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Notes of an Overland Journey Through France and Egypt to Bombay by Miss Emma Roberts

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Departure from London--A French Steam-vessel--Unfavourable
Weather--Arrival at Havre--Difficulties at the
Custom-house--Description of Havre--Embarkation on the Steamer for
Rouen--Appearance of the Country--Inclemency of the Weather--Arrival
at Rouen--Description of Rouen--Departure by the Boat for
Paris--Scenes and Traditions on the Banks of the Seine--Journey by the
Railroad to Paris--The _Douaniers_--Observations on the Journey up the

* * * * *



Description of Paris--Departure by the Diligence--The Country--The
Vineyards--Hotels and fare--Arrival at Lyons--Description of
the City--Departure in the Steam-boat for Arles--Descent of the
Rhone--Beauty and Variety of the Scenery--Confusion on disembarking at
Beaucaire--A Passenger Drowned--Arrival at Arles--Description of the
Town--Embarkation in the Steamer for Marseilles--Entrance into the
Mediterranean--Picturesque Approach to Marseilles--Arrival in the
Harbour--Description of Marseilles--Observations upon the Journey
through France by Ladies

* * * * *



Vexations at the Custom-house--Embarkation on the Malta
Steamer--Difficulties of exit from the Harbour--Storm--Disagreeable
Motion of the Steam-vessel--Passengers--Arrival at Malta--Description
of the City--Vehicles--Dress of the Maltese Women--State of
Society--Church of St. John--The Palace--The Cemetery of the Capuchin
Convent--Intolerance of the Roman Catholic Priesthood--Shops,
Cafes, and Hotels--Manufactures and Products of Malta--Heat of
the Island--Embarkation on board an English Government
Steamer--Passengers--A young Egyptian--Arrival at Alexandria--Turkish
and Egyptian Fleets--Aspect of the City from the Sea--Landing

* * * * *



Description of Alexandria--Hotels--Houses--Streets--Frank
Shops--Cafes--Equipages--Arrangements for the Journey to
Suez--Pompey's Pillar--Turkish and Arab Burial-grounds--Preparations
for the Journey to Cairo--Embarkation on the Canal--Bad accommodation
in the Boat--Banks of the Canal--Varieties of Costume in
Egypt--Collision during the night--Atfee--Its wretched appearance--The
Pasha--Exchange of Boats--Disappointment at the Nile--Scarcity of
Trees--Manners of the Boatmen--Aspect of the Villages--The Marquess
of Waterford--The Mughreebee Magician--First sight of the
Pyramids--Arrival at Boulak, the Port of Cairo

* * * * *



Arrival at Boulak--Description of the place--Moolid, or Religious
Fair--Surprise of the People--The Hotel at Cairo--Description of
the City--The Citadel--View from thence--The City--The
Shops--The Streets--The interior of the Pasha's
Palace--Pictures--Furniture--Military Band--Affray between a Man and
Woman--Indifference of the Police to Street Broils--Natives beaten
by Englishmen--Visit to an English Antiquary--By-ways of
the City--Interior of the Houses--Nubian
Slave-market--Gypsies--Preparation for Departure to Suez--Mode of
driving in the Streets of Cairo--Leave the City--The Changes in
travelling in Egypt--Attractions of Cairo

* * * * *



Equipage for crossing the Desert--Donkey-chairs--Sense of calmness and
tranquillity on entering the Desert--Nothing dismal in its
aspect--The Travellers' Bungalow--Inconvenient construction of these
buildings--Kafila of the Governor of Jiddah and his Lady--Their
Equipage--Bedouins--Impositions practised on Travellers--Desert
Travelling not disagreeable--Report of the sailing of the
Steamer--Frequency of false reports--Ease with which an infant of
the party bore the journey--A wheeled carriage crossing the
Desert--Parties of Passengers from Suez encountered--One of Mr. Hill's
tilted Caravans--Difficulty of procuring water at the Travellers'
Bungalow--A night in the Desert--Magnificent sunrise--First sight
of the Red Sea and the Town of Suez--Miserable appearance of the
latter--Engagement of a Passage to Bombay

* * * * *



Travellers assembling at Suez--Remarks on the Pasha's
Government--Embarkation on the Steamer--Miserable accommodation in the
_Berenice_, and awkwardness of the attendants--Government Ships not
adapted to carry Passengers--Cause of the miserable state of the Red
Sea Steamers--Shores of the Red Sea--Arrival at Mocha--Its appearance
from the Sea--Arrival at Aden--Its wild and rocky appearance on
landing--Cape Aden--The Town--Singular appearance of the Houses--The
Garrison expecting an attack by the Arabs--Discontent of the
Servants of Europeans at Aden--Complaints by Anglo-Indians against
Servants--Causes--Little to interest Europeans in Aden

* * * * *



Commanding situation of Aden--Its importance in former times--But few
remains of its grandeur--Its facilities as a retreat for the piratical
hordes of the Desert--The loss of its trade followed by reduction
of the population--Speculations as to the probability of ultimately
resisting the Arabs--Exaggerated notions entertained by the Shiekhs of
the wealth of the British--Aden a free Port would be the Queen of the
adjacent Seas--Its advantages over Mocha--The Inhabitants of Aden--The
Jews--The Banians--The Soomalees--The Arabs--Hopes of the prosperity
of Aden--Goods in request there--Exports--Re-embarkation on the
Steamer--Want of attention--Makallah--Description of the place--Its
products--The Gazelle--Traveller in Abyssinia--Adventurous English
Travellers--Attractions of the Arab life--Arrival at Bombay

* * * * *



Contrast between landing at Bombay and at Calcutta--First feelings
those of disappointment--Aspect of the place improves--Scenery of the
Island magnificent, abounding with fine Landscapes--Luxuriance and
elegance of the Palms--Profusion and contrast of the Trees--Multitude
of large Houses in Gardens--Squalid, dirty appearance of the
Native Crowd--Costume of the Natives--Inferior to the Costume of
Bengal--Countenances not so handsome--The Drive to the Fort--The
Burrah Bazaar--Parsee Houses--"God-shops" of the Jains--General use
of Chairs amongst the Natives--Interior of the Native Houses--The
Sailors' Home--The Native Town--Improvements--The Streets animated
and picturesque--Number of Vehicles--The Native Females--The Parsee
Women--The Esplanade--Tents and Bungalows--The Fort--The China
Bazaar--A Native School--Visit to a Parsee Warehouse--Real ornamental
China-ware--Apprehension of Fire in the Fort--Houses fired by
Rats--Illumination of Native Houses--Discordant noise of Native
Magic--The great variety of Religions in Bombay productive of
lamp-lighting and drumming

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Bombay the rising Presidency--Probability of its becoming the Seat of
Government--The Anglo-Indian Society of Bombay--Style of Living--The
Gardens inferior to those of Bengal--Interiors of the Houses more
embellished--Absence of Glass-windows an evil--The Bungalows--The
Encamping-ground--Facility and despatch of a change of
residence--Visit to a tent entertainment--Inconveniences attending a
residence in tents--Want of Hotels and Boarding-houses--Deficiency of
public Amusements in Bombay--Lectures and _Conversaziones_ suggested,
as means of bringing the native community into more frequent
intercourse with Europeans--English spoken by the superior classes
of Natives--Natives form a very large portion of the wealth and
intelligence of Bombay--Nothing approaching the idea of a City to be
seen--The climate more salubrious than that of Bengal--Wind blows hot
and cold at the same time--Convenience a stranger finds in so many
domestic servants speaking English--Their peculiar mode of speaking
it--Dress of servants--Their wages--The Cooks--Improved by Lord
Clare--Appointments of the tables--The Ramoosee Watchmen--Their
vociferations during the night--Fidelity of the Natives--Controversy
concerning their disregard of truth.

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Residences for the Governor--Parell--Its Gardens--Profusion of
Roses--Receptions at Government-house--The evening-parties--The
grounds and gardens of Parell inferior to those at Barrackpore--The
Duke of Wellington partial to Parell--Anecdotes of his Grace
in India--Sir James Mackintosh--His forgetfulness of India--The
Horticultural Society--Malabar Point, a retreat in the hot
weather--The Sea-view beautiful--The nuisance of fish--Serious effects
at Bombay of the stoppage of the trade with China--Ill-condition
of the poorer classes of Natives--Frequency of Fires--Houses of the
Parsees--Parsee Women--Masculine air of the other Native Females
of the lower orders who appear in
public--Bangle-shops--Liqueur-shops--Drunkenness amongst Natives
not uncommon here, from the temptations held out--The Sailors'
Home--Arabs, Greeks, Chinamen--The latter few and shabby--Portuguese
Padres--Superiority of the Native Town of Bombay over that of
Calcutta--Statue of Lord Cornwallis--Bullock-carriages--High price and
inferiority of horses in Bombay--Hay-stacks--Novel mode of stacking

* * * * *



The Climate of Bombay treacherous in the cold season--The land-wind
injurious to health--The Air freely admitted into Rooms--The
Climate of the Red Sea not injurious to Silk dresses--Advice to
lady-passengers on the subject of dress--The Shops of Bombay badly
provided--Speculations on the site of the City, should the seat of
Government be removed hither--The Esplanade--Exercise of Sailors
on Shore and on Ship-board--Mock-fight--Departure of Sir Henry
Fane--Visit to a fair in Mahim Wood--Prophecy--Shrine of Mugdooree
Sahib--Description of the Fair--Visit to the mansion of a
Moonshee--His Family--Crowds of Vehicles returning from the
Fair--Tanks--Festival of the _Duwallee_--Visit to a Parsee--Singular
ceremony--The Women of India impede the advance of improvement--They
oppose every departure from established rules--Effect of Education in
Bombay yet superficial--Cause of the backwardness of Native Education


* * * * *

Experience has, especially of late years, amply refuted the barbarous
error, which attributes to Nature a niggardliness towards the minds
of that sex to which she has been most prodigal of personal gifts;
the highest walks of science and literature in this country have been
graced by female authors, and, perhaps, the purity and refinement
which pervade our works of imagination, compared with those of former
days, may not unjustly be traced to the larger share which feminine
pens now have in the production of these works. It would appear to
countenance the heretical notion just condemned, to assume that
a robust organization is essential to the proper development and
exercise of the powers of the understanding; but it is certain
that, in several instances, individuals, who have exhibited the most
striking examples of female pre-eminence, have not reached the full
maturity of their intellectual growth, but have been lost to the world
in a premature grave: to the names of Felicia Hemans and Laetitia
E. Landon, besides others, is now added that of Emma Roberts, who,
although in respect of poetical genius she cannot be placed upon
a level with the two writers just named, yet in the vigour of her
faculties, and in the variety of her talents, is worthy of being
associated with them as another evidence against the asserted mental
inequality of the sexes.

