other things, they recommend great attention to bees, to panification, and to the obstetrick art. On the establishment of a free and patriotic government, to which the national agriculture might look for new and halcyon days, these were objects doubtless of the first importance. There are some parts of the memoir that really merit attention. Called on my fellow traveller, Mons. Nicolay, and find him a considerable person: a great hotel; many servants; his father a marechal of France, and himself first president of a chamber in the parliament of Paris, having been elected deputy, by the nobility of that city, for the states-general, but declined accepting; he has desired I would dine with him on Sunday, when he promises to have Mons. Decretot, the celebrated manufacturer and deputy, from Louviers. At the National Assembly—The count de Mirebeau, speaking upon the question of the members of the chamber of vacation, in the parliament of Rennes, was truly eloquent,—ardent, lively, energic, and impetuous. At night to the assembly of the Duchess d'Anville; the Marquis and Mademe Condorcet206 there, &c. not a word but politics.
The 10th. The chief leaders in the National Assembly, are, Target, Chapellier, Mirabeau, Barnave, Volney207 the traveller, and, till the attack upon the property of the clergy, l'Abbé Syeyes; but he has been so much disgusted by that step, that he is not near so forward as before. The violent democrats, who have the reputation of being so much republican in principle, that they do not admit any political necessity for having even the name of a king, are called the enragés. They have a meeting at the Jacobins, called the revolution club, which assembles every night, in the very room in which the famous league was formed, in the reign of Henry III.; and they are so numerous, that all material business is there decided, before it is discussed by the National Assembly. I called this morning on several persons, all of whom are great democrats; and mentioning this circumstance to them, as one which savoured too much of a Paris junto governing the kingdom, an idea, which must, in the long run, be unpopular and hazardous; I was answered, that the predominancy which Paris assumed, at present, was absolutely necessary, for the safety of the whole nation; for if nothing were done, but by procuring a previous common consent, all great opportunities would be lost, and the National Assembly left constantly exposed to the danger of a counter-revolution. They, however, admitted, that it did create great jealousies, and nowhere more than at Versailles, where some plots (they added) are, without, hatching at this moment, which have the king's person for their object: riots are frequent there, under pretence of the price of bread; and such movements are certainly very dangerous, for they cannot exist so near Paris, without the aristocratical party of the old government endeavouring to take advantage of them, and to turn them to a very different end, from what was, perhaps, originally intended. I remarked, in all these conversations, that the belief of plots, among the disgusted party, for setting the king at liberty, is general; they seem almost persuaded, that the revolution will not be absolutely finished before some such attempts are made; and it is curious to observe, that the general voice is, that if an attempt were to be made, in such a manner as to have the least appearance of success, it would undoubtedly cost the king his life; and so changed is the national character, not only in point of affection for the person of their prince, but also in that softness and humanity, for which it has been so much admired, that the supposition is made without horror or compunction. In a word, the present devotion to liberty is a sort of rage; it absorbs every other passion, and permits no other object to remain in view, than what promises to confirm it. Dine with a large party, at the duke de la Rochefoucauld's; ladies and gentlemen, and all equally politicians; but I may remark another effect of this revolution, by no means unnatural, which is, that of lessening, or rather reducing to nothing, the enormous influence of the sex: they mixed themselves before in everything, in order to govern everything: I think I see an end to it very clearly. The men in this kingdom were puppets, moved by their wives, who, instead of giving the ton, in questions of national debate, must now receive it, and must be content to move in the political sphere of some celebrated leader,—that is to say, they are, in fact, sinking into what nature intended them for; they will become more amiable, and the nation better governed.
The 11th. The riots at Versailles are said to be serious; a plot is talked of, for eight hundred men to march, armed, to Paris, at the instigation of somebody, in join somebody; the intention, to murder La Fayette, Bailly, and Necker; and very wild and improbable reports are propagated every moment. They have been sufficient to induce Mons. La Fayette to issue, yesterday, an order concerning the mode of assembling the militia, in case of any sudden alarm. Two pieces of cannon, and eight hundred men, mount guard at the Thuilleries every day. See some royalists this morning, who assert, that the public opinion in the kingdom is changing apace; that pity for the king, and disgust at some proceedings of the Assembly, have lately done much: they say, that any attempt at present to rescue the king would be absurd, for his present situation is doing more for him than force could effect, at this moment, as the general feelings of the nation are in his favour. They have no scruple in declaring, that a well concerted vigorous effort would place him at the head of a powerful army, which could not fail of being joined by a great, disgusted, and injured body. I remarked, that every honest man must hope no such event would take place; for if a counter-revolution should be effected, it would establish a despotism, much heavier than ever France experienced. This they would not allow; on the contrary, they believed, that no government could, in future, be secure, that did not grant to the people more extensive rights and privileges that they possessed under the old one. Dine with my brother traveller, the count de Nicolay; among the company, as the count had promised me, was Mons. Decretot, the celebrated manufacturer of Louviers, from whom I learned the magnitude of the distresses at present in Normandy. The cotton mills which he had shewn me, last year, at Louviers, have stood still nine months; and so many spinning jennies have been destroyed by the people, under the idea that such machines were contrary to their interests, that the trade is in a deplorable situation. In the evening, accompanied Mons. Lazowski to the Italian opera, La Berbiera di Seviglia, by Paiesello, which is one of the most agreeable compositions of that truly great master. Mandini and Raffanelli excellent, and Baletti a sweet voice. There is no such comic opera to be seen in Italy, as this of Paris, and the house is always full: this will work as great a revolution in French music, as ever can be be wrought in French government. What will they think, by and by, of Lully and Rameau? And what a triumph for the manes of Jean Jacques!
The 12th. To the National Assembly:—a debate on the conduct of the chamber of vacation,208 in the parliament of Rennes, continued. Mons. l'Abbé Maury,209 a zealous royalist, made a long and eloquent speech, which he delivered with great fluency and precision, and without any notes, in defence of the parliament: he replied to what had been urged by the count de Mirabeau, on a former day, and spoke strongly on his unjustifiable call on the people of Bretagne, to a redoubtable denombrement. He said, that it would better become the members of such an assembly, to count their own principles and duties, and the fruits of their attention, to the privileges of the subject, than to call for a denombrement, that would fill a province with fire and bloodshed. He was interrupted by the noise and confusion of the assembly, and of the audience, six several times; but it had no effect on him; he waited calmly till it subsided, and then proceeded, as if no interruption had been given. The speech was a very able one, and much relished by the royalists; but the enragés condemned it, as good for nothing. No other person spoke without notes; the count de Clermont210 read a speech that had some brilliant passages, but by no means an answer to l' Abbé Maury, as indeed it would have been wonderful if it were, being prepared before he heard the Abbé's oration. It can hardly be conceived how flat this mode of debate renders the transactions of the Assembly. Who would be in the gallery of the English House of Commons, if Mr. Pitt were to bring a written speech, to be delivered on a subject on which Mr. Fox was to speak before him? And in proportion to its being uninteresting to the hearer is another evil, that of lengthening their sittings, since there are ten persons who will read their opinions, to one that is able to deliver an impromptu. The want of order, and every kind of confusion, prevails now almost as much as when the Assembly sat at Versailles. The interruptions given are frequent and long; and speakers, who have no right by the rules to speak, will attempt it. The count de Mirabeau pressed to deliver his opinion after the Abbé Maury; the president put it to the vote, whether he should be allowed to speak a second time, and the whole house rose up to negative it; so that the first orator of the Assembly has not the influence even to be heard to explain—we have no conception of such rules; and yet their great number must make this necessary. I forget to observe, that there is a gallery at each end of the saloon, which is open to all the world; and side ones for admission of the friends of the members by tickets: the audience in these galleries are very noisy: they clap, when any thing pleases them, and they have been known to hiss; an indecorum which is utterly destructive of freedom of debate. I left the house before the whole was finished, and repaired to the duke of Liancourt's apartments in the Thuilleries, to dine with his customary party of deputies; Mess. Chapellier and Demeusniers were there, who had both been presidents, and are still members of considerable distinction; M. Volney, the celebrated traveller, also was present; the prince de Poix, the count de Montmorenci, &c. Waiting for the duke of Liancourt, who did not arrive till half after seven, with the greatest part of the company, the conversation almost entirely turned upon a strong suspicion entertained of the English having made a remittance for the purpose of embroiling matters in the kingdom. The count de Thiard, cordon blue, who commands in Bretagne, simply stated the fact, that some regiments at Brest had been regular in their conduct, and as much to be depended on as any in the service; but that, of a sudden, money had found its way among the men in considerable sums, and from that time their behaviour was changed. One of the deputies demanding at what period, he was answered;211 on which he immediately observed, that it followed the remittance of 1,100,000 liv. (48,1251.) from England, that had occasioned so much conjecture and conversation. This remittance, which had been particularly enquired into, was so mysterious and obscure, that the naked fact only could be discovered; but every person present asserted the truth of it. Other gentlemen united the two facts, and were ready to suppose them connected. I remarked, that if England had really interfered, which appeared to me incredible, it was to be presumed, that it would have been either in the line of her supposed interest, or in that of the king's supposed inclination; that these happened to be exactly the same, and if money were remitted from that kingdom, most assuredly it would be to support the falling interest of the crown, and by no means to detach from it any force whatever; in such a case, remittance from England might go to Metz, for keeping troops to their duty, but would never be sent to Brest to corrupt them, the idea of which was grossly absurd. All seemed inclined to admit the justness of this remark, but they adhered to the two facts, in whatever manner they might, or might not, be connected. At this dinner, according to custom, most of the deputies, especially the younger ones, were dressed au polisson, many of them without powder in their hair, and some in boots; not above four or five were neatly dressed. How times are changed! When they had nothing better to attend to, the fashionable Parisians were correctness itself, in all that pertained to the toilette, and were, therefore, thought a frivolous people, but now they have something of more importance than dress to occupy them; and the light airy character that was usually given them, will have no foundation in truth. Every thing in this world depends on government.
The 13th. A great commotion among the populace late last night, which is said to have arisen on two accounts—one to get at the baron de Besenval,212 who is in prison, in order to hand him; the other to demand bread at 2f. the pound. They eat it at present at the rate of twenty-two millions a-year cheaper than the rest of the kingdom, and yet they demand a further reduction. However, the current discourse is, that Favras, an adventurer also in prison, must be hanged to satisfy the people; for as to Besenval, the Swiss cantons have remonstrated so firmly, that they will not dare to execute him. Early in the morning, the guards were doubled, and eight thousand horse and foot are now patrolling the streets. The report of plots, to carry off the king, is in the mouth of every one; and it is said, these movements of the people, as well as those at Versailles, are not what they appear to be, mere mobs, but instigated by the aristocrats; and if permitted to rise to such a height as to entangle the Paris militia, will prove the part only of a conspiracy against the new government. That they have reason to be alert is undoubted; for though there should actually be no plots in existence, yet there is so great a temptation to them, and such a probability of their being formed, that supineness would probably create them. I have met with the lieutenant-colonel of a regiment of horse, who is come from his quarters, and who asserts, that his whole regiment, officers and men, are now at the king's devotion, and would march wherever he called, and would execute whatever he ordered, not contrary to their ancient feelings; but that they would not have been inclined to be so obedient before he was brought to Paris; and from the conversation he has had with the officers of other regiments, he believes that the same spirit pervades their corps also. If any serious plans have been laid for a counter-revolution, or for carrying off the king, and their execution has been, or shall be prevented, posterity will be much more likely to have information of it than this age. Certainly the eyes of all the sovereigns, and of all the great nobility in Europe, are on the French revolution; they look with amazement, and even with terror, upon a situation which may possibly be hereafter their own case; and they must expect, with anxiety, that some attempts will be made to reverse an example, that will not want copies, whenever the period is favourable to make them. Dine at the Palais Royal, with a select party; politicians they must be, if they are Frenchmen. The question was discussed, Are the plots and conspiracies of which we hear so much at present, real, or are they invented by the leaders of the revolution, to keep up the spirits of the militia, in order to enable themselves to secure the government on its new foundation irreversibly?
