« IndietroContinua »
DIEPPE, August 26, 1814.
"I have this instant arrived, after a very short trip across. The morning was splendid: I have traversed the whole townvery ancient and very picturesque. The ladies look so like our great-grandmothers, the houses so like those of our own ancestors, that one seems to have gone back a century or two. . . . . All with whom I have yet conversed on the ticklish subject of politics, appear to be very loyal, and much attached to their legitimate sovereign. T. C."
Next day he continues:
"I have now recovered the effects of my voyage, and completed the circuit of the town, which, although it contains neither theatre, ball-room, nor library, pleases me exceedingly. The inhabitants are affable; the public walks charming; and tomorrow is to be celebrated the national fête of St. Louis. But why am I not at Paris, you will ask? The truth is, health must take precedence of pleasure; and here, for the present, all is novelty. Yet the loyalty, after all, is but superficial-for here is a portrait of young Napoleon which I send you. Last evening I fell in with a rural fête-champêtre in my rambles. I was greatly amused by their dancing; so much gravity, so much ceremony, so unlike the people of our own country. The mountains and cliffs surrounding the town present a magnificent view of the sea; and when the sky is very clear, says my guide, the heights of Dover may be seen from them. I was so overcome by the scene, that I burst into tears.
"Here, as I ascertained, one may live nobly on an income of two hundred a-year. I have made the acquaintance of a Monsieur Morell, whose love of strangers and rapidity of thoughtflashing like lightning-remind me strongly of Jeffrey of Edinburgh. I find everything as agreeable as possible-one only exception, that of their brick floors, which make me shiver-but I am promised a carpet for my bedroom. I am lodged in the house of the Protestant minister: I think him an honest man, but dislike his politics. In our conversation last night, he eulogised* Buonaparte, and attempted even to justify the war in Spain.. But I am not come here to meddle in politics.
* To the reader who remembers the generous treatment of the Vaudois, and other Protestant pastors and their flocks, by Napoleon, and the sad reverses they experienced at the Restoration, this eulogy-the natural expression of gratitude-will not seem at all surprising.
ÆT. 36.] VISIT TO FRANCE-DIEPPE-ANECDOTES.
The strong party, however, detest "ce monstre Buonaparte!" and shout for the King.
"At the fête-champêtre one little circumstance struck me as interesting: on their return from the dance, they walked through the streets in parties of twelve or fifteen, each girl leaning on her partner's arm, and all singing. Another peculiarity is, that the ballad-singers here are not restricted to the streets, but enter freely into the hotels, and even private houses, and there exercise their vocation for a few sous. Their voices, in general, are very powerful, clear, and sharp-but in the true French style. T. C."
DIEPPE, September 1, 1814.
Letters, they say, are opened in their way to England. The government is so unsettled that they are obliged to take this precaution. You need not, however, be apprehensive recollect my old compliment to you, on the subject of handwriting-yours is safe from all deciphering.* Jeffrey alone excels you in hieroglyphical chirography! But you ask what further news, adventures, or remarks on France? Why, the Comte de Caumont is gone to Paris-so I did not see him; but the second night I spent at Dieppe, I was alone in the coffeeroom, when a carriage arrived with a gentleman and his wife. They proposed supping with me or rather, that I should join their party. He reminded me of Mr. S., and was, in fact, just Mr. S. translated-face, manners, and tongue-into French. We cozed exceedingly well. I described to him, as well as I could, the scene and sensations of Louis XVIII., on leaving England. He had himself been in England, an émigré and severe sufferer by the Revolution. After a pleasant evening, he concluded by fixing a day when I should visit him at his château, seven miles hence. The day came: it was the last which he was to spend in this neighborhood. I had engaged a voiture: everything was ready but my linen, which was all damp, and had to be dried. One would have thought it easy to get a shirt aired; but no-there was no fire in the house! Behold the comfort of French lodgings! Mine host and his daughters lit a fire of straw, and gave me back my linen still damp-spotted, sooted, and unwearable. So, having no other change, I was obliged to send an apology.-But let us not mind vexations.†
* See " Lines on telling her faults, to F. W. M.,” page 526, Vol. I. It was probably this or some very similar disappointment that inspi
"The town of Dieppe, as I told you, is very picturesque. The weather, which had behaved itself to admiration--gilding the magnificent cliffs, and giving the sea a thousand optical beauties-has now broken; but this morning it was exceedingly fine during one burst of sunshine. I had a glorious walk, through lanes that traverse the cliffs, till I came to the top, and that defies description! On the side where I stood, was the very highest ground, commanding the sea on the left, as far as the eye could reach; the cliffs on the right still very grand-but so much lower than the left, as to show their plain tops undulating for twenty miles-here retiring, and there jutting into the sea. Between the two ranges of cliffs, a broad champaign, with the river Dare winding beautifully, stretches up to a third cluster of mountains, which terminate and define the prospect. There is much wood, but few, or no gentlemen's seats. Below, and close at the foot of the precipices, lies Dieppe, with its old castle fronting it; and just below where I stood, you see the town like a panorama.-Don't imagine it a row of fishermen's huts; it contains 20,000 souls.