Miss Roberts belonged to a Welsh family of great respectability. Her
grandfather, who was a gentleman of good property, and served the
office of High Sheriff for Denbighshire, North Wales, possessed the
fine estate of Kenmell Park in that county, which was disposed of
after his death to Colonel Hughes, the present Lord Dinorben, whose
seat it continues to be. He had three sons, all of whom entered a
military life, which seems to have had peculiar attractions to this
gallant family. The eldest, the late General Thomas Roberts, raised
a regiment, which became the 111th, and it is said he frequently
officiated as Gold Stick in Waiting to George the Third. A son of
General Roberts was aide-de-camp to Sir Arthur Wellesley in Portugal,
was taken prisoner by the French, and detained during the war: he
afterwards rose to the rank of lieutenant-colonel. The second son,
Colonel David Roberts, of the 51st regiment, distinguished himself in
the Peninsular war, having, on the 7th January, 1809, during Sir
John Moore's retreat, near the heights of Lugo, headed a party which
repulsed the French Light Brigade, on which occasion his cloak was
riddled with bullets, two of which passed through his right-hand,
which was amputated. He was then a major, but afterwards commanded the
regiment, in Lord Dalhousie's brigade, and subsequently in Flanders,
and was so seriously and repeatedly wounded, that his pensions for
wounds amounted to L500 a year. Colonel Roberts was an author, and
wrote, amongst other things, the comic military sketch called _Johnny
Newcome_. The youngest son, William (the father of Miss Roberts), in
the course of his travels on the continent, in early life, formed some
intimacies at the Court of St. Petersburgh (to which he was introduced
by the British Ambassador), and eventually entered the Russian
service; he was made aide-de-camp to General Lloyd, his countryman,
and served with great distinction in several campaigns against the
Turks. He afterwards entered the British army, but had not attained
a higher rank than that of captain (with the paymastership of his
regiment), when he died, leaving a widow, a son (who died a lieutenant
in the army), and two daughters.

Emma, the youngest daughter of Captain Roberts, was born about the
year 1794. After the death of her father, she resided with her mother,
a lady of some literary pretensions, at Bath. Though possessed of a
very attractive person, though of a lively disposition, and peculiarly
fitted to shine in the gayest circles of social life, her thirst for
letters was unquenchable, and the extent of her reading proves that
her early years must have been years of application.

Her first literary work was in the grave department of
history,--_Memoirs of the Rival Houses of York and Lancaster, or the
White and Red Roses,_ which was published in two volumes, 1827. In the
preparation of this work, Miss Roberts prosecuted her researches
into the historical records at the Museum with so much diligence
and perseverance, as to attract the notice of the officers of that
institution, who rendered her much assistance. This work did not
take hold of public attention; the narrative is perspicuously and
pleasingly written, but it throws no additional light upon the events
of the time. It is not unusual for young writers, in their first
essay, to mistake the bent of their powers.

On the death of her mother and the marriage of her sister to an
officer of the Bengal army (Captain R.A. M'Naghten), Miss Roberts
accompanied Mrs. M'Naghten and her husband to India, in February 1828,
taking her passage in the _Sir David Scott_, to Bengal. From Calcutta
she proceeded with them to the Upper Provinces, where she spent the
years 1829 and 1830, between the stations of Agra, Cawnpore, and
Etawah. Her active and inquisitive mind was constantly employed in
noting the new and extraordinary scenes around her, the physical
aspect of the country, the peculiar traits of its population, and the
manners of both natives and Anglo-Indians: the strong and faithful
impressions they made never faded from a memory remarkably retentive.
It is to these favourable opportunities of diversified observation, in
her journeys by land and water, along the majestic Ganges, or by the
dawk conveyance in a palanquin, and in her residence for so long a
period away from the metropolis of British India, which exhibits but
a mongrel kind of Eastern society, that the English public owe
those admirable pictures of Indian scenery and manners, which have
conquered, or contributed to conquer, its habitual distaste for such

Whilst at Cawnpore, Miss Roberts committed to the press a little
volume of poetry, entitled _Oriental Scenes_, which she dedicated to
her friend Miss Landon, then rising into eminence under the well-known
designation of L.E.L. This volume, which she republished in England,
in 1832, contains some very pleasing specimens of glowing description,
graceful imagery, and well-turned expression, which show that her
powers required only cultivation to have secured to her a respectable
rank among modern poets.

Mrs. M'Naghten died in 1831, and about this time (either soon after
or shortly before the death of her sister), she exchanged provincial
scenes and society for the more cheerful atmosphere of Calcutta, where
a new world of observation and of employment opened to her. The sketches
she has given of the City of Palaces, and of its inhabitants, prove how
accurately she had seized their characteristic features. Here her pen
was called into incessant activity; besides various contributions
to Annuals and other ephemeral works, Miss Roberts undertook the
formidable task (doubly formidable in such a climate) of editing a
newspaper, and the _Oriental Observer_, whilst under her direction,
was enriched by some valuable articles written by herself, indicating
the versatility of her talents, the extent of her resources, and the
large area of knowledge over which her active mind had ranged.

This severe over-employment, however, entailed the inevitable penalty,
loss of health, and in 1832, being now bound by no powerful tie to
India, and looking forward, perhaps, with innocent ambition, to a less
confined theatre for the display of her talents and acquisitions, she
quitted the country, and returned to England, the voyage completely
repairing the injury which the climate of India had wrought upon her
constitution. The reputation she had acquired preceded her to this
country, where she had many literary acquaintances, some of whom had
reached a high station in public esteem; and her entrance into the
best literary circles of the metropolis was thereby facilitated;
but the position which she was entitled to claim was spontaneously
conceded to talents such as hers, set off by engaging and unaffected
manners, warmth and benevolence of heart, equanimity and serenity of

The fruits of her observations in the East were given to the world
in several series of admirable papers, published in the _Asiatic
Journal_,[A] a periodical work to which she contributed with
indefatigable zeal and success, from shortly after her return to
England until her death. A selection of those papers was published, in
three volumes, in 1835, under the title of _Scenes and Characteristics
of Hindostan_, which has had a large circulation, and (a very unusual
circumstance attending works on Indian subjects) soon reached a second
edition. This work established Miss Roberts's reputation as a writer
of unrivalled excellence in this province, which demands a union of
quick and acute discernment with the faculty of vivid and graphic
delineation. Of the many attempts which have been made in this country
to furnish popular draughts of Indian "Scenes and Characteristics,"
that of Miss Roberts is the only one which has perfectly succeeded.

Her pen now came into extensive requisition, and the miscellaneous
information with which she had stored her mind enabled her, with
the aid of great fluency of composition and unremitted industry, to
perform a quantity and a variety of literary labour, astonishing to
her friends, when they considered that Miss Roberts did not seclude
herself from society, but mixed in parties, where her conversational
talents rendered her highly acceptable, and carried on, besides, a
very extensive correspondence. History, biography, poetry, tales,
local descriptions, foreign correspondence, didactic essays, even the
culinary art, by turns employed her versatile powers. Most of these
compositions were occasional pieces, furnished to periodical works;
to some she attached her name, and a few were separately published.
Amongst the latter is a very pleasing biographical sketch of Mrs.
Maclean (formerly Miss Landon), one of her oldest and dearest friends.

It was now seven years since she had quitted British India, during
which period important events had occurred, which wrought material
changes in its political and social aspects. The extinction of the
East-India Company's commercial privileges had imparted a new tone to
its government, given a freer scope to the principle of innovation,
and poured a fresh European infusion into its Anglo-Indian society;
steam navigation and an overland communication between England and her
Eastern empire were bringing into operation new elements of
mutation, and the domestic historian of India (as Miss Roberts may be
appropriately termed) felt a natural curiosity to observe the progress
of these changes, and to compare the British India of 1830 with that
of 1840. With a view of enlarging the sphere of her knowledge of
the country, and of deriving every practicable advantage from a
twelve-months' visit, she determined to examine India on its Western
side, and (contrary to the urgent advice of many of her friends)
to encounter the inconveniences of performing the journey overland,
through France and Egypt. Previous to her departure, she entered into
an arrangement with the _Asiatic Journal_ (the depository of most of
her papers on Indian subjects) to transmit, on her way, a series of
papers for publication in that work, descriptive of the objects
and incidents met with in the overland route, and of the "rising
presidency," as she termed Bombay. By a singular coincidence, the last
paper of this series was published in the very number of the _Asiatic
Journal_[B] which announced her death. These papers, which are now
before the reader, carry on the biography of Miss Roberts almost to
the end of her life.

She quitted England in September, 1839, and, having suffered few
annoyances on the journey, except a fever which attacked her in the
Gulf, arrived in Bombay in November, where she experienced the most
cordial reception from all classes, including the Governor and the
most respectable of the native community. Miss Roberts was known to
Sir James Carnac, and in his Excellency's family she became a guest
for some time, quitting his hospitable mansion only to meet with a
similar cordiality of welcome from other friends, at the presidency
and in the interior. Her residence at Parell has enabled her to draw,
with her accustomed felicity, in one of the papers published in this
volume, a lively sketch of the domestic scenes and public receptions,
as well as the local scenery, at this delightful place. It appears
from her letters that Miss Roberts meditated a tour into Cutch or
Guzerat, which probably was prevented by her subsequent illness. "It
is my intention," she wrote from Parell, December 30th, 1839, "to go
into the provinces, as I have received numerous invitations; I am at
present divided between Guzerat and Cutch: by going to the latter, I
might have an opportunity of seeing Scinde, the new Resident, Captain
Outram, being anxious that I should visit it." She adds: "I have
received much attention from the native gentlemen belonging to this
presidency, and have, indeed, every reason to be pleased with my
reception." She had projected a statistical work on this part of
India, and in her private letters she speaks with grateful enthusiasm
of the liberality with which the government records were opened to
her, and of the alacrity with which Europeans and natives forwarded
her views and inquiries. In a letter dated in February, 1840, she
says: "I am very diligently employed in collecting materials for my
work; I am pleased with the result of my labours, and think I shall be
able to put a very valuable book upon Bombay before the public. I
hope to go in a short time to Mahableshwar, and thence to Sattara,
Beejapore, &c." Her literary aid was invoked by the conductors of
periodical works at Bombay, to which she furnished some amusing
pictures of home-scenes, drawn with the same spirit and truth as her
Indian sketches. She likewise undertook the editorship of a new weekly
paper, the _Bombay United Service Gazette_, and with the benevolence
which formed so bright a feature in her character, she engaged
with zeal in a scheme for rescuing the native women, who (as her
observation led her to believe) impede the progress of improvement,
from the indolence in which they are educated, by devising employments
for them suited to their taste and capacity. The concluding chapter
of this volume contains some very sound and salutary reflections upon
native education.

Perhaps too close and unremitting application, in a climate which
demands moderation in all pursuits that tax the powers of either mind
or body, produced or aggravated a disease of the stomach, with which
this lady was seriously attacked when on a visit to Colonel Ovans, the
Resident at Sattara. Some indication of disordered health manifested
itself whilst she was in the Hills. Writing from thence in April, and
adverting to some incident which caused her vexation, she observed:
"My health is failing me, and I can scarcely bear any increased
subject of anxiety." She experienced in the family of Colonel Ovans
all the attention and sympathy which the kindest hospitality could
suggest; but her disorder increasing, she removed, in the hope of
alleviating it by change of air, to Poona, and arrived at the house of
her friend, Colonel Campbell, in that city, on the 16th of September.
She expired unexpectedly on the following morning. Her remains are
deposited near those of one of her own sex, who was also distinguished
for her literary talents, Miss Jewsbury.

The death of Miss Roberts excited universal sorrow amongst all
classes, European and native, at Bombay, as well as at the other
presidencies, especially Calcutta, where the most cordial and
flattering tributes to her memory appeared in the public journals. She
had nearly completed her inquiries, and accomplished all the objects
for which she had revisited the treacherous clime of India, and one of
her latest letters to the writer of this Memoir expressed a cheerful
anticipation of her speedy return to England! "I positively leave
India next October, and am now looking joyfully to my return."

