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Travels Through France And Italy

Part 2 out of 8

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winter: but I had many inducements to leave England. My wife
earnestly begged I would convey her from a country where every
object served to nourish her grief: I was in hopes that a
succession of new scenes would engage her attention, and
gradually call off her mind from a series of painful reflections;
and I imagined the change of air, and a journey of near a
thousand miles, would have a happy effect upon my own
constitution. But, as the summer was already advanced, and the
heat too excessive for travelling in warm climates, I proposed
staying at Boulogne till the beginning of autumn, and in the mean
time to bathe in the sea, with a view to strengthen and prepare
my body for the fatigues of such a long journey.

A man who travels with a family of five persons, must lay his
account with a number of mortifications; and some of these I have
already happily overcome. Though I was well acquainted with the
road to Dover, and made allowances accordingly, I could not help
being chagrined at the bad accommodation and impudent imposition
to which I was exposed. These I found the more disagreeable, as
we were detained a day extraordinary on the road, in consequence
of my wife's being indisposed.

I need not tell you this is the worst road in England with
respect to the conveniences of travelling, and must certainly
impress foreigners with an unfavourable opinion of the nation in
general. The chambers are in general cold and comfortless, the
beds paultry, the cookery execrable, the wine poison, the
attendance bad, the publicans insolent, and the bills extortion;
there is not a drop of tolerable malt liquor to be had from
London to Dover.

Every landlord and every waiter harangued upon the knavery of a
publican in Canterbury, who had charged the French ambassador
forty pounds for a supper that was not worth forty shillings.
They talked much of honesty and conscience; but when they
produced their own bills, they appeared to be all of the same
family and complexion. If it was a reproach upon the English
nation, that an innkeeper should pillage strangers at that rate;
it is a greater scandal, that the same fellow should be able to
keep his house still open. I own, I think it would be for the
honour of the kingdom to reform the abuses of this road; and in
particular to improve the avenue to London by the way of Kent-Street,
which is a most disgraceful entrance to such an opulent
city. A foreigner, in passing through this beggarly and ruinous
suburb, conceives such an idea of misery and meanness, as all the
wealth and magnificence of London and Westminster are afterwards
unable to destroy. A friend of mine, who brought a Parisian from
Dover in his own post-chaise, contrived to enter Southwark after
it was dark, that his friend might not perceive the nakedness of
this quarter. The stranger was much pleased with the great number
of shops full of merchandize, lighted up to the best advantage.
He was astonished at the display of riches in Lombard-Street and
Cheapside. The badness of the pavement made him find the streets
twice as long as they were. They alighted in Upper Brook-Street
by Grosvenor-Square; and when his conductor told him they were
then about the middle of London, the Frenchman declared, with
marks of infinite surprize, that London was very near as long as

On my arrival at Dover I payed off my coachman, who went away
with a heavy heart. He wanted much to cross the sea, and
endeavoured to persuade me to carry the coach and horses to the
other side. If I had been resolved to set out immediately for the
South, perhaps I should have taken his advice. If I had retained
him at the rate of twenty guineas per month, which was the price
he demanded, and begun my journey without hesitation, I should
travel more agreeably than I can expect to do in the carriages of
this country; and the difference of the expence would be a mere
trifle. I would advise every man who travels through France to
bring his own vehicle along with him, or at least to purchase one
at Calais or Boulogne, where second-hand berlins and chaises may
be generally had at reasonable rates. I have been offered a very
good berlin for thirty guineas: but before I make the purchase, I
must be better informed touching the different methods of
travelling in this country.

Dover is commonly termed a den of thieves; and I am afraid it is
not altogether without reason, it has acquired this appellation.
The people are said to live by piracy in time of war; and by
smuggling and fleecing strangers in time of peace: but I will do
them the justice to say, they make no distinction between
foreigners and natives. Without all doubt a man cannot be much
worse lodged and worse treated in any part of Europe; nor will he
in any other place meet with more flagrant instances of fraud,
imposition, and brutality. One would imagine they had formed a
general conspiracy against all those who either go to, or return
from the continent. About five years ago, in my passage from
Flushing to Dover, the master of the packet-boat brought-to all
of a sudden off the South Foreland, although the wind was as
favourable as it could blow. He was immediately boarded by a
customhouse boat, the officer of which appeared to be his friend.
He then gave the passengers to understand, that as it was low
water, the ship could not go into the harbour; but that the boat
would carry them ashore with their baggage.

The custom-house officer demanded a guinea for this service, and
the bargain was made. Before we quitted the ship, we were obliged
to gratify the cabin-boy for his attendance, and to give drink-money
to the sailors. The boat was run aground on the open beach;
but we could not get ashore without the assistance of three or
four fellows, who insisted upon being paid for their trouble.
Every parcel and bundle, as it was landed, was snatched up by a
separate porter: one ran away with a hat-box, another with a wig-box,
a third with a couple of shirts tied up in a handkerchief,
and two were employed in carrying a small portmanteau that did
not weigh forty pounds. All our things were hurried to the
custom-house to be searched, and the searcher was paid for
disordering our cloaths: from thence they were removed to the
inn, where the porters demanded half-a-crown each for their
labour. It was in vain to expostulate; they surrounded the house
like a pack of hungry bounds, and raised such a clamour, that we
were fain to comply. After we had undergone all this imposition,
we were visited by the master of the packet, who, having taken
our fares, and wished us joy of our happy arrival in England,
expressed his hope that we would remember the poor master, whose
wages were very small, and who chiefly depended upon the
generosity of the passengers. I own I was shocked at his
meanness, and could not help telling him so. I told him, I could
not conceive what title he had to any such gratification: he had
sixteen passengers, who paid a guinea each, on the supposition
that every person should have a bed; but there were no more than
eight beds in the cabin, and each of these was occupied before I
came on board; so that if we had been detained at sea a whole
week by contrary winds and bad weather, one half of the
passengers must have slept upon the boards, howsoever their
health might have suffered from this want of accommodation.
Notwithstanding this check, he was so very abject and
importunate, that we gave him a crown a-piece, and he retired.

The first thing I did when I arrived at Dover this last time, was
to send for the master of a packet-boat, and agree with him to
carry us to Boulogne at once, by which means I saved the expence
of travelling by land from Calais to this last place, a journey
of four-and-twenty miles. The hire of a vessel from Dover to
Boulogne is precisely the same as from Dover to Calais, five
guineas; but this skipper demanded eight, and, as I did not know
the fare, I agreed to give him six. We embarked between six and
seven in the evening, and found ourselves in a most wretched
hovel, on board what is called a Folkstone cutter. The cabin was
so small that a dog could hardly turn in it, and the beds put me
in mind of the holes described in some catacombs, in which the
bodies of the dead were deposited, being thrust in with the feet
foremost; there was no getting into them but end-ways, and indeed
they seemed so dirty, that nothing but extreme necessity could
have obliged me to use them. We sat up all night in a most
uncomfortable situation, tossed about by the sea, cold, arid
cramped and weary, and languishing for want of sleep. At three in
the morning the master came down, and told us we were just off
the harbour of Boulogne; but the wind blowing off shore, he could
not possibly enter, and therefore advised us to go ashore in the
boat. I went upon deck to view the coast, when he pointed to the
place where he said Boulogne stood, declaring at the same time we
were within a short mile of the harbour's mouth. The morning was
cold and raw, and I knew myself extremely subject to catch cold;
nevertheless we were all so impatient to be ashore, that I
resolved to take his advice. The boat was already hoisted out,
and we went on board of it, after I had paid the captain and
gratified his crew. We had scarce parted from the ship, when we
perceived a boat coming towards us from the shore; and the master
gave us to understand, it was coming to carry us into the
harbour. When I objected to the trouble of shifting from one boat
to another in the open sea, which (by the bye) was a little
rough; he said it was a privilege which the watermen of Boulogne
had, to carry all passengers ashore, and that this privilege he
durst not venture to infringe. This was no time nor place to
remonstrate. The French boat came alongside half filled with
water, and we were handed from the one to the other. We were then
obliged to lie upon our oars, till the captain's boat went on
board and returned from the ship with a packet of letters. We
were afterwards rowed a long league, in a rough sea, against wind
and tide, before we reached the harbour, where we landed,
benumbed with cold, and the women excessively sick: from our
landing-place we were obliged to walk very near a mile to the inn
where we purposed to lodge, attended by six or seven men and
women, bare-legged, carrying our baggage. This boat cost me a
guinea, besides paying exorbitantly the people who carried our
things; so that the inhabitants of Dover and of Boulogne seem to
be of the same kidney, and indeed they understand one another
perfectly well. It was our honest captain who made the signal for
the shore-boat before I went upon deck; by which means he not
only gratified his friends, the watermen of Boulogne, but also
saved about fifteen shillings portage, which he must have paid
had he gone into the harbour; and thus he found himself at
liberty to return to Dover, which he reached in four hours. I
mention these circumstances as a warning to other passengers.
When a man hires a packet-boat from Dover to Calais or Boulogne,
let him remember that the stated price is five guineas; and let
him insist upon being carried into the harbour in the ship,
without paying the least regard to the representations of the
master, who is generally a little dirty knave. When he tells you
it is low water, or the wind is in your teeth, you may say you
will stay on board till it is high water, or till the wind comes
favourable. If he sees you are resolute, he will find means to
bring his ship into the harbour, or at least to convince you,
without a possibility of your being deceived, that it is not in
his power. After all, the fellow himself was a loser by his
finesse; if he had gone into the harbour, he would have had
another fare immediately back to Dover, for there was a Scotch
gentleman at the inn waiting for such an opportunity.

Knowing my own weak constitution, I took it for granted this
morning's adventure would cost me a fit of illness; and what
added to my chagrin, when we arrived at the inn, all the beds
were occupied; so that we were obliged to sit in a cold kitchen
above two hours, until some of the lodgers should get up. This
was such a bad specimen of French accommodation, that my wife
could not help regretting even the inns of Rochester,
Sittingbourn, and Canterbury: bad as they are, they certainly
have the advantage, when compared with the execrable auberges of
this country, where one finds nothing but dirt and imposition.
One would imagine the French were still at war with the English,
for they pillage them without mercy.

Among the strangers at this inn where we lodged, there was a
gentleman of the faculty, just returned from Italy. Understanding
that I intended to winter in the South of France, on account of a
pulmonic disorder, he strongly recommended the climate of Nice in
Provence, which, indeed, I had often heard extolled; and I am
almost resolved to go thither, not only for the sake of the air,
but also for its situation on the Mediterranean, where I can have
the benefit of bathing; and from whence there is a short cut by
sea to Italy, should I find it necessary to try the air of

After having been ill accommodated three days at our inn, we have
at last found commodious lodgings, by means of Mrs. B-, a very
agreeable French lady, to whom we were recommended by her
husband, who is my countryman, and at present resident in London.
For three guineas a month we have the greatest part of a house
tolerably furnished; four bed-chambers on the first floor, a
large parlour below, a kitchen, and the use of a cellar.

These, I own, are frivolous incidents, scarce worth committing to
paper; but they may serve to introduce observations of more
consequence; and in the mean time I know nothing will be
indifferent to you, that concerns--Your humble servant.


BOULOGNE SUR MER, July 15, 1763.