"I did not, for fear of alarming you, say anything about the disturbances, which at first threatened to be very serious. I am not surprised at it: their loaf of bread has risen to eightpence, which is just as if ours had risen to two shillings; and the sight
red a burlesque drama, " in blank," entitled "The Cruel Sempstress; or, ▸ right piteous and heroick Tragedy, in the manner of Mister Wm. Shaks peare. By T. C. The following is an extract in point:
Prince. . . . Oh, picture in the gallery of your thoughts
Obliged to ring the bell, and call my boy,
For me this day, nor bright champagne, blanc-mange,
ET. 36.] VISIT TO FRANCE-DIEPPE-ANECDOTES.
of export-vessels cannot be very pleasant to the poor people. One day the générale was beat, and I was advised- -as the English were apt to be insulted-not to go about; but nothing of any consequence happened to me. One woman, indeed, told me that the English were to be thrashed; and a boy threw a stone at me; but for three days I have not met one uncivil look. . . I leave in a day or two for Paris, though I don't think I am over well; but the municipal officer, in describing me, when I got my passport, says-teint clair! so I can't be very ill. T. C."
DIEPPE, September 3, 1814. The people are much incensed against the English: one of the rabble called after me this morning-Va-t'en Anglais vous cherchez nous faire périr de faim!'... I was much struck at first sight with the native features and character of this place. The physiognomy of the people is strongly marked. The women, as well as the men, are tall, with fresh complexions, blue eyes, and large prominent noses. They exhibit great vehemence in conversation, even in trifling matters; stamping with their feet like an actor in Richard the Third; and the very next instant, without any apparent cause, laughing like a Falstaff! The following incident happened to me this morning: taking my walk along the street, I was surprised to find my gloves suddenly snatched from my hand, and, turning hastily round, discovered that the thief was a raven, whose cage I had just passed. The gloves were concealed in an instant; I could do nothing with him; but mounting the staircase, went to demand instant justice of his master. Monsieur l'abbé,' said I, 'one of your family has just stolen my gloves! Quoi?' said he. 'Yes,' I repeated, 'one of your family-the raven.' 'Ah, le coquin! he exclaimed, with a hearty laugh, and immediately ordered his housekeeper to search the cage, and return me the gloves, which Mon" le corbeau was in the act of pulling to shreds. The governante, a person of great volubility, declared that the vaurien of a corbeau was 'as mischievous as any Christian.'
Having spent a week very pleasantly at Dieppe, Campbell started for Paris; but, having letters to deliver in the old Norman capital, and above all, a strong desire to see his brother Daniel-with whom he had parted at Hamburgh in June, 1800-he was induced to make another halt of two days. Here VOL. II. --2
he was received with marked distinction by Professor Vitalis, and subsequently elected Member of the Royal Academy of Rouen.*
His adventures, on the second stage of his journey, are thus continued:
PARIS, September 6, 1814.
I travelled by night to Rouen, so lost all sight of the country; but my loss was compensated by the conversation of a veteran French officer, who had fought at Hohenlinden, and remembered various details of the battle. He had served twenty years under Moreau and Buonaparte a fierce-looking soldier, but frank and consistent in his opinions. We were all very merry: a pretty young Frenchwoman of the party sang some popular airs, and the soldier gave us songs of all countries-except England, where, thank God, he had never been as a conqueror. At intervals, he gave us several Polish songs, which, at the lady's request, he translated. The sentiments of love, war, devotion, with their peculiar customs, were not always the most delicate, and the lady declared that she was beaucoup choquée; but shocked or not, she still called encore!—and was answered by another song, and another translation.
On my arrival at Rouen, I found my poor brother Daniel— poor as ever-and spent two days with him. . . . From Rouen upwards, the course of the Seine is truly magnificent. As far as Paris, a distance of seventy-four miles, the country is rich and beautiful; undulating with wooded hills, and interrupted by a dark forest, which, extending twenty miles along the mountains, gives a sublime feature to the landscape. Our company from Rouen was composed of two English compatriots-a man and a woman—a Frenchman and myself. The English were people of fortune, reduced by some accident to travel in a Diligence. They were therefore sullen, timorous, and afraid of losing their dignity, by speaking to poor creatures, as unfortunate as themselves in having recourse to such a vehicle. They never exchanged a word, English or French, with us for seventy-two miles! The Frenchman and I talked the whole time. He was, at first sight, a sullen, proud fellow; but under all this, I dis
*An instance of the attention which is given to English literature in France has lately occurred, in the Royal Academy of Rouen sending Mr. Thomas Campbell a diploma of their Society, in consequence of a paper, on the subject of his poetry, which was read to them by Professor Vitalis."London Paper.