The person and manners of Miss Roberts were extremely prepossessing.
In early life, she was handsome; and although latterly her figure
had attained some degree of fulness, it had lost none of its ease and
grace, whilst her pleasing features, marked by no lines of painful
thought, were open and expressive, beaming with animation and good
humour. She had not the slightest tinge of pedantry in her manner and
deportment, which were natural and affable, so that a stranger never
felt otherwise than at ease in her society. It was not her ambition
to make a display of mental superiority, which inspires the other sex
with any feelings but those of admiration--which is, indeed, tacitly
resented as a species of tyranny, and frequently assigned as the
ground of a certain prejudice against literary ladies. "It may safely
he said," observes a friend of her's at Calcutta, "that, although
devoted to literature as Miss Roberts was, yet in her conversation and
demeanour she evinced less of what is known as '_blue_' than any
of her contemporaries, excepting Miss Landon." Another Calcutta
acquaintance says: "Though her mind was deeply interested in subjects
connected with literature, her attention was by no means absorbed by
them, and she mixed cordially and freely in society without the least
disposition to despise persons of less intellectual elevation. She
had a true relish of all the little pleasures that promiscuous society
affords, and did not underrate those talents which are better fitted
for the drawing-room than the study." Her warmth of heart and kindness
of disposition, which co-operated with her good sense in thus removing
all disagreeable points from her external character, made her the
sincerest of friends, and ever ready to engage in any work of charity
or benevolence.

It would be affectation to attempt in this slight Memoir to elaborate
a picture of the intellectual character of Miss Roberts, cut off,
as she has been, before that character had been fully developed. The
works, upon which her reputation as a writer principally rests, are
not, perhaps, of a quality which calls for any commanding powers
of mind. Her business was with the surfaces of things; her skill
consisted in a species of photography, presenting perfect fac-similes
of objects, animate and inanimate, in their natural forms and hues.
Deep investigations, profound reflections, and laboured and learned
disquisitions, would have defeated the very object of her lively
sketches, which was to make them, not only faithful and exact, but
popular. Of her success in this design, the following testimony from a
competent authority, the _Calcutta Literary Gazette_, is distinct
and decisive; and with this extract we may fitly close our melancholy
office: "Nothing can be more minute and faithful than her pictures of
external life and manners. She does not, indeed, go much beneath the
surface, nor does she take profound or general views of human nature;
but we can mention no traveller, who has thrown upon the printed page
such true and vivid representations of all that strikes the eye of
a stranger. Her book, entitled _Scenes and Characteristics of
Hindostan_, is the best of its kind. Other travellers have excelled
her in depth and sagacity of remark, in extent of information, and in
mere force or elegance of style; but there is a vivacity, a delicacy,
and a truth in her light sketches of all that lay immediately before
her, that have never been surpassed in any book of travels that is
at this moment present to our memory. She had a peculiar readiness in
receiving, and a singular power of retaining, first impressions of the
most minute and evanescent nature. She walked through a street or a
bazaar, and every thing that passed over the mirror of her mind left
a clear and lasting trace. She was thus enabled, even years after a
visit to a place of interest, to describe every thing with the same
freshness and fidelity as if she had taken notes upon the spot.
They who have gone over the same ground are delighted to find in
the perusal of her pages their own vague and half-faded impressions
revived and defined by her magic glass, while the novelty and
vividness of her foreign pictures make her home-readers feel that they
are nearly as much entitled to be called travellers as the fair author

[Footnote A: The first appeared in the Journal for December, 1832.]

[Footnote B: For December, 1840.]


* * * * *


* * * * *

Departure from London--A French Steam-vessel--Unfavourable
Weather--Arrival at Havre--Difficulties at the
Custom-house--Description of Havre--Embarkation on the Steamer for
Rouen--Appearance of the Country--Inclemency of the Weather--Arrival
at Rouen--Description of Rouen--Departure by the Boat for
Paris--Scenes and Traditions on the Banks of the Seine--Journey by the
Railroad to Paris--The _Douaniers_--Observations on the Journey up the

A strong predilection in favour of river scenery induced me, at the
commencement of an overland journey to Bombay, through France and
Egypt, to take a passage from London in a steamer bound to Havre.
Accordingly, on the 1st of September, 1839, accompanied by some
friends, one of whom was to perform the whole journey with me, I
embarked on board the _Phenix_, a French vessel, which left the Tower
Stairs at about ten o'clock in the morning.

The weather was showery, but occasional gleams of sunshine encouraged
us to hope that it might clear up, and permit us to keep the deck
during the greater part of the voyage, which we expected to perform in
eighteen hours. To the majority of readers, in these days of universal
travelling, it will be superfluous to describe a steam-boat; but there
may possibly be some quiet people who are still ignorant of the sort
of accommodation which it affords, and to whom the description will
not be unacceptable.

The _Phenix_ is a fine vessel of its class, five hundred tons burthen,
and 160-horse power. It was handsomely fitted up, and the vases of
flowers upon the chimney-piece in the principal saloon, and other
ornaments scattered about, gave to the whole a gay appearance, as if
the party assembled had been wholly bent upon pleasure. The ladies'
cabin was divided by a staircase; but there were what, in a sort of
mockery, are called "state-cabins" opening into that appropriated to
the general use, around which were sofas, and bed-places upon a sort
of shelf above, for the accommodation of the gentlemen. This apartment
was handsomely carpeted, and otherwise well furnished; the steward
and his assistant having the appearance of the better class of waiters
belonging to a well-frequented hotel: all the servants were English,
and the whole afforded a most delightful contrast to the sort of
packets which many of the party on board were quite old enough to

The passengers were numerous, and apparently inclined to make
themselves agreeable to each other; one, an American, objected to the
sight of a footman, who came upon the quarter-deck for a few minutes,
observing that such a thing would not be permitted in his country.

As soon as the vessel got under weigh, preparations were made for
breakfast, which was served, _a la fourchette_, in very excellent
style, the cookery being a happy combination of the French and English
modes. At the conclusion of the repast, we repaired to the deck, all
being anxious to see the _British Queen_, which was getting her steam
up, at Gravesend. We were alongside this superb vessel for a few
minutes, putting some persons on board who had come down the river
in the _Phenix_ for the purpose of paying it a visit; and taking
advantage of a favourable breeze, we hoisted a sail, and went along at
a rate which gave us hope of a speedy arrival at Havre.

After passing the Nore, however, our progress was impeded; and at
length, when off Margate, we were obliged to lie-to, in order to wait
for the turn of the tide: the wind blowing so strongly as to render
it questionable whether we could get round the Foreland. The sun
was shining on the buildings at Margate, and the bells knolling for
evening service; affording a home-scene of comfort and tranquillity
which it was agreeable to carry abroad as one of the last
reminiscences of England.

In about three hours, we got the steam up again, and saw the
_British Queen_ in the distance, still lying to, and apparently,
notwithstanding her prodigious power, unable to get down the Channel.

Dinner was served while the _Phenix_ lay off Margate; but it was
thinly attended, the motion of the vessel having sent many persons to
their cabins, while others were totally deprived of all appetite. An
elderly gentleman, who sate upon my left hand, complained exceedingly
of his inability to partake of the good things before him; and one or
two left the table in despair. Again we sought the deck, and saw the
sun sink behind an ominous mass of clouds; the sky, however, cleared,
and the stars came out, reviving our spirits with hopes of a fine
night. Unfortunately, soon after nine o'clock, a heavy squall
obliged us to go below, and one of my female friends and myself took
possession of a state cabin, and prepared to seek repose.

It was my first voyage on board a steamer, and though the tremulous
motion and the stamping of the engine are anything but agreeable, I
prefer it to the violent rolling and pitching of a sailing vessel. We
were certainly not nearly so much knocked about; the vases of flowers
were taken off the mantel-piece, and placed upon the floor, but beyond
this there were no precautions taken to prevent the movables from
getting adrift; every thing remained quiet upon the tables, a
circumstance which could not have happened in so heavy a sea in any
vessel not steadied by the apparatus carried by a steamer.

The _Phenix_ laboured heavily through the water; a torrent of rain
soon cleared the deck of all the passengers, and the melancholy voices
calling for the steward showed the miserable plight to which the male
portion of the party was reduced. Daylight appeared without giving
hope of better weather; and it was not until the vessel had reached
the pier at Havre, which it did not make until after three o'clock
P.M. on Monday, that the passengers were able to re-assemble. Many
had not tasted food since their embarkation, and none had been able to
take breakfast on the morning of their arrival.

And here, for the benefit of future travellers, it may not be amiss
to say, that a small medicine-chest, which had been packed in a
carpet-bag, was detained at the custom-house; and that the following
day we experienced some difficulty in getting it passed, being told
that it was contraband; indeed, but for an idea that the whole party
were going on to Bombay, and would require the drugs for their own
consumption, we should not have succeeded in rescuing it from the
hands of the Philistines. The day was too far advanced to admit of
our getting the remainder of the baggage examined, a mischance which
detained us a day at Havre, the steamer to Rouen starting at four
o'clock in the morning.

The weather was too unpropitious to admit of our seeing much of the
environs of the town. Like all English travellers, we walked about as
much as we could, peeped into the churches, made purchases of things
we wanted and things we did not want, and got some of our gold
converted into French money. We met and greeted several of our
fellow-passengers, for though little conversation, in consequence of
the inclemency of the weather, had taken place on board the _Phenix_,
we all seemed to congratulate each other upon our escape from the
horrors of the voyage.

The gale increased rather than abated, and we now began to entertain
fears of another day's detention at Havre, the steamer from Rouen not
having arrived; and though we were very comfortably lodged, and found
the town superior to the expectations we had formed of a sea-port of
no very great consideration, we had no desire to spend more time in it
than we could help.

Havre appears to carry on a considerable commerce with India, several
shops being wholly devoted to the sale of the productions of the
East, while the number of parrots and monkeys to be seen show that the
intercourse must be very extensive. The shops had a very English
air about them, and though the houses were taller, and rather more
dilapidated in their appearance, than they are usually found at home,
they reminded us of familiar scenes. _Hamlet_ was announced for the
evening's performance at the theatre, and but for the novelty of
dining at a _table d'hote_, we might have fancied ourselves still in

The Hotel de l'Europe is the best in Havre; there are several others
very respectable, and more picturesque, from the ancient style of the
building: all were full, intercourse with Havre being on the
increase. English carriages were arriving every hour; the steamer from
Southampton brought an immense number of passengers, and travellers
seemed to flock in from every part of the world. We were amused by
seeing a well-dressed and well-mannered Russian lady, at the _table
d'hote_, fill her plate half-full of oil, and just dip the salad into

It was the first time that one of my friends and myself had ever
visited France, and we endeavoured as much as possible to accommodate
ourselves to the manners of a strange country. We could not, however,
entirely give up our English habits, and ordered tea in the evening in
our private apartments: the French are by this time well accustomed to
requisitions of this nature, and few places are now unsupplied with a

On Tuesday morning, we were up at four o'clock, in order to embark
on board the steamer for Rouen. It rained heavily, and any hopes, the
interposition of the high houses gave, that the wind had abated, were
destroyed upon turning the first angle, and after a hasty glance at
the threatening sky and surging waters, we went below, intending, if
possible, to remain there until the weather should clear.

Passengers now came flocking in; many respectable French families,
with their children and neatly dressed _bonnes_, were of the party;
but the young folk speedily becoming very sick, we sought the deck,
and in spite of the rain, which still continued to fall, established
ourselves as well as we were able.