DEAR SIR,--The custom-house officers at Boulogne, though as
alert, are rather more civil than those on your side of the
water. I brought no plate along with me, but a dozen and a half
of spoons, and a dozen teaspoons: the first being found in one of
our portmanteaus, when they were examined at the bureau, cost me
seventeen livres entree; the others being luckily in my servant's
pocket, escaped duty free. All wrought silver imported into
France, pays at the rate of so much per mark: therefore those who
have any quantity of plate, will do well to leave it behind them,
unless they can confide in the dexterity of the shipmasters; some
of whom will undertake to land it without the ceremony of
examination. The ordonnances of France are so unfavourable to
strangers, that they oblige them to pay at the rate of five per
cent. for all the bed and table linen which they bring into the
kingdom, even though it has been used. When my trunks arrived in
a ship from the river Thames, I underwent this ordeal: but what
gives me more vexation, my books have been stopped at the bureau;
and will be sent to Amiens at my expence, to be examined by the
chambre syndicale; lest they should contain something prejudicial
to the state, or to the religion of the country. This is a
species of oppression which one would not expect to meet with in
France, which piques itself on its politeness and hospitality:
but the truth is, I know no country in which strangers are worse
treated with respect to their essential concerns. If a foreigner
dies in France, the king seizes all his effects, even though his
heir should be upon the spot; and this tyranny is called the
droit d'aubaine founded at first upon the supposition, that all
the estate of foreigners residing in France was acquired in that
kingdom, and that, therefore, it would be unjust to convey it to
another country. If an English protestant goes to France for the
benefit of his health, attended by his wife or his son, or both,
and dies with effects in the house to the amount of a thousand
guineas, the king seizes the whole, the family is left destitute,
and the body of the deceased is denied christian burial. The
Swiss, by capitulation, are exempted from this despotism, and so
are the Scots, in consequence of an ancient alliance between the
two nations. The same droit d'aubaine is exacted by some of the
princes in Germany: but it is a great discouragement to commerce,
and prejudices every country where it is exercised, to ten times
the value of what it brings into the coffers of the sovereign.

I am exceedingly mortified at the detention of my books, which
not only deprives me of an amusement which I can very ill
dispense with; but, in all probability, will expose me to sundry
other inconveniencies. I must be at the expence of sending them
sixty miles to be examined, and run the risque of their being
condemned; and, in the mean time, I may lose the opportunity of
sending them with my heavy baggage by sea to Bourdeaux, to be
sent up the Garonne to Tholouse, and from thence transmitted
through the canal of Languedoc to Cette, which is a sea-port on
the Mediterranean, about three or four leagues from Montpelier.

For the recovery of my books, I had recourse to the advice of my
landlord, Mons. B--. He is a handsome young fellow, about twenty-five
years of age, and keeps house with two maiden sisters, who
are professed devotees. The brother is a little libertine, good
natured and obliging; but a true Frenchman in vanity, which is
undoubtedly the ruling passion of this volatile people. He has an
inconsiderable place under the government, in consequence of
which he is permitted to wear a sword, a privilege which he does
not fail to use. He is likewise receiver of the tythes of the
clergy in this district, an office that gives him a command of
money, and he, moreover, deals in the wine trade. When I came to
his house, he made a parade of all these advantages: he displayed
his bags of money, and some old gold which his father had left
him. He described his chateau in the country; dropped hints of
the fortunes that were settled upon mademoiselles his sisters;
boasted of his connexions at court; and assured me it was not for
my money that he let his lodgings, but altogether with a view to
enjoy the pleasure of my company. The truth, when stript of all
embellishments, is this: the sieur B-- is the son of an honest
bourgeois lately dead, who left him the house, with some stock in
trade, a little money, and a paltry farm: his sisters have about
three thousand livres (not quite 140 L) apiece; the brother's
places are worth about fifty pounds a year, and his connexions at
court are confined to a commis or clerk in the secretary's
office, with whom he corresponds by virtue of his employment. My
landlord piques himself upon his gallantry and success with the
fair-sex: he keeps a fille de joye, and makes no secret of his
amours. He told miss C-- the other day, in broken English, that,
in the course of the last year, he had made six bastards. He
owned, at the same time, he had sent them all to the hospital;
but, now his father is dead, he would himself take care of his
future productions. This, however, was no better than a
gasconade. Yesterday the house was in a hot alarm, on account of
a new windfall of this kind: the sisters were in tears; the
brother was visited by the cure of the parish; the lady in the
straw (a sempstress) sent him the bantling in a basket, and he
transmitted it by the carriers to the Enfans trouves at Paris.

But to return from this digression: Mr. B-- advised me to send a
requete or petition to the chancellor of France, that I might
obtain an order to have my books examined on the spot, by the
president of Boulogne, or the procureur du roy, or the sub-delegate
of the intendance. He recommended an advocat of his
acquaintance to draw up the memoire, and introduced him
accordingly; telling me at the same time, in private, that if he
was not a drunkard, he would be at the head of his profession. He
had indeed all the outward signs of a sot; a sleepy eye, a
rubicund face, and carbuncled nose. He seemed to be a little out
at elbows, had marvellous foul linen, and his breeches were not
very sound: but he assumed an air of importance, was very
courteous, and very solemn. I asked him if he did not sometimes
divert himself with the muse: he smiled, and promised, in a
whisper, to shew me some chansonettes de sa facon. Meanwhile he
composed the requete in my name, which was very pompous, very
tedious, and very abject. Such a stile might perhaps be necessary
in a native of France; but I did not think it was at all suitable
to a subject of Great-Britain. I thanked him for the trouble he
had taken, as he would receive no other gratification; but when
my landlord proposed to send the memoire to his correspondent at
Paris, to be delivered to the chancellor, I told him I had
changed my mind, and would apply to the English ambassador. I
have accordingly taken the liberty to address myself to the earl
of H--; and at the same time I have presumed to write to the
duchess of D--, who is now at Paris, to entreat her grace's
advice and interposition. What effect these applications may
have, I know not: but the sieur B-- shakes his head, and has told
my servant, in confidence, that I am mistaken if I think the
English ambassador is as great a man at Paris as the chancellor
of France.

I ought to make an apology for troubling you with such an
unentertaining detail, and consider that the detention of my
books must be a matter of very little consequence to any body,
but to--Your affectionate humble servant.


BOULOGNE, August 15, 1763.

SIR--I am much obliged to you for your kind enquiries after my
health, which has been lately in a very declining condition. In
consequence of a cold, caught a few days after my arrival in
France, I was seized with a violent cough, attended with a fever,
and stitches in my breast, which tormented me all night long
without ceasing. At the same time I had a great discharge by
expectoration, and such a dejection of spirits as I never felt
before. In this situation I took a step which may appear to have
been desperate. I knew there was no imposthume in my lungs, and I
supposed the stitches were spasmodical. I was sensible that all
my complaints were originally derived from relaxation. I
therefore hired a chaise, and going to the beach, about a league
from the town, plunged into the sea without hesitation. By this
desperate remedy, I got a fresh cold in my head: but my stitches
and fever vanished the very first day; and by a daily repetition
of the bath, I have diminished my cough, strengthened my body,
and recovered my spirits. I believe I should have tried the same
experiment, even if there had been an abscess in my lungs, though
such practice would have been contrary to all the rules of
medicine: but I am not one of those who implicitly believe in all
the dogmata of physic. I saw one of the guides at Bath, the
stoutest fellow among them, who recovered from the last stage of
a consumption, by going into the king's bath, contrary to the
express injunction of his doctor. He said, if he must die, the
sooner the better, as he had nothing left for his subsistence.
Instead of immediate death, he found instant case, and continued
mending every day, till his health was entirely re-established. I
myself drank the waters of Bath, and bathed, in diametrical
opposition to the opinion of some physicians there settled, and
found myself better every day, notwithstanding their unfavourable
prognostic. If I had been of the rigid fibre, full of blood,
subject to inflammation, I should have followed a different
course. Our acquaintance, doctor C--, while he actually spit
up matter, and rode out every day for his life, led his horse
to water, at the pond in Hyde-Park, one cold frosty morning,
and the beast, which happened to be of a hot constitution,
plunged himself and his master over head and ears in the water.
The poor doctor hastened home, half dead with fear, and
was put to bed in the apprehension of a new imposthume; instead
of which, he found himself exceedingly recruited in his spirits,
and his appetite much mended. I advised him to take the
hint, and go into the cold bath every morning; but he did not
chuse to run any risque. How cold water comes to be such a
bugbear, I know not: if I am not mistaken, Hippocrates recommends
immersion in cold water for the gout; and Celsus expressly says,
in omni tussi utilis est natatio: in every cough swimming is of

I have conversed with a physician of this place, a sensible man,
who assured me he was reduced to meer skin and bone by a cough
and hectic fever, when he ordered a bath to be made in his own
house, and dipped himself in cold water every morning. He at the
same time left off drinking and swallowing any liquid that was
warm. He is now strong and lusty, and even in winter has no other
cover than a single sheet. His notions about the warm drink were
a little whimsical: he imagined it relaxed the tone of the
stomach; and this would undoubtedly be the case if it was drank
in large quantities, warmer than the natural temperature of the
blood. He alledged the example of the inhabitants of the Ladrone
islands, who never taste any thing that is not cold, and are
remarkably healthy. But to balance this argument I mentioned the
Chinese, who scarce drink any thing but warm tea; and the
Laplanders, who drink nothing but warm water; yet the people of
both these nations are remarkably strong, healthy, and long-lived.

You desire to know the fate of my books. My lord H--d is not yet
come to France; but my letter was transmitted to him from Paris;
and his lordship, with that generous humanity which is peculiar
to his character, has done me the honour to assure me, under his
own hand, that he has directed Mr. N--lle, our resident at Paris,
to apply for an order that my books may be restored.

I have met with another piece of good fortune, in being
introduced to general Paterson and his lady, in their way to
England from Nice, where the general has been many years
commandant for the king of Sardinia. You must have heard of this
gentleman, who has not only eminently distinguished himself, by
his courage and conduct as an officer; but also by his probity
and humanity in the exercise, of his office, and by his
remarkable hospitality to all strangers, especially the subjects
of Great-Britain, whose occasions called them to the place where
he commanded. Being pretty far advanced in years, he begged leave
to resign, that he might spend the evening of his days in his own
country; and his Sardinian majesty granted his request with
regret, after having honoured him with very particular marks of
approbation and esteem. The general talks so favourably of the
climate of Nice, with respect to disorders of the breast, that I
am now determined to go thither. It would have been happy for me
had he continued in his government. I think myself still very
fortunate, in having obtained of him a letter of recommendation
to the English consul at Nice, together with directions how to
travel through the South of France. I propose to begin my journey
some time next month, when the weather will be temperate to the
southward; and in the wine countries I shall have the pleasure of
seeing the vintage, which is always a season of festivity among
all ranks of people.

You have been very much mis-informed, by the person who compared
Boulogne to Wapping: he did a manifest injustice to this place
which is a large agreeable town, with broad open streets,
excellently paved; and the houses are of stone, well built and
commodious. The number of inhabitants may amount to sixteen
thousand. You know this was generally supposed to be the portus
Itius, and Gessoriacum of the antients: though it is now believed
that the portus Itius, from whence Caesar sailed to Britain, is a
place called Whitsand, about half way between this place and
Calais. Boulogne is the capital of the Boulonnois, a district
extending about twelve leagues, ruled by a governor independent
of the governor of Picardy; of which province, however, this
country forms a part. The present governor is the duc d'Aumout.
The town of Boulogne is the see of a bishop suffragan of Rheims,
whose revenue amounts to about four-and-twenty thousand livres,
or one thousand pounds sterling. It is also the seat of a
seneschal's court, from whence an appeal lies to the parliament
of Paris; and thither all condemned criminals are sent, to have
their sentence confirmed or reversed. Here is likewise a
bailiwick, and a court of admiralty. The military jurisdiction of
the city belongs to a commandant appointed by the king, a sort of
sinecure bestowed upon some old officer. His appointments are
very inconsiderable: he resides in the Upper Town, and his
garrison at present consists of a few hundreds of invalids.

Boulogne is divided into the Upper and Lower Towns. The former is
a kind of citadel, about a short mile in circumference, situated
on a rising ground, surrounded by a high wall and rampart,
planted with rows of trees, which form a delightful walk. It
commands a fine view of the country and Lower Town; and in clear
weather the coast of England, from Dover to Folkstone, appears so
plain, that one would imagine it was within four or five leagues
of the French shore. The Upper Town was formerly fortified with
outworks, which are now in ruins. Here is a square, a town-house,
the cathedral, and two or three convents of nuns; in one of which
there are several English girls, sent hither for their education.
The smallness of the expence encourages parents to send their
children abroad to these seminaries, where they learn scarce any
thing that is useful but the French language; but they never fail
to imbibe prejudices against the protestant religion, and
generally return enthusiastic converts to the religion of Rome.
This conversion always generates a contempt for, and often an
aversion to, their own country. Indeed it cannot reasonably be
expected that people of weak minds, addicted to superstition,
should either love or esteem those whom they are taught to
consider as reprobated heretics. Ten pounds a year is the usual
pension in these convents; but I have been informed by a French
lady who had her education in one of them, that nothing can be
more wretched than their entertainment.