The 14th. Plots! plots!—the marquis La Fayette, last night, took two hundred prisoners in the Champs Elysées, out of eleven hundred that were collected. They had powder and ball, but no musquets. Who? and what are they? is the question; but an answer is not so easily to be had. Brigands, according to some accounts, that have collected in Paris for no good purpose; people from Versailles by others; Germans by a third: but every one would make you believe, they are an appendix to a plot laid for a counter-revolution. Reports are so various and contradictory, that no dependence is to be placed on them; nor credit given to one-tenth of what is asserted. It is singular, and has been much commented on, that La Fayette would not trust his standing stoops, as they may be called, that is the eight thousand regularly paid, and of whom the French guards form a considerable portion, but he took, for the expedition, the bourgeoise only; which has elated the latter as much as it has disgusted the former. The moment seems big with events; there is an anxiety, an expectation, an uncertainty, and suspense that is visible in every eye one meets; and even the best informed people, and the least liable to be led away by popular reports, are not a little alarmed at the apprehension of some unknown attempt that may be made to rescue the king, and overturn the National Assembly. Many persons are of opinion, that it would not be difficult to take the King, Queen, and Dauphin away, without endangering them, for which attempt the Thuilleries is particularly well situated, provided a body of troops, of sufficient force, were in readiness to receive them. In such a case, there would be a civil war, which, perhaps, would end in despotism, whatever party came off victorious; consequently such an attempt, or plan, could not originate in any bosom from true patriotism. If I have a fair opportunity to pass much of my time in good company at Paris, I have also no small trouble in turning over books, MSS. and papers, which I cannot see in England: this employs many hours a day, with what I borrow from the night, in making notes. I have procured also some public records, the copying of which demands time. He who wishes to give a good account of such a kingdom as France, must be indefatigable in the search of materials; for let him collect with all the care possible, yet when he comes to sit down coolly to the examination and arrangement, will find, that much has been put into his hands, of no real consequence, and more, possibly, that is absolutely useless.
The 15th. To the Palais Royal, to view the pictures of the duke of Orleans,213 which I had tried once or twice before to do in vain. The collection is known to be very rich, in pieces of the Dutch and Flemish masters; some finished with all the exquisite attention which that school gave to minute expression. But it is a genre little interesting, when the works of the great Italian artists are at hand: of these the collection is one of the first in the world. Raphael, Hanibal Carracci, Titian, Dominichino, Correggio, and Paul Veronese. The first picture in the collection, and one of the finest that ever came from the easel, is that of the three Maries, and the dead Christ, by H. Carracci; the powers of expression cannot go further. There is the St. John of Raphael, the same picture as those of Florence and Bologna; and an inimitable Virgin and Child, by the same great master. A Venus bathing, and a Magdalen, by Titian, Lucretia, by Andrea del Sarto, Leda, by Paul Veronese, and also by Tintoretto. Mars and Venus, and several others, by Paul Veronese. The naked figure of a woman, by Bonieu, a French painter, now living, a pleasing piece. Some noble pictures, by Poussin and Le Seur. The apartments must disappoint every one:—I did not see one good room, and all inferior to the rank and immense fortune of the possessor, certainly the first subject in Europe. Dine at the duke of Liancourt's: among the company was Mons. de Bougainville,214 the celebrated circumnavigator, agreeable as well as sensible; the count de Castellane, and the count de Montmorenci, two young legislators, as enragés as if their names were only Bernave or Rabeau. In some allusions to the constitution of England, I found they hold it very cheap, in regard to political liberty. The ideas of the moment, relative to plots and conspiracies were discussed, but they seemed very generally to agree, that, however the constitution might, by such means, be delayed, it was now absolutely impossible to prevent its taking place. At night to the national circus, as it is called, at the Palais Royal, a building in the gardens, or area, of that palace, the most whimsical and expensive folly that is easily to be imagined: it is a large ball room, sunk half its height under ground; and, as if this circumstance were not sufficiently adapted to make it damp enough, a garden is planted on the roof, and a river is made to flow around it, which, with the addition of some spirting jets d'eau, have undoubtedly made it a delicious place, for a winter's entertainment. The expence of this gew-gaw building, the project of some of the duke of Orlean's friends, I suppose, and executed at his expence, would have established an English farm, with all its principles, buildings, live stock, tools, and crops, on a scale that would have done honour to the first sovereign of Europe; for it would have converted five thousand arpents of desert into a garden. As to the result of the mode that has been pursued, of investing such a capital, I know no epithet equal to its merits. It is meant to be concert, ball, coffee, and billiard room, with shops, &c. designed to be something in the style of the amusements of our Pantheon. There were music and singing to night, but the room being almost empty, it was, on the whole, equally cold and sombre.
The 16th. The idea of plots and conspiracies has come to such a height as greatly to alarm the leaders of the revolution. The disgust that spreads every day at their transactions, arises more from the king's situation than from any other circumstance. They cannot, after the scenes that have passed, venture to set him at liberty before the constitution is finished: and they dread, at the same time, a change working in his favour in the minds of the people: in this dilemma, a plan is laid for persuading his majesty to go suddenly to the National Assembly, and, in a speech, to declare himself perfectly satisfied with their proceedings, and to consider himself as at the head of the revolution, in terms so couched, as to take away all idea or pretence of his being in a state of confinement or coercion. This is at present a favourite plan; the only difficulty will be, to persuade the king to take a step that will apparently preclude him from whatever turn or advantage the general feeling of the provinces may work in his favour; for, after such a measure, he will have reason to expect that his friends will second the views of the democratical party, from an absolute despair of any other principles becoming efficient. It is thought probable, that this scheme will be brought about; and if it is, it will do more to ease their apprehensions of any attempts than any other plan. I have been among the booksellers, with a catalogue in hand to collect publications, which, unfortunately for my purse, I find I must have on various topics, that concern the present state of France.—These are now every day so numerous, especially on the subjects of commerce, colonies, finances, taxation, deficit, &c. not to speak of the subject immediately of the revolution itself, that it demands many hours every day to lessen the number to be bought, by reading pen in hand. The collection the duke of Liancourt has made from the very commencement of the revolution, at the first meeting of the notables, is prodigious, and has cost many hundred louis d'ors. It is uncommonly complete, and will hereafter be of the greatest value, to consult on abundance of curious questions.
The 17th. The plan I mentioned yesterday, that was proposed to the king, was urged in vain: his majesty received the proposition in such a manner as does not leave any great hope of the scheme being executed; but the marquis La Fayette is so strenuous for its being brought about, that it will not yet be abandoned; but proposed again at a more favourable moment. The royalists, who know of this plan (for the public have it not), are delighted at the chance of its failing. The refusal is attributed to the Queen. Another circumstance, which gives great disquiet at present to the leaders of the revolution, are the accounts daily received from all parts of the kingdom, of the distress, and even starving condition of the manufacturers, artists,215 and sailors, which grow more and more serious, and must make the idea of an attempt to overturn the revolution so much the more alarming and dangerous. The only branch of industry in the kingdom, that remains flourishing, is the trade to the sugar-colonies; and the scheme of emancipating the negroes, or at least of putting an end to importing them, which they borrowed from England, has thrown Nantes, Havre, Marseilles, Bourdeaux, and all other places connected secondarily with that commerce, into the utmost agitation. The count de Mirabeau says publicly, that he is sure of carrying the vote to put an end to negro slavery—it is very much the conversation at present, and principally amongst the leaders, who say, that as the revolution was founded on philosophy, and supported by metaphysics, such a plan cannot but be congenial. But surely trade depends on practice much more than on theory; and the planters and merchants, who come to Paris to oppose the scheme, are better prepared to shew the importance of their commerce, than to reason philosophically on the demerits of slavery. Many publications have appeared on the subject—some deserving attention.
The 18th. At the duke of Liancourt's dinner, to-day, meet the marquis de Casaux, the author of the mechanism of societies; notwithstanding all the warmth, and even fire of argument, and vivacity of manner and composition for which his writings are remarkable, he is perfectly mild and placid in conversation, with little of that effervescence one would look for from his books. There was a remarkable assertion made to-day, at table, by the count de Marguerite, before near thirty deputies; speaking of the determination on the Toulon business,216 he said, it was openly supported by deputies, under the avowal that more insurrections were necessary. I looked round the table, expecting some decisive answer to be given to this, and was amazed to find that no one replied a word. Mons. Volney, the traveller, after a pause of some moments, declared, that he thought the people of Toulon had acted right, and were justifiable in what they had done. The history of this Toulon business is known to all the world. This count de Marguerite has a tetê dure and a steady conduct—it may be believed that he is not an enragé. At dinner, M. Blin, deputy from Spain, mentioning the conduct of the revolution club at the Jacobins, said, we have given you a good president; and then asked the count why he did not come among them? He answered, Je me trouve heureux en verité de n'avoir jamais été d'aucune société politique particulière; je pense que mes fonctions sont publiques, et qu'elles peuvent aisêment se remplir sans associations particulières. He got no reply here.—At night, Mons. Decretot, and Mons. Blin, carried me to the revolution club at the Jacobins; the room where they assemble, is that in which the famous league was signed, as it has been observed above. There were above one hundred deputies present, with a president in the chair; I was handed to him, and announced as the author of the Arithmétique Politique; the president standing up, repeated my name to the company, and demanded if there were any objections—None; and this is all the ceremony, not merely of an introduction, but an election: for I was told, that now I was free to be present when I pleased, being a foreigner. Ten or a dozen other elections were made. In this club, the business that is to be brought into the National Assembly is regularly debated; the motions, are read, that are intended to be made there, and rejected or corrected and approved. When these have been fully agreed to, the whole party are engaged to support them. Plans of conduct are there determined; proper persons nominated for being of committees, and presidents of the Assembly named. And I may add, that such is the majority of numbers, that whatever passes in this club, is almost sure to pass in the Assembly. In the evening at the dutchess d'Anville's, in whose house I never failed of spending my time agreeably.