Upon entering the river, the turbulence of the water subsided a
little, and a gleam of sunshine, the first that smiled upon us, shewed
a chateau and town nestling in the midst of gardens and orchards,
and spreading down to the water's edge. The banks on either side were
picturesque, presenting the most pleasing pictures of rural enjoyment,
and conveying an idea of comfort which we had not previously
associated with the smaller classes of country residences in France.
The houses were cleanly on the outside, at least, and neither paint
nor white-wash was spared in their decoration; the surrounding
parterres were gay with flowers, amid which, as with us, dahlias made
a very conspicuous appearance. They were not, we thought, quite so
large and luxuriant as those which we see in our cottage-gardens at
home; and this remark we found afterwards would apply to the more
carefully tended plants in the pleasure-grounds of palaces. We
are probably more skilful in the adaptation of soil to foreign
importations, and therefore succeed in producing a finer flower.

In my baggage I had brought a large basket-full of the roots of our
English hearts-ease, as a present to a French gentleman, who had
expressed a wish, in the early part of the summer, to take some with
him from London, he having been much delighted with the superior
beauty of those which he had seen in our English gardens; they were
not then in a fit state for transplanting, and having, through the
kindness of the secretary of the Royal Botanic Society, been enabled
to carry away an extensive and choice collection of roots, I indulge
a hope that I may be instrumental in spreading the finest varieties of
this pretty flower throughout France.

We lost, of course, many scenes of beauty and interest, in consequence
of the inclemency of the weather. Just as we arrived at a most
beautiful place, a church of elegant architecture rising in the
centre, with gay-looking villas clustered round, the gathering clouds
united over our devoted heads, the rain, descending in a cataract,
beat down the smoke to the very decks, so that we all looked and felt
as if we had been up the chimney, and the whole lovely scene was lost
to us in a moment. The rain continued for about an hour after this,
and then the sky began to clear.

We reached Rouen at about half-past twelve. The approach is very fine,
and the city makes an imposing appearance from the river. We had been
recommended to the Hotel d'Angleterre, which is the best, but were so
strongly tempted to rush into the hotel immediately opposite, that,
trusting to its exterior, we hastened to house ourselves, and found
no reason to repent our choice. We were shown into very handsome
apartments, and found the staircases, lobbies, and ante-chambers as
clean as we could desire. A change of attire and breakfast enabled us
to sally forth to see as much of the town and its neighbourhood as our
time would admit.

The modern portion of Rouen is extremely handsome; the quay being
lined with a series of lofty stone mansions, built in the style which
is now beginning to be adopted in London. The public buildings are
particularly fine, and there are two splendid bridges, one of stone,
and one upon the suspension principle. Very extensive improvements are
going on, and it seems as if, in the course of a very few years,
the worst portions of the town will be replaced by new and elegant
erections. Meantime, imagination can scarcely afford more than a faint
idea of the horrors of the narrow, dirty streets, flanked on either
side by lofty squalid houses, in the very last stage of dilapidation.

The cathedral stands in a small square, or market-place, where the
houses, though somewhat better than their neighbours in the lanes,
have a very miserable appearance; they make a striking picture, but
the reality sadly detracts from the pleasure which the eye would
otherwise take in surveying the fine old church, with which, through
the medium of engravings, it has been long familiar. Many workmen are
at present employed in repairing the damage which time has inflicted
upon this ancient edifice.

The interior, though striking from its vastness, is at first rather
disappointing, its splendid windows of stained glass being the most
prominent of its ornaments. In pacing the long aisles, and pausing
before the small chapels, the scene grows upon the mind, and the
monuments, though comparatively few, are very interesting. An effigy
of Richard Coeur de Lion, lately discovered while looking for the
fiery monarch's heart, which was buried in Rouen, is shown as one of
the chief curiosities of the place.

The porter of the cathedral inhabited an extremely small dwelling,
built up against the wall, and surrounded by high, dark buildings; but
we were pleased to see that he had cheered this dismal place of abode
by a gay parterre, several rich-looking flowers occupying pots beneath
his windows.

Our next pilgrimage was to the statue of Joan of Arc, which we
approached through narrow streets, so dirty from the late heavy rains,
as to be scarcely passable. We had, as we might have expected, little
to reward us, except the associations connected with the Maid of
Orleans, and her cruel persecutors. The spot had been to me, from my
earliest years, one which I had felt a wish to visit, my researches,
while writing the Memoirs of the Rival Houses of York and Lancaster,
materially increasing the interest which an earlier perusal of the
history of England and France had created, concerning scenes trodden
by the brave, the great, and the good. However mistaken might have
been their notions, however impolitic their actions, we cannot
contemplate the characters of the Paladins, who have made Rouen
famous, without feelings of respect. The murder of Joan of Arc formed
the sole blot on the escutcheon of John Duke of Bedford, and the
faults and vices of his companions in arms were the offspring of the
times in which they lived.

We were surprised by the excellence of the shops, even in the most
dilapidated parts of the city of Rouen, the windows in every direction
exhibiting a gay assemblage of goods of all descriptions, while the
confectioners were little, if at all, inferior to those of Paris.
One small square in particular, in which a market was held, was very
striking, from the contrast between the valuable products sold, and
the houses which contained them. Seven or eight stories in height,
weather-stained, and dilapidated, the lower floors exhibited handsome
porcelain and other costly articles, which gave an impression of
wealth in the owners, that astonished those amongst our party who were
strangers to the country. Our hearts absolutely sunk within us as
we thought of the wretchedness of the interiors, the misery of being
obliged to inhabit any one of the numerous suites of apartments rising
tier above tier, and from which it would be absolutely impossible to
banish vermin of every description.

The French appear certainly to be beginning to study home comforts,
all the modern houses being built upon very commodious plans; still
the middling classes, in the towns at least, are miserably lodged,
in comparison with the same grades in England, families of apparently
great respectability inhabiting places so desolate as to strike one
with horror.

After picking our way through the least objectionable of the streets
in the heart of the city, we were glad to escape into the open air,
and solace ourselves with the views presented on the neighbouring
heights. Nothing can be finer than the landscapes round Rouen; every
necessary of life appears to be cheap and plentiful, and persons
desirous of a quiet and economical residence abroad might spend their
time very happily in the outskirts of this picturesque city.

We found the guests at the _table-d'hote_ chiefly English, travellers
like ourselves, and some of our party recognised London acquaintance
among those who, upon hearing our intention to proceed the following
day up the Seine to Paris, recommended the boat by which they had
arrived--the _Etoile_.

Again we were summoned at four o'clock in the morning, and wended our
way, along the banks of the river, to the starting-place, which was
just beyond the second bridge. The one large boat, which conveyed
passengers from Havre, was here exchanged for two smaller, better
suited to the state of the river. We were taught to expect rather a
large party, as we had understood that forty persons were going from
our hotel.

The bell of the _Dorade_, the opposition vessel, was sounding its
tocsin to summon passengers on board, while ours was altogether mute.
Presently, through the grey mist of the morning, we observed parties
flocking down to the place of embarkation, who, somewhat to our
surprise, all entered the other vessel. A large boat in the centre, in
which the baggage is deposited, was speedily filled, carpet bags being
piled upon carpet bags, until a goodly pyramid arose, which the rising
sun touched with every colour of the prism. The decks of the _Dorade_
were now crowded with passengers, while two respectable-looking young
women, in addition to ourselves, formed the whole of our company.

Our bell now gave out a few faint sounds, as if rather in compliance
with the usual forms observed, than from any hope that its warning
voice would be heeded; and getting up our steam, we took the lead
gallantly, as if determined to leave the heavier boat behind.
Presently, however, the _Dorade_ passed us with all her gay company,
and speeding swiftly on her way, would have been out of sight in a few
minutes, but for the windings of the river, which showed us her smoke
like a pennon in the distance. We were now left alone in our glory,
and felt assured of what we had more than suspected before, namely,
that we had got into the wrong boat. We then, though rather too
late, inquired the cause of the extraordinary disproportion of the
passengers, and were told that the _Etoile_ was the favourite boat
going down the river, while the _Dorade_ had it hollow in going up.

We now began to consider the circumstances of the case, and the
chances of our not arriving time enough at the place of debarkation
to get on to Paris by the rail-road that night. Agreeing that the
detention would not be of the least consequence, that we should enjoy
having the whole boat to ourselves, and the slow method of travelling,
which would enable us the better to contemplate the beauties of the
river, we made up our minds to a day of great enjoyment. The weather
was fine, a cool breeze allaying the heat of the sun, which shone upon
us occasionally through clouds too high to afford any apprehension of

The boat was very elegantly fitted up below, the ladies' cabin, in
particular, being splendidly furnished. Above, the choice of seats
proved very acceptable, since, in consequence of a new-fangled
apparatus, we had four chimnies, whence sparks escaped in a constant
shower, threatening destruction to any garment that might be exposed
to them. Seated, therefore, at the prow, beyond the reach of this
fiery shower, after partaking of an excellent breakfast, there being
a first-rate _restaurateur_ on board, we began to converse with a very
intelligent boatman, who amused us with the legends of the river and
accounts of the different places which we passed.

At Blossville-Bon-Secours there is an extremely steep hill, with a
chapel, dedicated to the Virgin, at the summit; the holy edifice is,
upon ordinary occasions, approached by a circuitous winding road, but
at Easter and other great festivals, thousands of persons flock from
all parts, for the purpose of making a pilgrimage up the steepest
portion of the ascent, in order to fulfil vows previously made, and to
pay their homage to the holy mother of God. There was a waggery in our
friend's eye, as he described the sufferings of the devout upon these
occasions, which indicated an opinion that, however meritorious the
act, and however efficacious in shortening the path to heaven, he
himself entertained no desire to try it. This man had seen something
of the world, his maritime occupation having formerly led him to
distant places; he had been a sailor all his life, was well acquainted
with Marseilles, which he described with great enthusiasm, and gave us
to understand that, having had a good offer elsewhere, this would be
one of his last voyages in the _Etoile_, since he worked hard in it,
without getting any credit.

At the town of Elboeuf, we picked up another passenger; a country
woman, with a basket or two, and a high Normandy cap, had come on
board at one of the villages; and with this small reinforcement we
proceeded, halting occasionally to mend some damage in the engine, and
putting up a sail whenever we could take advantage of the breeze.

Arriving at La Roquelle, our _cicerone_ pointed out to us the ruined
walls of what once had been a very splendid chateau; its former owner
being an inveterate gamester, having lost large sums of money, at
length staked the chateau to an Englishman, who won it. Upon arriving
to take possession, he was disappointed to find that he had only
gained the chateau, and that the large estate attached to it was
not in the bond. Being unable to keep it up without the surrounding
property, he determined that no other person should enjoy it,
and therefore, greatly to the annoyance of the people in the
neighbourhood, he pulled it down. The present proprietor now lives in
an adjacent farm-house, and the story, whether true or false,
tells greatly to the prejudice of the English, and our friend, in
particular, spoke of it as a most barbarous act.

We found the chateaux on the banks of the Seine very numerous; many
were of great magnitude, and flanked by magnificent woods, the greater
number being clipped into the appearance of walls, and cut out into
long avenues and arcades, intersecting each other at right angles,
in the very worst taste, according to the English idea of
landscape-gardening. There was something, however, extremely grand and
imposing in this formal style, and we were at least pleased with the
novelty which it afforded.

