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pidly crumbling down into the fosse-the outworks are scarcely cognizable among the grass with which they are overgrown! Fuit Ilium! The interior of the town presents a very different aspect. English intercourse, or rather English money, has paved its streets, and even placed some flags along their sides-lighted its lamps-spread carpets on its floors--silver forks on its tables nay, constructed water-closets in its gardens, the greatest wonder of all ! Lastly, the English have introduced into this, and many other towns of France, a certain noun of multitude, without a name in the French language--com. FORT ; for which they are amply re-paid in a certain article which they have generously presented to their mother country—INGRATITUDE!
LA BELLE FRANCE.
Of all the countries which these eyes have yet beheld
A Gadibus usque
Auroram et Gangem LA BELLE FRANCE is the most uninteresting. The flowerg-nay, even the flatness of Holland—with all its smooth canals and shaded dykes, (those monuments of industry)-its fertile fields-its neat and cleanly towns—its painted houses, varoished furniture, and broad-based, thick-headed inhabitants, excite a variety of emotions, and those generally of a pleasant kind, in the mind of the traveller—but FRANCE, from the Pyrenees to the Rhine, from the Jura to the Atlantic, from Antibes to Calais, presents very few spots indeed, compared with her vast extent of surface, on which the eye can rest with either pleasure or admiration.* Her mountains are destitute of sublimity-her valleys of beauty. Her roads are still, in most places, and at the best, but narrow, rude, and rugged chaussées, bordered, on each side, with mud in Winter, and sand in Summer ; less calculated to "speed the soft intercourse among her inhabitants, than to demolish the springs of carriages, and dislocate the joints of travellers--designed, apparently, to check very effectually the “march of intellect,” by causing a concussion of the brain at every step ! Her fields, though fertile, are fenceless, and slovenly cultivated, presenting
* Even John Bell, from novelty and non-acquaintance with other countries, has launched out in extravagant praises of " fair and fertile France.” His description of the scenery between Paris and Lyons is a caricature. Excepting the banks of the Saone, between Maçon and Lyons, the country is any thing but interesting. The spirited authoress of “Rome in the 19th Century," has drawn a more accurate picture, when she tells us that "France is the most unpicturesque country in Europe. It is everywhere bounded by beauty, (the Alps, the Pyrenees, the Jura Mountains, &c.) but the country these grand boundaries inclose is remarkably devoid of beauty and interest. It is a dull picture set in a magnificent frame." - Vol. I. p. 36.
CHARACTERISTICS OF FRANCE.
a bald and frigid aspect. Her viNEYARDS, even in the Bordelais, along the smiling borders of the Garonne, resemble plantations of turnips, when compared with those on the romantic banks of the Rhine, the sloping glades of Italy, or the upland scenes of Madeira. Her gentlemen's country-seats are in Paris; and their chateaux are-in ruins
“ With nettles skirted and with moss o’ergrown.” Her horses are rough, ugly, pot-bellied, ill-tempered, sour-countenanced, hard-working animals—the harness never cleaned or greased from the moment of its first construction till its final dissolution by winds and rains-her stage-waggons, y'cleped “Diligences,” are locomotive prisons or pontons, in which the traveller is pressed, pounded, and, what is worse than all, poisoned with mephitic gases and noxious exhalations evolved from above, below, and around. Her provincial villages, towns, and even cities, are emblems of dullness :- long, narrow streets, with solitary lamps suspended at mournful distances in the middle, as if to point out the kennel that runs in the centre below, fraught with every kind of filth-houses as if they had been shaken in a bag, and then jumbled together without regard to order, architecture, or any kind of regularity—tawdry painted exteriors, and cheerless, gloomy interiors—FLOORS without carpets, and hearths without grates—windows admitting as much air as light-fires without heat; easily kindled, rapidly consumed, and dearly paid for !-bell-ropes without bells, and servants without attendance-tables covered with a profusion of " dishes tortured from their native taste," and terrible to think of, much more to swallow !-vegetables drowned in oil or butter for the third or fourth course, and, after the Englishman has made a wretched dinner, like a cannibal-wine like vinegar in the land of grapes !!-lastly, the Bill, (for I speak of hotels) a never-failing dessert, and often as griping as the wine, is modestly and conscientiously charged double, or nearly so, to the unfortunate Anglois, who has not eaten a tithe of what his voracious Gallic messmates have consumed and pocketed !*
* Note to 2d edition. Nothing can be more erroneous than the generally received opinion, on both sides of the Channel, that the French eat less than the English. I shall here quote an authority that will hardly be questioned, in support of the opinion, or rather the fact, which I have adduced in opposition to this prejudice.