The civil magistracy of Boulogne consists of a mayor and
echevins; and this is the case in almost all the towns of France.

The Lower Town is continued from the gate of the Upper Town, down
the slope of a hill, as far as the harbour, stretching on both
sides to a large extent, and is much more considerable than the
Upper, with respect to the beauty of the streets, the convenience
of the houses, and the number and wealth of the inhabitants.
These, however, are all merchants, or bourgeoise, for the
noblesse or gentry live all together in the Upper Town, and never
mix with the others. The harbour of Boulogne is at the mouth of
the small river, or rather rivulet Liane, which is so shallow,
that the children wade through it at low water. As the tide
makes, the sea flows in, and forms a pretty extensive harbour,
which, however, admits nothing but small vessels. It is
contracted at the mouth by two stone jetties or piers, which seem
to have been constructed by some engineer, very little acquainted
with this branch of his profession; for they are carried out in
such a manner, as to collect a bank of sand just at the entrance
of the harbour. The road is very open and unsafe, and the surf
very high when the wind blows from the sea. There is no
fortification near the harbour, except a paltry fort mounting
about twenty guns, built in the last war by the prince de Cruy,
upon a rock about a league to the eastward of Boulogne. It
appears to be situated in such a manner, that it can neither
offend, nor be offended. If the depth of water would admit a
forty or fifty gun ship to lie within cannon-shot of it, I
apprehend it might be silenced in half an hour; but, in all
probability, there will be no vestiges of it at the next rupture
between the two crowns. It is surrounded every day by the sea, at
high water; and when it blows a fresh gale towards the shore, the
waves break over the top of it, to the terror and astonishment of
the garrison, who have been often heard crying piteously for
assistance. I am persuaded, that it will one day disappear in the
twinkling of an eye. The neighbourhood of this fort, which is a
smooth sandy beach, I have chosen for my bathing place. The road
to it is agreeable and romantic, lying through pleasant
cornfields, skirted by open downs, where there is a rabbit
warren, and great plenty of the birds so much admired at
Tunbridge under the name of wheat-ears. By the bye, this is a
pleasant corruption of white-a-se, the translation of their
French name cul-blanc, taken from their colour for they are
actually white towards the tail.

Upon the top of a high rock, which overlooks the harbour, are the
remains of an old fortification, which is indiscriminately
called, Tour d'ordre, and Julius Caesar's fort. The original
tower was a light-house built by Claudius Caesar, denominated
Turris ardens, from the fire burned in it; and this the French
have corrupted into Tour d'ordre; but no vestiges of this Roman
work remain; what we now see, are the ruins of a castle built by
Charlemagne. I know of no other antiquity at Boulogne, except an
old vault in the Upper Town, now used as a magazine, which is
said to be part of an antient temple dedicated to Isis.

On the other side of the harbour, opposite to the Lower Town,
there is a house built, at a considerable expence, by a general
officer, who lost his life in the late war. Never was situation
more inconvenient, unpleasant, and unhealthy. It stands on the
edge of an ugly morass formed by the stagnant water left by the
tide in its retreat: the very walks of the garden are so moist,
that, in the driest weather, no person can make a tour of it,
without danger of the rheumatism. Besides, the house is
altogether inaccessible, except at low water, and even then the
carriage must cross the harbour, the wheels up to the axle-tree
in mud: nay, the tide rushes in so fast, that unless you seize
the time to a minute, you will be in danger of perishing. The
apartments of this house are elegantly fitted up, but very small;
and the garden, notwithstanding its unfavourable situation,
affords a great quantity of good fruit. The ooze, impregnated
with sea salt, produces, on this side of the harbour, an
incredible quantity of the finest samphire I ever saw. The French
call it passe-pierre; and I suspect its English name is a
corruption of sang-pierre. It is generally found on the faces of
bare rocks that overhang the sea, by the spray of which it is
nourished. As it grew upon a naked rock, without any appearance
of soil, it might be naturally enough called sang du pierre, or
sangpierre, blood of the rock; and hence the name samphire. On
the same side of the harbour there is another new house, neatly
built, belonging to a gentleman who has obtained a grant from the
king of some ground which was always overflowed at high water. He
has raised dykes at a considerable expence, to exclude the tide,
and if he can bring his project to bear, he will not only gain a
good estate for himself, but also improve the harbour, by
increasing the depth at high-water.

In the Lower Town of Boulogne there are several religious houses,
particularly a seminary, a convent of Cordeliers, and another of
Capuchins. This last, having fallen to decay, was some years ago
repaired, chiefly by the charity of British travellers, collected
by father Graeme, a native of North-Britain, who had been an
officer in the army of king James II. and is said to have turned
monk of this mendicant order, by way of voluntary penance, for
having killed his friend in a duel. Be that as it may, he was a
well-bred, sensible man, of a very exemplary life and
conversation; and his memory is much revered in this place. Being
superior of the convent, he caused the British arms to be put up
in the church, as a mark of gratitude for the benefactions
received from our nation. I often walk in the garden of the
convent, the walls of which are washed by the sea at high-water.
At the bottom of the garden is a little private grove, separated
from it by a high wall, with a door of communication; and hither
the Capuchins retire, when they are disposed for contemplation.
About two years ago, this place was said to be converted to a
very different use. There was among the monks one pere Charles, a
lusty friar, of whom the people tell strange stories. Some young
women of the town were seen mounting over the wall, by a ladder
of ropes, in the dusk of the evening; and there was an unusual
crop of bastards that season. In short, pere Charles and his
companions gave such scandal, that the whole fraternity was
changed; and now the nest is occupied by another flight of these
birds of passage. If one of our privateers had kidnapped a
Capuchin during the war, and exhibited him, in his habit, as a
shew in London, he would have proved a good prize to the captors;
for I know not a more uncouth and grotesque animal, than an old
Capuchin in the habit of his order. A friend of mine (a Swiss
officer) told me, that a peasant in his country used to weep
bitterly, whenever a certain Capuchin mounted the pulpit to hold
forth to the people. The good father took notice of this man, and
believed he was touched by the finger of the Lord. He exhorted
him to encourage these accessions of grace, and at the same time
to be of good comfort, as having received such marks of the
divine favour. The man still continued to weep, as before, every
time the monk preached; and at last the Capuchin insisted upon
knowing what it was, in his discourse or appearance, that made
such an impression upon his heart "Ah, father! (cried the
peasant) I never see you but I think of a venerable goat, which I
lost at Easter. We were bred up together in the same family. He
was the very picture of your reverence--one would swear you were
brothers. Poor Baudouin! he died of a fall--rest his soul! I
would willingly pay for a couple of masses to pray him out of

Among other public edifices at Boulogne, there is an hospital, or
workhouse, which seems to be established upon a very good
foundation. It maintains several hundreds of poor people, who are
kept constantly at work, according to their age and abilities, in
making thread, all sorts of lace, a kind of catgut, and in
knitting stockings. It is under the direction of the bishop; and
the see is at present filled by a prelate of great piety and
benevolence, though a little inclining to bigotry and fanaticism.
The churches in this town are but indifferently built, and poorly
ornamented. There is not one picture in the place worth looking
at, nor indeed does there seem to be the least taste for the
liberal arts.

In my next, I shall endeavour to satisfy you in the other
articles you desire to know. Mean-while, I am ever--Yours.


BOULOGNE, September 1, 1763.

SIR,--I am infinitely obliged to D. H-- for the favourable manner
in which he has mentioned me to the earl of H-- I have at last
recovered my books, by virtue of a particular order to the
director of the douane, procured by the application of the
English resident to the French ministry. I am now preparing for
my long journey; but, before I leave this place, I shall send you
the packet I mentioned, by Meriton. Mean-while I must fulfil my
promise in communicating
the observations I have had occasion to make upon this town and

The air of Boulogne is cold and moist, and, I believe, of
consequence unhealthy. Last winter the frost, which continued six
weeks in London, lasted here eight weeks without intermission;
and the cold was so intense, that, in the garden of the
Capuchins, it split the bark of several elms from top to bottom.
On our arrival here we found all kinds of fruit more backward
than in England. The frost, in its progress to Britain, is much
weakened in crossing the sea. The atmosphere, impregnated with
saline particles, resists the operation of freezing. Hence, in
severe winters, all places near the sea-side are less cold than
more inland districts. This is the reason why the winter is often
more mild at Edinburgh than at London. A very great degree of
cold is required to freeze salt water. Indeed it will not freeze
at all, until it has deposited all its salt. It is now generally
allowed among philosophers, that water is no more than ice thawed
by heat, either solar, or subterranean, or both; and that this
heat being expelled, it would return to its natural consistence.
This being the case, nothing else is required for the freezing of
water, than a certain degree of cold, which may be generated by
the help of salt, or spirit of nitre, even under the line. I
would propose, therefore, that an apparatus of this sort should
be provided in every ship that goes to sea; and in case there
should be a deficiency of fresh water on board, the seawater may
be rendered potable, by being first converted into ice.

The air of Boulogne is not only loaded with a great evaporation
from the sea, increased by strong gales of wind from the West and
South-West, which blow almost continually during the greatest
part of the year; but it is also subject to putrid vapours,
arising from the low marshy ground in the neighbourhood of the
harbour, which is every tide overflowed with seawater. This may
be one cause of the scrofula and rickets, which are two
prevailing disorders among the children in Boulogne. But I
believe the former is more owing to the water used in the Lower
Town, which is very hard and unwholsome. It curdles with soap,
gives a red colour to the meat that is boiled in it, and, when
drank by strangers, never fails to occasion pains in the stomach
and bowels; nay, sometimes produces dysenteries. In all
appearance it is impregnated with nitre, if not with something
more mischievous: we know that mundic, or pyrites, very often
contains a proportion of arsenic, mixed with sulphur, vitriol,
and mercury. Perhaps it partakes of the acid of some coal mine;
for there are coal works in this district. There is a well of
purging water within a quarter of a mile of the Upper Town, to
which the inhabitants resort in the morning, as the people of
London go to the Dog-and-duck, in St. George's fields. There is
likewise a fountain of excellent water, hard by the cathedral, in
the Upper Town, from whence I am daily supplied at a small
expence. Some modern chemists affirm, that no saline chalybeate
waters can exist, except in the neighbourhood of coal damps; and
that nothing can be more mild, and gentle, and friendly to the
constitution, than the said damps: but I know that the place
where I was bred stands upon a zonic of coal; that the water
which the inhabitants generally use is hard and brackish; and
that the people are remarkably subject to the king's evil and
consumption. These I would impute to the bad water, impregnated
with the vitriol and brine of coal, as there is nothing in the
constitution of the air that should render such distempers
endemial. That the air of Boulogne encourages putrefaction,
appears from the effect it has upon butcher's meat, which, though
the season is remarkably cold, we can hardly keep four-and-twenty
hours in the coolest part of the house.

Living here is pretty reasonable; and the markets are tolerably
supplied. The beef is neither fat nor firm; but very good for
soup, which is the only use the French make of it. The veal is
not so white, nor so well fed, as the English veal; but it is
more juicy, and better tasted. The mutton and pork are very good.
We buy our poultry alive, and fatten them at home. Here are
excellent turkies, and no want of game: the hares, in particular,
are very large, juicy, and high-flavoured. The best part of the
fish caught on this coast is sent post to Paris, in chasse-marines,
by a company of contractors, like those of Hastings in
Sussex. Nevertheless, we have excellent soles, skaite, flounders
and whitings, and sometimes mackarel. The oysters are very large,
coarse, and rank. There is very little fish caught on the French
coast, because the shallows run a great way from the shore; and
the fish live chiefly in deep water: for this reason the
fishermen go a great way out to sea, sometimes even as far as the
coast of England. Notwithstanding all the haste the contractors
can make, their fish in the summer is very often spoiled before
it arrives at Paris; and this is not to be wondered at,
considering the length of the way, which is near one hundred and
fifty miles. At best it must be in such a mortified condition,
that no other people, except the negroes on the coast of Guinea,
would feed upon it.