At Andelys, perched upon a conical hill, are the picturesque remains
of the chateau Gaillard, which was built by Richard Coeur de Lion, and
must formerly have been of very great extent, its walls reaching down
to the river's brink. We were told that the chateau furnished stabling
for a thousand horses, and that there was a subterranean passage which
led to the great Andelys. This passage is now undergoing a partial
clearing, for the purpose of increasing the interest of the place,
by exhibiting it to strangers who may visit the neighbourhood. Our
informant proceeded to say, that during several years, an old witch
inhabited the ruins, who was at once the oracle and the terror of the

The sketch-books of the party were here placed in requisition, and
though the celerity with which a steamer strides through the water
is not very favourable to the artist, a better idea of the scene was
given than that which we found in the Guide Book. The banks of the
Seine present a succession of pictures, all well worthy of the pencil,
and those who are fond of the picturesque, and who have time at their
disposal, will find the voyage up the river replete with the most
interesting materials.

The first sight of the vineyards, which began to spread themselves up
the steep sides of the hills, delighted us all; and our prospects now
began to be diversified with rock, which in a thousand fantastic forms
showed itself along the heights. The country seemed thickly spread
with villages, many at the edge of the water, others receding into
winding valleys, and all boasting some peculiar beauty. Whether upon
a nearer approach they would have been equally pleasing, it is not
possible to say; but, from our position, we saw nothing to offend the
eye, either in the cottages or the people; some of the very
humblest of the dwellings boasted their little gardens, now gay with
sun-flowers and dahlias, while the better sort, with their bright
panes of glass, and clean muslin window-curtains, looked as if they
would afford very desirable homes.

A present of a bottle of wine made our boatmen very happy. They
produced one of those huge masses of bread, which seems the principal
food of the lower classes, and sate down to their meal with great
content. Our dinner, which we had ordered rather early, was delayed by
the arrival of the boat at Vernon, where we were obliged, according to
the French phrase, to "mount the bridge." It was built, agreeably
to the old mode of construction, with a mill in the centre, and the
difficulty, and even danger, of getting through the arch, could not
be called inconsiderable. Letting off the steam, we were hauled up by
persons stationed for the purpose; and just as we got through, passed
the steamers going down to Rouen, the partners of the vessels which
went up in the morning; both were full, our _star_ being the only
unlucky one. However, what might have been a hardship to many others
was none to us, it being scarcely possible to imagine any thing more
delightful than a voyage which, though comparatively slow, was the
reverse of tedious, and in which we could discourse unrestrainedly,
and occupy any part of the vessel most agreeable to ourselves. We
picked up a very respectable man and his daughter, an interesting
little girl, who spoke English very tolerably, and seemed delighted to
meet with English ladies; and also an exquisite, dressed in the first
style of the Parisian mode, but of him we saw little, he being wholly
occupied with himself.

The steam-company are entering into an arrangement at Vernon for
the construction of a lock similar to one already formed at
Pont-de-l'Arche, which we had passed through in the morning, and which
will obviate the inconvenience and difficulty of the present mode of
navigating the river.

The next place of interest to which we came was Rosny, a village
famous in the pages of history as the residence of the great and good,
the friend and minister of Henry IV., the virtuous Sully. Our boatmen,
who were not great antiquaries, said nothing about the early occupants
of the chateau, exerting all their eloquence in praise of a later
resident--the Duchesse de Berri. This lady rendered herself extremely
popular in the vicinity, living in a style of princely splendour, and
devoting her time to acts of munificence. Every year she portioned
off a bride, giving a dowry to some respectable young lady of the
neighbourhood, while to the poor she was a liberal and untiring
benefactress. The boatmen blessed her as they passed, for to all she
sent wine, and upon fete-days gave banquets to the rural population,
to whom her remembrance will be ever dear. Our informants pointed out
a small chapel, which they described as being very beautiful, which
she had built as a depository for her husband's heart; this precious
relic she carried away with her when she left Rosny, which she quitted
with the regrets of every human being in the neighbourhood.

The chateau has been purchased by an English banker, but is now
uninhabited: there was a report of its being about to be pulled down.
It is a large, heavy building, not distinguished by any architectural
beauty, yet having an imposing air, from its extent and solidity.
It is surrounded by fine woods and pleasure-grounds, laid out in
the formal style, which is still the characteristic of French
landscape-gardening. Nothing can be more beautiful than the
surrounding scenery, the winding river with its vineyards hanging
in terraces from the opposite heights, the village reposing beneath
sun-lit hills, while corn-fields, pasture-land, and cattle grazing,
convey the most pleasing ideas of the comfort of those who dwell upon
this luxuriant soil.

The city of Mantes now appeared in the distance, and as we approached
it, our guides pointed out, on the opposite heights of Gassicourt,
a hermitage and Calvary, which had formerly proved a great source
of profit. An ascetic, of great pretensions to sanctity, took up his
abode many years ago in this retreat, carrying on a thriving trade,
every boat that passed contributing twopence, for which consideration
the hermit rung a bell, to announce their arrival at the bridge of
Mantes, giving notice to the town, in order to facilitate the transfer
of baggage or passengers. This tax or tribute the hermit was not
himself at the trouble of collecting, it being scrupulously despatched
to him by the donors, who would have deemed it sinful to deprive the
holy man of what they considered his just due.

The sort of piety, which once supported so great a multitude of
religious mendicants, is greatly on the decline in France. A few
crosses on the bridges and heights, and the dresses of the priesthood
whom we encountered in the streets, were the only exterior signs of
Roman Catholicism which we had yet seen. Our boatmen spoke with great
respect of the Sisters of Charity, pointing out a convent which they
inhabited, and told us that during illness they had themselves been
greatly indebted to the care and attention of these benevolent women.

It was now growing dark, and we very narrowly escaped a serious
accident in passing the bridge of Meulan, the boat coming into contact
with one of the piers; fortunately, the danger was espied in time.
There was now not the slightest chance of reaching Paris before the
following morning; but we regretted nothing except the want of light,
the gathering clouds rendering it impossible to see any thing of the
scenery, which, we were told, increased in beauty at every mile. We
consoled ourselves, however, with tea and whist in the cabin; in fact,
we played with great perseverance throughout the whole of our journey,
the spirits of the party never flagging for a single instant.

We found a good hotel at the landing-place, at which we arrived at a
very late hour, and starting the next morning by the early train
to Paris, passed by the rail-road through an extremely interesting
country, leaving St. Germain-en-Laye behind, and tracking the windings
of the Seine, now too shallow to admit of the navigation of boats of
any burthen.

The construction of this rail-road was attended with considerable
difficulty and great expense, on account of its being impeded by the
works at Marli, for the supply of water to Versailles. The building
of the bridges over the Seine, which it crosses three times, was also
very costly. The carriages of the first class are very inferior to
those of the same description upon the rail-roads in England, but they
are sufficiently comfortable for so short a distance. We were set down
at the barrier of Clichi, an inconvenient distance from the best part
of Paris. Here we had to undergo a second inspection of our baggage,
and I became somewhat alarmed for the fate of my medicine-chest. We
had taken nothing else with as that could be seizable, and this was
speedily perceived by the officials, who merely went through the form
of an examination.

The divisions in one of my portmanteaus had excited some suspicion
at Havre, one of the men fancying that he had made a grand discovery,
when he pronounced it to have a false bottom. We explained the method
of opening it to his satisfaction, and afterwards, in overhauling
my bonnet-box, he expressed great regret at the derangement of the
millinery, which certainly sustained some damage from his rough
handling. Altogether, we had not to complain of any want of civility
on the part of the custom-house officers; but travellers who take the
overland route to India, through France, will do well to despatch all
their heavy baggage by sea, nothing being more inconvenient than a
multitude of boxes. I had reduced all my packages to four, namely, two
portmanteaus, a bonnet-box, and a leather bag, which latter contained
the medicine-chest, a kettle and lamp, lucifer-matches, &c; my
bonnet-box was divided into two compartments, one of which contained
my writing-case and a looking-glass; for as I merely intended to
travel through a portion of our British possessions in India, and
to return after the October monsoon of 1840, I wished to carry every
thing absolutely necessary for my comfort about with we.

Another annoyance sustained by persons who take the route through
France is, the trouble respecting their passports, which must be ready
at all times when called upon for examination, and may be the cause of
detention, if the proper forms are not scrupulously gone through. We
were not certain whether it would be necessary to present ourselves
in person at the Bureau des Passeports, Quai des Orfevres, in Paris,
after having sent them to the British embassy; but we thought it
better to avoid all danger of delay, and therefore drove to a quarter
interesting on account of its being a place of some importance as
the original portion of Paris, and situated on the island. In this
neighbourhood there are also the famous Hotel Dieu and Notre Dame,
to both of which places we paid a visit, looking _en passant_ at the
Morgue. The gentleman who accompanied us entered a building, with
whose melancholy celebrity all are acquainted; but though it did not
at that precise moment contain a corpse, the report did not induce us
to follow his example: a circumstance which we afterwards regretted.
It may be necessary to say, that at other places we sent our passports
to the Hotel de Ville; but at Paris there is a different arrangement.

Although the journey up the Seine from Havre proved very delightful to
me, I do not recommend it to others, especially those to whom time is
of importance. There is always danger of detention, and the length of
the sea-voyage, especially from London, may be productive of serious
inconvenience. For seeing the country, it is certainly preferable to
the diligence, and my experience will teach those who come after me to
inquire into the character of the steam-boat before they enter it.


* * * * *


* * * * *

Description of Paris--Departure by the Diligence--The Country--The
Vineyards--Hotels and fare--Arrival at Lyons--Description of
the City--Departure in the Steam-boat for Arles--Descent of the
Rhone--Beauty and Variety of the Scenery--Confusion on disembarking at
Beaucaire--A Passenger Drowned--Arrival at Arles--Description of the
Town--Embarkation in the Steamer for Marseilles--Entrance into the
Mediterranean--Picturesque approach to Marseilles--Arrival in the
Harbour--Description of Marseilles--Observations upon the Journey
through France by Ladies.

A week's residence in Paris does not give a stranger any title to
decide upon the merits or demerits of that far-famed city. The period
of the year (September) was not the most favourable for a visit, all
the best families having emigrated to their country habitations, and
the city consequently exhibited a deserted air, at variance with every
preconceived notion of the gaiety of the French capital. The mixture
of meanness and magnificence in the buildings, the dirt and bad
smells, combine to give an unfavourable impression, which time only,
and a better acquaintance with the more agreeable features of the
place, can remove.

We had entertained a hope, upon our arrival in Paris, of getting the
_malle poste_ for our journey to Chalons; but it was engaged for at
least a month in advance. We were not more fortunate, our party now
being reduced to three, in our endeavour to secure the _coupe_, and
were obliged to be contented with places (corners) in the interior.
We despatched all our heavy goods--that is, the portmanteaus--by
_messagerie_, to Marseilles, which was a great saving of trouble.
Though the expense of this conveyance is enormous, it has the great
advantage of speed, travelling nearly as quickly as the diligence,
while by the _roulage_, which is cheaper, very inconvenient delays may
be incurred.

We quitted Paris on the 13th of September, well pleased with the
treatment we had received. Though the charges for lodging, washing,
&c. were high, there was no attempt at imposition; our landlady
would not allow us to pay any thing for the eighth day of our abode,
although we thereby entered into another week. We had the pleasure
of leaving every body well satisfied with us, and willing to receive
another English party.