One of the most amusing circumstances of travelling into other countries, is the opportunity of remarking the difference of customs amongst different nations in the common occurrences of life. In the art of living, the French have generally been esteemed by the rest of Europe, to have made the greatest proficiency, and their manners have been accordingly more imitated, and their customs more adopted than those of any other nation. Of their cookery, there is but one opinion; for every man in Europe, that can afford a great table, either keeps a French cook, or one instructed in the same manner. That it is far beyond our own, I have no doubt in asserting. We have about half a dozen real English dishes, that exceed any thing, in my opinion, to be met with in France; by English dishes I mean, a turbot and lobster sauce—ham and chicken—turtle—a haunch of venison—a turkey and oysters—and after these, there is an end of an English table. It is an idle prejudice, to class roast beef among them; for there is not better beef in the world than at Paris. Large handsome pieces were almost constantly on the considerable tables I have dined at. The variety given by their cooks, to the same thing, is astonishing; they dress an hundred dishes in an hundred different ways, and most of them excellent; and all sorts of vegetables have a savouriness and flavour, from rich sauces, that are absolutely wanted to our greens boiled in water. This variety is not striking, in the comparison of a great table in France with another in England; but it is manifest in an instant, between the tables of a French and English family of small fortune. The English dinner, of a joint of meat and a pudding, as it is called, or pot luck, with a neighbour, is bad luck in England; the same fortune in France gives, by means of cookery only, at least four dishes to one among us, and spreads a small table incomparably better. A regular dessert with us is expected, at a considerable table only, or at a moderate one, when a formal entertainment is given; in France it is as essential to the smallest dinner as to the largest; if it consists only of a bunch of dried grapes, or an apple, it will be as regularly served as the soup. I have met with persons in England, who imagine the sobriety of a French table carried to such a length, that one or two glasses of wine are all that a man can get at dinner; this is an error; your servant mixes the wine and water in what proportion you please; and large bowls of clean glasses are set before the master of the house, and some friends of the family, at different parts of the table, for serving the richer and rarer sorts of wines, which are drunk in this manner freely enough. The whole nation are scrupulously neat in refusing to drink out of glasses used by other people. At the house of a carpenter or blacksmith, a tumbler is set to every cover. This results from the common beverage being wine and water; but if at a large table, as in England, there were porter, beer, cyder, and perry, it would be impossible for three or four tumblers or goblets to stand by every plate; and equally so for the servants to keep such a number separate and distinct. In table-linen, they are, I think, cleaner and wiser than the English: that the change may be incessant, it is every where coarse. The idea of dining without a napkin seems ridiculous to a Frenchman, but in England we dine at the tables of people of tolerable fortune, without them. A journeyman carpenter in France has his napkin as regularly as his fork; and at an inn, the fille always lays a clean one to every cover that is spread in the kitchen, for the lowest order of pedestrian travellers. The expence of linen in England is enormous, from its fineness; surely a great change of that which is coarse, would be much more rational. In point of cleanliness, I think the merit of the two nations is divided; the French are cleaner in their persons, and the English in their houses; I speak of the mass of the people, and not of individuals of considerable fortune. A bidet in France is as universally in every apartment, as a bason to wash your hands, which is a trait of personal cleanliness I wish more common in England; on the other hand their necessary houses are temples of abomination; and the practice of spitting about a room, which is amongst the highest as well as the lowest ranks, is detestable: I have seen a gentleman spit so near the cloaths of a dutchess, that I have stared at his unconcern. In every thing that concerns the stables, the English far exceed the French; horses, grooms, harness, and change of equipage; in the provinces you see cabriolets undoubtedly of the last century; an Englishman, however small his fortune may be, will not be seen in a carriage of the fashion of forty years past; if he cannot have another, he will walk on foot. It is not true that there are no complete equipages at Paris, I have seen many; the carriage, horses, harness, and attendance, without fault or blemish;—but the number is certainly very much inferior to what are seen at London. English horses, grooms, and carriages, have been of late years largely imported. In all the articles of the fitting up and furnishing houses, including those of all ranks in the estimate, the English have made advances far beyond their neighbours. Mahogany is scarce in France, but the use of it is profuse in England. Some of the hotels in Paris are immense in size, from a circumstance which would give me a good opinion of the people, if nothing else did, which is the great mixture of families. When the eldest son marries, he brings his wife home to the house of his father, where there is an apartment provided for them; and if a daughter does not wed an eldest son, her husband is also received into the family, in the same way, which makes a joyous number at every table. This cannot altogether be attributed to œconomical motives, though they certainly influence in many cases, because it is found in families possessing the first properties in the kingdom. It does with French manners and customs, but in England it is sure to fail, and equally so amongst all ranks of people: may we not conjecture, with a great probability of truth, that the nation in which it succeeds is therefore better tempered? Nothing but good humour can render such a jumble of families agreeable, or even tolerable. In dress they have given the ton to all Europe for more than a century; but this is not among any but the highest rank an object of such expence as in England, where the mass of mankind wear much better things (to use the language of common conversation) than in France: this struck me more amongst ladies who, on an average of all ranks, do not dress at one half of the expence of English women. Volatility and changeableness are attributed to the French as national characteristicks,—but in the case of dress with the grossest exaggeration. Fashions change with ten times more rapidity in England, in form, colour, and assemblage; the vicissitudes of every part of dress are phantastic with us: I see little of this in France; and to instance the mode of dressing the gentlemens' hair, while it has been varied five times at London, it has remained the same at Paris. Nothing contributes more to make them a happy people, than the chearful and facile pliancy of disposition with which they adapt themselves to the circumstances of life: this they possess much more than the high and volatile spirits which have been attributed to them; one excellent consequence is, a greater exemption from the extravagance of living beyond their fortunes, than is met with in England. In the highest ranks of life, there are instances in all countries; but where one gentleman of small property, in the provinces of France, runs out his fortune, there are ten such in England that do it. In the blended idea I had formed of the French character from reading, I am disappointed from three circumstances, which I expected to find predominant. On comparison with the English, I looked for great talkativeness, volatile spirits, and universal politeness. I think, on the contrary, that they are not so talkative as the English; have not equally good spirits, and are not a jot more polite: nor do I speak of certain classes of people, but of the general mass. I think them, however, incomparably better tempered; and I propose it as a question, whether good temper be not more reasonably expected under an arbitrary, than under a free government?
The 19th. My last day in Paris, and, therefore, employed in waiting on my friends, to take leave; amongst whom, the duke de Liancourt holds the first place; a nobleman, to whose uninterrupted, polite, and friendly offices I owe the agreeable and happy hours which I have passed at Paris, and whose kindness continued so much, to the last, as to require a promise, that if I should return to France, his house, either in town or country, should be my home. I shall not omit observing, that his conduct in the revolution has been direct and manly from the very beginning; his rank, family, fortune, and situation at court, all united to make him one of the first subjects in the kingdom; and upon the public affairs being sufficiently embroiled, to make assemblies of the nobility necessary, his determination to render himself master of the great questions which were then in debate, was seconded by that attention; and application which was necessary in a period, when none but men of business could be of importance in the state. From the first assembling of the States General, he resolved to take the party of freedom; and would have joined the tiers at first, if the orders of his constituents had not prevented it; he desired them, however, either to consent to that step or to elect another representative; and, at the same time, with equal liberality, he declared, that if ever the duty he owed his country became incompatible with his office at court, he would resign it; an act that was not only unnecessary, but would have been absurd, after the king himself had become a party in the revolution. By espousing the popular cause, he acted conformably to the principles of all his ancestors, who in the civil wars and confusions of the preceding centuries, uniformly opposed the arbitrary proceedings of the court. The decisive steps which this nobleman took at Versailles, in advising the king, &c. &c. are known to all the world. He is, undoubtedly, to be esteemed one of those who have had a principal share in the revolution, but he has been invariably guided by constitutional motives; for it is certain, that he has been as much averse from unnecessary violence and sanguinary measures, as those who were the most attached to the ancient government.—With my excellent friend Lazowski, I spent my last evening; he endeavouring to persuade me to reside upon a farm in France, and I enticing him to quit French bustle for English tranquillity.
The 20th-25th. By the diligence to London, where I arrived the 25th; though in the most commodious seat, yet languishing for a horse, which, after all, affords the best means of travelling. Passing from the first company of Paris to the rabble which one sometimes meets in diligences is contrast sufficient.—but the idea of returning to England, to my family, and friends, made all things appear smooth.—272 miles.
The 30th. To Bradfield; and here terminate, I hope, my travels. After having surveyed the agriculture and political resources of England and Ireland, to do the same with France, was certainly a great object, the importance of which animated me to the attempt: and however pleasing it may be to hope for the ability of giving a better account of the agriculture of France than has ever been laid before the public, yet the greatest satisfaction I feel, at present, is the prospect of remaining, for the future, on a farm, in that calm and undisturbed retirement, which is suitable to my fortune, and which, I trust, will be agreeable to my disposition.—72 miles.
ON THE REVOLUTION OF FRANCE.
THE gross infamy which attended lettres de cachet and the Bastile, during the whole reign of Louis XV. made them esteemed in England, by people not well informed, as the most prominent features of the despotism of France. They were certainly carried to an access hardly credible; to the length of being sold, with blanks, to be filled up with names at the pleasure of the purchaser; who was thus able, in the gratification of private revenge, to tear a man from the bosom of his family, and bury him in a dungeon, where he would exist forgotten, and die unknown!1 —But such excesses could not be common in any country; and they were reduced almost to nothing, from the accession of the present King. The great mass of the people, by which I mean the lower and middle ranks, could suffer very little from such engines, and as few of them are objects of jealousy, had there been nothing else to complain of, it is not probable they would ever have been brought to take arms. The abuses attending the levy of taxes were heavy and universal. The kingdom was parcelled into generalities, with an intendant at the head of each, into whose hands the whole power of the crown was delegated for every thing except the military authority; but particularly for all affairs of finance. The generalities were subdivided into elections, at the head of which was a sub-de-legué, appointed by the intendant. The rolls of the taille, capitation, vingtiêmes, and other taxes, were distributed among districts, parishes, and individuals, at the pleasure of the intendant, who could exempt, change, add, or diminish, at pleasure. Such an enormous power, constantly acting, and from which no man was free, might in the nature of things, degenerate in many cases into absolute tyranny. It must be obvious, that the friends, acquaintances, and dependents of the intendant, and of all his sub-delegués, and the friends of these friends, to a long chain of dependence, might be favoured in taxation at the expence of their miserable neighbours; and that noblemen, in favour at court, to whose protection the intendant himself would naturally look up, could find little difficulty in throwing much of the weight of their taxes on others, without a similar support. Instances, and even gross ones, have been reported to me in many parts of the kingdom, that made me shudder at the oppression to which numbers must have been condemned, by the undue favours granted to such crooked influence. But, without recurring to such cases, what must have been the state of the poor people paying heavy taxes, from which the nobility and clergy were exempted? A cruel aggravation of their misery, to see those who could best afford to pay, exempted because able! —The inrolments for the militia, which the cahiers call an injustice without example,2 were another dreadful scourge on the peasantry; and, as married men were exempted from it, occasioned in some degree that mischievous population, which brought beings into the world, in order for little else than to be starved. The corvées, or police of the roads, were annually the ruin of many hundreds of farmers; more than 300 were reduced to beggary in filling up one vale in Loraine: all these oppressions fell on the tiers état only; the nobility and clergy having been equally exempted from tailles, militia, and corvées. The penal code of finance makes one shudder at the horrors of punishment inadequate to the crime.3 A few features will sufficiently characterize the old government of France.
1. Smugglers of salt, armed and assembled to the number of five, in Provence, a fine of 500 liv. and nine years gallies;—in all the rest of the kingdom, death.
2. Smugglers armed, assembled, but in number under five, a fine of 300 liv. and three years gallies. Second offence, death.
3. Smugglers, without arms, but with horses, carts, or boats; a fine of 300 liv. if not paid, three years gallies. Second offence, 400 liv. and nine years gallies.—In Dauphiné, second offence, gallies for life. In Provence, five years gallies.
4. Smugglers, who carry the salt on their backs, and without arms, a fine of 200 liv. and, if not paid, are flogged and branded. Second offence, a fine of 300 liv. and six years gallies.
5. Women, married and single, smugglers, first offence, a fine of 100 liv. Second, 300 liv. Third, flogged, and banished the kingdom for life.Husbands responsible both in fine and body.
6. Children smugglers, the same as women.—Fathers and mothers responsible; and for defect of payment flogged.
7. Nobles, if smugglers, deprived of their nobility; and their houses rased to the ground.
8. Any persons in employment (I suppose in the saltworks or the revenue), if smugglers, death. And such as assist in the theft of salt in the transport, hanged.
9. Soldiers smuggling, with arms, are hanged; without arms, gallies for life.
10. Buying smuggled salt to resell it, the same punishments as for smuggling.
11. Persons in the salt employments, empowered if two, or one with two witnesses, to enter and examine houses even of the privileged orders.
12. All families, and persons liable to the taille, in the provinces of the Grandes Gabelles inrolled, and their consumption of salt for the pot and saliére (that is the daily consumption, exclusive of salting meat, &c. &c.) estimated at 7lb. a head per annum, which quantity they are forced to buy whether they want it or not, under the pain of various fines according to the case.