The wine commonly drank at Boulogne comes from Auxerre, is very
small and meagre, and may be had from five to eight sols a
bottle; that is, from two-pence halfpenny to fourpence. The
French inhabitants drink no good wine; nor is there any to be
had, unless you have recourse to the British wine-merchants here
established, who deal in Bourdeaux wines, brought hither by sea
for the London market. I have very good claret from a friend, at
the rate of fifteen-pence sterling a bottle; and excellent small
beer as reasonable as in England. I don't believe there is a drop
of generous Burgundy in the place; and the aubergistes impose
upon us shamefully, when they charge it at two livres a bottle.
There is a small white wine, called preniac, which is very
agreeable and very cheap. All the brandy which I have seen in
Boulogne is new, fiery, and still-burnt. This is the trash which
the smugglers import into England: they have it for about ten-pence
a gallon. Butcher's meat is sold for five sols, or two-pence
halfpenny a pound, and the pound here consists of eighteen
ounces. I have a young turkey for thirty sols; a hare for four-and-twenty;
a couple of chickens for twenty sols, and a couple of
good soles for the same price. Before we left England, we were
told that there was no fruit in Boulogne; but we have found
ourselves agreeably disappointed in this particular. The place is
well supplied with strawberries, cherries, gooseberries,
corinths, peaches, apricots, and excellent pears. I have eaten
more fruit this season, than I have done for several years. There
are many well-cultivated gardens in the skirts of the town;
particularly one belonging to our friend Mrs. B--, where we often
drink tea in a charming summer-house built on a rising ground,
which commands a delightful prospect of the sea. We have many
obligations to this good lady, who is a kind neighbour, an
obliging friend, and a most agreeable companion: she speaks
English prettily, and is greatly attached to the people and the
customs of our nation. They use wood for their common fewel,
though, if I were to live at Boulogne, I would mix it with coal,
which this country affords. Both the wood and the coal are
reasonable enough. I am certain that a man may keep house in
Boulogne for about one half of what it will cost him in London;
and this is said to be one of the dearest places in France.

The adjacent country is very agreeable, diversified with hill and
dale, corn-fields, woods, and meadows. There is a forest of a
considerable extent, that begins about a short league from the
Upper Town: it belongs to the king, and the wood is farmed to
different individuals.

In point of agriculture, the people in this neighbourhood seem to
have profited by the example of the English. Since I was last in
France, fifteen years ago, a good number of inclosures and
plantations have been made in the English fashion. There is a
good many tolerable country-houses, within a few miles of
Boulogne; but mostly empty. I was offered a compleat house, with
a garden of four acres well laid out, and two fields for grass or
hay, about a mile from the town, for four hundred livres, about
seventeen pounds a year: it is partly furnished, stands in an
agreeable situation, with a fine prospect of the sea, and was
lately occupied by a Scotch nobleman, who is in the service of

To judge from appearance, the people of Boulogne are descended
from the Flemings, who formerly possessed this country; for, a
great many of the present inhabitants have fine skins, fair hair,
and florid complexions; very different from the natives of France
in general, who are distinguished by black hair, brown skins, and
swarthy faces. The people of the Boulonnois enjoy some
extraordinary privileges, and, in particular, are exempted from
the gabelle or duties upon salt: how they deserved this mark of
favour, I do not know; but they seem to have a spirit of
independence among them, are very ferocious, and much addicted to
revenge. Many barbarous murders are committed, both in the town
and country; and the peasants, from motives of envy and
resentment, frequently set their neighbours' houses on fire.
Several instances of this kind have happened in the course of the
last year. The interruption which is given, in arbitrary
governments, to the administration of justice, by the
interposition of the great, has always a bad effect upon the
morals of the common people. The peasants too are often rendered
desperate and savage, by the misery they suffer from the
oppression and tyranny of their landlords. In this neighbourhood
the labouring people are ill lodged and wretchedly fed; and they
have no idea of cleanliness. There is a substantial burgher in
the High Town, who was some years ago convicted of a most
barbarous murder. He received sentence to be broke alive upon the
wheel; but was pardoned by the interposition of the governor of
the county, and carries on his business as usual in the face of
the whole community. A furious abbe, being refused orders by the
bishop, on account of his irregular life, took an opportunity to
stab the prelate with a knife, one Sunday, as he walked out of
the cathedral. The good bishop desired he might be permitted to
escape; but it was thought proper to punish, with the utmost
severity, such an atrocious attempt. He was accordingly
apprehended, and, though the wound was not mortal, condemned to
be broke. When this dreadful sentence was executed, he cried out,
that it was hard he should undergo such torments, for having
wounded a worthless priest, by whom he had been injured, while
such-a-one (naming the burgher mentioned above) lived in ease and
security, after having brutally murdered a poor man, and a
helpless woman big with child, who had not given him the least

The inhabitants of Boulogne may be divided into three classes;
the noblesse or gentry, the burghers, and the canaille. I don't
mention the clergy, and the people belonging to the law, because
I shall occasionally trouble you with my thoughts upon the
religion and ecclesiastics of this country; and as for the
lawyers, exclusive of their profession, they may be considered as
belonging to one or other of these divisions. The noblesse are
vain, proud, poor, and slothful. Very few of them have above six
thousand livres a year, which may amount to about two hundred and
fifty pounds sterling; and many of them have not half this
revenue. I think there is one heiress, said to be worth one
hundred thousand livres, about four thousand two hundred pounds;
but then her jewels, her cloaths, and even her linen, are
reckoned part of this fortune. The noblesse have not the common
sense to reside at their houses in the country, where, by farming
their own grounds, they might live at a small expence, and
improve their estates at the same time. They allow their country
houses to go to decay, and their gardens and fields to waste; and
reside in dark holes in the Upper Town of Boulogne without light,
air, or convenience. There they starve within doors,
that they may have wherewithal to purchase fine cloaths, and
appear dressed once a day in the church, or on the rampart. They
have no education, no taste for reading, no housewifery, nor
indeed any earthly occupation, but that of dressing their hair,
and adorning their bodies. They hate walking, and would never go
abroad, if they were not stimulated by the vanity of being seen.
I ought to except indeed those who turn devotees, and spend the
greatest part of their time with the priest, either at church or
in their own houses. Other amusements they have none in this
place, except private parties of card-playing, which are far from
being expensive. Nothing can be more parsimonious than the
oeconomy of these people: they live upon soupe and bouille, fish
and sallad: they never think of giving dinners, or entertaining
their friends; they even save the expence of coffee and tea,
though both are very cheap at Boulogne. They presume that every
person drinks coffee at home, immediately after dinner, which is
always over by one o'clock; and, in lieu of tea in the afternoon,
they treat with a glass of sherbet, or capillaire. In a word, I
know not a more insignificant set of mortals than the noblesse of
Boulogne; helpless in themselves, and useless to the community;
without dignity, sense, or sentiment; contemptible from pride.
and ridiculous from vanity. They pretend to be jealous of their
rank, and will entertain no correspondence with the merchants,
whom they term plebeians. They likewise keep at a great distance
from strangers, on pretence of a delicacy in the article of
punctilio: but, as I am informed, this stateliness is in a great
measure affected, in order to conceal their poverty, which would
appear to greater disadvantage, if they admitted of a more
familiar communication. Considering the vivacity of the French
people, one would imagine they could not possibly lead such an
insipid life, altogether unanimated by society, or diversion.
True it is, the only profane diversions of this place are a
puppet-show and a mountebank; but then their religion affords a
perpetual comedy. Their high masses, their feasts, their
processions, their pilgrimages, confessions, images, tapers,
robes, incense, benedictions, spectacles, representations, and
innumerable ceremonies, which revolve almost incessantly, furnish
a variety of entertainment from one end of the year to the other.
If superstition implies fear, never was a word more misapplied
than it is to the mummery of the religion of Rome. The people are
so far from being impressed with awe and religious terror by this
sort of machinery, that it amuses their imaginations in the most
agreeable manner, and keeps them always in good humour. A Roman
catholic longs as impatiently for the festival of St. Suaire, or
St. Croix, or St. Veronique, as a schoolboy in England for the
representation of punch and the devil; and there is generally as
much laughing at one farce as at the other. Even when the descent
from the cross is acted, in the holy week, with all the
circumstances that ought naturally to inspire the gravest
sentiments, if you cast your eyes among the multitude that croud
the place, you will not discover one melancholy face: all is
prattling, tittering, or laughing; and ten to one but you
perceive a number of them employed in hissing the female who
personates the Virgin Mary. And here it may not be amiss to
observe, that the Roman catholics, not content with the infinite
number of saints who really existed, have not only personified
the cross, but made two female saints out of a piece of linen.
Veronique, or Veronica, is no other than a corruption of vera
icon, or vera effigies, said to be the exact representation of
our Saviour's face, impressed upon a piece of linen, with which
he wiped the sweat from his forehead in his way to the place of
crucifixion. The same is worshipped under the name of St. Suaire,
from the Latin word sudarium. This same handkerchief is said to
have had three folds, on every one of which was the impression:
one of these remains at Jerusalem, a second was brought to Rome,
and a third was conveyed to Spain. Baronius says, there is a very
antient history of the
sancta facies in the Vatican. Tillemont, however, looks upon the
whole as a fable. Some suppose Veronica to be the same with St.
Haemorrhoissa, the patroness of those who are afflicted with the
piles, who make their joint invocations to her and St. Fiacre,
the son of a Scotch king, who lived and died a hermit in France.
The troops of Henry V. of England are said to have pillaged the
chapel of this Highland saint; who, in revenge, assisted his
countrymen, in the French service, to defeat the English at
Bauge, and afterwards afflicted Henry with the piles, of which he
died. This prince complained, that he was not only plagued by the
living Scots, but even persecuted by those who were dead.

I know not whether I may be allowed to compare the Romish
religion to comedy, and Calvinism to tragedy. The first amuses
the senses, and excites ideas of mirth and good-humour; the
other, like tragedy, deals in the passions of terror and pity.
Step into a conventicle of dissenters, you will, ten to one, hear
the minister holding forth upon the sufferings of Christ, or the
torments of hell, and see many marks of religious horror in the
faces of the hearers. This is perhaps one reason why the
reformation did not succeed in France, among a volatile, giddy,
unthinking people, shocked at the mortified appearances of the
Calvinists; and accounts for its rapid progress among nations of
a more melancholy turn of character and complexion: for, in the
conversion of the multitude, reason is generally out of the
question. Even the penance imposed upon the catholics is little
more than mock mortification: a murderer is often quit with his
confessor for saying three prayers extraordinary; and these easy
terms, on which absolution is obtained, certainly encourage the
repetition of the most enormous crimes. The pomp and ceremonies
of this religion, together with the great number of holidays they
observe, howsoever they may keep up the spirits of the
commonalty, and help to diminish the sense of their own misery,
must certainly, at the same time, produce a frivolous taste for
frippery and shew, and encourage a habit of idleness, to which I,
in a great measure, ascribe the extreme poverty of the lower
people. Very near half of their time, which might he profitably
employed in the exercise of industry, is lost to themselves and
the community, in attendance upon the different exhibitions of
religious mummery.

But as this letter has already run to an unconscionable length, I
shall defer, till another occasion, what I have further to say on
the people of this place, and in the mean time assure you, that I
am always--Yours affectionately.


BOULOGNE, September 12, 1763.