The diligence started at the appointed hour, namely, six o'clock in
the evening. Unaccustomed to travel all night, we were rather anxious
about breakfast, as we had merely stopped to change horses, without
resting for any refreshment since we quitted Paris. Upon our arrival
at Sens, at about seven o'clock in the morning, we were amused by the
appearance of a party of persons running, gesticulating, and talking
with all their might, who brought hot coffee, milk, bread, and fruit
to the carriage-door. At first we were disinclined to avail ourselves
of the breakfast thus offered, but learning that we should not get any
thing else before twelve o'clock in the day, we overcame our scruples,
and partook of the despised fare, which we found very good of its

The country we passed through was rich with vineyards, and, on account
of the undulating nature of the land, and the frequency of towns
and villages, exceedingly pleasing to the eye. We were continually
delighted with some splendid burst of scenery. There was no want
of foliage, the absence of the magnificent timber which we find in
England being the less remarkable, in consequence of the number of
trees which, if not of very luxuriant growth, greatly embellish the
landscape, while we saw the vine everywhere, the rich clusters of its
grapes reaching to the edge of the road. Though robbed of its
grace, and its lavish display of leaf and tendril, by the method
of cultivating, each plant being reduced to the size of a small
currant-bush, the foliage, clothing every hill with green, gave the
country an aspect most grateful to those who are accustomed to English

We made our first halt at Auxerre, when a _dejeuner a la fourchette_
was served up to the travellers in the diligence. A bad English
dinner is a very bad thing, but a bad French one is infinitely worse.
Hitherto, we had fed upon nothing but the most dainty fare of the best
hotels and _cafes_, and I, at least, who wished to see as much as I
could of France, was not displeased at the necessity of satisfying the
cravings of appetite with bread and melon. There were numerous dishes,
all very untempting, swimming in grease, and brought in a slovenly
manner to the table; a roast fowl formed no exception, for it was
sodden, half-raw, and saturated with oil. It was only at the very
best hotels in France that we ever found fowls tolerably well roasted;
generally speaking, they are never more than half-cooked, and are
as unsightly as they are unsavoury. Our fellow-passengers did ample
justice to the meal, from which we gladly escaped, in order to devote
the brief remainder of our time to a hasty toilet.

From what we could see of it, Auxerre appeared to be a very pretty
place, it being at this time perfectly enwreathed with vines. In
fact, every step of our journey increased our regret that we should be
obliged to hurry through a country which it would have delighted us
to view at leisure, each town that we passed through offering some
inducement to linger on the road. Active preparations were making
for the vintage, the carts which we met or overtook being laden with
wine-casks, and much did we desire to witness a process associated in
our minds with the gayest scenes of rural festivity.

It would not be a fair criterion to judge of the accommodation
afforded at the hotels of the French provinces by those at which the
diligence changed horses; in some I observed that we were not shown
into the best apartments reserved for public entertainment, but in
none did we find any difficulty in procuring water to wash with,
nor did we ever see a dish substituted for a basin. From our own
observation, it seems evident that the inns in the provinces have been
much improved since the peace with England, and it appeared to us,
that no reasonable objection could be made to the accommodation
supplied. Auxerre certainly furnished the worst specimen we met with
on the road; at no other place had we any right to complain of our
entertainment, and at some the fare might be called sumptuous.

On the third morning from our departure from Paris, when nearly
exhausted, the rising sun gave us a view of the environs of Lyons.
We had been afraid to stop at Chalons the day before, having been
informed that the Saone was not sufficiently full to ensure the
certainty of the steam-boat's arrival at the promised time at Lyons.
This was a great disappointment, but we were rewarded by the rich and
beautiful scenery which characterises the route by land. We could not
help fancying that we could distinguish the home of Claude Melnotte
amid those villages that dotted the splendid panorama; and the
pleasure, with which I, at least, contemplated the fine old city, was
not a little enhanced by its association with the Lady of Lyons and
her peasant lover.

Lyons more than realised all the notions which I had formed concerning
it, having an air of antique grandeur which I had vainly expected
to find at Rouen. It is well-built throughout, without that striking
contrast between the newer buildings and the more ancient edifices,
which is so remarkable in the capital of Normandy. The Hotel de Ville,
in the large square, is a particularly fine building, and the whole
city looks as if it had been for centuries the seat of wealth and

Friends in England, and the few we met with or made in Paris, had
furnished us with the names of the hotels it would be most advisable
to put up at; but these lists were, as a matter of course, lost, and
we usually made for the nearest to the place where we stopped. The
Hotel de Paris, which looks upon the Hotel de Ville, was the one we
selected at Lyons; it was large and commodious, but had a dull and
melancholy air. As it is usual in French hotels, the building enclosed
a court-yard in the centre, with galleries running round the three
sides, and reaching to the upper stories. The furniture, handsome of
its kind, was somewhat faded, adding to the gloom which is so often
the characteristic of a provincial inn.

As soon as possible, we sallied forth, according to our usual wont, to
see as much as we could of the town and its environs; both invited a
longer stay, but we were anxious to be at Marseilles by the 19th, and
therefore agreed to rise at half-past three on the following morning,
in order to be ready for the steamer, which started an hour after. We
had begun, indeed, to fancy sleep a superfluous indulgence; my female
friend (Miss E.), as well as myself, suffering no other inconvenience
from three nights spent in a diligence than that occasioned by swelled
feet and ancles.

We found a very considerable number of persons in the steam-boat, many
of whom were English, and amongst them a gentleman and his wife, who,
with four children, were travelling to Nice, where they proposed to
spend the winter. The fine weather of the preceding day had deserted
us, and it rained in torrents during the first hours of the descent
of the Rhone. The wet and cold became so difficult to bear, that I
was glad to take up a position under the funnel of the steamer,
where, protected a little from the rain, I speedily got dry and warm,
enjoying the scenery in despite of the very unfavourable state of the
weather. We missed our communicative boatman of the Seine, but
met with a very intelligent German, who gave us an account of the
remarkable places _en route_, pointing out a spot once exceedingly
dangerous to boats ascending or descending, in consequence of a
projecting rock, which, by the orders of the Emperor Napoleon, had
been blown up.

All the steamers which leave Lyons profess to go as far as Arles; but,
in order to ensure conveyance to that place the same evening, it is
necessary to ascertain whether they carry freight to Beaucaire, for in
that case they always stay the night to unlade, taking the boat on
at an early hour the following morning. We found ourselves in this
predicament; and perhaps, under all the circumstances to be related,
it would be advisable to leave the Lyons boat at Avignon and proceed
by land to Marseilles. Many of the passengers pursued this plan.

The weather cleared up in the middle of the day, and we passed Avignon
in a rich crimson sunset, which threw its roseate flush upon the ruins
of the Papal palace, and the walls and bastions of this far-famed
city. Experience had shown us the impossibility of taking more than a
cursory view of any place in which we could only sojourn for a single
day, and therefore we satisfied ourselves with the glimpses which we
caught of Avignon from the river. A half-finished bridge, apparently
of ancient date, projects rudely into the middle of the stream; we
passed through another more modern, though somewhat difficult to
shoot; our voyage the whole day having been made under a succession of
bridges, many upon the suspension principle, and extremely light and
elegant. The beauty and variety of the scenery which presented itself,
as we shot along the banks of the Rhone, were quite sufficient to
engage our attention, and to make the hours fly swiftly along; there
were few, however, of our fellow-travellers who did not resort to
other methods of amusement.

After the weather had cleared, the decks dried, and the sun-beams,
warming, without scorching, glanced through fleecy clouds, the greater
number of the passengers remained in the cabin below, whence, the
windows being small and high, there was literally nothing to be seen.
They employed themselves in reading, writing, or working; the French
ladies in particular being most industrious in plying the needle. We
noticed one family especially, who scarcely shewed themselves
upon deck. It consisted of the mother, an elderly lady, of a very
prepossessing appearance, with her son and daughter; the former about
thirty years old, the latter considerably younger. The dress of
the ladies, which was perfectly neat, consisting of printed muslin
dresses, black silk shawls, and drawn bonnets, seemed so completely
English, that we could scarcely believe that they were not our own
countrywomen; they were the most diligent of the workers and
readers, and as we never went down into the cabin unless to take some
refreshment, or to fetch any thing we wanted, a few brief civilities
only passed between us, but these were so cordially offered, that we
regretted that want of inclination to enjoy the air and prospect upon
deck which detained the party below.

There was a _restaurateur_ on board the steamer, who supplied the
passengers, at any hour they pleased, with the articles inserted
in his _carte_; every thing was very good of its kind, but the boat
itself was neither handsomely nor conveniently fitted up, and I should
recommend in preference the new iron steamers which have been lately
introduced upon the Rhone.

It was about nine o'clock in the evening when we reached Beaucaire;
one other boat stopped at this place, but the rest, to our
mortification, went on to Arles. We were told that we must be at
the river-side at four the next morning, in order to proceed, and we
therefore could not reckon upon more than four or five hours' sleep.
The night was very dark, and a scene of great confusion took place in
the disembarkation. We had agreed to wait quietly until the remainder
of the passengers got on shore; and Miss E. and myself, glad to escape
from the bustle and confusion of the deck, went down below to collect
our baggage, &c. The quay was crowded with porters, all vociferating
and struggling to get hold of parcels to carry, while the
commissionaires from the hotels were more than ever eager in
their recommendations of their respective houses: their noise and
gesticulations were so great, and their requests urged with so much
boldness, that we might have been led to suppose we had fallen into
the hands of banditti, who would plunder us the moment they got us
into their clutches.

Miss E. had posted herself at an open window, watching this strange
scene, and while thus employed, was startled by hearing a piercing
scream, and a plunge into the water; at the same moment, the clamour
on shore became excessive. We instantly rushed upon deck, where we
found our other friend safe; and upon inquiring what had happened,
were told that a box had fallen into the river. Not quite satisfied
of the truth of this statement, we asked several other persons, and
received the same answer, the master of the steamer assuring us that
no more serious accident had occurred.

We soon afterwards went on shore, which was then perfectly quiet, and,
preceded by a commissionaire, who had persuaded the gentleman of our
party to put himself under his convoy, we walked into the town. At
a short distance from the water, we came upon an hotel of very
prepossessing appearance, which we concluded to be the one to which we
were bound. The windows of the lower and upper floors were all open,
the rooms lighted, showing clean, gay-looking paper upon the walls,
and furniture of a tempting appearance. Our conductor, however, passed
the door, and dived down a lane, upon which we halted, and declared
our resolution to go no further. After a little parley, and amongst
other representations of the superior accommodations of the unknown
hotel, an assurance that the stables were magnificent, we gained our
point, and entered the house which had pleased us so much. We were
met at the door by two well-dressed, good-looking women, who showed us
into some excellent apartments up-stairs, all apparently newly-fitted
up, and exceedingly well-furnished.