The Capitaineries were a dreadful scourge on all the occupiers of land. By this term, is to be understood the paramountship of certain districts, granted by the king, to princes of the blood, by which they were put in possession of the property of all game, even on lands not belonging to them; and, what is very singular, on manors granted long before to individuals; so that the erecting of a district into a capitainerie, was an annihilation of all manorial rights to game within it. This was a trifling business, in comparison to other circumstances; for, in speaking of the preservation of the game in these capitaineries, it must be observed, that by game it must be understood whole droves of wild boars, and herds of deer not confined by any wall or pale, but wandering, at pleasure, over the whole country, to the destruction of crops; and to the peopling of the gallies by the wretched peasants, who presumed to kill them, in order to save that food which was to support their helpless children. The game in the capitainerie of Montceau, in four parishes only, did mischief to the amount of 184,263 liv. per annum.4 No wonder then that we should find the people asking, "Nous demandons à grand cris la destruction des capitaineries & celle de toute sorte de gibier."5 And what are we to think of demanding, as a favour, the permission—"De nettoyer ses grains, de faucher les prés artificiels, & d'enlever ses chaumes sans égard pour la perdrix on tout autre gibier."6 Now, an English reader will scarcely understand it without being told, that there were numerous edicts for preserving the game which prohibited weeding and hoeing, lest the young partridges should be disturbed; steeping seed, lest it should injure the game; manuring with night soil, lest the flavour of the partridges should be injured by feeding on the corn so produced; mowing hay, &c. before a certain time, so late as to spoil many crops; and taking away the stubble, which would deprive the birds of shelter. The tyranny exercised in these capitaineries, which extended over 400 leagues of country, was so great, that many cahiers demanded the utter suppression of them.7 Such were the exertions of arbitrary power which the lower orders felt directly from the royal authority; but, heavy as they were, it is a question whether the others, suffered circuitously through the nobility and the clergy, were not yet more oppressive? Nothing can exceed the complaints made in the cahiers under this head. They speak of the dispensation of justice in the manorial courts, as comprizing every species of despotism: the districts indeterminate—appeals endless—irreconcileable to liberty and prosperity—and irrevocably proscribed in the opinion of the public8 —augmenting litigations—favouring every species of chicane—ruining the parties—not only by enormous expences on the most petty objects, but by a dreadful loss of time. The judges commonly ignorant pretenders, who hold their courts in cabarets, and are absolutely dependent on the seigneurs, in consequence of their feudal powers. They are "vexations qui sont le plus grand fléau des peuples.9 —Esclavage affligeant10 —Ce régime desastreuse.1111a —That the feodalité be for ever abolished. The countryman is tyrannically enslaved by it. Fixed and heavy rents; vexatious processes to secure them; appreciated unjustly to augment: rents, solidaires, and revenchables; rents, chéantes, and levantes, fumages. Fines at every change of the property, in the direct as well as collateral line; feudal redemption (retraite); fines on sale, to the 8th and even the 6th penny; redemptions (rachats) injurious in their origin, and still more so in their extension; banalité of the mill,12 of the oven, and of the wine and cyder-press; corveés by custom; corveés by usage of the fief; corveés established by unjust decrees; corveés arbitrary, and even phantastical; servitudes; prestations, extravagant and burthensome: collections by assessments incollectible; aveux, minus, impunissemens; litigations ruinous and without end: the rod of seigneural finance for ever shaken over our heads; vexation, ruin, outrage, violence, and destructive servitude, under which the peasants, almost on a level with Polish slaves, can never but be miserable, vile, and oppressed.13 They demand also, that the use of hand-mills be free; and hope that posterity if possible, may be ignorant that feudal tyranny in Bretagne, armed with the judicial power, has not blushed even in these times, at breaking hand-mills, and at selling annually to the miserable, the faculty of bruising between two stones a measure of buck-wheat or barley.14 The very terms of these complaints are unknown in England, and consequently untranslatable: they have probably arisen long since the feudal system ceased in this kingdom. What are these tortures of the peasantry in Bretagne, which they call chevauchés,15quintaines, soule, saut de poisson, baiser de marieés;16chansons; transporte d'œuf sur un charette; silence des grenouilles;17corvée à misericorde; milods; leide; couponage; cartelage; barage;18fouage;19marechaussé; banvin;20ban d'aôut; trousses; gelinage; civerage; taillabilité; vingtain;21sterlage; bordelage;22minage;23ban de vendanges; droit d'accapte.24 In passing through many of the French provinces, I was struck with the various and heavy complaints of the farmers and little proprietors of the feudal grievances, with the weight of which their industry was burthened; but I could not then conceive the multiplicity of the shackles which kept them poor and depressed. I understood it better afterwards, from the conversation and complaints of some grand seigneurs, as the revolution advanced; and I then learned, that the principal rental of many estates consisted in services and feudal tenures; by the baneful influence of which the industry of the people was almost exterminated. In regard to the oppressions of the clergy, as to tythes, I must do that body a justice, to which a claim cannot be laid in England. Though the ecclesiastical tenth was levied in France more severely than usual in Italy, yet was it never exacted with such horrid greediness as is at present the disgrace of England. When taken in kind, no such thing was known in any part of France, where I made inquiries, as a tenth; it was always a twelfth, or a thirteenth, or even a twentieth of the produce. And in no part of the kingdom did a new article of culture pay any thing; thus turnips, cabbages, clover, chicorée, potatoes, &c. &c. paid nothing. In many parts, meadows were exempted. Silk worms nothing. Olives in some places paid—in more they did not. Cows nothing. Lambs from the 12th to the 21st. Wool nothing.—Such mildness, in the levy of this odious tax, is absolutely unknown in England. But mild as it was, the burthen to people groaning under so many other oppressions, united to render their situation so bad that no change could be for the worse. But these were not all the evils with which the people struggled. The administration of justice was partial, venal, infamous. I have, in conversation with many very sensible men, in different parts of the kingdom, met with something of content with their government, in all other respects than this; but upon the question of expecting justice to be really and fairly administered, every one confessed there was no such thing to be looked for. The conduct of the parliaments was profligate and atrocious. Upon almost every cause that came before them, interest was openly made with the judges: and woe betided the man who, with a cause to support, had no means of conciliating favour, either by the beauty of a handsome wife, or by other methods. It has been said, by many writers, that property was as secure under the old government of France as it is in England; and the assertion might possibly be true, as far as any violence from the King, his ministers, or the great was concerned: but for all that mass of property, which comes in every country to be litigated in courts of justice, there was not even the shadow of security, unless the parties were totally and equally unknown, and totally and equally honest; in every other case, he who had the best interest with the judges, was sure to be the winner. To reflecting minds, the cruelty and abominable practice attending such courts are sufficiently apparent. There was also a circumstance in the constitution of these parliaments, but little known in England, and which, under such a government as that of France, must be considered as very singular. They had the power, and were in the constant practice of issuing decrees, without the consent of the crown, and which had the force of laws through the whole of their jurisdiction; and of all other laws, these were sure to be the best obeyed; for as all infringements of them were brought before sovereign courts, composed of the same persons who had enacted these laws (a horrible system of tyranny!) they were certain of being punished with the last severity. It must appear strange, in a government so despotic in some respects as that of France, to see the parliaments in every part of the kingdom making laws without the King's consent, and even in defiance of his authority. The English, whom I met in France in 1789, were surprized to see some of these bodies issuing arrêts against the export of corn out out of the provinces subject to their jurisdiction, into the neighbouring provinces, at the same time that the King, through the organ of so popular a minister as Mons. Necker, was decreeing an absolutely free transport of corn throughout the kingdom, and even at the requisition of the National Assembly itself. But this was nothing new; it was their common practice. The parliament of Rouen passed an arrêt against killing of calves; it was a preposterous one, and opposed by administration; but it had its full force; and had a butcher dared to offend against it, he would have found, by the rigour of his punishment, who was his master. Innoculation was favoured by the court in Louis XV.'s time; but the parliament of Paris passed an arrêt against it, much more effective in prohibiting, than the favour of the court in encouraging that practice. Instances are innumerable, and I may remark, that the bigotry, ignorance, false principles, and tyranny of these bodies were generally conspicuous; and that the court (taxation excepted), never had a dispute with a parliament, but the parliament was sure to be wrong. Their constitution, in respect to the administration of justice, was so truly rotten, that the members sat as judges, even in causes of private property, in which they were themselves the parties, and have, in this capacity, been guilty of oppressions and cruelties, which the crown has rarely dared to attempt.
It is impossible to justify the excesses of the people on their taking up arms; they were certainly guilty of cruelties; it is idle to deny the facts, for they have been proved too clearly to admit of a doubt. But is it really the people to whom we are to impute the whole?—Or to their oppressors who had kept them so long in a state of bondage? He who chooses to be served by slaves, and by ill-treated slaves, must know that he holds both his property and life by a tenure far different from those who prefer the service of well treated freemen; and he who dines to the music of groaning sufferers, must not, in the moment of insurrection, complain that his daughters are ravished, and then destroyed; and that his sons' throats are cut. When such evils happen, they surely are more imputable to the tyranny of the master, than to the cruelty of the servant. The analogy holds with the French peasants—the murder of a seigneur, or a chateau in flames, is recorded in every newspaper; the rank of the person who suffers, attracts notice; but where do we find the register of that seigneur's oppressions of his peasantry, and his exactions of feudal services, from those whose children were dying around them for want of bread?25 Where do we find the minutes that assigned these starving wretches to some vile petty-fogger, to be fleeced by impositions, and a mockery of justice, in the seigneural courts? Who gives us the awards of the intendant and his sub-delegués, which took off the taxes of a man of fashion, and laid them with accumulated weight, on the poor, who were so unfortunate as to be his neighbours? Who has dwelt sufficiently upon explaining all the ramifications of despotism, regal, aristocratical, and ecclesiastical, pervading the whole mass of the people; reaching, like a circulating fluid, the most distant capillary tubes of poverty and wretchedness? In these cases, the sufferers are too ignoble to be known; and the mass too indiscriminate to be pitied. But should a philosopher feel and reason thus? should he mistake the cause for the effect? and giving all his pity to the few, feel no compassion for the many, because they suffer in his eyes not individually, but by millions? The excesses of the people cannot, I repeat, be justified; it would undoubtedly have done them credit, both as men and christians, if they had possessed their new acquired power with moderation. But let it be remembered, that the populace in no country ever use power with moderation; excess is inherent in their aggregate constitution: and as every government in the world knows, that violence infallibly attends power in such hands, it is doubly bound in common sense, and for common safety, so to conduct itself, that the people may not find an interest in public confusions. They will always suffer much and long, before they are effectually roused; nothing, therefore, can kindle the flame, but such oppressions of some classes or order in the society, as give able men the opportunity of seconding the general mass; discontent will soon diffuse itself around; and if the government take not warning in time, it is alone answerable for all the burnings, and plunderings, and devastation, and blood that follow. The true judgment to be formed of the French revolution, must surely be gained, from an attentive consideration of the evils of the old government: when these are well understood—and when the extent and universality of the oppression under which the people groaned—oppression which bore upon them from every quarter, it will scarcely be attempted to be urged, that a revolution was not absolutely necessary to the welfare of the kingdom. Not one opposing voice26 can, with reason, be raised against this assertion: abuses ought certainly to be corrected, and corrected effectually: this could not be done without the establishment of a new form of government; whether the form that has been adopted were the best, is another question absolutely distinct. But that the above-mentioned detail of enormities practised on the people required some great change is sufficiently apparent; and I cannot better conclude such a list of detestable oppressions, than in the words of the Tiers Etat of Nivernois, who hailed the approaching day of liberty, with an eloquence worthy of the subject.
"Les plaintes du peuple se sont long-tems perdues dans l'espace immense qui le sépare du trône: cette classe la plus nombreuse & la plus intéressante de la societé; cette classe qui mérite les premiers soins du gouvernement, puisqu' elle alimente toutes les autres; cette classe à laquelle on doit & les arts nécessaires à la vie, & ceux qui en embellissent le cours; cette classe enfin qui en recueillent moins a toujours payé davantage, peut elle apres tant de siècles d'oppression & de misére compter aujourdhui sur un sort plus heureux? Ce seroit pour ainsi dire blasphémer l'autorité tutélaire sous laquelle nous vivons que d'én douter un seul moment. Un respect aveugle pour les abus établis ou par la violence ou par la superstition, une ignorance profonde des conditions du pacte social voilà ce qui a perpétué jusq' à nous la servitude dans laquelle ont gemi nos pères. Un jour plus pur est près d'éclorre: le roi a manifesté le desir de trouver des sujets capables de lui dire la vérité; une des ses loix, l'edit de création des assemblées provinciales du moi de Juin 1787, annonce que le vœu le plus pressant de son cœur sera toujours celui qui tendra au soulagement & au bonheur de ses peuples: une autre loi qui a retenti du centre du Royaume à ses dernières extrémités, nous a promis la restitution de tous nos droits, dont nous n'avions perdu, & dont nous ne pouvions perdre que l'exercice puisque le fond de ces mêmes droits est inaliénable & imprescriptible. Osons done secouer le joug des anciennes erreurs: osons dire tout ce qui est vrai, tout ce qui est utile; osons réclamer les droits essentiels & primitifs de l'homme: la raison, l'équité, l'opinion générale, la bienfaisance connue de notre auguste souverain tout concours à assurer le succès de nos doléances."