DEAR SIR,--My stay in this place now draws towards a period.
'Till within these few days I have continued bathing, with some
advantage to my health, though the season has been cold and wet,
and disagreeable. There was a fine prospect of a plentiful
harvest in this neighbourhood. I used to have great pleasure in
driving between the fields of wheat, oats, and barley; but the
crop has been entirely ruined by the rain, and nothing is now to
be seen on the ground but the tarnished straw, and the rotten
spoils of the husbandman's labour. The ground scarce affords
subsistence to a few flocks of meagre sheep, that crop the
stubble, and the intervening grass; each flock under the
protection of its shepherd, with his crook and dogs, who lies
every night in the midst of the fold, in a little thatched
travelling lodge, mounted on a wheel-carriage. Here he passes the
night, in order to defend his flock from the wolves, which are
sometimes, especially in winter, very bold and desperate.

Two days ago we made an excursion with Mrs. B-- and Capt. L-- to
the village of Samers, on the Paris road, about three leagues
from Boulogne. Here is a venerable abbey of Benedictines, well
endowed, with large agreeable gardens prettily laid out. The
monks are well lodged, and well entertained. Tho' restricted from
flesh meals by the rules of their order, they are allowed to eat
wild duck and teal, as a species of fish; and when they long for
a good bouillon, or a partridge, or pullet, they have nothing to
do but to say they are out of order. In that case the appetite of
the patient is indulged in his own apartment. Their church is
elegantly contrived, but kept in a very dirty condition. The
greatest curiosity I saw in this place was an English boy, about
eight or nine years old, whom his father had sent hither to learn
the French language. In less than eight weeks, he was become
captain of the boys of the place, spoke French perfectly well,
and had almost forgot his mother tongue. But to return to the
people of Boulogne.

The burghers here, as in other places, consist of merchants,
shop-keepers, and artisans. Some of the merchants have got
fortunes, by fitting out privateers during the war. A great many
single ships were taken from the English, notwithstanding the
good look-out of our cruisers, who were so alert, that the
privateers from this coast were often taken in four hours after
they sailed from the French harbour; and there is hardly a
captain of an armateur in Boulogne, who has not been prisoner in
England five or six times in the course of the war. They were
fitted out at a very small expence, and used to run over in the
night to the coast of England, where they hovered as English
fishing smacks, until they kidnapped some coaster, with which
they made the best of their way across the Channel. If they fell
in with a British cruiser, they surrendered without resistance:
the captain was soon exchanged, and the loss of the proprietor
was not great: if they brought their prize safe into harbour,
the advantage was considerable. In time of peace the merchants of
Boulogne deal in wine brandies, and oil, imported from the South,
and export fish, with the manufactures of France, to Portugal,
and other countries; but the trade is not great. Here are two or
three considerable houses of wine merchants from Britain, who
deal in Bourdeaux wine, with which they supply London and other
parts of England, Scotland, and Ireland. The fishery of mackarel
and herring is so considerable on this coast, that it is said to
yield annually eight or nine hundred thousand livres, about
thirty-five thousand pounds sterling.

The shop-keepers here drive a considerable traffic with the
English smugglers, whose cutters are almost the only vessels one
sees in the harbour of Boulogne, if we except about a dozen of
those flat-bottomed boats, which raised such alarms in England,
in the course of the war. Indeed they seem to be good for nothing
else, and perhaps they were built for this purpose only. The
smugglers from the coast of Kent and Sussex pay English gold for
great quantities of French brandy, tea, coffee, and small wine,
which they run from this country. They likewise buy glass
trinkets, toys, and coloured prints, which sell in England, for
no other reason, but that they come from France, as they may be
had as cheap, and much better finished, of our own manufacture.
They likewise take off ribbons, laces, linen, and cambrics;
though this branch of trade is chiefly in the hands of traders
that come from London and make their purchases at Dunkirk, where
they pay no duties. It is certainly worth while for any traveller
to lay in a stock of linen either at Dunkirk or Boulogne; the
difference of the price at these two places is not great. Even
here I have made a provision of shirts for one half of the money
they would have cost in London. Undoubtedly the practice of
smuggling is very detrimental to the fair trader, and carries
considerable sums of money out of the kingdom, to enrich our
rivals and enemies. The custom-house officers are very watchful,
and make a great number of seizures: nevertheless, the smugglers
find their account in continuing this contraband commerce; and
are said to indemnify themselves, if they save one cargo out of
three. After all, the best way to prevent smuggling, is to lower
the duties upon the commodities which are thus introduced. I have
been told, that the revenue upon tea has encreased ever since the
duty upon it was diminished. By the bye, the tea smuggled on the
coast of Sussex is most execrable stuff. While I stayed at
Hastings, for the conveniency of bathing, I must have changed my
breakfast, if I had not luckily brought tea with me from London:
yet we have as good tea at Boulogne for nine livres a pound, as
that which sells at fourteen shillings at London.

The bourgeois of this place seem to live at their ease, probably
in consequence of their trade with the English. Their houses
consist of the ground-floor, one story above, and garrets. In
those which are well furnished, you see pier-glasses and marble
slabs; but the chairs are either paultry things, made with straw
bottoms, which cost about a shilling a-piece, or old-fashioned,
high-backed seats of needle-work, stuffed, very clumsy and
incommodious. The tables are square fir boards, that stand on
edge in a corner, except when they are used, and then they are
set upon cross legs that open and shut occasionally. The king of
France dines off a board of this kind. Here is plenty of table-linen
however. The poorest tradesman in Boulogne has a napkin on
every cover, and silver forks with four prongs, which are used
with the right hand, there being very little occasion for knives;
for the meat is boiled or roasted to rags. The French beds are so
high, that sometimes one is obliged to mount them by the help of
steps; and this is also the case in Flanders. They very seldom
use feather-beds; but they lie upon a paillasse, or bag of straw,
over which are laid two, and sometimes three mattrasses. Their
testers are high and old-fashioned, and their curtains generally
of thin bays, red, or green, laced with taudry yellow, in
imitation of gold. In some houses, however, one meets with
furniture of stamped linen; but there is no such thing as a
carpet to be seen, and the floors are in a very dirty condition.
They have not even the implements of cleanliness in this country.
Every chamber is furnished with an armoire, or clothes-press, and
a chest of drawers, of very clumsy workmanship. Every thing shews
a deficiency in the mechanic arts. There is not a door, nor a
window, that shuts close. The hinges, locks, and latches, are of
iron, coarsely made, and ill contrived. The very chimnies are
built so open, that they admit both rain and sun, and all of them
smoke intolerably. If there is no cleanliness among these people,
much less shall we find delicacy, which is the cleanliness of the
mind. Indeed they are utter strangers to what we call common
decency; and I could give you some high-flavoured instances, at
which even a native of Edinburgh would stop his nose. There are
certain mortifying views of human nature, which undoubtedly ought
to be concealed as much as possible, in order to prevent giving
offence: and nothing can be more absurd, than to plead the
difference of custom in different countries, in defence of these
usages which cannot fail giving disgust to the organs and senses
of all mankind. Will custom exempt from the imputation of gross
indecency a French lady, who shifts her frowsy smock in presence
of a male visitant, and talks to him of her lavement, her
medecine, and her bidet! An Italian signora makes no scruple of
telling you, she is such a day to begin a course of physic for
the pox. The celebrated reformer of the Italian comedy introduces
a child befouling itself, on the stage, OE, NO TI SENTI? BISOGNA
DESFASSARLO, (fa cenno che sentesi mal odore). I have known a
lady handed to the house of office by her admirer, who stood at
the door, and entertained her with bons mots all the time she was
within. But I should be glad to know, whether it is possible for
a fine lady to speak and act in this manner, without exciting
ideas to her own disadvantage in the mind of every man who has
any imagination left, and enjoys the entire use of his senses,
howsoever she may be authorised by the customs of her country?
There is nothing so vile or repugnant to nature, but you may
plead prescription for it, in the customs of some nation or
other. A Parisian likes mortified flesh: a native of Legiboli
will not taste his fish till it is quite putrefied: the civilized
inhabitants of Kamschatka get drunk with the urine of their
guests, whom they have already intoxicated: the Nova Zemblans
make merry on train-oil: the Groenlanders eat in the same dish
with their dogs: the Caffres, at the Cape of Good Hope, piss upon
those whom they delight to honour, and feast upon a sheep's
intestines with their contents, as the greatest dainty that can
be presented. A true-bred Frenchman dips his fingers, imbrowned
with snuff, into his plate filled with ragout: between every
three mouthfuls, he produces his snuff-box, and takes a fresh
pinch, with the most graceful gesticulations; then he displays
his handkerchief, which may be termed the flag of abomination,
and, in the use of both, scatters his favours among those who
have the happiness to sit near him. It must be owned, however,
that a Frenchman will not drink out of a tankard, in which,
perhaps, a dozen of filthy mouths have flabbered, as is the
custom in England. Here every individual has his own gobelet,
which stands before him, and he helps himself occasionally with
wine or water, or both, which likewise stand upon the table. But
I know no custom more beastly than that of using water-glasses,
in which polite company spirt, and squirt, and spue the filthy
scourings of their gums, under the eyes of each other. I knew a
lover cured of his passion, by seeing this nasty cascade
discharged from the mouth of his mistress. I don't doubt but I
shall live to see the day, when the hospitable custom of the
antient Aegyptians will be revived; then a conveniency will be
placed behind every chair in company, with a proper provision of
waste paper, that individuals may make themselves easy without
parting company. I insist upon it, that this practice would not
be more indelicate than that which is now in use. What then, you
will say, must a man sit with his chops and fingers up to the
ears and knuckles in grease? No; let those who cannot eat without
defiling themselves, step into another room, provided with basons
and towels: but I think it would be better to institute schools,
where youth may learn to eat their victuals, without daubing
themselves, or giving offence to the eyes of one another.

The bourgeois of Boulogne have commonly soup and bouilli at noon,
and a roast, with a sallad, for supper; and at all their meals
there is a dessert of fruit. This indeed is the practice all over
France. On meagre days they eat fish, omelettes, fried beans,
fricassees of eggs and onions, and burnt cream. The tea which
they drink in the afternoon is rather boiled than infused; it is
sweetened all together with coarse sugar, and drank with an equal
quantity of boiled milk.

We had the honour to be entertained the other day by our
landlord, Mr. B--, who spared no cost on this banquet, exhibited
for the glory of France. He had invited a newmarried couple,
together with the husband's mother and the lady's father, who was
one of the noblesse of Montreuil, his name Mons. L--y. There were
likewise some merchants of the town, and Mons. B--'s uncle, a
facetious little man, who had served in the English navy, and was
as big and as round as a hogshead; we were likewise favoured with
the company of father K--, a native of Ireland, who is vicaire or
curate of the parish; and among the guests was Mons. L--y's son,
a pretty boy, about thirteen or fourteen years of age. The repas
served up in three services, or courses, with entrees and hors
d'oeuvres, exclusive of the fruit, consisted of about twenty
dishes, extremely well dressed by the rotisseur, who is the best
cook I ever knew, in France, or elsewhere; but the plates were not
presented with much order. Our young ladies did not seem to be
much used to do the honours of the table. The most extraordinary
circumstance that I observed on this occasion--as, that all the
French who were present ate of every dish that appeared; and I am
told, that if there had been an hundred articles more, they would
have had a trial of each. This is what they call doing justice to
the founder. Mons. L--y was placed at the head of the table and
indeed he was the oracle and orator of the company; tall, thin,
and weather-beaten, not unlike the picture of Don Quixote after
he had lost his teeth. He had been garde du corps, or life-guardman
at Versailles; and by virtue of this office he was
perfectly well acquainted with the persons of the king and the
dauphin, with the characters of the ministers and grandees, and,
in a word, with all the secrets of state, on which he held forth
with equal solemnity and elocution. He exclaimed against the
jesuits, and the farmers of the revenue, who, he said, had ruined
France. Then, addressing himself to me, asked, if the English did
not every day drink to the health of madame la marquise? I did
not at first comprehend his meaning; but answered in general,
that the English were not deficient in complaisance for the
ladies. "Ah! (cried he) she is the best friend they have in the
world. If it had not been for her, they would not have such
reason to boast of the advantages of the war." I told him the
only conquest which the French had made in the war, was atchieved
by one of her generals: I meant the taking of Mahon. But I did
not choose to prosecute the discourse, remembering that in the
year 1749, I had like to have had an affair with a Frenchman at
Ghent, who affirmed, that all the battles gained by the great
duke of Marlborough were purposely lost by the French generals,
in order to bring the schemes of madame de Maintenon into
disgrace. This is no bad resource for the national vanity of
these people: though, in general, they are really persuaded, that
theirs is the richest, the bravest, the happiest, and the most
powerful nation under the sun; and therefore, without some such
cause, they must be invincible. By the bye, the common people
here still frighten their wayward children with the name of
Marlborough. Mr. B--'s son, who was nursed at a peasant's house,
happening one day, after he was brought home, to be in disgrace
with his father, who threatened to correct him, the child ran for
protection to his mother, crying, "Faites sortir ce vilaine
Malbroug," "Turn out that rogue Marlborough." It is amazing to
hear a sensible Frenchman assert, that the revenues of France
amount to four hundred millions of livres, about twenty millions
sterling, clear of all incumbrances, when in fact their clear
revenue is not much above ten. Without all doubt they have reason
to inveigh against the fermiers generaux, who oppress the people
in raising the taxes, not above two-thirds of which are brought
into the king's coffers: the rest enriches themselves, and
enables them to bribe high for the protection of the great, which
is the only support they have against the remonstrances of the
states and parliaments, and the suggestions of common sense;
which will ever demonstrate this to be, of all others, the most
pernicious method of supplying the necessities of government.