Ordering supper, we descended to the public room, and as we passed
to a table at the farther end, noticed a young man sitting rather
disconsolately at a window. We were laughing and talking with each
other, when, suddenly starting up, the stranger youth exclaimed, "You
are English? how glad I am to hear my own language spoken again!" He
told us that he was travelling through France to Malta, and had
come by the other steam-boat, in which there were no other English
passengers beside himself. He then inquired whether a lady had not
been drowned who came by our vessel; we answered no; but upon his
assurance that such was the fact, we began to entertain a suspicion
that the truth had been concealed from us. It was not, however, until
the next morning, that we could learn the particulars. The gentleman
who had accompanied us, and who had likewise been deceived by the
statements made to him, ascertained that the accident had befallen
the elderly French lady, with whose appearance we had been so much
pleased. She had got on board a boat moored close to ours, and
believing that she had only to step on shore, actually walked into
the river. She was only ten minutes under water, and the probabilities
are, that if the circumstance had been made known, and prompt
assistance afforded, she might have been resuscitated. Amid the number
of English passengers on board the steamer, the chances were very much
in favour of its carrying a surgeon, accustomed to the best methods
to be employed in such cases. No inquiry of the kind was made, and we
understood that the body had been conveyed to a church, there to await
the arrival of a medical man from the town.

We were, of course, inexpressibly shocked by this fatal catastrophe,
the more so because we all felt that we might have been of use had
we been told the truth. The grief and distraction of the son and
daughter, who had thus lost a parent, very possibly prevented them
from taking the best measures in a case of such emergence; whereas
strangers, anxious to be of service, and having all their presence of
mind at command, might have afforded very important assistance. How
little had we thought, during the day spent so pleasantly upon the
Rhone, that a fiat had passed which doomed one of the party to an
untimely and violent death! Our spirits, which had been of the gayest
nature, were damped by this incident, which recurred to our minds
again and again, and we were continually recollecting some trifling
circumstance which had prepossessed us in favour of the family, thus
suddenly overwhelmed by so distressing an event.

A couple of hours brought us to Arles, where we arrived before the
town was astir; the steamer to Marseilles did not leave the quay until
twelve o'clock, and we were tantalized by the idea of the excellent
night's rest we might have had if the steamer had fulfilled its
agreement to go on to Arles. The Marseilles boat, though a fine vessel
of its class, was better calculated for the conveyance of merchandize
than of passengers; there being only one cabin, and no possibility of
procuring any refreshment on board. This is the more inconvenient,
as there is danger in bad weather of the passage into the harbour of
Marseilles being retarded for several hours. We now lamented having
slighted an invitation to comfortable quarters in Avignon, which we
found on board the Lyons steamer, printed upon a large card.

We were much pleased with what we saw of Arles; it is a clean,
well-built town, the streets generally rather narrow, but the houses
good. In walking about, we found many of the outer doors open, and
neat-looking female servants employed in sweeping the halls and
entries. With what I hope may be deemed a pardonable curiosity, we
peeped and sometimes stepped into these interiors, and were gratified
by the neatness and even elegance which they exhibited. We found the
people remarkably civil, and apparently too much accustomed to English
travellers to trouble themselves about us. The hotel was not of the
best class, and we only saw some very inferior _cafes_, consisting
of one small room, with a curtain before the open door, and on the
outside a rude representation, on a board, of a coffee-pot, and a
cup and saucer. All the shops at Arles had curtains at the doors,
a peculiarity which we had not previously observed in the towns of
France. We went into a handsome church, where we found a few people,
principally beggars, at prayers, and leaving a small donation in the
poor-box, beguiled the time by walking and sitting in the _boulevard_
of the town.

We were glad to embark at twelve o'clock, and soon afterwards we were
again in motion. The Rhone is at this place a fine broad stream; but
its banks were less interesting than those which we had passed the
previous day. We came at length to a large tract of low land, washed
on the other side by the Mediterranean, which we were told was
tenanted by troops of wild horses, known by their being invariably
white. There were certainly many horses to be seen, and amongst them
numerous white ones; but they appeared to be exceedingly tame, and had
probably only been turned out for the benefit of grazing on the salt
marsh. Possibly there might be some difficulty in catching them in so
large a plain, perfectly unenclosed, and they might have bred in these
solitudes. There were also some very peaceable-looking donkeys to
be seen, and now and then a few cows. We did not perceive any human
habitations until we came to the extreme point, where one or two low,
dreary-looking tenements had been raised.

The view for the last hour had been magnificent, extending over a
splendid country to the lower Alps, and now Marseilles appeared in the
distance, spread upon the side of a hill down to the water, and
its environs stretching far and wide, villas and country mansions
appearing in every direction. Upon entering the Mediterranean, we were
struck by the line of demarcation which kept the green waters of the
Rhone and the deep dark blue of the sea perfectly distinct from each
other, there being no blending of tints. Here we were delighted by the
appearance of a shoal of large fish, which were seen springing out of
the water; several approached the steamer, gamboling about in the most
beautiful manner possible, darting along close to the surface, and
then making long leaps with their bodies in the air. One of our
fellow-passengers, a German, with whom we had made acquaintance,
hastened to fetch a gun; but, much to our joy, it missed fire in
several attempts to discharge it at the beautiful creatures which had
thus amused us with their sports. How strong must be the destructive
propensity, when it leads men to wanton acts of barbarity like this;
since, had a hundred fish been killed, there would have been no
possibility of getting one on board, and the slaughter must merely
have been perpetrated for slaughter's sake! Our remonstrances passed
unheeded, and we therefore did not conceal our rejoicing over the

The entrance into Marseilles is very picturesque, it being guarded on
either side by high rocks, bold, and projecting in various shapes. We
found the harbour crowded with vessels of various denominations, and
amongst them several steamers, one a French ship of war, and another
the English Government steamer, appointed to carry the mails to Malta.
The smell arising from the stagnant water in the harbour of Marseilles
was at first almost intolerable, and it was not without surprise that
we saw several gay gondola-looking boats, with white and coloured
awnings, filled with ladies and gentlemen, rowing about apparently for

The clock struck five as we got on shore, and, much to our annoyance,
we found that our first visit was to be paid to the customhouse. Upon
embarking at Arles, a _gens-d'armes_ had laid his finger upon our
baggage, and demanded our keys; but upon a remonstrance at the
absurdity of a re-examination, after it had passed through the whole
of France, he allowed it to be put on board inviolate. Here, however,
there was no escaping, and, tired as we were, and anxious to get to
our hotel, we were obliged to submit to the delay. Fortunately, we
were the first arrivals, and the search not being very strict, we were
not detained more than ten minutes, or a quarter of an hour, which,
under the circumstances, seemed an age. The nearest hotel was of course
our place of refuge, and we were fortunate in speedily ending a very
good one, the Hotel des Embassadeurs, an immense establishment,
exceedingly well-conducted in every respect. Here we enjoyed the prospect
of a night's rest, having, during a hundred and ten hours, only had about
ten, at two different periods, in bed. Refreshed, however, by a change
of dress, we had no inclination to anticipate the period of repose, but
hurried our toilet, in order to join the dinner at the _table-d'hote._

Marseilles struck us as being the handsomest and the cleanest town we
had yet seen in France. All the houses are spacious and lofty, built
of white stone, and in good condition, while every portion of the city
is well paved, either after the English fashion, or with brick, quite
even, and inserted in a very tasteful manner. Many of the streets
are extremely wide, and some are adorned with handsome fountains.
The shops are very elegant, and much more decorated than those of any
other place in France; some had paintings upon glass, richly gilded,
on either side of the doors, handsome curtains hung down within, and
the merchandise displayed was of the best description. These shops
were also well lighted, and together with the brilliant illuminations
of the neighbouring _cafes_, gave the streets a very gay appearance.
We wandered about until rather a late hour; the _cafes_, both inside
and outside, were crowded with gentlemen; but in the promenades we
saw fewer ladies than we had expected, and came to the conclusion--an
erroneous one in all probability--that French women stay very much at
home. Assuredly, the beauty of the night was most inviting; but, worn
out at last, we were obliged to retire to our hotel.

The next day, we made inquiries concerning the steamers, and
learned that the French boat was certainly to start on the following
afternoon, the 21st, while the departure of the English vessel
was uncertain, depending upon the arrival of the mails. Though
disappointed at finding that the French steamer did not touch at
Naples, as I had been led to believe, I felt inclined to take my
passage in her; but the advantage of being in time to meet the Bombay
steamer at Suez was so strongly urged upon me, in consequence of the
ticklish state of affairs in Egypt, that, finding plenty of room on
board the _Niagara_, we engaged a couple of berths in the ladies'
cabins. Mehemet Ali was represented to us as being so obstinately
determined to retain possession of the Turkish fleet, and the British
Government so urgent with France to support the Porte against him,
that, if this intelligence was to be depended upon, no time ought to
be lost. It was with reluctance that I gave up my original intention
of lingering on the road, and at Malta, but my unwillingness to run
any risk of being shut out of Egypt prevailed. After executing this
necessary business, we engaged a carriage, and paying a visit to the
British consul, drove about the town and its environs, being the more
pleased the more we saw of both. There appeared to be a deficiency of
trees in the landscape, but a peculiar air of its own compensated for
the want of foliage.

The private streets and houses of Marseilles are very regular and
well built, nor did we see any portion of the town of a very inferior
description. I should have liked much to have remained a few weeks in
it, and indeed regretted the rapidity of my journey through France,
not being able to imagine any thing more delightful than a leisure
survey of the country through which we passed. I had been so strongly
determined to make the overland trip to India, that I would have
undertaken it quite alone, had I not met with a party to accompany me;
some kind friends would not allow me, however, to make the experiment;
nor do I recommend ladies, unless they are very well acquainted
with the country, to travel through it without the protection of a
gentleman, a courier, or a good servant. Miss E. and myself performed
the whole distance without a care or a thought beyond the objects on
the road; but this we owed entirely to the attention of the gentleman
who put us safely on board the Malta steamer, and who managed every
thing for us upon the way, so that we were never in one single
instance subjected to the slightest annoyance.


* * * * *


* * * * *

Venations at the Custom-house--Embarkation on the Malta
Steamer--Difficulties of exit from the Harbour--Storm--Disagreeable
Motion of the Steam-vessel--Passengers--Arrival at Malta--Description
of the City--Vehicles--Dress of the Maltese Women--State of
Society--Church of St. John--The Palace--The Cemetery of the Capuchin
Convent--Intolerance of the Roman Catholic Priesthood--Shops,
Cafes, and Hotels--Manufactures and Products of Malta--Heat of
the Island--Embarkation on board an English Government
Steamer--Passengers--A young Egyptian--Arrival at Alexandria--Turkish
and Egyptian Fleets--Aspect of the City from the Sea--Landing.

At twelve o'clock on the morning of the 21st of September, we were
informed that the English Government-mails had not arrived, and that
the probabilities were in favour of their not reaching Marseilles
until five o'clock; in which event, the steamer could not leave the
harbour that night. We, therefore, anticipated another day in our
pleasant quarters; but thought it prudent to take our baggage
on board. Upon getting down to the quay, we were stopped by a
_gens-d'armes,_ who desired to have our keys, which we of course
immediately surrendered. On the previous day, while driving about
the town, our progress had been suddenly arrested by one of these
officials, with an inquiry whether we had any thing to declare. He was
satisfied with our reply in the negative, and allowed us to proceed. A
gentleman afterwards asked me whether, in my travels through France,
I had not observed that the police was a mere political agent,
established for the purpose of strengthening the hands of the
government, and not, as in England, intended for the protection of the
people? I could only reply, that we had lost nothing in France, and
that property there appeared to be as secure as at home. Certainly,
the interference of the _gens-d'armes_ about the baggage, and the
continual demand for our passports, were very vexatious, detracting in
a great degree from the pleasure of the journey.

We found the rate of porterage excessively high; the conveyance of our
baggage to and fro, as we passed from steam-boats to hotels, proving,
in the aggregate, enormous; the whole went upon a truck, which one
man drew, with apparent ease, and for a very short distance, we paid
nearly double the sum demanded for the hire of a horse and cart in
London, from Baker Street, Portman Square, to the Custom House.