Having seen the propriety, or rather the necessity, of some change in the government, let us next briefly inquire into the effects of the revolution on the principal interests in the kingdom.
In respect to all the honours, power, and profit derived to the nobility from the feudal system, which was of an extent in France beyond any thing known in England since the revolution, or long parliament of 1640, all is laid in the dust, without a rag or remnant being spared:27 the importance of these, both in influence and revenue, was so great, that the result is all but ruin to numbers. However, as these properties were really tyrannies; as they rendered the possession of one spot of land ruinous to all round it—and equally subversive of agriculture, and the common rights of mankind, the utter destruction brought on all this species of property, does not ill deserve the epithet they are so fond of in France; it is a real regeneration of the people to the privileges of human nature. No man of common feelings can regret the fall of all of that abominable system, which made a whole parish slaves to the lord of the manor. But the effects of the revolution have gone much farther; and have been attended with consequences not equally justifiable. The rents of land, which are as legal under the new government as they were under the old, are no longer paid with regularity. I have been lately informed (August 1791), on authority not to be doubted, that associations among tenantry, to a great amount and extent, have been formed, even within fifty miles of Paris, for the non-payment of rent; saying, in direct terms, we are strong enough to detain the rent, and you are not strong enough to enforce the payment. In a country where such things are possible, property of every kind it must be allowed, is in a dubious situation. Very evil consequences will result from this; arrears will accumulate too great for landlords to lose, or for the peasants to pay, who will not easily be brought to relish that order and legal government, which must necessarily secure these arrears to their right owners. In addition to all the rest, by the new system of taxation, there is laid a land-tax of 300 millions, or not to exceed 4s. in the pound; but, under the old government, their vingtiemes did not amount to the seventh part of such an impost. In whatever light, therefore, the case of French landlords is viewed, it will appear, that they have suffered immensely by the revolution.—That many of them deserved it, cannot, however, be doubted, since we see their cahiers demanding steadily, that all their feudal rights should be confirmed:28 that the carrying of arms should be strictly prohibited to every body but noblemen:29 that the infamous arrangements of the militia should remain on its old footing:30 that breaking up wastes, and inclosing commons, should be prohibited:31 that the nobility alone should be eligible to enter into the army, church, &c.:32 that lettres de cachet should continue:33 that the press should not be free:34 and, in fine. that there should be no free corn trade.35
To the clergy, the revolution has been yet more fatal. One word will dispatch this inquiry. The revolution was a decided benefit to all the lower clergy of the kingdom; but it was destructive of all the rest. It is not easy to know what they lost on the one hand, or what the national account will gain on the other. Mons. Necker calculates their revenue at 130,000,000 liv. of which only 42,500,000 liv. were in the hands of the curés of the kingdom. Their wealth has been much exaggerated: a late writer says, they possessed half the kingdom.36 Their number was as little known as their revenue; one writer makes them 400,000:37 another 81,400;38 a third 80,000.39
The clergy in France have been supposed, by many persons in England, to merit their fate from their peculiar profligacy. But the idea is not accurate: that so large a body of men, possessed of very great revenues, should be free from vice, would be improbable, or rather impossible; but they preserved, what is not always preserved in England, an exterior decency of behaviour.—One did not find among them poachers or fox-hunters, who, having spent the morning in scampering after hounds, dedicate the evening to the bottle, and reel from inebriety to the pulpit. Such advertisements were never seen in France, as I have heard of in England:—Wanted a curacy in a good sporting country, where the duty is light and the neighbourhood convivial. The proper exercise for a country clergyman, is the employment of agriculture, which demands strength and activity—and which, vigorously followed, will fatigue enough to give ease its best relish. A sportsman parson may be, as as he often is in England, a good sort of man, and an honest fellow; but certainly this pursuit, and the resorting to obscene comedies, and kicking their heels in the jig of an assembly, are not the occupations for which we can suppose tythes are given.40 Whoever will give any attention to the demands of the clergy in their cahiers, will see, that there was, on many topics, an ill spirit in that body. They maintain, for instance, that the liberty of the press ought rather to be restrained than extended:41 that the laws against it should be renewed and executed:42 that admission into religious orders should be, as formerly, at sixteen years of age:43 that lettres de cachet are useful, and even necessary.44 They solicit to prohibit all division of commons;45 —to revoke the edict allowing inclosures;46 that the export of corn be not allowed;46 and that public granaries be established.4747a
The ill effects of the revolution have been felt more severely by the manufacturers of the kingdom, than by any other class of the people. The rivalry of the English fabrics in 1787 and 1788, was strong and successful; and the confusions that followed in all parts of the kingdom, had the effect of lessening the incomes of so many landlords, clergy, and men in public employments; and such numbers fled from the kingdom, that the general mass of the consumption of national fabrics sunk perhaps three-fourths. The men, whose incomes were untouched, lessened their consumption greatly, from an apprehension of the unsettled state of things: the prospects of a civil war, suggested to every man, that his safety, perhaps his future bread, depended on the money which he could hoard. The inevitable consequence, was turning absolutely out of employment immense numbers of workmen. I have, in the diary of the journey, noticed the misery to which I was a witness at Lyons, Abbeville, Amiens, &c. and by intelligence, I understood that it was still worse at Rouen: the fact could hardly be otherwise. This effect, which was absolute death, by starving many thousands of families, was a result, that, in my opinion, might have been avoided. It flowed only from carrying things to extremities—from driving the nobility out of the kingdom, and seizing, instead of regulating, the whole regal authority. These violences were not necessary to liberty; they even destroyed true liberty, by giving the government of the kingdom, in too great a degree, to Paris, and to the populace of every town.
The effect of the revolution, to the small proprietors of the kingdom, must, according to common nature of events, be, in the end, remarkably happy; and had the new government adopted any principles of taxation, except those of the œconomistes, establishing at the same time an absolute freedom in the business of inclosure, and in the police of corn, the result would probably have been advantageous, even at this recent period. The committee of imposts48 mention (and I doubt not their accuracy), the prosperity of agriculture, in the same page in which they lament the depression of every other brance of the national industry. Upon a moderate calculation, there remained, in the hands of the classes depending on land, on the account of taxes in the years 1789 and 1790, at least 300,000,000 liv.; the execution of corvées was as lax as the payment of taxes. To this we are to add two years' tythe, which I cannot estimate at less than 300,000,000 liv. more. The abolition of all feudal rents, and payments of every sort during those two years, could not be less than 100,000,000 liv. including services. But all these articles, great as they were, amounting to near 800,000,000 liv. were less than the immense sums that came into the hands of the farmers by the high price of corn throughout the year 1789; a price arising almost entirely from Mons. Necker's fine operations in the corn trade, as it has been proved at large; it is true there is a deduction to be made on account of the unavoidable diminution of consumption in every article of land produce, not essentially necessary to life: every object of luxury, or tending to it, is lessened greatly. But after this discount is allowed, the balance, in favour of the little proprietor farmers, must be very great. The benefit of such a sum being added, as it is to the capital of husbandry, needs no explanation. Their agriculture must be invigorated by such wealth—by the freedom enjoyed by its its professors; by the destruction of its innumerable shackles; and even by the distresses of other employments, occasioning new and great investments of capital in land: and these leading facts will appear in a clearer light, when the prodigious division of landed property in France is well considered; probably half, perhaps two-thirds, of the kingdom are in the possession of little proprietors, who paid quit-rents, and feudal duties, for the spots they farmed. Such men are placed at once in comparative affluence; and as ease is thus acquired by at least half the kingdom, it must not be set down as a point of trifling importance. Should France escape a civil war, she will, in the prosperity of these men, find a resource which politicians at a distance do not calculate. With rents the case is certainly different; for, beyond all doubt, landlords will, sooner or later, avail themselves of these circumstances, by advancing their rents; acting in this respect, as in every other country, is common; but they will find it impossible to deprive the tenantry of a vast advantage, necessarily flowing from their emancipation.
The confusion, which has since arisen in the finances, owing almost entirely to the mode of taxation adopted by the assembly, has had the effect of continuing to the present moment (1791), a freedom from all impost to the little proprietors, which, however dreadful its general effects on the national affairs, has tended strongly to enrich this class.
The effects of the revolution, not on any particular class of cultivators, but on agriculture in general, is with me, I must confess, very questionable; I see no benefits flowing, particularly to agriculture (liberty applies equally to all classes, and is not yet sufficiently established for the protection of property), except the case of tythes; but I see the rise of many evils; restrictions and prohibitions on the trade of corn—a varying land-tax—and impeded inclosures, are mischiefs on principle, that may have a generative faculty; and will prove infinite drawbacks from the prosperity, which certainly was attainable. It is to be hoped, that the good sense of the assembly will reverse this system by degrees; for, if it is not reversed, AGRICULTURE CANNOT FLOURISH.
The effect of the revolution, on the public revenue, is one great point on which Mons. de Calonne lays considerable stress; and it has been since urged in France, that the ruin of 30,000 families, thrown absolutely out of employment, and consequently out of bread, in the collection of taxes on salt and tobacco only, has had a powerful influence in spreading universal distress and misery. The public revenue sunk, in one year, 175 millions: this was not a loss of that sum; the people to whom assignats were paid on that account lost no more than the discount; the loss, therefore, to the people to whom that revenue was paid, could amount to no more than from 5 to 10 per cent.49 But was it a loss to the miserable subjects who formerly paid those taxes; and who paid them by the sweat of their brows, at the expence of the bread out of their children's mouths, assessed with tyranny, and levied in blood. Do they feel a loss in having 175 millions in their pockets in 1789, more than they had in 1788? and in possessing other 175 millions more in 1790, and the inheritance in future? Is not such a change ease, wealth, life, and animation to those classes, who, while the pens of political satirists slander all innovations, are every moment reviving, by inheriting from that revolution something which the old government assuredly did not give? The revenue of the clergy may be called the revenue of the public:—those to whom the difference between the present payment of one hundred and forty millions, and the old tythes, are a deduction of all revenue, are, beyond doubt, in great distress; but what say the farmers throughout the kingdom, from whom the detestable burthen of those taxes were extorted? Do not they find their culture lightened, their industry freed, their products their own? Go to the aristocratical politician at Paris, or at London, and you hear only of the ruin of France—go to the cottage of the métayer, or the house of the farmer, and demand of him what the result has been—there will be but one voice from Calais to Bayonne. If tythes were to be at one stroke abolished in England,50 no doubt the clergy would suffer, but would not the agriculture of the kingdom, with every man dependent on it, rise with a vigour never before experienced?
[1.]Berchtold Count Leopold de, a distinguished German Philanthropist, born 1738, died 1809. He travelled for fifteen years over Europe, Asia, and Africa, for the purpose of disseminating philanthropic tracts, and was one of the most active members of the Royal Humane Society. He fell a victim to his devotion in attending the sick and wounded Austrian soldiers after the battle of Wagram.
[2.]Reach used in a sense now obsolete—extent of capacity.
[3.]The States-General had assembled 5th May of this year, composed of 308 representatives of the clergy, 285 of the nobles, 621 of the Tiers état, or Commons (Lalanne).
[4.]"Tout l'avenir de la France était dans la séparation ou dans la réunion des orders" (Mignet).
[5.]The Café Foy (J. Bignon), Boulevard des Italiens, No. 38, corner of the Chaussée d'Antin.
[6.]The author of the most famous pamphlet ever written, began his political career as a pioneer of democracy, and ended it as an apostle of despotism. He voted the death of the king, but knew how to take care of his won head. His maxim was "Vivre." Effacing himself completely during the Terror, he appeared again on the scene under the Directory, and was the main abettor of Napoleon to the Coup d'Etat of the 18th Brumaire. Died 1836.