“With the recollection of these tables d'hôte fresh in my memory, I cannot resist the opportunity that seems to be open to me in this volume, of calling in question the correctness of two very common, but very erroneous opinions. One of these is, that the French are the most polite people in the world. Now, I think precisely the reverse; and that the middle classes of Frenchmen have the smallest share of true politeness of any people in the world. A very selfish man cannot be polite ; and a very self.conceited man cannot be polite;
On the inhabitants of France it is not my intention to make many remarks. When I acknowledge that the men are brave and the women beautiful, I ap
and I think no one who understands much of French character will hesitate to admit, that it is not untinctured by selfishness or vanity. No place is better suited than a table d'hôte for discovering these weaknesses, especially the former; and I think it impossible that one can rise from a table d'hôte in any part of France, without an unfavourable impression of French character, particularly of French politeness. Happy is the man who, at a French table d'hôte, is seated near the president or general carver; or who has the courage to be independent of etiquette, by drawing towards him whatever dish he fancies, and helping himself, without regarding his neighbours. I have a hundred times been surprised at the cool effrontery with which a Frenchman will sweep the eatable morsels from a dish of volaille, and pass the bare bones to his neighbour with the prettiest bow of invitation, and perhaps even, · Monsieur, veut-il prendre un morceau de volaille?' when all the volaille has been transferred to his own plate. But another failing besides selfishness contributes towards the incivility of a Frenchman at a table d'hôte-I mean his love of eating. Here I come to the other erroneous opinion entertained of the French —that they are small eaters. The French are enormous eaters; and I do not really think there are in the character of the French any more prominent features than their love of eating what is good, and their love of eating much. The French endeavour to get over the charge by saying, that if they eat of many things, they take little of each. This is far from the truth. A Frenchman will take of soup and bouilli alone, as much as would suffice for the dinner of an Englishman of moderate appetite. But this is only the commencement of his dinner : his côtelette is to come, his poisson is to come, his volaille, his róti, his gibier, his légumes, his crême, his dessert ; and along with this he devours—for eat would not half express the eagerness of the action-he devours as much bread as would serve the household of an English family for a day; and while he thus gormandises, he will turn round to you, and say,
Vous autres mangent beaucoup plus que nous.' And let it be recollected, that it is not once a day, but twice or three times, that a Frenchman makes the tour of soup and beef, and cutlet and fowl, and roast, and vegetables, and dessert. His déjeûné à la fourchette scarcely differs from his dinner ; and his supper is only a third edition of the same; and yet people are so absurd as to say that the French eat little. I lay it down as a general position, that every Frenchman is an epicure ; and that epicurism is not unfrequently allied with gluttony. I have never seen the people of any country lay so great a stress upon their dinner as the French. Bon dîner is scarcely ever out of their mouths; and not French men only, but French women also, married women at least, are entitled to be classed among the epicures, I ought not to be entirely ignorant of French propensities and habits, for 'I have spent altogether five years in France; and I wish I possessed as much the power, as I have the inclination, to draw a true portrait of French character."-Conway's France in 1830.
