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T. Gray to his mother.
Rheims, June 21st. N. S. 1739. We have now been settled almost three weeks in this city, which is more considerable upon account of its size and antiquity, than from the number of its inhabitants, or any advantages of commerce. There is little in it worth a stranger's curiosity, besides the cathedral church, which is a vast Gothic building of a surprising beauty and lightness, all covered over with a profusion of little statues, and other ornaments. It is here the kings of France are crowned by the archbishop of Rheims, who is the first peer, and the primate of the kingdom. The holy vessel made use of on that occasion, which contains the oil, is kept in the church of St. Nicasius hard by, and is believed to have been brought by an angel from heaven at the coronation of Clovis, the first Christian king.
The streets in general have but a melancholy aspect, the houses all old; the public walks run along the side of a great moat ) under the ramparts, where one hears a continual croaking of frogs; the country round about is one great plain covered with vines, which at this time of the year afford no very pleasing prospect, as being not above a foot high. What pleasures the place denies to the sight, it makes up to 2) the palate, since you have nothing to drink but the best champaigne in the world, and all sorts of provisions equally good. As to other pleasures, there is not that freedom of conversation among the people of fashion here, that one sees in other parts of France; for though they are not very numerous in this place, and consequently must live a good deal together, yet they never come to any great familiarity with one another. As my lord Conway had spent a good part of his time among them, his brother, and we with him, were soon introduced into all their assemblies. As soon as you enter, the lady of the house presents each of you a card, and offers you a party at quadrille; you sit down, and play forty deals without intermission, excepting one quarter of an hour, when every body rises to eat of what they call the gouter, which supplies the place of our tea, and is a service 3) of wine, fruits, cream, sweet - meats, crawfish, and cheese. People take what they like, and sit down again to play; after that, they make little parties to go to the walks together, an then all the company retire to their separate habitations. Very seldom any suppers or dinners are given; and this is the manner they live among one another; not so much out of any aversion they have to pleasure, as out of a sort of formality they have contracted by not being much frequented by people who have lived at Paris. It is sure they do not hate gaiety any more than the rest of their country people, and can enter into diversions, that are once proposed, with a good grace enough; for instance, the other evening we happened to be got together in a company of eighteen people, men and women of the best fashion here, at a garden in the town, to walk : when one of the ladies bethought herself of asking, why should not we sup here? Immediately the cloth was laid by the side of a fountain under the trees, and a very elegant supper served up: after which another said, Come, let us sing; and directly began herself. From singing we insensibly fell to dancing, and singing in a round: when somebody mentioned the violins, and immediately a company of them was ordered. Minuets were begun in the open, air, and then some country-dances, which held
1) Graben. 2) Orfeßt es für. 3) Aufiaß von Speisen. II. Vierte Auflage.
till four o'clock next morning; at which hour the gaiest lady there proposed, that such as were weary should get in their coaches, and the rest of them should dance before them with the music in the van; and in this manner we paraded through all the principal streets of the city, and waked every body in it. Mr. Walpole had a mind to make a custom of the thing, and would have given a ball in the same manner next week, but the women did not come to it; so I ve it will drop and they will return to their dull 1) cards and usual formalities. We are not to stay above a month longer here, and shall then go to Dijon, the chief city of Burgundy, a very splendid and a very gay town; at least such is the present design.
To the Countess of Mar.
Leipzig, Nov. 21th., 0. S. 1716. I believe, dear sister, you will easily forgive my not writing to you from Dresden, as I promised, when I tell you, that I never went out of my chaise from Prague to this place.
You may imagine how heartily I was tired with twentyfour hours' post-travelling, without sleep or refreshment (for I can never sleep in a coach, however fatigued). We passed, by moonshine, the frightful precipices that divide Bohemia from Saxony, at the bottom of which runs the river Elbe; but I cannot say, that I had reason to fear drowning in it, being perfectly convinced, that, in case of a tumble, it was utterly impossible to come alive to the bottom. In many places the road is so narrow, that I could not discern an inch of space between the wheels and the precipice; yet I was so good a wife, as not to wake Mr. Wortley, who was fast asleep by my side, to make him share in my fears, since the danger was unavoidable, till I perceived, by the bright light of the moon, our postillions nodding on horseback, while the horses were on a full gallop: then, indeed, I thought it very convenient to call out to desire them to look 2) where they were going. My calling waked Mr. Wortley, and he was much more surprised than myself at the situation we were in, and assured me that he passed the Alps five-times in different places, without ever having gone a road so dangerous. I have been told since, that it is common to find the bodies of travellers in the Elbe; but, thank God, that was not our destiny; and we came safe to Dresden, so much tired with fear and fatigue *), it was not possible for me to compose myself to write.