[7.]The brilliant, but somewhat unscrupulous Jesuit, expelled his order for free theological views. Although latterly obnoxious to the Revolutions, Raynal escaped the Terror, and died poor in 1796. Charlotte Corday delighted in his writings.
[8.]Arthur Young's enthusiasm on the subject of turnips may be understood when we remember that this invaluable esculent was not cultivated as food for cattle till the latter part of the last century.
[9.]Here is a portrait of Philippe Egalité by a contemporary. "Le duc, sans talents, décrié par une vie crapuleuse, par une avidité d'argent, répréhensible dans un particulier, honteuse, avillissante dans un prince, avait tous les vices qui font haïr les crimes, et n'avait pas une des qualités brillantes qui l'illustrent en quelque sorte aux yeux de la posterité. Il fallait animer ce cadaver moral, lui donner une apparente volonté; on lui montre le pouvoir suprême sous le nom de lieutenant général du royaume; tout l'argent du trésor public à sa disposition, et dans un avenir qu'il ne tiendrait qu'à lui de rapprocher, la couronne pour ses enfans."—Mémoires du Marquis de Ferrières, p. 9, Paris, 1880.
[10.]The Duc de Penthièvre was grandson of Louis XIV, and Mdme, de Montespan, and son of the Count of Toulouse.
[11.]The Bibliothèque Nationale, Rue de Richelieu.
[12.]The Archbishop of Aix was a staunch upholder of the supremacy of the Church, and headed the refractory clergy after the decrees of June and July, 1790.
[13.]The Bishop of Blois was replaced by an "évéque constitutionel" in 1790.
[14.]Thomas Pitt, nephew of the first Earl of Chatham, author of "Tracts on the American War."
[15.]Sir James Eyre, afterwards Baron of the Exchequer. In 1793 one of the commissioners of the Great Seal afterwards Chief Justice of the Common Pleas.
[16.]"Ancien précepteur et conseiller intime de Marie Antoinette, précepteur qui ne lui avait rien apris, conseiller qui ne lui donnait—jamais que de pernicieux avis, vrai Maurepas de Marie Antoinette, aussi égoïste et moins sagace que le fatal ministre de Louis XVI. H. Martin, vol. xvi. p. 556. The Abbé de Vermont very prudently quitted France after the fall of the Bastille.
[17.]The Duke and Duchess de Polignac, after having received countless honours, privileges, and substantial favours from Louis XVI. and the queen, were the first to desert them. Like the Abbé de Vermont, they fled after the 14th July, 1789.
[18.]See Mémoires de Montlosier for many interesting notes on Necker and his fall, chs. 3, 4, 5.
[19.]I have since cultivated these plants in small quantities, and believe them to be a very important object.—Author's Note.
[20.]An eminent botanist has kindly elucidated this passage:—"A very full list of the plants in cultivation at Paris was published by Desfontaines, first edition, 1804. Ours (Royal Herbarium, Kew) is the third edition, and is called 'Catalogus Plantarum Horti Regii Parisiensis,' 1829. Hortus regii evidently means the Jardin des Plantes. I find no mention of any Lathyrus biennis, and should guess that it means Lathyrus sativus (Chickling Vetch). There is also named a Melilotus Siberiei, afterwards called Medicago Siberiei by De Candolle, but it is unknown to the last author of a Russian flora. Achillæa Siberiei is a near ally of our common English Achillæa Ptarmica (Sneezewort). Astragalus may well have been some specimen of that very large genus. Chinese hemp is evidently one of the many varieties of Cannabis sativa."
[21.]Mounier (Jean Joseph), deputé of the Dauphiné, and friend of Necker, is a leading figure in the early period of the Revolution. On his proposition, the members of the Tiers Etat took the celebrated oath of the Jeu de Paume. He was in favour of a constitutional monarchy on the English model, but retired from the assembly when all hopes of an understanding between the court and the nation were at an end.
[22.]Rabaud St. Etienne was one of the first Protestant ministers in France to exercise his newly acquired civil rights. Imbued with the revolutionary spirit, yet an eloquent pleader for law, order, and mercy, he fell a victim to his generous defence of royalty. In the letters of Helen Maria Williams (1795) she thus describes him:—"A few weeks after our release from prison Rabaud St. Etienne was put to death. He was one of the most enlightened and virtuous men whom the revolution had called forth, and had acquired general esteem by his conduct as a legislator, and considerable reputation by his talents as a writer. I saw him on that memorable day (the expulsion of the Girondins from the convention) filled with despair, not so much from the loss of his own life, which he considered inevitable, as for that of the liberty of his country, now falling under the vilest despotism." Betrayed by a friend, he was guillotined 1793.
[23.]Barnave, 1761-1793. Ardent revolutionary, and chivalrous gentleman, deputed by the assembly to meet the captured royal family at Epernay and escort them to Paris. Barnave's sympathies were evoked by the sufferings of the prisoners, and in trying to save their lives he lost his own. What irony is lent to Burke's famous peroration by the careers of such men as Barnave and Rabaud St. Etienne! If, indeed, a thousand swords did not leap from their scabbards to avenge so much as a look that threatened Marie Antoinette with insult, many brave, ambitious, and generous patriots were cut off in the flower of their youth for having interceded on behalf of royalty. Barnave was a Protestant.
[24.]Bailly, Jean Sylvain, more familiar to us as President of the National Assembly, and first Mayor of Paris, than a brilliant astronomer, was born 1736. Guillotined 1793. This single-minded patriot forfeited his popularity for having allowed the National Guard to fire on the people in 1791 when riotously demanding "la déchéance." Bailly's great "History of Astronomy" was published in Paris, 1775-87.
[25.]Hatsell's "Precedents of the House of Commons."
[26.]Wild chicory, succory,
[27.]Reports verified later. "In the beginning of the year 1790 Mirabeau entered into relations with the court, and pledged himself to its interests in consideration of a large bribe."—Lalanne. See for much light on this subject the Mémoires de Ferrières, and Mémories de Montlosier The first inerview between Mirabeau and the kind and queen took place in a cellar of the Tuilleries.
[28.]See Curlyle on "The Diamond Necklace," "Misc. Essays."
[29.]The Abbé Commerell introduced mangel wurzel into France.
[30.]Sablonville, between Neuilly and St. Denis.
[31.]"Ce jour-là lut perdue l'autorité royale. L'initiative des lois et la puissance morale passèrent du monarque à l'assemblée" (Mignet).
[32.]This historic tennis-court is still to be seen in the Rue St. François, Versailles.
[33.]The cathedral church of St. Louis, built 1743.
[34.]Armand, Marc, 1745-1792, Ambassador in Spain, afterwards Minister of Foreign Affairs, and in the confidence of Louis XVI. and Marie Antoinette. A victim of the September massacres.
[35.]François, Emmanuel, 1735-1821, Ambassador in Spain, Turkey, and Holland, afterwards Minister of the Interior. He quitted France in Dec., 1790, and was afterwards Private Secretary of Louis XVIII.
[36.]Chapelier (Isaac le), 1754-1794. The upright and eloquent President of the Assemblée Legislative, and at the onset of the Revolution an uncompromising antagonist of the Abbé Maury, and the reactionaries. Later he headed the party in favour of constitutional monarchy, and in consequence was arraigned before the Revolutionary Tribunal.
[37.]This brilliant advocate, although a determined opponent of the court, was selected by Louis XVI. to defend him. Target refused the hazardous task, which was at once undertaken by the venerable Malesherbes and young Deséze. He nevertheless published his "Observations sur le procès de Louis XVI.," pointing to an acquittal. He was instrumental in drawing up the Code Civil, and died in 1806.
[38.]If they had knocked him on the head, he would not have been an object of much pity. At a meeting of the society of agriculture in the country, where common farmers were admitted to dine with people of that first rank, this proud fool made difficulties of sitting down in such company.—Author's note.
[39.]The poor "proud fool" was a victim of the September massacres three years later. The archbishop died in 1790. The cardinal joined the emigrés.
[40.]Several French plays bear this name.
[41.]I may remark at present, long after this was written, that, although I was totally mistaken in my prediction, yet, on a revision, I think I was right in it, and that the common course of events would have produced such a civil war, to which every thing tended, from the moment the commons rejected the king's propositions of the seance royale, which I now think, more than ever, that they ought, with qualification, to have accepted. The events that followed were as little to be thought of as of myself being made king of France.—Author's note.
[42.](Seine and Marne.)
[44.]Portions of this château remain in good preservation.
[45.]Probably Montigny-Le Roi (Hte. Marne). There are four towns of this name in eastern France.
[46.]Lamoignon was associated with Brienne de Loménie in the establishment of the cour plénière, a measure which did more than anything else to hasten the Revolution. During the Middle Ages, the name had been applied to assemblages of the king and his vassals on the occasion of fêtes or tourneys. Under an obsolete title, Louis XVI. established a kind of High Court, suspending the provincial parliaments, and investing judicial power in himself, his ministers, and the court. Lamoignon, like Brienne, committed suicide. See H. Martin, vol. xvi. ch. 106.
[47.]At the time Arthur Young wrote boxing formed a regular exhibition, and a theatre was opened for it in the Strand. Mendoza opened the Lyceum in 1791.
[48.](Seine and Marne.)
[49.]Coulommiers. There are several places of this name in France, the derivation of the word being Colombier, a place for rearing pigeons (Seine and Marne).
[50.]Rozoy-en-Brie (Seine and Marne).
[52.]Soldier, politician, littérateur. He separated himself from the court after the flight to Varennes, commanded the victorious Republican army in Savoy, but being accused of monarchical sympathies, retired to Switzerland in 1792. Died 1798.
[53.]The Comté de Brie, in Champagne, now forming part of the department of Seine and Marne, famous for its cheeses.
[54.]Neufmontier, near Meaux.
[61.]First called the Comte de Genlis; he was afterwards member of the Convention, guillotined 1793.
[63.]Auve, on the river of that name (Marne).
[64.]Courtisois, a curious Celtic community (Marne).
[65.]St. Menehould (Marne).
[66.]Les Islettes. This "collection of dirt and dung" is historic. From the neighbouring village of Grandpré, Dumouriez wrote to the Minister of War in September, 1792. "J'attends les Prussiens. Le camp de Grandpré et celui des Islettes sont les Thermopyles do la France; mais je serai plus heureux que Léonidas."—MIGNET. The prophecy was not strictly fulfilled. The Prussians foiled his manœuvres at Grandpré; but a few days later the victory of Valmy saved the Republic.
[67.]Mars-la-Tour (Meurthe and Moselle).
[68.]Metz, former chef-lieu of the department of the Moselle, now annexed to Prussia.
[69.]Needless perhaps to remind the reader that on this day took place the storming of the Bastile.
[70.]Echaudé, galette or fritter.
[71.]Pont-á-Mousson (Meurthe and Moselle).
[72.]Our author was misinformed here. The Prémontrés having resisted alike the authority of the Bishop of Metz, the King and the Pope, had been finally replaced, as a teaching body, by the Jesuits under Louis XIII. The convent of St. Eloi, originally occupied by the Prémontrés, was exchanged by their successors for the more commodious house of des Petits Carmes, in 1635, and it is of this that Arthur Young evidently wrote. The buildings are now appropriated as Caisse d'Epargne and Maison de I'iété, and the church as a Public Library and Museum. The library contains many illuminated MSS. The country curés, largely recruited from this order, rendered much service to agriculture. See "L'administration de l'agriculture, 1785-7."
[73.](Meurthe and Moselle.) This department was formed from what remained of the two of that name, the greater part of which was annexed to Germany in 1871.
[74.](Meurthe and Moselle.) Luneville is now the seat of a flourishing and beautiful faïence manufactory.
[75.]Héming, French; Hemingen, German.
[76.]Saverne, French; Zabern, German.
[77.]Phalsburg, formerly in the department of Meurthe, now annexed to Germany.
[78.]Formerly chef-lieu of the department of Bas Rhin, now annexed to Prussia.
[79.]Schleltstadt, German; Schlestadt, French, formerly in the department of Bas Rhin, now annexed to Germany.