Mons. L--y seasoned the severity of his political apothegms with
intermediate sallies of mirth and gallantry. He ogled the
venerable gentlewoman his commere, who sat by him. He looked,
sighed, and languished, sung tender songs, and kissed the old
lady's hand with all the ardour of a youthful admirer. I
unfortunately congratulated him on having such a pretty young
gentleman to his son. He answered, sighing, that the boy had
talents, but did not put them to a proper use--"Long before I
attained his age (said he) I had finished my rhetoric." Captain
B--, who had eaten himself black in the face, and, with the
napkin under his chin, was no bad representation of Sancho Panza
in the suds, with the dishclout about his neck, when the duke's
scullions insisted upon shaving him; this sea-wit, turning to the
boy, with a waggish leer, "I suppose (said he) you don't
understand the figure of amplification so well as Monsieur your
father." At that instant, one of the nieces, who knew her uncle
to be very ticklish, touched him under the short ribs, on which
the little man attempted to spring up, but lost the centre of
gravity. He overturned his own plate in the lap of the person
that sat next to him, and falling obliquely upon his own chair,
both tumbled down upon the floor together, to the great
discomposure of the whole company; for the poor man would have
been actually strangled, had not his nephew loosed his stock with
great expedition. Matters being once more adjusted, and the
captain condoled on his disaster, Mons. L--y took it in his head
to read his son a lecture upon filial obedience. This was mingled
with some sharp reproof, which the boy took so ill that he
retired. The old lady observed that he had been too severe: her
daughter-in-law, who was very pretty, said her brother had given
him too much reason; hinting, at the same time, that he was
addicted to some terrible vices; upon which several individuals
repeated the interjection, ah! ah! "Yes (said Mons. L--y, with a
rueful aspect) the boy has a pernicious turn for gaming: in one
afternoon he lost, at billiards, such a sum as gives me horror to
think of it." "Fifty sols in one afternoon," (cried the sister).
"Fifty sols! (exclaimed the mother-in-law, with marks of
astonishment) that's too much--that's too much!--he's to blame--
he's to blame! but youth, you know, Mons. L--y--ah! vive la
jeunesse!"--"et l'amour!" cried the father, wiping his eyes,
squeezing her hand, and looking tenderly upon her. Mr. B-- took
this opportunity to bring in the young gentleman, who was
admitted into favour, and received a second exhortation. Thus
harmony was restored, and the entertainment concluded with fruit,
coffee, and liqueurs.

When a bourgeois of Boulogne takes the air, he goes in a one-horse
chaise, which is here called cabriolet, and hires it for
half-a-crown a day. There are also travelling chaises, which hold
four persons, two seated with their faces to the horses, and two
behind their backs; but those vehicles are all very ill made, and
extremely inconvenient. The way of riding most used in this place
is on assback. You will see every day, in the skirts of the town,
a great number of females thus mounted, with the feet on either
side occasionally, according as the wind blows, so that sometimes
the right and sometimes the left hand guides the beast: but in
other parts of France, as well as in Italy, the ladies sit on
horseback with their legs astride, and are provided with drawers
for that purpose.

When I said the French people were kept in good humour by the
fopperies of their religion, I did not mean that there were no
gloomy spirits among them. There will be fanatics in religion,
while there are people of a saturnine disposition, and melancholy
turn of mind. The character of a devotee, which is hardly known
in England, is very common here. You see them walking to and from
church at all hours, in their hoods and long camblet cloaks, with
a slow pace, demure aspect, and downcast eye. Those who are poor
become very troublesome to the monks, with their scruples and
cases of conscience: you may see them on their knees, at the
confessional, every hour in the day. The rich devotee has her
favourite confessor, whom she consults and regales in private, at
her own house; and this spiritual director generally governs the
whole family. For my part I never knew a fanatic that was not an
hypocrite at bottom. Their pretensions to superior sanctity, and
an absolute conquest over all the passions, which human reason
was never yet able to subdue, introduce a habit of dissimulation,
which, like all other habits, is confirmed by use, till at length
they become adepts in the art and science of hypocrisy.
Enthusiasm and hypocrisy are by no means incompatible. The
wildest fanatics I ever knew, were real sensualists in their way
of living, and cunning cheats in their dealings with mankind.

Among the lower class of people at Boulogne, those who take the
lead, are the sea-faring men, who live in one quarter, divided
into classes, and registered for the service of the king. They
are hardy and raw-boned, exercise the trade of fishermen and
boatmen, and propagate like rabbits. They have put themselves
under the protection of a miraculous image of the Virgin Mary,
which is kept in one of their churches, and every year carried in
procession. According to the legend, this image was carried off,
with other pillage, by the English, when they took Boulogne, in
the reign of Henry VIII. The lady, rather than reside in England,
where she found a great many heretics, trusted herself alone in
an open boat, and crossed the sea to the road of Boulogne, where
she was seen waiting for a pilot. Accordingly a boat put off to
her assistance, and brought her safe into the harbour: since
which time she has continued to patronize the watermen of
Boulogne. At present she is very black and very ugly, besides
being cruelly mutilated in different parts of her body, which I
suppose have been amputated, and converted into tobacco-stoppers;
but once a year she is dressed in very rich attire, and carried
in procession, with a silver boat, provided at the expence of the
sailors. That vanity which characterises the French extends even
to the canaille. The lowest creature among them is sure to have
her ear-rings and golden cross hanging about her neck. Indeed
this last is an implement of superstition as well as of dress,
without which no female appears. The common people here, as in
all countries where they live poorly and dirtily, are hard-featured,
and of very brown, or rather tawny complexions. As they
seldom eat meat, their juices are destitute of that animal oil
which gives a plumpness and smoothness to the skin, and defends
those fine capillaries from the injuries of the weather, which
would otherwise coalesce, or be shrunk up, so as to impede the
circulation on the external surface of the body. As for the dirt,
it undoubtedly blocks up the pores of the skin, and disorders the
perspiration; consequently must contribute to the scurvy, itch,
and other cutaneous distempers.

In the quarter of the matelots at Boulogne. there is a number of
poor Canadians, who were removed from the island of St. John, in
the gulph of St. Laurence. when it was reduced by the English.
These people are maintained at the expence of the king, who
allows them soldier's pay, that is five sols, or two-pence
halfpenny a day; or rather three sols and ammunition bread. How
the soldiers contrive to subsist upon this wretched allowance, I
cannot comprehend: but, it must be owned, that those invalids who
do duty at Boulogne betray no marks of want. They are hale and
stout, neatly and decently cloathed, and on the whole look better
than the pensioners of Chelsea.

About three weeks ago I was favoured with a visit by one Mr. M--,
an English gentleman, who seems far gone in a consumption. He
passed the last winter at Nismes in Languedoc, and found himself
much better in the beginning of summer, when he embarked at
Cette, and returned by sea to England. He soon relapsed, however,
and (as he imagines) in consequence of a cold caught at sea. He
told me, his intention was to try the South again, and even to go
as far as Italy. I advised him to make trial of the air of Nice,
where I myself proposed to reside. He seemed to relish my advice,
and proceeded towards Paris in his own carriage.

I shall to-morrow ship my great chests on board of a ship bound
to Bourdeaux; they are directed, and recommended to the care of a
merchant of that place, who will forward them by Thoulouse, and
the canal of Languedoc, to his correspondent at Cette, which is
the sea-port of Montpellier. The charge of their conveyance to
Bourdeaux does not exceed one guinea. They consist of two very
large chests and a trunk, about a thousand pounds weight; and the
expence of transporting them from Bourdeaux to Cette, will not
exceed thirty livres. They are already sealed with lead at the
customhouse, that they may be exempted from further visitation.
This is a precaution which every traveller takes, both by sea and
land: he must likewise provide himself with a passe-avant at the
bureau, otherwise he may be stopped, and rummaged at every town
through which he passes. I have hired a berline and four horses
to Paris, for fourteen loui'dores; two of which the voiturier is
obliged to pay for a permission from the farmers of the poste;
for every thing is farmed in this country; and if you hire a
carriage, as I have done, you must pay twelve livres, or half-a-guinea,
for every person that travels in it. The common coach
between Calais and Paris, is such a vehicle as no man would use,
who has any regard to his own case and convenience and it travels
at the pace of an English waggon.

In ten days I shall set out on my journey; and I shall leave
Boulogne with regret. I have been happy in the acquaintance of
Mrs. B--, and a few British families in the place; and it was my
good fortune to meet here with two honest gentlemen, whom I had
formerly known in Paris, as well as with some of my countrymen,
officers in the service of France. My next will be from Paris.
Remember me to our friends at A--'s. I am a little heavy-hearted
at the prospect of removing to such a distance from you. It is a
moot point whether I shall ever return. My health is very
precarious. Adieu.


PARIS, October 12, 1763.

DEAR SIR,--Of our journey from Boulogne I have little to say. The
weather was favourable, and the roads were in tolerable order. We
found good accommodation at Montreuil and Amiens; but in every
other place where we stopped, we met with abundance of dirt, and
the most flagrant imposition. I shall not pretend to describe the
cities of Abbeville and Amiens, which we saw only en passant; nor
take up your time with an account of the stables and palace of
Chantilly, belonging to the prince of Conde, which we visited the
last day of our journey; nor shall I detain you with a detail of
the Trefors de St. Denis, which, together with the tombs in the
abbey church, afforded us some amusement while our dinner was
getting ready. All these particulars are mentioned in twenty
different books of tours, travels, and directions, which you have
often perused. I shall only observe, that the abbey church is the
lightest piece of Gothic architecture I have seen, and the air
within seems perfectly free from that damp and moisture, so
perceivable in all our old cathedrals. This must be owing to the
nature of its situation. There are some fine marble statues that
adorn the tombs of certain individuals here interred; but they
are mostly in the French taste, which is quite contrary to the
simplicity of the antients. Their attitudes are affected,
unnatural, and desultory; and their draperies fantastic; or, as
one of our English artists expressed himself, they are all of a
flutter. As for the treasures, which are shewn on certain days to
the populace gratis, they are contained in a number of presses,
or armoires, and, if the stones are genuine, they must be
inestimable: but this I cannot believe. Indeed I have been told,
that what they shew as diamonds are no more than composition:
nevertheless, exclusive of these, there are some rough stones of
great value, and many curiosities worth seeing. The monk that
shewed them was the very image of our friend Hamilton, both in
his looks and manner.