prehend they will give me ample latitude to say any thing else that I may choose respecting them. If I were to qualify the bravery of the male sex with a dash of vanity—the beauty of the females with a tincture of levity-and both with a tolerable freedom from religious feeling, it would be no great deviation from truth-and no great insult to either. But, in fact, I have no reason to rail against the French. They are not only a civilized, but a civil and polite people by nature, or, at all events, by habit and education; and, considering the political animosity generated and fostered, not only by a long and sanguinary war, but also by what they consider a humiliating peace, it is exceedingly creditable to the French to see the urbanity and politeness with which they treat their rough and uncompromising British neighbours. After making all due allowance for the influence of English gold, which has too long been showered down on every province of France, there is still an amenity in their manners which is very far beyond the confines of this metallic meridian, and which does great honour to the domestic character of the French people. In respect to intelligence, I am of opinion, notwithstanding the hardy asseverations to the contrary, that, taking rank for rank, there is more scientific information diffused among the French than among the English. And why not? Education is of more easy access there than here—to which may be added the fact, that the French have much less employment on hand than their British neighbours, and far more time for the acquisition of literature and science. It would be unreasonable, and I think unjust, to assert that they have less desire to learn, or less capacity for knowledge than their neighbours.
Be this as it may, with all their intelligence, ingenuity, and vivacity, the French are a century behind the English in almost every art or science which conduces to the comforts, the conveniences—nay, the necessaries of life.
As to the religious and moral character of our Gallic brethren, I do not feel inclined to speak. It has been somewhat keenly remarked by an acute modern traveller, that—" It is the want of genuine piety that is at the bottom of all the faults in the French character. Any religion is better than none; and shuddering as I did at the total absence of all such feelings in France, I looked back with less emotions of disgust to the absurd superstitions of Italy—to her bones of martyred saints, and the votive offerings that surround her altars." -Sketches of Italy, by Miss Waldie.
PARIS. One would suppose, from the height of the houses and the narrowness of the streets, that the value of ground, for building, was enormous in France, and especially near Paris. Yet, for five or six miles around the French metropolis, till you come close to the barriers, there is scarcely a house to be seen! You are as much in the country when you pass the barrier of St. Dennis as if you were one hundred miles from Paris ! In no one point of view is the contrast between the British and Gallic capitals so striking as in this.
The sociability of the French, and dissociability of the English are read in
the geographical faces of the two countries, without examining the moral habits of the people themselves. The French are all congregated into hamlets, towns, and cities—a detached house or cottage being quite a rarity to be seen. The English, on the contrary, delight and pride themselves on separation ;hence the whole surface of the country is studded with villas and insulated dwellings of every description. The English concentrate in towns and cities chiefly for the sake of BUSINESS, and sigh for the country whenever that business is transacted. Even the metropolis affords an illustration of this proposition-except during the season, when the IDLERS concentrate annually from all parts of the kingdom to dissipate the health and wealth they had acquired or accumulated in the country.
Paris is rapidly improving in appearance since the termination of the war, and the commencement of intercourse with the English. Several portions of the larger streets are imitating London by the acquisition of fag-stones for trottoirs, and gutters at the sides instead of the middle. Nothing, however, but a most destructive fire and a Gallic Nash can rescue Paris from the humi. liation of presenting a striking contrast to London in the breadth and cleanliness of its streets—the comfort and security of pedestrians. The misery inflicted on the immense class of peripatetics in Paris, by the sharp stones of the pavé, continually reminds one of the tortures experienced by Peter Pindar's Pilgrim, while hobbling along the road,
Damning the souls, and bodies of the peas," with which his shoes were filled as a penance for his sins ! But the Fire-insurance Companies are the Goths and Vandals that will keep the streets of Paris in darkness for ages yet to come. There is now no chance of the good old times of Nero, who warmed, widened, and illuminated the streets of Rome, while fiddling to the moving multitude from his palace on the Palatine Hill!
Considering that Paris is the general rendezvous of idlers, not only from all parts of France, but from all parts of Europe-and seeing with what ingenuity the inhabitants have contrived to render that lively metropolis the most attractive emporium of pleasure in the world, and, at the same time, the cheapest; it cannot be wondered at that so many thousands of our countrymen and women, over whom indulgence of the senses bears greater sway than any feelings of patriotism, should make Paris their abode. Whether this step be conducive to the ultimate welfare of their families brought up under the influence of Continental habits and example, I may inquire farther on. In the mean time, it is to be hoped that a tax will be imposed on all expatriations not dependent on ill-health, official duties, or narrow circumstances.*
In walking from East to West, both in London and Paris, the march of
* The turbulence of the times has recently checked expatriation; and it is not improbable that war will shortly give it the coup-de-grace.-2d Ed.