[80.]Schnitz is a name applied to any fruit cut and dried in the oven.
[81.]Ensisheim, now Prussian.
[82.]Colmar was formerly chef-lieu of the department of the Haut Rhin, now annexed to Germany.
[83.]Belfort, formerly in the department of Haut Rhin, now chef-lieu of the department of the Territoire de Belfort, created in 1871; a fortified place of the first importance, and saved from annexation by the efforts of M. Thiers.
[85.]Baume-les-Dames amid very picturesque scenery (Doubs).
[91.]St. Vit (ibid.).
[93.](Côte-d'Or.) This little walled-in town resisted all the attacks of the Germans in 1871.
[94.]Guyton de Morveau, born at Dijon, 1732, died 1813. His house still remains. Distinguished scientist and littérateur. He became a member of the Legislative Assembly, and joined in the regicide vote; on the creation of Ecole Polytechnique, under the Convention he was named director. His services to science, industry, education, and the public health were considerable, and he wrote many works of value in their day.
[95.]Seneffe, Belgium, a somewhat indecisive battle between the Dutch, under the Prince of Orange, afterwards William III. and the French, let by the great Condé, 11th August, 1674,
[96.]Burial place of the Duke of Burgundy, just outside Dijon. Here is still seen the magnificent piece of sculpture called Moses' Well.
[99.]Scheele, Karl, August, 1724-1786. Swedish scientist and discoverer.
[100.]Panckoucke, Charles Joseph, 1736-1798. Celebrated son of the distinguished bookseller of that name, editor with Beaumarchais and others of the "Encyclopédie Méthodique," and many valuable works. His son was a littérateur of some distinction.
[101.]Concerning the lesser lights in this galaxy of illustrious Dijonnais, here are a few facts. Fevrette de Fontette, archæologist and historic writer, 1710-1772; Chas. de Brosses, 1709-1777, president of the Dijon Parliament, savant and littéraire; Bonhier, Jean, 1673-1746, a writer on philosophy, jurisprudence, history, antiquities, of whom D'Alembert wrote: "Il fit ses preuves dans tous les genres et dans la plupart il fit des œuvres distinguées." His splendid library enriched that of Dijon, Montpellier, and other towns.
[102.]Bayes is the hero of the Duke of Buckingham's farce, "The Rehearsal," in which a battle is fought between foot-soldiers and great hobby-horses.
[105.]This celebrated vineyard was created by the monks of Citeaux. The abbey and grounds are now used as a juvenile penitentiary and orphanage, under State control.
[106.]Chagny (Saône and Loire).
[107.]The canal here alluded to is the canal du Centre.
[108.](Saône and Loire).
[109.](Saône and Loire.)
[112.](Saône and Loire.)
[113.]"Fat farmers" innumerable may now be seen at the September (Autun) fair. Every kind of land tenure exists in this part of France, and métayage has greatly advanced the condition of the peasants.
[115.]Moulins (ibid.). Here is a different account of Moulins written just twenty-three years later: "Moulins offre aux voyageurs des bains propres, un joli café, une patite salle de spectacle, une riche bibliothèque publique et de charmants promenades."—Vaysse de Villiers, "Description de l'Empire Français," 1813.
[116.]Château de Ryau, at Villeneuve-sur-Allier, now in ruins.
[117.]"The Bourbonnais, the sweetest part of France."—STERNE.
[118.]St. Pourçain (Allier).
[119.]Châteauneuf (Puy de Dôme).
[120.](Puy de Dôme.)
[121.]Montferrand, formerly a considerable town and fortress, may now be considered a suburb of Clermont-Ferrand, chef-lieu of the department of the Puy de Dôme.
[122.]Royat (Puy de Dôme).
[123.]Issoire (Puy de Dôme).
[124.]Brioude (Hte. Loire).
[125.]Lempdes, Station (Puy de Dôme).
[126.]Fix-Saint-Geneys (Hte. Loire).
[127.]Chomette (Hte. Loire).
[128.]Paulhaguet (Hte. Loire).
[129.]St. Georges-d'Aurac (Hte. Loire).
[130.]On the railway from Paris to Nismes, travellers alight here to see la Voûte-Chiliac, a picturesque site.
[131.]This striking ruin is now shown to strangers.
[132.]Costaros (Hte. Loire).
[133.]Pradelles (Hte. Loire)
[136.]La coupe d' Aizac, the most characteristic crater of the Vivarais, is best visited from Antraigues-sur-Volane, a picturesque village about eight miles from Aubenas, by way of Vals, the miniature Vichy of the Ardèche.
[137.]La Gravenne, ascended from Thueyts.
[138.](Ardèche), full of souvenirs of Oliver de Serres. The house in which the great agriculturist was born still exists.
[140.]Le Pradel, close to Villeneuve de Berg.
[141.]A statue of de Serres now adorns Villeneuve de Berg, also a pyramidal monument to his memory, and a street and square are named after him.
[142.](Ardèche), the ancient capital of the Vivarais.
[144.]Few of our author's numerous introductory letters brought him a more distinguished acquaintance than this. M. Faujas St. Fond, afterwards his visitor at Bradfield, is known as one of the creators of the science of geology in France. His English and Scotch Travels have been translated, Died 1819.
[146.]Setier, ancient measure of land, as much as could be sowed with a setier (156 litres), of corn.
[147.]In 1788, Louis XVI. acting on former advice of Turgot, had passed a decree ameliorating the condition of Protestants in France. They were still ineligible for civil appointments, but were permitted to celebrate worship, their marriages, were now legal, and their children legitimate before the law. Entire liberty of conscience and civil equality were decreed by the National Assembly a year later.
[148.]Rochemaure (Ardèche), one of the most striking objects seen by the traveller steaming from Lyons to Avignon.
[151.]A celebrated captain who served Henri IV.
[152.]"Le père visiteur" is charged with the inspection of religious houses of his order.
[153.]We were, like you, struck with the resemblance of the women at Avignon to those of England, but not for the reason you give; it appeared to us to originate from their complexions being naturally so much better than that of the other French women, more than their head-dress, which differs as much from ours, as it does from the French:—Note by a female friend to Arthur Young.
[154.]L'Isle, stat. (Vaucluse), on an island surrounded by branches of the Sorgues.
[155.](Bouches du Rhône.)
[156.](Bouches du Rhône.)
[157.]St. Chamas (Bouches du Rhône).
[158.]Aix-en-Provence (Bouches du Rhône).
[159.]Tour d'Aigues (Bouches du Rhône). The Château here spoken of is now a ruin.
[160.]Cujés, a poor-looking town near which the caper is cultivated.
[161.](Bouches du Rhône.)
[162.]Ollioules (Var), in the valley of the Reppe, famous for its orange trees and immortelles.
[163.]Elizabeth, Lady Craven, who after a Platonic friendship of many years' standing, married the Margrave of Anspach, and was the author of works of travel, and an autobiography.
[164.]Notre Dame, a favourite pilgrimage.
[165.]The Isles d'Hyères or Isles d'Or, viz.:—
[166.]Jasminium commune fructicans, yellow jasmine.
[167.]Genista candicans, hoary genista.
[168.]Teucrium herba rota in other editions; both equally unintelligible.
[169.]St. Tropez (Var).
[170.]Fréjus (Var). The river does not enter the department thus named.
[173.]Villefranche (Alpes Maritimes). A visit to Villefranche is now one of the most delightful excursions from Nice.
[174.]The French diary ends on the 19th Sept., and is resumed on the 21st Dec.
[175.]Ramasse (Ital. ramazzo), a sledge pushed by a man down snow-covered mountain slopes.—LITTRÉ.
[179.]St. Jean de Maurienne (Savoie), original seat of the Dukes of Savoy.
[184.]"S'il est une petite ville au monde ou l'on goûte la douceur de la vie dans un commerce agréable et sur c'est Chambêry." (Confessions.)
[185.]Savoy and the Comté de Nice, were annexed to France in 1860, from which were formed the departments of (1) La Savoie, (2) La Hte. Savoie, (3) Les Alpes Maritimes.
[186.]Pont de Beauvoisin (Isère or Savoie).
[187.]La tour du Pin, Stat. (Isère).
[188.]La Verpilière (Isère).
[189.]Bourgoin (Isère), in 1768, Rousseau resided here.
[190.]Virgil, Georgies, iii. v. 113"Praise great estates, cultivate small ones."
[191.]Madame Roland had travelled in England and entertained a very high notion of the English nation. See her Memoirs.
[192.]Les Arnas (Rhône).
[194.]St. Symphorien-de-Laye (Loire).
[197.]St. Gérand le Puy (Allier.)
[199.](Nièvre), now much resorted to for its mineral waters.
[201.](Loiret.) The canal thus named connects the Loire with the Seine by joining the Canal du Loing at Montargis.
[202.](Seine and Marne.)
[203.]The ill-judged banquets given to the Flemish troops at Versailles when the people were starving, had mainly brought about the terrible events of October 1-5, the storming of the palace, and the enforced journey of the royal family to Paris. But Louis XVI. had still a chance, aye, more than one of inaugurating constitutional monarchy. Even after the flight from Varennes, do we not find him warmly welcomed in the Assembly, his conciliatory speech applauded with cries of "Un discours à la Henri Quatre! Vive le roi." (See MIGNET.) This estimable, and considering all things, extraordinarily enlightened monarch, fell a victim to his domestic virtues. But for his exaggerated devotion to Marie Antoinette, his over-weening family affections, he would have kept faith with the nation. Again and again he swore the most solemn oaths to maintain the constitution; five minutes' conference with his wife, the mother of his heir, and he was once more plotting to restore the ancien régime by armed force.
[204.]The Assembly had followed the king to Paris and held its sittings, first in the Archbishop's palace, afterwards in the Manége, or riding ground of the Tuilleries gardens, where a temporary building was erected for the purpose.
[205.]A learned friend, M. Dugast-Matifeux, of Montaigu (Vendée), sends me the following elucidation of this passage. "Having carefully examined the allusion I am of opinion that it is not Volney, as you suggest, but Sieyès, to whom Arthur Young refers, Sieyès, whom Mirabeau often styled 'Mahomet,' and Robespierre, with his habitual aptness, 'the mole' (la loupe) of the Republic. Moreover, Young had evidently no mere work of description or philosophy in his mind, but a purely political one of the period, in harmony with public opinion and contemporary events. Sieyès had just published his celebrated pamphlet, thereby obtaining enormous popularity."
[206.]Condorcet (Marquis de), celebrated geometer, philosopher and politician, represented Paris in the National Assembly, and the Aisne in the Convention. His integrity, brilliant talent and moderation gave him a leading place in both bodies. He opposed the execution of the King, and was proscribed after the fall of the Girondins. The story runs that the mathematician to whom tremendous problems were child's play, lost his life because he did not know how many eggs are used in an omelette. The anthor of the "Progrès de l'Esprit Humain," had fled from the proscriptions of Robespierre, to Auteuil, and entering an auberge demanded an omelette. "How many eggs thereto, eitoyen?" asked the housewife. "A dozen," answered the poor philosopher innocently. Such ignorance of domestic economy betrayed the aristocrat in the eyes of the landlady and he was arrested, but eluded the guillotine by means of poison. His wife, the translator of Adam Smith, survived him. She edited her husband's works. Died 1822.
[207.]The famous author of the "Voyage en Egypte," represented Anjou in the Tiers Etat, escaped the guillotine by the fall of Robespierre, and was appointed by the Convention professor in the newly established Ecole Normale. He became a count and senator under the Empire.
[208.]Chambre des vacations, chambre changé de rendre la justice pendant la vacation.—LITTRÉ.
[209.]The Abbé Maury was one of the ablest and least scrupulous defenders of the ancien régime in the States General. "Quoique avec beaucoup de talent, il manquait de ce qui le vivifie, la vérité. Maury ajoutait les erreurs de son esprit à celles qui étaient inséparables de sa cause,"—MIGNET. In 1807, Bonaparte made him a cardinal; after the fall of the Empire he quitted France, and died at Rome. 1817.