I have one thing very extraordinary to observe of the French
auberges, which seems to be a remarkable deviation from the
general character of the nation. The landlords, hostesses, and
servants of the inns upon the road, have not the least dash of
complaisance in their behaviour to strangers. Instead of coming
to the door, to receive you as in England, they take no manner of
notice of you; but leave you to find or enquire your way into the
kitchen, and there you must ask several times for a chamber,
before they seem willing to conduct you up stairs. In general,
you are served with the appearance of the most mortifying
indifference, at the very time they are laying schemes for
fleecing you of your money. It is a very odd contrast between
France and England; in the former all the people are complaisant
but the publicans; in the latter there is hardly any complaisance
but among the publicans. When I said all the people in France, I
ought also to except those vermin who examine the baggage of
travellers in different parts of the kingdom. Although our
portmanteaus were sealed with lead, and we were provided
with a passe-avant from the douane, our coach was searched
at the gate of Paris by which we entered; and the women were
obliged to get out, and stand in the open street, till this
operation was performed.

I had desired a friend to provide lodgings for me at Paris, in
the Fauxbourg St. Germain; and accordingly we found ourselves
accommodated at the Hotel de Montmorency, with a first floor,
which costs me ten livres a day. I should have put up with it had
it been less polite; but as I have only a few days to stay in
this place, and some visits to receive, I am not sorry that my
friend has exceeded his commission. I have been guilty of another
piece of extravagance in hiring a carosse de remise, for which I
pay twelve livres a day. Besides the article of visiting, I could
not leave Paris, without carrying my wife and the girls to see
the most remarkable places in and about this capital, such as the
Luxemburg, the Palais-Royal, the Thuilleries, the Louvre, the
Invalids, the Gobelins, &c. together with Versailles, Trianon,
Marli, Meudon, and Choissi; and therefore, I thought the
difference in point of expence would not be great, between a
carosse de remise and a hackney coach. The first are extremely
elegant, if not too much ornamented, the last are very shabby and
disagreeable. Nothing gives me such chagrin, as the necessity I
am under to hire a valet de place, as my own servant does not
speak the language. You cannot conceive with what eagerness and
dexterity those rascally valets exert themselves in pillaging
strangers. There is always one ready in waiting on your arrival,
who begins by assisting your own servant to unload your baggage,
and interests himself in your affairs with such artful
officiousness, that you will find it difficult to shake him off,
even though you are determined beforehand against hiring any such
domestic. He produces recommendations from his former masters,
and the people of the house vouch for his honesty.

The truth is, those fellows are very handy, useful, and obliging;
and so far honest, that they will not steal in the usual way. You
may safely trust one of them to bring you a hundred loui'dores
from your banker; but they fleece you without mercy in every
other article of expence. They lay all your tradesmen under
contribution; your taylor, barber, mantua-maker, milliner,
perfumer, shoe-maker, mercer, jeweller, hatter, traiteur, and
wine-merchant: even the bourgeois who owns your coach pays him
twenty sols per day. His wages amount to twice as much, so that I
imagine the fellow that serves me, makes above ten shillings a
day, besides his victuals, which, by the bye, he has no right to
demand. Living at Paris, to the best of my recollection, is very
near twice as dear as it was fifteen years ago; and, indeed, this
is the case in London; a circumstance that must be undoubtedly
owing to an increase of taxes; for I don't find that in the
articles of eating and drinking, the French people are more
luxurious than they were heretofore. I am told the entrees, or
duties, payed upon provision imported into Paris, are very heavy.
All manner of butcher's meat and poultry are extremely good in
this place. The beef is excellent. The wine, which is generally
drank, is a very thin kind of Burgundy. I can by no means relish
their cookery; but one breakfasts deliciously upon their petit
pains and their pales of butter, which last is exquisite.

The common people, and even the bourgeois of Paris live, at this
season, chiefly on bread and grapes, which is undoubtedly very
wholsome fare. If the same simplicity of diet prevailed in
England, we should certainly undersell the French at all foreign
markets for they are very slothful with all their vivacity and
the great number of their holidays not only encourages this lazy
disposition, but actually robs them of one half of what their
labour would otherwise produce; so that, if our common people
were not so expensive in their living, that is, in their eating
and drinking, labour might be afforded cheaper in England than in
France. There are three young lusty hussies, nieces or daughters
of a blacksmith, that lives just opposite to my windows, who do
nothing from morning till night. They eat grapes and bread from
seven till nine, from nine till twelve they dress their hair, and
are all the afternoon gaping at the window to view passengers. I
don't perceive that they give themselves the trouble either to
make their beds, or clean their apartment. The same spirit of
idleness and dissipation I have observed in every part of France,
and among every class of people.

Every object seems to have shrunk in its dimensions since I was
last in Paris. The Louvre, the Palais-Royal, the bridges, and the
river Seine, by no means answer the ideas I had formed of them
from my former observation. When the memory is not very correct,
the imagination always betrays her into such extravagances. When
I first revisited my own country, after an absence of fifteen
years, I found every thing diminished in the same manner, and I
could scarce believe my own eyes.

Notwithstanding the gay disposition of the French, their houses
are all gloomy. In spite of all the ornaments that have been
lavished on Versailles, it is a dismal habitation. The apartments
are dark, ill-furnished, dirty, and unprincely. Take the castle,
chapel, and garden all together, they make a most fantastic
composition of magnificence and littleness, taste, and foppery.
After all, it is in England only, where we must look for cheerful
apartments, gay furniture, neatness, and convenience. There is a
strange incongruity in the French genius. With all their
volatility, prattle, and fondness for bons mots, they delight in
a species of drawling, melancholy, church music. Their most
favourite dramatic pieces are almost without incident; and the
dialogue of their comedies consists of moral, insipid
apophthegms, intirely destitute of wit or repartee. I know what
I hazard by this opinion among the implicit admirers of Lully,
Racine, and Moliere.

I don't talk of the busts, the statues, and pictures which abound
at Versailles, and other places in and about Paris, particularly
the great collection of capital pieces in the Palais-royal,
belonging to the duke of Orleans. I have neither capacity, nor
inclination, to give a critique on these chef d'oeuvres, which
indeed would take up a whole volume. I have seen this great
magazine of painting three times, with astonishment; but I should
have been better pleased, if there had not been half the number:
one is bewildered in such a profusion, as not to know where to
begin, and hurried away before there is time to consider one
piece with any sort of deliberation. Besides, the rooms are all
dark, and a great many of the pictures hang in a bad light. As
for Trianon, Marli, and Choissi, they are no more than pigeon-houses,
in respect to palaces; and, notwithstanding the
extravagant eulogiums which you have heard of the French king's
houses, I will venture to affirm that the king of England is
better, I mean more comfortably, lodged. I ought, however, to
except Fontainebleau, which I have not seen.

The city of Paris is said to be five leagues, or fifteen miles,
in circumference; and if it is really so, it must be much more
populous than London; for the streets are very narrow, and the
houses very high, with a different family on every floor. But I
have measured the best plans of these two royal cities, and am
certain that Paris does not take up near so much ground as
London and Westminster occupy; and I suspect the number of its
inhabitants is also exaggerated by those who say it amounts to
eight hundred thousand, that is two hundred thousand more than
are contained in the bills of mortality. The hotels of the French
noblesse, at Paris, take up a great deal of room, with their
courtyards and gardens; and so do their convents and churches. It
must be owned, indeed, that their streets are wonderfully crouded
with people and carriages.

The French begin to imitate the English, but only in such
particulars as render them worthy of imitation. When I was last
at Paris, no person of any condition,
male or female, appeared, but in full dress, even when obliged to
come out early in the morning, and there was not such a thing to
be seen as a perruque ronde; but at present I see a number of
frocks and scratches in a morning, in the streets of this
metropolis. They have set up a petite poste, on the plan of our
penny-post, with some improvements; and I am told there is a
scheme on foot for supplying every house with water, by leaden
pipes, from the river Seine. They have even adopted our practice
of the cold bath, which is taken very conveniently, in wooden
houses, erected on the side of the river, the water of which is
let in and out occasionally, by cocks fixed in the sides of the
bath. There are different rooms for the different sexes: the
accommodations are good, and the expence is a trifle. The
tapestry of the Gobelins is brought to an amazing degree of
perfection; and I am surprised that this furniture is not more in
fashion among the great, who alone are able to purchase it. It
would be a most elegant and magnificent ornament, which would
always nobly distinguish their apartments from those, of an
inferior rank; and in this they would run no risk of being
rivalled by the bourgeois. At the village of Chaillot, in the
neighbourhood of Paris, they make beautiful carpets and screen-work;
and this is the more extraordinary, as there are hardly any
carpets used in this kingdom. In almost all the lodging-houses,
the floors are of brick, and have no other kind of cleaning, than
that of being sprinkled with water, and swept once a day. These
brick floors, the stone stairs, the want of wainscotting in the
rooms, and the thick party-walls of stone, are, however, good
preservatives against fire, which seldom does any damage in this
city. Instead of wainscotting, the walls are covered with
tapestry or damask. The beds in general are very good, and well
ornamented, with testers and curtains.

Twenty years ago the river Seine, within a mile of Paris, was as
solitary as if it had run through a desert. At present the banks
of it are adorned with a number of elegant houses and
plantations, as far as Marli. I need not mention the machine at
this place for raising water, because I know you are well
acquainted with its construction; nor shall I say any thing more
of the city of Paris, but that there is a new square, built upon
an elegant plan, at the end of the garden of the Thuilleries: it
is called Place de Louis XV. and, in the middle of it, there is a
good equestrian statue of the reigning king.

You have often heard that Louis XIV. frequently regretted, that
his country did not afford gravel for the walks of his gardens,
which are covered with a white, loose sand, very disagreeable
both to the eyes and feet of those who walk upon it; but this is
a vulgar mistake. There is plenty of gravel on the road between
Paris and Versailles, as well as in many other parts of this
kingdom; but the French, who are all for glare and glitter, think
the other is more gay and agreeable: one would imagine they did
not feel the burning reflexion from the white sand, which in
summer is almost intolerable.

In the character of the French, considered as a people, there are
undoubtedly many circumstances truly ridiculous. You know the
fashionable people, who go a hunting, are equipped with their
jack boots, bag wigs, swords and pistols: but I saw the other day
a scene still more grotesque. On the road to Choissi, a fiacre,
or hackney-coach, stopped, and out came five or six men, armed
with musquets, who took post, each behind a separate tree. I
asked our servant who they were imagining they might be archers,
or footpads of justice, in pursuit of some malefactor. But guess
my surprise, when the fellow told me, they were gentlemen a la
chasse. They were in fact come out from Paris, in this equipage,
to take the diversion of hare-hunting; that is, of shooting from
behind a tree at the hares that chanced to pass. Indeed, if they
had nothing more in view, but to destroy the game, this was a
very effectual method; for the hares are in such plenty in this
neighbourhood, that I have seen a dozen together, in the same
field. I think this way of hunting, in a coach or chariot, might
be properly adopted at London, in favour of those aldermen of the
city, who are too unwieldy to follow the hounds a horseback.