After passing these dreadful rocks, Dresden appeared to me a wonderfully agreeable situation, in a fine large plain on the banks of the Elbe: I was very glad to stay there a day to rest myself. The town is the neatest I have seen in Germany; most of the houses are new built; the elector's palace is very handsome, and his repository full of curiosities of different kinds, with a collection of medals very much esteemed. Sir Robert Sutton, our king's envoy, came to see me here, and Madame de L..., whom I knew in London, when her husband was minister 4) to the king of Poland there; she offered me all things in her power to entertain me, and brought some ladies with her, whom she presented to me. The Saxon ladies resemble the Austrian no more than the Chinese do those of London; they are very genteelly dressed after the English and French modes, and have generally pretty faces, but they are the most determined minaudieres 5) in the whole world: they would think it a mortal sin against
1) Langweilig. 9 (336). 3) (333). ^)(113). 5) Sierpuppen.
good - breeding, if they either spoke or moved in a natural manner: they all affect a little soft lisp, and a pretty pitty pat step; which female frailties ought, however, to be forgiven them in favour of their civility and good nature to strangers, which I have a great deal of reason to praise.
The Countess of Cozelle is kept prisoner in a melancholy castle, some leagues from hence; and I cannot forbear telling you what I have heard of her, because it seems to me very extraordinary, though I foresee I shall swell my letter to the size of a packet. She was mistress to the king of Poland (elector of Saxony), with so absolute a dominion over him, that never any lady had so much power in that court. They tell a pleasant story of his majesty's first declaration of love, which he made in a visit to her, bringing in one hand a bag of a hundred thousand crowns, and in the other a horseshoe, which he snapped asunder before her face, leaving her to draw the consequences of such remarkable proofs of strength and liberality. I know not which charmed her most; but she consented to leave her husband, and to give herself up to him entirely, being divorced publicly, in such a manner as, by their laws, permits either party to marry again. God knows whether it was at this time, or in some other fond fit, but it is certain, the king had the weakness to make her a formal contract of marriage; which, though it could signify nothing during the life of the queen, pleased her so well, that she could not be contented without telling it to all the people she saw, and giving herself the airs of a queen. Men endure every thing while they are in love; but the excess of passion was cooled by long possession, his majesty began to reflect on the ill consequences of leaving such a paper in her hands, and desired to have it restored to him. But she rather chose to endure all the most violent effects of his anger, than give it up; and though she is one of the richest and most avaricious ladies of her country, she has refused the offer of the continuation of a large pension, and the security of a vast sum of money she has amassed; and has, at last, ovoked the king to confine her person to a castle, where she endures all the terrors of a strait imprisonment, and remains still inflexible, either to threats or promises. Her violent passions 1) have brought her indeed into fits which, it is supposed, will soon put an end to her life. I cannot forbear having some compassion for a woman that suffers for a point of honour, however mistaken, especially in a country where points of honour are not overscrupulously observed among ladies.
I could have wished Mr. Wortley's business had permitted him a longer stay at Dresden.
Perhaps I am partial to a town where they profess the Protestant religion; but everything seemed to me with quite another air of politeness than I have found in other places. Leipzig, where I am at present, is a town very considerable for its trade; and I take this opportunity of buying pages liveries, gold stuffs for myself &c. The fair here is one of the most considerable in Germany, and the resort of all the people of quality, as well as of the merchants. This is also a fortified town, but I avoid ever mentioning fortifications, being sensible 2) that I know not how to speak of them. I am the more easy under my ignorance, when I reflect that I am sure you will willingly forgive the omission; for if I made you the most exact description of all the ravelins and bastions I see in my travels, I dare swear you would ask me, What is a ravelin? and, what is a bastion ? Adieu, my dear sister!
1) Verdruß, Gemüthsbewegungen. 2) Weil ich weiß.