[210.]Count de Clermont-Tonnerre (not to be confounded with the Marquis de Clermont), deputé of the noblesse at the States General, he warmly espoused the cause of the people, voluntarily surrendered all seigneurial rights, and demanded civil rights for Protestants, Jews, and comedians. Massacred by his own servants in 1792.
[211.]It was a late transaction.—Author's Note.
[212.]The Baron de Besenval with the Marquis de Favras and Monsieur, the King's brother, was accused of plotting against the constitution. Besenval obtained his liberty, but Favras was executed. The scheme was to place the king at the head of an army at Péronne.
[213.]This rich collection was afterwards dispersed throughout Europe.
[214.]Bougainville, Louis Antoine Comte de (1729-1811). The discoverer of the Samoan group, or Navigator's Islands, was as famous in his own country as Cook in our own. His "Description d'un voyage an tour du Monde," was published in 1771-2
[215.]Our author's use of this word is now obsolete.
[216.]A sedition that broke out Dec. 1, 1789. The Count Albert de Riom, and other officers, were thrown into prison, accused of insulting the Garde Nationale. See Le Moniteur, Dec. 11, 1789.
[1.]An anecdote, which I have from an authority to be depended on, will explain the profligacy of government, in respect to these arbitrary imprisonments. Lord Albemarle, when ambassador in France, about the year 1753, negotiating the fixing of the limits of the American colonies, which, three years after, produced the war, calling one day on the minister for foreign affairs, was introduced, for a few minutes, into his cabinet, while he finished a short conversation in the apartment in which he usually received those who conferred with him. As his lordship walked backwards and forwards, in a very small room (a French cabinet is never a large one), he could not help seeing a paper lying on the table, written in a large legible hand, and containing a list of the prisoners in the Bastile, in which the first name was Gordon. When the minister entered, lord Albemarle apologized for his involuntarily remarking the paper; the other replied, that it was not of the least consequence, for they made no secret of the names. Lord A. then said, that he had seen the name of Gordon first in the list, and he begged to know, as in all probability the person of this name was a British subject, on what account he had been put into the Bastile. The minister told him, that he knew nothing of the matter, but would make the proper inquiries. The next time he saw lord Albemarle, he informed him, that, on inquiring into the case of Gordon, he could find no person who could give him the least information; on which he had Gordon himself interrogated, who solemnly affirmed, that he had not the smallest knowledge, or even suspicion, of the cause of his imprisonment, but that he had been confined 30 years; however, added the minister, I ordered him to be immediately released, and he is now at large. Such a case wants no comment.1
[2.]"Nob. Briey," p. 6, &c. &c.
[3.]It is calculated by a writer ("Recherches et Consid. par M. le Baron de Cormeré," tom. ii. p. 187) very well informed on every subject of finance, that, upon an average, there were annually taken up and sent to prison or the gallies, Men, 2340. Women, 896. Children, 201. Total, 3437. 300 of these to the gallies (tom. i. p. 112). The salt confiscated from these miserable people amounted to 12,633 quintals, which, at the mean price of 8 liv. are,......101,064 liv.
[4.]"Cahier du tiers état de Meaux," p. 49.
[5.]"De Mantes" and "Meulan," p. 38.
[6.]Ibid. p. 40.—Also "Nob. & Tiers Etat de Peronne," p. 42. "De Trois ordres de Monfort," p. 28.
[7.]"Clergé de Provins & Montereau," p. 35.—"Clergé de Paris," p. 25.—"Clergé de Mantes & Meulan," pp. 45, 46.—"Clergé de Laon," p. 11.—"Nob. de Nemours," p. 17.—"Nob. de Paris," p. 22.—"Nob. d'Arras," p. 29.
[8.]"Rennes," art. 12.
[9.]"Nevernois," art. 43.
[10.]"Tiers Etat de Vannes," p. 24.
[11.]"T. Etat Clermont Ferrand," p. 52.
[11a.]"T. Etat Auxerre," art. 6.
[12.]By this horrible law, the people are bound to grind their corn at the mill of the seigneur only; to press their grapes at his press only; and to bake their bread in his oven; by which means the bread is often spoiled, and more especially wine, since in Champagne those grapes which, pressed immediately, would make white wine, will, by waiting for the press, which often happens, make red wine only.
[13.]"Tiers Etat de Rennes," p. 159.
[14.]"Rennes," p. 57.
[15.]Chevauchés, obligation substituted for the corvée during royal progresses.
[16.]See, concerning the horrible privilege of la Marquette, M. Henri Martin's "Histoire de la France," vol. 5, éclaircissemens. The right alluded to by Arthur Young had existed therefore in other parts of France.—ED.
[17.]This is a curious article; when the lady of the seigneur lies in, the people are obliged to beat the waters in marshy districts, to keep the frogs silent, that she may not be disturbed; this duty, a very oppressive one, is commuted into a pecuniary fine.
[18.]Bardage, a kind of turnpike duty.
[19.]Seigneurial tax upon fires.
[20.]Seigneurial right of selling wine exclusively in his parish.
[21.]Vingtaine, seigneurial right to the twentieth of produce. See De Tocqueville's Ancien Régime. Appendix for Feudal Rights.
[22.]Bordelage, seigneurial right of the Nivernais, a kind of legacy duty.
[23.]Seigneurial tax upon each mine or half sétier of corn (Littré).
[24.]"Resumé des cahiers," tom. iii. pp. 316, 317.
[25.]Compare this passage with Carlyle's, book i. chap. iii. "Such are the shepherds of the people," &c.—ED.
[26.]Many opposing voices have been raised; but so little to their credit, that I leave the passage as it was written long ago. The abuses that are rooted in all the old governments of Europe, give such numbers of men a direct interest in supporting, cherishing, and defending abuses, that no wonder advocates for tyranny, of every species, are found in every country, and almost in every company. What a mass of people, in every part of England, are some way or other interested in the present representation of the people, tythes, charters, corporations, monopolies, and taxation! and not merely to the things themselves, but to all the abuses attending them; and how many are there who derive their profit or their consideration in life, not merely from such institutions, but from the evils they engender! The great mass of the people, however, is free from such influence, and will be enlightened by degrees; assuredly they will find out, in every country of Europe, that by combinations, on the principles of liberty and property, aimed equally against regal, aristocratical, and mobbish tyranny, they will be able to resist successfully, that variety of combination, which, on principles of plunder and despotism, is every where at work to enslave them.
[27.]It is to be observed, that the orders of knighthood were at first preserved; when the National Assembly, with a forbearance that did them honour, refused to abolish those orders, because personal, of merit, and not hereditary, they were guilty of one gross error. They ought immediately to have addressed the King, to institute a new order of knighthood—KNIGHTS OF THE PLOUGH. There are doubtless little souls that will smile at this, and think a thistle, a garter, or an eagle more significant, and more honourable; I say nothing of orders, that exceed common sense and common chronology, such as St. Esprit, St. Andrew, and St. Patrick, leaving them to such as venerate most what they least understand. But that prince, who should first institute this order of rural merit, will reap no vulgar honour: Leopold, whose twenty years, of steady and well earned Tuscan fame gives him a good right to do it with propriety, might, as Emperor, institute it with most effect. In him, such an action would have in it nothing of affectation. But I had rather THE PLOUGH had thus been honoured by a free assembly. It would have been a trait, that marked the philosophy of a new age, and a new system.
[28.]"Evreux," p. 32.—"Bourbonnois," p. 14.—"Artois," p. 22.—"Bazas," p. 8.—"Nivernois," p. 7.—"Poitou," p. 13.—"Saintonge," p. 5.—"Orleans," p. 19.—"Chaumont," p. 7.
[29.]"Vermandois," p. 41.—"Quesnoy," p. 19.—"Sens," p. 25.—"Evreux," p. 36.—"Sézanne," p. 17.—"Bar sur Seine," p. 6.—"Beauvais," p. 13.—"Bugey," p. 34.—"Clermont Ferand," p. 11.
[30.]"Limoges," p. 36.
[31.]"Cambray," p. 19.—"Pont à Mousson," p. 38.
[32.]"Lyon," p. 13.—"Touraine," p. 32.—"Angoumois," p. 13.—"Auxerre," p. 13. The author of the "Historical Sketch of the French Revolution," 8vo. 1792, says, p. 68, "the worst enemies of nobility have not yet brought to light any cahier, in which the nobles insisted on their exclusive right to military preferments."—In the same page, this gentleman says, it is impossible for any Englishman to study four or five hundred cahiers. It is evident, however, from this mistake, how necessary it is to examine them before writing on the revolution.
[33.]"Vermandois," p. 23.—"Chalons-sur-Marne," p. 6.—"Gien," p. 9.
[34.]"Crépy," p. 10.
[35.]"St. Quintin," p. 9.
[36.]"De l'Autorité de Montesquieu dans la revolution presente," 8vo. 1789, p. 61.
[37.]"Etats Géneraux convoqués, par Louis XVI." par M. Target, prem. suite, p. 7.
[38.]"Qu'est ce-que le Tiers Etat," 3d edit. par M. l'Abbé Sieyès. 8vo. p. 51.
[39.]"Bibliothèque de l'homme publique," par M. Condorcet, &c. tom, iii.
[40.]Nothing appears so scandalous to all the clergy of Europe, as their brethren in England dancing at public assemblies; and a bishop's wife engaged in the same amusement, seems to them as preposterous as a bishop, in his lawn sleeves, following the same diversion would to us. Probably both are wrong.
[41.]"Saintonge," p. 24.—"Limoges," p. 6.
[42.]"Lyon," p. 13.—"Dourdon" (Seine and Oise), p. 5.
[43.]"Saintonge," p. 26.—"Montargis," p. 10.
[44.]"Limoges," p. 22.
[45.]"Troyes," p. 11.
[46.]"Metz," p. 11.
[47.]"Rouen," p. 24.
[47a.]"Laon," p. 11.—"Dourdon," p. 17.
[48.]"Rapport du 6 Decembre 1790, sur les moyens de pourvoir aux depenses pour 1791," p. 4.
[49.]Since this was written, assignats fell in December 1791, and January 1792, to 34 to 38 per cent. paid in silver, and 42 to 50 paid in gold, arising from great emissions; from the quantity of private paper issued; from forged ones being common, and from the prospect of a war.
[50.]It is an error in France to suppose, that the revenue of the church is small in England. The Royal Society of Agriculture at Paris states that revenue at 210,000l.; it cannot be stated at less than five millions sterling. "Mem. presenté par la S. R. d'Ag. a l'Assemblée Nationale," 1789, p. 52.—One of the greatest and wisest men we have in England, persists in asserting it to be much less than two millions. From very numerous inquiries, which I am still pursuing, I have reason to believe this opinion to be founded on insufficient data.
[1.]An anecdote, which I have from an authority to be depended on, will explain the profligacy of government, in respect to these arbitrary imprisonments. Lord Albemarle, when ambassador in France, about the year 1753, negotiating the fixing of the limits of the American colonies, which, three years after, produced the war, calling one day on the minister for foreign affairs, was introduced, for a few minutes, into his cabinet, while he finished a short conversation in the apartment in which he usually received those who conferred with him. As his lordship walked backwards and forwards, in a very small room (a French cabinet is never a large one), he could not help seeing a paper lying on the table, written in a large legible hand, and containing a list of the prisoners in the Bastile, in which the first name was Gordon. When the minister entered, lord Albemarle apologized for his involuntarily remarking the paper; the other replied, that it was not of the least consequence, for they made no secret of the names. Lord A. then said, that he had seen the name of Gordon first in the list, and he begged to know, as in all probability the person of this name was a British subject, on what account he had been put into the Bastile. The minister told him, that he knew nothing of the matter, but would make the proper inquiries. The next time he saw lord Albemarle, he informed him, that, on inquiring into the case of Gordon, he could find no person who could give him the least information; on which he had Gordon himself interrogated, who solemnly affirmed, that he had not the smallest knowledge, or even suspicion, of the cause of his imprisonment, but that he had been confined 30 years; however, added the minister, I ordered him to be immediately released, and he is now at large. Such a case wants no comment.1
These notes are by Arthur Young except when specified.—ED.