Upon getting on board the _Megara_, we found that the mails were in
the act of delivery, and that the vessel would start without delay.
We had now to take leave of the friend who had seen us so far upon our
journey, and to rely wholly upon ourselves, or the chance civilities
we might meet with on the road. Our spirits, which had been so gay,
were much damped by the loss of a companion so cheerful and ready
to afford us every enjoyment within our reach, and we in consequence
thought less of the danger to which we were shortly afterwards
exposed, the pain of parting being the paramount feeling.

There is always some difficulty in getting out of the harbour of
Marseilles, and the natural obstacles are heightened by the want of
a superintending power. There is no harbour-master, to regulate
the movements of vessels, and to appoint their respective places;
consequently, there is generally a great deal of confusion; while
serious accidents are not unfrequent.

Before we got under weigh, I saw my old acquaintance, Hussein Khan,
the Persian ambassador, go on board the French steamer, which was
anchored within a short distance of us. He was received with all the
honours due to his rank; which, by the way, was not acknowledged in
England; and his suite, whom we had seen lounging at the doors of the
_cafes_ the evening before, made a gay appearance on the deck.

We got foul of one or two ships as we went out, and just as we left
the harbour, the clouds, which had threatened all the morning, burst
upon us in a tremendous storm, accompanied by thunder and lightning.
The rain came down in torrents, sweeping along the decks, while a
heavy squall threatened to drive us upon the rocks, which we had
admired so much as the guardians of the port. In this emergency, we
were compelled to drop our anchor, and remain quiescent until the fury
of the elements had abated. The storm passed away about midnight, and
getting the steam up, we were far away from Marseilles and _la belle
France_ before morning.

The _Megara_ belonged to a class of steamers built for the government
upon some new-fangled principle, and which have the art of rolling in
any sea. Though the waters of the Mediterranean were scarcely ruffled
by the breeze, which was in our favour, there was so much motion in
the vessel, that it was impossible to employ ourselves in any way
except in reading. In other respects, the _Megara_ was commodious
enough; the stern cabin, with smaller ones opening into it, and each
containing two bed-places, was appropriated to the ladies, the whole
being neatly fitted up. We found some agreeable fellow-passengers; the
only drawback being a family of three children. In consequence of the
cabins being thus occupied, we could not preserve the neatness
and order which are so essential to comfort, and which need not be
dispensed with even in a short voyage.

Our commandant, Mr. Goldsmith, a descendant of the brother of the
poet, and who appeared to have inherited the benevolence of his
distinguished relative, was indefatigable in his exertions to render
us happy. He had procured abundant supplies for the table, which was
every day spread with a profusion of good things, while eight or ten
different kinds of wine, in addition to ale and porter, were placed
at the disposal of the guests. Nothing, indeed, was wanting, except a
French cook. No single meal had ever disagreed with us in France; but
though partaking sparingly, we felt the inconvenience of the heavy
English mode of cookery.

Amongst the attendants at table was one who speedily grew into the
good graces of all the passengers. A little fellow, eight years
old, but who did not look more than seven, placed himself at the
commandant's elbow, who immediately upon seeing him exclaimed, with a
benevolent smile, "What, are you here, Jemmy? then we are all right."
Jemmy, it seems, was the boatswain's son, and no diminutive page
belonging to a spoiled lady of quality, or Lilliputian tiger in the
service of a fashionable aspirant, could have been dressed in more
accurate costume. Jemmy was every inch a sailor; but, while preserving
the true nautical cut, his garments were fashioned with somewhat
coxcombical nicety, and he could have made his appearance upon any
stage as a specimen of aquatic dandyism. Jemmy would be invaluable on
board a yacht. His services at table were rewarded by a plateful of
pudding, which he ate standing at the captain's right hand, after
having, with great propriety, said grace. The little fellow had been
afloat for a year and a half; but during this period his education
had not been neglected, and he could read as well as any person in the

Amongst our passengers was a French gentleman, the commandant and
owner of an Indiaman, which had sailed from Bordeaux to Bombay under
the charge of the first officer. He had previously made twelve voyages
to India; but now availed himself of the shorter route, and proposed
to join his vessel at Bombay, dispose of the cargo, and, after taking
in a new freight, return through Egypt. The only coasts in sight,
during our voyage from Marseilles to Malta, were those of Sardinia
and Africa, Sicily being too far off to be visible. We were not near
enough to Sardinia to see more than a long succession of irregular
hills, which looked very beautiful under the lights and shades of a
lovely summer sky. The weather was warm, without being sultry, and
nothing was wanting excepting a few books. Mr. Goldsmith regretted the
absence of a library on board, but expressed his intention of making a
collection as speedily as possible.

The excessive and continual motion of the vessel caused me to suffer
very severely from seasickness; the exertion of dressing in the
morning always brought on a paroxysm, but I determined to struggle
against it as much as possible, and was only one day so completely
overpowered as to be unable to rise from the sofa. This sickness
was the more provoking, since there was no swell to occasion it, the
inconvenience entirely arising from Sir Somebody Symonds' (I believe
that is the name) method of building. What the _Megara_ would be in a
heavy sea, there is no saying, and I should be very sorry to make the

We found ourselves at Malta at an early hour of the morning of
the 25th, having been only five nights and four days on board. Mr.
Goldsmith celebrated our last dinner with a profusion of champaigne,
and though glad to get out of the vessel, we felt unfeignedly sorry to
take leave of our kind commandant. We were, of course, up by daylight,
in order to lose nothing of the view.

Much as I had heard of the gay singularity of the appearance of Malta,
I felt surprise as well as delight at the beautiful scene around;
nor was I at all prepared for the extent of the city of Valetta. The
excessive whiteness of the houses, built of the rock of which
the island is composed, contrasted with the vivid green of their
verandahs, gives to the whole landscape the air of a painting, in
which the artist has employed the most brilliant colours for sea
and sky, and habitations of a sort of fairy land. Nor does a nearer
approach destroy this illusion; there are no prominently squalid
features in Malta, the beggars, who crowd round every stranger, being
the only evidence, at a cursory gaze, of its poverty.

Soon after the _Megara_ had dropped anchor, a young officer from the
_Acheron_, the steamer that had brought the mails from Gibraltar, came
on board to inquire whether I was amongst the passengers, and gave me
the pleasing intelligence that a lady, a friend of mine, who had left
London a few days before me, was now in Malta, and would proceed to
India in the vessel appointed to take the mails. She was staying at
Durnsford's Hotel, a place to which I had been strongly recommended.
Mr. Goldsmith was kind enough to promise to see our heavy baggage on
board the _Volcano_, the vessel under sailing orders; and a clergyman
and his wife, resident in Malta, who had gone to Marseilles for a
change of scene and air, inviting Miss E. and myself to accompany them
on shore, we gladly accepted their offer.

We found a _caless_ in waiting for us; a very singular description of
vehicle, but one common to the island. I had seen representations of
these carriages in old engravings, but had not the least idea that
they were still in use. They have only two wheels, placed behind, so
that the horse has to bear the weight of the vehicle as well as to
draw it; and there is something so inexpressibly odd in the whole
arrangement, that it put me in mind of the equipages brought on the
stage in a Christmas pantomime. Our _caless_ held four persons very
conveniently, and was really a handsome vehicle, gaily lined with
scarlet leather, and having spring seats. We saw others plying for
hire, of a very inferior description; some only calculated for two
persons, and of a faded and dilapidated appearance. They seem to be
dangerous conveyances, especially for the poor horse; we heard of one
being upset, on a steep hill, and breaking the neck of the animal that
drew it. In driving, we were obliged to take rather a circuitous route
to our inn, though the distance, had we walked, would have been very
inconsiderable. We were glad of the opportunity of seeing a little
of the suburbs, and were almost sorry to arrive at the place of our

As we came along we were delighted with the picturesque appearance
of the Maltese women, whose national dress is at once nunlike and
coquettish. A black petticoat envelopes the form from the waist, and
over that is thrown a singular veil, gathered into a hood, and kept
out with a piece of whalebone. This covering, which is called the
_faldetta_, is capable of many arrangements, and is generally disposed
so as to "keep one eye free to do its worst of witchery." When one
of the poorer classes is enabled to clothe herself in a veil and
petticoat of silk, she considers that she has gained the _acme_ of
respectability. The streets of the city of Valetta are extremely
narrow, and the houses high; a great advantage in such a climate, as
it ensures shade, while, as they generally run at right angles, they
obtain all the breeze that is to be had.

The appearance of our hotel was prepossessing. We entered through a
wide gateway into a hall opening upon a small court, in the centre of
which stood a large vase, very well sculptured, from the stone of the
island, and filled with flowers. A wide handsome staircase, also of
stone, with richly-carved balustrades, and adorned with statues and
vases, conducted us to a gallery, two sides of which were open, and
the other two closed, running round the court-yard, and affording
entrance to very good apartments. Every thing was perfectly clean;
the bedsteads of iron, furnished with mosquito-curtains; and we were
supplied immediately with every article that we required.

As the rolling of the _Megara_ had prevented the possibility
of forming a sentence, we sat down to write letters, and having
despatched a few of the introductions to residents, with which my
friends in England had supplied me, I was agreeably surprised by some
visits which I had scarcely expected, as we found that we should be
obliged to embark for Alexandria in the evening.

I did not hear very flattering accounts of the state of society at
Malta, which, like that of all other confined places, is split into
factions, and where there seems to be a perpetual struggle, by the
least fortunate classes, to assert equality with those whose rank is
acknowledged; thus every person attached to the government assumes
eligibility for the _entre_ into the best circles, while the
magnates of the place are by no means inclined to admit them to these
privileges. It appeared that the endeavours of the Commissioner to
produce a greater degree of cordiality between the Maltese inhabitants
and the English residents, so far from succeeding, had tended to
widen the distance between them, and that the Maltese were by no means
grateful for the efforts made for their improvement. However, though
the fruits may not at present appear, the seed having been sown, we
may entertain a strong hope that they will show themselves in time.

While an undertaking so gigantic as the diffusion of the English
language throughout India has been attempted, it seems rather
extraordinary that the efforts of the committee should not have
been directed to the same result in Malta, and that the progress of
education should not have been conducted in the language that promised
to prove the most useful to subjects of the British crown; but it
appears that the committee decided otherwise, and complaints are
making, that the instruction now supplied at the schools is of the
most superficial nature, and by no means calculated to produce the
desired end.

Every object in Malta bears witness to the ingenuity and industry of
its inhabitants. The softness of the stone renders it easily cut, and
the Dowager Marchioness of Hastings (who has left imperishable marks
of her desire to benefit those who came under her observation), in
supplying the best designs, has filled the shops of Malta with a
tasteful species of _bijouterie_, which is eagerly sought after by
all the visitors. The carved work of Malta is sold very cheap; but the
same quality, which renders it so easily cut, occasions it to chip,
and, therefore, great care is necessary in packing these fragile

As soon as possible, we sallied forth to inspect the far-famed church
of St. John, and found our expectations more than gratified by the
interior of this gorgeous edifice. It was not, however, without
melancholy feelings, that we reflected on the miserable remnant of
those valiant knights, who had made Malta celebrated throughout all
history, and who, on the suppression of the order, were suffered to
languish out the remainder of their existence in obscurity. Mass was

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