The French, however, with all their absurdities, preserve a
certain ascendancy over us, which is very disgraceful to our
nation; and this appears in nothing more than in the article of
dress. We are contented to be thought their apes in fashion; but,
in fact, we are slaves to their taylors, mantua-makers, barbers,
and other tradesmen. One would be apt to imagine that our own
tradesmen had joined them in a combination against us. When the
natives of France come to London, they appear in all public
places, with cloaths made according to the fashion of their own
country, and this fashion is generally admired by the English.
Why, therefore, don't we follow it implicitly? No, we pique
ourselves upon a most ridiculous deviation from the very modes we
admire, and please ourselves with thinking this deviation is a
mark of our spirit and liberty. But, we have not spirit enough to
persist in this deviation, when we visit their country:
otherwise, perhaps, they would come to admire and follow our
example: for, certainly, in point of true taste, the fashions of
both countries are equally absurd. At present, the skirts of the
English descend from the fifth rib to the calf of the leg, and
give the coat the form of a Jewish gaberdine; and our hats seem
to be modelled after that which Pistol wears upon the stage. In
France, the haunch buttons and pocketholes are within half a foot
of the coat's extremity: their hats look as if they had been
pared round the brims, and the crown is covered with a kind of
cordage, which, in my opinion, produces a very beggarly effect.
In every other circumstance of dress, male and female, the
contrast between the two nations, appears equally glaring. What
is the consequence? when an Englishman comes to Paris, he cannot
appear until he has undergone a total metamorphosis. At his first
arrival he finds it necessary to send for the taylor, perruquier,
hatter, shoemaker, and every other tradesman concerned in the
equipment of the human body. He must even change his buckles, and
the form of his ruffles; and, though at the risque of his life,
suit his cloaths to the mode of the season. For example, though
the weather should be never so cold, he must wear his habit
d'ete, or demi-saison. without presuming to put on a warm dress
before the day which fashion has fixed for that purpose; and
neither old age nor infirmity will excuse a man for wearing his
hat upon his head, either at home or abroad. Females are (if
possible) still more subject to the caprices of fashion; and as
the articles of their dress are more manifold, it is enough to
make a man's heart ake to see his wife surrounded by a multitude
of cotturieres, milliners, and tire-women. All her sacks and
negligees must be altered and new trimmed. She must have new
caps, new laces, new shoes, and her hair new cut. She must have
her taffaties for the summer, her flowered silks for the spring
and autumn, her sattins and damasks for winter. The good man, who
used to wear the beau drop d'Angleterre, quite plain all the year
round, with a long bob, or tye perriwig, must here provide
himself with a camblet suit trimmed with silver for spring and
autumn, with silk cloaths for summer, and cloth laced with gold,
or velvet for winter; and he must wear his bag-wig a la pigeon.
This variety of dress is absolutely indispensible for all those
who pretend to any rank above the meer bourgeois. On his return
to his own country, all this frippery is useless. He cannot
appear in London until he has undergone another thorough
metamorphosis; so that he will have some reason to think, that
the tradesmen of Paris and London have combined to lay him under
contribution: and they, no doubt, are the directors who regulate
the fashions in both capitals; the English, however, in a
subordinate capacity: for the puppets of their making will not
pass at Paris, nor indeed in any other part of Europe; whereas a
French petit maitre is reckoned a complete figure every where,
London not excepted. Since it is so much the humour of the
English at present to run abroad, I wish they had anti-gallican
spirit enough to produce themselves in their own genuine English
dress, and treat the French modes with the same philosophical
contempt, which was shewn by an honest gentleman, distinguished
by the name of Wig-Middleton. That unshaken patriot still appears
in the same kind of scratch perriwig, skimming-dish hat, and slit
sleeve, which were worn five-and-twenty years ago, and has
invariably persisted in this garb, in defiance of all the
revolutions of the mode. I remember a student in the temple, who,
after a long and learned investigation of the to kalon, or
beautiful, had resolution enough to let his beard grow, and wore
it in all public places, until his heir at law applied for a
commission of lunacy against him; then he submitted to the razor,
rather than run any risque of being found non compos.

Before I conclude, I must tell you, that the most reputable shop-keepers
and tradesmen of Paris think it no disgrace to practise
the most shameful imposition. I myself know an instance of one of
the most creditable marchands in this capital, who demanded six
francs an ell for some lutestring, laying his hand upon his
breast at the same time, and declaring en conscience, that it had
cost him within three sols of the money. Yet in less than three
minutes, he sold it for four and a half, and when the buyer
upbraided him with his former declaration, he shrugged up his
shoulders, saying, il faut marchander. I don't mention this as a
particular instance. The same mean disingenuity is universal all
over France, as I have been informed by several persons of

The next letter you have from me will probably be dated at
Nismes, or Montpellier. Mean-while, I am ever--Yours.


To MRS. M--.
PARIS, October, 12, 1763.

MADAM,--I shall be much pleased if the remarks I have made on the
characters of the French people, can afford you the satisfaction
you require. With respect to the ladies I can only judge from
their exteriors: but, indeed, these are so characteristic, that
one can hardly judge amiss; unless we suppose that a woman of
taste and sentiment may be so overruled by the absurdity of what
is called fashion, as to reject reason, and disguise nature, in
order to become ridiculous or frightful. That this may be the
case with some individuals, is very possible. I have known it
happen in our own country, where the follies of the French are
adopted and exhibited in the most aukward imitation: but the
general prevalence of those preposterous modes, is a plain proof
that there is a general want of taste, and a general depravity of
nature. I shall not pretend to describe the particulars of a
French lady's dress. These you are much better acquainted with
than I can pretend to be: but this I will be bold to affirm, that
France is the general reservoir from which all the absurdities of
false taste, luxury, and extravagance have overflowed the
different kingdoms and states of Europe. The springs that fill
this reservoir, are no other than vanity and ignorance. It would
be superfluous to attempt proving from the nature of things, from
the first principles and use of dress, as well as from the
consideration of natural beauty, and the practice of the
ancients, who certainly understood it as well as the connoisseurs
of these days, that nothing can be more monstrous, inconvenient,
and contemptible, than the fashion of modern drapery. You
yourself are well aware of all its defects, and have often
ridiculed them in my hearing. I shall only mention one particular
of dress essential to the fashion in this country, which seems to
me to carry human affectation to the very farthest verge of folly
and extravagance; that is, the manner in which the faces of the
ladies are primed and painted. When the Indian chiefs were in
England every body ridiculed their preposterous method of
painting their cheeks and eye-lids; but this ridicule was wrong
placed. Those critics ought to have considered, that the Indians
do not use paint to make themselves agreeable; but in order to be
the more terrible to their enemies. It is generally supposed, I
think, that your sex make use of fard and vermillion for very
different purposes; namely, to help a bad or faded complexion, to
heighten the graces, or conceal the defects of nature, as well as
the ravages of time. I shall not enquire at present, whether it
is just and honest to impose in this manner on mankind: if it is
not honest, it may be allowed to be artful and politic, and
shews, at least, a desire of being agreeable. But to lay it on as
the fashion in France prescribes to all the ladies of condition,
who indeed cannot appear without this badge of distinction, is to
disguise themselves in such a manner, as to render them odious
and detestable to every spectator, who has the least relish left
for nature and propriety. As for the fard or white, with which
their necks and shoulders are plaistered, it may be in some
measure excusable, as their skins are naturally brown, or sallow;
but the rouge, which is daubed on their faces, from the chin up
to the eyes, without the least art or dexterity, not only
destroys all distinction of features, but renders the aspect
really frightful, or at best conveys nothing but ideas of disgust
and aversion. You know, that without this horrible masque no
married lady is admitted at court, or in any polite assembly; and
that it is a mark of distinction which no bourgeoise dare assume.
Ladies of fashion only have the privilege of exposing themselves
in these ungracious colours. As their faces are concealed under a
false complexion, so their heads are covered with a vast load of
false hair, which is frizzled on the forehead, so as exactly to
resemble the wooly heads of the Guinea negroes. As to the natural
hue of it, this is a matter of no consequence, for powder makes
every head of hair of the same colour; and no woman appears in
this country, from the moment she rises till night, without being
compleatly whitened. Powder or meal was first used in Europe by
the Poles, to conceal their scald heads; but the present fashion
of using it, as well as the modish method of dressing the hair,
must have been borrowed from the Hottentots, who grease their
wooly heads with mutton suet and then paste it over with the
powder called buchu. In like manner, the hair of our fine ladies
is frizzled into the appearance of negroes wool, and stiffened
with an abominable paste of hog's grease, tallow, and white
powder. The present fashion, therefore, of painting the face, and
adorning the head, adopted by the beau monde in France, is taken
from those two polite nations the Chickesaws of America and the
Hottentots of Africa. On the whole, when I see one of those fine
creatures sailing along, in her taudry robes of silk and gauze,
frilled, and flounced, and furbelowed, with her false locks, her
false jewels, her paint, her patches, and perfumes; I cannot help
looking upon her as the vilest piece of sophistication that art
ever produced.

This hideous masque of painting, though destructive of all
beauty, is, however, favourable to natural homeliness and
deformity. It accustoms the eyes of the other sex, and in time
reconciles them to frightfull objects; it disables them from
perceiving any distinction of features between woman and woman;
and, by reducing all faces to a level, gives every female an
equal chance for an admirer; being in this particular analogous
to the practice of the antient Lacedemonians, who were obliged to
chuse their helpmates in the dark. In what manner the insides of
their heads are furnished, I would not presume to judge from the
conversation of a very few to whom I have had access: but from
the nature of their education, which I have heard described, and
the natural vivacity of their tempers, I should expect neither
sense, sentiment, nor discretion. From the nursery they are
allowed, and even encouraged, to say every thing that comes
uppermost; by which means they acquire a volubility of tongue,
and a set of phrases, which constitutes what is called polite
conversation. At the same time they obtain an absolute conquest
over all sense of shame, or rather, they avoid acquiring this
troublesome sensation; for it is certainly no innate idea. Those
who have not governesses at home, are sent, for a few years, to a
convent, where they lay in a fund of superstition that serves
them for life: but I never heard they had the least opportunity
of cultivating the mind, of exercising the powers of reason, or
of imbibing a taste for letters, or any rational or useful
accomplishment. After being taught to prattle, to dance and play
at cards, they are deemed sufficiently qualified to appear in the
grand monde, and to perform all the duties of that high rank and
station in life. In mentioning cards, I ought to observe, that
they learn to play not barely for amusement, but also with a view
to advantage; and, indeed, you seldom meet with a native of
France, whether male or female, who is not a compleat gamester,
well versed in all the subtleties and finesses of the art. This
is likewise the case all over Italy. A lady of a great house in
Piedmont, having four sons, makes no scruple to declare, that the
first shall represent the family, the second enter into the army,
the third into the church, and that she will breed the fourth a
gamester. These noble adventurers devote themselves in a
particular manner to the entertainment of travellers from our
country, because the English are supposed to be full of money,
rash, incautious, and utterly ignorant of play. But such a
sharper is most dangerous, when he hunts in couple with a
female. I have known a French count and his wife, who found means
to lay the most wary under contribution. He was smooth, supple,
officious, and attentive: she was young, handsome, unprincipled,
and artful. If the Englishman marked for prey was found upon his
guard against the designs of the husband, then madam plied him on
the side of gallantry. She displayed all the attractions of her
person. She sung, danced, ogled, sighed, complimented, and
complained. If he was insensible to all her charms, she flattered
his vanity, and piqued his pride, by extolling the wealth and
generosity of the English; and if he proved deaf to all these
insinuations she, as her last stake, endeavoured to interest his
humanity and compassion. She expatiated, with tears in her eyes,
on the cruelty and indifference of her great relations;
represented that her husband was no more than the cadet of a
noble family --, that his provision was by no means suitable.
either to the dignity of his rank, or the generosity of his
disposition: that he had a law-suit of great consequence
depending, which had drained all his finances; and, finally, that
they should be both ruined, if they could not find some generous
friend, who would accommodate them with a sum of money to bring
the cause to a determination. Those who are not actuated by such
scandalous motives, become gamesters from meer habit, and, having
nothing more solid to engage their thoughts, or employ their
time, consume the best part of their lives, in this worst of all
dissipation. I am not ignorant that there are exceptions from
this general rule: I know that France has produced a Maintenon, a
Sevigine, a Scuderi, a Dacier, and a Chatelet; but I would no
more deduce the general character of the French ladies from these
examples, than I would call a field of hemp a flower-garden.
because there might be in it a few lillies or renunculas planted
by the hand of accident.

Woman has been defined a weaker man; but in this country the men
are, in my opinion, more ridiculous and insignificant than the
women. They certainly are more disagreeable to a rational
enquirer, because they are more troublesome. Of all the coxcombs
on the face of the earth, a French petit maitre is the most
impertinent: and they are all petit maitres from the marquis who
glitters in lace and embroidery, to the garcon barbier covered
with meal, who struts with his hair in a long queue, and his hat
under his arm. I have already observed, that vanity is the great
and universal mover among all ranks and degrees of people in this
nation; and as they take no pains to conceal or controul it, they
are hurried by it into the most ridiculous and indeed intolerable

When I talk of the French nation, I must again except a great
number of individuals, from the general censure. Though I have a

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