Aug. 20th. 1739. I fear I shall lose all my credit with you as a gardener, by this specimen which I ventured to send you of the produce of my walls ?). The snails, indeed, have had more than their share of my peaches and nectarines this season: but will you not aile whe I tell you, that I deem it a sort of cruelty to suffer 2) them to be destroyed? I should scarce dare to acknowledge this weakness (as the generality of the world, no doubt, would call it) had I not experienced, by many agreeable instances, that I may safely lay open to you every sentiment of my heart. To confess the truth, then, I have some scruples with respect to the liberty we assume in the unlimited destruction of these lower orders of existence. I know not upon what principle of reason and justice it is, that mankind have founded their right over the lives of every creature that is placed in a subordinate rank of being to themselves. Whatever claims they may have in right of food and self-defence, did they extend their privilege no farther than those articles would reasonably carry them, numberless beings might enjoy their lives in peace, who are now hurried out of them by the most wanton and unnecessary cruelties. I cannot, indeed, discover why it should be thought less inhuman to crush to death a harmless insect, whose single offence is that he 3) eats that food which nature has prepared for its sustenance, than it would be, were I to kill any more bulky creature for the same reason. There are few tempers so hardened to the impressions of humanity, as not to shudder at the thought of the latter; and yet the former is universally practised without the least check 4) of compassion. This seems to arise from the gross error of supposing that every creature is really in itself contemptible, which happens to be clothed with a body infinitely disproportionate to our own; not considering that great and little are merely relative terms. But the inimitable Shakespeare would teach us that
the poor beetle, that we tread upon, In corporal sufferance, feels a pang as great
As when a giant dies. (Meas. f. M. II, 1.) And this is not thrown out in the latitude of poetical imagination, but supported by the discoveries of the most improved philosophy; for there is every reason to believe that the sensations of many insects are as exquisite as those of creatures of far more enlarged dimensions; perhaps
The millepedes, for instance, rolls itself round, upon the slightest touch; and the snail gathers in her horns upon the least approach of your hand. Are not these the strongest indications of their sensibility? and is it any evidence of ours), that we are not therefore induced to treat them with a more sympathizing tenderness.
I was extremely pleased with a sentiment I met with the other day in honest Montagne. That good-natured author remarks, that there is a certain general claim of kindness and benevolence which every species of creatures has a right to from us. It is to be regretted that this generous maxim is not more attended to, in the affair of education, and pressed home 6) upon tender minds in its full extent and latitude. I am far, indeed, from thinking that the early delight which children discover in tormenting flies &c., is a mark of any innate cruelty of temper; because this turn may be accounted for upon other principles; and it is entertaining unworthy notions of the Deity to suppose he forms mankind with a propensity to the most detestable of all dispositions. But most certainly, by
even more so.
1) Spalier. 2) (251). 3) (245). 4) Trieb. 5) (152). 6) Scharf einprägen.
being unrestrained in sports of this kind, they may acquire by habit, what they never would have learned from nature, and grow up into a confirmed inattention to every kind of suffering but their own. Accordingly, the supreme court of judicature at Athens thought an instance of this sort not below its cognizance, and punished a boy for putting out the eyes of a poor bird that had unhappily fallen into his hands.
It might be of service, therefore, it should seem, in order to awaken, as early as possible, in children, an extensive sense of humanity, to give them a view of several sorts of insects as they may be magnified by the assistance of glasses, and to show them that the same evident marks of wisdom and goodness prevail in the formation of the minutest insect, as in that of the most enormous leviathan: that they are equally furnished with whatever is necessary, not only to the preservation, but 1) the happiness of their beings, in that class of existence to which Providence has assigned them: in a word, that the whole construction of their respective organs distinctly proclaims them ?) the objects of the divine benevolence, and, therefore, that they justly ought to be so 3) of ours. I am &c.
Sir W. Jones,
6. Moralische Betrachtungen.
1. On Discoveries. The world, but a few ages since, was in a very poor condition as to 4) trade and navigation; nor indeed were they much better in other matters of useful knowledge. It was a green-headed time; every useful improvement was bid from them; they had neither looked into heaven nor earth, into sea nor land, as has been done since. They had philosophy without experiment, mathematics without instruments, geometry without scale “), astronomy without demonstration. They made war without powder, shot, cannon, or mortars ; nay, the mob made their bonfires without squibs or crackers ). They went to sea without compass, and sailed without the needle. They viewed the stars without telescopes, and measured latitudes without observation. Learning had no printing-press, writing no papers, and paper no ink: the lover was forced to send his mistress a deal board”) for à love, letter, and a billet - doux might be about the size of an ordinary trencher. They were cloathed without manufacture, and their richest robes were the skins of the most formidable monsters: they carried on trade without books, and correspondence without posts: their merchants kept no accounts, their shopkeepers no cash - books: they had surgery without anatomy, and physicians without the materia medica : they gave emetics 3) without ipecacuanha, drew blisters without cantharides 9), and cured agues without the bark 10).
As for geographical discoveries, they had neither seen the North Cape, nor the Cape of Good Hope, south. All the discovered inhabited world which they knew and conversed with, was circumscribed within very narrow limits, viz. France, Britain, Spain, Italy, Germany, and Greece, the Lesser 11) Asia, the west part of Persia, Arabia, the north parts of Africa, and the islands of the mediterranean Sea; and this was the whole world
1) (336). 2) (261). ) (146). 4) (335). 5) Maßstab. 6) Raketen oder Schwärmer. 3) Dielenbrett. 8) Brechmittel. 9 Spanische Fliege. 10) Chinarinde. 11) Klein - Aften.